File Name: MGTSOCF.ppt State of Planet and World Management material REMOVED to State of World.ppt. Based on EC&MOS.ppt Version 10 April2010. As far as the educational system is concerned
State of Planet and World Management material REMOVED to
State of World.ppt.
Based on EC&MOS.ppt
Version 10 April2010
As far as the educational system is concerned
we have seen that there are multiple problems each demanding a major, but largely unacknowledged, R&D programme but that, more importantly, that these are interlinked to form an autopoietic system.
At least on the surface, this network of problems does not seem to be orchestrated by any individual or group of individuals ….
although it is the case that one key component in the network of forces driving down the quality of education is the nature of our current public management (socio-cybernetic guidance) system.
On the other hand, as far as World Management is concerned, there do seem to be some identifiable conspirators.
Yet, if we ask how and why these people were selected and promoted we can imagine that here again we are dealing with a network of invisible social forces.
The situation is analogous to that in which ships’ captains found themselves prior to the time of Newton.
To a great extent they found themselves at the mercy of physical forces rather than able to harness them.
Having arrived at their destinations they were dependent on a favourable wind to blow them home again. They could not sail into the wind.
As is also the case with our social policies, they knew where they wanted to get to; their objectives.
And the conventional wisdom at the time, enunciated by huge networks of learned and dedicated bureaucrats (priests), told them exactly what they should do. They should pray to the Gods and sacrifice their children.
Today, we are told by thousands self-styled economists, bureaucrats, and politicians (the priests of our time) to have faith in the marketplace and the goodwill and actions of ever more centralised leaders and bureaucrats.
But note what actually made it possible to develop relatively safe networks of sailing boats.
Before Newton, it was not even possible to conceptualize – think about – “force”.
There was just the wind and the waves. Whatever was “in” the wind had to be made visible, measurable, discussable.
Newton did this by jumping first in the same direction as the wind and then into the wind and measuring the length of his jumps. The difference between the two gave him a measure of the strength of the wind. One now knew that there was a common, invisible, but measurable, property in the wind, the waves, falling apples, and between the planets. “Force” was real, visible, measurable.
Next he enunciated an even more absurd notion, namely that “To every force there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
OK. So there must be an equal and opposite reaction to the force of the wind on a sailing boat. If only one could find it! One would then have the philosopher’s stone that would turn all to gold. More madness. That force was in the sea! And one could harness it by putting a keel on one’s sailing boat. Madness compounded.
On the basis of this cumulated madness, otherwise known as the classic academic and scientific theory-building, it was possible to begin the process of designing boats that could sail into the wind.
We have no analogous way of thinking about the social forces that are driving our society against the rocks.
We have only what are taken to be scheming capitalists and politicians.
We conceptualize the forces which lead us to select and promote such people and the mythologies they use to subjugate and control as “human nature” – greed.
We fail to realise that our leaders are no more able to respond effectively to our cries of alarm than were ships’ captains and priests to respond to the pleas of sailors.
We have no tools for taking stock of where we are. We have no charts of the rocks and the harbours. We have no lighthouse keepers.
We have a system of taxes that could pay for them but the priests of our time do not see the need to commission their work or have much idea of how to manage them to work effectively.
We know only that we have to get out of this mess we are in and that our priests – our politicians – are fraudsters. And our potential chartists and lighthouse keepers – our bureaucrats – take the money we give them without delivering the services they claim to offer.
So one of our central problems is to find ways of conceptualising, mapping, measuring and harnessing social forces.
Put another way, we need some people who will develop the field of sociocybernetics.
Having mapped these feedback loops we need to find better ways of intervening in them.
This is no simple matter: it is like intervening in a complex ecological system.
Each intervention has multiple and largely unanticipated consequences.
Another way of stating the task – one which will help is to move forward –
is to say that we need to design a socio-cybernetic system which will enable us to translate shared values into effect.
Now for a few considerations which need to be borne in mind as we think about how to do this.
One of them is that the difference between the way we live now and the way we need to live if we are to survive as a species will be as great as the difference between hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies.
And, just as no one in a hunter-gatherer society could envisage what an agricultural society would look like, so no one in our society can envisage what a sustainable society will look like.
There can be no blueprint.
A second thing that has to be borne in mind is that the changes that are required are pervasive.
There are so many of them that they, never mind the multiple impact of everything on everything else, could not possibly be envisaged by anyone, let alone by some kind of central “committee of ignoramuses”.
A third crucial observation is that the problems are interlinked and cannot be tackled independently.
The effects of well-intentioned changes introduced independently will be negated by the reactions of the rest of the system.
The quest for a solution via ever-larger central governments (e.g. EC, UN) on the grounds that only they can introduce the system-wide changes that are required is entirely misguided because:
a. The implicit assumption is that systems change requires system wide change decreed by some central “authority”.
b. These structures are part of the system and act to perpetuate it (the most destructive acts are invariably government initiated).
c. They are authoritarian structures, not part of a de-centralised, organic, experimentation, learning, and management system with many feedback loops.
