The World isn't Organized
we all interact, unreflecting, and things just work
The political world, the religious world, the corporate world, operate on the assumption of the need for organization: the organization of the ruling clique; the organization of the church; the organization of the bosses. And we all tend to think of the world as a conscious world, a world of rules and contracts and orders.
But I think that this is a fundamental error, and I suppose I come to it from Jung and his narrative of the unconscious: we are our unconscious, individual and collective. We are the archetypes that work within us without our knowing or reflecting as we go about our moment-to-moment lives.
I was thinking about this after reading a couple of pieces on homeschooling by a homeschooling parent. The child raised in schools, in government institutions, experiences the world rather differently than the child raised in home school. The experience of the school-raised child is of organization, explicit rules and rewards and punishments. But the world of the home-schooled child is a social experience. He or she does a bit of schoolwork every day, but typically meets and interacts with a far bigger world of people. It may be the more frequent interaction with relatives; it may be the activities organized by the other home-school moms, the range of adults encountered day-to-day. In one of the articles, a home-schooled child was displaying rather notable social competence in a group of adults, and one of the adults asked: “are you home-schooled?” Well. Who woulda thunk it.
The point is that in the home-school world you learn unconsciously in the everyday world of work and play and social interactions. In the school world you live in a world of formal structure and assignments and learn to follow orders.
I was reflecting on this in my weekly meeting with my Greek friend, who was born and raised in a Greek village in the Peloponnese, a hour out of Argos. Everything in that world is an interaction with relatives: in the stories of life it is always about an interaction with an uncle or a cousin or some other relative. Now when this young Greek came to America as a teenager he entered the world of the stranger, of organization, of the government high school and formal education and eventually the job in the big corporation. He tells the story, when doing a surveying course in college of the cook at his uncle’s Greek restaurant encountering him with his surveying instrument: the cook was flabbergasted. How did think youngster who worked in the restaurant know about surveying? My friend was already in another world.
And yet, I feel, the experience in two worlds are not that different. Of course, there are explicit rules in both worlds; and yet what matters is the adaptation to the unwritten rules and habits and practices of each world.
And so ordinary human life is not so different from the world of the worker ant. We do what we do every day, and most of what we do is social: working and interacting and unreflectingly doing what we do as social animals in a social day-to-day world.
And so, I believe, it is a foolish conceit to believe that the human world needs to be strongly regulated by political or religious or administrative supervisors. No! We probably only need these supervisors to deal with limit cases, people or actions that break the windows and require force to correct.
I declare that 97 percent of what we do is an unconscious adjustment to the world and a sensible and social going along with the zeitgeist. I think that the market works this way; I think that normal human social interaction works this way; I think that play and learning work this way. And I declare that, one fine day, the experts and scientists will agree with me, as they survey the smoking ruins of their magnificent fantasy.
A favorite story of mine is the reforms conducted by the German army after World War I. The experts decided that, on the lethal battlefield, the generals should only issue the most general orders, and so on down the line, so that, at each level, the officer or NCO was responsible for filling in the details appropriate to his responsibility and the facts on the ground, and then issuing orders down the line, understanding that the next level down was responsible for filling in the details once more.
Our beloved friend Hillary Clinton recently suggested that Trump voters were members of a cult and needed reprogramming. Suppose the opposite were true, and that our liberal friends were members of a political cult that believes in a false and disproved political and economic and social theory that declares the need for close and detailed supervision of all the humans in “our community.”
What would it take for our dear liberal friends to abandon their false and cultish beliefs?