Business As Usual: Social Entrepreneurs and Other Psychopaths

A Gift for Ralph

There is quite alot of talk today about re-envisioning, re-engineering, or re-inventing our civil society – its politics, its social structures, and perhaps more significantly, its economic infrastructure; we hear much about transition towns, sustainability, green companies, socioeconomic localization, and the less well-known buzzword emerging from players like the Harvard Business School, social enterprise. To what does such terminology refer? A common thread among these diverse projects seems to be implementation of innovative solutions to looming environmental and social collapse, while maintaining some semblance of the civil or political order found in current institutional structures and arrangements.

Over the past year, we have touched upon how, in a neo-liberal democratic polity, capital may co-opt any idea and turn it into a marketable commodity; even the concept of sustainability has fallen victim to such enterprises. Witness, for example, how a multiplicity of self-proclaimed “green” companies now abounds, even amongst those we know are real evil doers. However, while the business case for sustainable, eco-friendly economics may have been an option three, four, or perhaps ten decades ago, it now seems more akin to an eleventh-hour howling at the moon or a Hail Mary Pass; and at this late juncture motivations tend to be highly suspect, in any event. The question we must continually ask ourselves is: Why?  It is the same question my three-year old son, Lucas, poses constantly.

What are these diverse enterprises? Why engage in them? To what end?

First questions, first. What is an enterprise? Old French enterprise (n) from entreprendreentre- between (Latin, inter-) + prendre  to take (Latin prehendere) – to grasp.  Enterprise – “to undertake,” “take in hand,” “show a spirit of daring.”  It is also the root of another common business term, entrepreneur.

An enterprise is something upon which the entrepreneur embarks.  It is typically a risk-laden venture – a real undertaking (not unlike the quest of the mythic hero in search of the Holy Grail).  Enterprise suggests individual initiative, vision, acumen, skill, and a singular drive to “make something happen;” it is a pursuit, a quest to achieve a specific outcome or objective.  It seeks to create something new and profitable, either monetarily or in terms of building social capital (whatever that is). Someone who demonstrates such enterprising behavior we call an entrepreneur.

Typically, entrepreneurs pursue new business opportunities. If they are to be successful, they must be great salespeople above all else. An accomplished entrepreneur must be capable of unvarnished, even shameless self-promotion. The idea for a new business or venture may come from any quarter, but the ability to “sell” that idea and turn it into a valuable enterprise takes a certain overabundance of chutzpah and self-confidence: an enterprising individual with real initiative and unrelenting self-confidence. Of course, the risks that a smart business entrepreneur takes are usually calculated ones, often launched with the use of other people’s money – that is why we have banks, stock markets, and other investment resources; and many times the venture piggybacks upon other people’s ideas or vision.

Social movements among the body politic can be, and often are, transformed into, or hijacked by, enterprising individuals.  As I indicated earlier, this happens to many social and political movements here in the West, in America particularly.  Capitalism and neo-liberal democracy provide fertile grounds for the tilling of such new fields – for absorbing the disparate energies of a social movement, creating new market opportunities there, and then building a valuable enterprise around it, with new commodities (services are also commodities) for sale. It has happened with everything from gang-wear to the environmental movement. Such transformations of emergent social (or even counter-cultural) energy might indicate where the concept of social enterprise derives its own impetus – the usurpation  and application of business management principles to social issues and initiatives, either for profit or fun.

Consider the blog, Occupy MBA, launched recently by my comrade, Professor Ralph Meima, as “a business educator’s response to the criticism leveled by the Occupy Wall Street movement at corporate power and greed…” Professor Meima quite candidly uses the blog to further some innovative B-school ideas, including the concepts of sustainable leadership and social enterprise, attempting to tap into the OWS momentum in promoting his own educational enterprise. He asks, for example, if “the institution of MBA…might offer solutions to the immoral, ruthless, and unsustainable business culture that rules the global order.” [N.B. February 2006 research by SpencerStuart suggests that 50% of S&P 500 Company CEOs have MBA degrees.  Uh-Oh!  Maybe an MBA is not the solution after all!]

Yet, clearly Professor Meima’s blog is a marketing strategy, itself intended to promote a very specific social enterprise by appropriating the revolutionary language and slogans of the OWS movement in a bid to bolster enrollment at the graduate school where he offers his (for-profit) innovative MBA program, Managing for Sustainability. It is a classic example of entrepreneurship, and the ability of our cultural institutions to absorb any vision, even counter-cultural energies, in an attempt to salvage some semblance of the current socio-economic hegemony, while apparently redressing more overt grievances with the system.

What, then, is a “social enterprise” or a “social entrepreneur”?  These terms first emerged in the 1960’s but gained global visibility in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. They are a conflation of business-management methodologies and the dynamics of social change: we could call it a management engineering approach to creating “social capital” (whatever that means). And now, with the help of players like the Harvard Business School and my friend, Professor Meima, we have MBA programs in social enterprise, social entrepreneurship, and of course sustainability management.  In other words, we have a novel set of concepts to repackage some older, stalwart management ideas and resell them into a new market of education consumers. This phenomenon itself represents a significant example of social enterprise at work; and this is the ineluctable pull or momentum of market-based economics and its management principles. The same concepts that got us into this mess are now expected to deliver us from the pending chaos.  It is in this context that we must understand the limitations of both enterprise and managerial leadership in reshaping our social, political, and economic relations.

OK – so the social entrepreneur is not driven necessarily by money, but rather by his desire to pursue improvements in the social, environmental, economic or educational conditions of the world and his own community through application of his expertise.  He wants “to develop innovative solutions to global problems.” In doing so, he applies the same business methodologies and management skills to his social enterprise as a regular entrepreneur applies to his market enterprise.  It is his vision, his passion, his expertisehis view of the world that he wants to implement and have others work towards achieving. And, of course, like any good manager, he would want to organize, structure, and lead the process, controlling the deliverables.  Social engineering by any other name still smells as fishy to me.  In fact, Ralph Meima notes precisely this sort of behavior displayed by an MBA during an OWS meeting in New York.  Ralph describes it as an “example of the mismatch between MBA-style managerialism and the OWS movement’s leadership needs.”  He then sheepishly asks:

Is America so individualistic that almost all of its crop of potential sustainable leaders is destined to wither on the vine whenever they confront the logic of collaboration and mutual solidarity?

And Ralph goes on to fret the prospective outcome:

The temptation to abandon one’s faith in “sustainable leadership” is always niggling, and can become overwhelming.

You don’t say?  What faith, Ralph?  And what leadership are you referring to?  There is no historical record of sustainable leadership in the civilized world.  The only example I have of such leadership might be the type of non-binding guidance routinely offered by tribal elders among the consanguine and affine relations within a small and relatively egalitarian pre-civilized band.  Such “leadership” lasted for at least 200,000 years of Pleistocene prehistory.  Finally, I would disagree with Ralph’s contention that “it takes a deeply moral community to build a courageously ethical leader.”  Morality and law are already indicators of the prior loss of guidance and respect for the world-as-lived. I would counter that it takes a deeply egalitarian community of fully-embodied persons to heed the non-binding guidance of ordinary tribal elders, and the quiet pleadings of the earth and its other, non-human inhabitants.  But, I digress.

There are other names I can think of for these “social entrepreneurs;” and I do believe there are already far too many of them in the world.  Here is a partial listing in no particular order: king, monarch, president, prime minister, governor, legislator, judge, lobbyist, lawyer, rabbi, priest, pastor, cardinal, pope and prophet. Have I left anyone out?  I hope not.  But, if I have; well, you get the picture.  Oh yes, of course, preparation for such entrepreneurship is sometimes called a political campaign.  And I have a more encompassing name for all of these well-intentioned leaders, these social entrepreneurs – egocentric psychopaths. Finally, the term “enterprise” also presumes novelty, innovation, and progress; but, these are tricky serpents ineluctably leading us forward, down the same primrose path we already traversed in arriving at the current destination.

Don’t misread me, friends. I have nothing against smaller, locally-driven responses to symbiotic maintenance of regional collectives, ecosystems, and ethnicities. My problem is with the language and logic, indeed, the underlying rationality of Western business management – of planning, progress, growth, novelty, and domination – of enterprise and entrepreneurship. All of these terms are fraught with deep social, political, economic, and existential histories.  They grow out of the Curriculum of the West, and reinforce some of the worst habits of modern thought and behavior – behaviors that have landed us here in the first instance: individual visionaries risking other people’s capital, commodifying every aspect of life, dominating markets, reinforcing the “captain of industry” mentality, accumulating wealth, building new institutional hierarchies, directing and enslaving populations.  And I believe my comrade, Dr. Meima would agree.

Just look at the top entrepreneur of the last quarter century, the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur.

Steve Jobs was said to have democratic and egalitarian sympathies… [but with his] dictatorial production model… he single handedly and autocratically controlled his consumer’s purchasing behavior.

In conclusion, I would say the global insights and practices constituting business school training – giving flesh to the very bones of enterprise and entrepreneurship – represent one of the legs currently propping up an increasingly alienating, emptying, and abusive culture.  (N.B. Jeff Skilling of Eron fame earned his MBA from Harvard in 1979.)  Such education reinforces a categorically unsustainable world concept; models and expectations that may be antithetical to what is currently required by the planet, and demanded of the human community.  Sustainable business? Sustainable leadership? Why, back in the day, I taught with a colleague at the Colorado School of Mines who promoted “sustainable engineering” of all things. But, here is the question we never ask. How can we reasonably speak about sustainability when the world — whose plenum the logic and epistemology of our sciences has already turned into so many objects and resources for endless consumption — is finite?

