Contradictions and challenges of technology governance

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Aadel L.
Contradictions and Challenges of Technology Governance
Theoretical and philosophical framework. Disregard of basic values, injustice prevailing in the society, estrangement from the state authority and sovereignty and its representatives — these are categories of technology governance that strongly influence trust and faith in public administration. But public administration is «the state conducting its everyday activities» channelled through government agencies, local government and other public institutions, and aimed directly at its citizens. Unfortunately, such opinions of the holder of the supreme power of state have remained unchanged since national selfdetermination and adoption of the Estonian constitution- it is proved by a number of public opinion polls conducted over the years. The nation as the holder of the supreme power of state approved by the constitution to protect internal and external peace, and provide security for the social progress and general benefit of present and future generations [1]. It authorised the most excellent representatives of the nation to exercise state authority and represent the nation through the legislative body and institutions of the executive power. Despite that narrow and incomprehensive experience in public administration, unclear and short-term decision-making caused by the latter as well as no responsibility at all, are sadly evident in Riigikogu (the Parliament) and at the central and local levels. The period of independence has been too short for both the young state and its agencies and public servants to become and remain abreast of their responsibilities, and discharge the latter statesmanlike and without fault. Estonia’s general historical experience has also been too unstable to assure success and example of statesmanlike and faultless governance.
Rousseau, an advocate of the Enlightenment, argued that the religion each citizen must embrace, the religion civile, should consist of four articles, the last of which deals with «sanctity of social agreement and the law». In his theory of consensus, Thomas Hobbes says power proceeds from people. Juhan Smuul has said: «Ask the people, the people know.» Anton Chekhov, a classic, says in his play «The Cherry Orchard»: «The people are good but stupid. «[2]
«De I'-Espirit des Lois'», a masterpiece by Charles Louis de Secondat Montesquieu published in 1748 declared that the society must not be governed at the pleasure of the monarch but under specific laws. «In governments, that is, in societies directed by laws, liberty can consist only in the power of doing what we ought to will, and in not being constrained to do what we ought not to will… Liberty is a right of doing whatever the laws permit…» [3].
Niccolo Machiavelli wanted Italy, divided and suffering under foreign rule at places, to become a strong and unitary state able to realise and protect itself, and ensure the well-being of its citizens. This was to be achieved by a hard-handed secular ruler consistently and skilfully employing all the imaginable means. Let us emphasise — everything was allowed -breaking one’s word, cruelty, depravity, etc. The main thing was for the long-tormented, devastated and corrupt country to begin to thrive again.
During previous development of the civilization, functioning of the society was ensured by oral common law. It became written law in ancient cultures (Hammurabi'-s Code, Old Testament). The first known professional codes originate from Indian priests (the Vedas, the Rig Veda) that later were made more specific in the so-called Laws of Manu. In ancient Egypt, they had «The Book of the Dead» (15−14th century B.C.) where the teaching and power of the priests were explained. From Mesopotamia we know the Code of Hammurabi (1792−1750 B.C.) that contains 282 laws, many of which have an ethical meaning (some of them coincide with the Ten Commandments) — the code became the book the priests kept referring to.
The European Middle Ages knew such codes of law as the Roman Law, the Corpus Iuris Civilis, codified on Byzantium Emperor Justinian'-s order in the first half of the 6th century and the canon law codification of which Gratianus began in the 12th century.
In 1282 already the Lubeck Law established that a holder of an office appointed by the town council could not be a member of the council, council members were forbidden to accept gifts when discussing matters relevant to town business and a father and his son or two brothers could not be council members at the same time. The laws established more than 700 years ago reflect the ethics and morals applied in this country for centuries. There is a plaque on a wall of the Town Hall of Tallinn saying: «Anno 1651. Council Member, whoever you are, when stepping into the Town Hall to fulfil your official duties, cast aside in front of this door all the irritations of your private life: anger, injustice, animosity, friendship, flattery- subordinate your person and your troubles to the society since the way you behave towards others, justly or unjustly, they way you will face divine judgement.» The author considers it necessary to hang such a plaque on the walls of all public departments and local authorities -just to remind us.
