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Society and Person

art 450

Introduction

Since the Paleolithic era, each stage of human evolution has been conditioned by the dominance of a different type of institution, which has determined the way people perceive their relationships and the society they can establish. Understanding the type of institutions that have shaped our society, makes easier to understand the reasons of our problems and the way we are.

 

In the upcoming lines we will try to expose, in a nonacademic way, the link between institutions and individuals. Through this connection we expect to achieve a better understanding about the causes of the current crisis, which we do not consider it to be an isolated thing, but part of a more global and systemic crisis which began towards the end of the nineteen-century, as we will try to expose on the following lines.

But before we start talking about persons and its societies, is important for us to state what we mean by Person and its difference with a Human being. Being Human means to belong to one specie, the scientific name of which is “Homo Sapiens”; part of the “Hominidae” family. Being a Person is a peculiarity of human beings that transcends its own biological or physical definition because it’s a feature that does not finish in the outer part of the human skin.

 

One last remark. This article exposes the reasons and causes of the current crisis, but it does not provided any solution, neither offers a proposal for future policies against the crisis. We will discuss these aspects in a separate paper.

 

art 4780 – The Person

A person is the expression of an Inner Culture, an Outer Culture and the net of social relations in which the person is involved.

This sentence means that everybody has a consciousness of himself, which is the result of the society in which that person was born and it’s composed of everything that this person has learned plus all that has been forgotten. This knowledge from the past, that has shaped the way the person looks at the present, is what we call Inner Culture.
At the same time, we all live in a society made ​​up of lots of different cultural universes, which we interact in our daily lives and that we use as a framework for planning the future. This knowledge and knowhow of the present moment is what helps a person to plan ahead the near and far away future. That’s what we call Outer Culture.
Besides, we cannot consider “Person” someone who has never been affected by the presence of other people; like his relatives, his children, colleagues, enemies, friends, parents, couples, etc. Every relationship that we establish with another person also defines part of what we are. A person immune to relations with other human beings, someone who feels nothing, may be human, but it cannot be considered a person. So feelings and bonds with other beings are part of what defines us as Person.

So, the way somebody acts and behaves depends a lot on his past, his expectations and his social network. We will return to these points later on.

 

File96021- The Group

We are social beings because of our biology. This biological feature impels us to be in touch with other humans. The way we establish contact with other humans is transmitting and receiving information to and from other humans. That is to say; setting up a communication.

 

The communication established with other human beings it’s what turns humans into persons, because throughout this act people may realize that there is something inside them and inside some beings, which transcends their physical appearance. Being conscious of its own self allows people to identify other selves, to compare and to feel that “something”  -that has no physical appearance- exists and that “something” may modify the other person behavior. Which matters a lot when you you are in front of somebody and want to know what it is that the other one is going to do next.

 

The information that the act of communication between people conveys is made out of two different components: a rational part and an emotional part. When a person really understands these two parts, this person has the minimum information to decide whether to trust or run away from the other person. In a wild and primitive world that was very important. Nobody wants to be somebody else lunch but to be able to rely on another one had a great advantage; you may survive longer. When there is confidence between two persons they can protect themselves in a better way, work together, sleep protected and adopt altruistic behaviors. Is part of human nature the need to seek this whole knowledge (rational plus emotional) because people sense that staying together they will have more chances to survive. To live alone is very hard.

When knowledge allows people to trust each other, they begin to join and work together. Nothing inside a group can function without the previous trustfulness that arises from the knowledge of each other. Get ride of knowledge between people and confidence will vanish. Doesn’t matter if it’s a modern or primitive society, without trust people will become suspicious and distrust everything, and society will have to resort to force or other means of pressure to avoid the group disintegration. So, is trust what creates society, not all the other way around.  And trust is triggered by emotions.

 

250px-Leonhard_Kern_Menschenfresserin2 – The Institution and the Group

Every social group must satisfy certain basic needs because people have to eat, play, rest, heal, love, etc. When there is more then one person, the satisfaction of most of those needs is achieved either through self-organization or creating an organized system.

Self-organization requires an in-depth knowledge about the other people in the group. The requirement for an organized system is abstract-thought capability because is necessary to create out of the blue an organized system, a set of rules that before only existed in peoples mind; i.e. an institution. An institution is a rule, use, law or tradition that people agree upon or accept. Once an institution is created it will deal and intermediate between people. Examples of institutions are taxation system, marriage, the language, traditions, monarchy, the constitutions, markets, laws, etc.

 

Each institution is responsible for a task or action inside group’s life, and those affected by this task must delegate the knowledge to handle the task to the institution. Since any institution intermediates between individuals -because it takes care of some of their relations-, the institutions partly determines the behavior within the group and the knowledge people can access.

 

250px-Lakhovsky_Conversation3- Knowledge inside the Group

Interpersonal relationships play a key role in the overall development of an individual within a group. Through these relations the individual gets an important social feedback that reinforces his/her adaptation in the group. While interacting and communicating with people, the person obtains knowledge about the other persons and about himself, and thanks to this knowledge the person can fine-tune its behavior inside the group and be conscious of the links he is establishing with people.

 

When an institution intermediates between people, it acts like a black-box that gets some inputs from persons, process the information, and outputs some guidelines for the people to follow. So, in the natural process of interacting and communicating that people establish to know each other, now there is a filter that blurs the emotional knowledge that people may acquire and process the rational knowledge of each person involved in the social link. Because of the presence of an institution in between  people, there is a change in the feedback that a person will receive from the others. People do not get any more transparent information in the rational or the emotional channels. Between you and me now there is an institution. Thus it becomes more difficult for the people linked by relationships to obtain a good understanding of each other.

