Montreal, Good Friday, April 2, 1999
A little over two thousand years ago, a divinely inspired man demonstrated, through the giving of his own life, how the social collective polarizes against itself in an 'autistic terrorism', perpetrated in the name of the welfare of the many.
Jesus' words and acts seemed to indicate that the way out of this autism was through love, openness, trust and by suspending our subjective judgement of our own goodness and the badness of others, ... a subjective judgement which is innately 'relative' and is the breeding source of autistic terrorism.
Today, we of the western autistic collective, through NATO, one of our many well-intentioned tools of autistic terrorism, commemorate the tragedies of prior millenia on a technology-amplified scale.
There is ample evidence of a chronic pathological pattern here, ... the absolutist belief in the 'goodness' of our position and the evil intent of others, an abstraction of thought grounded in Parmenidian-Aristotelian-Euclidian philosophical assumptions, ... for such opposition does not exist in nature in absolutist forms; i.e. in nature, opposition is always mutually-defining, as the south and north poles of a magnet define themselves relative to the other. In a relativistic world, it cannot be otherwise.
'But people are being killed in Kosovo (or wherever) by evil assassins!', say our leaders. And the media show picture after picture of atrocity which prepares us to do the unthinkable of killing innocent others to optimize good-and-evil abstractions which form in our minds on the basis of what we are told and shown.
All story unfoldings have 'genetic histories', however, though it is not our culture's wont to review such things, ... because our culture believes it has the perceptual power to recognize 'good' or 'evil' 'in itself' (an sich). Because of this absolutist, euclidian mode of perception and inquiry, the western mind feels it does not need to examine genetic history, but can proceed to exterminate evil wherever it sees it.
Of course, if evil and good ARE mutually defining, it follows that by amplifying good, we must at the same time be amplifying evil. Purification, whether it is based on strains of ethnicity or strains of governance, has a consistent geometry which rests on absolutist notions of 'good' and 'bad', ... acculturated in the population from a very early age.
The subjectivity problem which leads to autistic terrorism comes from the fact that when one 'buys into' the Parmenidian-Aristotelian-Euclidian notion of absolutes, it is a 'philosophical package deal', and to preserve consistency, one is forced to sense, interpret, decide and act on the basis of EXPLICIT-ONLY perception and inquiry. Tacit behaviors, which cannot be causally attributed to people (they emanate from the relationships amongst people), are ignored. If I choose to feed my ethnic brothers there is causal relationship here, and it a good thing to feed my brothers, so I am a good man. But if I see my non-ethnic brothers starving all around me, the fact that I do not feed them, and that they die is an 'emergent behavior' of the complex system we live in, and it is not 'caused' by me (at least this is western 'reasoning'). I am a good man because of what I do, and I cannot be deemed a bad man for what I do not do, because what is not done comes from the tacit patterns of the collective, ...i.e. it is well laundered and cannot be attributed. The death of the starving ones emanates from a collective process which may be induced by the imagination of the collective, as was the case two thousand years ago, but imagination 'doesn't count' as they say in our material quantification oriented culture.
But 'everybody knows' about the fact that our western ship leaking and the captain lying, as the lyrics in Leonard Cohen's song go, ... everybody knows that there are such things as tacit conspiracies of the collective, whether that collective is the establishment power structure within a community, the global economy or the NATO alliance.
Everybody knows that Germany was starved financially and literally in the wake of the first World War, and this induced our global human collective to polarize against itself in acts of autistic terrorism, ... on the one hand, an alliance based on ethnic diversity inducing an opposing polarity, ... an alliance based on ethnic purity. It happens all the time, ... a diversity ('global' or 'catholic') club alienates and starves out a particular, unwanted strain of 'heresy', and the heretics build their strength in opposition to this alienation and 'starving out' campaign, to the point that they can attack it.
Both sides build absolutist and causal arguments to support their case; ... charges of 'evil empires' are lodged along with graphical illustrations of atrocities, and, more's the pity, it seems there is no shortage of supporting 'evidence' for this on any 'side'.
That the realm of the tacit, what was 'not-done' or 'not-caused', where the real atrocities are perpetrated is denied or ignored, is the door-opener for the collective autism of the western world.
What is 'not-done' includes such things as 'the Western Empire' 'not-intervening' as Irishmen starved from crop failure (and refusing them credit for relief alimentation), as victimized post-first-war Germans. What is 'not-done' is intervention when a friendly-to-the-Western Powers Sadam Hussein slaughters thousands of Iranians, using chemical as well as conventional weaponry (technologies contributed by the western powers). What is 'not-done' is the giving of supportive financial aid for the Yugoslav economy as the 'global casino' of western finance proceeded to drain the life out of it.
