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State construction and government projects

If a child gets hold of a hammer, then all objects in the house turn into nails - and this means that it is not the child who owns the tool, but the tool owns the child. If agents performing the roles of a cyber-physical system engineer, a teacher (engineer of personalities), a manager (organizational engineer), a politician (engineer of society) are given the opportunity to access budget funds, then they will certainly take advantage of it, because it is extremely profitable: in fact, money is collected for the creation of a system that is needed by someone or even not needed, or even harmful to many, from many people under the threat of punishment for non-payment of taxes, and given to one of these agents (individual or collective, it doesn't matter). Why not take on a profitable project?

There are also projects for the construction of a state, the maintenance of one or another authority, and the accompanying economic authority (that is, the violent collection of taxes and their redistribution for various purposes).

If a state-building agent (it must be clearly understood that by doing so, the state-builder supports a certain policy/strategy for the state, so he is a politician::role) acquaints himself with a systemic approach, systems engineering, personality engineering, management, then he will certainly want to use them to increase the chance of achieving his interests at the expense of the interests of other competing politicians (remember that politicians fight among themselves for the realization of shared ideas about the organization of society, they compete for resources).

Classical systems engineering in its "hardware" and "software" engineering forms, cyber-physical systems engineering for the purposes of state-building, cannot be used; it is primarily used for projects to create and/or modernize cyber-physical-human systems of small scales (aerospace projects compared to state systems - this is a very small scale). The watchmaker metaphor (design - detail manufacturing - assembly) is not applicable here, this is a system of systems, and it needs to be nurtured/educated. Although you can "educate" it very quickly: say, for example, "pay taxes - and sleep peacefully" and threaten with prison for non-compliance. Everyone will learn, and quickly!

In classical systems engineering projects, even for large cyber-physical systems (aircraft, submarines, rockets), project roles related to "traditional" hardware or even software-hardware systems are clearly defined. These methods cannot be used for social engineering, they do not work with communities and societies - and these are the main systems that states deal with (whatever the meaning of this "state" is defined as: as a country; as all officials of the country, but without citizens; as all citizens of the country together with officials; as an object of international law, etc.). Management methods as business engineering will also work poorly: they will work well where relationships of labor and capital allocation are understood, where bosses give orders to subordinates. This means that management within a certain government organization can be adjusted, but “citizen management” cannot be organized along the lines of management, that is, only “state-building-without-citizens” can be done, which may not only be senseless, but also harmful. This immediately refers to ethics: can some people dictate to others how to live if there is no explicitly signed contract between the two, but a "presumed social contract" or some other convenient fiction that forces free individuals to obey some other organized people in government simply because they were born somewhere sometime, without signing anything like a contract.

In state-building, large systems are mainly made up of an undefined number of people, who are unfamiliar or completely unknown to the system creators - communities and societies. Note that while creating engineering projects, such as quite programmable-hardware surveillance systems, efficient killing systems (usually called weapons, and remember that all ministries of attack in the world call themselves ministries of defense), systems for coercing tax payment, etc. - these are directly related to state-building projects, and they are not so much about creating and developing "hardware" and "software" as they are about creating and developing means of direct (most often violent) impact on people. This raises ethical questions immediately, as these rely on violent means for their implementation. But within the perpetrators themselves, this is just "business as usual", and ethical questions do not even come to mind.

Who are the creators of systems made up of people, and why do they think it is possible to direct other people on how to live (or even force them not to live, as in the case of gas wagons), all the while using the violence of the state machine to dictate their rules and threaten violence for non-compliance?

A brief piece of advice - if you must engage in state-building, then use knowledge of ethics, political science, conflict resolution, law, economics, sociology, and systems thinking in its "soft" (soft systems) forms, but do not apply systems thinking in the forms of systems engineering of cyber-physical systems, system management as enterprise engineering, as you are used to using it for thinking about systems at the levels of inert substances, creatures, individuals, organizations/companies. These projects are usually not even at the level of a small community, but at the level of society, where you do not personally know the people it affects (including those whose taxes were taken for this purpose and then offered to sleep peacefully).

