By Steve Roth, a Seattle-based serial entrepreneur, and a student of economics and evolution. He blogs at Asymptosis, Angry Bear, and Seeking Alpha. Follow him on Twitter at @asymptosis. Originally published at Evonomics
In the millennias-long evolution of human societies and economic systems, we find ourselves today at a pass where three systems predominate, and fitfully cohabit: democracy, capitalism, and socialism. Most countries in the world operate with large doses of all three.
Given that, it might seem odd that there are so many loud and prominent political voices who talk about eradicating one or more of the three. These voices often represent these isms as mutually exclusive (they aren’t), and envision vaguely utopian nirvanas of true, complete socialism, true complete capitalism, or Platonic, non-democratic polities administered by benign, elite philosopher kings (and perhaps even queens).
All of those anti-ism-istic voices are spouting incoherent claptrap. Anti-capitalists on the left, anti-socialists on the right, and anti-democrats along their own fringe, are all simply loony.
Assume for the moment: the dream-goal of a polity, or at least of an economy, is to deliver widespread or even universal thriving and prosperity, economic security, and economic well-being. Now take a look at the countries that have achieved one admittedly rough and flawed measure of that: high GDP per capita. Aside from some petro-states (and their achievements are deeply contestable), no country has ever achieved or approached that goal without all three of the above. Take a look, here from the IMF ranking (middle-east petro-states excluded):
Now consider, in turn, what each of the anti-ism crowds thinks we should get rid of.
Anti-socialists. While these voices (pretend to) take aim at the notions of anti-capitalist “socialists” who want to “seize the means of production,” in practice and reality this crowd is attacking socialist institutions that are ubiquitous in every prosperous country: government-provided retirement and health care/insurance systems, free public education, government spending on infrastructure and research, programs for economic security, and — in every case — huge redistribution programs. Judging by those countries’ success, these are not the components of a Maoist or Stalinist hellhole or serfdom state. Quite the contrary.
No country has ever achieved much less maintained widespread thriving and prosperity without massive doses of this kind of “socialism.” (Obligatory proleptic response to Singapore and Hong Kong: see concluding note here.) All the history we’ve got suggests that those institutions are necessary to modern prosperity. To suggest that they should be dismantled in fond hopes of some imagined, purely capitalistic, free-market utopia that has never existed on this earth is…lunacy.
Anti-capitalists. There is a “seize the means of production” “socialist” contingent that envisions an imaginary, eventual end to something vaguely defined as capitalism. But despite endless smoldering dumpster-loads of obfuscatory Marxist and neo-Marxist tomes and tracts (yes, there is some good thinking scattered about in them), and vague intellectual gestures towards distinguishing ill-defined things like “private” vs. “personal” property, it’s completely unclear exactly what laws they want to get rid of, or replace.
They might concede, for instance, somewhat reluctantly, that you will be legally allowed to own your Kenny Loggins records. (That’s kind of them.) You might even be free to buy and sell records. But are you allowed to make a profit doing so? Or should we pass laws to make that illegal? If you run a record store or a plumbing business, are you allowed to hire employees for hourly wages? Are you allowed to “own” that business? Are you allowed to make profits based on the sweat of those employees’ brows? Crucially, if not: is jail time the punishment for doing so? If we’re going to “end capitalism,” what laws are they suggesting we should actually put in place, today? Despite (or because of) all those tomes and tracts, their answer remains radically unclear.
As with anti-socialists, the notions of “anti-capitalists” inevitably envision the eradication of institutions that are ubiquitous in (and hence presumably necessary to) thriving, prosperous economies. And as with anti-socialists, that mushy, broad-brush utopianism obscures what’s truly important: the ten thousand institutional details — specific laws, norms, and strictures of property and corporate structure — that make capitalism (and yes, corporatism) both benevolent and pernicious.
And: with those at least vaguely ridiculous notions, anti-capitalists aid and abet their very enemies — delivering live, loaded rhetorical ammunition unto the anti-socialists. Vague, wooly-headed anti-capitalism delivers a wonderfully easy, target-rich environment for hippy-punching.
Anti-democrats. This faction does exist in the political ecosystem of modern, advanced countries. It’s largely an expression, in the intellectual halls of libertarianism, of the anti-“socialist,” pro-property rights, pro-“capitalist” school. Given its logical foundations, taken to their inevitable conclusions, libertarianism ultimately resolves to anti-democratic authoritarianism. (Try a Google search for endless discussions of this manifest reality.) This is why lengthy discussions with libertarians tend to devolve into claims that theyshould be the benevolent dictators. (With the inevitable Churchill quotation in response).