So I ask you, what exactly are we looking to sustain? We no longer need, nor can we afford, to sustain this culture of objectification, commodification, and innovation.  We have willfully turned this wonder-filled planet (and most inhabitants) into a measurable cache of raw materials and resources for extraction, management and selfish exploitation, nearly to depletion or exhaustion; and now we want to provide sustenance to the monster that dragged us here? I realize it may be easier for those of us in the West to cling to the illusion that we can maintain this charmed life we created, forever innovating, engineering, and managing our way beyond the next inconvenience.  But we cannot.  Nor should we try.   Again, that is how we got here in the first place. (E.g., No sooner do you outlaw PCBs for their toxic effect then some entrepreneurial scientist invents PBDE which turns out to be more toxic than its chemical cousin.) The entire spectacle of Western civilization and its excesses rests upon a set of hypotheses that cannot possibly deliver on their promise to save the appearances upon which we so hypnotically gaze. (see Owen Barfield, Saving The Appearances)

The underlying logic of our modern culture was laid even before the ancient Greek city-states.  It, in turn, gave rise to specific theories of socio-economic relations that have become modern idols, and we worship daily at the altar of management, measurement, and control – of process, product, and progress – including the entrepreneurial pursuit of innovation.  We now live in the shadow they have cast, a shadow that has become increasingly dark and frightful. So, what are we afraid of? Capitulation to the grand periodicities of nature?  Capitulation to a remote past long ago buried beneath the fabricated armor of management and measurement, a past that might show us a different, perhaps a more human(e) way to live.  Capitulation (at least partial) to nature appears our only legitimate and justifiable recourse at this juncture, our only way out of the box we have crafted for ourselves. Have we not already demonstrated enough hubris?  Nature is screaming at us.  And nature will get to bat last.  You can bet on it!  Just saying…

146 Responses to Business As Usual: Social Entrepreneurs and Other Psychopaths

  1. murph says:

    Sandy,

    This is one of the very first commentaries on the deficiencies of the MBA mindset that I have come across. From my perspective, every one of your points is valid. I’ve been railing on about the business degrees now for quite a few years.

    Along with your points is the concept of exponential growth or decay. MBA folks I am acquainted with love to talk about percentages of growth. For those not acquainted with this, there is a slew of lectures and short films on the subject on the web. In essence, it can be called the rule of 70. Take any constant percentage (like 2% growth) and dived it into 70. The result is the number of years till whatever you are talking about doubles. We hear about steady state percentages all the time on the news. Like 2% growth of the economy, which means every 35 years or so the economy has to double. Of course this is an impossibility. Some where it has to end. On a graph it is the form of the famous hockey stick.

    Western society sure has tried to permanently graft rose colored glasses on the population.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Right murph… sustainable growth is an oxymoron… like most other moronic ideas… LOL

      • Cliff says:

        Sandy you have put this together briliantly especailly pointing out the historical connections associated with our languaging and the terminologies associated with the universe of entrpeneurs. Even The word itself is frought with domination and a singularity of approach to success. Ultimately leaving out the total tribe of humans that assisted us to where we are now.

      • Ed-M says:

        That’s an interesting post, kulturkritic. I didn’t know that the that the latin root meaning of entrepreneur essentially means “to grasp between,” that is, to steal whatever isn’t already claimed.

  2. xraymike79 says:

    “A MORE HUMANE WAY TO LIVE.” That’s the key really. I think that goal is impossible under capitalism’s inherent need to control, commodify, commercialize, and profitize. We even profit off of death and destruction as evidenced by the warmongering and profiteering of Uncle Sam’s military-industrial-media complex, flooding the world with weapons and war propaganda. The power that capital holds over the Earth and it denizens cannot be contained. In response to the BP oil spill, one particular leader just off America’s oil-soaked shores said:
    [The BP oil spill] “”shows how little governments can do against those who control the capital, who in both the United States and Europe are, due to the economy of our globalized planet, those who decide the destiny of the public.”

  3. bmiller says:

    Interesting column this week; from a farming perspective we have been aware how a term like sustainable quickly became appropriated by the “green” industry. Terms like sustainable have a very short shelf life in a capitalist society. We are constantly pressed by well -meaning groups and individuals to get this or that certification so we can use the newest un-appropriated word of the day. A whole “social justice” industry has sprung up ready to validate, stamp and certify what we do anyway. It comes as no surprise that the MBA industry is seeking new justifications for their existence.
    Thanks for the post.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Miller – yes, righteousness is a cornerstone of the new world order. But, I do not want to label all of these guys as posers, looking to justify their existence. I believe that Ralph, for example, really wants to help. But the problem lies in the solutions recommended. The very language of business is rooted in an epistemological framework that works contrary to a real solution. Particularly in a capitalist economic framework, the idea of ‘enterprise’ is anathema to real social communitas and an egalitarian, gifting economy.

      • bmiller says:

        Of course, I have a number of friends who have similar jobs and outlooks, all good people and sincere in their work. I just find it amazing that when confronted with a problem most reach for this same top down model of enterprise.Which, as you say, “is anathema to real social communities”.
        cheers,

        • kulturcritic says:

          Well, yes, of course the top down model is problematic. But, it is the entire language (logic) of business – management, measurement, resource planning, forecasting, innovation and growth – that seems challenging to me. It chops the world up into so many emptied-pieces then only to be forcibly reintegrated under a reductive system of control that ultimately necessitates coordinated action, logistics and hierarchy.

  4. john patrick says:

    How can you “enterprise” a gift? One can only share.

    No matter how the branch is bent, if it is on the wrong tree, it does no good. Commerce is based on getting something or ridding oneself of surplus one does not own. It’s inception is based on lack/need or discarding the evidence of theft from the common good. If goodness is respected and held in common, how can it be bought/sold?

    • kulturcritic says:

      Precisely, JP… and the Cat Stevens… that is some aged shit!!

      • john patrick says:

        It all comes down to the underlying premise. Are we here to get “ours” from each other? Or, have we inherited a beautiful universe and have to learn to be good stewards and share with our co-inheritors?

        I think it’s okay to pay 2 bucks for a cup of coffee. But in doing so, am I purchasing something someone else “owns.” Or am I sharing a portion of my bounty for their bounty? It makes a difference how the transaction is viewed. And from here, what is built upon it. Do we build trust and caring gratitude, or corporations?

        Should we “master” the ways of relieving others what they “own?” Two problems. Nobody owns anything. Though we do have authority over the boundaries we agree upon. We don’t own N. American any more than the Cherokee did. To study “enterprise” of things one does not own (nor should) is like claiming territory in the land of darkness…

  5. I. M. Nobody says:

    Sandy,
    A catch phrase from a B-movie I watched a couple of evenings back strikes me as somewhat appropriate to this post. The Screwfly Solution is about biological control of pest populations through reproductive interference. In the movie, scientists in this field are engaged in a desperate search for an agent spreading around the globe that causes men to murder women when they experience sexual arousal. They also fall into religious nutjobbery. Believing that God is instructing them to do this. The lead scientist overhears one of the nutjobs spouting off about a return to Eden calling the Earth a Garden. The scientist comments to his companion, “the earth is a garden, we are pests, someone has called in an exterminator.”

    My candidate for the identity of the exterminators would be the MBA’s (in the movie they were wraith-like space aliens, who the men thought were angels). Their extermination method is quite obviously to accelerate the destruction of the Garden.

    I am reminded of the closing to Vonnegut’s novel Cats Cradle, where the last surviving human just before being engulfed by Ice-9 extends an arm skyward and raises his middle finger. May the last of us extend a middle finger in the general direction of Harvard University.

    • kulturcritic says:

      LOL – great image, Nobody!! And the exterminators are key. But, I must say that Ralph has some genuinely heroic motives; it is just that the models he is familiar with cannot lead him there, at least I don’t believe so. But I stand to be corrected. thanks, sandy

  6. Martin says:

    It would appear to be (long past) time to eradicate the ‘business’ schools. Perhaps it is also (past) time to REQUIRE that every person, upon graduation from high school, devote two years of their life to (paid, non-military) public service prior to entering college or moving on to anything else. Don’t know if it would create any difference in attitude among young folks, but it might.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Maybe time to do away with college/universities altogether… they are just places where rich people (and the wannna-be-rich) send their offspring to experiment with concepts and with one another.

  7. leavergirl says:

    Martin, I like your idea. Schooling… it should at least be interrupted with real life…
    Sandy, bravo! Bursting another pretentious bubble and pricking its guardian babblers.

    “Social engineering by any other name still smells as fishy to me.” Tee-hee! Keep going, you’re on a roll!

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hey Vera; nice to have you stop by the critical blog. The chat at your place is just tooooo sweet for my taste. I prefer things a bit more bitter sweet. LOL, love, sandy

      • leavergirl says:

        Heh. My crowd complains about this place being too dominated by boisterous back-slapping. Each to his/her own, nah, while we walk the shared path… 😀

        • kulturcritic says:

          Vera – amen to the shared path!!

        • kulturcritic says:

          Vera- Just seems that the folks at Leaving Babylon are trying to fix the world. It seems to me to involve quite a bit of hubris, perhaps more than planet earth can handle. This perspective assumes that we are stewards here, and that we have a unique role to play. From my perspective, that is what got us into trouble in the first place. The anthropocentrism involved in finding the solution is part of the problem from my humble point of view. Just saying… with much love and respect, sandy

          • leavergirl says:

            How are we trying to fix the world? I mean, what aspects of LB give you that impression?

            I don’t happen to like the stewardship meme myself…

            • kulturcritic says:

              Just seems to me like many of your readers are looking to pinpoint the factual basis of the “turn” in order to engineer the proper solution. It is just the feeling I get. Eg. Agriculture: villain or boon companion?… just feels like a search for explanations with an objective to fix things.

              • leavergirl says:

                Aha. I am (we are) looking to pinpoint the Turn… guilty as charged. I figure… those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. And in order to walk away, doesn’t it make sense to have one’s path informed by the fateful fork once taken (shades of Yogi Berra)?

                In addition, my current writing on unplanning is aiming exactly at the notion that *we* must engineer a solution. That is why I am using TTM as my current example… Nah? Tell me more… I want to get this one right.

                • Brutus says:

                  Down to the narrow column again ….

                  As for distasteful memes, the “engineered solution” and “evil human nature” memes rank high on my list. The other one that seems to drive itself is about “knowledge setting one free.” Those of us seeking knowledge and understanding of our current predicaments are essentially staring into the sun, burning our eyes out with the glare, while other happily shelter in ignorance. Knowledge is a burden, of course, and to varying degrees knowers are like Atlas, carrying the crushing weight of the world on his (our) shoulders. Pinning down the moment (a wide one, some millennia long I suspect) we veered off the Edenic path (another strange meme) is an interesting intellectual exercise, no doubt, but knowing gets the knower nowhere.

