Exit, Voice And Cancel

involves: hirschman, revolution, cancel, hacking

If Albert Hirschman were alive today and working on a new edition of Exit, Voice And Loyalty, I wonder what additional strategies he might think worthy of inclusion for dealing with failing relationships between individuals and institutions.

Revolution is surely an obvious option; it may be seen as an edge-case of Voice, or an inverse of Loyalty, but it deserves a heading of its own, because of its scale and finality, and because modern revolutions are as much interventions from without as they are eruptions from within.

Cancel is the strategy of the moment; we might explain it to Hirschman as a form ostracism, and thus an inversion of Exit. In Herta Muller's words: "If only the right person would leave, everyone else would be able to stay in the country".

And what about Hacking — taking covert action to make an institution work better, or work more in the hacker's interest, or fail entirely? Computing has familiarised us with the idea of Hacking, but there must have been equivalent processes in pre-computing times.

Evasion, or Avoidance, is a strategy reserved for the rich and powerful, who can move their worldly goods to foreign jurisdictions, thereby gaining all the benefits of Exit with none of the inconvenience of actually exiting.

You can imagine Hirschman updating his discussion of Exit by going deeper into the "push" and "pull" components of migration. To what degree do you Exit because you cannot bear to stay where you are, and to what degree because you think you will be better off somewhere else?

Voice strategies will need to be reviewed in the light of social media (cf: Cancel).

As for Loyalty, discussion might best be omitted from this new edition. Loyalty is is no longer encountered in the world, save as a deception, and so may be assumed to have failed as a strategy.

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