In this last regard, Michel Chossudovosky, Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa commented some time ago (http://groundwork.ucsd.edu/bosnia.html); "But through their domination of the global financial system, the Western powers, pursuing their collective and individual "strategic interests" helped from the beginning of the 1980s, bring the Yugoslav economy to its knees, contributing to stirring simmering ethnic and social conflicts. Now, the efforts of the international financial community are channelled towards "helping Yugoslavia's war-ravaged successor states". Yet while the World's attention is focused on troop movements and cease fires, creditors and international financial institutions are busy at work collecting former Yugoslavia's external debt, while transforming the Balkans into a safe-haven for free enterprise."
While the rhetorical form is causal and accusatory, there is a familiar ring of truth in this description of the tacit, financial starvation effects emanating from a 'faceless' system as they breed internal polarization and autistic terrorism.
Clearly, this is same pattern as with the complaint of the youth of today here in western countries; i.e. there is no causal argument against what is 'not done', and a youth who does not comply with the establishment profiles of 'goodness', ... even though many recognize these to be unnatural, alienating and dysfunctional, ... will be 'starved out', and many are starved out to the point depression, alcohol and drug abuse and suicide, because they refuse to deliver their ontogenies into the hands of an aberrant culture.
The world is as much or more shaped by 'not-doing' as by doing, and one very often glimpses the winks and nods emanating from massively powerful global consortia of 'not-doing', and sometimes even a direct statement such as; 'they may be bastards, but they're our bastards' (policies of 'not-intervening' for 'friendly' dictators).
But there is no 'causal argument' against what is non-causal, and in a society which only accepts causal arguments, there is no way to combat coherent programs of autistic terrorism perpetrated by 'not-doing'. Many of the disillusioned youth of our society who I have spoken to, feel themselves the victims of intensively focused social not-doing, ... tacit (non-causal) discriminatory practices against which there is no argument because there is no cause.
Meanwhile, those in positions of power can always conjure up a causal argument when it serves their purpose, as Howard Zinn, history professor at Boston University pointed out on the eve of the recent bombing of Iraq; "We are living in times of madness, when men in suits and ties, and yes, a woman secretary of state, can solemnly defend the use, in the present, of indiscriminate violence --- they do not know what they are bombing! --- against a tyrant who may use violence, in the future. The phrase "clear and present danger" has therefore lost its meaning. The phrase "weapons of mass destruction" too has lost its meaning when a nation which possesses more such weapons, and has used them more often, than any other, uses those words to justify the killing of civilians "to send a message." We who are offended by this should send our own message to our demented leaders."
In a related context closer to home, one of the members of this email-based 'knowledge ring' is committed to helping those who are suffering from social trauma (e.g. what is referred to as 'post-traumatic stress disorder', ... the following is a transcription from a recent session involving an American of german origin who was in Iraq at the time of the recent bombing (she grew up in postwar Germany and developed an keen sensitivity to avoiding tacit support and complicity in atrocities of the collective);
"So Hilde," I began, "What is Iraq like?"
"I couldn't stand it," she quietly began to cry as the memories of dry, hot and generous Iraq immersed her. She fingered a bright gold and black shawl that a shop keeper had given her. When Hilde tried to pay for it the woman had refused, even though her cupboards were almost bare. "They treated me, the enemy, with care and compassion even though their children are dying from disease and malnutrition. Whole generations are being destroyed." Hilde seemed to have gone away, back to the warm lands within which she had recently been a guest. "How could I eat their food? They were so generous with me, the enemy. They showed no hatred but wanted to give even though we have taken everything." Her composure faltered, tears rushed to her eyes and grief shook her voice as she recounted for us the horror of being an American citizen in a country we were crushing with the fist of righteousness."
. . .
"Well. . .as you know I was married to an Iraqi man, and we had two children. But. . .as a child," she paused as if taking her measure of the conditions she was seeing in her mind, "I lived in a difficult world and I searched for other. . . better realities."
"What kind of realities?" I asked.
"Oh, I loved to read stories which had come out of the Middle East. They were so rich and colorful. I especially loved Scheherazade in A Thousand and One Nights . It saved me from the world I lived in." (Excerpts from an essay 'Hall of Mirrors' by Roger Jordan).
