Author’s Subtext – Sociopathic Epidemic
The Sociopathic Epidemic – ‘Author’s Subtext’
There is a problem with the way we ‘present’ social issues in our culture and in our culture’s media, in that the presentations often start ‘in the middle of things’ and treat the middle as a local-system-in-itself. Can we understand the organism as a local system out of the context of the environment; e.g the storm-cell as a local system out of the context of the fluid-flow of the atmosphere? The ‘Sociopathy Epidemic’ article invites us focus on a problem WITHIN THE UNITED STATES, as if there were nothing to be gained from opening our inquiry to dynamics in which the US is at the same time included (the world dynamic, nature). The problem with ‘limiting our inquiry’ to the notional ‘local system’, as has often been pointed out by the systems sciences, is that it forces us to identify the source of all behaviours (functional or dysfunctional) as originating within the ‘local’ system. If we inquire into the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ functionality of a university, we will always be able to point to something in its operations that we can credit or blame for good or bad results. But as Russell Ackoff has pointed out, the system we call ‘university’ is included within the suprasystem of ‘community’ and had we started our inquiry at the level of community, we might have found that there was a problem that associated with the manner in which the ‘subsystem’ (formerly ‘the system’) called ‘university’ co-operates within an interdependent web of subsystems.
So, the author who would like to shift the ‘framing’ of the inquiry so as to look upstream’ from the nominal ‘local system’ has to hunt for some device to do so, and it may not be easy.
In the case of the ‘Sociopathy’ article, the framing is ‘the nation’ (the United States), and the contention of Robin of Berkeley is;
“sociopathy will not wane unless we create a nation of grown-ups. A country where people are expected to take responsibility for their actions. No exceptions.”
But the problem is that people DO take responsibility for their actions, even when the actions are not theirs.
The narcissist farmer who gets rich by producing huge crops in the fertile soils of America ‘takes responsibility’ for these results even though he was a poor starving farmer tilling the over-worked soils of Europe prior to emigrating.
But everyone would like some of that ‘opportunity’ that is upstream from one’s ‘actions’. The title ‘land of opportunity’ did not come into popular usage for no reason. ‘Opportunity’ is a quality of ‘habitat’ and it is a huge ‘amplifier’ of ‘the actions of people’. It is thus problematic to speak of ‘taking responsibility for one’s actions’ without mentioning the over-riding role of spatial possibility (the fertility of the habitat that amplifies a would-be blossoming of assertive potentiality).
The fact that we do not comprehend ‘opportunity’ in our notion of ‘actions’ that we must take responsibility for is underscored by what was expected of ‘slaves’ (they had to take responsibility for their actions). Meanwhile, it is openly acknowledged today, that;
“This nation [US] was founded on the highest principles of our Founders – the notion of the inalienable rights of humanity, including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They then immediately walked away from those principles in the face of the economic, cultural and political reality of slavery.”
While there is lots of talk about ‘rights’ and about ‘all men and women being born equal in the eyes of God’, … the ‘right to act’ does not say anything about ‘opportunity’. The slave doesn’t get much opportunity so his creatlive/productive potentialities don’t blossom forth as do those who have access to opportunity.
The problem here is that Enlightenment physics split apart the conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation and began regarding the ‘kinetic’ aspect of dynamics, the ‘actions of the inhabitant) out of the context of the ‘energy-of-place’ dynamics. It is not really the actions of the careless cigarette smoker that ’causes’ the forest fire. The same ‘actions’ of the farmer in tilling (a) infertile soil and (b) fertile soil are not going to have the same result. The same ‘actions’ of the careless smoker in (a) a soggy wet forest and (b) a tinder dry forest are not going to have the same result.
The problem is not with ‘taking responsibility for one’s actions’, but instead, in NOT acknowledging the conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation that characterizes dynamics in the real world of our experience.
What would we expect if we were to lock a dozen dogs into a small cage (shrinking their opportunity to act)? Would we not promote a ‘dog-eat-dog’ environment or ‘sociopathic epidemic’?
So, how does the author that looks in on this too-narrowly-framed viewpoint, who wants to deepen the inquiry so as to acknowledge the conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation, go about it?
Two possible devices are; (a) use metaphors which include the potential energy effects and their conjugate relation with kinetic energy effects, as in loading and unloading electromagnetic fields (there is a dual process wherein the active (kinetic) aspect of the system is expending energy (as in an expanding spring) while the other aspect of the system is storing energy (as in a compressing spring). (b) drop the polite language that blandly expresses things in terms of ‘what people do’ and substitute colloquial language that conveys the notion of the potential energy aspect of the dynamics. Polite language would say; ‘the manager issued a directive which was carried out by all employees’ while the colloquial language might say; ‘the boss is an mmf who put our back against the wall and made us do it.’ The former invokes the notion of pure kinetic cogs in the machine action, while the latter invokes the notion of a spring being compressed that is going to unload that energy and snap back.
When we watch the storm-cell, what we see is ‘what it does’ or ‘the actions that it is responsible for’ (the ‘inhabitant-dynamic’), but the fact is, where it goes and what it does derives from the flow (habitat-dynamic) that it is included in.
The ‘action that we say it is responsible for’ is the kinetic aspect. But if we invoke the view that receptivenesses in the flow-dynamic it is included in, open up differential possibility for its assertive potentialities to blossom forth, then the ‘inverted’ aspect (and thus the inherent conjugate habitat-inhabitant relational nature of dynamics) begins to show through.
Both of these approaches; (a) metaphors invoking potential energy, and (b) colloquial language that suggests tensions, … were attempted in the commentaries on the ‘Sociopathic Epidemic’
* * *