What is needed is a societal learning and management system which experiments, monitors, learns, and reacts without anyone within it having to know anything very much.
Or, put the other way round, which harnesses the idiosyncratic expertise that lies in the hearts, heads, and hands of billions of people and the interacting effects that each, individually and collectively, have on each other.
This is precisely what Smith and Hayek sought to provide through the market mechanism.
Like very many people in modern society, Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill had noticed that politico-bureaucratic “solutions” simply did not work.
Both noted that government decisions were essentially decisions by “committees of ignoramuses”.
Smith and Hayek took this observation one step further.
They argued that there could not be any such thing as a wise man or wise woman, let alone a committee of wise men and women.
The reason was simple. The most important information required to take wise decisions cannot be available! If A initiates a course of action in location X, and, unknown to him, B initiates a course of action in location Y, it is impossible to know what will happen as these two courses of action come together.
Worse still, the information on the basis of which action has to be taken is always grossly incomplete and widely dispersed in the hearts, hands, and heads of billions of people, all of whom possess unique expertise. (The information is in their hearts and hands as well as their heads because much of it is not verbalized .. i.e. it consists of feelings and knowledge of ways of doing things – tacit knowledge.)
To solve thisproblem, Smith and Hayek proposed the “market mechanism”.
This was envisaged as a societal experimentation learning and management system which would act on information which was necessarily incomplete, dependent for its implications and effects on other changing information, and widely dispersed in the hearts and heads of billions of people. It would not only initiate action on the basis of such information but also learn from the effects of that action and take such further (corrective) action as necessary.
What “the market” offered was a mechanism whereby, if people liked what A was doing, they could purchase his or her goods or services or invest in their enterprises.
So, if they were doing the right things, both A’s and B’s enterprises would prosper and, as the results came together, previously unimaginable things would happen.
Smith acknowledged that most of these experiments would fail in economic terms. However, he argued, what was to be learned from them would not be lost. A failed business – i.e. a failed experiment – is not really a failure at all.
This is a lesson which many public servants and managers of science would do well to learn ... And they need to take more positive steps to learn from failed experiments.
Note that the market mechanism as proposed was quintessentially a societal experimentation, learning, and management system.
It has no other raison d’être. It does not endorse riches for riches sake. It does not laud money. It does not endorse a divided society.
It was a means of giving power to information.
It was designed to create a ferment of innovation and provide a means of learning from the effects of the experiments which were initiated.
As the outcomes of all these experiments merged, previously undreampt of goals – goals which could never ever have been realistically envisaged or even thought about beforehand – could be accomplished.
What was offered was a design for a learning society – but a learning society quite different from that which is most widely envisaged when the term is used today.
It was a society which innovated, experimented, and learned without anyone involved in it having to know anything very much.
It was decentralized, organic (with many feedback loops and potentialities), nonauthoritarian, and, like evolution itself, grossly inefficient in bureaucratic terms. It was the ultimate form of participative democracy: Everyone involved could “vote with their pennies” independently on a myriad of issues instead of voting every five years or so for a package of issues or “wise” governors.
It did not depend on intellectuals or explicit verbal knowledge. People could attend to their feelings and vote accordingly.
So, if there is so much in its favour,
what is the problem?
I have listed many of them in my
New Wealth of Nations.
Only a few can be mentioned here.
Problems with the Market Mechanism
First, it has turned out to be extremely difficult to get it to take account of, and respond to, huge amounts of vitally important information, particularly of a societal nature.
People, including most capitalists, seldom behave in ways commensurate with their long-term interests, particularly when acting in those interests would involve persuading large numbers of other people to do likewise.
Hardin’s (1968) “Tragedy of the Commons” has proved endemic and pervasive. Thus it has become virtually impossible through the market process to stem the destruction of our very habitat – the forests, the soils, the seas, and the atmosphere – or even to take appropriate action to stave off the imminent collapse of the financial system, let alone to take appropriate action to improve the quality of life of all.
Second, market processes do not, in fact, deliver genuine wealth (viz. a high quality of life) – because real wealth (quality of life) depends on things which cannot be commoditised and bought and sold.
Thus it depends on security (including that for the future of one’s children), on self-actualising work, and on networks of friends and support in one’s workplace. It depends on living and working arrangements which are relatively free of stress.
All of these are driven down by market processes.
Third, the marketplace does not reward the most important contributions to either wealth-creation or the enhancement of quality of life.
This is because such contributions mainly come from people who are long since dead.
Collaborative activities (often carried out in the public sector) which depend on multiple contributions (that are rarely rewarded in financial terms) and wives and husbands who provide love, psychotherapy, child-care, and other individual and social maintenance activities.
(Perhaps most importantly, maintaining the species requires costly child-care procedures.)
Major Practical Problems with the Market (cont.)
The market is unbelievably inefficient. Neither Smith nor Hayek claimed that the market mechanism was efficient in the bureaucratic sense – but, nowadays, between 65 and 98% of the sales price of most goods and services delivered through the marketplace goes on distribution and advertising.
