More on Hierarchies and Holarchies

Layered systems are supposed to create stability. However, most hierarchies in the social realm seem to create instability. Those at the top are faced with struggles to maintain stability, while those at the bottom feel disconnected and marginalized.

As a hierarchical nation, the bottom layers of American society — the homeless and impoverished — are not active participants in the running of the country. In fact, most of the layers below the very top — the middle classes — are not engaged. The grand illusion is that we are all part of the democratic process, but it is just that… an illusion. Even though people may vote, participate in local political parties, and so forth, the real decisions are being made by those at the top. The top layer of decision-making and control are the wealthy, the corporate CEOs, and the wealthy elected officials and their appointees. Even though our elected officials are supposed to represent the people, they don’t. In fact, they can’t represent us. By voting, we disenfranchise a certain portion of the population. There are always losers. And, with the way elections are run with intense negativity and aggression, the losers are always resentful, at the very least. Our whole system seems to be built on the notion of divide and conquer. Keep people fighting amongst themselves and they won’t join forces against the power-brokers. Lie to the masses. Stir up their emotions. But, never get the people to think rationally.

On the other hand, if we were to move towards holarchy, control and power are distributed. The layers are layers of participation, not layers of power and control. Voting is for consensus, not for majority rule and the resulting disenfranchisement and marginalization. Attacking others with lies and partial truths (as is the norm in during election years) is not tolerated, since such tactics do not allow people to negotiate, compromise, and, more importantly, think clearly. Hierarchies promote aggression, distrust, and self-centeredness. Holarchies promote compassion, reciprocity, and what’s good for others. Hierarchies disconnect, while holarchies connect.

For how long are people going to put up with the insanity propagated by our out-of-control political-economic system? For how long can we live in a world marked by aggression, distrust, and massive disconnection?

About Jeff Bloom

I'm a Researcher with and am on the Advisory Board of the International Bateson Institute and am a professor emeritus with the Department of Teaching & Learning, College of Education, Northern Arizona University.
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