Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

CLERKS GONE MAD, CGMs, ICEy Adjustments to MOM's Management

The essence of the good life is love and work. The best of work is production and service. Blessed are the service people who cater to an ever increasing variety of needs. They so often bestow a quasi-familial love reminiscent of the basic bonds at the root of society. On the occasion of a super-market strike, patrons honored the strike in large numbers out of quasi-family loyalty to their checkers. The corporate personnel policy had so succeeded in creating a `friendly' staff that it undermined their own adversarial wage policy. As in any family, society's service staff can become alienated and oppressive. The compulsion to the abstract life often wins out against the organic growth of quasi-family, especially given the abstract motivations of adversarial system.

Even though we are all God's children, people often complain of harassment in everyday life. Ever larger portions of the work force move from production to `service'. The impersonal services control taxes, autos, insurance, and endless aspects of personal and business life. These service people, the clerks that manage the Burgeoning Bureaucracy, BB, unavoidably harass every citizen. But it's not their fault. They're "just doing their job". Christopher Buckley, `pinko' son of Wm. F. Buckley, relates in his book THANK YOU FOR SMOKING a conversation with a former classmate who works for the Merchants Of Death, MODs, as a cigarette PR: "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" "Just paying the mortgage."

The BBs are simply agents of an impersonal "service industry". We might better call it the "dis-service industry". But it's not their fault that regulations and procedures grow like weeds. They are "just doing their job". Can such employees be expected to adjust directives for the convenience of the citizen? Should they ignore instructions just to be more efficient? Are they in a position to correct minor errors in the procedure? May they permit short-cuts to aid the distressed? Yes, each employee tries to be as human as possible, given the constraints of an abstract system and the limits of her own security and courage. But basically they are obliged to just do their job. As Vladimir Posner points out, "If you fight the system, the system will fight back."[ Mr. *Posner is a journalist and TV personality, internationally famous for his wide ranging participation in world media. For many years he has worked with talk show host Phil *Donahue. Mr. Posner is often taken for an American in spite of his New Jersey accent that he acquired during his High School years in that region. He is a Russian citizen with his home base in Moscow.]

We all endure everyday harassments as the duty of good citizens. We indulge complaints to fill the emptiness of daily conversation. But we are not justified in attributing these minor and major outrages to the clerks' human nature. Don't blame people personally when they are "just doing their job". Forgive them personally, then use the perspective gained from such forgiveness to tell the deeper truth about why people do terrible things, in an absence of mind.[ For an elegant portrayal of life as a waitress, read Barbara *Ehrenreich's report, *NICKEL-AND-DIMED, On (Not) Getting By In America, in the January 1999 issue of Harper's Magazine.]

War provides a classic example of the distortion of attributing evil deeds to the people who do them or, worse yet, to human nature. It is often said that people fight wars because they are warlike, or because mankind is inherently bellicose. If one could transcend such attributions, the objective causes of war would be more obvious, or at least the mind would be open to what crumbs of information are available. In general, people fight wars because they are paid to do so, or worse, because they are conscripted or Shanghaied. Hate is a decoration, an enhancement to murder, added by the trainers and propagandists.

Objectively, `human nature' is so versatile that humans can be induced to do almost any damn fool thing. The military trainers assume this. They are experts at making humans into warriors. They even train dogs, dolphins, and porpoises for their nefarious purposes. Psychologist Stanley *Milgrim did the social psychology experiments in which people, or rather students, were told to give painful electric shocks to others, and did, presumably "just doing their job".

Father Boyle, a liberation theology priest from Chicago, estimates that only about ten percent of the young men in the military really enjoy torturing and killing. He served a parish in Guatemala for several decades and escaped just in time. Imagine the childhood these Guatemalan killers must have had. They were taken under the wing of the soldiers who killed their family, then trained to slaughter animals, then people, then put to work killing `communists'. This is the army of thugs is largely trained, financed and directed by the Southern Command of the U. S. Army.

Presumably others burn, maim, torture and kill for a variety of motives. True, some are easier to train than others. But those brutalized from childhood are difficult to un-train from their violent ways. Perhaps it is easier to steer these vets to become pugilists, meter maids, mercenaries, or lawyers than to become producers or care givers. Fortunately, the psychodramatists and other therapists can train the most intransigent murderer to stop being so naughty. Criminologists such as Professor Richard Korn are skilled at methods such as Moreno style Psychodrama to train the rapists not to assault and murderers not to kill. But our system is predisposed to keep them brutalized, perhaps for our entertainment and their economic value appropriate to our warrior culture, perhaps to satisfy the pentagon and prison lobbies.

