Keltham was supposed to start by telling them all to use their presumably-Civilization-trained skill of 'perspective-taking-of-ignorance' to envision a hypothetical world where nothing resembling Coordination had started to happen yet. Since, after all, you wouldn't want your thoughts about the best possible forms of Civilization to 'cognitively-anchor' on what already existed.
You can imagine starting in a world where all the same stuff and technology from present Civilization exists, since the question faced is what form of Governance is best-suited to a world like that one. Alternatively, imagine an alternative form of the exercise involving people fresh-born into a fresh world where nothing has yet been built, and everybody's just wandering around over a grassy plain.
Either way, you should assume that everybody knows all about decision theory and cooperation-defection dilemmas. The question being asked is not 'What form of Governance would we invent if we were stupid?'
Civilization could then begin - maybe it wouldn't actually happen exactly that way, but it is nonetheless said as though in stories - Civilization could then begin again, when people envisioned running out of stored food a couple of years later. Standing around all these beautiful complicated machines that people remembered how to operate, but required multiple people working together to operate, which nobody was yet incentivized to operate.
Or Civilization could begin for the first time, when the Hypothetical Newly-Created Educated People imagined trying to build shelters for themselves, or sow food-plants to grow; and thought to themselves that there would be less point in doing that, if others would just move into the shelters as soon as they walked away, or eat the crops that they had sown.
And people then would say to themselves, "What if we tried something else which is not that?"
It continues into a new problem, the problem of motivating such socially-useful actions as 'producing food', for if nobody does this, soon nobody will eat.
You can imagine lesser solutions, collective farming of collectively guarded fields, monitors on hard work and rewards of food access. But these are simultaneously too 'simplistic' and 'overcomplicated', the very opposite of an 'elegant-solution'. People can work harder, invest more effort, for a usually 'monotonically-increasing' reward, a function operated directly by the Environment, by 'physical-law'. There just needs to be some system whereby, when people work, they are themselves the ones to benefit from it.
But this requires a far more complicated form of coordinated action, something that 'bounded-agents' lack the computational power to consider as a giant macroaction of their 'collective-agent'. The optimal macrostrategy must be lossily projected down into simplified mental rules for individuals, a notion of imaginary-ownership-tagging: if one person sows food-plants within a field, and waters them and protects them, everybody around them will behave as if the resulting food-crop is tagged with an imaginary pointer to that person, saying that the food may be consumed by them alone. Or only consumed by those others the food's 'owner' designates, at their own decision... that seems like it should obviously be an option built into the system too...
And once you create an imaginary structure of coordinated action that elegantly-complicated, the consequences and further-required-features inevitably explode; the explosion that results is Civilization's basic form nearly in toto.
People could often benefit from other people doing various things for them, but they must of course do something for the other in exchange. If things have socially-constructed tags pointing to people, who alone may use or consume those things, why not let people announce that the pointer now points to someone else? That's one way of doing something in return, for somebody who did some task for you, that was easier for them than for you.
If fields can be owned and an owned field produces owned produce in the future, why not let people announce that some of the future produce can point to some other owner?
Often the announcements of changed imaginary ownership are meant to be traded, executed one in exchange for another. Then a new version and feature-expansion of the system can eliminate the uncertainty about whether the other will announce their bargained ownership change, after you announce yours: imaginary contracts, that molecularize the atomic actions into a transaction that executes simultaneously on both sides, only after both sides announce the same contract.
Do people want to work on some larger endeavor - specialize in different aspects of farming, and collectively challenge a larger farm? Let the tags, in the eyes of society, point to persistent imaginary constructs, specified in some contract specification language; a corporation is one such persistent contract.
Let this system expand, let people use it enough, and there will predictably come a point where there aren't lots of untagged resources nearby for somebody to tag in society's eyes.
Once there are not plenty of new plots of land to tag and farm, people may indeed begin to ask, 'Why should this land be owned by them and not me?'
Because they did some work on that land? If that's the rule, then won't people who foresee the predictable scarcity later, run around trying to plow small shallow furrows through every potential field within the reach of running, trying to tag as much land as pointing to themselves as possible?
