Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
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1971

From Apartheid to Schizophrenia

ecological ignorance and the logic of depersonalized "separate development"

- / -


Discrimination and Fragmentation in the 1970s: an organized response to global crisis (Part 2)
(Originally published in International Associations, 23, 1971, 2, pp. 89-102; PDF version)


Common factor?

Can any common factor be discerned in the wide range of problems and incidents noted above ? Two such factors can be detected but first let us consider the wide range of problems which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was designed to meet. The Declaration deals with all forms of discrimination between individuals, degrading treatment, fair trials, privacy, freedom of movement, asylum from persecution, ownership of property, freedom of thought, social security, work, leisure, education, etc. These all gave rise to distinct rights as the ideal solution to the problems which arose in their absence. But common to all these rights and the foundation for them was the concept that :

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." (Article 1)

The human rights are recognized as valid in many circles but perhaps this recognition is only abstract, limited or represented by token concessions. Is it possible that this recognition has been bought at the expense of more subtle rights essential to balanced social development in an increasingly complex society ?

Perhaps in giving these "freedoms" to the individual, society has had to reorganize and readjust itself to protect itself against any changes that they might give rise to. The most probable adjustment would be to "contain" socially the individual in such a way that he can be seen to have rights - namely the material chains and fetters essential to his social welfare are removed. But at the same time the behavioural and psychological chains and fetters impeding full development of his potential as a member of society would be imperceptibly (and not necessarily deliberately or consciously by any power group) increased in such a way that the social processes in which he is embedded subtly but effectively resist, discourage, ignore or misrepresent:

It is the subtlety of this containment which makes it easy to ignore. Behavioural chains are those to which we are adapted. Just as one tragedy of slavery is the inability of individuals, who have been brought up as slaves since childhood, to conceive of or desire an independent existence, so we are unable to perceive or desire to change the behavioural chains binding us in our environment. But this situation is challenged by the youth crisis of confidence and the emergence of the need to face complex social problems with multidisciplinary international programmes (e.g. environment and development programmes) through organizations of many types. These force us to be aware of other perspectives and challenge the assumptions around which we organize our behaviour and attitudes thus slowly throwing these behavioural chains into relief.

Structural violence

The following quote goes some way to clarifying the nature of this social containment :

"Reformers, critics of institutions, consultants in innovation, people in short who "want to get something done", often fail to see this point. They cannot understand why their strictures, advice or demands do not result in effective change. They expect either to achieve a measure of success in their own terms or to be flung off the premises. But an ultra-stable system (like a social institution)... has no need to react in either of these ways. It specializes in equilibrial readjustment, which is to the observer a secret form of change requiring no actual alteration in the macro-systemic characteristics that he is trying to do something about." (Stafford Beer on Le Chatelier's Principle as applied to social systems. "The cybernetic cytoblast - management itself." Chairman's Address to the International Cybernetic Congress. September 1969)

A related perspective is given in the following discussion of structural violence (a form of violence to which the Declaration does not refer) as opposed to personal violence which tends to be the prime focus of attention in the debate on human rights.

"Personal violence is for the amateur in dominance, structural violence is the tool of the professional. The amateur who wants to dominate uses guns, the professional uses social structure... For what is structural violence ? It is for instance differential mortality and morbidity rates... a structure of exploitation and social injustice. But these terms do not in and by themselves clarify. Basically, what seems to be behind is a pattern of human intraction, of social order that is so prevalent, so all-pervasive that it seems to be present as an archetype at all times and all points in space... And without going into any details, there seems to be a Sisyphos principle involved here. The moment one believes a more egalitarian structure has been created the same social order seems to come in the back door... plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose... The structure seems to survive very well the changes from a slave society via a feudal and capitalist order towards a socialist society - at least with the experience we have so far." (Johan Galtung. "Some basic assumptions of peace thinking." Oslo, International Peace Research Institute, 1969; also Johan Galtung. "Feudal systems, structural violence and the structural theory of revolutions." Proceedings of the IPRA Third Conference. Assen, van Gorcum, 1971.)

The same harmful contextual containment is seen at the individual level in the manner in which schizophrenics are embedded in a conflicting network of relationships with their immediate family or social contacts. (See the work of R.D. Laing including The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise. Penguin). Again the problem is :

"The relation between persons, their relationships, and the group they comprise continues to present conceptual and methodological difficulties. Part of the problem is the apparent discontinuity between the processes of the system and the actions of the agents who comprise the system... Events, occurrences, happenings, may be deeds done by doers, or they may be the outcome of a continuous series of operations that have no agent as their author." (R.D. Laing and A. Esterson. Sanity, Madness and the Family. Penguin, p. 22 summarizing arguments given in R.D. Laing and D.G. Cooper Reason and Violence; a Decade of Sartre's Philosophy 1950-1960. Tavistock, 1964)

A very clear picture of the manner in which the individual succeeds in immersing or embedding himself psychologically in a given behaviour pattern, namely the origin of the inability to perceive containment, is given in terms of how the mind or "memory-surface" handles new information received :