Major Practical Problems with the Market (cont.)
3. Prices do not reflect true costs. These are externalised to the future and the Third World.
Nominal costs depend, not on the costs of land, labour, and capital, but on public servants' decisions about which costs to spread over the entire community, which to load onto producers, which to load onto the future, and which to externalise to the environment.
Even the apparent efficiency of centralised production depends entirely on failing to make the producer pay the costs of highway construction, transportation, damage to the environment etc. \cont.
In part because the quality of life depends primarily on public provision – on things which cannot be purchased individually – and on activities carried on outside the marketplace, the role of public management has continuously increased over the years until, at the present time, the spending of something of the order of 75% of GNP is controlled by governments.
In other words, we do not live in market economies at all: We all live in managed economies.
This has Many Important Implications
One is the impossibility of any small group of elected representatives directing or overseeing the workings of the governmental machine in any effective way. There is just too much going on.
Another is that the "customers" who figure in contemporary discussions of "the market mechanism" are mostly not the individuals of classical economics voting with their dollars, deutschmarks, or guilders separately on a myriad of issues, but agents purchasing on behalf of government departments, international defence alliances, and corporations working on government contracts.
Instead, therefore, of having a marketplace which provides a societal management system, we live in a society in which the control of cash flows is used to orchestrate decisions which have been taken through the political and bureaucratic process (which happens to be mainly under the control of the TNCs).
Prices are primarily determined by public servants, and not by the cost or efficient use of land, labour, management, or capital (the apparent costs of which are all primarily determined by public servants).
The supposed efficiency of centralised production is entirely dependent on an accretion of public servants' decisions to spread major costs over the entire community instead of loading them on to the individual producers who create them.
A related problem is the way in which many of the (managed) trans-national corporations have grown bigger than all but the largest national economies and are, aided and abetted by their agents the World Bank and the IMF, thus in a position to control the activities of most governments and the markets within the societies over which they have jurisdiction.
It is therefore not true that we live in a society managed by market forces.
We live in a society mainly driven by the decisions of international bankers, managers of the TNCs, and public servants, but, most importantly, controlled by mythologies which are every bit as important as those which we can so easily see bind together, and control the operation of, “primitive” societies.
What generally passes unnoticed is that most public servants’ decisions and the mythologies which control us are largely driven, generated, and, especially, perpetuated by a handful of capitalists who profit from them every bit as much as the leaders of the churches in the middle ages profited from the decisions they orchestrated and the mythologies they developed and perpetuated.
Despite the retention of market rhetoric, therefore, the world seems to have evolved into something very different from the kind of learning society which Smith and Hayek envisaged.
Instead of facilitating the dissemination of images of self-sufficient communities, experimentation, systems-learning, and self-organising systems, market mythology has been used to assist in the diffusion of authoritarian ideas: the "management" of science, forcing the world to be "free for democracy" (which, in practice, means the TNCs), the necessity of centralised decision taking and the rule of authorities, materialism, and the quest for domination over nature and other peoples.
All of this has very important implications for the fundamental beliefs of economists.
Economists assume that money "circulates" … that if you buy something from me, I will spend that money on something else, and so, in the end, it comes back to you.
But what we have seen is (a) that there is a VAST injection of money into this process, and (b) most importantly, that the claim to "interest" on this money syphons off the ownership of REAL assets into the hands of the banks (including insurance and pension companies).
More fundamentally, our observations mean that the concepts most widely used in economic theory:
. Money supply.
. Marginal differential rates of return on capital.
. (Monetised) capital itself.
are very misleading.
They also mean that common assertions to the effect that things cannot be done because:
“There isn't any money”.
“It would mean raising taxes”.
“It would be necessary first to earn the money by exports”.
are without foundation.
Much more seriously:
What we have seen means that the ability of the market to collate scraps of information and solve the
"wise men" problem
(its MAIN justification in the eyes of Smith and Hayek)
is without foundation.
In fact the ROLE of money in the system has been completely reversed.
Far from being a component in a self-managing system, the cash flows are now controlled to orchestrate achievement of objectives determined through the politico-bureaucratic process .
More generally, it would seem to follow from what has been said that the “science” of “economics”
is to be understood as a network of mythologies
having as little connection with reality as medieval religion.
The central problem we face is to come up with a new answer to Smith and Hayek’s question about how to design a learning society.
- i.e. a society which will innovate and learn without making assumptions about the capabilities of wise men and women
(and still less centralized committees)
or about the effectiveness of hierarchical and bureaucratic management.
NECESSARY DEVELOPMENTS (Overview, contd.)
We need to:
2 Change Expectations of Public Servants.
They need to:
a. Study, and find ways of intervening in, opaque social systems, including interconnections between policy domains).
b. Be inventors.
c. Create alternatives and document the personal and social, short and long-term consequences of the options.
d. Feed that information to the public.
e. Initiate forward-looking research of non-traditional nature.
f. Create a pervasive climate of innovation, dedication, and enthusiasm in their own organisations and society more generally.
g. Encourage multiple definitions of problems and the conduct of small-scale, but carefully monitored, experiments grounded in an understanding of systems processes.
h. Monitor the results of those experiments to see what is to be learned from them, taking corrective action as necessary.