There is no 'tidy solution' to Ingrid's problem since what we call 'normality' is itself autistic and dysfunctional, as has been pointed out by Laing, Foucault and many others and as follows from the conflict between a modern physics view of reality and the Parmenidian-Aristotelian-Euclidian inquiry which our culture persists in putting in the primacy. To return Ingrid to 'normality' equates to returning her to the dysfunctional of tacit support and complicity in autistic terrorism, and Ingrid can smell this rat. She is thus trapped within this no-man's land of refusing to accept a dysfunctional 'normality' and having no place to 'come home to'.
Sheherazade was perhaps the ideal teacher of the autistic, ... persuading her listeners to suspend closure on their subjective judgements, and to come inside a continuing story where conflict is resolved through continuous learning, ... continuous enlarging and enriching of the 'story' of our reality, rather than by the imposition of a static, imperialistic story.
So, ... how do we transcend this continuing cycle of autistic terrorism, where each side ignores the tacit shaping of our circumstance and espouses their own absolutist view of 'good' and 'evil', in spite of an overwhelming body of evidence which says that we live in a relativistic world in which our subjectivity is limited and the tacit or relational interference aspect is the prime determinant?
Many have said it, in one way or another, .... Benoit, the montreal baker says that 'it is time for us to become larger than our judgements', ... Jean Houston and others say that rather than excising an opposing story and imposing our imperialistic stories, 'we must be reborn into a new and richer story'. The aboriginal learning stories such as 'My father and the Lima Beans' teach us that diversity labelled by our subjectivity as having a high 'badness' content, can still engender good in collective effort, so that instead of a policy of exclusionary 'purification' based on subjective goodness, the collective can benefit from the suspension of subjective judgement and the inclusionary embrace of even a dirty-looking (to the observer) diversity. This suspension of judgement opens the door to transformative evolution. If we do not suspend our judgement, we become, as Donald Kunze says, 'the parasite of the visible', guiding our actions according to the manifest explicit and causal, and ignoring the tacit and evolutionary morphogenesis which is the relativistic foundation of our reality.
We have the choice of embracing 'being' or 'becoming', ... to anchor our loyalty to the past, to the traditional story of our culture or ethnicity, and put rigid stasis into primacy over childlike honesty in experiencing the world, or to invert this primacy, ... putting our Sheherazadic wonder which seeks no judgemental closure, but looks for the triumph of harmony over dissonance through creative evolution, an ever expanding and enriching story, rather than having us put mechanical extermination of subjective 'problems', into the primacy.
Loyalty in a primacy over honesty necessarily breeds dissonance through imposed stasis.
Honesty in a primacy over loyalty enables the breeding of harmony through an embrace of natural evolution.
Opposites in nature are mutually defining, and policies of exclusionary purification based on the absoluteness of opposites are therefore madness.
Voyeur perspectives focus on 'explicit things' which is the lesser of our perceptual powers. The skier who focuses on the moguls in all their detail, seeing them as individual obstacles which must be overcome, cannot at the same time see the reciprocal 'inter-mogular' space of harmonic channels and passageways which he may safely pass through, co-evolving his actions on the fly. As Feymann's formulation of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle says, ... 'no equipment can be made which decides between alternatives without at the same time destroying their interference pattern.' In other words, we can look upon the world as a voyeur, in terms of 'bumps' or 'warts' upon the flat surface of loyalty which get in our way, which we must excise, ... or we can climb inside the collective morphodynamic in which we are constituent-participants, and from this non-imposing honest and open reciprocal or 'immersed' view, navigate on the basis of relationships between the explicit, ... becoming larger than our judgements, as Sheherazade taught the king.
Learning is the process of becoming larger than our judgements.
Learning is putting openness, honesty, trust and humility ahead of loyalty to the past.
Learning is putting the inclusionary embrace of the unique and diverse into a primacy over exclusionary purification based on cultural generalizations emanating from subjective 'goodness'.
The wit of the individual emanates from the wisdom of the collective rather than vice versa.
Some, like the retired priest Missy and Larry, have reviewed all of this and it has led them to go back and revisit the words of Jesus as they emerged, prior to translations into our constrained linguistic mediums. The divinity they find is not a judgemental one, but is instead a harmony-seeking divinity. Missy and Larry's following 'take' seems an apt closing statement for this note.
"Dancing the Cosmic Dance.
For 4.5 billion years Earth and Sun have engaged in an exquisite dance of life, have brought forth rock and rain, fresh pure water, rich soil, healthy atmosphere, abundant life, vibrant, wise and wholesome!
May our present crisis shatter our human delusions of being a separate and "superior" species. Let us halt our Dance of Death and re-join the Dance of Life!
If we could hear the cries of trees and waters, air and soil, animals and children... No one on Earth would sleep tonight.