"Past information controls what happens to new information. Patterns are created, become established and grow ever more rigid. In its pattern-making, the memory surface has a divisive tendency which makes divisions where none exist, and which separates things into fixed categories; and from this follows the polarizing tendency which looks only at extremes. Sometimes this polarizing tendency makes minor differences into major ones, and at other times it fails to recognize major differences as it pushes things into established patterns. Once again education reinforces these tendencies by means of the "labelling" device which freezes established patterns and divisions... But then these patterns take over, and instead of being a self-organization of available information they actually direct what information can be accepted. Once the patterns take over as cliché patterns or myths, then the prospects of changing such patterns are even more remote. Where the patterns are correct this is obviously an advantage, but where the patterns are imperfect it is another matter... Once one is aware of the faults of the information-processing system one comes to realize that the main information sin is arrogance. Arrogance, dogmatism or a closed mind of any sort are so insecurely based on the fallible information-processing system that they would be pathetic if they were not sometimes dangerous." (Edward de Bono. The Mechanism of Mind, London, Cape, 1969, pp. 269-299).

From the above we can get glimpses of the type of subtle social and psychological process constraining the full development of human potential. The two principal constraints which can be usefully isolated were - noted earlier :

In both cases it was the lack of recognition of, and in many cases contempt for, the social significance of what was perceived as new which effectively reinforced traditional processes, frustrating and alienating the individuals and groups bound within them. Since individuals are stimulated to conceive of new modes of activity and initiate change by social tensions which appear unsatisfactory, the frustration of such attempts merely guarantees the build up of isolated uncorrected social ills and ineffectual social organs, ensuring that both society and the problems to be dealt with appear to become increasingly complicated.

GOVERNMENTAL RESPONSE TO WORLD CRISIS

"Mobilization of Public Opinion" for the 2nd United Nations Development Decade

One step forward...

The public must indeed be directly, involved in UN. action to counteract the effects of the global social crisis.

Two steps back.

1. Propaganda which deliberately draws on wartime, authoritarian mobilization and psycho-warfare techniques, by-passing democratic and consultative processes, to stampede people into blind obedience to government is most unlikely to give rise to the kind fo world society for which the UN is a symbol in the eyes of the people.

2. Individuals should be able to multiply the effects of their involvement in the processes of a complex society by personal significant action through their own movements and organizations in the light of' their own developing insights into the extent and nature of the crisis. This participation via a network of nongovernmental social structures is by-passed, rather than catalyzed, to permit the manipulation of individuals as socio-economic units at the disposal of governmemt.

Human rights - for a static society

Human rights as currently conceived correspond to the requirements of a static society characterized by, for example, benevolent feudalism. No account is taken of the manner in which social change is conceived of and catalyzed - namely through the conception of new modes of thought and activity channelled via new groups and organizations or the need to benefit from the new social repercussions of the education, or attempt to educate, each new generation. It is apparently assumed that the "full development of the human personality" allowed by the Declaration will result in no valid fundamentally critical viewpoint to which society needs to adapt to be acceptable and liveable to the new generation of participants in the social process and which the individual must express, and should have the right to express, as part of his own self-fulfilment. The development of the human personality is treated as though it could be insulated from the development of a society conceived as a frozen set of relationships between organs generated by traditional procedures.

These omissions are in fact the key to the conception of the world as a dynamic evolving process adapting to and energized by the challenges and possibilities revealed by the perspectives of each new generation, each new group, and each new mode of thought and activity - and through this adaptation providing a fresh and fulfilling environment for human beings. Older processes are essential to provide a foundation for change, filtering options and new values, and stabilizing the environment during the transformation from the old to the new.

The Declaration precludes or ignores change - where, change is anything but a linear extrapolation of the existing scheme of things - change is thus an unfortunate exception rather than a stimulating permanent condition. This view permeates the organizations which constitute the major part of the social process. Hence the opposition to change as represented by new approaches and new organizations.

Psychologically we are encouraged to hold views analogous to those of the "flat earthers" in the 16th century. If one moves too far from established procedures in any direction there are "Dangerous Beasts", "Unknown Horrors" and "Madness" marked on the map - and if one persists one comes to the edge and falls off. Man is however a sophisticated and highly integrated creature with some millions of years of adaptive experience. It would seem probable that his ability to change or adapt to new social processes is without limit (provided equilibrium can be maintained between certain critical behavioural functions) - namely his functional world is as "round" in its own special sense as is the Earth. This functional world has its continents and its Blacks and Whites. Each group tends at the moment to have a certain contempt for foreigners and particularly "coloured' foreigners (i.e. from other continents).

The Declaration established that Europeans, Africans, Asians and members of minority groups whether "good" or "bad" were all genuine human beings. It has not yet been established that the social structures and processes in terms of which any individuals, including the "ignorant", choose to function are all valid structures with a significant role to play in their sector of the overall social process. Nor has it been established that the views held in common by any individuals all represent valid human modes of thought or activity with their own part to play in the equilibrium of the social process.

Psycho-social ecology

We have accepted the concept of an ecology of human beings in contrast to the dying philosophy of discrimination characterized by racial apartheid - it should never be forgotten that the justification for apartheid lies in its meaning of "separate development", whereas ecology refers to the interaction between living entities "in relation to their surroundings".