Yet the RIDs (rationalist-idealist) contracted mind persists in projecting a trivialized and fixated image of so-called human nature. Every religious teacher has addressed this sloppy thought and calloused heart in countless ways: We are all god's children, each person is chosen, etc. Because of the nature of consciousness as an information process, the struggle to broaden the mind and deepen the heart is endless. True, some have more integrity than others, but as David *Riesmann pointed out in THE LONELY CROWD, the inner-directeds are being replaced by the other-directeds, the coreless ones. Fortunately, everyone gets to do some good, even in the most pathological of systems. But the trend has been to sacrifice individual and cultural integrity for the narrow values of profit and bureaucracy, until now.

Of all the roles in a society, the most crucial for the survival of mankind are those of the political, military, and industrial elites - the people who run things. Common folk are assumed to be flexible; they're socialized to do what they're told, to just get along, often under severe and subtle stress. We should assume that personally, everyone is innocent, even the elites. They are just doing their job. If they didn't maximize profits or otherwise meet the demands of `the system', they would soon be replaced by others who would. Could a CEO not strive to influence congress? Could his advisors not devise laws to promote their fancied goals? Could a lobbyist not gab and gift the legislators to favor the firm?

Career is competition for higher position, struggle to get ahead, self improvement toward effectiveness, presentation of image, elaboration of skills seen to maintain and promote the organization. To make matters worse, the bureaucrats are often moved around, presumably to stifle the healthy aspects of community and to keep them insecure. Some employees say that "IBM" means "I've Been Moved." "Fire in the belly", Chrysler's Chairman Lee Iococa's favorite term, is a pathological moniker for a pre-ulcerous condition. Even though personnel practices are evolving from this hard stance toward attention to morale and loyalty, the mood is still `lean and mean'. The broader approach, the holistic view of leadership, is often avoided, denied, or simply absent. The exception that proves the rule is the gentle hippy atmosphere of some of the high-tech firms. There work is peculiarly grueling. They need it and can afford it.

What must the people at the top of the world economy and polity be thinking? Apparently not much, or at least not enough. Elites arrive at the top by efforts of family, friends and self. These are superior people. Many are well aware that the human and natural ecosystem is severely stressed and in need of intelligent culture design. Most adhere to their faith in the HAND OF GOD, HOG, (p.281). Yet they seem obliged to play the fiddle while fossil fuels burn. As Marx said, "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

The gibberish in the media does not disclose the existential struggles of these, the best of the clerks. To understand why such a competent elite of superior people would preside over the demise of nature and humankind requires a stretch of the imagination, as explained in ICE, p.236, 241.

The essence of the free world ideology is the absence of a holistic view or an omnist responsibility for the great changes that are sweeping mankind, world culture and the ecosystem. Can these people change their spots by embracing some noblesse oblige or expanded world view? They may try, but the forces of fragmentation, the dissociation of their lives from the greater vision, jeopardize them at all levels. Such expanded responsibility would be spurned, more than ex-president Jimmy Carter's do-gooding. Eisenhower's swan song warning about the "military industrial complex" occurred in a moment of wakefulness permitted to an old man at the end of his career. But no one could heed, the squall soon settled and the military returned to business as usual.

Anyone with broader vision and responsibility is struggling up-stream at whatever level of the society. Such is the compulsion to the abstract life as it manifests itself in the world of work. Clerks at all levels are caught in a bind, obliged to sustain and continue the system as it runs, to accommodate to changes as they are forced by the `invisible hand'. Inevitably they contribute to an insane system. They take the role of Clerks Gone Mad, CGMs.

The elites are super-people, but they do not have the power and responsibility that is projected upon them. More likely, they are just doing their job, trying to get ahead, trying to retire with a nest egg and a good rep. They are essentially clerks, but clerks compelled to torture themselves and everyone else, with the innocent power to destroy mankind and the ecosystem. Exceptions include George *Soros, who's efforts may alleviate crises and prolong the system. We are all clerks, more or less, educated, trained, and selected for these pathological roles.

Yet each can alleviate this problem, or at least remain aware and ready, should some opportunity for service present itself. Opportunities are sparse since most jobs operate to push everyone into clerkdom. While the system flourishes, individual integrity is lost in the pit of anxiety, striving and valuelessness. Most people not only succumb to the pressure, but eagerly fill their roles maintaining the system. Some drop out - upward to independent wealth or downward to homelessness and prison. Modern abstract culture promotes and requires such insanity. The system is controlled and operated, top to bottom, by Clerks Gone Mad, CGMs.

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