The Authoritarian High-Modernist Recipe for Failure

The Authoritarian High-Modernist Recipe for Failure:

  1. Look at a complex and confusing reality
  2. Fail to understand all the subtleties of how the complex reality works
  3. Attribute that failure to the irrationality of what you are looking at, rather than your own limitations
  4. Come up with an idealized blank-slate vision of what that reality ought to look like
  5. Argue that the relative simplicity and platonic orderliness of the vision represents rationality
  6. Use authoritarian power to impose that vision, by demolishing the old reality if necessary
  7. Watch your rational Utopia fail horribly

Many examples in Seeing Like a State by James Scott.

Last edited March 2021