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.

Sustainability, But of What

Sustainability is something we often read and hear about, especially lately.  More to the point, many are concerned about, if not interested in acting to reduce and/or remove the factors that diminish the sustainability of a healthful environment.  If you aren’t among the concerned many, then likely you are among the willfully blind or willfully ignorant. Continue reading

Avoid Change in the Extreme

The only thing constant in life is change—Heraclitus. With change being constant in life, change is not avoidable through life.

 

With this in mind, denying (the need for) change, is denying life. Refusing to deal with it in the present is refusing to be life affirming in the present. This way of being doesn’t stop change from arising—given its constancy—it only ensures having to deal with it in its extreme later. Continue reading

Potential Psychopaths Us All

In the article Three Things to Know to Hold Wells Fargo Accountable the author Lynn Parramore (Senior Research Analyst at Institute of New Economic Thinking) relays what William Lazonick (Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Lowell) identified as the three things we need to know: 1) American businesses have become stock manipulation machines; 2) focusing on short-term stock prices leads to corruption; and 3) punishment means little until executive pay is understood. The first essentially speaks to the profit maximizing intent of business and its executives and the second to the importance of it happening now if not sooner while the third is that the entire scheme is ultimately profitable because of the enormous size of the gains. So now that we know these things, what are we to do about it? Continue reading

Clueless in a Human World

The authors of a recent HBR article, Wells Fargo and the Slippery Slope of Sales Incentives, provided the answer “to meet sales quotas and earn incentives” to the question “why they (they being the lower level employees of Wells Fargo) did this in the first place.” The “this” being unethical if not illegally selling and charging customers for services they did not need or request. It seems that the perspective here is that the employees where at fault, after all they are the ones who acted fraudulently! 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