 

For example, lets suppose that every morning you have to take care of your family and wake them up. When you do this every morning, you learn their reactions and the way you have to act in order to wake up each person. You know if somebody needs a bit more sleep, if somebody is already awake, if somebody had a stormy night or somebody sleeps like an angel. You may found as well, how it changes your mood when somebody is really grumpy, or another one looks like is glued to the bed-sheets or when somebody wakes up with a smile and gives you a kiss. Interacting with people gives you knowledge about people and about yourself. And you can use this knowledge to create bonds and shape up your relations and the way you are.

 

Now we will set up the following institution:

everybody has to wake up at seven o’clock in the morning” and we will give alarm clocks to the people for them to wake up sharp on time.

Now you have an institution, you don’t have to wake up early, neither you have to go through all the family waking them up. You got more spare time to invest in other things or in doing nothing, that’s wonderful! But you lose all that knowledge about the others and about yourself that every morning you acquired. Now, when you meet somebody in the morning and the other one maybe is in a bad mood, you do not know why. You don’t share this part of that person’s life any more.

So,  you have more spare time but you are a bit more lonely and isolated inside the group. No big deal when there is only a simple institution in between people but the more institutions that people creates and the more complex they are, the more layers will be between two persons connected by a need.

 

Same happens in a bigger group like modern society. Institutionalizing an aspect of life release people from some social tasks but it makes more difficult for people to understand how and why the other people act in a peculiar way, and the bonds of trust suffer a lot for this lack of knowledge. At the same time, the institution becomes a key element in society because it gives people the opportunity to do more things; they have more spare time so they may improve the quality of life. Beside, when an institution is part of a group, it helps to define the group. I.e. because of an institution such as a king, a constitution, a tradition, a language, a currency, a law, a religion etc. people may be tagged as belonging to a particular group.

 

220px-Shanghaid034 -Knowledge without Emotions

The institutionalization of a society increases its complexity and its potential. Releasing people from some social tasks allows people to take on more ambitious and complex objectives, but also increases the dehumanization inside the society. People deprived of a good knowledge of their peers, have a tendency to mistrust each other. Loneliness and fear appears and the group is at risk because the bonds that keep the group tight begin to loosen. Without trust any relationship breaks down and society is threatened.

 

To counteract these dangers, from the institutions new institutions were created. Their goal was to offset people’s biological needs to trust someone channeling those needs to the institutions themselves (a king, a state, a team, a company, a ideology). So people didn’t have to trust the people in their group, they had to put their faith in the King, or The Constitution, or the Prime Minister or the Sacred Books, whatever institution but the person.

 

When the link between people still exists but is weak, because there is no enough knowledge about the other ones, then the function of the institution was to reinforce it: e.g. marriage, heir, academic qualifications, standards of education, fraternities, clubs, etc. In those cases full confidence comes out of a combination of direct knowledge plus institutional knowledge. E.g. to know whether or not somebody knows a lot about a subject, you either have to know the person or you may know that he has a PhD in this area. To know whether or not somebody is still in love with somebody else, you either have to know the person or check out if they are still married, etc.
While replacing or reinforcing links institutions keep unite the group but institutions are not human beings. The knowledge that they have about people is plain data; just numbers, not emotions or feelings. Therefore they cannot pretend to replace human relationships. They can create or reinforce relations; yes! and they do an awesome job at it, but they can’t replace them. A marriage is a proof of mutual love, but nobody will bet everything to this “love” without ever knowing the couple. Besides institutions always end up prioritizing their own interests and working in a rational and consistent manner regardless of the emotional diversity of people.
For instance: In a bus to offer your seat to the elderly is a standard of courtesy. These kind of good manners creates bonds of gratitude and altruism in the group and makes life easier for the elderly. But this tradition has to complement or reinforce the natural impulse to help when the group is so big that you do not really know the other people; it cannot become the reason for the actions. If the only reason to give up a seat to an elder is that the rule requires us to do so, then we are facing a serious social problem because it means that we are reifying people. We will be dealing with plain uniform objects instead of individual unique people, and nobody wants to be treated like a “plain uniform object”.

 

5- Types of institutions.

Institutions can be grouped in different levels according to their characteristics

354px-Homo_antecessor_female– Level 0 Institutions (from now on L-0i). Subjective and Non-Formalized Institutions.

Its most significant institution is the language. The language is not only a vehicle for communication, it’s also a mechanism of conception through which we construct the world around us. Thanks to a language we communicate stories with our peers and try to reach an agreement about what is canonical in our culture and how to deal with the exceptions. Language allows us to preserve a culture and makes it easier to pass it on to other societies. So, basically the language allows people to create and transmit stories, stories that let people to define themselves, to explain their thoughts, to objectify the perception of reality, to share this reality and to justify the unknown. All this is awesome. As a downside, language, even for the ones that really master it, can never offer such a direct and transparent knowledge about the other one as the natural communication does. That is to say, to verbalize, “I kiss you” it will never be like kissing you.q

 

Language is not as good as the real thing, but the capacity to talk helps a lot in keeping up the strength of the bonds in a group. Thanks to a tool like the language people may have knowledge of themselves. They may be aware of what they can and cannot do, what fears or virtues do they have, what do they like or dislike, etc. By talking people come to understand each other and when this happens it’s easier to behave considering the other people in the group. There is no need to establish any rule or law when people already know what the other ones will do.