The following may be noted in justification of the extension of "ecology" to organizations and concepts:

"Ecology is the branch of science that relates the individual organism to its total environment... Obviously, in the case of man, both organism and environment are vastly more complicated. He has evolved language and elaborate social institutions; his mental health and personal relationships are exceedingly subtle... Nonetheless a comprehensive, ecological frame of reference still applies." (Liam Hudson (Ed.) The Ecology of Human Intelligence; selected readings. Penguin, 1970, p. 7).

"But here we need from the social sciences some outline of the principles governing what I will call the ecology of the conceptual world; for the conceptual world has a life of its own... Every field of activity, politics, law, and not least science, like every society, has its own stability to guard. All communication - and hence all cooperation - depends on shared appreciative systems, on way of conceptualizing and valuing which are systematically organized and which, when they change, may have to change extensively before they reach anything approaching a new equilibrium." (Sir Geoffrey Vickers. Value Systems and Social Process. Penguin, 1968, p. 182).

"But the system as a whole had shifted as each element within that ecology of business firms had responded to shifts that other elements had carried out" (Donald Schon. The evolution of the business firm (Third BBC Reith Lecture). The Listener, 3 December 1970, p. 776)

We have still to accept the concept of organizational ecology in contrast to the current widely held philosophy of organizational apartheid and discrimination based on characteristics which are as superficial (e.g. governmental, nonprofit, professional status) as the distinction between Black, White, Yellow and Brown races - all organizations are human organizations each representing the interests and anxieties of some segment of the community however ignorant or isolated. To what extent should their "separate development' be justified in a complex society ? And we have still to accept a concept of conceptual or behavioural ecology in contrast to the current philosophy of conceptual apartheid whereby supporters of certain modes of thought and activity set themselves up as superior to others (e.g. the "pecking order" from mathematics through high energy physics to biology, the social sciences and on "down" to the practical disciplines) - each conceptual activity is a human social activity representing the concerns and needs of some segment of the community however backward, uninformed or isolated. Again, to what extent should their "separate development" be justified in a complex society?

We have carefully documented the abuses arising from the policy of "separate development" of races. How far do we have to look to discover the abuses arising from the "separate development" of organizations and disciplines ?

We should not pretend that each of these three ecosystems is isolated and independent. They are all based on man, the centre of human activity (an obvious but often forgotten point). A modification in one ecological balance causes changes in the others.

Thus an increase in discrimination between classes of people causes formation of groups, organizations and nations reflecting, furthering and protecting the interests arising from this discrimination. Similarly a theoretical distinction between two domains of thought results in the creation of separate disciplines often with conflicting interests and these may in turn result in the creation of conflicting organizations. Similarly if groups, organizations or nations emphasize the distinctions between themselves, this carries over into the attitudes of their members or staff reinforcing discrimination between human beings. A multitude of complex ecological processes in the dynamic psycho-social environment interact continuously to maintain an evolving equilibrium.

Fortunately the opposite is also true (hence the different arrows in each direction in Fig. 1). If there is greater integration between disciplines (e.g. multidisciplinary activity) this affects both the individuals involved and the associated organizations and similarly for the other points on the triangle. This interdependence is not widely acknowledged and not at all within the United Nations system.

But in the manner in which man's key position at the centre of these different form's of discrimination/integration has been described here a point of fundamental importance has been ignored. This point is a key to the problems of working for peace through the "minds of men".

The Person: Key to Freedom

A person can be looked at from the outside as an organism or unit in society. As such the person is treated as a "thing" and this is the way organizations and disciplines are forced to treat people, because as specialized social structures dealing with a multitude of people from a specialized viewpoint, they cannot have the time, resources or sensitivity to see all aspects of each whole person with which they deal. People have to be treated as "clients", "delegates", "voters", "representatives", etc. forming a range of stereotypes of different degrees of complexity and approximation to the whole person.

"One's relationship to an organism is different from one's relation to a person... In man seen as an organism, therefore, there is no place for his desires, fears, hope, or despair as such. The ultimates of our explanations are not his intentions to his world but quanta of energy in an energy system. Seen as an organism, man cannot be anything else but a complex of things, of its... "(R.D. Laing. The Divided Self; a study of sanity and madness. Tavistock, 1960, pp. 20-1).

We see signs of this in the concept of economic man, the producer and consumer which energizes the economy. We see a more rarefied form of this in social man where an attempt is made to make economic man produce and consume more higher quality products by ensuring he is fed, healthy, and educated to fit the work positions in the parts of the system into which he can be guided, with good probability of success as part of a class of other units with similar characteristics and responses. To absorb any criticism he may make he is also entertained, encouraged to strive to consume more and to participate in certain activities which will give him the impression he is guiding his own destiny or will soon be able to. But who or what is this unit which has rights as a human being ?

"A man may have a sense of his presence in the world as a real, live, whole, and in a temporal sense, continuous person. As such, he can live out into the world and meet others: a world and others experienced as equally real, alive, whole and continuous...

The individual, then, may experience his own being... as differentiated from the rest of the world in ordinary circumstances so clearly that his identity and autonomy are never in question... as having an inner consistence, substantiality, genuineness, and worth; as spatially coextensive with the body...