                  So what is there to do, really, but to get on with things? Knowing the impacts of one’s choices creates moral limitations for some of us, whereas others continue to sleep well at night, feeding the beast in blithe ignorance. If there is a fix in the offing, it’s a very personal, individual response, as stated elsewhere in this comments thread.

                  • leavergirl says:

                    Hm… I am not chasing where we got off the Edenic Path. There was no Eden… but there was a pattern of life with a future. Then, we (some of our ancestors) saddled the Taker Thunderbolt… a path with no future…

                    I guess I see it as getting lost in a maze. One way to get unlost is backtrack to the fork where you think you went awry and try another fork. Eh?

                    As for what sets us free… I think knowledge is one of the things. Not the One Thing… but part of the collection… (?)

                  • kulturcritic says:

                    “Evil human nature” tops my list of sickening memes as well, Brutus. And while the Old Testament may have the picture too rosy, along with Rousseau perhaps, it still worth understanding when and what we lost then.

                • kulturcritic says:

                  Exactly, Vera, we must stop the engineering, stop the planning, and make more intuitive moves. The hyper-rational, syllogistic mind (from Aristotle through Descartes to modern science), simply leads us further into a cavernous sense of alienation, of an atomized life of objectification and consumerism (what Jensen calls the culture of make-believe). First, we need to let our instincts help us recover the feeling, the experience that was lost, buried, and forgotten during The Turn and subsequent generations of inculcation and indoctrination into the system and its propaganda machines; second, we need to relocate and pick up signs on that footpath (from Yogi’s other fork). But all of this presupposes a collapse of the current arrangements, and a severe reduction in global population. Otherwise there is neither room to move nor the opportunity to let instincts function freely.

    • Malthus says:

      Ivan Illich wrote an interesting book with the title “The Deschooling of Society,” he had interesting concepts.

  8. Ken Hall says:

    Back in the early 70’s I noticed a peculiar reaction on the part of my newly acquired responsibilities, three step daughters. Whilst viewing television together I observed that during the actual program the girls would talk and laugh together and with me; but, when the marketing huxter’s grabbed their attention via commercials they were transfixed. At the time the girls ranged in age from 3 to 8. Having no TV presence in our home until I was 14 or so back in the dark ages of the mid 50’s perhaps shielded me from the brain washing effects that modern marketing techniques appear to hook the young with. What astounded me was that it mattered not what was being hawked the girls were mesmerized by 80 -90% of the commercials. I invented a phase at that time that I stand by today “marketing advertizing is the worst invention man ever came up with”.

    The local NPR station had a question about what we (the listeners) were doing to be “green”. My response was: “Single most effective green practice humans are capable of is: DO NOT REPRODUCE”.

    Unless the numbers of humans on this planet is massively reduced the rest of the fauna and the humans are SOL; since, we (as a species) are headed for our Lemming cliff at a breakneck pace and infuriatingly few of us are seemingly aware and/or give a shit.

    • kulturcritic says:

      It is all in the marketing, the propaganda, Ken. That is how the totalitarianism of the Western hegemony continues to survive, and will, until the last nail is in the coffin. And there are way too many folks on the planet. sandy

  9. Thanks for coming out and criticizing the verbal manipulations of profiteers like this Ralph Meima, offering salvation through the veneer of repackaged, unintelligible newspeak hiding a bedrock of exploitation, greed, and nihilism. Maybe Meima even realizes what the problem is, but he is not helping but trying to profit by creating even more exploiters…Occupy does one thing right and that is to have no central management.

    However I find some of your rhetoric confusing, for instance:
    “Morality and law are already indicators of the prior loss of guidance and respect for the world-as-lived.”

    While I agree with law, I’m not sure morality is a code or a coerced edict. I think morality is commensurate with the world-as-lived because if one follows common sense and logic, that is the definition of morality, in an overarching sense.

    • kulturcritic says:

      VL – I don’t mean to pick on Ralph. I believe he has good intentions generally. Remember, he comes with a mindset that is drenched in the assumptions of business. I would imagine that he honestly believes management, measurement, planning, etc. are keys to a solution. But, from my perspective there are too many hypotheses there that will work against realizing the solution he hopes to find.

      I take it that moral codes, like legal codes, are a product of a mode of reasoning that already presumes an independent subject acting upon a world of separate objects (including other subjects). So, it already presumes radical independence of self and world, not interdependence.

      • I think moral codes, certainly, are not moral at all because they presume something beyond rationality and logic – something concrete and demonstrable. A real sense of morality comes from finely honed instincts and discernment that can call out an action or attitude as ‘immoral’ or crude – the kind of discernment that would cast a deviant member of the pack out on his own. I know where you’re coming from but I don’t want to give credence to rape and murder by claiming morality is predetermined or that ‘anything goes’.

        I think in our civilization we’ve formed a vision of ‘progress’ through building up and acquiring attitudes on a foundation – whereas in the real sense, I think progress comes from honing and refining ones instincts and judgement, or becoming more true to oneself. Being true to oneself is diametrically opposed to codification and build-up– be their moral, legal, hierarchical, or what have you – and so is diametrically opposed to even being defined and ‘worked up from’ if you catch my drift. Its the difference between collecting 1000 swords or having the sharpest blade with the most accurate and fine tuned swordsmanship. I’m just trying to clarify your position, really, because I don’t think you’re off the mark.

    • Ralph says:

      V, a correction of Sandy’s post is in order (to be reiterated in my proper post to come): Marlboro College and our MBA program are not-for-profit entities, not for-profit as Sandy claimed, and those of us who work there aren’t even particularly well-paid by university standards. “Profiteer” is therefore quite inappropriate, unless you mean some intangible sort of gain in terms of reputation, social status, wisdom, enlightenment, etc., and isn’t that what most of us are up to?

      • kulturcritic says:

        I was not referring to the tax status of the institution, Ralph, but to the fact that the program is not delivered free-of-charge. (If it is free, I stand corrected). That is why I said the program is “for-profit”… having meant that payment is required for participation. Perhaps a poor choice of words given the standard models of business entity status that so clearly inform your analyses.

  10. relentless says:

    Sandy: i’ve been following your blog since its inception. To me, this is your most incisive yet. Brilliant analysis (though i hesitate with that word due to its first 4 letters). i suggest you read in the current Orion mag what it’s referring to as The Manifesto by James Gustave Speth (check out his bio for an authentic reality check), which it isn’t. Essentially, it’s, for whatever reason(s), the editors giving into a second-tier mind, giving tree space for very poor writing while demonstrating how insidiously langauage has co-opted the domesticated, civilized mind. Speth’s ‘solutions’ utilize all the current linguistic lingo: “sustainable, hope, change,” but simply imposing these ‘solutions’ with the most minimally discomforting tweaking of the utterly failed, corrupted circuit boards of civilzation. Personally, i’ve concluded that it’s an individual response, not more and more of the inbrednet’s collage of indoctrinated madness that might assist the planet’s plight, for with every keystroke engaged we’re assisting in the toxification of this beautiful World–10% or more of the electrical grid is estimated for the system to function, which demands mountaintop removal, more fossil fuels, blah, blah. Even with nearly every food we consume, be it toxic industrial ag or even the ‘sustainable’ organic ag (which it definitely isn’t), other than extreme primal ag (which isn’t agriculture at all–i’m writing about this btw) and gathering-hunting (while not entering the population problem–that would take up too much space here), none of it is even remotely close to what the King’s Language could possibly define as ‘sustainable.’ To follow the ‘advice’ of Speth is merely to follow all the strangled thoughts of all the other hack philosophers into the black hole.

    So, as of today, March 3, 2012, i’ve made a committment to Earth, not to ANY nation, to opt out of this wicked civilization by the same date next year, though by that time i won’t be utilizing linear time’s self-imposed enslavement devices. My background in primal plant breeding, ‘farming and gardening’ (and other nontechnolgical dependencies) will assist me and those i love far more than the electrical grid and fossil fuels and semantic chitchat of static impotence, of which i have surely been one of its slaves. And, just maybe, it might offer insights to a few others willing to take the risk, to go gloriously screaming into the wilderness of infinite possibilities where language means something far more intense than modernity allows. i will not end my life as an accomplice to the evisceration of the real World. Enough! Hit send!

    • kulturcritic says:

      Relentless

      Just read it; far too optimistic for my tastes, and he hits all the right buzz words. He even wants the pols to stand up and craft us a new story (read: propaganda) to convince the multitudes that this is the path of righteousness. But the new ways of living and sharing he speaks of are not new, but very ancient, if they exist here at all. But my gut feeling is that Americans in large measure involved in these new enterprises are perhaps playing a part more than they are participating in change. Such a facade has been built into the machinery of Americans for a very long time now, having lots of symbolism, but little substance. And he concludes regarding the new enterprises:

      “They beckon us with a new American Dream, one rebuilt from the best of the old, drawing on the best of who we were and are and can be.”

      Remember folks… its all about “US” Americans, we are special; nothing’s really changed except the storyline.

      Anyway, that’s the way I read him. Again, I see nothing wrong with local action engaged in by people, reflecting a felt re-cognition of their relation to the earth and to one another and non human creatures. But, I am fully suspect of any orchestrated attempt to manufacture and institutionalize a new world order. We have had enough of that over the past few millennia.

      • relentless says:

        “…Americans in large measure involved in these new enterprises are perhaps playing a part more than they are participating in change.” Absolutely! As the Dickster Cheney said, Americans aren’t going to ever give up their comfortable lives [mostly at the expense of slavery, murder and ruthless pursuit to control the planet and its beings for every damn resource ‘required’] and is unacceptable, be they ‘liberal’ law professors or Joe or Joyce Blowhard. Nor, i suspect, will the almost total mass of occupy whateverers. Giving up stupidbowls, nastycar, malls, i-pods, texting, or any other fabricated reality simply is unacceptable for them, which would be completely OK for me, the anarchist (the original ‘anarchos,’ without rule, not the mediated version), if they weren’t taking down the planet in the process, for i require the planet’s wellbeing to exist. Thanks again Sandy.