 

With level 0 institutions, the distance between people and reality, including the other people’s mind, is quite small, because there are very few institutions intermediating their relations. People can sense nature, group and other persons, therefore there is a strong sense of community and of belonging to the nature, which usually gives rise to animistic conceptions of nature and the unknown. When there are almost no rules people and nature seems to be closer. In other words, the less institutions you need, the closer to nature and people usually you will get.
In a group society where the predominant institutions are those of level 0, people with more experience and wisdom usually become institutions themselves. There are no other vessels of knowledge so what they say is accepted as correct.

This is the first stage of any culture and is characteristic of hunter-gatherer societies, clans, families, friends, etc. any group where people know other people’s needs and because of this knowledge they could change their behavior, without any rule imposing them to do so.

 

220px-Botswana_063– Level 1 Institutions (from now on L-1i). Objective and Formalized Institutions.

The Institution is defined and explained. With these words we mean that when there is to much people in a group, one can not act and plan ahead solely on the assumption that everyone knows very well all the other group members. When a group reaches a certain number of members, its members have to start creating rules and the group has to enable a space for communication where people can debate those rules, explain them, formalize its uses and deal with the problems.

In a Level 0 Institutions’ society, the knowledge about the others persons was always obtained through interpersonal relationships but now part of the knowledge is obtained inside this new public space and in this new sphere of communication, public and private begins to split. Communication cannot be as straightforward because now there are two different ways to communicate each one with its own peculiarities.

 

Once you create public rules, someone has to keep track of them and someone has to in-force and apply them, thus in the public sphere new characters began to appear that may have direct control over the communications in the public space and over the rules created.
When the people in a group formalize its particular way of thinking creating public institutions, it becomes easier for them to establish relationships with other groups. The other groups may not like their rules or traditions but at least they know them. Knowing the other one helps to define your particular ways of seeing the world and allows the groups to get closer to the similar ones or away from the different ones. It also allows tradition to become law, i,e., anything that before was done just because it had always been done this way, now it can be explained, justified and somebody can ensure its compliance. Similarly, experience turns into technology. The technical expertise that anyone could have in any area, when it is structured and formalized, it becomes easier to explain, and once explained it can be shared and improved.

 

In a L-1i society the possibility to do or not do something no longer depends exclusively in the knowledge of the people, now there are rules and therefore, generally, it’s at least as important to know the rules as it is to know the people in the group. And this weakens mutual trust, because is easier to know the rules than the persons. Why somebody has to waste his/her time talking and getting to know the people? You learn the rules and the ones that control the rules and you are done! Instrumental knowledge gets  reinforced over emotional knowledge.

When the rule is formalized, society begins to differentiate, as the social position is no longer determined only by experience and capabilities, but also by the person’s relation with the institutions. People and institutions validated each other. The social position gives prestige to the person and the person tries to force reconnaissance to his/her institution. For example: in a group with L-0 institutions, a brave and wise person could become the leader. That is to say, someone is a leader because of his/her personal capabilities. When the group is under level 1 institutions, this same person will have to go through a ritual of passage linked with a leadership institution, like the royalty, before he is accepted as a leader; a King. He is still a brave and wise person, but the fact of being a King (institutional position) is as important as his qualities.

 

We may found this kind of institutions in societies such as agricultural tribal societies, early trade organizations, early cities, etc. In these societies stories are not any more spread throughout the people, instead some institutions begins to control them. L-1i gives cohesion to cultures where oral tradition is still predominant and creates shamanic figures and heroes to deal with the unknown and the myths.

220px-Aramaic_Inscriptures_in_Sarnath– Level 2 institutions (from now on L-2i). Physical and Timeless Institutions.

Its most significant institution is the scripture. Scripture is not just the invention of a technique of annotation and decryption. To write man had to, in a manner of speaking, “isolate thought” making it an object, a visual representation; a pictogram. Once the representation as been made, the person has before him a part of his/her own thinking. From this point, a second operation it’s possible, to start splitting the pictogram between the visual representation of the object and the object it designates; the concept. Therefore the symbol does not have to mimic the object. Sign and meaning can be distinguished thus it’s possible to change and improve symbols without changing its meanings. At the end of this process the graphical system becomes a script made out of words or letters.

 

300px-Christ_with_beardWith letters humans can not only fix and share concepts writing them down, they also have a tool for generating signs with different meanings. Anybody -institutions included- potentially can create meanings for the symbols that the members of the society use in a public or private communication. Whoever controls the creation of those pairs (symbol-meaning) has power over the communications inside the community therefore has power over the stories and the culture of this community.

In the oral tradition cultures, such as the ones we’ve seen, to use institutions like the language, or the myths, or some rituals, in order to manage the group increase the distance between the people because you don’t have a direct transparent contact, but face-to-face contact between people is still essential. Whoever wants to know the rules and the group traditions, has to be with the members of the group or with people related with the group, because it’s the very same people, the ones who pass on and explain their institutions and the ones that are the institutions.

 

Coming back to the earlier example of the kiss, is not the same to kiss Alex than to explain to Alex what you feel when kissing her, but the distance increases further when instead of explaining “your kiss”, you write it down for Alex -or anyone- to read it whenever he/she wants.

 

Upon fixing an institution on a physical medium, for example in a book, there is no need anymore to have a person attached to the institution, in order to explain it to somebody else who wants to learn it or apply the institution somewhere else. In a L-0i and L-1i societies, key persons where the pillars of the society because they were the holders of the ancient knowledge; objects were tools to help people to understand the old knowledge. In a L-2i society the object that vessels the knowledge becomes the pillar of the society and people become tools that aid to understand this knowledge. Rational objective knowledge becomes paramount and people have to create human sensitive institutions to counterbalance the power of institutions.