Such a basically ontologically secure person will encounter all the hazards of life, social, ethical, spiritual, biological, from a central firm sense of his own and other people's reality and identity. It is often difficult for a person with such a sense of his integral selfhood and personal identity, of the permanency of things, of the reliability of natural processes, of the substantiality of others, to transpose himself into the world of an individual whose experiences may be utterly lacking in any unquestionable self-validating certainties... (such as) an over-riding sense of personal consistency or cohesiveness. (R.D. Laing. The Divided Self. p. 40-3).

Psychological insecurity is not confined to the insane. Indeed it is now a cliché that there is a very wide range of conditions between perfect psychological health and socially dangerous insanity. And the incidence of mental illnesses of various kinds is increasing in most developed countries. The need for psychoanalysis is often recognized as symbolic of the state of someone who has reached the top of his profession or organization.

How does this relate to the question of human rights and peaceful relationships between peoples ?

"A firm sense of one's own autonomous identity is required in order that one may be related as one human being to another. Otherwise, any and every relationship threatens the individual with loss of identity. One form this takes can be called engulfment... The main manoeuvre used to preserve identity under pressure from engulfment is isolation. " (R.D. Laing. The Divided Self. p. 45-6).

This leads us into a fourth ecology to link to the earlier three. The human being in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the human being as States are prepared to define and accept him, namely the organism or social unit.

"The traditional border-lines between psychology on the one side and political and social philosophy on the other have been made obsolete by the condition of man in the present era: formerly autonomous and identifiable psychical processes are being absorbed by the function of the individual in the state - by his public existence. Psychological problems therefore turn into political problems: private disorder reflects more directly than before the disorder of the whole, and the cure of personal disorder depends more directly than before on the cure of the general disorder. " (Herbert Marcuse. Eros and Civilization, London, Sphere, p 21)

But the person constitutes an ecosystem (*) in his own unique right as he is prepared to define and accept himself. He affects and is affected by the social ecology of human beings as governed by the State and influenced by society.

"The concepts and values with which we select and interpret experience are often regarded by science as mere derivatives of biological needs or instinctual drives. ... The view here taken credits them with somewhat greater autonomy, as products of human communication. "Like the life forms of the physical world, the dreams of men spread and colonize their inner world, clash, excite, modify and destroy each other, or preserve their stability by making strange accommodations with their rivals." So I regard it as a legitimate analogy, though not, of course, an exact one, to speak of our interpretative system... as an ecological system, even though the laws which order and develop a population of ideas (conflicting, competing, and mutually supporting) in communicating minds are different from those which order and develop a population of monkeys in a rain forest or of insects under a paving stone. " (Sir Geoffrey Vickers. Value Systems and Social Process. Penguin, 1968, pp. 11-12 (Part 1: The Ecology of Ideas).

The greater the degree of cohesiveness consistence and integration which the person can develop for or permit himself, the greater his ability to relate with other social units.

"These changes in the relationship between the different aspects of the person's relations to himself are constantly associated with his inter-personal relationship." (R.D. Laing. The Divided Self, p. 77).

And again :

"The fact which confronts us is that cultural change is limited by the restrictions imposed on change in individual human nature by concealed neurotic processes. At the same time there is continuous cybernetic interplay between culture and the individual, i.e. between the intrapsychic processes which make for fluidity or rigidity within the individual and the external processes which make for fluidity or rigidity in a culture. It would be naive to expect political and ideological liberty to give internal liberty to the individual citizen unless he had already won freedom from the internal tyranny of his own neurotic mechanisms... Therefore, insofar as man himself is neurotogenically restricted, he will restrict the freedom to change of the society in which he lives. This interplay is sometimes clearly evident, sometimes subtly concealed; but it is the heart of the solution of the problem of human progress." (Lawrence S. Kubie. The nature of psychological change and its relation to cultural change. In: Ben Rothblatt (Ed.) Changing perspectives on Man. University of Chicago Press, 1968, pp. 147-8).

This corresponds to the sentiment expressed in the Constitution of Unesco :

"...that since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed... a peace based exclusively upon the political and economic arrangements of governments would not be a peace which could secure the unanimous, lasting and sincere support of the peoples of the world..."

Clearly it is through an increase in the sense of personal identity and integration that the human being, as a social unit, can increase relationship with other social units and build the structures which will safeguard fundamental freedoms and peaceful relations between men.

But Professor Kubie does not touch directly upon the equally significant reverse aspect of the "cybernetic interplay" which he notes, namely the impact of cultural change on the psychology of the individual. "Social development" programmes or any depersonalized activity in society, whether it be concerned with organizations, disciplines or man as a socio-economic unit will tend subtly to destroy, through the interactions noted in Figure 2, the relationships upon which the individual depends psychologically - thus partially disintegrating his personality and therefore leading directly to reinforcement of any opposition to balanced social change.

"Throughout our society we're experiencing the actual or threatened dissolution of stable organizations and institutions, anchors for personal identity and systems of values. Most important, the stable state itself has become less real (*) ... when the anchors of the institution begin to be loosened, the supports that it provides for personal identity, for the self, begin to be loosened too. We've lost faith, I think, in the idea of being able to achieve stable solutions to these problems." (Donald Schon. The loss of the stable state (First BBC Reith Lecture, 1970. The Listener, November 1970, pp. 685-7).