Most importantly, we need to expect public servants to:
a. Initiate information-collection (especially on operation of systems processes).
b. Co-ordinate and sift all available information for good ideas.
c. Act on that information, in an innovative way, in the long-term public interest.
To Get Public Servants to do These Things it Will Be Necessary to Introduce:
1 A New Staff Appraisal System: To give credit for innovatory activity in the long-term public interest.
2 Network-based Working Arrangements: To draw public servants' attention to what is happening in areas which impinge on their own work.
3 “Parallel Organisation” Activity: To create a pervasive climate of innovation within the public service.
PARALLEL ORGANISATION ACTIVITY
1 Time and resources earmarked for innovation and improvement.
2 Non-hierarchical relationships. Innovation involves:
a. Transient, purpose-specific, networks of working groups.
b. Bringing together different people with different talents for different purposes.
c. Seeking out, encouraging, and recognising different types of contribution to group processes.
d. Channeling resources to those who are capable of initiating, undertaking, and capitalising upon, new activities instead of to those who are only capable of generating paper plans.
All of these are encouraged by flat structures.
e. Flat structures are also required because:
(i) communication in hierarchical structures filters out novel and risky ideas.
(ii) they make it possible to build on the insights of "coal face" workers (instead of assuming that it is the task of "management" or "research" to initiate new developments).\cont. 265
PARALLEL ORGANISATION ACTIVITY (Cont.)
3 There are opportunities to visit, and work with, people who are working on similar problems - both within the organisation and outside it. (Such visits and collaboration confer a number of benefits, they facilitate contact with new ideas, strengthen resolve to do new things in new ways, and establish and maintain networks which provide help and support when difficulties arise.)
4 Encouragement to tackle constraints arising outside the employing organisation through the formation of inter-organisational "political" coalitions.
5 Access to R&D laboratories (together with new ways of commissioning, undertaking, and utilising research).
6 A deliberate attempt to identify and develop all talents.
7 Recognitionand reward for a wide range of different types of contribution.
To Get Public Servants to do What they need to do, It will be Necessary to Introduce (contd):
5 - A new interface between public servants and the public: To make it easier for the public to obtain provision suited to their particular needs and make it easier for them to influence provision.
6 - A new supervisory structure: to help to ensure that public servants seek out, and act on, information, in an innovatory way, in the long-term public interest.
The last two requirements amount to new forms of democracy and demand new concepts of citizenship.
Way forward: main components
Pervasive Climate of
Innovation & Experiment
Ways of giving teeth to information
Parallel Organisational Activity
& Funding Mavericks
Policy Research and Development
Revised Expectations of Public Servants
Exposure of the behaviour of public servants to the public gaze
Clarification of Public Interest
Networked based Supervision of Public Servants
NETWORK-BASED WORKING ARRANGEMENTS
This is the key ingredient in "cultures of enterprise" or "intelligence".
The pervasive and interlocking nature of the developments that are needed means that it will not be possible to assign precise goals for most people to achieve.
Instead it will be necessary for them to function as members of "teams" whose task is to identify goals, problems, and procedures.
Within those teams people will have a wide range of distinctive and complementary roles - such as "facilitator".
Members of one team will need to contribute to other teams working on related problems - because what any one team can accomplish is dependent on what others do.
Conversely, any one team needs to include members of other teams which are attending to related issues so that all aspects of the problem get tackled and so that information flows between teams.
The teams will need to be permanently open to, and attended by, those who can release resources.
The teams will need to include researchers.\cont.275
NETWORK-BASED WORKING ARRANGEMENTS (Cont.)
The "other teams" which will need to be represented in the work of any one team include:
. Other local groups.
. National groups (because many of the constraints on what any local group can do arise outside the community).
. Groups from the other side of the world.
Extensive computer based networks will also be required.
And, to disseminate what they are doing to others who need to know, the media will need to be represented.
NETWORK-BASED WORKING ARRANGEMENTS (Cont.)
The membership of such networks cannot be determined in advance.
The networks need to evolve, and new groups need to be set up, as new aspects of the issues they are tackling are identified.
They need to dissolve as problems are tackled.
Their membership needs to be fluid so that people can be recruited and leave as their knowledge and skills are required and become redundant.
Membership also needs to be open to others who have an interest in the topic or activity, whether because it affects them directly or because they are concerned with activities which will affect, or be affected by, the outcome.
A New Staff Appraisal System
To hold public servants accountable for exercising such qualities as sifting information for good ideas and acting on it in a discretionary and innovative way to promote the long-term public interest, it will be necessary to both establish new criteria against which to judge their work and to develop the tools and procedures which are required to assess professional competence in such terms.