 

This is an enormous change. We move from a subjective, active and dynamic knowledge that a person in a society of L-1i has, to a static knowledge -engraved somewhere- that can be transported and shared but not altered. Now it’s not the person who validates the institution but the institution the one that validates the importance of the individual, and since the institution is valuable for its function people related with the institution must emphasized the importance of this function for the good of the group. The objects and the institutional function not the person and his/her stories is what begins to matter in society. The social up-rise of a person in society is therefore linked to the importance of the institutions where he/she belongs or feels committed. There is no need anymore for myths or famous heroes or list of names or genealogies to justify an institution; the institution justifies itself by its role among the other institutions. Myths and heroes are either incorporated into the institution or simply forgotten.

 

If the importance of an institution is determined by the importance of its role, when the institution delegates some of its own functions in an office or other institution, it has to enhance the importance of this new institution and their subordination to the main institution. For example: the steward of the King is important because the King is very important and the King is important because it’s the head of the institution of monarchy, which in turn is important because it represents the country. Each institution attempts to increase its power by creating new hierarchical networks of subordinate institutions that infiltrate the group as if they were roots of the main institution. The more roots an institution has and the stronger those roots are, the more cohesive the substrate of the society will be and the more immovable the main institution will be … but also the more resources the institution will need and the faster it will consume.

 

The model of a society where the value of person lays in a title, granted by the people because of skills, knowledge or expertise, is being replaced by a model of society where the value of people lays in the position that people holds inside large institutional hierarchies. In those hierarchies there is a peak that retains all the power and a base that, more or less voluntarily, subordinates themselves to that power. Institutions become very dogmatic and began to influence each other weaving links between them. For instance, monarchical institutions rely on political and religious institutions to reinforce their importance against persons heirs of the oral tradition that refuse to lose their ancient inherited powers. When the public service it’s not the main goal but the service to institution itself, abuse of power and corruption become systemic.

Map of the Northern Celestial Hemisphere’’ (1515), executed by Albrecht Durer and Johannes StabiusAnother crucial aspect of a L-2i society is that once you really understand that a text -which is just a human creation- is made out of signs or icons with a specific meaning, it’s easy to follow up that any sign or icon created may have a specific meaning as well. That is to say, that the reality around us -because was created- may be made out of signs. The world is seen not only as something given, but also as a creation that can be deciphered, as if it was a divine scripting. Everything can be interpretable and it is possible to assign arbitrary meanings to symbols and analyzes the results to guess what should be the correct meaning and forecast its purpose. The educated ones, or the ones favored by the gods, can grasp the meaning of the symbols and determine what is right and what it’s wrong, as well as what kind of action or behavior is closer to gods’ or nature will.

 

During this shifting from man to objects, from subjective to objective, objects become so important that man is seen as a simple aid. When a creation has, or pretends to have, an embedded meaning the person is a mere channel throughout the one the gods can embed a special meaning to an object. The written words become a sacred book and the book becomes an object of worship and veneration. Creation is due to god’s will, and the man that produces those creations it’s just – at the most- an enlightened man, good enough to grasp or channel through himself god’s will, and often those men are considered just lucky tools with no real relation with the brilliant meaning of his/her creation. In fact as long as nobody knows God’s reasons anybody can become God’s hammer, sword, pencil, hands, brain, voice. The displacement in the assessment of the person towards to the assessment of the objects is further reinforced.

 

L-2 institutions are not linked to any particular person neither depend upon any person or group in order to be transmitted and applied. Thus a L-2i society may exceed the limits of the tribe, assimilate other tribes and manage empires.

 

control_rooms_telefonica1_L– Level 3 institutions (from now on L-3i). Meta-institutions.

Its most significant institution is the market. Institutions enhance society growth, and a growing society needs more institutions. When this virtuous loop starts, soon the society has more institutions that people can handle by themselves. So, in the same way that institutions were created to manage relations between people, meta-institutions were created to manage relations between institutions. Example of it are: markets for derivative contracts, customs arrangements, Doha agreements, Constitutions or Bill of Rights, IMF, UN, Foreign Exchange Markets, EU, etc.

 

Meta-institutions can be very powerful so to ensure its independence, meta-institutions have been designed in a specific way that makes them very difficult to be controlled. No one wants a meta-institution, which controls other important institutions, to end up in the hands of a person, or a small gang of people. Problem is that the ultimate guarantee of control and ethical performance of an institution is the person. Once you let Meta-institutions free of any control, the assurance that institution’s goal is the welfare of the people gets lost, because nobody can account it and reinforce it. Without any control, institutions care about nothing but their own interests (market, state, party, business, religion, etc) and people’s needs become a secondary goal.