And when all that land has been used up, wouldn't the people who were slower runners and didn't end up with any land - wouldn't new children born into this world, for that matter - ask themselves and perhaps ask out loud:
"If this elaborate imaginary social construct doesn't offer me any benefits for going along with the pretense - if the system says that little or nothing has an imaginary tag pointing to me - then in what sense is this even coordination, from my perspective? Why would I cooperate in the coordinated rule of not eating things tagged as pointing to others, if the result is that there's nothing for me to eat? Where's my fair share of the rewards for playing along with this pretend game, for cooperating with what this imaginary tagging system says is my part and my action in it?"
This concept, incidentally, took some arguments to persuade into tiny Keltham, when he was first hearing about all this. Tiny Keltham had a very strong instinctive sense that objects just were owned by people, and that what made a system fair and right was entirely that only the people who owned objects could do anything with them or transfer them to other people.
It was hard for tiny Keltham, at first, to see past his instinctive suspicion that people asking 'What's my reward for cooperating with this system?' were about to use that as an excuse to storm onto his hypothetical farm and eat his food that he'd worked to produce, and call that their share, without doing any work themselves.
Older children's attempted arguments about 'put yourself into that other person's shoes' repeatedly failed on Keltham, who kept replying that he wouldn't take anybody else's stuff period.
But tiny Keltham was eventually persuaded - by a Watcher, then, not by an older child - by the argument that it is an internally-consistent imaginary tagging system to say that some single person Elzbeth owns all the land in the world. Everybody else has to work those lands and give Elzbeth a share of anything that grows there, since by default it would just end up tagged as hers, unless they agree to pay half their gains to her.
The question then becomes, why should anybody else except Elzbeth play along with this imaginary system, once it gets to that point? Why shouldn't everyone who isn't Elzbeth, all just wake up out of this bad dream, and do something else which is not that?
Keltham asked if maybe the system had started out with everybody owning an equal amount of land, but Elzbeth had been a really clever asset-trader and ended up owning everything in the world after a series of voluntary transactions; in which case it seemed to him that fair was fair.
The Watcher told Keltham that, even if the last generation had gotten the world into that state through a series of voluntary transactions, the children born into it might look around and see that no land was tagged to them, that everything was tagged to Elzbeth. They would ask what they were receiving in exchange for playing along with that particular delusion, and why they should not imagine some other tagging system instead, in which their coordinated action in playing along would actually receive any reciprocal benefit or reward.
And tiny Keltham growled and stomped around for a while, but finally conceded that, fine, the pointers were imaginary and yes it took more than just a consistent tagging system running on strictly voluntary transactions to make the whole thing be fair or right. The elegant core structure was necessary-but-not-sufficient.
The unimproved land, the raw resources, these things must be tagged with ownership for the owners to have an incentive to improve them. It doesn't mean that this tagging need be considered as free to the new owner.
Discard the obvious-first-solution-that-is-wrong of charging somebody an amount of food or other worked goods, to tag previously untagged land, and redistributing those payments equally among everyone in the world. Even leaving aside the question of how that system initially starts farming anything at all, it inevitably arrives at a point where there's no untagged land left or it's impossibly expensive. Whereupon the next generation of children, being born with no land tagged to them and no payments for newly bought land coming in, will again begin to ask, "Why should I play along with this imaginary arrangement at all; where's my payoff for coordinating my action with yours?"
More sensible then to regard people as renting land and other raw-resource sources, at their unimproved price of course, but still an unimproved price set by competitive bidding - albeit perhaps for long-term leases, etcetera.
When you are born, you conceptually acquire a share in this whole system -
Of course tiny Keltham immediately demanded his accumulated profits from his share of all the land-rents in the world, and demanded also to know why he had never been told about this before.
The Watcher again had to be brought in to explain to Keltham that, conceptually speaking, his share was mostly going into maintaining a lot of non-rival non-excludable goods, or services that Civilization thought should be provided to literally everyone even if in principle they weren't public goods. The value of unimproved land wasn't as high as Keltham was imagining in the first place; dath ilan still had whole forests just lying around not being used for anything -
Tiny Keltham said that he had absolutely not consented for his share of the land rents to be used for non-rival non-excludable anything, and from now on he wanted it delivered to him in the form of actual money he could spend on what he wanted.
…could he please wait and listen to the whole story before getting angry? said the Watcher.
Tiny Keltham was incredibly suspicious, but he did already have a great deal of experience with adult craziness turning out to be more reasonable than he had at first thought. Tiny Keltham agreed to go on listening for a while longer, then, before he started trying to persuade all the other children that they ought to band together and overthrow Civilization to get their fair share of the land rents, in the form of actual money, delivered to them right now.