The required tools should not be limited to individual psychological assessments, but should also include formal procedures to assess such thing as whether those concerned have been able to release the energy, enthusiasm and initiative of those who work in their sections.
It will be essential for all concerned to bear in mind that what one person can do is heavily dependent on what others do.
A New Staff Appraisal System (Cont.)
Any system of individual appraisal must therefore be set in the context of team and organisational appraisal.
What is more, since the generation of intelligence or innovation is primarily a cultural activity, it would be invidious to suggest that - if a wide range of people are contributing effectively but in very different ways - one person's contribution merits greater financial reward than that of another
What is needed is, rather, some means of recognizing the distinctive contributions of group members.
The interface Between the Public Service and the Public
A new interface with the public is required to:
Give teeth to information – surveys, evaluations, staff and organizational appraisal.
Better disseminate information on options etc.
Enable the public to influence what is going on within institutions (e.g. schools, health-care systems).
The New Interface With The Public (detail)
1.Information and Influence
Information on the options which have been generated and the personal and social, short and long term, consequences of each needs to flow outward to the publics instead of upward through a bureaucratic hierarchy to elected representatives.
Many more people and groups (especially marginalised groups) need to be able to influence what happens and to initiate, and participate in, information collection and debate.
To do this effectively it will be necessary to find ways of ensuring that researchers pursue ideas from alternative perspectives and to provide advocates to help to ensure that unusual views are presented in a form that merits consideration.
The New Interface With the Public (Cont.)
2. A Network-based Supervisory Structure
This would have a similar structure to that required to create cultures of innovation and enterprise within organizations.
Its main function would be to expose the behaviour of public servants to the public gaze so as to induce a greater tendency to act in the public interest.
Participants from other teams and organisations - as well as researchers - should again be present to help to set information about the competence of any particular person, team, or organisation in the context of the expectations and performances which prevail in other settings.
Media personnel should be present to diffuse information on goals, problems, organisational effectiveness and personal competence to the general public who should themselves have direct access to the personnel and organization' concerned.
Citizen participation in such activity needs to be recognised as an essential wealth-creating activity which merits remuneration (although not necessarily in conventional terms).
Such network-based supervision should not be applied only to public servants: it is essential to monitor the doings of "private" organizations and politicians in a similar way. At present, the activities of both are often not in the public interest.\cont. 284
The New Interface With the Public Supervisory Structure
Such arrangements would make it possible, for the first time, to effectively constrain the Stalins and mini-Stalins whose tendency to eliminate those who are inclined to live in harmony with nature has brought us to the brink of destroying the globe.
Perhaps more importantly, they would make it possibly to intervene in the worldwide economic and social processes which lead to the promotion of Stalins, Hitlers, Husseins and mini versions of each before the problems take the chronic forms that are used to justify war.
BUT HOW ARE WE TO GET THE NEW UNDERSTANDINGS AND TOOLS that are needed?
Well, obviously, as the schools output students with new competencies!
But also (and perhaps more quickly) as we get more appropriate research.
And especially research into such questions (which are so often regarded as not being amenable to investigation) as “How can public management be got to function more effectively?”
BUT HOW ARE WE TO GET EITHER OF THESE THINGS?
They are precluded by the very systems processes we are discussing,
ONE WAY TO FACILITATE MOVEMENT would be to disseminate the insights I have shared in this lecture and to lean on people to act on those insights.
In other words: by engaging in ADULT CIVIC EDUCATION.
. EC&MOS.ppt 291
What is to be disseminated?: What we already know about:
o The nature of competence and its development and assessment.
o The roles to be performed by managers:
Create pervasive climates of innovation.
Create developmental environments and think about, place, develop, and utilise the talents of subordinates.
Seek out information and take good discretionary decisions about what is in the long-term general interest.
Monitor the effects of their actions and change appropriately.
Initiate evaluation studies.
Study and seek to influence "external" social and economic forces.
o The nature and workings of society.
o The forms of public management required.
o Developmental environments.
o Climates conducive to innovation - parallel organisation activity.
o The processes which advance scientific understanding.
To whom is the information to be disseminated?
Although I said that the first thing to note was the distinctive nature of the research agenda, it is even more important to change our beliefs about how such research is to be managed - for the research that is needed is:
o Problem-driven, but
o Action research.
What a set of contradictions in terms!
In saying that it needs to be problem-driven, I am, of course, challenging the common assumption that research topics should be derived from the literature - that is to say from topics which have proved to be non-threatening to authority.
The science we need also needs to be non-reductionist.
That is, it needs to consider all outcomes and interactions.
WE ARE ONLY LIKELY TO GET SUCH RESEARCH IF:
o Citizens understand what is involved and press for it.
o The changes in the public service (which we need to press for as citizens) result in new expectations of, and ways of commissioning, research.
MORE THAN THAT, we are only likely to get it if the whole concept of parallel organisation activity gets more widely implemented.
So it emerges that ideas about the management of research, which must at first appear peripheral, are central to finding a way forward.