    • kulturcritic says:

      And if you want a real “uplifting” conclusion… look at this link from one of the commentators to the piece on Orion. Here we go… lets save Western civilization!!! THis is becoming miserably sickening. Ethical markets, Green transition scoreboard, Engineering earth’s climate, boy, we really do have a bit of that hubris still sticking out of our arses, don’t we?

      http://www.ethicalmarkets.com/

      • relentless says:

        Yes, Sandy, i’ve read most of the drivel. If i recall, only one poster out of the then 9 pages of comments had a clue. Worse, listen to the commentary from the editorial juanta. Do i really want to be part of such a syndicate of cluelessness?

      • leavergirl says:

        Just another part of the spectacle. Like a chameleon, it will coopt any color, even green.

        • relentless says:

          Yes, leavergirl, “Very sad, very sad only.” (from Avatar) Opting out entirely? Are there any remaining ‘options’ truly available? Even Ishmael and ‘B’ of Daniel Quinn’s World can offer much ‘hope.’ Nor Jensen at this point. Hijacking a shuttle? No longer an option either. Bolivia? With Morales caving? Still, i’m at least progressing in the opting out direction, defending this Earth in as many infinite ways as the remainder of life, precious life, allows. And you?

    • Brutus says:

      relentless sez:

      Personally, i’ve concluded that it’s an individual response, not more and more of the inbrednet’s collage of indoctrinated madness that might assist the planet’s plight, for with every keystroke engaged we’re assisting in the toxification of this beautiful World ….

      I’m happy to take my inspiration wherever I may find it, and this sentence qualifies. The thrust of the blog post demonstrates that to those trained into certain habits of mind, solutions flow only from those same habits. Or to put it in the more populist phrasing, when you’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So institutional responses are needed for institutional (or aggregated) problems. I think you’ve seen through the fog, though, by your insistence that individual solutions, though negligible in effect, are the only meaningful ones.

      Among the meaningful individual responses left to us are (1) not having children, (2) dropping out and going off-grid, and (3) simply dying sooner rather than later. Each is progressively radical, and guess which one mainstream society would have us iconoclasts, misanthropes, and malcontents do first?

      • Brutus commenting on relentless post:
        I think you’ve seen through the fog, though, by your insistence that individual solutions, though negligible in effect, are the only meaningful ones.

        I second this observation.

        Additional from Brutus:
        Among the meaningful individual responses left to us are (1) not having children, (2) dropping out and going off-grid, and (3) simply dying sooner rather than later. Each is progressively radical…

        I will not judge these three responses to the problems at hand as they may be just right for some individuals. However, the one that comes to mind for me is possibly more radical than these: Seeing, loving and serving the Oneness in the many. Seeking the happiness of others at the cost of one’s happiness. Are we ready for this Mr. and Ms. Mainstream Society? Somebody put that fellow in a straightjacket! Maybe if or when we are scrounging about for something to eat or drink, the notion will not seem so crazy.

  11. John Bollig says:

    Sandy,

    The MBA programs are not the place to start with dumping. It is the law schools. Yes, the law schools. Many people will clearly state the obvious. The law protects the rich and powerful and attempts to destroy ” natural law ” with property rights ( stealing ) and exploitation of the people ( slavery ). The legal process is just a mechanism for the rich to keep what they have and to keep the poor from getting what has been stolen from them. The simple and undeniable fact is the law is a tool of the rich to subject the rest of us thru law. Power flows out the end of a gun and whoever has that gun can and will make any law to favor himself or his family. Why do you think it took so long for the insider trading laws to be put in place for congress ? Unfair land deals and property confiscation thru emiment domain laws have made a laughingstock of the property rights of the average american citizen. It is the spurious notion that the rule of law is followed in this nation is pure bunk. Chinese authorities are generally correct in their efforts to protect local industries from ” the rule of law ” claims. The rich are in favor of rule of law simply because it makes legal what they are attempting to do without the mandate of heaven. Which is to rape, pillage, destroy, murder and cheat their way to the top and to maintain their position. If you have the guns, you make the law. Hence legalized theft and taxes, tribute, rape. plunder and whatever tool they can use to kill us all. In the race to the bottom, that race that we all lose, whatever wealth, power or dignity that we have will be stripped from our cold lifeless bodies and we will be uncermoniously dumped it a pit with the rest of the dead. it is a constant reminder of the value of our lives, our families and our very souls to the “rule of law “. Things are more important than people, life does have a price tag on it and it’s not worth squat. Anyone who tells you otherwise is too stupid to see the truth or is a liar.

    • I. M. Nobody says:

      John,
      Everything you said is factual, but falls a bit short of full exposure. These evils you identify were happening long before their were written laws, guns, colleges or universities. TPTB are openly declaring their contempt for law and hiring gunslingers to express their contempt for lesser beings. The academic system is being setup for asphyxiation. When I said up thread that I hoped the last surviving human would flip the bird in the direction of Harvard, I did not mean to imply that it would still exist. It just strikes me as a particularly human thing to do.

      I would submit that the root cause of our miseries is not in our institutions, but in us. It has to be in our DNA. Even our cousins on other branches of the simian family tree exhibit similar behaviors. Until we go extinct, this problem will be with us. IMHO, the simplest explanation is that evolution has created a seriously imbalanced distribution of capacity for thuggery.

      • leavergirl says:

        Aw… here the old saw again that we are damaged from the get go.
        We’ve survived 2 million years as hominids, coping just like everybody else, we’ve survived most of the 200,000 years as sapiens species, coping well, and suddenly, the last 6,000 years, we’ve turned into a rapacious force moving everything down (tribal peoples excepted, of course) and suddenly something is wrong with our genes. Huh?

        Our capacity for thuggery is there, but so is our capacity for gentleness and caring. Sorry — blaming genes is just plain silly. We are trapped all right… but not by our genes. Dig deeper.

        • I. M. Nobody says:

          If you think I dismissed gentleness and caring (I’ll shorten it to kindness) from the capacities of H. sap sap then maybe you should dig a little deeper. The point, which I found somewhere down here in the bottom of this well is that thuggery is not a universally strong trait and that the unthuggish are always at risk to suffer at the hands of the thuggish.

          Most people go with the strengths that their DNA gave them. If your strong suit is thuggery you will probably go with that. If its kindness, you go with that. Prior to 6000 years ago, the Return on Thuggery (ROT) was pitifully small. Assuming our ancestors were at least as smart as Wall Street Bankers, that should have been enough to keep them spending most of their time dozing in the shade. After The Kind began planting seeds and herding ruminants, ROT suddenly began to pay serious dividends. Including the original Pyramid scheme.

          The Plains Indians exhibited these same traits, but due to low ROT, the extent of thuggery was almost imperceptible compared the everyday actions of the tribe that scurries around near the intersection of Wall and Broad in NYC, or the City of London. Where the ROT has reached epic proportions.

          As someone whose genetic inheritance requires daily doses of dangerous drugs to keep participating in the breath-in-breath-out program, I found nothing interesting in your post with regard to what genes can or cannot do. There is plain silly, and then there is mango pineapple silly with peach puree, banana slices, carob chips, whipped cream, sprinkles and chopped walnuts.

          Yours in love and kindness,
          I. M. Nobody

          • leavergirl says:

            I reread your comment, and nowhere do I see you recognizing kindness. You say that thuggery is unevenly distributed in the gene pool, and therefore our DNA is to blame for the ills we visit upon the world. Did I read you wrong?

            Unthuggish suffer at the hand of the thuggish only if they fail to make alliances, since unthugs are more common. If chimps can handle that, surely so might humans?

            When humans began to crank out surplus, thuggery gained a new payoff (though there certainly had been payoffs before that, namely, stealing other people food and mates).

            So take it one step back. Why did they begin to crank out surplus? Even with ag, it is well known that tribes who did do ag, typically underproduced, except for short periods for trade. Why surplus?

      • kulturcritic says:

        “It has to be in our DNA.”

        Such assertions do not make something true. It may be your wish to see the problem as one lodged in some human nature, but wishing or demanding it be so, does not make it so. I M afraid, I M Nobody, that you need to think a bit more profoundly in order to sway me on this topic. I think leavergirl makes some compelling and grounded observations about the situation. That is not to say that pre-civilized humanity was perfect, certainly not. But wholesale manipulation (thuggery) of peoples only began with the growth of cities, hierarchy, standing armies, legal codes, etc… all made possible by the gross surpluses provided by large-scale agriculture.

        • I. M. Nobody says:

          Sandy, It seems in spite of my lousy writing skills that you have grasped my central idea and summarized it quite well. But writing is your game, it was never mine. I’m retired and no longer interested in trying to convince anyone of anything. I drop nuggets here and there. Some people pick them up and consider what they might mean. Most do not, which is just another aspect of human beings.

          Now maybe it’s not in DNA. Whatever sustains these traits across hundreds of generations certainly seems to have great persistence and DNA seems like the simplest answer. So, yes my assertion is just a guess. I will note that neither you nor leavergirl have suggested an alternative pathway. It doesn’t actually matter to me. You two can pursue the subject on your own or not. I don’t care. I’m too busy being gentle and kind.

          • kulturcritic says:

            I love it!!! – I only aspire to gentleness and kindness, myself. 😉

          • kulturcritic says:

            Just one more point, IM. The reason leavergirl and I harp on this issue of human nature, where folks attempt to find primordial evil lodged within the genome, is because this is often used as an explanation and excuse for the current situation. But she and I both understand that there was a very long period in our precivilized hominid and sapiens past that was not so coercive or destructive. We want to acknowledge that this current civilized culture was a path taken, for whatever reason, but was not necessary. And you can see a dim reflection of the alternative that still resides in extant hunter-gatherer bands today. There was a different way for humans to organize and live comfortably within nature; but, obviously, it is impossible to retrace our steps, and so we are left desperately looking for a way out of this dilemma. thanks again, sandy

            • leavergirl says:

              Thank you, Sandy, for putting so well what I was trying to express.
              IAN — the alternative is to look at it through complexity thinking. And beginning the analysis when it did begin in earnest… several thousand years ago, in Mesopotamia.