The state and the people in it are not sections of a submarine, not details of medical equipment, not even a nuclear power plant together with its personnel. A pilot will hardly kill anyone upon personal encounter, but a city can be easily bombed, as the city is far away and deaths are not visible. People involved in work with the state must remember that they will have to play roles that reduce the freedoms of citizens - the state does not grant freedoms, it primarily restricts them. This is the ethical choice of people helping the state.

Every project for creating and developing systems always has clearly defined external project roles that pay for this project: project clients (who can be many and different!). Who is the client in state-building? Politicians? Civil servants? "The people" (for example, as described by an opinion poll or the results of a focus group)? The "elite" (and who defines it)? Expert groups (the "technocracy" option - but how to choose the "right" one from these numerous expert groups, as they all speak differently and often directly oppose one another, and they very well justify this opposition)? Who should they ask: there is a terrible confusion. Epistemologists laughed during the pandemic that they are confused with epidemiologists - journalists, and sometimes even civil servants asked for comments on what was happening. But this is a common situation - at any unfamiliar meeting, you need to find someone's opinion. For example, you can ask a celebrity - and suddenly famous actors and journalists speak on political topics (and not famous sociologists).

It must be clearly understood that in state-building and state orders, it is about politics, not about the classic project roles in system creation. Do not deceive yourself by saying, "there is an order, it is paid from the budget, therefore the role of the project client is the civil servant who will sign the acceptance certificate for me." Civil servants just usurped the right to formulate orders and spend money on behalf of the "people," and their actions can be directly opposed to what people in the same "people" would consider acceptable. Can civil servants fulfill project client roles? No, they just pretend to represent the "people" in their orders, but they do not play the role of representatives of the "people": their families may be concerned about a "kickback", the project may be seen as a convenient opportunity for a "rake-off", and the results for state-building itself may not be of concern at all; they will not perform the client project role for the state project, they have completely different roles - these are roles in their personal and family projects, or even personal projects of the enrichment of their superiors (further they will have a personal justification "I was just following orders" and "in any case, they will steal, so I'd better be the one to do it rather than someone else").

But the fact that civil servants may adopt personal enrichment requests, and only pretend to play the roles of representatives of the "people" in orders without being actually representatives of the "people" in-state orders, is not the main issue. The main thing is that fundamentally, the role of the representative "people" cannot be played! State-building is primarily politics, and what is a success for one person playing a role of a politician can be a complete failure for another due to different ideological beliefs. Someone may think that abortions are bad from an ethical perspective, and someone else may think that abortions are a salvation for young people. Someone may believe that free (i.e., at the expense of taxpayers) education should be provided for primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, and someone else may believe that education should be paid for personally and should not be regulated in terms of content - otherwise there will be no diversity in education, which is bad for human development.

There are as many differences in interests (preferences for important characteristics of systems at various system levels) as there are different political groups "in the people." Therefore, state projects will always be unsuccessful by definition: the preferences of all external project roles will never be taken into account in them, and even these preferences cannot be identified honestly and fairly. Remember that by the definition of systems engineering, a successful system is one that takes into account the preferences in the values of important characteristics/interests for all its external project roles.

If you believe that something in politics is honest and fair, be prepared for other people to accuse you of complete incompetence, dishonesty, and unfairness - they would consider something completely different as honest and fair. Attitudes towards abortions, migrants, euthanasia, progressive taxation, support for various sectors of the economy, excise taxes - there are no questions for which opposing viewpoints do not exist. This is why mutual accusations of unethical behavior, incompetence, dishonesty, and unfairness will always exist. Why do you assume that you are right, and not those others? Why might you think that you are right, and not those who are in direct opposition? From common perspective, "those others" have received the same education and are generally as knowledgeable, and certainly are not criminals. What led you to believe that you are right and not those others? Why should you carry out the ideas of the state project and not others who want to implement something completely opposite? By common sense, all members of a community have received similar education, and generally are not idiots, and most certainly not criminals. Why should you manage tax money, rather than someone else or those other government clients or politicians? Moreover, opponents can be of many different kinds, in politics there are many options for each possible project solution for the organization of society; there certainly are more than just two options - "correct" and "incorrect."

Of course, formally for a state project, there may be signed documents by certain officials (individuals in roles of civil servants) like a "project passport," a "collectively accepted technical assignment," and even a report of its "successful" implementation. But this will be a "success" from the perspective of those officials who signed the documents, no other external project roles. Some civil servants may sign something related to the project as a "success," while other politicians may protest on the same topic, write newspaper articles about the obvious harm of the same project, and try to express their dissatisfaction in various other ways - in systems engineering and system management, ignoring all these roles is considered less than an ideal method/practice/culture, such a project cannot be considered successful.

