Just slightly interesting stuff that I would like to share. The summary is basically in that first "recipe" section:
Look at a complex and confusing reality, such as the social dynamics of an old city
Fail to understand all the subtleties of how the complex reality works
Attribute that failure to the irrationality of what you are looking at, rather than your own limitations
Come up with an idealized blank-slate vision of what that reality ought to look like
Argue that the relative simplicity and platonic orderliness of the vision represents rationality
Use authoritarian power to impose that vision, by demolishing the old reality if necessary
Watch your rational Utopia fail horribly
I admittedly liked the article, and I'm potentially interested in pursuing some of the books the author mentions.
Having that system presented as such has informed my perspective lately, wherein I've started to look at a lot of problems I'm solving in work and life from that perspective. Which is me recursively using that recipe to prescribe motives to things and then willfully ignoring possible underlying problems. The irony of that is not lost on me.
The biggest area this hits me is in the study of Economics. From my perspective, every economic system proposed has, at it's core, some motive. It has a goal, typically to increase or maximize welfare or productivity, but essentially they all hinge on willfully obscuring the detail in order to create an ordered system. And subscribing to those systems blindly seems to often lead to incredible failure.
I should say that it's also obvious that the premises of the recipe do not inherently lead to those failures. They could very well lead to success. Science is one part observation and another part constructing representations and theories that account for those observations. And those hypothesis then get tested, which is key. And those that are successful bubble up to the top and then get involved in further hypothesis. In actuality, the "rational utopia's that fail horribly" may as well be failed experiments. And failed experiments yield data, which is something useful for further hypothesis.