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building community vs. our "obey or else" instinct

 
master steward
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It is easy for one person to destroy a community.  

It is almost as easy for that same person to build community.  

Building community requires a few ingredients that do not come naturally:

   - recognize that there is a difference between building community and existing within community

   - recognize that it is in your human nature to destroy community and intentionally choose to build instead of destroy

   - recognize that the most destructive element you have is the phrase "obey or else" that is woven into your being

   - recognize that small disrespects grow to large disrespects and will destroy community

   - recognize that resentments are a slow poison to community


The last one, resentments, is something that is a large topic that I will probably never fully understand.  I think it deserves a thread of its own.

The biggest one on this list is "obey or else".   You might think it is quite rare that anybody will command another person "or else", but it turns out to be extremely common.   I suspect that everybody reading this has been exposed to this.   Even more, I expect everybody reading this has done it.   Teachers, parents and bosses do it.    People in business will do it: "if you don't have that done by friday, then _________."  The problem is when it is part of community:  "if you don't ______ then I will _____."   Decisions for what is best for the community are selected by a person who has the audacity to threaten.  

I've heard the expression "that's not community" used a hundred times as part of attempting to build community.   And every time it was a person who was attempting to persuade one or more people to obey.  So I guess it boiled down to "obey or else I will try to shame you as a poor community person."    I have heard my philosophies branded as "that's not community" so many times that I have seriously contemplated writing a book about my community philosophies and calling it "Knot Community".








 
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What exactly is a "community"? Can you point to it or show a picture of it? At that, point to something that isn't an individual, or many individuals. The "group" is an imaginary thing that doesn't exist in reality, but many people talk about it as if it does. The first fundamental of clear thinking is to determine what is real and what is not; what is true and what is false. Thanks for your post by the way.
 
pollinator
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I think that there is a need in certain spaces for "obey or else" mentality within community.

Taking a lot from your reasoning, Paul, were I to set up a community, it would need to be on my terms if my capital were invested and if my livelihood were dependent on having things work out.

It would likely exist to service the permacultural enterprise on my farm, and for that reason, everything would be laid out in terms of employer/employee relations, with some necessary amount of shareholding involved as soon as others' capital, or sweat equity over time, entered into it.

I think it would need to be phrased a little easier, but even if you're calling them "Community Conduct Guidelines" or some such, a breach of the guidelines would mean a reassessment of the parties involved in the breach, first to troubleshoot the incident, to resolve any dispute and ensure that it doesn't happen again, and upon further violation, or if the incident itself is severe enough, reassessment of the suitability of the individuals.

Some people seem to think that building consensus is important. If everyone in my community can get along with my guidelines, consensus will be easy to achieve. Those that don't agree don't have to stay.

This, of course, assumes that the community that I am talking about is fair and of benefit to everyone participating in it, but that's how I would want to set it up.

So if I have channeled my "obey or else" instinct into guidelines and methodologies that ensure respectful treatment of others, fair compensation for labour, and that the permaculture farm that I wish to operate functions well as a business, why should that instinct be vilified?

It seems to me that Permies.com's publication standards are something of an "obey or else" edict, and it seems to only preserve peace and constructive discourse here. Why should it be any different applied to community outside this site?

-CK
 
paul wheaton
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This thread appears in the forum "intentional community".  So we are talking about flavors of intentional community.  Maybe it is 20 people living under one roof.  Maybe it is a dozen people sharing a piece of land.   There are lots of possibilities under the definition of intentional community.
 
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Even though Paul and I have been hanging out together for 10 years, I still balk a little when he interprets something as "obey or else." I can't help it. I'm sensitive like that.

Though I think he's right.

I agree that when someone says "that's not permaculture!" or "that's not community!" or "that's not how you practice that religion!" they are saying "you're doing it wrong." With the implied message that (a) you're stupid and (b) you must do it the "right way" or their way. So it is a form of "obey or else." At the very least, it's obey or I will tell you how wrong and stupid you are.

Most of us learned how to communicate this way. It's fairly normal. I even think it's a normal, almost knee-jerk reaction at times where the words just fall out of our mouths, or spill out onto the keyboard.

It takes a lot more care, thought, and effort to re-phrase our opinions (for I think that is usually what they are) into more respectful or useful commentary or conversations.

It's a subtlety of language that most people miss in a surprising majority of the time.