And yet current debate centres solely on the problems of building bridges between groups of men (usually nation states) with some reference to inter-personal relationships in connection with racial discrimination and contented labour forces. This sort of approach cannot lead to any significant improvement and yet is characteristic of the United Nations plans for the Second Development Decade.

In Fig. 2 we must therefore note that even "progress', or "development" initiated in good faith at any point in the psycho-social ecosystem may induce (compensatory) fragmentation in any other parts of the system (hence each arrow is double-headed). Whether the other parts are themselves subject to subtle fragmentation by the stimulus or whether they respond with increased integrative activity to maintain the balance is a point which we are not yet sufficiently well-organized to answer systematically or in any given case. We lack knowledge of the functions that all psychosocial entities play in the ecosystem of organizations, the ecosystem of concepts and behavioural patterns in society, the ecosystem of concepts within the person, and ironically enough, the ecosystem constituted by different races. But as things stand, in "developed" western countries, it would appear that it is the person who tends to be psychologically fragmented by development. His rights in the face of this subtle structural violence are as yet unrecognized.

"Education": Key to "Social Development"

"A child born today in the U.K. stands a ten times greater chance of being admitted to a mental hospital than to a university, and about one fifth of mental hospital admissions are diagnosed schizophrenic. This can be taken as an indication that we are driving our children mad more effectively than we are genuinely educating them. Perhaps it is our way of educating them that is driving them mad. "

(R.D. Laing. The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise. Penguin, 1970, p. 87)

Freedom of others: a risk

The difficulty is that in daily life, as pointed out above, we cannot deal with the person as a person.

"Depersonalization is a technique that is universally used as a means of dealing with the other when he becomes too tiresome or disturbing... A partial depersonalization of others is extensively practised in everyday life and is regarded as normal if not highly desirable. Most relationships are based on some partial depersonalizing tendency in so far as one treats the other not in terms of any awareness of who or what he might be in himself but as virtually an android robot playing a role in a large machine in which one too may be acting but another part." (R.D. Laing. The Divided Self; a study of sanity and madness, pp. 48-49)

And here we come to the nub of the whole question of fundamental human rights and freedoms. It is a great psychological risk to allow the other person to be free.

"The risk consist in this: if one experiences the other as a free agent, one is open to the possibility of experiencing oneself as an object of his experience and therefore of feeling one's own subjectivity drained away. One is threatened with the possibility of becoming no more than a thing in the world of the other, without any life for oneself, without any being for oneself. In terms of such anxiety, the very act of experiencing the other as a person is felt as virtually suicidal." (R.D. Laing. The Divided Self, pp. 49)

"…I'homme - j'entends I'essentiel, à savoir son jugement, sa liberté - peut aussi bien être asphyxid par son savoir que paralysé par son ignorance, et il peut tout autant se perdre dans la complexité d'un comportement social dévorant que s'atrophier dans la simplicité élémentaire d'une condition dite de sous-développement."

(René Maheu, Directeur Général de l'Unesco, Allocution, Colloque international organisé par Unesco sur le thème , "Science et Synthèse". In: Science et Synthèse. Paris, Gallimard, 1967).

Hence the strength and danger of the tendency to isolate other people as social units and "its".

"The more one attempts to preserve one's autonomy and identity by nullifying the specific human individuality of the other, the more it is felt to be necessary to do so, because with each denial of the other person's ontological status, one's own ontological security is decreased... "(R.D. Laing. The Divided Self, p. 54)

It would seem that this not only applies to interpersonal relations but also to the case where each person holds a position in an organization. When it is through these people that organizations "recognize" each other, clearly each organization cannot recognize the other to be too free an agent or else the freedom permitted will become a threat to the identity and autonomy of the recognizing organization as perceived in terms of the threat to the responsible individuals(s). So the recognizing organization binds the body recognized within rules restricting its freedom sufficiently to "contain" it (the extreme being non-recognition), so that its rights and freedoms do not pose a threat. The same may be said of the manner in which disciplines recognize one another's relevance.

"There are fields of experience which are not passed on, which reach only minority groups. Understanding, because of insufficient experience, often lacks in depth or becomes distorted, and we are faced with the threat that people may no longer understand one another or the world they live in. When man can no longer come to terms with his fellows or with the world he inhabits, they seem hostile to him and this confusion leads to hatred and violence. It is therefore not just a humanitarian but also a political task to try to prevent any such dangerous atrophy of the organic means of promoting the integral distribution of human knowledge and understanding... "

(Mr. Kirchschlager, Austria, 16th General Conference of Unesco, 1970, 16.C/VR.7 (prov.), pp. 4-7)

But the more the powerful organizations increase the severity of the criteria of recognition to limit themselves to what they can handle, the more their status is in fact threatened. The powerful organizations depend upon support but if they attempt to regulate and dehumanize this support rather than take it as it is offered, they isolate themselves and create a credibility gap. With each denial of the status of some social structure in their environment, they cut off another unit of their own support. This shows up clearly in the current social crisis of "participation" in decision-making.