 

There is no conspiracy whatsoever in this way of working. Institutions have to be powerful enough to survive as they have to be useful tools to manage society. But without human control the amount of power and resources required to survive is up to the same own Institution, and this is never enough. Therefore, disappears the illusion of an institutional performance with humanitarian values ​​in the society, as the interest of the institutions is its own interest or its parents Meta-institution interests.
Meta-institutions dehumanize so deeply its society and grow so quickly that at one point society simply stops functioning. There are not enough resources to be plunder from the enormous meta-institutional structure neither trust between citizens to push society towards another direction, or to make more sacrifices to satisfy the institutional needs. When meta-institutions lead the system to a crisis -like popular upraises, wars, chaos, financial cracks, genocide, etc.- we stumble upon another drawback of meta-institutions, the ease at which some messianic figures can access the power and control the institutional system

 

image from http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/ext/275.htmIn such a terrible crisis all of the democratic mechanism of control and accountability become outdated and people leave off any hope of a fair and democratic government as long as somebody appears and claims he/she/them can fix the situation. Sometimes a good leader may emerge, a benevolent figure who effectively can lead the situation and dismiss the meta-institutions that are not working and causing all the problems, but there are the same possibilities, or even more, that the emerging figure turns out to be a dictatorship or tyrant who concentrate all the power in his hands with the excuse of saving the population from the crisis or the enemies or whatever ‘evil’ pops up in his/her/their minds.

E.g. and simplifying: Roosevelt was able to intervene USA economy because of the 29 crash that plunged the system. Hitler was able to manipulate the German population because the nation was crashed and demoralized. Lenin was heard and followed because the Russian system was in misery. Gandhi succeeded because the colonial institutions were sinking and didn’t have enough support from the metropolis.

 

The same applies to smallest crisis. One cannot interfere in a financial market, until it sinks and threatens to sink the whole system. One cannot alter the sovereignty of an extremely corrupted country until it runs into a crisis and threaten the other countries. One cannot modify the law to suit its needs unless its way to big to fall or unless the people is already so full of rage that are about to make a revolution. And one can not change a political party or force it to behave ‘nicely’ until people organize themselves and overtake it rendering the party useless -then the party will quickly change and be very ‘nice’ … for a while.

 

pic26 – Institutions = tales

L-3 institutions are not something solely related to socio-economy. An institution -any institution- is a tale, a narrative. Doesn’t matter if it’s expressed as a language, a myth, a law, a fiscal agreement or a piece of programming code; in its very deep conception any institution is just a kind of algorithm, shaped as a discourse, embedded in the process of communication between at least two conscious beings from an specific culture.

 

The last sentence is very important because the heart of any culture is a canonical agreement, a master discourse replete with canonical life narratives and combinable formal constituents from which its members can construct their own life narratives. We -considered as individuals- become variations of our own culture’s canonical forms. Thus, like the institutions, a person is a discourse.

 

In the end, we become what we “tell” and what we have been told about our lives, we are the result of a communication process between two conscious beings, even when we are alone we talk to ourselves in a language and with the manners of a culture. Because institutions are the very first steps in the molding of the culture’s canonical agreement -without them we cannot even communicate-, institutions shape everything in a culture, from the way people are to the way they think and the things they create. And, one important thing that people creates are: institutions.

 

Due to this feedback process, once a new institutional level is achieved and becomes canonical, everything in a society has to be or will be changed and new possibilities and problems will arise because the people and the institutions will be different from former generations. Thus it’s very difficult from an institutional level to understand another institutional level because they have different discourses for different people.

 

Pompeiii.Europa.iFrescoLets see how each institutional level adds new possibilities and refers to different aspects and how the gap between people increases as well. We will use the kiss example that we used before:

 

– Proto-Institutions: Kissing is a natural act. Part of a game. It transmits information in a straightforward and pleasant way unmediated by any institution. The human being is fully integrated with its nature and nothing intermediates. There is no culture.

– L-0i: To Explain to somebody what a kiss is and to tell him/her that you want to kiss him/her involves using level 0 institutions. You need a language. It is not the same as doing it, but still it requires both persons to be present, sort of near by, and during the communication process a good deal of knowledge about the other one is acquired. Between the two human beings there is a culture used to interpret the information transmitted

– L-1i: The tradition of making zero, one, two or three kisses when you are introduced to another person and the particular way those kisses have to be done requires an environment with Level 1 institutions. There is an objective law or tradition to be learned. A kiss is not only something that you do or explain but something that you use with someone.

To know what its uses are and what you have to do when you are introduced to another person it doesn’t require the other person to be present, but someone has to explain to you these tradition and provide you knowledge about how people in that group will kiss in this situation (nose, cheeks, lips, etc). So to speak, you have to be in contact with somebody who is part of the group or at least, knows the group traditions. Without a person the object kiss doesn’t exist. Between the two human beings there is a culture ruled by objective institutions, which control the stories.

– L-2i: To write a poem about how you kiss someone and the way you feel it, involves using level 2 institutions because it requires at least the ability to write and read. The object kiss, now ripped from any particular human support, needs no specific person to exist and the text with the poem it’s not attached to any specific time or space. As long as the support lasts anyone can read it and picture an unknown person kissing a stranger. All the information is in the object, there is no need of contact with the humans involved for the poem to be alive. The two human beings now are part of a physical object. But the text still provides lots of insights about the emotions of people in a society.

– L-3i. “Kiss” is a noun or a verb. As a substantive it can be the subject of a phrase. As a verb it can be transitive or intransitive, etc. So when you use the word “kiss” in a sentence, its correct use will depend on the grammar, not the person or the group or the object. It doesn’t mean that grammar or linguistics are institutions, the institutions is the Academy or the organization that applies the rule. (The same happens with maths; VAT is a number or a percentage whose existence affects many aspects of daily life in society, but that doesn’t mean that Math is a third level institution, is the Tax Agency the third level Institution).

Now we have no human beings, nos time or space neither an object that holds knowledge about those human beings, we have meta-institutions; rules to control rules.