Here's a random example:
"obey or else" format:  "it's not a true or healthy community unless you have weekly meetings"
more respectful format:  "I think weekly meetings build community by giving us regular opportunities to communicate."

Basically, the "obey or else" format is a type of verbal bullying. Not cool.


 
paul wheaton
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It is true that "obey or else" is woven into most things.   Even a teacher/student thing has "or else you will not receive an A+."   I suppose I am addressing something more from the student, like "Give me the A+ or else I will scream." or "give me the A+ or else I will be very angry." or "give me the A+ or else I will tell the principal that you sexually molested me."

Control.  But more accurately, the innapropriate desire to control.  

"Vote for who I tell you to vote for or I will raise my voice and make an uncomfortable situation."

"Think the thoughts I tell you to think or I will report you for something else."

In community, it seems that people join community and get along fine and then somewhere around the 18 to 20 month mark, they change their tune.   They want everybody else in the community to embrace a change.   Obey.  If they won't embrace the change, then they say it louder, with more emphasis.   And then the anger comes.   Then words like "Can't you see?  Isn't it obvious?"  They rally for supporters and threaten expulsion (when they don't have that authority).   And then form a "union" of sorts and threaten a mutiny.   Threats, threats, threats ....  

So I kinda feel like the important stuff from this is to recognize:

  - we are all capable of this sort of inappropriate behavior.   What makes communities last is that we all choose to not do this.

  - all of the other people in our community are capable of this behavior.  What makes communities last is that we do not support this.

So I suppose there is "obey or else" that we voluntarily sign up for and is healthy:  signing up for a class, renting a plot of land, a job ...   And then there is the "obey or else" that is unhealthy.   I guess I am writing today in an attempt to get a grip on the unhealthy stuff so that community has a better change to flourish.

 
pollinator
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Obey or else is simply a term for a contract, right?

The examples presented seem to be most applicable when a change to the contract is required/desired, or with an asymmetrical contract. And that leads to a contract clause about revising the contract.

Contracts work best when both parties are happy with the contract. It is harder to predict how satisfied people are with the modification method after a period of time with possible politics and cliques developing. That being said I am a big fan of contracts, not always written. It removes a big source of angst (but for sure adds rigidity some people don't like). Personally, I prefer to have a written record both people can refer to. I have had to accept that my position after a period of time was wrong, and I have had others that I had to bring a contract up to ensure something got done. Almost without exception I think we remained better friends than we would have with one person thinking they got "taken". I know a lot of women especially don't like the rigidity and prefer a more ongoing relational aspect, so it isn't for everyone.
 
Chris Kott
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I think that makes sense. I suppose I didn't intuit that context from the first post.

I suppose it just clashed with my impressions of the idea of feudalism as community. The broad strokes behind that idea always appealed to me, though as the systems within the greater organisation would, in effect, be businesses, it makes sense to structure the social organisation likewise.

I think I do best when I can refrain from the "hard" version of that instinct, but the obey-or-else-softshoe where we exchange compliance for the ability to benefit from community is at the heart of society; I doubt we could function without it.

I think a real-life analogue to this site's publication standards is what we're talking about in terms of solution.

-CK
 
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It's a fascinating topic. I think it's great to talk about all the pitfalls you've run into. Many people romanticize about the idea of community without considering the likely risks. On a small scale, I had 2 really close friends that I got along great with... until we moved in together in college. The dynamics totally change when you share a living space with someone. Funny- one of the spats we got into was because my one friend would always leave his bedroom light on when he went out at night, so I'd shut it off. Eventually he got really pissed and told me not to touch his light again. I'm sure many people have similar stories.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs has tons of research on community and facilitation methods going back to the 60's: https://www.ica-usa.org/top-training.html
Unfortunately most of the records are in paper format and stored in a giant basement in Chicago, but they're in the process of digitally archiving everything. Anyways, it's all really fascinating and I think it's worth training some of the community leaders in facilitation techniques to ensure the community remains healthy long-term.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Obey or else is simply a term for a contract, right?  


I think it's simple, and it's not at the same time.  Even if negotiating or changing a rule (or contract) IS allowed, I think there are more respectful ways to lobby for that change than insisting something just is or isn't done in an "obey or else" vein.

I think this is more about a communication style, than any clarity in rules or contracts.

