Month: August 2016

Where are the SpaceX-style innovators in governance?

I had thought that I would maintain some sort of academic detachment with AtlantisUnderground, documenting best practices and identifying thought leaders in government innovation. Now that approach seems unfruitful given the urgent need for massive, practical innovation in governance and legal systems for the billions of people in a rapidly urbanizing world where even the most fundamental obligation of government – to keep people safe – is an open joke. Plus it’s boring!

Instead, we need a series of SpaceX-style players to catalyze innovation in engineering governance delivery systems. What SpaceX has done for the aerospace industry (once the exclusive domain of a few major governments and terminally sclerotic) must be done for the delivery of good governance. If we think fundamentally of governance in functional terms, then we can sidestep the debate-swamp of which form of government is best.  It will help to think of governance as a service (or GaaS, to tweak a term borrowed from the software realm). If we embrace a results-driven and data-driven pursuit of clearly (and inspirationally) defined governance functions, then the form of governance will follow the functional target. This frees us to be sufficiently flexible on the front end in exploring how to solve the opportunities of existing dysfunction presented by legacy governance systems.

Shadow Governments & ‘Undergrounds’

I’m not sure how to package my odd mix of whimsy, military-security geekiness, entrepreneurial legal-system insight, wild imagination, public service, and real politik… so I won’t try. Instead, here’s what’s blowing my mind from last week:

This is too perfect. It’s like I commissioned this article on “undergrounds” & “shadow government”.

[G]overnment and governance are not synonymous… governance can exist without a government and governments can exist without truly performing governance, as we see in weak states or under-governed spaces.

Holy shizen, am I reading this?@!:

the US… [can] advise and enable the efforts of the Shadow Government [in] preparing and shaping the environment… [with] civil initiatives to “gain and maintain access to denied areas,” assessing the efficacy of governance activities in areas that the Resistance can reach, empowering the Shadow Government to… deliver a higher standard of living to the civilian populace than the targeted regime…[while US] advisors can act as the connective tissue of the network of governance cadres and therefore serve as a conduit of information and influence.

Does this guy know he is capturing essential strategic insights that AtlantisUnderground operatives have already embraced on a freelance basis?

Is he secretly part of the movement? If so, why reveal this? If not, does he believe this can really be done, this advising/shaping of a Shadow Government, in a way that doesn’t ultimately backfire? I suspect that the U.S. (or other Great Power) risks catalyzing a result that is opposite to the original objective.

Maybe the meta-message is directed at a select internal mil/security audience already primed to recognize the system disruption, including domestic implications?

Is the author even serious or is he being deeply ironic or satirical?

I’m skeptical that this approach has become ‘doctrine’ even in the US Unconventional Warfare community. And if so, can it be implemented top-down? Or even bottom-up?

It is fascinating and exhilarating but I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t already stumbled across people actively developing ways to operationalize the key insights highlighted in this article. Rather than speculative fantasy, ‘undergrounds’ and shadow governments are a near-reality creative [non]fiction.