Moving decision making up hierarchies to the very top, so that there is just one official, received truth, actually leads to worse decisions and outcomes than decentralization. Who knew? From
Ivan Illich (1926-2002) was a Austrian priest and philosopher who used the term “institutionalization” to describe what happens in several fields of knowledge, when these fields are monopolized by a subset of that knowledge. For instance, he saw schools and universities claim a monopoly on education, and doctors and hospitals (medicine) claim a monopoly on health care.
This is both utter nonsense and at the same time widely accepted. In reality, your education comes from everywhere around you, family, friends etc., and schools can merely add a layer to it. While medicine is sick care, not health care: it fails almost entirely in preventing your health from deteriorating (see the food most people eat) and focuses only on “curing” you once you’re already sick. Case in point: covid patients are left to their own “devices”, and no prophylactics are used until it’s time for a respirator. It’s a dangerous monopoly. But people accept it as some god-given truth.
Someone linked to a 2020 piece on Illich recently by David Cayley -see below-, and though it’s good -albeit very long- I think we can do better than that, in light of what Illich’s words mean in our current predicament. Illich said the monopoly claims in various fields would lead to “counterproductivity”, aka diminishing returns, indicating that at some point not only do additional steps no longer lead to progress, they cause regression.