We dance in this moment of the dying of an old order--we dance on the threshold of a new. .. We dream in order to continue the process of evolution. Our Cosmic Task is to awaken the next steps of evolution according to the laws of the Universe, so filled with promise written in our "dream genes".
* * *
Montreal, Easter Sunday, April 4, 1999
The above essay and/or its subject issues, stimulated more response than usual from our knowledge ring, and prompts the writing of this brief 'epilogue', which seeks to incorporate the thoughts contributed in the responses, paraphrased as follows; 'the problem is in our self-righteous invention and imposition of our way', 'we cannot turn our backs on the traditions of murder and atrocity in europe', 'the shift to an evolutionary datum is the way to go', 'even angels argue over who's right and end up by embracing compassion rather than judgement'
The lead off notion in the essay was that, ... "... the way out of this autism was through love, openness, trust and by suspending our subjective judgement of our own goodness and the badness of others, ... a subjective judgement which is innately 'relative' and is the breeding source of autistic terrorism." This notion, while conveyed in the teachings of Jesus, is not exclusive to him but can be seen in the philosophies of Heraclitus, Buddha, Lao Tsu, and in the understandings of modern science (relativity and quantum physics) which have not yet been assimilated into the psyche of the western world.
The essential flaw or, more accurately, 'incompleteness', in the western perceptual and inquiry mode, which keeps the door open to continuing 'autistic terrorism', is the assumption that it 'makes sense' to reference our perceptions to a base of 'normality' or 'goodness' or 'equilibrium'. In this mode of perception and inquiry, departures from this assumed 'correct' base are deemed 'problems' which must be 'solved' or excised. This 'voyeur' assumption of a beyond-question base for perception and inquiry flies in the face of relativity theory. Nevertheless, it is pro-actively defended in western religious and lay sectors. In the current 'Fides et Ratio' (Faith and Reason) encyclical of Pope John Paul II, he argues that the 'universal knowledge of good' is an absolute base from which we can look out at the world; "If something is true, then it must be true for all people and at all times."
The western belief in absolute truth in terms of absolute 'good' and absolute 'evil', the reciprocal of aboriginal or Celtic or eastern philosophies, seems to provide a certain sense of security as indicated in the Pope's following words; "Abandoning the investigation of being, modern philosophical research has concentrated instead upon human knowing. Rather than make use of the human capacity to know the truth, modern philosophy has preferred to accentuate the ways in which this capacity is limited and conditioned. This has given rise to different forms of agnosticism and relativism which have led philosophical research to lose its way in the shifting sands of widespread scepticism. Recent times have seen the rise to prominence of various doctrines which tend to devalue even the truths which had been judged certain. A legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based upon the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today's most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth. Even certain conceptions of life coming from the East betray this lack of confidence, denying truth its exclusive character and assuming that truth reveals itself equally in different doctrines, even if they contradict one another. On this understanding, everything is reduced to opinion; and there is a sense of being adrift."
There is no question that an abandonment of the notion of absolute truth does indeed allow 'community as complex system' to 'drift', but it need not drift aimlessly but can instead 'evolve' in concert with nature; i.e. it may instead 'evolve' as the system of absolutes will not allow it to. What we are talking about here in the choice between using the 'absolute' and the 'relational' is the choice between 'creationism' and 'evolutionism'; i.e. 'absolutes' necessarily associate with 'creation' or 'created being', while 'relativity' associates with the continuing morphodynamics which have been termed 'evolution'. The notion of continuing evolution 'pre-empts' the notion of 'creation' and is in conflict with western religious 'doctrine and dogma' but not necessarily with the spiritual ritual and belief system of the religious following, as is indicated by the works of Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, and Missy and Larry on this knowledge ring, all of whom embrace relativity and evolution, ... the 'creative dance into the not-yet', .... a reality view consistent with that of aboriginals, Celts and Buddhists).
All of these above-mentioned individuals and culture's tune into the 'harmony' of evolving whole-and-part as the guiding reference, rather than absolute 'good' and absolute 'evil'. This is how the 'autism' model comes into play; i.e. when one assumes that we can each have our own subjective view of what is 'good' and 'bad', and see reality coloured in different ways, then it follows that we each operate within our 'own realities' which satisfy our unique emotional needs (emanating from our ethnic backgrounds and cultural beliefs etc.). If we are coming from an absolutist philosophy, however, there is no flexibility with respect to multiple interpretations of 'good' and 'bad' and we must classify what is not 'right' as 'wrong'; i.e. we must approach our complex system inquiry in an exclusionary and judgemental fashion, ... this is the inevitable consequence of the belief in absolutes a la Parmenides, Aristotle and Euclidian space.