Because, you see - it was said to tiny Keltham - returning to the Hypothetical Newly-Created Educated People, at some point their system is going to grow large enough that even with everybody receiving benefits for their participation in the system, there will still be defectors. There will be people who just don't want to go along with the system, and try to eat food with a tag on it that points to somebody else.
Now the nascent Civilization needs police that can outfight any individual thief; and, since Newly-Created Educated People aren't stupid, they know they obviously need to ensure that the collective of all of them can always outfight the police. Neither of these 'features' are cheap, and neither easily lend themselves to private ownership -
Tiny Keltham said that he'd be happy to pay for the police to protect him, out of his share of the land-rent, once it was being paid to him in actual money, and he didn't see why Governance had to take his money and use it without his permission supposedly to protect him with police.
Why couldn't people just pay for police who sold their services on the market like everybody else? Or if it was much more efficient to police larger regions at once, why couldn't his sub-city in Default provide police, and then Keltham would help his parents pay their share of the house-rent out of his share of the land-rent being paid to him directly -
Because the police have weapons, tiny Keltham! What if the police for a sub-city decide one day that, in this sub-city, it's fine to raise kids of Keltham's age, and force them to work in exchange for only enough food to keep them alive? What if the police decide that nobody in the city block is allowed to hire different police, and take all their stuff to make sure they can't afford them? What if somebody dies and their head doesn't get cooled and preserved fast enough? That's the kind of thing that Civilization as a whole has to prevent, as a universal regulation with no opt-outs, so it doesn't happen anywhere in Civilization. Even if you thought people should be able to opt-out of any and every protection as adults, you'd still have to check to make sure they weren't having kids.
In fact, tiny Keltham, your subcity does contract with a police agency to do a lot of ordinary policing, and it does appear in your parents' rent on the 'foundation' for their 'house-module'; but Governance has to provide oversight of that policing, and that costs money. Cryosuspension emergency response on constant standby service costs money. Protecting the Waiting Ones in their frozen sleep costs money. Maintaining the election system to pick people to run the Government that regulates armed police costs money. Quiet Cities to host the 5% of people who can't be happy working in Civilization, and who are thus held injured by what Civilization has chosen to become, cost actually quite a lot of money. No, most people won't need the Quiet option; but everyone, when they're born, can be considered as needing an insurance policy against that happening to them, and that insurance policy costs money.
Subsidized policy-prediction_markets to make all those institutions work boundedly-optimally cost money.
When you add up everything like that, which Governance has to do for everyone or can't just sell to individuals separately, it actually does eat all the rent of unimproved land plus all of Governance's other revenue streams. Lots of individual philanthropists fund Governance on top of that, so that Civilization can have a bigger Government than basic rents alone will support - so that there can be Annual Alien Invasion Rehearsal Festivals, say, or so that Quiet Cities can have nicer things.
(Most philanthropies in Civilization with room for more funding accomplish roughly the same amount of marginal good per marginal labor-hour, according to most people's utility functions. If you've got a fairly conventional philanthropic utility function, you get to pick whichever random charity or impact-certificate market best matches your personal taste there, including just throwing your money at Governance. It's like buying individual-stock equity investments; there's more volatility, but all the expected returns are the same.) (In Civilization, that is.)
Tiny Keltham demanded to see the actual accounts of which 'essential public services' his share of the land-rent was getting spent on.
He was promptly provided them, in easy-to-read format for children with lots of helpful pictures. Lots of dath ilani children demand to see those accounts, at some point.
With great focus and concentration, tiny Keltham managed to read through twenty-two pages of that, before getting bored and running off to play.
(This placed him in the 97th percentile for how far most children read at that age.)
The explanation to tiny Keltham resumed the next day with the workings of Governance.
Conceptually and to first-order, the ideal that Civilization is approximating is a giant macroagent composed of everybody in the world, taking coordinated macroactions to end up on the multi-agent-optimal frontier, at a point along that frontier reflecting a fair division of the gains from that coordinated macroaction -
Well, to be clear, the dath ilani would shut it all down if actual coordination levels started to get anywhere near that. Civilization has spoken - with nearly one voice, in fact - that it does not want to turn into a hivemind. This is why 'dath ilan' deliberately doesn't have Baseline's agency-marker on it, like the name of a person; dath ilan is not allowed to become a person. It is high on the list of Things Dath Ilan Is Not Allowed To Do. There was a poll once - put forth either by wacky trolls or sincere negative utilitarians - over how many people would, if they were voting on it directly, vote to put the agency-marker back into 'Dath Ilan'; 98% of respondents said no.
