Tai Chi of Civilization

Tai Chi of Civilization

It is not unusual for a person to encounter hurdles or barriers in social processes – for example, to obtain financial support to do a post-secondary program.  I drink decaffeinated coffee. Sometimes when I order coffee, perhaps due to lack of product demand I will receive a cup of coffee that is barely above room temperature.  This situation likewise extends from some kind of social process – e.g. to get the order out although it is not quite what I ordered. In this blog, I refer to these common obstacles as “resistance.”  In order to get something done that is dependent on social processes, it is usually necessary to develop processes that are structural in nature – and then to implement controls. Sometimes these processes and controls are the result of a deliberate plan or initiative; perhaps rather frequently, they exist as side-effects of attempts and efforts involving the interaction of people and systems.  I describe these structural implements as forms of “conveyance.” A sensitive and observant individual might therefore be able to detect aspects of resistance and conveyance in socio-structural implements.

Consider a pool of funds intended to help the poor.  Right at the outset, we can assume that these funds will not actually end poverty.  If anybody has experience being able to spend resources to end poverty, by all means please correct me.  The keywords here are “intended” and “help.” The social process set up to administer the program might be thought of a way to help the poor.  From a slightly different perspective, the processes are meant to regulate and limit the flow of funds. No fancy system of administration is needed to prevent people from taking money from a bag of cash.  The system is in place precisely to halt the free-flow of resources. How can this be done? Well, it is possible to impose eligibility criteria, income audits, reference requirements, essentially as many hoops as necessary.  If somebody says a particular hoop is unfair, this doesn’t alter the fact that funds are limited; so it becomes necessary to install another hoop. The system is meant to contain all sorts of resistance; yet it is also true that funds must get distributed presumably through points of conveyance.

Resistance and conveyance are important aspects of our time.  My perspective here is that the world is incapacitated. I am reluctant to use the term “overpopulated” – since there is actually a lot of physical room for bodies willing to move about.  No, the planet has room for more – maybe not all at the same locations, of course. There is a lack of resources including government financial support. People talk about the injustice of having huge disparities between the rich and poor.  What would happen if people actually gained lots of disposable income? They would spend money. They would have lots of children. Give this some thought. Everyone gets a house, two cars, four kids, four meals a day, possibly a cottage, new tablet and cellphone each year, and money to spare to buy whatever else they want.  This scheme uses lots of energy and raw materials. I doubt that the planet can last long without the disparity in place. We encounter resistance and conveyance in socio-structural implements – because in discord there is harmony. The relative success of a person is greatly affected by their ability to exploit the dynamics between resistance and conveyance.

Resistance is evident in the presence of instrumentalism and disablement.  Everyone has experienced disablement although they might not use the term. When we have little or no control over outcomes – when we can do nothing except stare at ourselves struggling to make it out of the tunnel – we are experiencing a type of disability.  We literally have no “ability” to control the situation. Instrumentalism is when people are exploited or used as a means to an end. For example, a psychopath might kill somebody not so much because they have any strong feelings about that person personally but because they enjoy the rush from killing.  Killing is merely a means to an end. I have nothing against chicken and hogs. But yes I might play with them if given the chance and eat them the next day. I suspect that many companies don’t genuinely care about their clients. They care about their client’s money. I know it is a peculiar connection for me to make – that instrumentalism and disablement are closely associated.  The important point is that when instrumentalism and disablement exist, in all likelihood certain mechanisms are in place for the purpose of conveyance while other structures dismay people with enormous amounts of resistance.

When looking for a job, many people lug around all sorts of self-identity issues.  When there is no response to an application or if an interview doesn’t lead to a job, they find fault in themselves.  It is important to recognize that there might simply be a great deal of resistance. Odd as it might seem, at times there are also systems in place for the purpose of conveyance – for example, to fill available slots within a certain period of time.  An excellent candidate might not get the desired job. The terrible candidate might get lucky. I am not describing a lottery exactly. People make the mistake of applying for a job rather than to fill the specified criteria. I guess it depends on whether the story is about the candidate or the job opening.  As I mentioned earlier, it is necessary to identify what aspects of this social intersection might be met with resistance – and those aspects can contribute to conveyance. In a fast-moving creek, even a lifeless leaf can travel great distances. I imagine it takes some skill to land in the right body of water.  Or it might be dumb luck. Or it might be “the force.”

I sometimes notice inanimate objects outside – kind of moving around as if they were alive.  The convective currents in the wind toss about the debris. A monarch butterfly almost resembles a dead leaf even while fluttering to Mexico.  We are carried by social winds also – flowing through time and space. We might blame things on Providence – e.g. the spirit of hat-tricks and miracles.  Human life is actually fairly improbable, come to think of it, much like a string of hat-tricks. Consider the mathematics or geometry confronting human existence right here and now – as resources become depleted, species disappear, and ecosystems buckle under the weight of humankind.  “What a beautiful, violent, and ultimately pointless story,” I am left thinking to myself. But actually the story doesn’t have to end. It just has to radically change. As the sun rises in the morning, I have no doubt that some kind “resistance” will rise up to ensure those changes occur.  We are already feeling it now with precarious employment, automation, high living costs, and high levels of disparity between the rich and poor. We don’t need infinity stones or even special programs to quell the raging beast.

Link: Tai Chi of Civilization