We Are Legion

LeviathanAny experienced manager will tell you that the single most challenging part of his or her job is not to be found within the mass of technical details that run through a given project’s design, but keeping their workers productively occupied during the inevitable yet unpredictable lulls and logjams that force their way through at inopportune moments.  Power outages, equipment failures, traffic jams, sudden, urgent changes in customer specs, etc., etc., will all, at one point or another, intrude upon the orderly execution of any significant project, totally f*ckin’ up your sh*t unless you can convincingly improvise on short notice.

Time is money, and labor is only borrowed, not owned, so you sitting there on your hands is usually not an option.  Unless you do something about it now now NOW you’re gonna be up sh*t creek, mon frere.  The consequences don’t bear thinking about.

And to add insult to injury, your team, just as inevitably as these interruptions will occur, will view them as opportunity to prove the old adage “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop”.  Sure, the odd individual here or there may prove to have some initiative of their own, seizing some previously unidentified flexibility within their own assignments.  But that flexibility will always be limited.  And frankly, despite the pseudo-folksy drivel of communistic America-haters like Garrison Keillor, it is simply mathematically impossible for ALL the children to be “above average”.

The sad truth of the matters is that all men are NOT created equal.  We will never become successful managers of our own affairs until we admit that plain fact.  It is not merely an absurdity, but a malicious deception to tell a child that he or she can “grow up to be anything.”

A blind narcoleptic will never become an airline pilot.  A child suffering from uncontrollable tics and spasms will not become a band saw operator at a wood mill.  A soul burdened by excessive concern with ethics and transparency will never become an investment banker or politician.

The responsible parent or manager admits this up front.


Continued at: Dystopia Diaries

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15 Comments on "We Are Legion"

  1. What does the articles title have to do with its content?

    • BuzzCoastin | Aug 29, 2013 at 1:27 am |

      Can you rede (since We and Thou had it out already) its world?
      It is the same told of all. Many. Miscegenations on miscegenations.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 29, 2013 at 8:08 am |

        I have no idea what you’re talking about.
        Thanks for not expounding into an article that nobody could make heads or tales of.

    • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 29, 2013 at 8:07 am |

      Quite simply, the problem is not that the team can’t hack the job, it’s that the job isn’t worth doing. A good manager would recognize that right away.

      ‘We are Legion’ is an allusion to the exorcism incident from the Gospel of Matthew. Like it or not, society is full of people who aren’t going anwhere, and will only start trouble unless management gets smart and finds productive things for them to do.

      That is how the title relates to the article’s content.

  2. Ted Heistman | Aug 29, 2013 at 6:27 am |

    Mass society is a problem. It emerged with Agriculture of cereal grains giving rise to a class of peasants which were molded into industrial laborers. Clans and tribes to Kingdoms, to City States to State Nations and then Nation States. So what is occurring is intensifying levels of alienation. This process is still going on in China, where more and more peasants are being turned into factory workers. This process creates a lot of wealth for the owning class. The hope for some is that this will happen in Africa next and Africa will become a continent of factory workers.

    So Now here in the US we have de industrialization, of people who are completely alienated. The manufacturing process is designed to make people stupid and labor all day without ever learning to make anything besides their little piece. Everything is specialized.

    Small scale family farmers knew how to do a little bit of everything, but an unemployed urban/sub urban factory workers can do almost nothing. Food comes from a grocery store, Only contractors can build things, only mechanics can fix things.

    I think eventually people will be forced to “go feral” and things will sort themselves out.

    • Ted Heistman | Aug 29, 2013 at 6:32 am |

      but the point I am making is people have been rendered stupid by industrialization. Post industrialization reveals this.

    • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 29, 2013 at 8:45 am |

      Well, you and I are at least confronting the issue from the same starting point.

      In a sense, I began this thing months ago when I realized that there are at least a substantial minority, if not a plurality or even majority, of society who are enthusiastically supporting institutions, politicians and policies who are manifestly working to destroy them.

      Sadly, it took me many years to admit e that what these people are saying, depressing as it is, is true: there are people on this earth who are not fit to run their own affairs. How can I prove them wrong, if they keep insisting on their own incompetence? You have to agree with someone who calls him/herself an idiot.

      Loathe as I am to admit it, I was beginning to think that conservatives are basically right: some people should not be allowed to vote.

      As far as genocide goes, the persistent failure of almost continuous efforts to effect ethnic cleansing should be warning enough, even if your conscience could stomach the thought, to consider it a non-starter.

      Historical precedent is also against disenfranchisement initiatives. Quite apart from the moral repugnance they generate in a normal human, these also fail so consistently as to be totally off the table.

      Yet, within their own specialized realms, some of these same idiots can produce quite amazing work. They maybe great musicians, actors, woodworkers, mechanics, etc., etc., even if they haven’t got much of a sense of how institutions and policies affect their range of choices an lifestyles in general. These idiots ARE society, even if not ‘leaders’, or even capable of recognizing a real ‘leader’.