Dath ilan has decided to definitely not turn into a hivemind. If it ever starts to get even close to that, everyone in Civilization will decide in nearly unanimous accord that they would rather do something else which is not that, and end up not there. Conformity levels are bad enough already, according to their democracy's collective vote on the desired levels of that! And predicted to get slightly worse over the next 10 years, according to the prediction markets that aggregate all of Civilization's knowledge into a single opinion that represents what Civilization as a whole can be said to know about any future observable, which few sane people would dare to question too much even in the privacy of their own thoughts!
But for moral purposes, for purposes of understanding what 'Civilization' represents as a decision individuals make to coordinate among themselves, it represents moving partway towards aggregating all coordinating parties in dath ilan into one macroagent that weighted-sums their utility functions together, at a weighting that ends up giving every subagent a fair share of the gains according to their individual utility functions.
If something like this macroagent actually existed, any time the macroagent faced a decision it had to make globally for one reason or another, it would make that decision in a way that reflected the preferences of everybody inside it. "Nobody anywhere gets to run a city where some children don't get to learn Baseline, even for the noblest possible purposes of scientific experimentation to see what happens if you raise kids speaking only your new improved language instead" - this is a decision made over everywhere; if there's any loophole somewhere, something will happen that most people in Civilization think should not happen anywhere.
(This example, to be clear, was selected on the basis of its controversy; propositions like "all children get to learn some human language during their critical maturation period" pass with much higher supermajorities. "Children don't have imaginary-ownership-tags pointing to their parents", goes the proverb out of dath ilan; there are limits to what Civilization thinks a guardianship-tag on a child should allow a parent to do.)
The system of imaginary ownership-tags, likewise by its nature, is something that needs at least some global structure. It can potentially divide into compartments that fit sub-social-systems, say where a family is tracking who owns what in an informal way that property-registers don't track. But there's not much reliability in owning the food in your refrigerator, if anybody anywhere in dath ilan isn't part of the system and can come in and eat your food in a way the police will shrug and not do anything about.
There is, at the top level, one system of private property. In the eyes of the rest of Civilization, weird experimental cities that are trying something else still have all the stuff inside them tagged as belonging to a persistent-contract representing that city; the rest of Civilization will not come in and eat their food unless the city's persistent-contract says they can.
Now in practice, dath ilani are still mostly human, and therefore way too computationally bounded to aggregate into even a not_too_visibly_incoherent-bounded_approximation of a macroagent.
Conceptually and to second-order, then, Civilization thinks it should be divided into a Private Sphere and a Public Shell. Nearly all the decisions are made locally, but subject to a global structure that contains things like "children may not be threatened into unpaid labor"; or "everybody no matter who they are or what they have done retains the absolute right to cryosuspension upon their death"; or the top level (in most places the only level) of the imaginary system of ownership-tags and its contract-specification-language.
The vast supermajority of Civilization's real economic activity takes place within the Private Sphere, supported and contained and constrained and structured by the Public Shell. It's not that activity inside the Private Sphere is uncoordinated. It's that the decision as to how coordinated to be, and who to coordinate with about it, can be left up to each individual, computed locally - so long as they don't kill anybody, or take stuff that doesn't belong to them, or try to raise their own flaming-ass children with a proper conlang and without flaming-ass Baseline contaminating their innocent smol minds.
Conceptually speaking, this division overwhelmingly factorizes the computational problems of the approximated macroagent, and simplifies the vast majority of dath ilan's decision problems immensely. It reduces the mental expense of almost all day-to-day life back to something individual humans can handle. Indeed, dath ilan does not want to become any more of a coordinated macroagent than that! Its prediction markets say things-defined-as-bad will happen according to its aggregate utilityfunction, so dath ilan isn't doing that.
This does however leave some amount of decision-power to the Public Shell. Some words must be spoken in one voice or not at all, and to say nothing is also a choice.
So the question then becomes - how, in practice, does Civilization aggregate its preferences into a macropreference, about the sorts of issues that it metadecides are wise to decide by macropreference at all?