I have belabored this question of absolutes, because it is the key point that must be brought into awareness in order to share a perspective on the functioning of the 'autistic terrororism' view of dysfunction in 'community as a complex system'. It is important to note in this, that the relational view is a complex view (acknowledging both real and imaginary components) while the absolute view acknowledges only the 'real', ... thus the relational view can 'contain' the absolute view (it can actually contain a multitude of absolute views) in the manner of spheres within spheres, but the reverse is not possible (the absolute view is absolute, ... there is just one, and all others are deemed wrong).
Ok, here we go, and I would like to point out upfront that while politics and religion are discussed in general terms, my essays are aimed at developing understanding of 'community as a complex system', and uses an 'inclusionary' reasoning approach which 'is larger than' judgement, religion and politics; i.e. it makes no inferences as to what is 'good' or what is 'bad' in itself, and simply pursues an understanding of the source of dissonance and the methods by which harmony of whole-and-part may be amplified.
Community as a complex system is very much about the 'imaginary', and the conversion of our 'imagining' into tangible actions supportive of purpose. That is, we imagine what the circumstances of our reality are, and we act so as to manage or guide them towards a desired purpose. In the absolutist view, we stand on unquestioned firm ground as we do this, believing in the absolute correctness of our perceptions, but in the relativistic view, it is as if we are in a sailboat where both our perception and guidance is relative to the currents we are carried on, and which we cannot ever fully know (the seas are moving and the earth which holds the seas is moving and the space which holds the earth is moving etc.). Thus, in the relativistic view, we do not assume that others will see things in the same way as ourselves, ... for example, if I am coming with the current and approaching another vessel which is coming against the current, our collision avoidance actions will be very different and telling the other what to do from my viewpoint would not have the desired result, as the recently circulated anecdote of the battleship Missouri ordering a Nova Scotian lighthouse to divert its course to avert a collision, humourously underscored.
The Kosovo problem brings out they prime elements of 'community as a complex system', in the western 'absolutist' context, and the dysfunction which results from failing to assume an 'autistic collective', in terms of the three basic aspects of 'community as a complex system';
i. The Vantage Point: Subjective assumptions of 'Normality' and 'Goodness';
In the absolutist view, ... a view of 'sovereign reason', there is just one 'normality' or 'good way' and we, 'the western good guys' are coming from it or 'riding on it', as we look out subjectively and voyeuristically on the world. Of course, this absolutist perceptual tradition is being hotly debated today and Laing, Henry and Foucault would say that this unquestioned base of 'normality' in the west is a pathological one. As Foucault says, "It is not by confining one's neighbours that one is convinced of one's own sanity" - but that is precisely what happens - Foucault says: " We have yet to write the history of that other form of madness, by which men, in an act of sovereign reason, confine their neighbours, and communicate and recognize each other through the merciless language of non-madness."
The main point here is that it is our western philosophical tradition to believe that our subjectivity is beyond question, ... we believe that we are 'coming from' (standing on a base of) normality and goodness, or at least that we have tapped in to the 'universal knowledge of good' and we assume we have unambiguous knowledge of when we are being good and when we are being bad. The alternative, relativist view, is that we cannot know things absolutely thus we must use our subjective notions of 'good' and 'bad' as 'rules of thumb' ('wittgensteinian ladders') rather than as absolutes, and we must put 'whole-and-part' harmony, which is purely relative, into the primacy, as nature does. Our inability to know absolutes, even though it 'feels' like we know them, gives rise to an effective autism of the collective, in that each person or each ethnicity espouses its own view of 'bad' which emanates out of its own view of 'good'.
ii. The View: A 'Clear and Present Danger';
The absolutist view works from the assumption of a solitary and unique base of 'normality' or 'good' way of being and sees all departures as 'wrong' or 'bad' or as 'problems'. That is, corollary tools which come with the 'absolutist philosophical package' include 'exclusionary logic' (Aristotelian logic), 'binary judgement' (something is either good or bad but cannot be both at the same time ['law of non-contradiction'] as occurs in the eastern notion of yin/yang), and 'euclidianism' (things exist or they do not, and they exist independently of time). Of course, from a relativistic perspective, there is no such thing as a 'problem' in itself, since a problem denotes a departure from a fixed 'normal state', and instead, the notion of 'problem' must give way to the more general and relative notion of 'dissonance' or 'conflict' which interferes with the purpose of amplifying whole-and-part harmony. That is, the notion of a 'problem' is a subsidiary, approximative notion if it is used at all in the relativist mode, and it is subsumed by the higher dimensional notion of 'dissonance' (harmony) which says only that two things are in mutual conflict, without having to say which is right or wrong. This view associates with the quantum 'wave' view of reality which sees things in terms of a mutually defining 'co-resonance'.