      So really the question is why our society’s leaders are so poor at martialing its energies to productive work. This, I believe, is where my train of thought intersects with yours.

      I believe your basic analysis is that our current societal units are too large. Humans have only so large a bandwidth for constructive social engagement, and attempts to force-fit society into a model of behavior alien to this inherent limitation are doomed to failure. For you, I believe, it’s not a question of whether we have the material technology, but whether the technology serves the fundamental interest of humanity.

      Kind of like my conclusion. It’s not that the manager’s project can’t be achieved, it’s a question of whether it’s worth chewing up and spitting out the individual team members to do it.

      Where I feel I may differ, though, is that I also perceive, admittedly rather dimly, a larger human project here. I think that the overmastering human drives are for novelty and variety of experience and interaction with strangers. I believe that you also feel that variety of human experience is important, but the small-community lifestyle you describe offers, you must admit, a considerably narrower range of novelty.

      I would concede and amplify many of your points. Immediately coming to mind are Jared Diamond’s observation that the average New Guinian tribesman has a wealth of experience and autonomy that makes the average urban 1st worlder look like a naive child.

      But I would also say that such a narrowness of experience of 1st world life is not inevitable, and the fact that Diamond himself had enough experience of New Guinian tribal life to recognize that is proof.

      Additionally, when reflecting on my own ancestors’ experience of being forcibly ejected from a rough but free tribal lifestyle into an even more brutal market economy, I can’t pretend I that I would like to go back. Yes, there would be freedom of a type, but it would be a lifestyle dominated by internecine warfare and death, precious little access to the cultural and artistic artefacts that make my current life worth living.

      As far away as it seems now, I think there is another way–to redefine the social contract, to make society the master of technology rather than technology the master of society.

      Your skepticism is well founded on experience, I recognize. But i also realize that history is not a perfect circle, repeating itself down to the last detail. Humans are novelty seekers. My faith is that eventually even the slowest of us will eventually catch on to the fact that we’ve been here before, and that it’s time to move on.

      • Wow man. Thanks for that.
        This kind of thoughtful discourse is why I hang around this place.
        Keep up the good work, brother:)

      • Ted Heistman | Aug 29, 2013 at 10:54 am |

        All good points. I also think that there is a Karl Popper “open society” deal that’s been going on. “open society” sounds like “liberal” you know, like “open to things” ? Like Free Speech, diversity and things like that, but mainly its comparing open societies to open thermodynamic systems as opposed to closed societies being more like a closed thermodynamic system. I would say North Korea is a good modern example of a closed society.

        So in an open society, entropy is exported. So you have a lot of waste. Some people get the best of everything, cool imports, diverse, experiences, like you say, novelty, and then the surrounding societies get the waste. Like defective products literally being dumped on the third world.

        Open societies work pretty good when you have something like an advanced city state (and you see something like this with NYC compared to upstate NY)surrounded areas that are like frontiers. But more and more there are less frontiers and we are coming to more of single system. So its interesting to see what will happen.

        • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 29, 2013 at 11:02 am |

          I’ll have to consider your points more closely.

          My sense is that it is inevitable that all the PHYSICAL frontiers on this planet will be exhausted/depleted. That’s just the nature of man, to exploit any exploitable resource.

          Humans, being social creatures, will inevitably expand their range of economic and social contacts to encompass the entire globe. It is simply unthinkable, to me, that humanity will willingly retreat from contact with others.

          They can try it, but good luck to them. Didn’t work for 17th century Ireland, didn’t work for the indigenous Americans or Australians.

          When all outlets for extenalizing social pressure become blocked off, these fundamental questions of social contract are going to become much clearer.

          Then maybe the INTERNAL frontiers will receive some attention. That space is much more vast.

          • Ted Heistman | Aug 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm |

            Yeah, I think We’re on the same page. One point though is that outcasts can have a big impact on culture though. Just look at Art and music and so forth.

  3. Ted Heistman | Aug 29, 2013 at 11:00 am |

    Maybe its like this: Novelty generatorX sorter= inequality. The sorter being an open society the novelty generator being factors that cause population growth.

  4. BuzzCoastin | Aug 29, 2013 at 10:07 pm |

    as recently as 100 years ago
    most Americans were reasonably self sufficient
    but as electric technology advanced
    self sufficiency disappeared
    when self sufficiency disappears
    people become slaves to money
    wee are legion

  5. johnsawyer | Aug 30, 2013 at 7:54 pm |

    It think it’s a straw man to use examples like “a blind narcoleptic will never become an airline pilot.” Nobody seriously trying to alert people to their potential tries to convince them of that level of impossibility. That said, maybe the advice given to people should be “You can TRY to be anything, but you also need to recognize when you can’t meet the requirements for a particular thing, or else other people will do it for you.” However, for that to work, the “other people” need to do their part to tell/do something about them when they’re not working out.

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