From our earliest days at school we are trained to think that if we don’t have order of a particular sort then we have chaos – and chaos is a bad thing. If we don’t have the grown ups in the centre of our society, maintaining order, then it falls apart. Those in power in companies, institutions or nations all have a vested interest in perpetrating powerful myths that keep the rest of us in check. In fact the degree to which they have power is determined by their success in convincing us that without them looking after us we would get in a mess. As a result We have a consistent and pretty fixed sense of what organised means, what organisations look like, and how unattractive the alternatives are. We cling to this sense of order like a lifeboat in the stormy seas of life.
Being part of this myth generating group has a strange effect on its members. It makes the grown ups start to think and act funny. They react differently because they are in charge, because they are responsible. They stop reacting to things in spontaneous and natural ways. Instead they start to filter and calculate their responses based on their roles. This screws things. They realise this is happening and feel uneasy about it. They know it is wrong and start to hide these feelings from themselves. They hide them from others. They see people in the same situation as themselves and start to gravitate towards them because it feels more comfortable to be with people who understand. Next thing you know they are starting to see the world in terms of us and them, black and white. They need to defend something they are part of from people who are not.
Look at the way that in the second world war the Germans managed to maintain administrative control over such vast numbers of people and at such a speed when they invaded most of Europe in a couple of years. A friend of mine put his finger on how this could happen. People like order. Those in charge of maintaining order particularly like it. Up to a point they don’t care what kind of order it is so long as it is order. So if you invade a country you only need to take out a few of the top people and most of the rest will meekly line up in an orderly fashion and those charged with maintaining order, the police force, the judiciary, educators etc., will continue to do what they do.
Does it have to be this way? If not how do we stop this pull to an artificially created centre? Is it an inevitable part of human nature? Might we avoid it if we have such decentralised systems that there is no longer a centre to aspire to and defend?