              And your “I don’t care” seems like a petulant response to what was shaping to be an interesting argument.

              • The way I think of this Influence is what is called the cultural paradigm, the zeitgeist, or the collective consciousness in which all are connected and participants. How one participates has to do with their perceptions, experiences, and their held beliefs/opinions. Participation happens consciously but more so unconsciously. How often does one have the attitude that he/she is doing good or right when in fact much harm is the result of their behavior and simply ignored. Facing one’s self to see the false form the true is worthy, but can be a lonely, enterprise. Reality is so often inconvenient, and the false self thrives on short-lived comforts, convenience, certainty, and conflict.

                As regards the DNA or gentic influence, I do not understand that it originates there. Rather, it gets imprinted there like the plan on a blueprint.

                Lastly, Sandy we need not retrace our steps as you say but would do well to seek light from what history can teach for use in our creative endeavors.

              • I. M. Nobody says:

                Leavergirl,
                I exposed my analysis in a prior response above. Perhaps, I have once again managed to convey my thoughts in a way that could be totally misunderstood. I seem to be good at that. So, I will make an attempt to embellish with some virtual margin notes.

                Maybe a change in vocabulary might help. What I tried to say above is that thuggery carries risks and the marginal utility of it is almost negligible when there is little available to steal or exploit. Members of tribal bands seem to lean toward kindness and caring toward there own because that could pay good dividends.

                Black Elk talked about a boyhood friend who stole horses from a Cheyenne band to impress the father of his inamorata that he would be a good provider. A band of off-the-reservation Indians kidnapped my sister-in-law’s grandmother. She was rescued. That seems to have been about the order of magnitude of primitive tribal thuggery.

                When those Mesopotamians started raising grain the potential for gains through thuggery improved dramatically, making the risks much more tenable. I believe it was Daniel who advised the King to store up grain during the seven good years to prevent famine during the following seven bad years. It may have sometimes been that if your Kingdom had not stored sufficient grain that you could man up, put a neighboring Kingdom to the sword and steal their grain, cattle, sheep, goats, gold and silver. BTW, Black Elk said the Lakota knew there was shiny yellow metal in the Black Hills, but to them it was worthless. Too bad they weren’t prescient enough to have mined it all out and thrown it into the Missouri River. Because we of course assign value to it out of all proportion to what it is actually good for and are more than willing to kill for it. Though today we are much more willing to kill for oil. When thuggery offers big dividends, thuggery will be practiced on an industrial and global scale. Now that we are in the post-legal age thuggery is so safe and easy that Jamie Dimon can steal billions without breaking even a bead of sweat and apparently face no immediate consequence. Though the oncoming destruction of civilization is unquestionably consequential.

                I’m afraid I don’t really know what complexity thinking is. I spent my working life dealing with pretty complicated things, mostly computers. I found that they were, for me at least, just about impossible to fix until you could isolate down to a small subsystem that looked amazingly simple. I will simply mention that colleagues sometimes opined that if I couldn’t fix it wasn’t broke. I do realize that may not work for everybody. Perhaps this complexity thinking thing is the right tool for those with bigger brains than mine. I simply don’t know about that.

                In regard to my baling out of the argument, as you put it, one of the things advised for sufferers of my condition is to avoid stressful situations. I would also opine that, IMHO, argumentation is closer to thuggery than gentleness and caring and I am not at all into thuggery. I also don’t care much for gratuitous insults.

                I actually don’t care if you like my analysis or not. I imagine lots of people don’t like it. Actually, what’s in it for them if they do like it. There’s no “happy talk” in it for them. Unless of course, they entertain fantasies of living long enough to see the return of hunting and gathering. Not real likely. There I go again making what might seem like an assertion that I cannot prove. I guess I shall settle for being pleased that you even read my comments and thought them worthy of some response. I was not best pleased with your responses, but that’s life.

                One more thing. Could you possibly come up with a list of times and places where the unthuggish formed a powerful alliance and threw out the thuggish. Without, of course, themselves becoming thuggish? I’m afraid I have come up empty.

    • Ah, yes, remember the good old days when the scoundrels paid off the law enforcers? Now they simply pay or threaten the law makers to create the law that allow them to enrich and empower themselves. Or, remember when people robbed banks? “Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank and he can rob the world.”

      Maybe what your saying, JB, is:

      Q: What do you call 5000 dead lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
      A: A good start!

      Not that I agree.

  12. pixelwhiplash says:

    Lovely post Sandy. It would seem that as soon as nature is seen as something to “manage” or “tame” to our wills and needs, that our hubris will see any compromise as capitulation. Have we grown so arrogant, so disconnected, that we cannot work with nature? Or will we continue, at our peril mind you, to try and make nature capitulate to us? As we hurtle head long into the frontiers of ecogreenery engineering theatrics, let’s hope that we occasionally have the gumption to look, pull over, and consult a (moral) map before continuing onward. Perhaps a moral compass is what we should be consulting. I am not speaking of religious morality, another oxymoron, but a human morality. This is where we live. To have it’s, our, environs ravaged by a few is sacrilege.

  13. Malthus says:

    Great article Sandy. It is time that the very concept of sustainability is thrown into the trash heap of bad, stupid ideas, dreamed up by those that have no clue of what being on a runaway train means.

  14. John Bollig says:

    Sandy,

    Last call for beer and wine, last call for a society, a culture and a civilization. We don’t have much time left. I would imagine that things will get very hairy about 2013. Western Civilization has had a great run. But, the begining of the end is already starting. We just don’t understand the lack of foresight and vision that is crashing around us. Let’s face it. we are talking about the end. So, lets put our affairs in order….

    • leavergirl says:

      Ah, well, that I have to respond to. Just because this damn civ is coming apart at the seams, does not mean the end for society and culture. It is the civ itself that stands in the way of them.

      • Malthus says:

        The current concept of civ is coming to an end. It doesn’t mean that cooperation and a more healthy concept of civ will not emerge. I myself have confidence in individuals getting together and forming self mutual beneficial bands and units. The concept of money, will return to a barter system and out will go the oligarchy of finance with it. I really don’t see a mad max or water world future after the few let go of what life is, we will have much to look forward to. We will have a chance to thrive rather than strive in the rat race we are all in now.

        • leavergirl says:

          Couldn’t agree more! Except for the barter… 🙂
          Graeber’s book Debt pretty much demolishes the idea of barter. Simpler economies depended on gifting and credit. (Minor point.)

          • Malthus says:

            I haven’t read the book although did go to amazon and read the comments on it. The word barter to me has the meaning that if I have an ear of corn I think it is worth what a ear of corn can be traded for or in the case of credit what that credit would be worth if say I really wanted two feathers and five sea shells. So the bartering would put a value on my ear of corn for trade. I do not like the term debt in any form. Credit good. Debt bad.

        • kulturcritic says:

          I would only guard against calling it “a more healthy concept of civ.” Too many assumptions and ways of manipulating the world shoe-horned into that concept.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Which affairs of yours are not already in order, John? LOL

  15. Malthus says:

    By the way Sandy where do you find all this art work. It boggles the mind. So interesting.

  16. troutsky says:

    Someone was looking for non-thugs replacing thugs and I am thinking about the Zapatistas. They remain quite horizontal.
    As for the post, I have been looking at the relation of entrepreneur to Calvinism, Benjamin Franklin and the whole Protestant ethic thing a la Weber. As for socially responsible profit, I also like this notion of Zizeks about cultural capitalism, where with every pair of Thoms shoes you buy they donate one to starving third world children. You can consume away your consumption anxieties! These guys are always thinking!

    • kulturcritic says:

      Yeah, just keep fucking over the globe and then give the poor bastards shoes to ease your shitty conscience… yeah, that’s the ticket!! Thanks Troutsky!! LOL

  17. leavergirl says:

    This is in response to the above discussion sparked by I M Nobody.

    “When thuggery offers big dividends, thuggery will be practiced on an industrial and global scale.” — Absolutely. The tribals had a socio-economic system where the major dividends came from sharing. We can too.

    “I’m afraid I don’t really know what complexity thinking is.” — I am learning too. See my intro post on the very topic.
    http://leavingbabylon.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/complexity-thinking/

    “In regard to my baling out of the argument, as you put it, one of the things advised for sufferers of my condition is to avoid stressful situations. I would also opine that, IMHO, argumentation is closer to thuggery than gentleness and caring and I am not at all into thuggery. I also don’t care much for gratuitous insults.” — By argumentation, I meant a discussion. And I don’t consider bailing out of a discussion by threatening to walk away when people disagree with you a particularly nice way of behaving. All the same, I apologize for poking you, and I am glad you did not give up.

    “Could you possibly come up with a list of times and places where the unthuggish formed a powerful alliance and threw out the thuggish. Without, of course, themselves becoming thuggish? I’m afraid I have come up empty.” — That is the key, isn’t it? To throw them out and not become thuggish yourself. A key insight! Seems daunting… and yet, it sure looks like our long ago apish ancestors accomplished just that. See my post here.
    http://leavingbabylon.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/lordy-the-meek-did-inherit/

    • I. M. Nobody says:

      Leavergirl,
      OH NO, a charm offensive, I will surely be Undun (The Guess Who, 1969).

      In case you didn’t pick up on it from my earlier comment, I am very well disposed toward tribalism. My step-daughter belongs to a sort of urban tribe. I am very pleased about it as I’m not sure how she would have survived without them. They are a pretty happy bunch.

      I am one of the old-timers in the Doomer Community. Younger Doomers sometimes solicit my advice. I tell them to find a tribe and try to join it or try to organize one. Dmitry Orlov used the word “gang” in his post on the idea. To me, a gang is a tribe trying to stay even with the dominant culture. Bad idea. Nevertheless, the Crips and the Bloods appear to be better off than the surviving Lakota. These are treacherous times and old Doomers are mostly consigned to watch and comment.