The "coming to terms" in the above quote applies not only on a personal level but also in terms of an administrative perspective. A line from the above could be paraphrased to give:

"When an administrator, delegate or organization can no longer come to terms with organizations with related objectives or the surrounding social processes, they seem hostile and this confusion leads to antagonism and decisions resulting in structural violence."

This would appear to summarize the relationship between different international bodies (including UN - UN, UN - IGO, UN - INGO, INGO - INGO, etc.)

It is basically a question of how many "free" entities (or "independent variables") one can bring oneself to permit in one's environment. The distortion, in some cases perversion, of the desire for unity, integration, synthesis, "wholeness", etc. - which are the basic inspiration for one's nearest approximation to the concept of a peaceful world society - results in repeated attempts to reduce all freedoms of others to dependence upon one's own unique freedom (cf. "that man is truly free who is conscious of himself as the author of the law which he obeys" cited at the 16th General Conference of Unesco, 1970).

This is particularly evident in government decision-making - those not dependent are "hostile" or a potential threat. But in all cases, it is characterized by the distortion of a complex dynamic process into one with a limited number of variables (*) - in the worst and most frequent case into a two-variable, "we-they" conflict situation.

"It seems to me that there is probably a general expectation that those variables in the environment which are related to each other should be those variables which are related to one's own behavior." (Wendell R. Garner. Uncertainty and structure as psychological concepts. Wiley, 1962, p. 340)

If a person, discipline or organization cannot, in the arguments which he or it considers valid for its own internal concerns, accept a widely divergent range of behaviour (or number of variables) then it will be highly improbable that an equivalent range of "incompatible" behaviour in other persons, disciplines or organizations will be admissable.

The acceptable part, about which "we" agree, will be valid and recognizable, and the unacceptable part, with which "they" are concerned, will be loaded with negatives, e.g. "cancerous proliferation" of nongovernmental bodies, "pseudo-scientific" social sciences, "illogical" religious beliefs, etc.

A measure of maturity in decision-making is the average number of "independent" variables one can accept as a positive influence on one's decisions and still act effectively, and - in a government context - still safeguard the freedoms of a maximum number of minority groups.

The "we-they", "two-stroke" psychology is very efficient for categorizing environmental factors. The individual may identify himself successively with different organizational levels - for example, an IGO, a regional bloc of states, a government, a ministry, a department, etc. At each stage he has a different "we" and a different "they", but at no point does he require more than a "two-variable" ability to take, decisions or handle the situation to the satisfaction of his "we" perspective. This amounts to a psychological binary system of information handling based on a systematic fragmentation of social process into convenient lumps.

Unfortunately a complex society with many entities with varying degrees of freedom and interdependence cannot be adequately handled to the satisfaction of all concerned by a particular group's "we-they" perspective, or its consequences. The binary, digital approach fails in the absence of adequate models to simulate the analogue or process-based context. A global crisis requires multi-variable decision-making and not a "two-stroke" simulation of it - unfortunately sociology, like physics, is a long way from solving its "three body", let alone its "many body", problem.

The examples given here refer to inter-organizational relations in a global context. The same is however true of interdisciplinary relations in a multidisciplinary environment. Both have their origin in the extent of the range of fundamentally different modes of thought and activity which the individual can, as a mature person, permit himself. A "two-stroke", "work-play" person will, for example, tend to be less able to handle a multi-variable conceptual or social environment than one who enjoys a wide range of intermediary roles. One could even postulate the possibly trivial law that, for any individual, the ratios of the number of variables (unknown, and "no-existent") to the (known but rejected and "frozen") to the (known and accepted) in any of his public or social roles are proportional to those in any of his private or personal life roles. Herein may lie the fallacy of the possibility of "impersonal" decision-making. A schizophrenic lives, fragmented, through isolated roles; a "sane" person chooses a selection of roles which do not conflict and rejects the forms of expression offered by any others.

The tendency to freeze or ignore, the "they" portion of the environment has the following consequence in the individual case :

"The individual is developing a microcosmos within himself; but, of course, this autistic, private, intra-individual "world" is not a feasible substitute for the only world there really is, the shared world. If this were a feasible project then there would be no need for psychosis. Such a schizoid individual in one sense is trying to be omnipotent by enclosing within his own being, without recourse to a creative relationship with others, modes of relationship that require the effective presence to him of other people and of the outer world. He would appear to be, in an unreal, impossible way, all persons and things to himself.

The imagined advantages are safety for the true self, isolation and hence freedom from others, self-sufficiency, and control.

The actual disadvantages that can be mentioned at this point are that this project is impossible and, being a false hope, leads on to persistent despair; secondly, a persistent haunting sense of futility is the equally inevitable outcome... The sense of being able to do anything and the feeling of possessing everything then exist side by side with a feeling of impotence and emptiness. " (R.D. Laing. The Divided Self. Tavistock, 1960, p. 77-8)

The same phenomenon is seen with large organizational structures (and major disciplines) which attempt to control completely their operations in isolation from their social context.

