The Empathic Civilization

I started writing this Empathic Civilization Blog entry several years ago and for some reason did not complete it.  When it began, we were watching politicians, reporters, and experts talking about the shooting of Republican congressmen while practicing baseball and no one is addressing what someone mentions in passing as the systemic cause of American violence. “Systemic refers to something that is spread throughout, system-wide, affecting a group or system, such as a body, economy, market or society as a whole.” Wikipedia further defines systemic into three areas, medicine, biology, and other, which we will label as psychological. A psychological definition will help us construct a research framework to study American culture’s systemic risks. These eight definitions are inter-related and should be helpful in understanding not only the culture of violence but violence itself and needs to be processed into a research project framework. Some work lies ahead to implement this Systemic research strategy:

• Systemic (amateur extrasolar planet search project), a research project to locate extrasolar planets using distributed computing
• Systemic bias, the inherent tendency of a process to favor particular outcomes
• Systemic functional grammar, a model of grammar that considers language as a system
• Systemic functional linguistics, an approach to linguistics that considers language as a system
• Systemic psychology or systems psychology, a branch of applied psychology based on systems theory and thinking
• Systemic risk, the risk of collapse of an entire financial system or market, as opposed to risk associated with any one entity
• Systemic shock, a shock to any system strong enough to drive it out of equilibrium, can refer to a change in many fields
• Systemic therapy, a school of psychology dealing with the interactions of groups and their interactional patterns and dynamics

As we study these elements, look carefully for interrelationships keeping this definition of Complex Theory in mind:

Complexity theory is an interdisciplinary theory that grew out of systems theory in the 1960s.[1]:350 It draws from research in the natural sciences that examines uncertainty and non-linearity.[1] Complexity theory emphasizes interactions and the accompanying feedback loops that constantly change systems. While it proposes that systems are unpredictable, they are also constrained by order-generating rules.[2]:74
Complexity theory has been used in the fields of strategic management and organizational studies. Application areas include understanding how organizations or firms adapt to their environments and how they cope with conditions of uncertainty. The theory treats organizations and firms as collections of strategies and structures. The structure is complex; in that they are dynamic networks of interactions, and their relationships are not aggregations of the individual static entities. They are adaptive; in that the individual and collective behavior mutate and self-organize corresponding to a change-initiating micro-event or collection of events.[3][4]

After composing the above ideas in this essay, I took a break and watched the Morning Joe Show, where co-author Chris Fussell and foreword writer General Stan McChrystal were discussing how their new book tackles how to build a ‘Team of Teams. The  MJS staff wrote an excerpt from ‘One Mission’  stating this as the book’s mission:

“In 2014 I was invited to join my former commanding officer, Stan McChrystal, as a co-author in writing Team of Teams. Our goal in writing it was to offer our view on why the military models of the twentieth century were fundamentally misaligned with the realities of an information- age battlefield. The speed and interconnectivity of this new type of conflict forced the senior leadership within our branch of the special operations community to make a choice: lead us through a culture change or potentially lose the fight against Al Qaeda. They chose the former. Team of Teams explored a simple idea that sat at the epicenter of the challenge in making this culture change: How can large organizations move with the speed and agility of a small team? In that vein, our writing team laid out the reactive small-team dynamics that are so powerfully highlighted within special operations units, as well as in any number of other high-performing teams. We explained that a small team’s ability to quickly adapt comes from the combination of four key drivers.”

Gen. McChrystal and Navy SEAL Chris Fussell on leadership on CBS.

Joe in true fashion asked if this system could be applied to any organization and of course, the answer is yes. However, as smooth as this book might be, I have not read it yet, it does not seem to address the “systemic risk” of the U.S culture! As such, a smooth technique cannot fix a flawed system!

I am reminded of David Harvey’s work and this clip outlines the Crises of Capitalism. Here we see Queen Elizabeth’s reaction when she is told by her economists that the 2008 world economic crisis was due to the “systemic risk” inherent in capitalism. “What, systemic risk?”

What we saw the Republican shooter protesting was the sign he was holding, “Tax the wealthy as we used to do” – this is the big issue – the systemic risk in our economic, cultural system. It is the American capitalistic culture that is making us sick! So, how to go deep into fixing it is our challenge! I have not yet seen this being discussed in the news. Of course not, we were told to be aware of the “military-industrial-media complex”, and no way is Morning Joe going to shoot himself in the foot – committing class-treason is difficult.

Trump’s move away from globalization, toward nationalism, is absolutely wrong and dangerous!  Jeremy Rifkin’s work on “The Empathic Civilisation” is the framework moving to civilized globalization, we now wait to see if President-Elect Bidden will be able to lead this necessary change.

Finally, we have Ed Raymond’s HPR essay on Aggressive rats and monkeys, which is a look at what we are becoming. Ed writes this in his column on June 14th, 2017, which is an issue NIMH might re-visiting anew today January 14th, 2021. Covid19 should be reducing our “hyper-aggressive and violent behavior toward one another” thus moving us toward a more empathic civilization?

Over 50 years ago the National Institute of Mental Health used rats and mice to dramatically demonstrate how crowding affects behavior. Animals crammed into a small place with nowhere to go become hyper-aggressive and violent toward one another. As a farm boy I experienced horses, pigs, cows, and geese often fighting for a place at the feed trough.
The research proved that the greater the density the more deviant the behavior. If there is a common experience associated with large crowds, such as a popular rock band playing favorites before 50,000 waving and clapping hands, we love being in that atmosphere. But when you have 200 passengers boarding an aircraft, perhaps with a 100 different reasons for flying, the only common experience they have is the confines of the aircraft. (HPR).





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