Seeing Like a State - Deepstash

The premodern state was pretty blind; it knew precious little about its subjects, their wealth, their landholdings and yields, their location, their very identity. All that require...

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Seeing Like a State

Seeing Like a State

by James C. Scott

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Elements of state-engineered tragedies

Tragic episodes of state-initiated social engineering originated from:

  1. The administering ordering of nature & society. 
  2. The rise of a modernist ideology, aimed a...

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Modern people started to see rational order as an ideology. Efficiency became a virtue in itself. They committed to a more egalitarian society, to making the amenities of modern society available t...

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From "nature" to "natural resource"

A forest, for example, is nothing but a utility for a state: providing timber and tax revenue. Its narrow utilitarian perspective ignores the naturalistic view of the forest as a complex biological...

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High modernism's beneficiaries were abstract caricatures, not real people. The advocates of social engineering were planning for generic subjects (who needed so many square feet of housing spac...

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Local units of measurement are cultural & practical. In Malaysia, distances are measure in "rice cooks", denoting the time it takes rather than the distance, which could be les...

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Customs vs Laws

Customs are a living, negociated practices which are constantly being addaped to new circumstances, including power relations. They should not be romanticized being riven with inequality and other ...

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The City as a Utopian Project

Le Corbusier, an influential architect, believed the city was the rational expression of the modern consciousness & that people would embrace it wholeheartedly. His cities were big, straight, with ...

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Techne & mētis

Greeks separated knowledge into:

  • Techne: Technical knowledge that could be expressed precisely in the form of hard-and-fast rules (not rules of thumb), principles & prop...

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Complex projects are impossible to successfully plan for. These rules can help: 

Take small steps. In an experimental approach to social change, presume that we cannot know t...

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Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

“To be ruled is to be kept an eye on, inspected, spied on, regulated, indoctrinated, sermonized, listed and checked off, estimated, appraised, censured, ordered about…. 

To be ru...

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