I'm reminded of a business consultant story I heard of, where a large department store chain had employees stealing from the register. The bigwigs spent all kinds of money evaluating what should be added to the employee handbook, what kind of training was needed, what kind of policies needed enacting. What should be put in writing to prevent this from happening. Then, they paid big money to a famous consultant who recommended* that all they needed was "no stealing allowed. (period)." It might have gone as far as to say "if you steal, you will be fired." Boom. Simple and to the point without a load of massaging and manipulating with words no one reads any way.

*Note that this was a recommendation that was asked for by the company. It's FAR different than one business owner telling the department store owner(s) "that's not how you run a business" (or replace this with a homesteader or community leader or forum owner telling a similar person they're running things wrong). "That's not business ownership" is akin to some of the other examples in this thread. I think if a business consultant phrased things in that manner, they would be fired.

Circling back to the mention of contracts, apart from conversation style, I think it becomes a complicated space where elegantly simple concepts in the agreement can be more useful than superfluous words and policies.

 
Nathan Strumfeld
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Does Wheaton Labs have some sort of living document of rules or principals?
It seems there are a bunch of things that are not negotiable or up for discussion. For example: tobacco or drug use. And then other things that are open to change based on community input.

For the non-negotiable things, is it helpful to have everything documented? Sort of a constitution? I'm wondering if there's less emotion if you can point to the document and it no longer just seems like your opinion, but something that's been thoroughly considered and important enough to set in stone.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Nathan Strumfeld wrote:Does Wheaton Labs have some sort of living document of rules or principals?
It seems there are a bunch of things that are not negotiable or up for discussion. For example: tobacco or drug use. And then other things that are open to change based on community input.

For the non-negotiable things, is it helpful to have everything documented? Sort of a constitution? I'm wondering if there's less emotion if you can point to the document and it no longer just seems like your opinion, but something that's been thoroughly considered and important enough to set in stone.


It's primarily in the podcasts, with loads more detailed in writing here on the forums. See the wheaton labs link in my signature for a summary thread of MANY more threads where we've documented publicly what wheaton labs is about. We do ask that community members listen to a majority of the podcasts before living here. I think the podcasts go into far more depth and breadth on different aspects and the reasons behind them than any document could.

 
Nathan Strumfeld
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Very cool! I hadn't seen this summary post before.
I'd love to come visit Wheaton Labs some day. I spent a summer in White Fish many years ago and loved it.
 
pollinator
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Building community amongst permaculturists is rather akin to herding cats, isn’t it?

I think Paul’s done a good job of building an online community here, despite the random folks who cannot or will not comply with the credo “be nice.” And it sounds like he’s been able to do so at Wheaton Labs too.

The thing is, not everyone is well-suited to be in a stable, sane community. Some are addicted to drama. Some need to feed a sense of power or constantly battle their own sense of self-doubt. And those human weaknesses make community challenging.

And amongst permaculturists, there’s also the element of being strongly independent - many are rural and not much inclined to be joiners. But they like to read, write, exchange ideas. And that independent trait makes us an awful lot like cats - we might like the company of people, but more on our terms. 😸

So, good job, Paul. You have for the most part successfully herded cats!

And watch this video. Does this ring true?


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk7yqlTMvp8
 
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I resonate with this topic and feel its very important. One thing I think that needs to be discussed is leadership, and how its defined. The 'obey or else' is a form of hierarchy, and it can be argued that this same form of hierarchy is found in nature. So at the end of the day, hierarchy is a very permie thing. But, I feel the idea of community sometimes gets hit in the hamstring without having a defined leadership.

Back to the original post and personally seeing it happen firsthand, it's borderline shocking how a single person can completely undermine community over a weekend....something which was previously firing beautifully on all cylinders.
 
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Michael Adams wrote:So at the end of the day, hierarchy is a very permie thing.



I'm not convinced of that.

 
Tj Jefferson
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I don't know what precipitated this, but I am guessing it would have been avoided if the person on the other end had honestly listened to the podcasts. I could be wrong.

I don't have any possible chance of being an ant, but just reading the materials on here I think I have a pretty solid idea of how Paul runs his operation and his mouth. I don't think I would be very shocked at anything I would find. I think I could easily work with Paul and Jocelyn, based on the content on here. BUT, if I were to invest a significant amount of time, I would invest a whole lot more. That is the contract, listen to the @#$@ podcasts.