In the Kosovo affair, then, as in the Iraqi affair, the western absolutist view sees Sadam Hussein and Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, as innately 'bad' without at the same time, invoking any relativistic questioning of western subjectivity (i.e. the 'goodness' of the western vantage point is assumed to be beyond question). This is a 'non-relativistic' view in that it views Sadam and Milosevic relative to a 'fixed' and unquestioned reference base, and does not consider perception to be of a mutually defining nature.
Standing on this 'rock of goodness', the west sees 'a clear and present danger' in the evil epitomized by Sadam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic, and moves to intercept this evil before it can grow and harm the peoples of region and become a bigger threat to western normality., and this is where the US bombing of Baghdad and the NATO action against Yugoslavia emanates from.
An important point here is that this 'clear and present danger' is 'of the imagination' as it precedes the anticipated act for which the 'rescue mission' is being launched; i.e. the hundred thousand Kosovo albanian-ethnicity refugees are not being literally pushed out of the country at bayonet point, they are tuning into this imagined scenario of 'the clear and present danger'; i.e. they are tuning in to an imagined future scenario, which some argue is partly or even largely a product of the western mind and CNN.
Ok, you may say, 'but it is clear that this evil is inevitably going to be launched, just as the holocaust was launched by Hitler in the second war.'
The point I am trying to make here beyond the 'accuracy' of the prediction and is coming from a systems understanding viewpoint; i.e. I am simply trying to point out that the NATO action, and the bombing of Baghdad, was justified on the basis of an imagined scenario, and so we might do well to examine what else is involved in acting on the basis of 'imagined scenarios' which are subjectively (and emotionally) 'coloured'.
For example, as was noted by Howard Zinn (Boston Univ. historian); i.e. "We are living in times of madness, when men in suits and ties, and yes, a woman secretary of state, can solemnly defend the use, in the present, of indiscriminate violence --- they do not know what they are bombing! --- against a tyrant who may use violence, in the future. The phrase "clear and present danger" has therefore lost its meaning. The phrase "weapons of mass destruction" too has lost its meaning when a nation which possesses more such weapons, and has used them more often, than any other, uses those words to justify the killing of civilians "to send a message." We who are offended by this should send our own message to our demented leaders."
The importance of this questioning of our assumed beyond-question subjectivity and the imagined scenarios we buid from it will become apparent in a moment.
iii. The Pursuit of Purpose: Imposed Solutions (by Coordinated Action/Non-Action)
The assumption of a vantage point (absolutist or relativist), the perception of impediments to purpose (seen as 'problems' or 'dissonance') and the means of pursuing purpose (voyeur-based 'imposed solutions' or immersed observer 'harmony amplification') are the prime ingredients and alternative perceptual modes in this 'modelling' of 'community as a complex system'. In the above three headings, the absolutist western approach is featured, although the 'relativist' view is always available to us as an alternative (an alternative which contains the absolutist view as a special case (the case where the curvature of space = zero; i.e. the case where world is seen in absolute, non-relativistic or non-self-referential terms).
The important point to note in this 'pursuit of purpose' aspect, is the dual means of imposing solutions; i.e. by explicitly coordinated and coherent action and by tacitly coordinated and coherent non-action. Since the absolutist philosophy works from a 'real-only' or 'explicit facts' base, tacit patterns are not 'admitted' in the explicit solution strategy. For example, what the 'haves' or the 'powerful' do not do, is very important to the 'have-nots' and the 'weak' ('weak' with respect to tangible resources). Thus, the non-mainstream youth who I have interviewed are very bitter about the western establishment's withholding of opportunity from those who would not buy into the unquestioned western 'normality', and they see the leaders of this establishment as 'evil'. That is, youth who opts for a more 'ecological humanity' and does not want to 'buy in' to the Heraclean 'win/lose' competitive approach of the west, which permeates the educational system and the employment scene, cannot avoid butting heads with a tacitly coordinated non-action front which withholds from them, job opportunities, social privileges, parental and affilial love and respect and so on. If they choose to be heretics to 'western normality', they are seen as 'problems' and the way which the western 'community as complex system' deals with problems is twofold, ... by excising the problems (with bombs or physical domination) and/or by 'starving out' and 'alienating' the 'problem'. Thus many who would object to the 'normal' non-ecological (non-evolutional) absolutist views of the culture, are ultimately forced to rejoin it simply to obtain food and shelter for themselves and their families. They are forced to 'play the game' as Laing says, ... 'of pretending not to see the game.'