The Organisation and Management of Policy Research and Development
We have (briefly) seen that pervasive new ways of thinking and, especially, that new tools based on new theories are required.
The basic needs are, therefore to (1) highlight neglected issues and (2) to get research to explore those issues onto the research agenda.
The need is not for more research of the kind which fills the pages of current ‘academic’ journals such as those published by the APA and AERA.
As far as POLICY evaluation is concerned, the main need is for comprehensive studies which highlight all the factors which need to be taken into account and which investigate all the short and long term, personal and social, desired and undesired, desirable and undesirable outcomes so that appropriate action can be taken.
It is much more important to get a rough fix on all the important variables than to get an accurate fix on one or two of them.
The chief question we have to tackle is, therefore, how to move away from reductionist science.
Unfortunately, this is itself supported by the hegemony of a network of monocultures of culture and mind in which everyone has come to be think in similar ways.
How come that that reductionist science and these monocultures of the mind have such a hold over us?
This in itself has to be one of our central research questions.
In more detail, we need to move toward a situation in which we:
1. Use "Parallel Organisation" activity to identify the problems that are to be investigated.
2. Understand how the necessary work differs from traditional “Academic” research.
3. Acknowledge the need for much more diversity and replication.
4. Disseminate a better understanding of how science advances.
5. Fund people (teams) not “proposals”.
6. Change the criteria used to evaluate research and researchers.
7. Encourage much more follow-through into action.
8. Encourage more realistic ideas about appropriate methodology.
9. Actively encourage the formulation of a wide range of perspectives.
10. Develop much better means of giving people access to, and take better steps to disseminate, information.
What can I do?
There is no shortage of important things to do.
But hardly any of them are the things that “common sense” would, in the past, have suggested that it was important for us to do.
We have concentrated on the role of conspirators and dominators BUT ….
Another cluster of problems stems from the fact that, so far as I can make out, command and control arrangements are not just imposed by dominators. Rather, support for them stems from a range of rather pervasive, and somewhat inexplicable, human traits. I am regularly amazed at the number of people who come from liberal backgrounds who seem to seek out and embrace authoritarian, fundamentalist, faiths and “strong” leaders. At the merest whiff of a suggestion, they will then engage in, and invent ways of elaborating, the most horrendous of actions in an apparent effort to fulfil what they take to be the tenants of the ideology. Klein (2007) has, for example, documented the lengths to which believers in “free market” ideology have been going to impose that ideology (in a manner indistinguishable from the behaviour elsewhere described as “fascist”) on regimes and cultures. The tactics employed have included brute force, torture, and mass extermination of non-believers. But, truth to tell, such behaviour is rampant. It emerges at every level from inventing better ways of torturing prisoners in concentration camps and parents torturing gay sons because they believe that some personally espoused religious beliefs prohibit such behaviour, to burning neighbours at the stake for not adhering to a particular set of political or religious creeds. The other side of this same coin seems to be a tendency to believe in the goodwill of leaders when it should surely be apparent that those leaders cannot be trusted one inch. Examples like Nixon and Bush readily spring to mind – but the continued faith in the goodwill of such people as Blair and Mandelson defies comprehension. Flamboyant aspiring “leaders” coming from nowhere seem to be able to ride up on white horses, tip out the king of the castle, install themselves, and then instantly command the adulation of those they are about to exploit.
A Setback:A demonstration of just howdeep-seated arethe socio cybernetic processesthat are heading us towardour extinction as a species,carrying the planet as we know it with us(and thus the difficulty of intervening in them).
Another way of putting what we have seen is to say that we need to move toward a society with a more “organic” structure – one with multiple feedback loops and one which will innovate and learn – evolve – without central direction.
There is widespread recognition that the introduction of centralised, command and control, arrangements into management leads to gross inefficiency through such things as the setting of “targets” which lead people invent ways of reaching their targets without satisfying the needs of their clients or the organisation in which they work.
One can cite the work of many authors such as Deming, Seddon, and Johnson & Broms.
Actually, it is worse than that because, as we have seen, hierarchical societies (ie those which legitimise and create social division) generate endless senseless work in which people are required to participate as a condition for access to a decent way of life.
The generation of conspicuous social differences promotes individualistic competition and social destruction.
And the senseless work generates environmental destruction.
So, actually, people like Deming … and we ourselves … are calling for a reversal of a pervasive and hard to understand social process.
Bookchin argues that the trend toward hierarchical, command and control, societies has proceeded relentlessly since time immemorial – not just for the last 2,000 years.
It is not going to be easy to stop it,
never mind reverse it.
Like the cells of an organism, roles in them were/are differentiated and complementary. But not hierarchically organised.
People could substitute one for another.
There was/is a commitment to an “irreducible minimum” of food and other things needed to sustain life.
There was/is equality of unequals; equity in diversity.
In contrast, modern societies seek to manufacture another kind of equality – rendering invisible vital difference between people (eg resources on the basis of which to compete) – while amplifying hierarchy.
There is no humane “irreducible minimum”.
