OWS and Hierarchy
Posted November 11, 2011on:
Perhaps the most stark distinction between the OWS movement and the forces that they oppose (Corporations and Government) is found in the notion of hierarchy. Whereas OWS has no hierarchy, their opponents are all about hierarchy.
What does it mean to say that OWS has no hierarchy? To find out, watch the following video (highlighted at http://www.nycga.net/about/):
Since 2003, I have predicted that the coming “war” in America, will be in the form of People vs. Corporations.
But I was never comfortable with that pithy description. I mean, for example, in my consulting practice, I run my own little corporation, Jack Polymath LLC.
Now if I identify myself as a member of the “People” in the coming People vs. Corporation war, and yet I run my own little corporation, it would seem that I have some ‘splainin’ to do. That’s what this post is about.
This post is about the kind of hierarchies that OWS opposes. They don’t oppose any and all hierarchy. What they oppose are large, monolithic, and rigid hierarchies. These are hierarchies of people in which the lives of the “leaves” of the hierarchy tree are many orders removed from the life of the person at the “root” of the tree.
What kind of hierarchies are these? Org charts of multinational Corporations. Org charts of the U.S Government.
The older a Corporation is, the larger it grows, and the more rigid and extensive its hierarchy becomes. At some point, people in the company don’t even know each other. Everyone is just blindly serving the Corporate interest, with no feeling of human responsibility in anyone for the actions of the Corporation.
The U.S. Government is similar. The incumbency advantage of sitting Senators, and even of most of the Congressmen, is such that these people treat these positions as if they were lifetime appointments.
Due to this monolithic, rigid quality, Corporations and Government lose their touch with basic human decency.
If this discussion seems too esoteric for you, consider the hierarchy at Penn State University as of a week ago. Joe Paterno was the shadow head of that monolithic hierarchy, for over 40 years. From the outside, until this week, the monolithic Penn State hierarchy looked like a paragon of human virtue. At least that was the persuasive PR of the monolith.
But then this week, we all found out that the PR was bullshit. Instead of virtuous, the core of Penn State was revealed as rotten — rife with the worst of human depravity.
We, those outside of this monolithic rigid hierarchy, were shocked to hear of multiple individuals in that hierarchy, from the very top (Paterno, and Spanier), to the very bottom (the janitors), to the folks in the middle (McQueary), all behaving exactly the same way: shielding a child molester in their midst. Shielding him from the coming impalement he justly deserves at the hands of fellow prisoners (or the suicide he will probably choose).
Are these bad men? Joe Paterno? Mike McQueary? Graham Spanier? I doubt it. At least, I doubt that they are materially worse than you or I.
I believe that their shocking behavior is part and parcel of living our lives inside massive, rigid, self-perpetuating hierarchies, and blindly serving the interests of those hierarchies.
Another example: I believe that Big Pharma and Big Food are killing America. I’ve written a little about it here.
But even with this belief of mine, do I also believe that the people who work within these industries are bad people? Hell no! I believe that the vast majority of people in those industries are just doing their socially acceptable job.
I’ll say the same thing about the Nazi Holocaust. Were the thousands of people that worked in this “industry” — from the train drivers, to the camp cooks, to the Jewish kapos, to the scientists — all bad people? I highly doubt it. I believe the Milgrim experiment laid rest to the notion of “evil other people”.
IMHO, we are all, each and every one of us, “evil”, when we blindly serve the interests of large, monolithic, rigid hierarchies. It’s mob rule, only worse.
Mob rule creates temporary chaos, but then dissipates.
Large, monolithic, rigid hierarchy, on the other hand, creates endemic human depravity. A single human thread binds Sandusky at Penn State, GMO wheat in America, and Zyklon B in Auschwitz.
That thread is monolithic, rigid hierarchy.
“Corporation” is the best name I could think of for that concept. But as you can see, it’s a rather misleading term.