The amendment procedure for changing Paul's mind appears to be
1) make an argument for the change
2) get some experts to support your argument
3) appeal to Erica with an amicus curae if you can
4) shut up and color, if it fails you can lord it over him

I admit this is a tough style, but it is not unique. There is an inherent hierarchy/power structure in place. Paul and Jocelyn own the stuff. If you want some of their stuff you get a chance to be more autonomous when you have shown your mettle. This is the same thing in the military, the police, most companies... Hierarchies are not "permie" I don't think, they manifest because it is a fancy word for differently distributed, and only very small groups can exist without one for very long in practice. I think the psychological literature suggests under about 14 people (with decision-making) unless a great deal of preconditions are met. I have a large population of Mennonites around me, and they are egalitarian but VERY hierarchical. The elders say you move -you freaking move. I think the two things are conflated, egalitarian and non-hierarchical. Not everyone gets to be an elder, and they have numerous splits in their history. That's human nature.  

Honestly I am very intrigued with their society. They can leave, but with a heavy social cost (like the penalty clause in a contract basically). I know several of them. Really nice people.

If only we had a hierarchy of competence understanding. When one is an apprentice, you think you are doing the crap jobs, and you are, but that is because it is really hard to understand how bad things can get until you have to clean up after the disasters. One major reason why I think we will move back to an apprenticeship model rather than a credential-based model.

Anyhow Paul and Jocelyn, carry on. I dig it. I've had my run ins with people, even on permies, and that's life. Let's grow some stuff. Keep kicking ass!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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In addition to wheaton labs, there is also the online community here at permies.com - both under Paul's leadership.

There is also the American permaculture community, and the international permaculture community. And there are permaculture groups or guilds in different regions as well.

I think Paul is applying his thoughts about this to all of these community groups...and more. Family groups. Reading book groups. Any type of gathering of people (i.e., community) where differences of opinion arise.



 
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This thread is silly. Anytime people gather in any situation there are "act like this or else" rules and it has to be that way. It's basic common sense.
 
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I think the assumption that hierarchy or a command-obey structure must exist is entirely limiting. More than that, it is dangerous. Before we as humans could externalize our conception of power-over relationships to nature and dominate it, we first had to conceptualize and enact the domination of human by human.

If we ever wish to solve the ecological, social, and economic crises of our time, we have to address the root cause, which is domination of human by human. If we refuse to deal with this root, we will always be primed to repeat the mistake of externalizing our social domination into ecological domination.

There are many alternatives to "obey or else." There are many degrees of consensus, voting-style decision making processes, etc. And all can include the caveat that if you don't agree with the majority, you can opt out and not participate, but not hinder the larger group. There is also the concept of a social contract, where all agree to both the agreed upon guidelines and punishments, so there is no person commanding or obeying, but a community agreeing to the contract and willfully enforcing it.

Obviously a lot of this depends on the type of decisions being made, but to resign ourselves to "obey or else" as either necessary or inherent to human nature is reductionist. It may be fair to say our current social conditioning encourages such behavior. But to say such social conditioning cannot change, and this is innate to humans, is conjecture rather than an established fact. The possibility exists absolutely, but I'm not convinced that the scale is naturally tilted any particular way, absent whatever social conditions one finds themselves in.
 
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Mark Roberts wrote:Anytime people gather in any situation there are "act like this or else" rules and it has to be that way. It's basic common sense.



This is true, Mark...
...and even holds true for a much broader context than just communities. It is impossible to live exempt from "obey or else", for everyone here has personally experienced the "or else" in their own lives.

That's how we learn.
 
Mark Roberts
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George Bastion wrote:
There are many alternatives to "obey or else."



True. but none of them are practical, pragmatic or effective in real world situations.
Those ideas may sound great in speech or written down but they don't work when you gather real people together.  
If you have 100 people and they all desire the exact same things and act the exact same way then your ideas will work just fine.
Unfortunately ideas like yours don't work when you toss in random variables.


George Bastion wrote:
There are many alternatives to "obey or else."



You have a guest over to your house for a week. This guest daily wears muddy shoes into the house, makes noise until 3am and leaves the fridge open every time he is done using it. Are you not going to apply the "stop it or else" principle to the situation? Will you stick to your idea of not dominating another human? Of course not - common sense. You will remove him from your house because he didn't obey.