The Christian virtues are our moral values and a moral compass. A moral crisis is caused by a growing gap between the truth and the justice. The truth is temporal but the justice is divine.
What is, then, the Litmus of our intellectual and historical self-determination like? Selfdetermination does not only mean a choice between East and West, North and South since culturally we have belonged to the West for thousands of years. Our northern neighbours have given us inspiration and ideas since Lonnrot and Pacius. Centuries long common history, religion and intellectual existence in the Lutheran cultural area are our common determiners with Germany. We probably have our fare share of rustic privacy but certainly no less significant is the legacy of those who passed through this country, i.e. the legacy of Danes, Swedes, Germans and Russians.
We have had our own state for too short a period of time for the majority of us to be able to adopt a positive attitude towards independence. This is the cause of valid dissatisfaction, distrust and misunderstanding warranted by significant compositions that have reached a cult status. Lible, the bell-ringer of Paunvere church warned schoolboy Arno: "-No rascal in this world puts up with being told even a little bit of truth. But lie- lie, then you'-re the man!& quot- [4]
Alone with Jurka, Ants asked him about his troubles with authorities. & quot-They believe no one and therefore they don'-t understand at all,& quot- Jurka explained without hesitation. & quot-You'-re telling the truth, that'-s why,& quot- Ants explained. & quot-What do I have to do then?& quot- asked Jurka confused. & quot-You have to lie. "- & quot-Will they believe then and understand?& quot- & quot-At once. "- After accepting Jurka'-s false evidence, the official said: "-Oh, Jurka, do you really think that it is always so easy to tell what is right and what is wrong or whether it is even important to know that?& quot- [5].
When the letter of the law and & quot-the spirit of the law& quot-, the regulation and & quot-sanity"- collide, the & quot-sanity"- will still finally prevail. The future of every nation is determined, first and foremost, by its courage to endure life. We are as good or as bad a nation as any other and have the same complexes. Good ancient independence was the dream period of Estonians during the age of the Teutonic Order. Under the Swedish rule, economic prosperity of the age of the Teutonic Order was admired, unattainable for a long time after the Livonian war. Arrival of the new ruler was sufficient for considering the Swedish era a good one. The chain was broken by the period of National Awakening when part of the population missed the patriarchal squirearchy but a clear majority turned their backs to the recent history. Estonians were not completely assimilated due to too quickly changing rulers. Every single one of them tried to bend the country-people to their will but none of them had enough time or strength for it.
The strength and prerequisites of good governance are, first of all, common sense, ability to learn and will to act. Jakob Hurt says that dignity is based on social standing not profession. Profession is temporary, social standing stands over profession. Profession without social standing renders a person so defenceless in the face of fear that should his profession be taken from him the only thing that remains is an empty space. Dignity is not merely based on character traits but a hierarchy of values we have accepted. Hurt adds that we are of full value when we can practice all our professions of power and spirit ourselves, and when we are not & quot-a completely mad relative of a cripple who deliberately tries to damage his healthy limbs in order to use other people'-s crutches. "- By limbs Hurt meant various social standings and professions. In his last public speech in Tartu in 1906 Jakob Hurt said: & quot-Familiar Estonian obstinacy or defiance is a flaw of our character that has become well-known and done considerable damage to us. Because the person'-s inner being causes then unrelenting pertinacity even on occasions when the person should relent, vexatious arguing and agitated quarrelling when nothing sensible and good but damage to a good thing and wounds to our lives can come out of it- an irreconsiled mind, anger, animosity that are not constructive but destructive, that do not grow and invigorate but destroy and kill& quot- [6].