None of this is to suggest that there is a political parity or symmetry among these anti-ists — at least in the United States. Anti-democrats are essentially invisible and voiceless, their message a fatal political non-starter. As for anti-capitalism, try naming one successful politician this side of the Seattle city council (one member) who even makes noises about “eradicating capitalism.” Certainly on a national stage, doing so would be political suicide. (The Bernie movement is, rather, all about the ubiquitous social institutions detailed above, and about pushbacks to corporate power within our heavily capitalistic system.) Anti-socialists, on the other hand, stand at the very pinnacles of power; their voices are manifold, loud, and widely broadcast.
But regardless of their relative political power, all of these these ill-considered, utopian, faith-based, tribalistic anti-isms are a bane on the body politic. At this point in our evolution, capitalism, socialism, and democracy are necessary for any country’s prosperity, economic freedom, and economic well-being. And they all need improvement — just as we’ve been fitfully improving things for hundreds, even thousands of years.
To quote my millennial daughter: “People need to stop throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”
Or — if you’re Grover Norquist — drowning the baby in the bathwater.
So, if he’s advocating for a mixed economy, why not just come out and say it? He seems to want European style social democracy, maybe akin to Sweden on his interpretation of the extreme side of the spectrum and the UK and South Korea on the other, more moderate side. Also, I’m not sure if he’s saying universal education through college is ubiquitous in all the countries he names because it is not. The UK and their former colonies, along with at least South Korea, often charge for college education, though at a much lower rate.
Second, his interpretation of socialism is silly out of hand and he doesn’t do the necessary work in instilling even a brief definition of what socialism is, only what he seems to think it demands. This ignores the writings of folks like Richard Wolff, who advocate for a worker-controlled system of enterprise akin to Spain’s Mondragon Corporation, who would then compete with each other in a market based system with a strong, European-style social safety net. Socialism really just advocates for redistribution of the surplus among workers as well as capitalists, then eventually eliminating single owners or owners other than the employees. One still makes profit, it’s just distributed throughout the organization instead of held by shareholders or executives or owners. That distribution doesn’t have to be equal across the board: Mondragon allows for a hierarchal system of salaries, though higher salaries are anchored in proportion to the lowest.
Third, he discounts Marxism when the main crux of Marxism (in fact the major portion of it) outside of the Communist Manifesto is an extensive, painfully detailed criticism of capitalism and intensive research into how that system works. It’s also telling that he brings up Mao and Stalin and no one else as examples of socialism. Clearly his interpretation of this idea, varied as it is in reality, is woefully under-informed.
I can’t rightfully contend with his ideas about capitalists themselves or the fringe who want to install feudalism, but if his analysis of socialism is any clue, he may be woefully uninformed there as well.
I think he just needs a working definition of what social democracy is and to go from there, instead of listing countries.
The anti-democracy movement, without any necessary reference to anti-“socialist,” pro-property rights, pro-“capitalist” libertarianism, is more of a thing than this post seems aware of. See under Neoreactionaries and Dark Enlightenment —
See also the likes of Curtis Yarvin/Mencius Moldbug, Steve Sailer, and various other twats.
The single interesting figure there is Nick Land, currently teaching philosophy in Shanghai, who is worth a read and who coined the ‘Dark Enlightenment’ term.
Oh they exist, but from what I’ve seen the verdict that they’re a bunch of powerless loons far out on the fringe is still valid. Neoreactionaries mostly just blog…and blog…and blog. They spend all their time whining in long screeds littered with historic references that don’t actually support what they laughably think pass for arguments. There are many such blogs, and few of them ever even have any comments (though how much of this is because of a total lack of interest and how much due to hyperactive moderating to ensure dissenting opinions don’t penetrate the bubble, I can’t say).
Basically it’s just an internet circlejerk of whiny dweebs who fantasize about how they would be the elite nobility in some sort of resurgent aristocracy. Really they all just need to get out and find a girl to screw them hard.