Thus everyone – even those who don’t want to – are forced to scramble in a hierarchy, thus contributing to the senseless and unethical work of which modern society is so largely composed.
In Organic societies organisation was/is achieved through multiple, non-hierarchical, connections and feedback processes i.e. in the same way as it is achieved within the body.
“Primitive” societies were/are also organic in another very important sense.
People within them regard(ed) themselves as in rather than over nature.
The rituals within them are/were not concerned with manipulating or dominating nature.
Rather they sought to promote the fertility and development of the soils, food, and animals for the benefit of all – not just human beings.
In other words they facilitated the workings of a cosmic order.
Nature was not a habitat. It was an active participant. Through its tell-tale signs and omens it gave guidance.
What Bookchin then shows in painstaking detail, in a style reminiscent of Braudel, is that, at every stage in development, despite the protests of endless philosophers and other acute observers of society, society has become more and more centralised, hierarchical, command and control organised, and destructive.
The first step in this process was for the elderly to generate a mythology which would ensure that provision would be made for them in what was, in reality, an increasingly insecure position.
That mythology claimed that they had special wisdom which could be used to promote the welfare of the community.
The next step was to to claim spiritual powers.
They could intervene with, for example, the nature spirits of the animals and those who controlled the weather – as distinct from physically with the animals and plants themselves.
Later, the aged got together with the shamans to form priestly corporations.
The mythology became more elaborate.
Intervening with the spirits and the Gods required community supplication and conformity to rules.
Only the priesthood could know the rules.
But, if the appeals to the spirits and the gods did not work, that was the fault of the community, not the shamans … but only the shamans knew what to do about it – and the populace had to comply.
That was real power!
Later the members of the priestly corporations aligned themselves with the warriors to create bureaucracies.
These were not mainly to harness labour to necessary productive tasks but to invent endless unnecessary tasks (of course promoted as “essential”) to legitimise the degradation of labour and enhance the prestige and power of the elite.
The figures of mythology remained, but were imbued with new meaning.
It was not so much the social role of women that changed as the view they held of themselves.
The social division of labour acquired an increasingly hierarchical form. Craftsmen carved out superiority over cultivator; thinker over worker.
Diversity was recast in linear form and validated by all the resources of religion, morality, and philosophy.
The usual (eg Marxist) claim that these developments were necessary to satisfy “needs” is back to front.
“Needs” were somehow created seemingly as an excuse to generate senseless, demeaning, work to occupy the masses and legitimise, indeed generate, hierarchy for the benefit of the few.
(There is no actual need for pyramids; rather the “need” for them is generated effectively as an excuse to subjugate huge numbers of people to demeaning work for the glorification of the few. Likewise the materialistic “needs” of modern society not only do not contribute to quality of life but actually drive it down.)
Likewise beliefs about “scarcity” and “competition” in nature were somehow generated as a suitable mythology to justify demands for gruelling and demeaning work on the part of the many and the right to domination, command, and control on the part of the few.
Little attention has been paid, by Bookchin or anyone else, to the way in which these myths (including the huge myths of modern society) are created and selected.
But it is clear that a recursive cyclical process has been, and is, at work.
To get from stateless societies to the modern state a whole network of developments were required.
Modern states could only emerge after traditional society’s customs and sensibilities had been so thoroughly reworked to accord with domination that humanity lost all sense of contact with the organic society from which it originated.
One important component in this transition was increased bureaucratisation.
Once again, another recursive cyclical process was at work. Bureaucratization promoted the anonymity and power of elites and they in turn promoted the growth of bureaucracy.
Bureaucratic relationships, unlike those that preceded them, are notoriously rigid, sclerotic, and intentionally divested of all personality.
They tend to be self-perpetuating and self-expansive.
As mere instruments of rule, bureaucratic structures are quintessentially hierarchical.
Indeed, they are the political expression of objective power, of power that “merely” happens to be executed by people who, as bureaucrats, are totally divested of personality and uniqueness.
Accordingly, in many areas of the modern world, such people have been turned almost literally into a State technology, one in which each bureaucrat is interchangeable with another and, in due course, with mechanical devices.
The first bureaucracies emerged in connection with the priestly corporation.
They were later developed by monarchies and military forces.
Religious and secular bureaucracies were ever more technically authoritarian. They mobilised the population and directed their energies toward authoritarian ends. But, most importantly, they facilitated the development of a belief system that validated the entire hierarchical structure.
The elaboration of centralized states and the proliferation of courts, nobles, priesthoods, and military elites was supported by a highly parasitic institutional technology of domination composed of armies, bureaucrats, tax farmers, juridical agencies and septic, often brutal, belief systems based on sacrifice and self-abnegation.
Without this political technology, the mobilization of labour, the collection of vast material surpluses, and the deployment of a surprisingly simple “tool-kit” for monumental technical tasks, would have been inconceivable.
As noted, a whole network, or system, of interlocked developments were required to move from organic to modern societies.
