Crises and the Decline of the State

By Ed Beakley

In On War #251, “War or not war?” Bill Lind wrote:

At the core of 4GW lies a crisis of legitimacy of the state. A development that contributes to the state’s crisis of legitimacy is the disintegration of community (Gemeinschaft). Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the powerful, highly intrusive state, community has increasingly been displaced by society (Gesellschaft), where most relationships between people are merely functional.

I draw a significantly different thread from Mr. Lind’s article than those indicated by other comments.

School shooting crises (and most others) are basically viewed as exceptional events. Current crisis management and analysis is then largely an event-centered approach that considers the crisis as the result of an event defined in time and space — the so-called triggering event. The triggering event makes the crisis visible. It crystallizes multiple dimensions and initiates a dynamic process that is often out of control. The story line then tends to lead to an attitude of fatalism or victimization. Here, the idea that crises are opportunities should be revisited.

That freeze frame point in time offers an information rich opportunity to examine much more than the event and its consequences and specific dynamics. A theory of crisis should be able to integrate a wider time perspective and should lead individuals to ask themselves questions about the meaning and origins of crisis, not just filling in the unknowns of the specific event.

If in addition to event-based analysis, crisis could also be viewed (and analyzed) as a process of organizational weakening that degenerates until the point of disruption — a triggering or precipitating event — research could focus on the identification and characterization of crisis-fostering environments and on the processes of weakening of organizations.

The question then raised is the ability of organizations and their leaders to decode this meaning and use it. We may not be able to abate the decline of the state, but neither must we be victims of technology, alienation, and isolation; however you define and relate them. Do we man the equipment or equip the man?

If crisis analysis as process can reveal crisis fostering environments, should it not also allow developing crisis mitigation environments — resilient communities?

It is only when (leadership) allows ignorance about the evolution of weaknesses and imbalances into crises to exist that crisis conducive environments can grow and intensify. The more established the dysfunctions and weaknesses the thicker the veil of ignorance. The vulnerability of an organization does not so much reside in its actual weaknesses as in the ignorance of these weaknesses, an ignorance that is activated by defense mechanisms that regulate the managers’ threatened self-esteem and leads them unconsciously to favor laissez-faire over correction. The more entrenched the imperfection, the more likely it is to lead to a disruption and the more prohibitive the psychological and sometimes economic cost of a correction. — “Is Crisis Management (Only) a Management of Exceptions,” Christophe Roux-Dufort, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, June 2007

Lind is right — in sum, the decline of the state and the disintegration of community march on together — and that has nothing whatsoever to do with supporting communism. We must learn, unlearn relearn and become once again the resilient communities of our frontier history.

[Ed Beakley is the director of Project White Horse.]

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Filed in Uncategorized | 14 responses so far

14 Responses to “Crises and the Decline of the State”

  1. mycophagiston 23 Feb 2008 at 5:22 pm 1

    Ed Beakley

    Lind is right — in sum, the decline of the state and the disintegration of community march on together — and that has nothing whatsoever to do with supporting communism. We must learn, unlearn relearn and become once again the resilient communities of our frontier history.
    *************

    The form of Communism advocated by Marx and implemented by Lenin was supposed to neutralize alienation – It didn’t. It didn’t because the Dictatorship of the Proletariat simply became a dictatorship – Such arrangements ultimately seek a primary goal over and above any other – i.e. the continuation of the dictatorship and eliminating it’s enemies. China made a smooth transition from being a Communist dictatorship to a Fascist dictatorship. Who even notices?

    Even though I am a Marxist, this doesn’t automatically mean that a Capitalist society cannot alleviate alienation; at least to bring it within tolerable bounds.

    Oh yes, a Democratic form of Communism, in which the ruling party can be peacefully removed through some form of legitimate electoral system would do a better job…

    What we are seeing today is the breakdown of Capitalism as it changes into a form of Corporate Fascism. Where our laws – Our guiding laws, The US Constitution are being ignored by the elite.

    If the State ignores the laws and social norms, then why should anyone take them seriously? Mr. Bush, easily the worst President in our history, is regarded as a Great man by a large minority. His institutionalising of torture, his Monarchial style are applauded even by those who Don’t look at him as a great man.

    “We have too much freedom” is an expression I increasingly hear. How is it that a respected columnist (Michael Goodwin) can write that only left wing whackos oppose torture? How is it that Osama bin Ladin is regarded as a Much larger threat than Germany and Japan of WW II?

    I doubt if most of those commiting these grotesque acts of violence actually sit down and think this through. They are acting out over a climate of fostered lawlessness and violence. An Atmosphere of fear and hate.

    Increasingly they percieve they have no future, while the elite in society simply party.

    The contradictions are becoming increasingly visible to even the most ignorant, even if they don’t analyze them.

