|The Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy|
The lesson of history is that trusting in networks to run the world is a recipe for anarchy: at best, power ends up in the hands of the Illuminati, but more likely it ends up in the hands of the Jacobins,” and we bring out the guillotines. “It is better to impose some kind of hierarchical order on the world and to give it some legitimacy,” [Ferguson] contends. He also declares himself against “the confident assumptions . . . that there is something inherently benign in network disruption of hierarchical order.”Mr. Ferguson’s book studies in fascinating detail how the Square undermines the Tower, for good or ill—regularly ill, he says. In Siena, Italy, Mr. Ferguson notes, the tower for the city hall overshadows the central square (once the central market) where the famous and un-refereed Palio horse race plays out twice yearly, as if the rulers were saying, “Play on, mere populo, in spontaneously agreed-upon bets on horses or on business deals. But remember that it’s the hierarchy in the tower that runs the show.” Until a new network undermines it.