The first paragraph recalls the desires of some government delegates to IGO conferences who want the IGO to "control everything". The second paragraph recalls attitudes expressed by dedicated officials in the UN Agencies attempting to implement effective programmes within the intergovernmental framework (see also para. 4 of the new International Development Strategy for the 2nd UN Development Decade. A/L. 600 24 Oct. 1970). It also recalls the attitudes of proponents of promising disciplines which have failed to "contain" all relevant phenomena in a manner satisfactory to society - e.g. religion over the past century, economics now faced with "quality of life concepts". Large business organizations in the U.S.A. have recognized the futility of this and in some cases already (even if only as a sop to public relations) are redefining their aims in terms of their "social responsibility".

"The program of a large organization, whether intended or not... affects a wide sector of the organization's environment, one much wider than the organization may understand to be its surrounds... Organizations that wish to deal responsibly with their social surrounds must be capable of eliciting and evaluating responses from those who realize they are affected but who are ordinarily silent, and from those who are affected but may not realize it... (*)(R.A. Rosenthal and R.S. Weiss. Problems of organizational feedback processes. In R.A. Bauer (Ed) Social Indicator. MIT Press 1966)

"We the governments... " ?

"... the world is becoming so complex and changing so rapidly and dangerously and the need for anticipating problems is so great, that we may be tempted to sacrifice (or may not be able to afford) democratic political processes." (H. Kahn and J. Wiener. Faustian powers and human choices.)

"De l'avis du Comité, les gouvernements plutôt que d'écouter une opinion publique imprévoyante ne devraient rien négliger pour faire accepter à leurs citoyens la nécessité d'assumer cette responsabilité dans leur propre intérêt. C'est le cas de citer la fameuse maxime française : "Gouverner c'est prévoir". Le Comité pense que les gouvernants sauront faire accepter à leurs concitoyens une stratégie bien conçue du développement mondial." (Vers un Développement AccéIeré: Propositions pour la deuxième Décennic des Nations Unies pour le développement. Rapport du Comité de la planification du développement, Nations Unies, New York. 1970. Doe. ST/ ECA/ 128).

or

"We the peoples..." ?

"More and more young people are being given opportunities to take part in schemes of voluntary national short-term community service. But a word of caution has to he introduced here: "One must face facts, however: in its present form this appeal to the generosity of the young tends to use them, to mobilise them as involuntary "volunteers". Ideally, it should be based on civic spirit or solidarity and it certainly should give youth a say in the process of development which, after all, will determine their future." (Comment in "World Affairs and the YWCA" citing Doc. E I CN.4 / 1027, ECOSOC Commission on Human Rights, 26th session).

"... the next decade is likely to see continued crises of legitimacy of all our overloaded and surprised administrations, from universities and unions to cities and national governments... In spite of the violence of some of these confrontations, this may seem like a trivial problem compared to war or famine - until we realize the dangerous effects of these instabilities on the stability of the whole system. A high-information society now insists on being consulted and not commanded. This is reasonable enough, but it puts a further burden on administrations already faced with mounting responsibilities and new puzzles that no one yet knows how to handle. Traditional methods of election and management do not give them the speed, capacity and knowledge needed for these new problems. Too often they become swollen, incompetent, unresponsive - and vulnerable." (John R. Platt. What we must do.)

"The map of organisations or agencies that make up the society is, as it were, a sort of clear overlay against a page underneath it which represents the reality of society. And the overlay is always out of phase in relation to what's underneath: at any given time there's always a mismatch between the organisational map and the reality of problems that people think are worth solving... There's basically no social problem such that one can identify and control within a single system all the elements required in order to attack the problem. The result is that one is thrown back on the knitting together of elements in networks which are not controlled and where the network functions and the network roles become critical... Where the mismatches between the organisations and the problems become the normal state of affairs, they undermine the validity of the simple message at the centre. And the centre may then try to make its message come true, thereby preserving its basic structure and mode of operation." (Donald Schon. What can we know about social change ?).

Governmental illusion: man the unit

Government structures face the same problem but do not yet seem to have found a solution - there still persists the belief that a governmental structure can in some way control its area responsibility without involving the people as free and uniquely spontaneous individuals. The failure of this policy is epitomized by the First UN Development Decade as a result of which it was recognized that "public opinion" and the creation of "political will" were of highest importance (see: Secretary General of UNCTAD TD/96).

The success of the Second Development Decade is to be guaranteed by the "mobilization of public opinion". The same myth therefore persists in a modified form. The people are to be involved, hopefully, by "mobilizing" them as individual social units whose support is desired by governmental bodies. (The UN Development Decade NEEDS YOU). This, as the term implies, is to be based on war-time experience of marshalling forces for battle. It unfortunately ignores one gigantic social revolution - namely the lack of sympathy for battles and campaigns selected and carried out by leaders without consultation with the people doing the fighting - and the election process is no longer considered to be "consultative". People now work through groups, movements and associations and it is these bodies which provide a closer approximation to the will of the people. It is through them that they participate with greater freedom in society. And the views of such groups can no longer be satisfactorily ignored :

"As interdependency grows, smaller and smaller groups within society achieve greater and greater power for critical disruption. Moreover, as the rate of change speeds up, the length of time in which they can be ignored shrinks to near nothingness. Hence "Freedom now!"

