I, Larry – the author of this post – am quite dysfunctional relative to what I should/might be doing. If, in the following, I point out dysfunctions of others, it is not in any way to accuse or blame them. We are all doing what we can do due to circumstances. My hope is that if we can all become aware of our dysfunctions, and their causes, we may be able to collectively change, both ourselves and our circumstances.
This essay was triggered by reading this in-depth and reasonable sounding post and associated longer article. It highlighted, for me, what is missing in our analysis of reality in terms of potential action.
The straw that broke the camel’s back. The above Facebook post leading to the Truthout interview. Topic: Envisioning Where We Want To Go. Here I’m not speaking to this statement specifically or about the authors. There is a particular perspective/context behind these words that shake my foundations: how could creative, learned, competent, well informed persons be so blind as to what is invisible to them. Is the apparant blindness due to an inherent invisibility, or is the apparent invisibility due to an inherent blindspot? Whatever, and they may form a complementarity, something critically important is missing.
It is like telling someone about Planet Earth and focus totally on the land and ignore the oceans. The missing ocean is strategy-for-action. The land is our knowledge of contemporary/historical reality and our visions of change.
ALL suggestions and proposals claimed to be for significant and essential change, are not proposing a strategy for such change. Strategy is the key word.
- Some activist change agents actually bring about relevant, real change in their domain of action. These changes emerge in our Here&Now. New systems for teaching children are implemented. Local food production/distribution systems are implemented. Local economic exchange systems are implemented. Each activist believes that the spreading and improving of their innovative nu systems will catalyze a more extensive, global, and longterm transformation of the whole of humankind. But, they present no concrete strategy that might be evaluated with alternative strategies. These courageous and innovative activists also avoid exploring factors needed to insure the spreading and improving of their systems; often assuming that the power of their content idea will be sufficient to motivate others.
- When pressed, these activist change agents will agree that other significant changes will be required to complement their “solutions”. Yet, they avoid any discourse about their possible role in insuring that other needed activities may need their (with others) initiating involvement. The need for an overall strategy coordinating all essential “movements” also appears to be in blindspots. When attempts are made to point this out, hands are waved to genuflex some emergenct swarming with collective intelligence. Some erect the myth of “evolution”, a deterministic process. This behavior is of no fault of individual activists – they are simply behaving as humans do in such situations. Significant change requires changing, in a concurrent dance, both the persons and their situations. E.g.: OLLO – Organizing-for-Learning=&=Learning-for-Organizing.
- Other, more theoretical change proposers (as in the urls at the beginning) only recommend future objective states (characterized by to be achieved), maybe expecting others will be motivated by their recommendations and take concrete actions to actualize those objective states. These objective states may often contain the seeds of possible strategies that might emerge from those states, once achieved, but nothing further is ever provided.
- Some imagine change as a simple replacement, like changing your socks because they got wet. Replacing persons via election into institutional roles is an exemplar, where the consequences of the replacement is highly uncertain. Actually my model of Societal Metamorphosis calls for strategic replacement (via UPLIFT) over time. We need to imagine strategies/scenarios of events developing in time and ways to influence those changes (which is a satellite strategy/scenario), and the science about all processes involved. Such strategies/scenarios that can actually be constructed by individual human persons can only be a rough sketch, but capable of being generative down to examples of personal behavior.
- Although we have some tools, we currently lack the technology to seaf this process. So long as the need for such a process is in our collective blindspot, creating the requisite technology will not occur. Computer technology could provide means to simulate strategy/scenario construction/analysis.
Even a call for such strategies/scenarios is lacking from every proposal of significant change I have read. What is given are changes of small parts of the system (although proposers wouldn’t view them as “small”), but stated as objectives to be achieved and hoped for goals met that would be the consequence of achieving the objectives. What is never given, and not even imagined is missing, are strategies and projected scenarios of how to get from where we are to the imagined state (embracing the achieved objectives) in the future. Proposers argue (about how the changes proposed – like socks, jumping from now to then) in terms of contrasts between the new and the old “states”; each somehow believing that a strategy and projected scenario has been given. They are in the proposer’s blindspot.
It gets even more unbelievable. Persons who conceptually accept the trend forecasts from climate changes, make proposals of action that are rendered moot by the consequences of climate change. They magically believe that actions somehow emerging with a strategy consistent with their projected new state of our societal reality (but not yet explicit, or even called for) will bring a “sense of order” over the whole; passively submitting to adapting to these proposed changes (e.g. in the educational system). Each component or subsystem of the whole will necessarily be disturbed by those changes being successfully implemented. Consumer behavior would be radically different if consumers were better educated. So would the behavior of politicians, were there a competent and informed populous. Improving any part of our dysfunctional, chaotic, and turbulent societal holarchical complex will disturb everything else, leading to a backlash that might remove the improvements, retreating back to the old ways.
- The resolution of societal cognitive dissonance would be much the same as for a person’s cognitive dissonance. Everything-Being-Equal, they will attempt to slip back to the prior state and develop amnesia that a change had ever been tried. Positive resolution of cognitive dissonance requires explicit intervention.
My only explanation for these unbelievable blindspots is that our mammalian intuitive/emotional minds create the blindspots; neurological denial. Over my life I have uncovered many blindspots, and am doing so almost every day. The process of detecting and removing blindspots builds on successes and accelerates. Because I am continuing discovering blindspots I must act as if there are many blindspots still blocking my imagination. Indeed, as a result of this exercise, I have discovered many strategy/scenario gaps between the strategies/scenarios I have already identified. Nor have I sufficiently explored the nested/networked nature of strategies/scenarios, unpacking more details. These tasks have been in my own blindspots.
Once a person discovers a blindspot, there are ways to help others discover them. These ways may not be easy and many will have to be researched and developed.