Because the western philosophy only accounts for 'tangibles' or 'explicit facts', there is no accounting made of 'what does not happen', even though it is often highly (tacitly) coordinated and coherent, and focused against those who would not subscribe to the unquestioned 'goodness' of the western way.
This 'goodness' is infused from a very early age in western children. Whereas, the aboriginal child is (i.e. 'was') taught non-judgemental philosophies respecting of diversity (e.g. as presented by Paula Underwood in 'My Father and the Lima Beans'), the western child is taught 'profiles of goodness' and how to recognize badness. The recognition of badness, in the Parmenidian-Aristotelian-Euclidian western culture, is based solely on 'thing-behaviors' (tangible-only) and does not consider 'non-behaviors' of 'non-things', thus opening the door for systemic behaviors in which tacitly selected minorities can be starved out in a very highly coordinated manner. That is, the western community operates on the basis of 'causality' where one must identify a tangible 'thing' whose behavior is seen to give rise to a tangible 'effect'.
It turns out, however, in the case of 'community as complex system' that the 'non-behavior' of 'non-things' is of primary importance; i.e. the collective, which is represented by the system of relationships between individuals (i.e. a 'non-thing') induces 'non-behaviors' which are of profound importance to the 'have-nots' and to the heretics, making those who feel victimized by this 'non-action from no-thing' doubly angry and frustrated because the system of justice in the west is based on the causal notion of 'thing-behaviors', the tangible actions of tangible people and organizations.
Now what the non-mainstream youth feels, ... what the aboriginal traditionalist or west ireland Celt feels, what the Iraqi or Serb feels, ... is that they are being raped by these faceless 'non-behaviors of the western absolutist system, and so they see this system as 'evil' (in western terms) or as unnatural and 'dissonance-producing'. But one cannot bring a lawsuit against 'inter-thing space', charging 'not-it' with 'non-behavior' atrocities. One would have trouble finding a 'not-lawyer' willing to take the case, .... because we all know that the case would have to be reviewed by 'judges' and judges expect to see cases presented in terms of 'thing-behaviors', tangible 'facts', 'cause and effect' etc.
Alternative Models for 'Community as a Complex System'
If one believes that coordinated non-action must be included in understanding 'community as a complex system', as I do, then this means that one must shift out of the absolutist view into the evolutionary or ecological view. This does NOT mean that one must abandon all ideas of 'right' and 'wrong' or 'good' and 'bad', it simply means that one must subordinate these abstract binary and judgemental notions, to the purpose of amplifying whole-and-part harmony in the community, a polarity or 'primacy' as occurs within nature. The implication of this perceptual shift is as expressed by Benoit, that we must 'become larger than our judgements', and this means that we've got to accept that Sadam, and Milosevic and the rebel youth, who see the western system as evil, may 'have a case', ..... that our tacit non-acts which starve them from opportunity and deprive them of access to wealth-as-nurturance unless they comply to our standard of 'normality' and 'goodness', ... and our tangible acts of killing innocent civilians by 'sending messages' in the form of bombs and missiles, seem to them to be just as evil, as their acts seem to us. And if their evil acts seem cruder and more savage than our subtle non-acts, perhaps this arises from their underdog position and their lack of the 'neutron bomb' type of 'non-action' weaponry (which only exists for the 'haves', or in aboriginal myth, for the 'flinty brother' who has monopolized all the fresh water in the world, and withholds it from the 'gentle brother' until he becomes violent).
Since the powerful and the wealthy who, in native myth monopolize resources and use the weaponry of withholding against their less resources brothers, do not have to worry about the 'coordinated non-acts' of their brothers, they can exclude 'non-acts' from the balance sheet in its entirety and from methods of arbitration and they do (i.e. 'we do').
Living here in Quebec, I feel very strongly that the powerful anglo's in Canadian society have been doing just this, ... imposing their personal will on the aboriginal and francophone minority in this 'non-action' manner with an impunity and self-righteousness which is greatly resented by minorities, and I greatly resent it myself, although my 'tangible aspect' is white anglophone. I also feel that I have no voice on this issue, and my letters to the editor of the main anglophone newspapers here in Montreal (the Gazette) get no consideration, because the western press works from the basis of tangibles rather than 'innuendo', ... and this 'exclusion of the tacit' is indeed the type of thing which allows the use of 'coordinated non-action' in depriving minorities of opportunity, the impunity that western society continues to enjoy, which is broadly supported by the popular media.