Pretty weak stuff. One looks in vain for the usual referents for discussing the antis of interest. Redistribution vs. regulation of anarchic production, directed investment in Big Projects, worker’s participation or control, etc. Instead, he apologetically focuses on GDP per capita, something recent articles have nicely shredded. It seems his reference to political suicide by talking about “eradicating capitalism” justifies intellectual sluggishness.
Yes, a heavily referenced scholarly article would better make these arguments, but it is the thesis that matters and the text reasonably supports the thesis – the very idea that governance based on ideological purity would lead to broad prosperity is a mirage. My socialist friends may bristle, but we need markets to exchange the fruits of our labor.
However, currently capitalism’s relationship to democracy is disfunctional. Neoliberal capitalism (virtually identical to libertarianism) has grossly distorted the distribution of power – away from the demos (people) and into the arms of the wealthy (elite). This was a cornerstone of Sanders’ message – the one the demos understood and the elite undermined. This leads to the conclusion that if the people want to achieve prosperity, they need to control the distribution of wealth, wealth’s access to power, or both.
But market socialism is a thing. Mondragon exists and competes. It is so a thing.
I also think he’s confusing capitalism with markets.
Bingo! (And that isn’t an accident. We’ve been conditioned over the last one hundred years to conflate the two, so that when you hear the word Capitalist you think of some industrious chap with a great idea for a good or a service, providing them to an eager, self-correcting market (so as to prevent monopoly or fraud), and earning a tidy profit from their endeavor. Everybody wins and they all live happily ever after in their little fairy tale world. What the Masters of the Universe don’t want you to think is what Capitalism really is: Using the power of money, asymmetric knowledge and fraud to create monopoly and extract rents, either through over-inflated prices or inadequate wages.)
Thanks for the clarity Krn
Now if we”ll just realize that honest accounting is important too.
I suspect we’d need to use democracy less and need a lot less socialism if the credit system did not cheat the poorer in favor of the richer via liabilities that are largely a sham.
We should all support honest accounting, I’d think.
I’ve been saying for years that I wish the American debate was, “where and how should we have government in our society?” Instead, we have half the country thinking that all government is bad and then a small portion of the other half being more anti-business than need be.
Personally, I think it’s hard to make an argument against government for things like the police department, fire department, military, FDA, SEC, etc. And interestingly enough, when you speak with many neoliberals, they tend to agree.
I also think that certain economies of scale should be nationalized. For example, utilities and cell phones. Enron brought us an ethical wonderland thanks to “privatization”. Our cell phone choices are basically an oligarchy, ripe for collusion.
On the flip side, I think there’s often far too much occupational licensing and government meddling in the world of small businesses and the little guy trying to get started. The legal barriers in the way are often pushed for by the big boys who are supposedly anti-gov’t.
So again, why can’t this be the debate… instead of the anti-ism’s?
Now run that by me again. Californians may want to comment here too. What exactly did Enron do right?
Please explain your comment.
I’m a Californian and I apologize if my sarcasm wasn’t articulated properly. I’m making the case that utilities should be nationalized for the public good. (With power, you’ve got both generation and distribution. I don’t see the ‘profit motive’ improving either of the two.)
I was using Enron as evidence in support. I’m well aware of how they basically stole millions of dollars from California thanks to “free markets!”.
Actually, it was billions Enron stole in 2001, although Enron only got a fraction of that cash. But I wholeheartedly agree with your premise – public ownership of utes is far preferable to private ownership. However, there is a difference between public ownership and operation in the public interest. I’ll bring up one of Yves favorite whipping boys – Calpers. Its prior CEO is currently in prison for accepting bribes. And, I have noticed that county commissions, city councils, and various and sundry special districts tend to be run, not by public-minded citizens, but by those who have pecuniary interest in the decisions they make, that is, folks in the land development business. This is because such positions often pay poorly so only “very interested” individuals run for positions on their governing bodies. My advice is to routinely vote against those likely to benefit from the decisions they make.
And interestingly enough, when you speak with many neoliberals, they tend to agree.
No surprise there; neo-liberals believe in government – as long as it favors the rich.
They believe in a “meritocracy” of cheaters, as far as I can tell.
By changing the title to this article just a bit, we can see that the author entirely misses the real dynamic of what’s going on. How about: “Democracy. Massive Inequality. Choose any two of the above”. These, of course, are diametrically opposite, and only one can be chosen. Capitalism is made to look benign only by associating it with selling personal records and a small plumbing business. How silly is that?
