The Third Place: Finetuning Applications of MTEP

No economic activity, be it a simple errand or a complex undertaking, can ever be truly perfected by Technology alone. An Economic Planner’s performance can only be enhanced by sophisticated automated technologies and information technologies, the deployments of which must never become a substitute for the training and experience of the Economic Planner. Conversely, the same can be said about the performance of the Inspector, whose expertise and skillset enable them to interact with Economic Planners as well as entire Professions and Enterprises. In the Total Educational Effort, Economic Planners and Inspectors at the tertiary educational level learn to work together and coordinate their combined efforts in simulations and live-training exercises in the Student Tournament. Those Cooperatives, Small Businesses, Workshops, Department Stores, Supermarkets, Second-Hand and Antique Stores are not just there for the Student Body. They also provide opportunities for Economic Planners and Inspectors to hone their mastery of MTEP (Mission-Type Economic Planning) as part of addressing the “Political Organization Problem,” Production for Dasein’s equivalent to the “Economic Calculation Problem” shared between Production for Profit and Production for Utility.   

Due to the specifications of the Work-Standard, Production for Dasein relies on the Political Organization Problem by dint of its inherent rejections of an Exchange-Value and Use-Value. This was of course made possible vis-à-vis the descriptions of RTV (Reciprocal Theory of Value) and WTM (Work Theory of Money). The Political Organization Problem seeks to address five important issues for Economic Planners and Inspectors, each one requiring a response from both:

  • Can a Sociable Currency distinguish the Quality of Geld for two different sets of goods or services upon discovering that both sets have two distinct Quality of Arbeit values?
  • Can a Sociable Currency allow the VCS Economy or the SSE to alter the Prices of goods and services based on overall economic conditions?
  • Can a Sociable Currency transmit information about the official Tournament or the Student Tournament without relying on access to advanced information technologies?
  • Can a Sociable Currency be used to allocate resources across different segments of the Totality or the Student Body through the Kontore (Financial Offices)?

Given the characteristics of the Work-Standard, the Economics Planners and Inspectors are able to sidestep the Economic Calculation Problem and get to the real heart of the Political Organization Problem, and that is regarding the role of Technology in everyday economic life. Unlike the Economic Calculation Problem, the Political Organization Problem advocates for a balanced relationship between humanity and Technology; in the context of the Economic Planners and Inspectors, a balanced approach to how they rely on Technology within their practice of MTEP.

It is because of the implications of the Political Organization Problem that I became convinced that the “Cassandra Coefficient,” devised by Richard Alan Clarke and R. P. Eddy in Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes. I have discussed about the Cassandra Coefficient before in an Entry from The Work-Standard (2nd Ed.), “Technology and the War Effort (Pt. III of III).” Based on my own readings and observations of the empirical case studies provided by Clarke and Eddy, I quickly discovered that the methodology behind the Cassandra Coefficient can be repurposed for practical applications of MTEP to address the Political Organization Problem.

The whole premise behind the Cassandra Coefficient is that devastating disasters which caused significant disruptions to the production process and losses of life do not need to always happen. They can be avoided. The challenge, however, is how to detect those disasters before they happen. Our Economic Planners and Inspectors, with the right training and expertise, will be trained to detect those impending disasters and curtail them, but they cannot do everything alone due to the complexities and intricacies associated with the State of Total Mobilization. At some point, they are going to be too preoccupied with other pressing matters that they may not be in position to implement a rapid response. And this is just one among many different variations of the Political Organization Problem.

Rather than trying to be everywhere at once and micromanage everyone and everything, our Economic Planners relies on the Inspectors to relay warnings of impending disasters to them. Our Inspectors in turn relies on the “Situational Awareness” of individual Civil Servants and Administrators in the workspace to assist their efforts in detecting those disasters within the workspace. A single Inspector assigned to an Enterprise might be able to find signs of a disaster but having extra pairs of eyes and ears can go a long way in the operation of MTEP. There are four phases of the Cassandra Coefficient and they can be summarized as the “Warning,” the “Audience,” the “Predictor,” and the “Critic.”  

1. The Warning refers to the message of an impending disaster.

2. The Audience are the people in power who must react to the Warning.

3. The Predictor is the titular Cassandra is trying to alert the Audience.

4. The Critic are the devil’s advocates to the saint’s advocate of the Predictor.

In Production for Dasein, the Cassandra Coefficient comes into effect once the “Readiness-to-Hand” shifts to “Unreadiness-to-Hand” in response to an emerging “Presence-at-Hand.” There is an issue deterring the workspace from its regular operations, and the Audience is conversing with the Predictor who issued a Warning and the Critic skeptical of that Warning’s validity. There are a lot of things that can go wrong when the Predictor tries to relay their Warning to the Audience. Everything depends on who is relaying the Warning to whom and who is trying to disparage it.