      The Good News, at least as read by old Doomers, is that the civilization begat by the agro-industrial-imperial culture is rapidly approaching its denouement. As one of those Doctors of a pseudoscience famously said, “that which cannot go on forever, won’t.” Thanks to the irrevocable Laws of Thermodynamics and various others beyond the control of our thuggish legislatures, that culture cannot indeed go on forever, or even much longer. Most Doomers retaining hope of surviving are quite often placing or hoping to place their bet on a return to agro life. I don’t believe it can work. When everything else has failed, the few million survivors will finally decipher the hand writing on the tombstones and realize they must form caring and sharing tribes and set off to relearn hunting and gathering with primitive tools, or go extinct.

      That’s my version of the neo-liberal’s There Is No Alternative (TINA) story, and I’m sticking to it.

      • Malthus says:

        The wildness that hunting and gathering represents is in us all. Some are more aware of it. I myself would love it although I would prefer small bands or units without a leader. Tribes always seem to have had the need for a “big man,” leader, etc.

      • kulturcritic says:

        These are treacherous times and old Doomers are mostly consigned to watch and comment.” – ain’t that the truth. I am one of those as well Nobody. But, I think this next piece is your key point…

        > “When everything else has failed, the few million survivors will finally decipher the hand writing on the tombstones and realize they must form caring and sharing tribes and set off to relearn hunting and gathering with primitive tools, or go extinct.”

      • leavergirl says:

        What?! Nothing to argue with? How will I fall asleep tonight? 😀
        Thanks for the summary, I M, that’s pretty much my story too.
        Tribes! We better get going.

        P.S. Malthus, egalitarian tribes and big man societies are two different things… if you want to avoid the latter, and the slide into business as usual, make sure you keep things open source. Them privatizing aggrandizers… you give them a finger and they take the whole hand.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Vera is correct, Malthus, two different animals… and we will discuss egalitarian tribes next week… right here. Watch those fingers, ya’ll 😉

          • Malthus says:

            I look forward to and know Friday’s discussion will be interesting and enlightening as well. I defined tribe by the definition that an anthropologist by the name of Elman Service taken out of Wikipedia that “presented a system of classification for societies in all human cultures based on the evolution of social inequality and the role of the State. This system of classification contains four categories.
            1. Gatherer-Hunter bands, which are generally egalitarian.
            2. Tribal societies in which there are some limited instances of social rank and prestige (see Chiefdom).
            3. Stratified tribal societies led by chieftains.
            4. Civilizations, with complex social hierarchies and organized, institutional governments.”
            I know nothing of Mr. Service but he seems to follow generally what Spencer Wells has hinted to and I whole heartily agree with the concept of egalitarianism although some have differing opinions as to the exact meaning of the word. It seems to be more of a communal living arrangement with consensus in decision making and apparently size of the unit or band or tribe is in question.

            • leavergirl says:

              The classification I follow is of a more recent vintage. It goes like this:
              * simple foragers or horticulturalists (egalitarian) — ad hoc egalitarian leadership and a culture of sharing
              * complex foragers, transegalitarian tribes or horticultural societies (aka big man societies) — some rank, some debt, increasing economic competition and appearance of poverty
              * chiefdoms — stratified society, significant and often hereditary inequalities

              The key is not so much how they make a living or what is a tribe, but rather how they handle power.

        • I. M. Nobody says:

          I hear sleep is overrated. 🙂

          I’d just like to send along this little message from Garrison Keillor. “Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.”

          And this splash of cold reality water from the man who did the research, so we wouldn’t have to, Chris Clugston.

          The post-industrial lifestyle awaiting the few who survive our impending societal collapse will under the best of circumstances share many attributes with pre-industrial America. Unfortunately, the realities associated with such a lifestyle paradigm bear little semblance to the Hollywood version.

          Pre-industrial life was cold in the winter and hot in the summer; work was physically demanding and dangerous; if the crops failed, people starved; if someone got sick, they died; infant mortality was high; and average human life expectancy was about 36 years.

          Those who anxiously await our post-industrial way of life will be disappointed, assuming they live to experience it.

          I have some early childhood memories of a life not all that different from what he describes here. In addition to the hazards he mentions, I would say that there will most likely be a lot of what someone ascribed to the life of airline pilots. Many hours of boredom occasionally punctuated with moments of sheer terror. I think it may have been Richard Bach.

          • kulturcritic says:

            Not much different than H/G tribes, huh?

            • I. M. Nobody says:

              Life will be substantially more uncertain for H/G’s, which goes some distance to explaining the caring sharing characteristic. There will be plenty of discomfort and danger. Nature’s pharmacy is open 24/7, but the drugs will be scattered all over and unlabeled. Try to make sure your tribe has a capable medicine woman.

          • Ralph says:

            Check out the novels of James Kunstler – “World Made By Hand” and “The Witch of Hebron.” This is the world he describes. He softens it with a little mysticism, but it’s still pretty hardscrabble. Or read Dickens’ descriptions of treadmills in the English factories (and that really happened…).

            • leavergirl says:

              Kunstler is a dyed in the wool sexist, and I’ve given up on those novels. The logic did not add up anyways. Some of the details are realistic though.

              Actually, the 18th century life with the addition of what we know today (like the germ theory, cough cough) could be a sweet way to live. First of all, I wish people would quit saying things like “the average life span was 36 years.” That’s grossly misleading. Babies died in droves. Young children died frequently. Once you made it past those hazards, your chances were good for a long life.

              Since puerperal fever, and many childhood diseases, are well understood, there is no need to return to those stats. Secondly, while rural life, foraging or ag (usually mixed) does have its hardships, I think the hardships in towns will be far worse once town start
              fall apart in earnest.

              And third, the rural life is not all that work-laden provided the urban parasites are off your
              back. Debt and other forms of exploitation had long ago turned the subsistence life into a nightmare. Without the parasites, and with some form of modifed package of skills and knowledge as a gift from modernity gone awry… that might work very well.

              The key is, of course, the problem of power. Unless that Gordian knot is slashed, they’ll just repeat the cycle of misery.

              Cheers!

  18. Cliff says:

    So the questions arise: How does one remain within the natural state of affairs…sunrise, sunset, respect for where we are and what we are on.

    To be a thug…Better definition: one that fears loosing something..maybe.their life. Isn’t that the true motivation of thuggery? Ultimately, are’nt we all searching for acceptance? and afraid that what we might discover if we do find it? Afraid! Things as they are now or were before, And the future, isn’t that always going to be an unknown? Or does it make it easier for us to see the future coming to an end but just not looking further, for fear of a new beginning.
    Life, civilizations, isn’t it always in motion?

    We seem to fool ourselves into believing that it is something permanent. It seems to me that all we are ever doing ever is building castles in the sand. May as well do it together on repectful,equal footing in smaller tribal gatherings for all to be loved and appreciated right now. Maybe this is all we ever have and then sit back unnattached and watch it all dissapear.. we Cannot alter the course of the oceans right and why should we??? And would we want to loose the opportunity to rebuilt / create it a new some day? Could these be part of the lessons of our primal past? LOL

  19. John Bollig says:

    healthy civ ? optimistic ? more like delusional… lets face the music here. The time is ticking away and we not need to panic … The signs say that the world economy is teetering on a pinhead, or more likely a human head. Don’t worry , be happy. as the political leaders say …. I say let’s party like it’s 1999, because we won’t ever see that kind of party ever again. yes I will be ready when it comes… WE can only hope that the world is safer with out the banksters…..

  20. Ralph says:

    Sandy, thanks for honoring http://OccupyMBA.com with your challenging (and well-trafficked) post. I asked for it, and I got it. I’m going to have to write a longer article to respond to everything, but this is a start…

    So, ok, ok, yes, basically you’re saying that the businessperson who harbors any aspirations, imagines anything new, convinces and guides any other human being, wields any power, is stirred by any ego, seeks any private reward from achievements accomplished with the help of others, etc. – all typical of an entrepreneur – is a “psychopath,” PNG around the Pleistocene campfire, where only the “non-binding guidance of tribal elders and the quiet pleadings of the earth” hold sway. That’s pretty harsh. It’s also a completely illogical and useless argument to pursue in the context of present-day management education. We know that, today, the corporate form of organization and the skills of professional managers are utilized by the rich and unscrupulous to defile the planet and abuse people and communities in the pursuit of wealth and power. This has been endlessly refined and elaborated in the past century, especially, and the MBA degree is one manifestation. But to call all entrepreneurs – social or otherwise – “psychopaths” is to throw out the baby with the bathwater, in my opinion.

    A psychopath is someone who is mentally ill, exhibiting abnormal, dangerous, violent behavior.

    What entrepreneurs do in modern society is quite “normal”. Few people consider their behavior insane. With allowances for your flight of pseudo-nostalgia for some ancient “fully embodied” time when our ancestors lived in “small and relatively egalitarian pre-civilized bands,” we can imagine that the behavior of a (transported) Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Henry Ford would have been viewed as quite ill and threatening by people bound by strict collectivist taboos, and by an entire species that experienced even the slightest technological changes (such as new ways to chip arrowheads) over tens and scores of generations. Sure, viewed through their eyes, everything we’re up to is crazy. And, indeed, it probably is. But it’s the society that’s crazy, not the entrepreneurs. They aren’t psychopaths. They are well-adjusted, and most of the successful ones (in business, not all the other walks of power you rope in) provide people with things they consider useful.

    It’s here we need to begin, not back in some imagined hunter-gatherer camp. There is so much going on in modern business that is obviously unethical and illegal – hurting people, damaging health, manipulating politics, polluting, destroying habitat, depleting resources. This is the low-hanging fruit. As only a modest step toward addressing this, management education and practice can seek to honor human dignity, build inclusive and respectful communities, see the Earth in ecological systems terms, give new importance to the local and the human-scale, and embody many things that are definitely alien to Wall Street and mainstream large corporate cultures, but present in activity we can still recognize as business. Good management skills are just as necessary on farms, in farmer’s markets, in co-operative organizations, in small-scale manufacturing, and in public enterprises delivering education, health care, and other services, as they are in the industries commanded by the ruthless and the greedy. You can say, All is lost, look to the Pleistocene, all reform is futile, but I’m not ready to do that, and neither are many others. Reveling ironically as the shit hits the fan seems irresponsible to me. Even the most disgusted cynic will have to be a little thankful to those whose energy and resourcefulness provide them with life’s necessities if and when times are trying.