In the environment we govern, arrogance, vanity, recklessness, lechery, irresponsibility and unthankfulness are growing exuberantly. Legislators, officials exercising power and opinion leaders have been elected from among us. For thousands of years, Ten Commandments have been immortalized in slabs of stone- yet, should an opportunity present itself, people still steal, lie, covet. Corruption and the Red Tape grow their parasitic sprouts. The society can be made socially more just, ethically more bearable and politically more responsible by means of legislation that contains no loop-holes and is uniquely interpretable, by means of accountability of decision-makers, consideration of the public, obeying of laws and responsibility. Old texts often reflect the norms of behaviour and conception of morals that shaped the understanding of people of the past and the influence of which should reach our understanding.
Officials have started to forget too many significant matters and constantly claim not to recall one or another event, document or promise. If anything happens, the official is right away affected by amnesia, i.e. loss of memory. The official'-s loss of memory is strictly selective. Officials with bad memory simply lie. They lie openly and to everyone. Many of them have turned white lies into their leading principle in life. The spirit of frankpledge and corporative tendencies intensify in attitudes. Daily newspaper & quot-Paevaleht"- published a thought by Anton Hansen Tammsaare on 8 January 1940: & quot-/…/ There was recently a time in Estonia when each Estonian, who wanted to & quot-advance in life& quot-, had to appear not to be an Estonian any longer. It applied both to artisans and people with academic degrees. Various societies such as guilds, trade guilds and corporations existed to make becoming non-Estonian easy and convenient for Estonians. Good positions, the so-called soft jobs served as substitutes of the societies. And since all the novelty was supposed to come from a higher culture, more noble social standing, bluer blood, it was understandable why an ambitious Estonian became quite easily double-hearted considering himself to be one but being quite another by blood, flesh and bone& quot-. & quot-But it need not have bothered him especially since the better circles he tried to enter might have become extinct in their closeness long ago had they not received fresh blood from below. Thus, he could not have been particularly well-bred and even he had to consider himself something different from what he actually was… "- [7]
In the Indian villages of Mexico, for example, there is a political system known as the cargo that requires all males above 18 to serve their communities by passing through a series of offices. Men work in each position for one to three years without receiving any remuneration. The cargos make up a hierarchical system of positions from scavengers and errand-boys to mayors- the upper level cargos can be achieved only by serving at all the lower levels. On one hand, such a system ensures continuous rotation of offices, on the other hand,
real power, i.e. the upper level cargos can only be reached by senior and wealthy men who have enough money to accept the time-consuming cargo without any remuneration. Famous anthropologist Edmund Leach said that legal deeds of the ruler transform into illegal deeds of the ex-ruler. Rituals, the performance of which temporarily turns the power hierarchy of the society upside down and causes unauthorised actions to become authorised, are common in African tribal cultures. The audience voted on the lives of gladiators in ancient Rome. Members of the political elite often crave (for things) beyond their reach- they lie, slander, betray, etc. A common characteristic of a politician and a knight taking part in tournaments is a belief that one lives but once and one has to reach a position enabling one to experience everything human.
The circle of decision-makers that makes the choices and decisions is variegated and contradictory. Their background, understanding and attitudes can differ completely- one has clear and well-developed principles and moral criteria, the other has loose morals and is easily impressionable. The decision-makers must be guided by a broad outlook, political discretion and creativity.
Governance proceeds from written and unwritten norms. A German philosopher said that the European civilisation stands on three hills — on the Acropolis in Athens, on the Forum in Rome and on the Calvary in Jerusalem. Athens, in his words, gave us philosophy and aesthetics, Rome gave us law and public institutions, and Jerusalem gave us Christianity. Good governance always stems from good culture the wider interpretation of which includes and expresses the general body of values of people. Throughout the times studies on culture, including administrative culture have been characterised by a self-critical analysis of its position and priorities. Edward Tylor defined culture as follows: & quot-Culture… is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. "- Culture is the creation of human intellect and government. [8]
Aristotle, the godfather of ethics (384−322 B.C.) observed that the objective of ethics as a norm of value was not knowledge but behaviour. Man does not study ethics to learn what virtue (morality) is, he learns in order to become virtuous (moral). He emphasised that in case of ethics, understanding the essence of a phenomenon is not important but practical activity (praxis) is. For Aristotle, ethics was a practical science that had to show how to become a decent and virtuous person and behave as one. Academics prefer to distinguish between «ethics», «morals» and «morality». The distinguished morals are an object of research in ethics. Morals, however, are defined as a body of norms of behaviour and principles regulating human relations. [9]
Max Weber (1864−1920), German philosopher and social scientist, is the most famous theoretician of bureaucracy throughout the times adoption of whose ideas is sometimes considered as an indicator of the level of a state’s political culture and, more extensively, its intellectual life. Weber has influenced the sociological, historical and political thought of the 20th and 21st centuries whose range of sociological ideas has penetrated the humanities. Weber considers bureaucracy as a norm of government the most rational, intellectual and efficient way of organising co-operation between men.