Directdemocracy has been tried, from time to time, within some city of dath ilan: people making group decisions by all individually voting on them. It can work if you try it with fifty people, even in the most unstructured way. Get the number of direct voters up to ten thousand people, and no amount of helpfully-intended structure in the voting process can save you.
(More than one thing goes wrong, when 10,000 people try to directly vote to steer their polity. But if you had to pick one thing, it would be that people just can't pay enough individual attention to the things that their polity tries to have them directly vote on. When they start to refer their votes to purported experts and specialists, the politics that develop there are removed from them as individuals. There is not much of a sense of being in control, then, nor are the voters actually in control.)
Republics have been tried, from time to time, within some city of dath ilan: people making group decisions by voting to elect leaders who make those decisions. It can work if you try it with fifty people, even in the most unstructured way. Get the number of voters up to ten thousand people, and no amount of helpfully-intended structure in the voting process can save you.
(More than one thing goes wrong, when 10,000 people try to directly vote on leaders for their polity. But if you had to pick one thing, it would be that voters don't individually have enough time to figure out which strangers they should vote for or why. When they start to refer their votes to purported experts and specialists, who are also strangers, the politics that develop there are removed from them as individuals. There is not much of a sense of being in control, then, nor are the voters actually in control.)
There are a hundred more clever proposals for how to run Civilization's elections. If the current system starts to break, one of those will perhaps be adopted. Until that day comes, though, the structure of Governance is the simplest departure from directdemocracy that has been found to work at all.
Every voter of Civilization, everybody at least thirteen years old or who has passed some competence tests before then, primarily exerts their influence through delegating their vote to a Delegate; a Delegate must have at least fifty votes to participate in the next higher layer at all, and can retain no more than two hundred votes before the marginal added influence from each additional vote starts to diminish and grow sublinearly. Most Delegates are not full-time unless they are representing pretty rich people, but they're expected to be people interested in politics and who spend a lot of time on that. Your Delegate might be somebody you know personally and trust, if you're the sort to know so many people personally that you know one Delegate. It might be somebody who hung out their biography on the Network, and seemed a lot like you in some ways, and whom you chatted with about politics in a forum visible to the Delegates' other voters so all their voters could verify that their Delegate hasn't been telling different people different stories.
If you think you've got a problem with the way Civilization is heading, you can talk to your Delegate about that, and your Delegate has time to talk back to you. This feature has been found to not actually be dispensable in practice. It needs to be the case that, when you delegate your vote, you know who has your vote, and you can talk to that person, and they can talk back. Otherwise people feel like they have no lever at all to pull on the vast structure that is Governance, that there is nothing visible that changes when a voter casts their one vote. Sure, in principle, there's a decision-cohort whose votes move in logical synchrony with yours, and your cohort is probably quite large unless you're a weird person. But some part of you more basic than that will feel like you're not in control, if the only lever you have is an election that almost never comes down to the votes of yourself and your friends.
The rest of the electoral structure follows almost automatically, once you decide that this property has to be preserved at each layer.
The next step up from Delegates are Electors, full-time well-paid professionals who each aggregate 4,000 to 25,000 underlying voters from 50 to 200 Delegates. Few voters can talk to their Electors (more than very briefly and on rare occasions), but your Delegate can have some long conversations with them. If a lot of voters are saying the same thing to their Delegate, the Elector is liable to hear about it.
Representatives aggregate Electors, ultimately 300,000 to 3,000,000 underlying votes apiece. There are roughly a thousand of those in all Civilization, at any given time, with social status equivalent to an excellent CEO of a large company or a scientist who made an outstanding discovery inside their own field. Most people haven't heard of any particular one of them, but will be very impressed on hearing what they do for a living.
And above all this, the Nine Legislators of Civilization are those nine candidates who receive the most aggregate underlying votes from Representatives. They vote with power proportional to their underlying votes; but when a Legislator starts to have voting power exceeding twice that of the median Legislator, their power begins to grow sublinearly. By this means is too much power prevented from concentrating into a single politician's hands.
Surrounding all this of course are numerous features that any political-design specialist of Civilization would consider obvious:
Any voter (or Delegate or Elector or Representative) votes for a list of three possible delegees of the next layer up; if your first choice doesn't have enough votes yet to be a valid representor, your vote cascades down to the next person on your list, but remains active and ready to switch up if needed. This lets you vote for new delegees entering the system, without that wasting your vote while there aren't enough votes yet.