Obey or else is the only model that works in the real world.


 
Tyler Ludens
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Agreeing to a shared set of behaviors (rules) is not the same as "obey or else," in my opinion and experience.  In my family there's nobody saying obey or else.  We talk things out and generally the person with the best idea or who feels the most strongly about something gets their way.  I would say as a general rule unless it is harmful to themselves or others, the weakest members of the family (two people with serious brain problems) get their way the most often because they are the least capable of adjusting to things that are contrary to their desires.  Fortunately recently nobody has wanted to do anything really stupid and any hinting around about future stupid behavior gets a discouraging discussion about why it's a bad idea.

 
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While I find that most relationships and/or communities will have some deal breakers, like violence and such, the rest is up for debate. Good relationships and communities will have more discussion, bad ones more manipulation. I know few people (or animals) that merely obey. Children rarely obey, they are taught and cajoled, and they want to please us, but that's different. I prefer that my friends and family understand why certain behaviors are unacceptable to me, not that they merely do as I say.
 
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There is a YouTube channel called "Grandpa Kitchen" in which Grandpa ,an Indian man in his 70's says "Loving, Sharing,Caring" as he introduces his cooking show in his fields over a fire.He and his community not only cook  for and feed 120 children a day but take care of them. I think Grandpa's summation of how a community works is Great! Any community that lacks these commitments of Loving,Sharing,Caring will fail.
 
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Been following this for sometime now, and yup, it has turned into a Rant (apologies in advance).
Or, feel free to scroll right on by, I'm OK with that.

What I haven't seen thus far in the discussion (may have missed it), is that ANY and ALL community is a consequence of geography and environment.  As well, there is a difference between the operations of a Publicly owned Community, and a Privately owned Community.  Two very different things.

In general, from a historical perspective, "Community" evolves from within a geographical environment and the resources available.  All things are finite, thus there are "rules" of observation to protect and preserve the resources and the community using these resources.  Now, whether the resources be water availability, land accessibility, internet service, capital expenses repair and upkeep, taxes, etc.,.  

Outsiders who don't know the inner workings of a community, and then impose their particular opinion of "how things should be" based only on their lived, or theorized, set of experiences/expectations from a different geographical area, I believe, are making a huge affront to said Community.  From town to town, and beyond, local "ways" and sayings vary, and sometimes greatly.  This evolution, albeit unperceived at times, is ALWAYS connected to its geographical  environment.

As the expression goes:  "When in Rome, do as the Romans".  "Ethnology is the study of people and cultures, to explore cultural phenomena where the "researcher/visitor" observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study.  

Simple examples of practical guidelines (rules) in a Private Homestead Community:  

A homestead on a well cannot afford a City person taking a 45 minute shower every day, or an "all animals must be free" attitude, with every available gate left wide open.  Both of these attitudes put the property owner and livestock at risk by, 1) squandering a precious resource, and 2) potential injury/liability.  So, guidelines/rules need to be understood and observed in relation to the environment where they were developed.  For an "Outsider" to parachute in, with the assumption their ideals are superior to Local Ways, is an outdated attitude and an Affront.  

Then there is the Hissy Fit/Temper Tantrum; an undeniable demonstration of Emotional Immaturity.  One on my rules is; "absolutely no aggression towards property, animal, or person will be tolerated, and is subject to immediate expulsion".  I have gotten lip for that rule, and a bunch of "ya buts", my reaction is "look me straight in the face,... where on my forehead do you see the words DOOR MAT", or "no you can't use my chicken as a foot ball because you're pissed".  A person who is not in control of their emotions is, at the very least, an "accident" waiting to happen.

As a property owner/homesteader have seen all sorts come though here; some good, responsible, respectful, and aware of how long it takes to build from scratch, and conduct themselves accordingly.  Then there have been some bad, who have NO idea what it took in sweat equity, irresponsible, with attitude, and very disrespectful.  The later people are not helpful to the end game, they are a distraction I have no time for.  There are always those who want to upset the cart just because,... they have a long hard road ahead of them.  As for me, I Walk my Talk, and Talk my Walk, in other words;  I do as I say, and say as I do.