    No, I agree with Ed, even if I see a Democratic form of Communism as the best solution, a Capitalist society where the laws are respected and Corporations are held on a leash would do wonders

    Dave

  2. judasnooseon 24 Feb 2008 at 1:50 am 2

    @mycophagist: I think the mainstream media reports that Bush has very low approval ratings. He was 24% in 2007 according to:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN1624620720071017?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

    I agree with Ed Beakley’s text for the most part, but I would like more explanation of this passage:
    “but neither must we be victims of technology, alienation, and isolation; however you define and relate them. Do we man the equipment or equip the man?”
    Technologically speaking, I don’t see much difference between (e.g.) manning a rifle and equipping a man with a rifle. I suppose the point is that if we say we are equipping the man with the rifle, we are putting people first, thereby laying a good social foundation for proper behavior. I may be misreading the intended meaning, but it seems to echo “People, ideas, hardware, in that order.”

  3. mycophagiston 24 Feb 2008 at 2:04 am 3

    judasnoose wrote:

    @mycophagist: I think the mainstream media reports that Bush has very low approval ratings. He was 24% in 2007 according to:….
    **********

    Absolutely! My statement “large minority” can be confusing. 24 percent of course IS a large minority. But my point is that even some of those who think poorly of Mr. Bush applaud his acts, they “blame him” for his lack of competence.

    I sited Mr. Goodwin because he does think poorly of Mr. Bush, and yet can tell us that anyone who opposes torture is a “left wing whacko;” that’s an actual quote.

    I make no claims that any of these people are thinking clearly… :)

    Dave

  4. projectwhitehorseon 25 Feb 2008 at 11:43 pm 4

    judasnoose,
    Further explanation:

    “Manning” and “equipping” is seamless when the equipment matches the problem and has been judged operationally suitable. (rifle and Marine) Were the rub comes may be best explained by two examples:
    1) A short time ago, the lead military test pilot for the Air Force F-22 wrote an article explaining “what we’re getting for our money.” It was well written, describing the Raptor’s performance, it certainly watered my eyes and probably those of all us old once-were’s, making us long for those intrepid days of bubble canopy views, wine, women, and song. But it raised a question, which I forwarded to my naval aviator brothers, spinning from John Gillespie McGee’s poem High Flight. As the hero reaches out to touch the face of God, God replies, “Welcome my son to the high sanctity of space, but can you tell, in all your wonderfulness, what does this beautiful Raptor for my lowly but blessed Mud-Marine?”
    2) The second relates to not being victims. Colonel John Boyd earned the call sign “Forty Second Boyd,” but reality for most fighter pilots with an enemy firmly captured on their six, is more likely OODA #1 “DAMN;” OODA #2 “Oh S..t, Oh Dear;” OODA#3 “Guns, Guns, Guns, see ya in hell, dirtbag!”

    The point being: technology and its manifestation(s) moves along, games, movies, missiles, bombs, whatever. But it’s still the human who must either sit with the enemy on his tail, or OODA #1, OODA#2, re-orienting and rebuilding snowmobiles till he survives. We sit and cringe about violent games, no snowmobiles to be found, victims of “ain’t it awful!” We come full circle. To equip or…

  5. oldskepticon 26 Feb 2008 at 9:01 am 5

    Mycophagist, Keynes noted that untrammeld capitalism and liberal democracy were incompatible. That democarcy would always fall into some sort of totaliarism.

    This was was based on hard empiracal data, as in the late 30’s, after years of the Depression there were virtually no democracies left, and even quite a few of those were looking pretty shaky.

    Thats why he devoted his life to ‘harnessed capitalism’, maximise the gains from it and eliminate the weaknesses. The whole, post WW2 economic structure was built around that concept. Limited currancy movement. Strict controls on capital movements. Solid social security,education and health systems. Fierce taxation (cant let the rich get too rich as they will start to run the place).

    All torn away since the 1980’s, and now, we are at the same place we were in 1928.

    Watch the coming Depression sweep away democracies and freedoms (what little are left after the WOT that is). And then what .. war .. WW3 anyone? What major country will be lead by a charismatic totalitarian in the next 10 years?

  6. mycophagiston 27 Feb 2008 at 2:23 am 6

    oldskeptic Wrote

    “Mycophagist, Keynes noted that untrammeld capitalism and liberal democracy were incompatible. That democarcy would always fall into some sort of totaliarism.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    An unregulated free marker soon becomes a Capitalist monopoly market. Roosevelt, a firm supporter of Capitalism, also believed in leashing them. Worked out pretty well. When Reagan became President, we were the largest exporter of finished goods, today we are the largest importer of finished goods.

    (Just keeping my reply short) :)

    Hmm?

    Dave

  7. oldskepticon 28 Feb 2008 at 8:20 am 7

    Dave, I argue this from a pragmatic libertarian point of view. All sub-groups within a society have to have some sort of direct/indirect control over them, or they will become disruptive and eventually destructive. Whether its criminals, drivers, teenagers or financiers.

    Its a sad necessity caused by human nature. The regulation has to the minimal necessary, updated regularly as things change, have open oversight, rights of review and appeal, be clear and open and be respected by the general population. That is – a Constitution like mechanism. One day we will all become saints and it wont be necessary.