If I were to choose one aspect of the three (capitalism, socialism, democracy) to eliminate or modify, it would be the first one. Capitalism has run amok and profit does not always have to be the only goal. What about making the best product/service that can be produced and that improves the lives of yourself and others. Consider a democratic country that has private enterprise and a market economy with everyone looking out for the welfare of everyone else (socialism) and without egregious profit-making. That would be a nice place to live.
The problem with socialism is two fold. People don’t understand accrual accounting or the exponential function (usury). They are also too innumerate to understand the simpler cash accounting. Basically for most folks, they think that cash accounting is solved by simply printing more money (focusing on virtual value rather than liquidity). They also think that accrual accounting is solved simply by making more credit available or by lowering rates. Both are forms of “creative accounting”. Human beings politically engage in magical thinking, and this includes economics and government budgets. This is a result of both stupidity and dishonesty. And I don’t know of any political flavor that can solve those two. Trying to deal with this at any other level is superficial … corruption is part of human nature.
A good way to start your argument is always to begin with a blanket statement that everyone with a different opinion than your own is “loony.” Great communication skillz there!
“A pox on all your houses” isn’t a new slant. I didn’t learn much here. The author’s “anti-capitalists” are strawmen. it’s like dismissing anti-government talk by focusing on 9/11 Truthers.
And a smallish nit: his list includes quite a few banking/haven countries and Norway is a petro-state.
He’s a serial entrepreneur, what are the class interests there do you think?
At the risk of sounding like Lennon (John Lennon of course) It’s easy to distinguish personal versus productive property if you try. And I don’t think that’s really a profit you make if you sell your record collection. Any more than your wages are a profit. It’s money but it’s not profit.
“If you run a record store or a plumbing business, are you allowed to hire employees for hourly wages? Are you allowed to “own” that business? Are you allowed to make profits based on the sweat of those employees’ brows? ”
I’d be willing to entertain the idea of “no you aren’t.” I could get with the whole world being mandated to be worker co-ops being far preferable to the brutality of the current economic system.
“Crucially, if not: is jail time the punishment for doing so?”
yes if it’s illegal, just like jail time is the punishment for stealing if you aren’t able to find a job to live in the capitalist system. Should jail time be the punishment for stealing what you need to live if you have no other way to obtain it or if the way to obtain it is so inhumane or unethical that you won’t do it? Should jail time be the punishment for squatting on abandoned property if you have no roof over your head and no other way to obtain one? Capitalism says yes. Granted the issue might not come up in Scandinavia as much as say in the U.S.. because there is a safety net. In the U.S. there are over 1 million homeless people.
“To quote my millennial daughter: “People need to stop throwing out the baby with the bathwater.””
Didn’t we just throw away that entire generation or much of it? Ok not kids of privilege like his daughter maybe but….
for all the talk of say anti-capitalist not having any idea of what laws should passed, I’m not sure what his idea is of what laws should be passed. If he wants to make the case: we need laws like Denmark. Ok. I think maybe you can make the case for some countries systems even though they all have major flaws. But I really don’t think you can make any case for the U.S. system as such, it’s just too cruel, involves too much poverty, homelessness, hunger etc.. It’s just too inhumane. Not to mention too plutocratic, being actually quite undemocratic. It fails all measures of an ethical system.
I’m sorry, I stopped expecting much after millennias, and by the time I saw anti-ism-istic I gave up. A man who doesn’t think about the language he writes in probably can’t think. If some of you found value in it, more power to you!
He forgot to examine the anti-everythingists, otherwise know as the Anarchists. Without looking at them he cannot understand why all three of them together suck just as much for the poor.
otherwise know as the Anarchists.
So do we start anarchy with the existing status quo* or a re-leveling first?
But if a re-leveling first that requires a strong government and likely a strong government to enforce continued anarchy – a paradox of sorts.
*E.g. Warren Buffet gets to own Nebraska.
Is it any more of a paradox than that existing inequality relies on a strong government of sorts, because it absolutely does, and the government has been used for that again and again. I suppose Warren Buffet would have more money to hire his own private army to keep his own Nebraska than most (the only way he’d keep it short of having government). But historically they have always relied on government to assist in their dirty work.
I would put anarchists purely in the anti-capitalist camp though. Not always anti-market, but definitely anti-capitalist.