«Experience tends universally to show that purely bureaucratic organisation … is, from a purely technical point of view, capable of attaining the highest degree of efficiency … [10, p. 223]. Weber undoubtedly spoke about an ideal-type bureaucracy and not a specific state or government institution.
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the word «bureaucrat» is never used in English for a clever and responsible official (Encyclopaedia Britannica 1967: sub verbo Bureaucracy).
One of the characteristics of bureaucracy in the Weber’s model is that all the decisions, plans, rules and guidelines are written. For example, the theory of ethics distinguishes between general codes of ethics and the codes of professional ethics. The general codes of ethics include bodies of morality norms (Latin codex — a book, a bound manuscript) intended to be followed universally. Usually the author of the codes is also known, e.g. Moses etc). The Ten Commandments are one of the oldest moral guidelines — Moses is said to have received them on two tables from Jehovah on Mount Sinai and the Judaist precept and morality is based on them.
Max Weber also emphasised professional responsibilities an individual is required to know in the profession. The necessary requirements and characteristic features that exist in a welfare society are as follows:
-there is a fixed jurisdiction, responsibilities and their limits are clearly defined- -organisation is hierarchical, so that each level is under the control of the level immediately above it- every position has clear requirements- applying for a position requires relevant training and appointments are solely based on competence-
— management is bound by specific rules- all the activities are proved by documents- there is documentary evidence of every proposal, decision, resolution and decree-
— the official is personally free- they are subject only to their professional duties-
— the official has a specific position in the hierarchy-
— the official has a clearly determined jurisdiction-
— the official is employed based on the examination results and professional qualifications with diplomas to attest to it-
— the official is paid a fixed salary and has a right to a pension- the salary group depends on the official’s position in the hierarchy, the level of responsibility associated with the position and social status-
-working as an official is the only or principal source of income for the official-
-career prospects depend on the time in service and the accomplishments mirrored in the superior’s opinion-
-officials are subject to strict unified professional discipline and supervision.
The development of democracy is the most important preventive measure against organisational diseases- the best form of anti-bureaucratic hygiene is public criticism. When we have made an agreement with ourselves, we could convene a national meeting in a place similar to agora of Athens, assembly place for vetches in Novgorod or a marketplace in Damascus. To that end, human relations instrumental to trust, responsibility and quality of decision are very important challenges in the contemporary society.
[1] Pohiseadus (Constitutional Law of the Republic of Estonia). 1992.
[2] Tsehhov A. Kirsiaed. Tallinn: Ilukirjandus ja Kunst. 1947.
[3] Montesquieu Secondat C.L. De I Espirit des Lois.
[4] Luts O. Kevade, Tartu: Noor-Eesti, 1935.
[5] Tammsaare A.H. Porgupohja uus vanapagan, Tallinn: Ilukirjandus ja Kunst, 1946.
[6] Hurt J. Kone Tartus, 1906.
[7] Tammsaare A.H. Paevaleht. 1940.
[8] Taylor Ed. Kultuur ja analuus TU. Kirjastus, 1998.
[9] Aristoteles Nicomachose eetika. Tallinn, 1996.
[10] WeberM. Economy and Society. New York: Bedminster Press, 1968.

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