Anyone can at any time immediately eliminate a person from their 3-list, but it takes a 60-day cooldown to add a new person or reorder the list. The government design isn't meant to make it cheap or common to threaten your delegee with a temporary vote-switch if they don't vote your way on that particular day. The government design isn't meant to make it possible for a new brilliant charismatic leader to take over the entire government the next day with no cooldowns. It is meant to let you rapidly remove your vote from a delegee that has sufficiently ticked you off.
Once you have served as a Delegate, or delegee of any other level, you can't afterwards serve in any other branches of Governance. Similarly a Delegate can never again be eligible for candidacy as an Elector, though they can become a Representative or a Legislator. Someone who has been an Elector can never be a Representative; a Representative can never become a Legislator.
This is meant to prevent a political structure whose upper ranks offer promotion as a reward to the most compliant members of the ranks below, for by this dark-conspiratorial method the delegees could become aligned to the structure above rather than their delegators below.
(Most dath ilani would be suspicious of a scheme that tried to promote Electors from Delegates in any case; they wouldn't think there should be a political career ladder, if someone proposed that concept to them. Dath ilani are instinctively suspicious of all things meta, and much more suspicious of anything purely meta; they want heavy doses of object-level mixed in. To become an Elector you do something impressive enough, preferably something entirely outside of Governance, that Delegates will be impressed by you. You definitely don't become an Elector by being among the most ambitious and power-seeking people who wanted to climb high and knew they had to start out a lowly Delegate, who then won a competition to serve the system above them diligently enough to be selected for a list of Electors fed to a political party's captive Delegates. If a dath ilani saw a system like this, that was supposedly a democracy set in place by the will of its people, they would ask what the captive 'voters' even thought they were supposedly trying to do under the official story.)
The Nine Legislators of Civilization have two functions.
First is to pass worldwide regulations - each of which must be read aloud by a Legislator who thereby accepts responsibility for that regulation; and when that Legislator retires a new Legislator must be found to read aloud and accept responsibility for that regulation, or it will be stricken from the books. Every regulation in Civilization, if something goes wrong with it, is the fault of one particular Legislator who accepted responsibility for it. To speak it aloud, it is nowadays thought, symbolizes the acceptance of this responsibility.
Modern dath ilani aren't really the types in the first place to produce literally-unspeakable enormous volumes of legislation that no hapless citizen or professional politician could ever read within their one lifetime let alone understand. Even dath ilani who aren't professional programmers have written enough code to know that each line of code to maintain is an ongoing cost. Even dath ilani who aren't professional economists know that regulatory burdens on economies increase quadratically in the cost imposed on each transaction. They would regard it as contrary to the notion of a lawful polity with law-abiding citizens that the citizens cannot possibly know what all the laws are, let alone obey them. Dath ilani don't go in for fake laws in the same way as Golarion polities with lots of them; they take laws much too seriously to put laws on the books just for show.
But if somehow the dath ilani forgot all that, and did not immediately rederive it, the constitutional requirement that a Legislator periodically speak a regulation aloud to keep it effective would serve as a final check on the cancerous growth of legislative codebases.
Plenty of Legislators pass through their whole terms of office without ever speaking any new regulation into existence. Their function is not to make regulations. Civilization already has regulations. Legislators mostly maintain and repair those regulations, and negotiate the changing preferences of Civilization about which final outcomes it wants to steer for using its policy prediction markets. New system features are terrifically expensive when everyone governed by them has to remember every relevant line of code. If you want any new feature implemented in Civilization, you'd better be ready to explain which old features should be repealed to make room.
The second function of the Nine Legislators of Civilization is to appoint the rest of Governance: In particular the Chief Executive, certain key officers below the Chief Executive, the five Judges of Civilization on the Court of Final Settlement of which all lesser Courts are hierarchical prediction markets. The Chief Executive in turn is the one person finally responsible for any otherwise unhandled exceptions in Civilization, and the one person who supervises those who supervise those who supervise, all the way down.