Interesting that the author’s list of prosperous countries also matches those countries that exploit tax avoidance schemes for the rich, as described by the Tax Justice Network. The list also includes those countries that wage real war or economic war on the rest of the world, creating tyranny and anti-democracy in the third world that is ripe for exploitation.
GDP is a poor measure of “widespread or even universal thriving and prosperity, economic security, and economic well-being.” The author was correct when he admitted it was a “flawed measure” and should have stopped there.
This article seems to be just more neoliberal nonsense arguing for the status quo.
“We are under threat in this country, and that threat is the status quo.”
The human race is its own worst enemy and constantly works against any wider system of society.
The human race is not sufficiently developed for socialism due to its primitive self-interest and inability to see the bigger picture and work together constructively.
The human race doesn’t really like fair competition either and constantly looks to undermine capitalism. The wealthy soon set up mechanisms to ensure their children get to the top like private schools and universities; they don’t want their children competing on a level playing field. When business, financial and political elites are drawn from the same small pool (Ivy League Universities – US) crony capitalism and endemic corruption follow.
The ruling class like to give the illusion of democracy whilst trying to ensure it is just an illusion. PR companies are employed to constantly manipulate public perceptions. What flavour of Wall Street do you want this time? Democrat or Republican?
The human race is its own worst enemy, throwing a mix of the three at it is your only hope.
why is this posted on this blog? its really half-assed. are we supposed to tear it apart? or did i miss somthing
Interesting that so many public intellectuals–right and left–are beginning to talk about a minimum guaranteed income to deal with an economy that produces huge amounts of stuff with fewer and fewer workers needed to do it. Increasing output with decreasing aggregate demand–solved by giving everyone “x” amount of dollars to buy all this good stuff.
Socialism arriving from within a largely capitalist system–just as so many socialists said it would happen: as a practical solution to a crisis in existing society. The only thing standing in the way is…prejudice against people of color, the military-industrial complex, outmoded nationalism (ie., imperialism), patriarchy, hatred of the poor, and the narcissism of Wall St. Fortunately, more and more middle and upper middle class kids will experience downward social mobility, thereby providing the political bridge to getting on with providing everyone a “free ride” in order to consume the abundance produced by our remarkable material culture.
‘Anti-capitalists. There is a “seize the means of production” “socialist” contingent that envisions an imaginary, eventual end to something vaguely defined as capitalism.’
Strange, I’m pretty sure I can find numerous writings that very specifically define capitalism.
‘But despite endless smoldering dumpster-loads of obfuscatory Marxist and neo-Marxist tomes and tracts (yes, there is some good thinking scattered about in them)’
Odds on him ever having actually sat down and read a serious Marxist work?
Yes, but I know the kind of writing he means, like the random essays that appear on a place like Counterpunch (and I enjoy and often agree with that site but …) blaming everything under the sun on capitalism.
That stuff isn’t going to convince anyone of anything as such “capitalism” is too ubiquitous, we’re the fish in water, it’s the air we breath, and there aren’t that many non-capitalists places to compare to (well there is Cuba). And it’s unclear that some of the problems aren’t just “human nature” rather than “capitalism” (like for instance corruption). And for instance capitalism is an extremely ecologically destructive system, there is no doubt it is the driver of vast amounts of ecological destruction, but alternatives to capitalism are not sufficient by themselves to solve this unless they very specifically make it central.
The missed definition of capitalism, correctly called out in the comments is for me the weakest point of this very brief little essay. But he or she uses the common street, albeit wrong, definition of capitalism that is now common usage, and if one ignores that the author is pretty right on. Given the piece’s succinct nature, complaining about what it doesn’t include or elaborate upon kind of misses its obvious intent.
I like the piece, it seems brimming with common sense, and arrives at a place pretty close to where I’ve arrived at by just looking at reality as best I might and drawing what feel like pretty obvious conclusions from what I observe.
How can someone know so little about socialism and be from Seattle where they elect them to City Council positions with almost a hundred thousand votes?
An interesting fundamental failure of any form of society, is the failure to evolve accountability, in all its forms, as a sustaining process for the social system.
Accountability in the broadest interpretation is, fundamentally, a two-way process beginning with individuals, to themselves (retrospection) and their peers, extending all the wat through to an aggregation, at the level of the society, politics & law. Break the two-way feedback loop and all sorts of problems arise, benign at first and ever increasing in complexity, until the demise of powers, we see much of this taking place around us.