This suggests that the best way to deal with angry or recalcitrant minorities is to open the system further, bringing them into it as full partners, permitting them to participate in social goal-setting, rather than attempting to ostracize or isolate them." (Alvin Toffler. Future Shock; a study of mass bewilderment in the face of accelerating change. Bodley Head, 1970, p. 422)

We therefore look forward to the Third Development Decade (1981-1990) when presumably the global situation will be so disastrous that governmental structures (and the international relations theoreticians which legitimize their activity) will have finally come to recognize that: the world is not made up of individual social units but of unique persons; persons do not like being treated like units depersonalized and "mobilized"; surprisingly enough, persons had already, way back before the First Development Decade or the United Nations was ever thought of, spontaneously joined together locally, nationally and internationally to form associations of various kinds which were actually working together to alleviate both those world problems which the UN was prepared to recognize and others which it was not; that these bodies, whatever their legal or organizational characteristics, were the main vehicle for new ideas and approaches channelled into governmental thinking at each geographical level - and that the facilitation of this natural social process was in fact what greater democracy was all about; that it was the manner in which the UN and its member governments had forced those bodies they recognized to work with their agencies that had, directly or indirectly, done most to prevent them either from collaborating effectively with the UN or with one another; that it was the lack of attention paid (through mass media and in programme conception) to these social extensions of individual persons at the local, national and international levels and to their organizational problems and weaknesses that had most directly opposed genuine social development as desired by "persons", peaceful relations between peoples and the explosion of support for solutions to all the problems for which they and the UN. were conceived.

Possible key: social recognition of human organization

The tragedy is that the global situation appears so grim and complex that the resources of governmental, nongovernmental and business structures operating independently will certainly not rectify the current trend. The problems "seem so staggering in their size and complexity - so far beyond the capability of any single institutional segment of the community, public or private... And they are so interrelated that to proceed to try to solve any one of them in isolation from the other is often to create more problems than are solved by the effort." Why could the UN, or any other body for that matter, not catalyze, rather than organize, maximum collaboration between all social structures and movements concerned with all problems, based on a better understanding of how the individual person desires to express and fulfil, himself through the network of social processes in pursuit of the problems which he detects ?

The reason seems to be, in the light of the earlier arguments, that there, is an all-pervading emphasis on discrimination of which everyone is of necessity "guilty" to some degree, whether it be between persons, organizations, disciplines or in the case of the person, between roles. This universal apartheid ("separate development") may in fact be essential under some social conditions for survival of the discriminating social entity and the development of its identity (e.g. the, case of the psychotic individual) but where it is not a necessity it is positively harmful to the development of a balanced and fulfilling society. We appear to know nothing about the position of the boundary between valid and invalid discrimination in the psycho-social context (as opposed to economics, for example, in which a "centre-margin" theory has been developed). Each social entity appears to derive its identity from some form of (valid) discrimination, recognizing the absolute minimum number of other entities as valid sources of change. We live in a contained society with every social unit attempting to "contain" every other social unit whilst giving it the minimum of freedom and independence. We do not want to be exposed to change initiated in terms of any perspectives other than our own. Each of us wishes, to live in a world in which he, alone "calls the changes". The allocation of social recognition to others is too intimately related to the development of our own sense of identity - it is not as simple as the Human Rights Declaration would make it appear.

"Language about change is for the most part talk about very small change - trivial in relation to a massive, unquestioned stability - which nevertheless appears formidable to its opponents... Belief in the stable state is pervasive. For example, we believe in certain very stable elements of our own identity... Belief in the stable state is central, because it is a bulwark against the threat of uncertainty. Given the reality of change, we can maintain belief in the stable state only through tactics of which we are largely unaware. Consequently our responses to attacks on the stable state have been responses of desperation, largely destructive, and our need is to develop institutional structures, ways of knowing, and ethics, for the process of change itself... The feeling of uncertainty is anxiety, and the depth of the anxiety increases as the threatening changes strike at more central regions of the self. In the last analysis, the degree of threat presented by change depends upon its connection with self-identity and against all this we've erected our belief in the stable state... What is apparent in our own time is the extent to which the threat to the stable state now exceeds our various strategies for defending it." (Donald Schon. The loss of the stable state (First BBC Reith Lecture, 1970). The Listener, 19 November 1970, pp. 685-7)

Man as a social unit had only a limited number of rights under a few jurisdictions, before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was the Declaration which established universal social recognition of these rights - he has even now no universal legal rights, but only rights under a number of partial international Conventions. The social rights have however been sufficient to catalyze many changes, as was intended by those, who drafted the Declaration. From the above arguments it would seem essential that a number of complementary rights should be given social recognition (as a preliminary to possible legal recognition at some future date) as a basis for a less isolationist and fragmented approach to world problems. This is of course a vast undertaking. It is therefore very much as an experiment that the author submits an extension of the Declaration into a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Human Organization (see page 7, January issue).

Blocking out or discriminating against "outside" changes gives each of us a personal zone of stability (*), which may implicitly deny the rights or freedoms of some other body. Such inequalities are highlighted by increasing social interaction and the juxtaposition of different assumptions in a fast changing society - despite frenetic attempts at greater protective isolationism. The problem is: when is such isolationism valid ?


References

Alvin Toffler. Future Shock; a study of mass bewilderment in the face of change. Bodley Head, 1970, pp. 334-9

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