Unfortunately All Too Similar Prognostications

The Doomsday Clock has been recently set at 90-seconds. Why 90-seconds?  Let’s name just a few interrelated reasons: increased probability of nuclear escalation from a Ukraine war that continues without noticeable significant talks for peace; unabated warming of the climate thus diminishing the viability of a life on this planet; continued loss of biodiversity; continuing  pollution of air and water; disregarding the need to mitigate the emergence of infectious diseases such as COVID-19.  As Rachel Bronson, Ph.D. (president and CEO, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists) said: “We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality. 90 seconds to midnight is the closest the Clock has ever been set to midnight, and it’s a decision our experts do not take lightly.”

Yet, given this frank reality, few have been paying attention. Could it be that people are so consumed by the rat race (possibly even addicted?), in the day-to-day getting and spending to meet their basic needs?

Humans aren’t inherently consumed by or addicted to things, rather such behavior is a (tacitly) learned behavior in relation to that thing.  It is learned behavior through constant practice/experience—habitual behavior.  The constant practice and experience of capitalism has by design made for an un-attentive, if not apathetic, citizenry.  Most all industrialized societies are in different degrees capitalistic.

In the U.S., essentially since the early 70’s–following the blueprint put forth in the Powell Memo—the captains of business & industry (a.k.a. professional management class, the business-minded class) have successfully captured (and defunded) the public sphere. Effectually, making the political class a class of business-minded sycophants, turning main stream news and healthcare into profit seeking enterprises, remaking public education into a test-taking training space yielding an uncritical thinking citizenry, and turning higher education into an economic hardship for most.  In short, keeping people concerned about meeting their basic human needs—see  so they don’t have time to place focused attention to what’s really happening to them.

Management’s use extrinsic motivation (a.k.a. reward/punishment, operant conditioning) techniques as the way to incite desired behavior among those they have legitimate power/authority over is capturing us as individuals as well.  That is, many of us experiencing extrinsic motivation management practices which Ryan and Deci (2020) found that over time we internalize these extrinsic motivating sources.  The implication of extrinsic motivation becoming internalized is that individuals come to believe that the external sources are internal—that the motivation is coming from within them—when in reality the motivational stimulus is coming from outside of us, thus supplanting the emergence of inherent need for development—we become alienated from our very own humanity.  No wonder so many of us don’t experience the vitalizing spirit and joy from the work we do—and sadly we are unaware as to why.

Having captured society’s institutions, if not much of society itself, capitalism’s intent of wealth accumulation through each atomized individual pursuing unlimited material growth has created a general disregard for life itself.  Business as usual translates into societal suicide. 

It is long overdue that we think critically about what is actually happening and to do what we can to make this world a very human world, and reject the capitalistic “what’s-in-it-for-me-world’.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people aren’t even paying attention or capable of thinking critically. For them the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is no different than the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. 

Reference

Ryan, R.M. & Deci, E.L. (2020). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation from a self-determination theory perspective: Definitions, theory, practices and future directions. Contemporary Educational psychology, 61, 1-11.

Capitalism Opposes Life

As previously argued, the system of capitalism has captured (or is it co-opted) the democratic system of governance. If capitalism was inherently aligned with democratic principles then this may not be such a bad thing. However capitalism is not only antithetical to democratic governance, the former rests on ‘it being all for me’ and the latter ‘We the people’ but it is destructive to life it self as evidenced by global warming its most far-reaching effect.  Unavoidably there will be hell to pay but not by everyone, at least in the short term.

 

However, Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, said in The Wealth of Nations, “in order to bring up a family the labour of the husband and wife together must even in the lowest species of common labour, be able to earn something more than what is precisely necessary for their own maintenance” and correspondingly spoke against the rentier class whose income he cast as unearned. According to Michael Hudson (author of Killing the Host) the original meaning of ‘free market’ was that of being free from exploitation (particularly by the rentier class), and not as the term is applied today by corporatist to mean free of regulation to do as one desires. So is it the system or the person? Continue reading

Presence of Fear Requires Courage

Fear is an emotion, a type of energy we all have available to us to help protect us against threats and danger. Thus the emotion of fear can be quite useful, unless of course it is the only or predominate energy that animates us. A fearful person—one largely motivated by it—will likely see danger and threats to him/her self everywhere and in most every other person. Moreover, when every other person is a potential threat to ones’ success toward fulfilling one’s goal in life, then fear of others—especially those not like oneself—inevitably emerges. Continue reading

There’s No Substitute for Understanding

In a December 3rd Harvard Business Review article (Rescuing Capitalism from Itself) Henry Mintzberg noted “since 1989, the United States has experienced some alarming changes, for example the massive infiltration of corporate money into public elections, disquieting levels of corruption in business, rising income disparities, and the decline, of all things in this country, of social mobility.”

 

How have these alarming changes come about? Are these the result of outside forces or are they the result of the economic system itself? Continue reading

If We Cared About Our Development

A recent HBR article (Why companies are so bad at treating employees like people) by Herminia Ibarra speaks to the need to re-invent the workplace if there is to be human development at work. As Ibarra characterizes it, this re-invention requires “reimagining complex organizations so that they are more human and agile.” The implication seems to be that making organizations more human and agile involves solving the “thorny problem of developing people.” Continue reading

A Theory for Leadership for a Human World

Leadership, according to Peter Northouse (2010, p 3), is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. So then is evidence of leadership the achievement of a goal by a group? Does the goal matter? Do the means matter? Continue reading

Is that all there is?

According to the mission of our materialist egoistic system of economics (aka capitalism) we are to accumulate, without limit, as much material wealth as we can and (individually) we are to do this by maximizing the satisfaction of our individual material self-interest. In other words one leads a successful life to the extent that one has realized material gain and amassed wealth—the greater the material gain, the more worthy and the more successful one is. Accordingly this is to be one’s goal in life, it is all there is to life itself! Necessarily, it follows that the pinnacle of self-interest behavior, of getting as much as possible for one’s self, having it all for one’s self, is greed—there is little doubt in this philosophy of life greed is good! Continue reading

Leadership Untainted

When most people talk of leadership what they are really speaking to is the highest levels in the management hierarchy. They are talking about the legitimate authority positions in an organization. They speak of leadership as if it was a noun, a name we attribute to a person or position. Continue reading

In The Larger Scheme of Things

What happens when the larger-scheme-of-things is ignored and denied out of existence? Continue reading

A Change Of the System Not In the System

The foundation of our economic system was formulated in the 18th century, at a time when the understanding of humankind was quite limited. Yet we continue to adhere to its precepts as if this 18th century understanding was a full and complete understanding.

The conduct of this (egoistic) capitalist system rest upon the following set of assumptions and precepts: a) the world is a material world explainable as matter-in-motion; b) humankind has no interior essence and is, like the planets above, grounded in matter and the material; c) the cause of human action is external and material; d) with no shared or common interior essence there is no inherent ‘We’ only ‘Me’ as independent individuals; e) each individual is his own property and destined to improve his lot in pursuit of selfish pleasure through material gain; f) the wealth of a nation is the linear sum of the material gain of individuals; and g) Nature’s bounty is limitless and ours’ individually to act upon, dominate and exploit to satisfy our individual pleasurable pursuits. With these assumptions and rules as the guide what could possibly be the future for people and Nature? Continue reading