Meanwhile, the push for sovereignty by Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard or aboriginal groups, in response to the silent, opportunity-depriving neutron bombs of the anglophone majority, is perhaps as one might expect; i.e. of the same 'solution' ilk as sourced the original problem, and simply seeks to establish a new 'regional' grounding of 'normality' or 'goodness'. The francophone push for sovereignty is meanwhile deaf to the aboriginal push for sovereignty which claims the same land, setting the stage for yet another 'sovereignty war', not to mention the potentials coming from over a hundred ethnicities within the province of Quebec. And all of this 'emulation' of the anglophone absolutist stance flies in the face of a tremendous record of ethnic harmony and tolerance in this multi-ethnic city of Montreal.
In order to break this vicious cycle of 'autistic terrorism', the 'community as a complex system' is going to have to come to grips with the question of absoluteness of individual subjectivity, and to encourage individuals of all ethnicities within the community to 'become larger than their judgements' and pursue personal and collective purpose on the basis of relativistically amplifying the harmony of 'whole-and-part'.
In order to work on a harmony basis, one must have a view, not only of 'thing-behaviors' but also of the 'not-behaviors' of 'not-things' (coordinated patterns of influence, such as resource and opportunity deprivation, emanating from the inter-individual relational spaces within the system). This relational view, which contains the 'thing-behavior' view as a special case (space curvature = zero) is put into place by high performance teams and is a viewing approach which I have outlined in my abstract on 'Navigating Complexity' as an alternative to 'Community Preparedness' (the latter emanating from the absolutist, problem-as-departure from norm orientation).
It is our cultural intuition (as contrasted with our pre-cultural intuition) that we have the ability to recognize evil when we see it, as in the case of Sadam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic, ..... so far as this goes, everything is still ok, because this notion of evil can be a guiding image, and we could also, at this point, flip from absolute to relativist reference frames and replace the notion of 'evil' with the notion of 'source of dissonance'.
However, the systemic dysfunction arises from the fact that our absolutist philosophy has us see the position where we 'are coming from' as one of 'goodness', and the imposing of this 'goodness-based solution' on those regions victimized by evil leaders. That is, the strings which are attached to post-conflict economic withholding or non-witholding ensure that the individual or nation will be supportive of the implied 'norms'. But when people line up hand in hand over bridges in Belgrade, with targets on the shirts defying western warplanes, and when massive volunteering is induced in Russia, on the principle of defending innocent Jugoslavians against the treachery of the NATO alliance, it should give us pause to think that maybe those others who see 'evil' in us are not much different than us; i.e. that 'evil' may not be as absolute and unambiguous as our tradition would have it, but instead 'defines itself' relative to what one subjectively considers 'good'. If we begin to think in terms of opposites which are mutually-defining, we are now moving out of the abstract absolutist world of Parmenides into the relativistic world of Heraclitus and nature, into the view of reality as envisaged by modern physics sees it, ... as a world based on an evolutionary 'becoming' rather than on a 'creationist' world of 'being', .... where 'being' is simply the present state of 'becoming', and where we must be grounded in harmony first and judgement second, rather than vice versa.
So, the alternative to seeing Sadam as 'evil' is not to embrace him as a great guy, ...this implies an absolutist notion of 'opposites'. Instead, we need a 'reciprocal' notion of opposition, as is innate in Einstein's theory of relativity and the notion of the reciprocal of a 'thing' is 'inter-thing space-time'. That is, the 'relativistic opposite' of Sadam Hussein is his 'reciprocal disposition' or the 'inter-thing space-time' which evolved his seat of power.
So what am I saying here?, ... I am saying that there is another 'story' to tune into which is bigger than Sadam. The reciprocal of Sadam is the story of the space-time flow which spawned Sadam (or Hitler or Milosevic). Sadam is the product of the frustration of many people of the middle east who have felt victimized by the tacitly coordinated non-action of the western world, which has deprived them of the opportunity of developing their own ontogenetic identities, just as today's western youth feels deprived of the opportunity to develop his own ontogenetic identity or 'authentic self'.
The elimination, suppression or silencing of these 'problem children' who challenge the continued dominance of the unquestioned 'goodness' of the way of the west, amounts to the perpetuating of dysfunction, a continuing contamination of the earth with ASIDS --- Acute System Inquiry Deficiency Syndrome.
It is time for us to become larger than our judgements.
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.... but there is more to consider, ...