The older I get and the more I study the contemporary social reality, the more I feel we need to think wild about the possibilities of the future of our society. We have to use our imagination to see the whole wheel of fire and view reality from a wider perspective, overcoming the bureaucratic routine operational mentality. One cannot be blind to those things that are not necessary supportive of our own views. In the terms of the great sociologist of knowledge Karl Mannheim, we have to be careful of only playing with ideological statements.
If, as Mannheim suggests, groups can be so interest bound that they cannot perceive reality outside the terms that sustain their power, then it is extremely important that we adopt an alien point of view, if only to open our minds and free us of the ethnocentrism of our positions. As Sigmund Freud observed, one of the gratifying and exalting impressions which man kind can offer is when in the face of crisis or catastrophe, it forgets the discordances of its civilization and all its internal difficulties and animosities, and recalls the great common task of preserving itself against the superior power of nature.
Any society approaching this new century will strongly have to work with the great common task of preserving itself, overcoming the principle of social perversity that states that almost everything that is done socially to help people hurts them, and everything that is done to hurt them helps them…
The greatest challenge presented to the institutions of contemporary society, whether these are created by legislation and the political system or by private individuals in the way of firms, churches, pressure groups, movements or organizations of many kinds, is the question of how these organizations affect the fields of power in the society. Of course, as we have researched and learned there is power to create, power to prevent or power to destroy. Societies that concentrate on the later two are much less likely to develop successful economies and the good life than are societies that emphasize the former. This is what gives creative and innovative institutions and their respective policies, their appeal, by contrast with the institutions that depend mainly on policies of threat.
Threat can control and destroy. It can rarely create, except when it destroys threat itself with counter threat. This one of the problems of the psychology of threat which can easily become destructive.
We make a strong case for the principle or the policy of betterment or improvement, which states that in the widest sense the betterment of human life, comes from the rise of non threat organizers in society, creating integrative structures that are relaxed and gentle. All good things also have pathologies, and it is not proper to defend their goodness by blindly denying their pathologies…
The road to betterment of any kind is uphill and requires developing a true and legitimate sense of common ground. The more we understand the world and the complexities of social reality, the better the opportunity we have of progressing along the precarious road that does lead to a constructive society.
Copyright 2003 QBS, Inc.