Perhaps we should begin by teaching accountability as a process, to the future of humanity, our children. Humanity will be very different with such an outlook on all things social.
Beginning a debate along these lines, may reveal interesting opportunities for us all…
an evolution for the better.
The whole point of fame, wealth and power .. is to undermine accountability. Accountability means that authority is matched with responsibility. Society seeks to maximize authority while avoiding responsibility … for a select group of people.
Yes, water flows, where water will flow, uninhibited. The point is that accountability, being confined to only, the ‘matching’, of authority and responsibility, has the effect, in broad perception, of leaving the entire sphere of accountability, up to someone else, somewhere, usually perceived to be higher up in the tree of authority, or society. This becomes the essence of the ‘denial of responsibility’ at the individual level and forms a perception of ‘opting out’ through disillusionment in being able to do anything effective about issues. These together, function as the two sides, in effect, ‘creating’ the same coin of limited accountability. One may apply this sort of scrutiny to the three social paradigms in the title post with some interesting common themes of the social process, deriving.
The impulse for an individual or aware groups of individuals, to act or ‘take responsibility’ is generally frowned upon and in fact, has negative consequences in far too many instances where, sensibly, the intention is to correct any perceived ‘malfunction’. Contemporary society has the technology to facilitate monitoring and regulation to a far greater extent than ever before and yet, the trend of limiting accountability, is extending. Where or what, is the nature of this problem?
Applying creative analysis to such issues, will open up opportunities for evolving solutions or at least, raise awareness that may eventually lead to effective, optimistic change.
One perspective is to determine where, in the social strata, the ‘matching’ (of the authority and responsibility) is performed and perhaps more importantly, where the locus exists, if any(!), of the access to effectively ensure the raising of compliance. This question of effective process, rises, particularly where the Law has been manipulated in such a way that the avoidance of consequences, occurs in the moment of the application of the Law. The closed loop of self-regulation, vested-interest stakeholder and restricted, consultation procedures, when statute is proposed and enacted, is having the consequence of a zero-sum effect, when eventually the Law is applied.
For the majority of us, the ‘matching’ (authority & responsibility) process, has been reduced to a simplistic determining, of how far up the status tree the participants have been able to progress. A metric of popularity, untouchability or, the accompanying inverse even, a metric of fear or disdain, for these social strata(not necessarily ‘higher’), establishes as in acceptable form, the politics of ‘hate’, from the mild to the extreme. When people begin to organize and act on this perception and premise, the whole of humanity, faces a growing problem.
In the sphere of authority and responsibility, the criteria for ‘matching’, have been persistently diminished, in effect, this is an ‘intended incompetence’ by and for, those that it serves, in positions of relative authority. This erosion establishes itself as a normalized process, of the diminishing of scrutiny and transparency, hence facilitating the exercising of the power according to authority, the coercion, domination and control, without proper recourse by those on the receiving end of the paradigm.
More importantly, it is the ‘outcome’ of the ‘matching’ that has been corroded so that pessimistic actions continue, without recourse, or even, a regulatory consequence. Degradation of ‘the matching’ of authority and responsibility, is the key area where the process of accountability has been most seriously undermined in a creeping manner, at all levels of relation, the political, economic, social or intra-individual. The degradation occurring, particularly when, in a polar functioning society, the supposed ‘oppositional identities’, in the form of, for example, political parties or allegiances, have both been discredited or degraded. In a way, all oppositional or adversarial processes, could degrade to this level of function, particularly when people choose to no longer participate, for whatever reasons they may have, many being reasonable when the negative consequences of acting, are assessed. The result, is usually to become pessimistic, more conservative, fearful and defensive in outlook in subtle ways, an opting-out coping mechanism for individuals facing such predicaments and forming the basis of a social process in aggregation. In this way the cause of the problem of corroding accountability, is gifted another degree of freedom.
Consider, for example, that whistle blowing may exist for the reason that the process of accountability is not considered to be of importance for a properly functioning society or organization. Hence, we have the uncomfortable realization, when procedures are exposed as having gone ‘too far’ by somewhat ‘arbitrary’ standards that have been applied, usually when procedures are observed that contradict the stated norms of functioning, by any organization (of any scale). On the other hand, the process will continue and evolve, unhindered, while it continues to not be exposed or revealed, as needing the attention of such a broader scrutiny.
All in, perhaps, a few more pointers to my needing to reduce coffee intake!