    Most US people make the mistake of underestimating Marx. He was an excellent analyst of his times (and still has some lessons for today), though he was not a good theorist. Keynes gave him great praise for much of his work, then extended it further. Keynes was also a skeptic about human nature, who, as an old fashioned Liberal (English sense) didn’t like excessive controls, just the absolute minimum necessary to do the job (he would also have devoted everything he had to prevent this debacle we are now all involved in). A man called Stafford Beer later developed models of meta-controls (ie indirect environmental ones) to achieve similar outcomes.

  8. mycophagiston 28 Feb 2008 at 11:18 pm 8

    I would like to believe that Marx, who constantly taught that theory has to be modified by practice, would have changed his views if he could have seen the result of the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

    Ultimately of course, Marxism IS libertarian in it’s goals. Few, or almost no regulations, because the power exercised by corporations and large amounts of money would no longer exist.

    So even though the former Soviet Union always stands like a lead brick in the consiousness of readers, I am a Libertarian Marxistm and see no contradiction in making that statement… :)

    Dave

  9. maximilliangcon 01 Mar 2008 at 12:09 pm 9

    Dave,
    “I would like to believe that Marx, who constantly taught that theory has to be modified by practice,”

    Also a cornerstone of Boyd’s phylosophy as undersocred by OODA.

    MaX

  10. mycophagiston 01 Mar 2008 at 6:30 pm 10

    maximilliangc wrote:

    “Also a cornerstone of Boyd’s phylosophy as undersocred by OODA.”

    Why yes, I was turned onto you guys when someone gave me a gift of Corams biography of Boyd.

    (And sad to say, the line that most sticks in my consiousness was, “My name is Boyd, prounounced like ‘Boid.’ )

    As a native son of Brooklyn, born and bred, when I immigrated to America I spent quite a bit of time getting rid of my Brooklyn accent… :)

    Dave

  11. maximilliangcon 02 Mar 2008 at 10:16 am 11

    Dave wrote,

    “I was turned onto you guys when someone gave me a gift of Corams biography of Boyd”

    If you care to learn more and want to take this study further
    I recommend “The Mind Of War” by Grant Hammond.
    James Burton’s “Pentagon Wars”
    And James Stevensons “The Pentagon Paradox”
    And of course the resourches and archieves that DNI maintains, and Chet’s
    books.

    Boyd is survived by most of his closest associates and friends, some of whom are accessable on the WWW, which in includes Chet Richards, who runs this
    forum & thinktank.

    There’s even video of Boyd hosted on the WWW giving some of his presentations,
    it’s the next best thing short of having met him in person.
    You can do a search, or find the link on my own site at;
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LWJF/
    It’s in the links section.
    There’s a lot of links and information there, I’ve worked on, and accumulated
    for years.

  12. maximilliangcon 02 Mar 2008 at 10:24 am 12

    WH expains,

    “The second relates to not being victims. Colonel John Boyd earned the call sign “Forty Second Boyd,” but reality for most fighter pilots with an enemy firmly captured on their six, is more likely OODA #1 “DAMN;” OODA #2 “Oh S..t, Oh Dear;” OODA#3 “Guns, Guns, Guns, see ya in hell, dirtbag!”

    For those who maybe new to this, it’s importatnt to realise that Boyd
    meant for the process of OODA to be natural and seamless, in a highly compedative
    enviroment, for example racing at 200mph, or in combat, if you have to take the time
    to conciously remember the steps, that means to get bogged down in the “process”
    it’s allready too late and you’ve lost.

    It has to be practiced and honed as to becomne second nature.

    Similarly the great martial artist and movie actor Bruce Lee had a similar adversion for the sanctimony and adherance to formaility and dogma.

    MC

  13. maximilliangcon 02 Mar 2008 at 1:22 pm 13

    “As a native son of Brooklyn, born and bred, when I immigrated to America I spent quite a bit of time getting rid of my Brooklyn accent… :)”

    “Dave”

    I would recommend a DVD copy of “Why We Fight” as an IMPERATIVE study
    towards participation on this forum (IMO) the moive gives a great summary
    on overveiw of the current situation of militarisism and empire exapansionism
    and the costs to US scociety. This has roots in the Military Reform Movement
    of wich Boyd and friends were founding interests.

    In the film (factutal) is one Brooklyn native Mr. Sketzer, who lost a son
    in the TWC on 9-11, it traces his story, and his coming about 180 degrees
    in perspective on the affair of US reaction.

    The film also introduces you to Ret/ USAF (yet another Col. who saw past the fisade and refused to tow the line) Karen K.
    And, Chalmers Johnson.

    Coming out of seemingly nowhere, academia, and before that the CIA,
    Johnson has emerged amoung high preists of the grass roots opposition to US continued US military expansionisim and mis-adventures.

    It’s worth it, if only for that.
    Boyd and Johnson, no dougbt would have had the most interesting
    of conversations.

    With people that SMART on OUR side, there’s still hope.

    MaX

  14. RC#3 Perspective on School Attacks aton 02 Mar 2008 at 9:07 pm 14

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