    Finally, sure, OccupyMBA may shed favorable light on our MBA program in the eyes of some – and by the way, Sandy, it’s definitely NOT a for-profit graduate school, I MUST emphasize – but this blog is my own, and I am doing it because I am thoroughly sick of what the wealthy and the powerful and the corporate and the conservative are doing to roundly f*ck up this beautiful world we find ourselves living in, and lending momentum to a radical debate about how managers are educated, trained, and indoctrinated is a small way I can contribute to changing the pattern, even if it comes into its own too late to significantly redirect the present juggernaut.

    Your servant,

    Ralph

    • kulturcritic says:

      Ralph – I appreciate your energetic and thought-provoking reply. In fact, so thought-provoking that next week’s post will finish up with an analysis of some of your more vociferous points. Look for it on Friday just after midnight (Thursday).

      In the meantime, you are quite correct, all the psychopaths I reference seem to fit-in quite nicely with the surrounding culture. No disagreements there. Dangerous and violent behavior, I have seen much of that, as I am sure you have as well.

      I don’t know why you want to pick on the H/Gs. They outlived us by millennia. If, in fact, our genetic make-up as Hominids and as sapiens was formed during the Pleistocene epoch, then we damn well better look there to try and glean some idea of where we went wrong, and what directions may still be open to us as a species, and to the earth. Sorry if you think that is too ironic, romantic, cynical or irresponsible; but that is how I see it.

      And just to clarify my own hubris: I was one of the 1% in American business, at least. I was no slouch; so, I am not some do-nothing who couldn’t make it and have a score to settle. No. I simply woke up and saw the chaos! Watch for the post, more to come for you on Friday!! In solidarity, Comrade Krolick

    • leavergirl says:

      Professor, a pleasure to meet you. First of all, no, you are wrong about the definition of a psychopath. Please check out my short and to the point essay on the very topic. In your world especially, it is essential to know who they are.
      http://leavingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/sociopaths-among-us/

      Now, the people you describe as entrepreneurs, and are often referred to in anthropology as the triple-A personalities or aggrandizers (aggressive, ambitious and accumulative) are not by and large sociopaths. And they are often driven, talented people. However, all ancient societies recognized that unless they are indeed closely watched, they will in the long run bring ruin to the very society they aim to serve in the beginning. If you want to find out more about them, click here:
      http://leavingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/disruptors/

      I agree with you. These people are by and large not ill. And they do provide a cornucopia of goodies. But they are dangerous nevertheless. That is a foundational insight.

      As for management, you are in a place where, as they say, the row is hard to hoe. The world does not want to be managed. Neither do we human beings. So that’s a dilemma, isn’t it? Still, it can only be good that you are standing up and speaking to be counted among those of us who have had quite enough of high-modernity’s madness. Here’s hoping you will keep coming back here to talk with us.

    • Brutus says:

      Ralph sez:

      … to call all entrepreneurs — social or otherwise — “psychopaths” is to throw out the baby with the bathwater, in my opinion. A psychopath is someone who is mentally ill, exhibiting abnormal, dangerous, violent behavior. What entrepreneurs do in modern society is quite “normal”.

      You put normal in scare quotes for a good reason: it’s exceptional but for a tiny sliver of man’s existence on the planet to normalize abusive power relationships. And from early in the formation of civilization, holders of power foisted personal liability onto the abstractions of governments, commissions, trade guilds, etc. as they consolidated and refined their managerial skills. Corporate personhood is only the most recent cover under which to hide. Some few of the operators (to avoid labeling them all psychopaths) become aware that their machinations have little force except in a world where everything — time, resources, labor, even ideas — is monetized, which is another mirage to which we all cling. Most have too fully imbibed the Kool-Aid, though. Sure, it’s normative now, but further refinement, such as the OccupyMBA scheme purports to offer, looks to many of us to be mere co-optation and almost certainly leads further into the mists, not out of them.

      I understand that we must on a certain level live in the world we have received rather than in a embellished, romanticized past, and further, that not all best intentions pave the road to hell, but for the purpose of this discussion, the overarching message — my takeaway, anyway — is that power struggles and abuse do stem principally from the managerial class. Moreover, although science, technology, and the whole complex of modernity have provided amazing material benefits to many (though wildly unevenly), including some truly great expressions of the human spirit from with the humanities, using them to justify the way modernity has rendered deep spirituality and human life meaningless (but materially and quantitatively robust) just rings hollow. Those are failures indigenous peoples never manifest, but we can scarcely recognize what we’ve lost because we’re mostly zombies.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Ralph – just some clips I found. sandy

      Psychopathy (/saɪˈkɒpəθi/[1][2]) is a personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others. It is defined in different ways, but can involve a lack of empathy or remorse, false emotions, selfishness, grandiosity or deceptiveness… (Wikipedia)

      Psychopaths cannot be understood in terms of antisocial rearing or development. They are simply morally depraved individuals who represent the “monsters” in our society…
      It’s difficult to say what motivates them – control and dominance possibly… They tend to operate with a grandiose demeanor, an attitude of entitlement, an insatiable appetite, and a tendency toward sadism. (Signs of the Times)

      By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor (PsychCentral)
      Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on July 3, 2006
      Are some corporate CEO’s, doctors, lawyers, politicians and scientists psychopaths? The answer could be “yes” if you use a definition which labels individuals who are often intelligent and highly charismatic, but display a chronic inability to feel guilt, remorse or anxiety about any of their actions. Tack on the use of violence and intimidation to control others and satisfy selfish needs and the label expands. (PsychCentral)

  21. Pingback: Social entrepreneurs are “psychopaths”?! | OccupyMBA

  22. kulturcritic says:

    Love the cross-marketing, Ralph!! LOL Such an entrepreneur!!

  23. John Bollig says:

    Sandy,

    Ralphie may have a point here and there. But, in the grander scheme of things, it just doesn’t matter. Win or lose, it just doesn’t matter as they said during the movie ” the bad news bears “. We are all doomed or shortly will be deader than a doornail. This civilization, its things of value and its so called accomplishments are going to the city dump. Why, must u ask ? The nasty combination of global warming, peak oil and the coming collapse of all economic powers will lead to a nasty but futile effort to reverse the trends of the last 3 decades. Our economic system can not be saved. Our cities can not be saved. Our cars, homes, cats, dogs and children can’t be saved. Contraction and decline and eventually death is what we face as a society in the near term and in the long term we face extinction as a species. So, all of the king’s men and all of the king’s horses won’t matter jack Sh*t. We are in terminal decline, ladies and gentlemen. Everything else is academic. Soooo, all of the sniping and harping and points of view are as valid as a pile of dog sh*t. Art ,History, Sport , Fashion , technobable and political power are worth about as much as a wet newspaper on a cold day in the smokies. It just doesn’t matter in the greater scheme of things. We are born, we live and then if we are exceptionally lucky, we grace this universe for a brief second before vanishing into oblivion. My natural instincts are to fight until the last breath but we know better and we must make our own way in this cruel cruel world. It was once said about the dark ages that life was short violent and brutish. Well welcome to the future and learn the lession well.

  24. Larry says:

    Sandy says we, entrepreneurs, are all Shylock.

    If you flook to 1900, to Russia under the Tzar, 97% of the population was illiterate – 97 people out of 100 couldn’t read or write, add or subtract, or count to 1000. They had no doctors. Women helped other women give birth – and many died in childbirth.

    We are a few levels above that. We probably have an illiteracy rate well below 8%, and five out of six Americans can afford medical insurance – only one out six can’t. The Russian people could multiply, but they coudn’t do multiplication. The rulers could divide their people, but they, too, had trouble with arithmetic division. The only literate people in Tzarist Russia were merchants.

    Those Russian serfs one hundred years ago had no rights and few possessions. A man had one pair of shoes, one pair of trousers, one or two shirts, one coat. His bed was a straw mat on the floor of his hut. The bedbugs died in winter. A woman had one pair of shoes, one or two dresses, and one coat. All was home made. They had no money. They had barter. The hut didn’t really belong to the people who lived in it. Their homes, clothes, land, and livestock, the food they grew, and they themselves and their children (especially the pretty girls) belonged to the Tzar.

    The Tzar didn’t recognize the Magna Carta, let alone the Declaration of Independence. This, parenthetically, is why some old Russians long for a return to the Soviet Socialist state. They had more under the Commisars than their parents had under the Tzars. They went to school as children. They learned to read. Some dared to think.

    So if you want to think about sociopath, think about the Tzars, the Kaisers, the Kings Louis of France, the Emperors of China and Japan who revered themselves, like Caligula, as “Gods,” who killed at a whim any they chose, who sent boys to plunder and die for their “glory.” Think about the incessent wars between England and France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Prussia, the Holy Roman Empire, think about the Crusades – stealing, raping, killing – Heathens, Jews, Moslems, and other Christians, for the Grace of God, and the coffers of the Pope.

    Given the choice between being Shylock, a Russian serf, the Pope, or the Tzar, I’d choose Shylock.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hey Larry, nice of you to join us. And that is quite an anti-Semitic remark you made to open your belligerent and sophomoric display on behalf of your mentor, Professor Meima. I trust that such thuggery does not reflect well upon Ralph’s ambitious new MBA program.

      I will keep my comments brief, in hopes of not stirring up anymore of your capitalist anger and animosity. I have no love of any government, tsarist, theocratic, republican or otherwise. They are all pathological examples of civilized crap. But, at least the Russians learned, and still know how, to live off the land and survive with very little. It will come in handy when world oil supplies run dry. You, I am afraid, may not make out as well. Good luck, and please visit again. Yours In solidarity, Comrade Krolick!!

  25. L J Furman says:

    Ralph, at Marlboro, is leading people, like myself, who are not interested in business as usual. We are thinking about Business As SHOULD BE Usual.

    And I am, proudly, MBA #8 of the MARLBORO MBA in Managing for Sustainability.

