Friday, June 23, 2017

China's Social Credit Initiative in a Global Context: Foundations--"Monitoring, Assessment and Reward: Are there Social Credit Systems in the West?"

(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2017)

The Coalition for Peace and Ethics and the Foundation for Law and International Affairs have started a joint project on "Social Credit." Series Contents HERE.

Social credit can be understood in two senses. First, Social Credit itself references the specific project of the Chinese state to create a comprehensive legal and regulatory mechanism that they have named "social credit."Second, it refers generally to a new mode of governance that recombines law and governance, and the public and private spheres in new and hybrid ways that will likely transform the structures and principles on which legal, governance, and societal regulatory systems are now understood and through which they acquire their legitimacy.

At its limit, the enterprise of social credit suggests both the emergence of a new field of law as well as the negation of the privileging of law within economic and political structures. On the one hand, one might be tempted to see in the social credit enterprise a notion of the dissolution of the constitution of law within itself; that is that the structures of legality, and its constitution, will have consumed itself. What will emerge from that self consumption will be the methods and systems that it had once generated and which had been deployed in the service of the constitutional project—that the success of the constitutional notion will ultimately consume it so that where once there was constitution there will only be mechanics; where once there was principle, there will only be data; and where once there was norms, there will be “statistics.” This is bound up in the more fundamental idea of the end of law and the irrelevance of lawyer except as technician of a new system the lawyer no longer controls. On the other hand, the success of social credit may require and indeed may be dependent on the simultaneous development of a law for the digital and data age. That is, in the digital age, society (however constituted) is even more in need of law's nomos and narrative. That nomos and narrative may vary depending on the societal and political context, but it must nevertheless develop alongside the re-constitution of the principles, customs and manners of governance.

This post includes the PowerPoints of a presentation I recently made. Entitled Monitoring, Assessment and Reward: Are there Social Credit Systems in the West?, the presentation had as its object to sketch out the global context in which the social credit phenomenon arises and to point to the challenges and opportunities of social credit not just within the more contextually narrow Chinese social credit project, but within globalized governance structures as well.


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