At each level the distance and the ignorance between the parts linked inside the society increases and the aspects and possibilities are different. A L-Oi society will not understand all the rules related with an introductory kiss in an L-1i society, and an L-1i society, -a society without scripting techniques- can’t understand a poem about kissing a lady. And so on. Each level is its own cultural universe and each level means a bigger detachment between people. When a society is build over level 3 institutions, the institutional detachment from the society is absolute, therefore, no matter who or how people feel, what matters are the rules; the institutions: markets, political parties, state institutions, big organization, trade agreements, tax systems, committees, social theories, laws, etc

 

Today’s society is based on third level institutions; a network of hierarchically structured and interconnected meta-institutions or institutions with no connection with the real world; people and nature.

And the person discourse isn’t much better. As we said, institutions and persons are both sides of the same coin. Thus a person’s tale has become a huge mash up of markets, IDs, states, laws, organizations, companies, financial organizations, title, trade agreements, etc. The more meta-institutions a human being needs in his personality, the more addicted of meta-institutions will be and the further away he will stay from people and nature.

 

gent_icons_parlen_diferent7 – Future Institutions

An isolated society is a paradigm or discourse in itself and therefore from a Level X institutions society is impossible to determine how the institutions of a higher level could be. It’s almost impossible to forecast the function of a need that has not yet appeared.

Now, from our Level 3 Institutions, we can imagine in the ancient Egypt the scene of a Pharaoh firing an old slave because the taxes that he pays as a contribution to the social security system, according to the agreement reached between the Building Pyramids Union and the Ministry of Industry and Pyramids, are too expensive compare with the costs of a young foreign slave. But we know that this is a ridiculous scene that could never happen in the old Egypt. In the Egypt of the Pharaohs the link between worker and master and the needs of their society were so different that it was impossible for them to forecast the trade unions and the relations between trade unions, workers, political parties and the government in a twentieth century society. Likewise, in our L-3i society it is impossible to imagine the future level 4 Institutions because those Institutions will emerge out of some needs that still do not exist.
However, society is not a closed system in equilibrium. When a society is alive it’s a dynamic system that evolves in a non-homogeneous way. It has inputs from other systems and goes through internal transformation processes that generate new information. If the institutions can not deal with these external or internal new flows of information, the information will begin to spread around the system in an uncontrolled manner, polluting the normal functioning of the institutions and demanding an over-stress from the institutions directly affected by the uncontrolled information

 

Lets picture another scene to make it more clear. There is a country A, with a level 2 institutional system, where in order to knit clothes you must join the Guild of Weavers and clothes are expensive because they are handmade. There is a B country where level 3 Institutions are becoming the default standard and factories are massively producing cheap fabrics. If knowledge from country B flows to country A it will cause a pre-crisis in the Guild of Weavers because it jeopardize its meaning and utility. The guild can devote time and resources to make pressure on the governing institutions to cut all inputs from country B. The Guild will try to ban any textile product from country B and it will dedicate its resources to manage outbreaks of this problem within its own country. But to do all this it will have to divert, or take out, these resources from other tasks that the institution use to do before and neglecting obligations, and diverting resources, unless the institution is extremely wealthy will lead to a crisis. If the situation continues for a long period of time, even the wealthiest institution will collapse. The Guild of Weavers can not become a modern factory and it cannot block forever the new way of working in the new style of capitalism. The longer it takes for the institution to collapse, the more resources it will need to absorb and the more inefficient its task in the society will it be.

 

dextera deiThe free information (i.e. not processed by the institutions) that may causes the crisis does not need to be exogenous. As we said, it can be generated within the system itself. For example, long before the Catholic Reformation, the church could no longer work as it used to do. Their structure had become very inefficient and many of the behaviors and practices of some members were far away from the founding principles of Christianity. This did not cause a decrease in people’s faith. The need was more alive then ever. It was just a different need and it couldn’t be fulfilled or taken in by the catholic institution. The church who had always been there; wasn’t there anymore. What people did was to adopt new forms of popular Christianity and open up a more personal relations with religion via worship of saints, devotion to the Virgin, pilgrimages, acts of penance, visiting shrines, purchasing and selling of relics, etc. The church forced the people to create their own institutions and to bypass the papacy institution in order to feel a religious experience as deep as it use to be. The organization of the Catholic hierarchy reacted late and this bypass sowed the seeds of new institutions that created the next great crisis in the catholic institutions.
New institutions always arise from information managed by people off the institutional control.

 

The institutional system may redirect inputs and flows of new information to its own institutional gateways and controls it. But in a liminal situation, when some institutions are already on the edge and cannot deal with this surplus of information unless they get more resources or power, which is impossible or dangerous in a liminal period, the information may escape the system. When this happens, the flow of new information reaches the people and, if there is a need for it, they will create higher-level institutions to deal with this new information that helps them to fulfill those new needs.

In a liminal period, there are always institutions in crisis long before the average institutions are in crisis, so from a level X society, the pre-crisis and the free flows of information allows us to sense and forecast how the institutions of the X +1 level will be.

 

To sum it up. From a Level X society, we cannot forecast the institutions of a Level X+1 Society. But, in a pre-crisis situation there are institutions that cannot deal with all flows of information that use to be under its control. If there are people with new needs using this raw information, it means that inside these people there are the seeds of the next level institutions. Through what this people do and the needs that they try to fulfill, we may have clues about how next level institutions will be.

 

080519-seu-del-tribunal-constitucional-a-madrid– Level 4 institutions. (from now on L-4i) Agent institutions.