    Co-Founder & Analyst at Popular Logistics – Systems Thinking, connecting the particles.
    Singer, Song-Writer, Philosopher, XBColdFIngers.com, Sunbathing in Siberia and other songs of peace and love in a changing bio-humano-sphere.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hey, LJ, looks like you have a softer side. Good to see that. I am sure Ralph is a good LEADER. And no matter how you spell MBA, business is all about leadership and exceptional hubris. I am not sure what particles you connect at Popular Logistics, but I thought that wave theory overtook particle theory in physics quite a ways back there. And I think they even have some brand new hypotheses that they try to convince us represent objective reality. Anyway, you shoud be proud of your accomplishments with the program, and more so with the music. Peace, sandy

  26. I. M. Nobody says:

    A few days back, leavergirl asked this question.

    So take it one step back. Why did they begin to crank out surplus? Even with ag, it is well known that tribes who did do ag, typically underproduced, except for short periods for trade. Why surplus?

    Ralph and Larry have generously supplied the answer. I would have tried to make the case at the time, but the burrs she was planting under my saddle made me reluctant to further stir the embers (all is forgiven). 🙂 Surpluses provide “progress” and progress provides greater comfort, convenience and intellectual stimulation. Larry made the point very well that H. sap sap is well disposed toward those things. Chris Clugston made the same observation in his writings. The First Americans readily accepted the products of Euro-American surplus manufacturers. I will carefully avoid any suggestion as to whether or not said disposition has anything at all to do with DNA. 🙂

    The opportunities for producing surpluses existed because in Fortuna’s grand design for the universe, the right mix of concentrated resources would exist in certain places. Unheralded individuals, blessed with a little extra curiosity perhaps (entrepreneurs?), noticed the bounty at their feet and started plowing. Progress led to discovery of other concentrated resources right up through oil, uranium, the rare earths, etc. More progress, more people, more of everything, except those concentrated resources. Fortuna giveth and taketh away. The grand design seems to have required that the vast bulk of the elemental resources had to be pre-entropied into uselessly low concentrations scattered throughout planetary crusts. The Priesthood of Progress has flogged their minions into applying entropy to the concentrated resources to the point where they are no longer producible at rates that can sustain progress.

    Progress is the mother’s milk of capitalism and civilization. Ralph and Larry are trying to keep the dream alive. Absolutely futile, but they have practically all of humanity behind them. When that pack of followers discover Fortuna’s treachery, behind you is not where you would want them to be. Many are already starting to think in terms of revenge. Traditionally said to be a dish best served cold.

    Clugston also wrote that we are “culturally incapable” of doing the things that could potentially soften the effects of collapse and maximize the number of survivors. It takes hardly any effort at all to see the truth of that.

  27. BretSimpson says:

    Got 49 bred heifers up today..daffodils are blooming..love your neighbor..

  28. BretSimpson says:

    We can’t go forward..and can’t go back…pak your shit ,we’re going away.

  29. I am probably a little late to this discussion, but would like to add the following:

    1) Sandy, you write: “Morality and law are already indicators of the prior loss of guidance and respect for the world-as-lived.” This reminds me of Chapter 19 of the Tao Te Ching:

    Eliminate sagacity, discard knowledge,
    People will be profited a hundredfold.
    Eliminate virtue, discard righteousness,
    People will again practice filial piety and parental love.
    Abolish artistry, discard profit-seeking,
    Robbers and thieves shall disappear

    2) There is actually empirical evidence showing that the number of psychopaths in the financial sector is significantly higher than it is in the general human population:

    Studies conducted by Canadian forensic psychologist Robert Hare indicate that about 1 percent of the general population can be categorized as psychopathic, but the prevalence rate in the financial services industry is 10 percent. And Christopher Bayer believes, based on his experience, that the rate is higher.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/wall-street-psychopaths-2012-2

    Granted, these people may not be MBAs, but I daresay they share similar worldviews and patterns of thought and behavior.

    • kulturcritic says:

      NaturalMystic – I have always enjoyed Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching.

      I do believe we are all tainted with the disease of civilization, and would qualify as psychopathic to some degree or another. I feel this way because something fundamental in us has been repressed, expirpated, or denied through millennia of serving the machines of hierarchy and institutionalized anonymity. Having been cut-off from the world as given, we have also been forced into a series of programs requiring further degrees of alienation and depression, conjoined with aggression, and acquisitiveness — in short, self aggrandizement.

  30. Ralph Meima says:

    Hello Leavergirl

    Thanks for the introduction, and for the hope I will keep coming back. Actually, I have been a lurker for months, and find this forum fascinating, so I will surely keep coming back.

    I wonder where “my world” is relative to yours (and whether they are different), but I hope to find out!

    I have no doubt you’re correct about “sociopaths in our midst” – I have known some, in the business world – and I agree with Sandy that their impact far outweighs their percentages. However, I don’t believe that this is the nature of the large majority of successful SOCIAL entrepreneurs, just some of them.

    Just as we don’t want socio-/psychopaths to take over the leadership of the military or police (which is what happened in places like Nazi Germany, Republika Srpska, and Abu Ghraib prison), perhaps we should – like ancient, tribal people – exert more community authority over business. It’s just too important to cede to the Mengeles, even if they are a small minority.

    • kulturcritic says:

      For Ralph and Vera (leavergirl)

      I think we have ample confirmation that psychopathy runs rampant in our culture, and that not a small percentage of it may be found among our politicians, legislators, clergy and business leaders/entrepreneurs.

      A list of common characteristics:

      grandiose demeanor entitlement attitude insatiable appetite remorselessness/inability to feel guilt use of intimidation to control others/situation motivated by control and dominance primary motivation to satisfy selfish needs

      PsOn Mar 9, 2012, at 2:00 AM,

      • leavergirl says:

        The key to recognizing sociopaths, Sandy, is inability to empathize and consequently to truly connect with other humans. This can be seen in brain scans – they flatline where other people show emotion. The rest of the characteristics, they point to one version or another of narcissism which is rampant in our culture, and we are all tainted to some extent.

        Yes, I imagine if they tested financiers, politicos and other high placed people, the number of sociopaths would be much higher than the rest of the population. Hare has said so himself — he said he has studied the prison population all his life, but he says he wishes he had access to the high levels of business as well. Unfortunately, you can’t easily prevail on those populations to be studied, whereas you can with prisoners.

        Hello again, professor. I agree with you, most of entrepreneurs are not sociopaths, just like most like most prisoners (criminals) are not sociopaths. However, I bet that most are aggrandizers, and that is something that needs to be paid attention to. The culture says that such enterprising personalities are good for society, and I say, they can be, but unless you slap limits on them, they will ruin everything in sight. You say the same thing, I suppose — exert more community authority over business… and governance, and everything… but how? Tell us what you got up your sleeve. There are a lot of people nowadays running around with nifty ideas, but never address the how. I call it the pie-in-the-sky fallacy. I hope you can do better… call it the “leavergirl challenge”. 😉

        • kulturcritic says:

          Vera, you keep conflating psychopath and sociopathy. Not an accurate thing to do.

          Research suggests that, “psychopaths are a stable proportion of any population, can be from any segment of society, may constitute a distinct taxonomical class forged by frequency-dependent natural selection, and that the muting of the social emotions is the proximate mechanism that enables psychopaths to pursue their self-centered goals without felling the pangs of guilt. Sociopaths are more the products of adverse environmental experiences that affect autonomic nervous system and neurological development that may lead to physiological responses similar to those of psychopaths. Antisocial personality disorder is a legal/clinical label that may be applied to both psychopaths and sociopaths” (ForensicFocus; PsychCentral.com).

          “Though not all psychology professionals agree on what exactly differentiates sociopaths from psychopaths, among those who believe each are separate disorders there is a list of definite differences. Sociopaths tend to be nervous and easily agitated. They are likely to be uneducated and live on the fringes of society, unable to hold down a steady job or stay in one place. Some sociopaths form attachments to an individual or group, though they have no regard for society in general. In the eyes of others, sociopaths appear clearly disturbed. Any crimes committed by a sociopath tend to be disorganized and spontaneous.

          Psychopaths, on the other hand, often have charming personalities. They are manipulative and easily gain people’s trust. They have learned to mimic emotion and so appear “normal” to other people. Psychopaths are often educated and hold steady jobs. Some are so good at manipulation and mimicry that they can have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting their true nature. (HelpingPsychology.com)”

          • leavergirl says:

            Aw, Sandy, dontcha fall for the latest psychobabble. They keep changing the labels every few years. It’s the same thing. Believe me, I looked hard. If you ask Hare, he will tell you the same.

            • leavergirl says:

              Actually, the reason I prefer “sociopath” is that when you use “psychopath” people think of “psycho”, a Ted Bundy or a Jeffrey Dahmer and not their peculiar but charming uncle or neighbor.

              • kulturcritic says:

                Yes, but the reality is quite the opposite. The socios are the standout crazies, the psychos blend in and seem normal.

                • leavergirl says:

                  The reality is that there are people who cannot empathize. They are quite unlike us. They come in several flavors. And the rest of us need to know about them, need to learn to recognize the, and know how to deal when we encounter them.

          • BretSimpson says:

            In otherwords..your basic,normal,humen bein?Consumer…consumer..”to destroy completely”..

  31. BretSimpson says:

    Does a wise man know he’s wise…and a fool know he’s a fool?

  32. BretSimpson says:

    Pilate asked Jesus..”What is Truth?”..and his answer??

  33. javacat says:

    Reading this at a distance of several weeks…psychopath, sociopath, thuggery, sustainable MBA, confounding the King’s Language…We all become tangled in the knot of language.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Both the beauty and the terror of our lives.

      • javacat says:

        Indeed. Your words gave me pause. Words can be misguided, misleading, misconstrued, yet, as seems to be the way in native languages, language is still a vivid lifeblood, rich with meaning, that connects one generation to another.

        Already a language dies every other week, and with it a whole culture. And as anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis so well describes it, “a language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules, … but an old growth forest of the mind.”

        This is off-topic, I know, but still somehow, keenly important.

  34. Entre-pre-neur:
    to prepare Nature as an entree,
    leaving little for the main course.

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