I believe, a strong Community is made up of individuals who have a Holistic Cultivation of Wisdom and Respect, fundamental Knowledge of things passed to conscientiously provide for the future, and a keen awareness of being in the moment (I guess it's now called Mindfulness).  That's what Permaculture is all about after all.  I recall a fellow PDC student expressing that Bill Mollison wasn't very Spiritual, while I on the other hand, found Bill to be profoundly Spiritual, rough around the edges, but a man of Great Wisdom and extensive Knowledge.

I am admittedly, Queen K, Sage Homestead Matriarch, and Conscientious Stewardess of this little parcel of Land.  I have standards of operation, necessary to the Zen and successful management of this little corner entrusted to me.

Anyways, that's my 2 cents worth.

Cheers!  K
 
George Bastion
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True. but none of them are practical, pragmatic or effective in real world situations.
Those ideas may sound great in speech or written down but they don't work when you gather real people together.  
If you have 100 people and they all desire the exact same things and act the exact same way then your ideas will work just fine.
Unfortunately ideas like yours don't work when you toss in random variables.

You have a guest over to your house for a week. This guest daily wears muddy shoes into the house, makes noise until 3am and leaves the fridge open every time he is done using it. Are you not going to apply the "stop it or else" principle to the situation? Will you stick to your idea of not dominating another human? Of course not - common sense. You will remove him from your house because he didn't obey.

Obey or else is the only model that works in the real world.



The only model that works? That seems like a very strong statement. I'm never inclined to agree that there is any one right way to anything. That's the path to dogma and fundamentalism. Is it a model? Sure. Can it work in small situations where people have the freedom to opt out of that dynamic at any time, maybe. Should such a dynamic be a guiding principle of a society that seeks Fair Share for the earth, humans, and the creatures we share life with? Probably not. A domineering attitude does not lend itself well to cooperation.

There are plenty of example of groups and societies who do not employ "obey or else" models in the real world. On smaller scales, there are various consensus based groups, households, friend groups, and all sorts of often informal groups that rarely employ this dynamic. On a medium scale, plenty of intentional communities, co-ops, and others utilize different models. On a large scale, there are entire societies, past and present, that do not adhere to an "obey or else" model. For example, in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria has constructed a bottom-up, democratic model that functions at the scale of millions. Communes, essentially collections of families, democratically decide issues affecting their area, and nominate re-callable delegates to represent their will at higher levels of organization for issues affecting multiple communes. Above that level, is the city, then the region, then the entire Federation. Everyone has a direct say in all issues affecting them, with the ability to recall anyone not carrying their wishes to "higher" levels. Further, the society is governed by a social contract, not an executive leader or even group of leaders with the "obey or else" power. Everything flows from the bottom up, and millions participate in this structure.

You also have the Athenian democracy in ancient Greece, where all male citizens directly make decisions affecting the community, with administrators (not policy makers) chosen by random lot.

Many indigenous communities employed structures that involved the entire community and distributed power along horizontal lines for hundreds of years.

Are any of these societies perfect? Certainly not. But the truth is, there are many, many anthropological, historical, and contemporary examples of structures that do not employ this dynamic as a primary, or even prevalent social force.

Also I would not classify many, many groups in history that have employed "obey or else" as effective, pragmatic, or practical. Many of these groups and societies, if not all, were only those things for a small group of people, while the rest suffered.

As for the hypothetical you raises, I don't like dealing with hypotheticals because they typically spiral into the increasingly ridiculous. For example, if I say I would have a direct conversation with this person about why they do these things, try to understand their perspective, and let them know how what they are doing is affecting the house and everyone else's well being, you can just say that this person isn't interested in having that conversation. Is it possible that someone who is a guest in my home, who I have a relationship with enough to share my home, and who presumably has evolved as a social ape just like me completely disregards the effects of their actions on everyone else, and at no point cools down enough to have a rational discussion about it? Yes, that's possible. But I would argue that 9 times out of 10, the first step would not need to be "obey or else" and in a majority of cases, it wouldn't have to be used at all.
 
Stuart Sparber
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You may be right about "rants"and philosophies! In my experience one can and must break down to the essence like plants need water,nourishment,air and warmth.Loving ,Sharing, Caring in my humble opinion of 68 yrs.of life best expresses the essence of community, no matter where this community may be! A Strong commitment on the part of it's members is essential and the ability to school by caring example is primal.This even holds for Gorillas.Now we are not Gorillas and some very difficult people come our way but if these essences are not respected and no desire exists to be loving,sharing, caring (and believing  in some communities) then that person should be asked to butt-out!  A good community must also have a "high" purpose such as great respect for the earth etc. Only those generative should rule or lead it.
 
pollinator
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"do as I say or else" sounds like a personal individual confrontation. I'm sure it is sometimes. But not always, and maybe not even usually.