When someone's taxes are collected in the form of taxes, and they are then spent on a project, the mere presence of which the taxpayer does not agree with - this is the very essence, the lack of consideration for the main project role, the owner of their money, even though it has already been taken into the budget. By the way, these funds are taken by force - no one voluntarily pays taxes, they are only paid under the threat of imprisonment, so the lack of success begins at this point, we cannot say that "money does not smell" - no, budget money has a scent, they were not paid for services, but taken to pay later.

The main project role in state-building, state orders, projects related to government agencies - is the "people," so there is a large number of people who want to say something on behalf of the "people" in the budget line and in the project passport, and sign the report on behalf of the "people." Thus, many people want to express their thoughts in the budget list and the project passport, as well as to sign the report on behalf of the "people." Many discussions are held by politicians and civil servants about subsidiarity, participation, checks and balances, but the fact remains a fact - there are no successful projects in the state by Hamburg account. The opinion of success will always be a private opinion of some group of people with certain role preferences. But other people, whose role interests are different, will be greatly dissatisfied, and such other people always exist within the "people." But since the government is armed with police power and the tax money of these dissatisfied people (and this police and its salary are also paid out of these same taxes), these people will not be able to do anything about it. This is all politics, this is not system management, not project management, not systems engineering of technical systems, not medicine, or education.

You will build the state and organize state projects not from your lifeless material, but always from someone else's with their own brains: from other people. People - these are not iron, and not computers. Do not think that you are the one who will build something successful/good from them - either for you or for those other people. Do not think that as a systems thinker (system manager, engineer, or even a programmer, a shoemaker, or cultural worker) you are qualified to build something out of people, implementing certain ideas of state-building. These people, like self-owned systems, from which you will try to build systems of systems, are not your materials for construction, and they are not the materials of your client officials, client politicians. They are self-owned, they are all their own. And they can want to build something out of you as well - including something you won't like. The golden rule works here as well: do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.

A safety engineer may protect the system from enemies (anti-clients). A state-building engineer cannot be a safety engineer unless they are building a prison. Developers of state regulations all build a prison; they are paid precisely for this, no one ever pays for deregulation, for lifting restrictions on free activity. Think about this before you go on to build another block of the state, which will further gain authoritarian powers, and use them to grow and acquire even more authority. If an order to build gas wagons is profitable, it does not mean that this order should be taken. And no, systems thinking cannot be made "softer with ethics", ethics is present in all systems thinking considerations.

One must also be very careful about citing examples of systems engineering from military projects and projects from other areas that are entirely regulated by the government, for example, projects in nuclear energy. Since these sectors operate on the principle of "cost plus" from the budget (actual costs incurred in the project, plus an agreed small percentage of profit), only complete idiots would not gradually increase the cost and duration of projects year after year, thereby increasing the profit. Look at civilian technology, its cost, the growth of technical specifications, and development times over the past twenty years (take smartphones, for example: twenty years ago there were hardly any cell phones, let alone smartphones), and compare it to military technology - with development times and costs. The difference will be striking. Therefore, it should be recognized that while there are many interesting methodological findings in military systems engineering, blindly copying this experience is not possible: you may inadvertently copy decent-looking methods of increasing costs and prolonging development. On the free market, firms with such methodologies would not survive, but in the military pseudo-markets, completely different laws apply. And of course, every systems engineer must address the ethical issue for himself: does he want to design and build killing machines (this is what military systems engineering does). In 2007, SpaceX presented at the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) conference[1], and in 2020 there was no SpaceX at this conference, but many engineers from military and government projects were present. The frontier is no longer considered by INCOSE, systems thinking has moved to companies that focus on the market rather than on military and government applications. Today, the state and war are associated not with progress and technical achievements, but with stagnation and inefficient spending on armament.

The same is true for systems management: military management is clearly not a model of how management should be organized in civilian life, although many superiors would like their subordinates to march in line. Therefore, read books by military leaders carefully, do not take examples from military culture at face value, do not assume that the found military techniques in dealing with people will work outside the barracks.


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