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Talk:Iron law of institutions

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Considering how insightful and accurate this "law" is it's a pity it doesn't see more use in discussions. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 05:07, 27 September 2008 (EDT)

I've just spotted this and have to concur. It's very astute. Scarlet A.pnggnostic 19:58, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Yes indeed. ТyTalk. 13:24, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

A question[edit]

I know that the IIOI was coined to describe Pelosi's unwillingness to engage with anti-war protestors (the Washington consensus was still "stay the course," and so trying to do something deemed "radical" on Iraq would eat away at the Dems' big tent votes, which are a lot). But is the law somewhat pessimistic in the sense that the institution (whether good or bad) is so ingrained that any reform wouldn't be possible? Osaka Sun (talk) 00:44, 15 March 2014 (UTC)

Nobody responded to this. The IIOI is a restatement of the Iron Law of Oligarchy, which is thought of as pessimistic, as it was originally. Michels (1911) noticed that anarchist organizations, dedicated to avoiding oligarchy, always developed it. How does this happen? There are several mechanisms in operation. Any human activity develops specialists, who have more extensive experience. Organizations naturally empower these (unless it conflicts with existing oligarchy!) These come to think -- and they may be correct -- that they know better than the "common members" about what is to be done. They often will resist, then, allowing the common members to exercise power -- unless it is as guided by them. It is not necessarily "power hunger," which is what we might think at first. It becomes pernicious when the "leader" is in fact, not leading, but controlling against the general interest and freedom. How to avoid this is a huge topic. Mostly, organizations begin with high naivete, "we will just work out all problems by agreement." The structure that it would take to maintain the sovereignty of the membership would seem complicated and unnecessary. Later, when it might be needed, it's too late, the oligarchy has already developed and is likely to resist. The "vanguard of the proletariat" must be protected from attack. Hence the Chinese Communist Party, when students were supported by the people of Beijing in the Tienanmen square incident, and the people prevented the local People's Liberation Army units from moving through the streets of Beijing to stop the demonstration, brought in units from other areas of China that did not speak the local language, which pushed through against the "provocateurs and saboteurs." To be sure, the students were naive and not well-enough organized to effectively negotiate, again because they had not developed the necessary structure *before* challenging the Party.
It is said on the page that the "Iron law" is not "falsifiable," and a user added a fact template, because this is an unsourced factual claim. But that kind of claim is common on RationalWiki. It is as if every statement of how humans behave must be "scientific." Many articles have non-falsifiable claims. RationalWiki does not pretend to be neutral and objective. Some users are. --Some random Smith (talk) 14:48, 4 December 2017 (UTC)

Not falsifiable[edit]

The claim that it's not falsifiable is false. If you could find instances where people acted to benefit institutions at the cost of their own career/happiness/life, then that would be a refutation. In practice it's not an iron law, but more of a general tendency. --Annanoon (talk) 09:36, 11 September 2019 (UTC)