Our crisis began in the late nineteenth century and now we are entering its liminal phase. We keep injecting resources to meta-institutions such as markets, financial systems, nation states, political parties, etc. because they are the guarantee of the system itself, but their operational effectiveness is increasingly poor and absorbs more an more resources, which shows the depletion of the current institutional level. It is appropriate therefore to wonder about the next institutional level. While, as we said, it’s perhaps too early to determine with absolute certainty how the new institutions will be, the fact that there are so many meta-institutions in crisis, so much free information spreading around the society and so much people using this knowledge off the institutional system, allows us to venture some of the L-4i potential features.

 

So far, the most noticeable of those new features is that L-4is are extremely complex; so complex that they are in the edge of being uncontrollable. But at the same time, L-4 institutions are much more transparent that any other institution. By transparent we mean that when they intermediate in the interpersonal relationships they do it without filtering or hiding relevant knowledge about the persons involved in the communication process, quite the opposite, they even try to amplify the knowledge of the other one. This happens because the L-4i success lies not in the control and management of information per se, but in its ability to maximize the knowledge of the people involved in a relation. They help the parts involved in the communication process to self-organize in such a way that the institution created thanks to the links established, will add more than the sum of its parts because the only way to counterbalance the instrumental power of meta-institution is with the enormous power of connected people’s emotions.

 

In a meta-institutions environment, the person is part of the institution and has to fade-in inside the system to help the institution to achieve its goals. For instance, the State is important, not the person, the laws are important not the person, the companies are important not the person, the markets are important not the person and so on. A relevant person with personal initiatives that do not match the institution’s goals is nothing but a stone in the gears of the institution, so he either will be crushed or expelled. It’s the success of the institution -because its function is supposed to be extremely important-, what determines the success of the person. For the institution’s success, a person may even sacrifice his life.

 

twitter-logoA L-4i environment is quite the contrary, is the success of the person what determines the success of the institution. It’s in order to ensure that a person can connect with people amplifying their capabilities and being his/her own agent inside the society, that L-4is have its own meaning and purpose.

So far we have conceded power and knowledge to the institutions in order to handle hierarchically any aspect of our national group or society, now the success of the institution depends on how they cross connect people according to their affinities, needs or interests, regardless who or where they are so that knowledge is not lost and can be self-managed.

 

For instance: Person A has to say something to person B:

– In a L-0i environment, person A goes to person B and talks.

– In a L-1i environment person A may send somebody with the message to talk to person B.

– In a L-2i environment person A may write down the message and give it to the person B or send somebody with the message to person B.

– In a L-3i environment, person A may write a letter and with the appropriate stamps/taxes and address/area-code to go to the mail office or a private company in its working hours leave there the letter and they will deliver the letter to a location for person B to come and pick it up.

-In a L-4i environment, person A may send an e-mail to person B. Doesn’t matter where they are.

 

In each environment the knowledge that person A has to have of “person’s B moment” is smaller and the distance between both can be bigger. Besides in each level the institution (language, hierarchy, writing, mail service, e-mail) is much more powerful, requires less participation of the individual and allows or solves different problems. When it comes to say something a letter is not better than a chat, neither an e-mail is better than to write down a message, is just different.

But the big difference between a L-3i and a L-4i it’s that L-3i tries to take over the task and tries to  control everything leaving the person off, almost as a nuisance or resource. The Royal Mail, UPS, DHL, Correos, La Poste, etc. are more important that a person; which is just a number. On the other hand L-4i tries to be transparent and make it easier for both persons to connect regardless of where they are or who they are. Part of its goal is to transfer as much emotions as possible in order to make the connection as much intense as possible.

Fourth level institutions want to be artificial extensions of people. This means they have to be enough complex to be integrated in a persons’ life without being a burden and have to be able to get contaminated due to the person’s life in order to learn, update and react in a ‘human’ way. Today the concepts “complexity & stability” with “dynamism & contamination” are somehow contradictory, but it is possible that in the near future these institutions find a way to encapsulate or create a sort of membrane that allows certain random pollution of the code without affecting the hard-core structure. Basically, the new institutions should be like intelligent prostheses that learn and adapt to the person to extend their humanity and to connect people according to their needs not their meta-institutions needs.

These new institutions are emerging in win-win or triple-win business relations, in the social networks, in the barter exchange activities networks, within the e-money environments, in the crow funding sites, with the use of intelligent agents in websites, inside the online groups or forums, within some hacker communities, etc. In other words,  in any environment that provides tools for the people to build relations based on mutual trust and mutual needs bypassing most of the meta-institutions instrumental way of working and creating a co-working environment where the emotional knowledge of people can match instrumental knowledge of institutions.

 

– Level 4. Benefits-Hazards

Are Level 4 institutions the solution to the problems of our society?

No. They are still institutions and therefore they should be used with caution. L-4is are no better than those of another level, just different and it’s up to us to use them in the right context. To use a WhatsApp group to talk over dinner is as stupid as to use the martial law within a family. Each Institutional level has a its utility and its risks, thus there is no such a thing as a better institution.

images-1Level 4 Institutions have two obvious risks:

 

– First. Because of its enormous complexity is virtually impossible for one person to have all the knowledge of a L-4i. Even in its most simplest and reductionist form a L-4i always requires a meta-institution to manage part of the knowledge needed to be created, therefore there is always a part of L-4i with no real human control. For example: a stock exchange market -a typical L-3i- can be very complicate, but you can reduce it to an easy form that one person can replicate somewhere else and let it grow. A group of WhatsApp – a typical L-4i-, even in its more reduced form, it’s impossible for one person to have all the knowledge of hardware, software, telecommunications, law, languages, etc. necessary to replicate that institution. So no single person can create from scratch the simplest group of WhatsApp. Inevitably this person will have to rely on the knowledge provided by meta-institutions, which by definition cannot be controlled. It’s possible therefore that a L-4i ends up acquiring unanticipated behaviors, self-protective and/or replicate impossible to determine a priori and potentially very dangerous to humans. This does not mean that institutions can rise up against humans as if they were Terminators, the more appropriate analogy would be that of a computer virus, a meme or a chain of events that blows up the system, as in the famous 70s USA blackouts where each switch or fuse that was closed to fix a local problem overloaded the network creating a cascading failure that at the end shut down the whole electrical network.