Please consider if that's the same as:
"Your actions seem to be causing serious problems. I'm the one responsible here that has to deal with problems. We are not set up to incorporate actions like yours. If you continue to cause problems you will soon not be here. Starting right now."  To me, that sounds more like somebody has a job to do.

And again. It is accepted wisdom that what the captain of a ship says, goes. The obvious issue is the speed and coordination of action required of the whole group to survive. And the absence of what is necessary to "talk" and "form consensus" or "work it out".  That is, time.

As somebody above said, environment shapes the community. Social organization changes over time, depending on a lot of things. On a national scale, one period/place may have dictators, another may have democracies, another may have business cartels, another may have theocracies. Humans obviously are not confined to any one certain way.

Native Americans, I believe, installed a certain group which were sometimes called Dog Soldiers to keep the tribe in order, cohesive and healthy. Amish have a similar group they call Deacons. These people and many similar are vested with authority. In the course of exercising and maintaining authority (which is part of their responsibility) they must make and execute decisions regarding and potentially severely impacting other people. Is this wrong? Evil? Avoidable?

When everybody always thinks the same and agrees on all serious matters, authority does little and can do it lightly. Think: All white lower middle class suburb, all the wives at home, all the men working local factories for good pay. When diversity of any kind enters the group things happen and Authority's job becomes a real job, challenging and uncertain with all sorts of pains involved.  But... Diversity is Good. Right?

Maybe there are different kinds of diversity and homogeneity. Philosophy, religion, morality, skin color, education level, pay grade, favorite guru, political party... etc. etc.

In the end, community seems to need trust and agreement to strive for a common goal or good. Something very important to every individual must be held in common. As Paul stated, one person, or a very small group, can destroy a community. So it makes sense to me that a community needs "white blood cells" if it's to survive long enough to reproduce, sorta speak.


Regards,
Rufus
 
pollinator
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I have been learning recently about the biodynamic philosophies, of particular interest to this discussion, I think, is their notion of the importance of boundaries. In that worldview, as I am coming to understand it, self-organized and self-perpetuating systems exist within a specific boundary and that fact is an essential aspect of those systems. From this they have developed ideas such as burning the skins of pests you wish to deter and applying a skin of clay or straw or cedar boughs to every compost pile.

It seems like this is an important part of this discussion. The 'skin' of a community is not 'obey-or-else', it is the organizing boundary within which the self-perpetuating organism of the community is able to exist. This 'skin' might be a list of rules, a decision making tool kit, a religious belief, or any other nonpersonal boundary force that acts to contain the entity that is the community. The 'obey-or-else' stuff is something other than this skin, it is something that arises within the skin. If we can ignore the idea that any of these 'skin' properties can be viewed through the 'obey-or-else' prism then I think there can be a more productive discussion about the pitfalls of the obey or else mindset without getting into a meta discussion about the nature of human community.

This coming from a career loaner who has always selected the 'or else' option, so take it with grains of whatever spices you need
 
George Bastion
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In the case of command-obey structures and the "obey or else" social dynamic, appeals to common sense, accepted wisdom, or human nature presume a static, immutable, and objective truth that, frankly, has not been verified through anthropology or reason, nor validated through some homogeneous, uniform reality. Reality is not static, immutable, or homogeneous. There is no one way, no social laws of human nature on par with our understanding of physics or chemistry, and beware anyone who tells you differently. Sociologists, philosophers, and mystics have been trying to distill down the subjective, mind-blowing diversity of human experience into universals for millennia to no avail.

Which is, of course, at the heart of the issue. Command obey demands that people, well, obey. Fall into line. Bend to a singular will that is artificially enforced. By definition, it homogenizes, simplifies, consolidates, and centralizes.

That does not describe the society I want, nor the community I want, nor a dynamic I would be willing to operate under. Like "weeds" poking up through the concrete sidewalk, diverse life, in all it's fecundity, will shake off any attempt to tame it to some narrow conception of what is and what must be. As part of that life, a part of humanity will always resist the "obey or else" mantra. Countless individuals, groups, movements, and societies have proven that over our time on this planet, despite the overwhelming majority of resources and power wielded by command obey structures attempting to squash that sentiment through force, or worse, hedonistic hypnotism.