The key principle governing the Executive branch of government is the doctrine of Sole Accountability, being able to answer the question 'Who is the one person who has or had responsibility for this decision?' On this topic Keltham has already spoken. [LW(p) · GW(p)]
From the perspective of a Golarion polity not being efficiently run by Hell - from the perspective of Taldor, say, or Absalom - they might be surprised at how few committees and rules there are inside of Governance. Governance does not try to ensure systemic properties via endless rules intended to constrain the particular actions taken; nor by having committees supposedly ensuring that no one person has the power to do a naughty thing by themselves. Rules and committees make power illegible, let people evade responsibility for their outputs inside the system, and then you really are in trouble. Civilization's approach is to identify the one person responsible for achieving the final outcome desired, and logging their major actions and holding them Solely Accountable for those; with their manager being the one person responsible for monitoring them and holding them to account. Or, on other occasions, Civilization's approach is to state desirable observables, and have policy prediction markets about which policies will achieve them. (Though even when it comes to following a policy prediction market's advice, there is still of course the one person who is Solely Accountable for following that advice else throwing an exception if the advice seemed weird; and the One Person whose job it is to correctly state the thing the prediction market should predict, and so on.)
This is the systemic design principle by which Civilization avoids a regulatory explosion of endlessly particular and detailed constraints on actions, meant to avert Bad Things that people imagine might possibly happen if a constraint were violated. Civilization tries instead to state the compact final outcomes, rather than the wiggly details of the exact strategies needed to achieve them; and to identify people solely responsible for those outcomes.
(There are also Keeper cutouts at key points along the whole structure of Governance - the Executive of the Military reports not only to the Chief Executive but also to an oathsworn Keeper who can prevent the Executive of the Military from being fired, demoted, or reduced in salary, just because the Chief Executive or even the Legislature says so. It would be a big deal, obviously, for a Keeper to fire this override; but among the things you buy when you hire a Keeper is that the Keeper will do what they said they'd do and not give five flying fucks about what sort of 'big deal' results. If the Legislators and the Chief Executive get together and decide to order the Military to crush all resistance, the Keeper cutout is there to ensure that the Executive of the Military doesn't get a pay cut immediately after they tell the Legislature and Chief Executive to screw off.
…one supposes that this personal relationship could also be the point at which the Keepers are secretly staying in control of the military via talk-control, yes, yes, fine. But at some level of paranoia it ceases to be productive to worry about this sort of thing, because how are you even supposed to rearrange your Civilization such that this becomes any less probable? The problem isn't the exact structure, it's that such a thing as talk-control exists in the first place. A slightly different arrangement wouldn't help with the paranoia there. The Dark version of this Conspiracy has a hidden Keeper controlling the Executive of the Military, not a clearly labeled one! Right? Right?)
And that's Governance! By dath ilani standards it's a giant ugly hack in every aspect that isn't constrained down to a single possible choice by first principles, and they're annoyed with themselves about it.
A lot of other dimensions, if they heard what passes for a political complaint in dath ilan, would probably try to strangle the entire planet.
And the key point behind the whole mental exercise, of beginning over from scratch, is this:
This is what an approximation of an attempt of a world to coordinate with you, should look like; this is how much of the gains from trade, you should at least expect; no more inconvenience and injury than this, should you expect from your government.
And if Governance ever gets too far away from that - why, forget it all, rederive it all, and start over. All of Governance is a dream, just as much as ownership-tags are a willing collective hallucination; if it turns into a bad dream, it's time to wake up. Your next-best alternative to Governance, if it departs from this standard, is at least this good. So, if that time comes, you can do Something Else Which Is Not Governance.
They run an annual Oops It's Time To Overthrow The Government Festival, in dath ilan. Sometimes you have to defeat the Hypothetical Corrupted Governance Military. Sometimes the Military is still made of nice people who aren't going to fire on a civilian population, this rehearsal; and instead you have to distrust the Network and all of the existing politicians and Very Serious People and organize your own functional government from scratch by the end of the day.
And the point of all that rehearsing is to decrease the friction costs to overthrow the Government; because lowering the cost of overthrowing Governance decreases the amount that Governance can be inconvenient or injurious at people, before, Governance knows, its people will overthrow it.
Well, and the other point is to more accurately estimate those friction costs. They are, by dath ilani standards, quite high, on the order of 5% of GDP depending on how much institutional expertise gets lost and how many days people have to miss work. Nobody would lightly suggest overthrowing the Government. That's like losing twenty days' worth of income for everyone! One shouldn't do that without a really strong reason!
--Eliezer, planecrash (Book 3)