The long drawn out transition from equity in diversity to manufactured variance in “ability” (which strongly reinforced and legitimated hierarchy) within societies otherwise proclaiming a (mythical) equality between people was accompanied by linked, recursive, developments in ways of thinking about such things as freedom and justice.
The concept of freedom was unformulatable in organic society because there was no institutionalised structure of domination. It was only the development of the latter which provoked a concern with the former.
But, paradoxically, to guarantee “freedom” one had to strengthen the institutional structure.
Likewise a concern with justice could only arise as a reaction to the experience of injustice.
But its formulation was heavily dependent on having to make provision for prisoners of war and incomers into the community.
That provision depended on rendering vital differences between people invisible before the law: the forced equality of unequals.
But enforcing that required the strengthening of inequalities between people who were essentially equal (eg the judges vs the judged).
On the one hand Bookchin accounts for the progress of centralisation and hierarchical control in terms of specific constellations of forces that were operative at each successive transition.
In this, his account is reminiscent of the writings of Braudel.
On the other hand he characterises the ever-advancing progress of centralisation and hierarchical control as “autopoietic”.
Unfortunatelyhe nowhere seeks to identify the socio-cybernetic processes behind this.
This is partly intentional.
He characterises socio-cybernetics as “too mechanical”.
It has no way of depicting, or explaining, the self-producing, as distinct from self- re-producing, capacities of the organic.
But simply describing the process as “autopoietic” does not help us to understand and account for, let alone influence, that process.
Unfortunately, to engage with this problem we need to understand the forces of evolution and the nature of the organic itself.
To all intents and purposes this means having to understand life itself.
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An Attempt to Createan Alternative Society
Bookchin claims that the Greeks were well aware of the dangers of bureaucracy and specifically set out to guard against it.
His account of how they did this is illuminating in itself, but it is also valuable in illustrating:
1. A basis from which public administration could have developed in a very different direction to that in which it has in fact evolved;
2.The immense demands that such a system places on the citizen;
3.The way in which philosophers, while ostensibly promoting freedom and participation, end up legitimising hierarchy, centralisation, and control.
According to Bookchin, the participative democracy of the Athenian state depended on overwhelming confidence in the competence of the individual.
The state was run by an inclusive assembly of free individuals who directly formulated and administered policy.
(Although this excluded many groups including women, slaves, and aliens it included all citizens from all social and occupational groups.)
Athens was institutionally organized to convert its potentially monadic citizenry from free-floating atoms into a cohesive body politic.
It had regular citizen assemblies (Ecclesia), a rotating Council of Five Hundred (Boule), and a court.
Juries replicating the hundreds in the polis in miniature, were the conscious creations.
The entire Athenian system was organized to obstruct political professionalism, to prevent the emergence of bureaucracy, and to perpetuate an active citizenry as a matter of design.
The amount of labour which this democracy required is astonishing.
One day the citizen would be called to the Assembly of his Deme, and had to deliberate on the religious and political interests of this little association.
Another day he had to go to the assembly of his tribe. Maybe a religious festival had to be arranged, or expenses examined, or decrees passed, or chiefs and judges named.
Three times a month, regularly, he had to take part in the general assembly of the people; he was not permitted to be absent. The sessions were long. He could not go there simply to vote. He had to arrive in the morning and listen to the orators. Voting was a serious affair. Political and military chiefs might have to be elected - that is to say, those to whom his interests and his life were to be confided for another year. Decisions might have to be taken about taxation or a law changed. He might have to vote on questions of war, knowing well that, in case of war, he must give his own blood or that of a son. Individual interests were inseparably united with those of the state. He could not afford to be indifferent or inconsiderate. He knew that if he made a mistake he would soon suffer for it. With every vote he pledged his fortune and his life.
Bookchin claims that these duties were not experienced as a burden.
For the Athenian, freedom existed for activity rather than as an opportunity to be freed from activity.
It was not a realm but a practice - the practice of being free by participating in free institutions, by daily recreating, elaborating, and fostering the activity of being free.
One was not merely “free” in the passive sense of freedom from constraint, but in the active sense of “freeing,” both of oneself and one’s fellow citizens.
So the question of how to generate more appropriate job descriptions, and hold people accountable for performing those functions,
turns out to be crucial.
At another level, our tour has led us to re-visit the question of societal management.
We saw that there is no foundation whatsoever for any faith in current forms of “market” or “democratic” management.
This applies at all levels from quality of life, through education, defence, and health-care to environmental policy and sustainability.
We are on course for a disaster of immense proportions.
To avoid it we need a new answer to Smith and Hayek’s question of how to create a society which innovates and learns without anyone within it having to know anything very much.
I argued that the answer to this question has centrally to do with recognising the role of public servants as managers, and hence with evolving new job descriptions, staff-appraisal systems and forms of public supervision of their work.
At yet another level we discovered that, while neither “common sense”
nor calls for piece-meal action
provide a useful basis for moving forward,
there is a huge range of things that we can do, and need to do, as individuals, to help move things forward.
Yet few of them are things that “common sense” would have suggested.