But I fear I'm starting to ramble and digress a bit, and I've more than said my piece on the subject. Time to shuffle off and let someone else throw in their take.
   
 
pollinator
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paul wheaton wrote:   It is easy for one person to destroy a community.  

......   Decisions for what is best for the community are selected by a person who has the audacity to threaten.  



Just $0.02 USD's worth......   "Community" will cover a broad spectrum from strong community to weak community.  It probably is true that one person can destroy a *weak* community, but it took immense effort globally to destroy many indigenous communities and whether or not they can be considered 'destroyed' is in question and also varying.  Corporations, towns, tribes, groups of chimpanzees, wolf packs and other socially cohesive units appear all to have some version of 'obey or else'.  For me, it's more about what the maximum number of people would consider the best structure under which to live.  One clue comes from Ben Franklin's observation that  'No European who has tasted savage life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.'  Embedded within that statement appears to be the trading of one version of 'obey or else' for another.....the tribal version being more tolerable than that of Euro-American society.  Also, and I'm not sure on the following, but I don't get the feeling that 'audacity to threaten' was necessarily the driving factor in many of those tribes---rather something that grew more organically out of a directive towards greatest realizable harmony between tribal members and who was going to lead with an eye towards that goal.  Nevertheless, 'obey or be ostracized' was in effect,.....all operating more or less with tribal stability as the goal.  So just wondering if there is general manual or rule set out there that has modeled the instructions for community more on the social interactions within the 'better' tribes, however one wishes to define 'better'....?...
 
Stuart Sparber
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Hello out there! Not one word of what I said was responded to.Are you so indoctrinated with this world's way of thinking? Please consider that respect for others in this community is ALWAYS centered around loving, caring, sharing of common "goods" and "good goals"not based on egoism! Thanks😊
 
Rufus Laggren
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Hi Stuart

I think the discussion has lots of emphatic and enthusiastic  positions  and nobody figured out how to fit your observation (one I think most of us agree with)  into the action of discussion before it all  got swept downstream. Sorta speak. <g> This one's been pretty fast moving so far.


Cheers,
Rufusf
 
Rufus Laggren
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"Command-obey" sounds a little more neutral way to put it, which is probably helpful.

But I think it misses a very important aspect of a community: There needs to be order because order facilitates a nice smooth advance of life and provides some security and generally makes it possible to just get on with it. I have seen several comments and opinions on more or less respectable media to the effect that the reason people put up with dictators is because they put a stop  to anarchy which is harder to live with then demagoguery.

How about "Direct-follow through"?

I'm not saying "Command-obey" isn't out there making life abhorrent at times. Just that it might not be the source but rather the perversion of something important.  The order that allows "normal" life to proceed.


Rufus
 
Stacy Witscher
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Personally, I'm a fan of anarchy.

Doing the "right" thing when they isn't any other real option isn't meaningful.

I guess if you are looking at it as the "or else", as "or else" my feeling will be hurt, then, yes, there is always an "or else" instinct, but I don't think that what most people mean with that statement. I could be wrong.

I guess for a lot of things, I view it in terms of what it costs someone. Most people obey general traffic rules because they make sense, and not doing so would make life difficult. It doesn't cost them much, if anything. But as things become more vague, or open to interpretation, or it inconveniences them, there is less compliance because it costs them time, money, thought, etc.

 
Greg Mamishian
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Rufus Laggren wrote:When everybody always thinks the same and agrees on all serious matters, authority does little and can do it lightly.



I agree with your statement, Rufus... although from a different perspective.

There is little need for government authority, or any other external coersive control for that matter, for people who govern themselves by shared moral values. Those values transcend race, class, gender, or any other politically created identity... but rather are a common ideal of which anyone can enjoy its blessings should they aspire to emulate it.

The size and nature of government today is a monument built by the failure of people to govern themselves.
 
Greg Mamishian
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Doing the "right" thing when they isn't any other real option isn't meaningful.



Even more than not meaningful... it's impossible, for there is always a real option, along with plenty of fake ones. It's a challenge of life to discern the gold from the lead.
 
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