Sunday, March 29, 2015

We Are What We Believe

By Rich Kozlovich

There are three components that make up the foundation and structure of every organization, whether it’s a corporation, a government or an industry trade association.  I call this the XYZ of organizational structure.

Let’s start with (X). This is the purest form of the organizational structure, and outlines the philosophy that will determine their actions. The U.S. Constitution in conjunction with the Declaration of Independence would be an example. This outlines, for the first time in human history, the idea that the people don’t belong to the ruling authority - that in point of fact the ruling authority exists because that’s the desire of the people. This became the first bottom up governmental structure in history that made it clear the government had no rights of its own, but was being granted rights by the people. Furthermore, those rights had been “endowed” by a creator, not the government those people created. 

Secondly, the diversity of the groups within the structure is represented by (Y) - whether it is racial, ethnic, geographic, religious or generational. The United States of America became the most diverse culture in the world. The people of this country are the people of the world. Every culture, every religion, every philosophy represented anywhere else in the world is represented here. In spite of whatever problems that may exist among these groups; for the most part they get along because of the concepts and principles outlined in (X).

Then there’s (Z).  We have to realize that (Z) represents the practical application of what is the purest philosophical understanding of their structure. This is the paradigm of values, and the practical application of those values based on their personal views, or the views generated by the upbringing and culture in which they thrived before becoming part of some organization. All being done while presumably attempting, or presumably attempting, to stay within the frame work of their stated philosophy.  And what are those personal views? 

Not only are there three defining stuctures of an organization, there are three distinct personality types involved.   Appeasers, hardnosed realists and traitors! 

First there are the appeasers.  They represent what’s called a “pragmatic” view, always willing to go along to get along!  The appeasers always believe we should all make efforts to accommodate with those in opposition to the organization's aims and goals.  And if the initial accommodation fails – then appease them some more – irrespective of the failed consequences of the first efforts at appeasement. 

Not all they do is meaningless.  There are times when compromises must be agreed to.  The problem as I see it is a lack of understanding about what the word compromise means.  It’s “co” meaning two and “promise”, meaning both parties should be unhappy with the final agreement and both parties should walk away with something from the other.   Or as the dictionary says: “The settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions.”  But what happens when one party never really gets anything but a brief respite from attack?  Is that compromise or capitulation? 
These would be the Neville Chamberlain’s of the group.  I also have to point out that Chamberlain was an effective administrator and as a result Chruchill kept him in his government. 

Then there’s the hardnosed realist.  The go-along-to get-along crowd hate these people because they just won’t go along to get along.  They are an unending and annoying pain in the butt.  They constantly point out unpleasant realities of which there is no rebuttal because their views are based on what they see going on in reality, not the visions everyone wishes was reality.  They are the heterodox to the organization.  The ones who are prepared to be the rock in the current by standing up and saying – your wrong and I’m going to tell you why!  They represent the philosophical outline of the organizational structure in its purest form.  Since heterodoxy isn’t for the faint of heart there aren’t many of them.  And that’s probably a good thing.  If everyone in an organization was that obstinate nothing would get done and the organization would collapse into anarchy.  But this is the group that knows who the enemies are and what needs to be done about them.  These would be the Winston Churchill’s of the group.

Then there are the traitors.  These are the ones who work what is harmful within the organization for some personal gain.  They may even profess to be working for the organizations best interests, and may actually believe it.  They are to be feared above all because they have access to the organizational structure the organizations enemies can’t pierce.  They speak the language and share the customs of the organization and can therefore influence others into accepting their positions, irrespective of the obvious long term consequences.  And they can get away with it because they’re part of the structure and given the benefit of the doubt.  These are the Vidkun Quisling’s of the group. 

History is a funny thing. We have always heard how history keeps repeating itself and how we keep missing the message. Why is that?

Because we don’t study history, and when we do, we don’t really study history, because most of what we get in school is very basic and the real lessons that need to be learned can’t be learned without the details and nuances as a result most of it would qualify as propaganda. Finally, as a society, we just don’t seem to care! We think it’s just a bunch of old dusty records that don’t really apply to our time.  But there is one component why people do what they do and believe what they believe I hadn't thought of before.  I think the real reason for people to take the positions they do because “belief” is based on emotion. 

Norman Rogers in his article about Vilfredo Pareto and his book, The Rise and Fall of Elites: An Application of Theoretical Sociology, states that Pareto “believed that men form their beliefs from emotion or sentiment and that rational justifications for beliefs are constructed after the belief has been subscribed to. In other words, the rational justification is window dressing. Pareto also thought that men deceive themselves about the origin of their beliefs, not recognizing that their beliefs are the consequence of sentiment. Men claim, and believe, that their beliefs are the result of rational thought.”

He goes on to say: “Because belief is emotional at its root, it is extremely difficult to make ideological conversions by logical argument. Logical arguments won’t work because the believer will mount a logical defense to every argument and will be impervious to rebuttals. Successful ideological conversions are made by using emotional tactics, such as applying psychological pressure.” In short – you can’t reason people out of positions they haven’t been reasoned into. 

Yet we know that history does repeat itself constantly. The names, places and events might be different, but the underlying principles are all the same. The patterns of human conduct constantly repeat over and over again. Why? Because the one thing all of humanity has had in common all though the all of the ages is we're human. We're still motivated by the same wants, needs and desires that all men have been motivated by forever.

Yet there is still one component we haven’t discussed.  In Rogers article he talks about industry giants who give money to groups diligently working against them.  He says: “Oddly, many of the fossil fuel companies profess to be concerned about global warming and declare that they, too, are working to reduce CO2 emissions. The executives of the fossil fuel companies fit into Pareto’s theory of declining elites who become effete and too timid to defend their privileges. Incredibly, fossil fuel companies give money to organizations, such as the American Geophysical Union, or even the Sierra Club, that attack the very right to exist of the fossil fuel companies. Groups skeptical of global warming get little or nothing from fossil fuel companies that are apparently too busy trying to appease their deadly enemies.

What we need is truth, and we desparately need to define truth.  Truth is the sublime convergence of history and reality.  Everything has an historical foundation and historical context.  Everything we're told should bear some resemblance to what we see going on in reality.  If what we're presented fails in either one of those categories - It's wrong!  Then all we have to do is develop the intellectual argument to explain why it's wrong. 

We can't have clarity without definition.  Without clarity we can't have understanding.  Without understanding we fail in making good decisions.  Without good decisons we lack harmony. 
Editor's note:  This was based on two articles I wrote some years ago, but I felt things are going is such a direction the concepts needed to be restated.

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