The best way for me to demonstrate this is to present variations of the same scenario involving the daily routines of a “Civil Servant,” an “Administrator,” an “Inspector,” and an “Economic Planner” within a given Enterprise. A bird’s eye view of that same Enterprise can be encountered upstairs by the Economic Planner’s superior, the “Central Planner,” and the Inspector’s superior, the “Superintendent.” The following is a list of possibilities, outlined by Clarke and Eddy, where I can see the Political Organization Problem becoming applicable to MTEP:

  • Response Availability: Is this a matter that can be addressed by the Administrator of an Enterprise or will the solution require appropriate responses from the Council State and Totality (or the Student Government and Student Body) in the SSE’s case?
  • Initial Occurrence Syndrome: Has there been an historical precedent to this rendition of the Political Organization Problem happened before or is it a first-time occurrence?
  • Erroneous Consensus: Is the Economic Planner or the Administrator being too rash, too reckless, or too careless in their applications of MTEP?
  • Magnitude Overload: Will the response require the Economic Planner or the Inspector to receive the prior authorization and approval from their superiors, namely the Central Planner and the Superintendent, in order to do something? Could the response be addressed instead by the Civil Servant or the Administrator?
  • Outlandishness: Has one been reading too much into Utopian or Dystopian Fiction? Is one’s interpretations of an issue being distorted by an inability to distinguish facts from opinion or the fictional from the real?
  • Invisible Obvious: If the issue is serious enough to warrant action from higher authorities, how come neither the Civil Servant nor the Administrator are able to foresee it?
  • Diffusion of Responsibility: Who bears the burdens of Command Responsibility if the issue becomes a tragedy resulting in disruptions to the production process and loss of life?  
  • Agenda Inertia: Is the Economic Planner more concerned about trying to fulfill the exact expectations of their Central Planner instead of fulfilling the Intent of their Direct Orders?  
  • Complexity Mismatch: Is there a “Division of Labor” preventing the Civil Servant from properly conveying the gravity of an issue to the Inspector or Economic Planner?
  • Ideological Response Rejection: Does the Economic Planner or the Administrator have certain ideological biases that deter them from heeding the Warning of the Inspector and Civil Servant or even vice versa?   
  • Profiles in Cowardice: Is the Administrator not the best person to respond to an impending disaster? Should the Economic Planner or Inspector consult their respective superiors?
  • Satisficing: Is the Administrator or the Economic Planner more interested in whatever news from the Civil Servant or the Inspector pleases them, real or imagined?
  • Inability to Discern the Unusual: Is the Administrator or Civil Servant unable to detect what the Economic Planner and Inspector are finding or even vice versa?
  • Scientific Reticence: Is the Administrator or Civil Servant rejecting the Warning of the Economic Planner and the Inspector just because they happen to know more about their Enterprise and Profession than they do?
  • Personal or Professional Investment: Do the Economic Planner or the Administrator having something to gain from allowing the disaster to happen and letting the Inspector and Civil Servant take the blame for the consequences?
  • Non-Expert Rejection: Are the Economic Planner and Inspector rejecting the Warning of the Administrator and Civil Servant because they are not expert practitioners of MTEP?
  • ‘Now is Not the Time’ Fallacy: Is the Economic Planner or the Administrator rejecting the Warning because they have goals to realize, even if those goals are unrealistic and therefore cannot be accomplished in time before the disaster?

Based on what Clarke and Eddy described in their book, there is a recurring pattern of events that continues to repeat themselves, albeit in a sort of Nietzschean “Eternal Recurrence.” All possibilities depict the relaying of the Warning about an impending disaster. But in each possibility, the roles of Predictor, Audience, and Critic rotate to reflect different perspectives.

What I just described is a phenomenon that relates back to what I had stated in the preceding Entry about how the State of Total Mobilization forever changed the concept of Public Opinion. Thanks to mass communications applications, Public Opinion is now malleable to the whoever controls mass media. Facts can become “opinions” and opinions can become “facts.” It is also why the two empirical case studies of The Third Place (1st Ed.) was focused on Kitchen Debate and the Goodwill Ambassador from a technological angle and how that in turn relates to the role of mass media and its influencing of Public Opinion.

Back in the late 20th century, the concept of mass media was defined by the dissemination of information by either State Media or Commercial Media. The technologies employed by both forms of mass media ensured that their viewers or readers had access to the same set of basic facts, yet still arrive at different opinions via selective interpretations of those facts. It partly explains why the various movements of the Counterculture, despite having distinct views and perspectives, were drawing from the same flow of information to make their own decisions.

In the wake of Social Media in the early 21st century, the paradigm has changed for State Media and Commercial Media. In the midst of the proliferation of trivial information on the World Wide Web (WWW), a different set of circumstances emerged. Today, it is now possible for a group of people to have the same set of opinions but rely on a different set of facts. What once passed as facts can be disparaged as somebody’s “opinion” and certain opinions shared by a group of people can become a “fact.” The opinions became a “fact” because people give credence to its validity on the basis of a shared consensus.

But the real problem facing Public Opinion is how to distinguish between “facts” and “opinions.” Unlike real facts (which have a concrete basis in Reality) and real opinions (which are genuine expressions of the Self), the pseudo-fact is an illusory fabrication blinding the decision-making process of the Totality and the pseudo-opinion is an inauthentic expression of the Self. A pseudo-fact can prevent the Totality from forging a consensus on what to do next or why they should care about something happening in the Real World, just as the pseudo-opinion can also deter the Self from knowing what is expected of them or who they must become. The implications of the Cassandra Coefficient can be understood as whether the observer will be able to discern the facts of an impending disaster from the opinions of those discussing about the disaster. If one is able to know the facts sooner, they will be able to make more well-informed and well-intended decisions whilst taking into account the opinions of others.

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