 

african-immigrants_998807c The second risk is more immediate and practical. Institutions have enabled us to greatly enhance our logical-rational management capacities, making the tasks involved in managing a group easier and therefore allowing the persons in a society the possibility to assume new and more complex tasks. Now L-4is enable us to do the same, but with far fewer institutions. Everyday we need fewer people and fewer resources to make everything go on. That sounds wonderful but the problem is that our society is based largely on the paid-work that we get from the institutional structure. It is hard to conceive a society without paid jobs, contracts, agreements and fees.
E.g. let’s compare the amount of resources and money that were necessary in 1913, for a company located in Barcelona that wanted to send a presentation film to another company in New York city, with today costs. It’s just a fictional example but a hundred years ago it was required a minimum of: a film crew, lighting equipment, labs, postal services, land and sea transport, officials of all types, tax officers and manufacturers and suppliers for the needed equipment in the entire chain. Now everything has been reduced to a mobile phone and an Internet connection. Everything we’ve saved on resources and money, were people doing a paid job. Certainly many jobs have simply changed but many more have disappeared.

Fewer and fewer people are needed to manage services and to produce goods in our society, but every day our population grows and more people want/need money because we have set up a society where you obtain what you can pay. The formula is the same all around the world: Job –> Money –> Quality of life & no Money = no Quality of life. So everybody knows that only through a well-paid job will get enough money to achieve a good quality of live in our society. Each day there are more and more people that precise money, which can only be obtained from a paid job, in a society that each day needs less and less people getting a paid job.

Worse, all around the world is becoming easier and cheaper to produce or to offer goods and services… except for most of the institutions. We need fewer institutions, but they cannot disappear and they are increasingly demanding more money and resources because its operating and financing costs are higher than the expected when they were created. What is causing its crisis wasn’t planned ahead when they were created, -otherwise they wouldn’t be in such a critical situation- so they demand more resources from society and people increases the pressure to look for ways to get rid of them. But, when we remove or slim down the institutions we are eliminating the bulk of the jobs that give viability to the system and therefore we are leaving a society suitable only for persons who can live from the system (officials and civil servants), those who can not live off the system but neither work (poor and homeless), those who do not need the system to work (the rich) and an huge unprotected and impoverished ex-middle class.

The institutional welfare society is not extending its benefits to more people but it’s collapsing and wiping out the middle class, the heart of the current system in Europe.

 

social-network8 – Back to the initial definition of person.

Every person is at least the sum of her Inner Culture, her Outer Culture and the net of social relations in which she participates.
The memory of her past is rendered from the society in which the person was born and educated. Because society is its institutions, the Inner Culture of a person, the way she understands herself, is the institutions of her past.

Whatever a person wishes to be or to do, is determined by the possibilities that the society offers or denies and the possibilities a persona has in a society are determined by the society institutions. A person’s Outer Culture i.e. the way she projects herself, is consequence of her present day institutions.

We can not forget that since humans began to live in groups, they cast their way of being and thinking with tales that were told in a particular language, within a given culture in a very specific space-time. People think, that is to say, people is, what the institutions allow/push them to be, because they both are inherent part of the system. People and institutions form a whole; they are two sides of the same coin. There are no institutions without people and obviously there are no people without institutions. Consequently, the institutional level contaminates -for better or for worse- everything in society: the way we thinking, the science, the concept of family, art, economics, religion, patriotism, etc.

 

We are what we’ve created and we’ve created what we are; as such concepts like world-view, self-awareness, ethics and values ​​are constrained by the type and the amount of institutions a person is. And because institutions are merely discourses, in a way we may considerer each person the result of a unique discourse, a story of a very specific society; like an institution.
But, thanks goodness, we are not as slaves or chained to the institutions as the above text may suggest. There is a third component in the person’s definition; the net of relations in which a person participates. The institutional determinism, collides lots of times with human genetics and with all those none-institutional ways to communicate and to obtain knowledge that we -as humans- have.

cloning9 – (Inner Culture + Outer Culture) x The Net.

We said at the beginning that humans, when they communicate, they might obtain rational and emotional information from other humans. This information is processed and gives humans a knowledge about the other ones and about themselves. Thanks to this knowledge humans could establish links and became persons because they realize that there was something more beyond the physical appearance.

After this we saw how we let the institutions deal with our instrumental intelligence and how they use it to amplify our instrumental capacities and manage a bigger, more complex society. But we weren’t able to do the same with the knowledge that we get out of the emotional information. Thus the relationship with people was more and more one-sided. More and more rational information, fewer and fewer emotional information, and it came to a point were it was really difficult to get any real knowledge about people at all because all the knowledge that people could get was instrumental our culture became instrumental and we were at the edge to became plain institutions.

The break away from institutional determinism happens thanks to the third main component that defines us; relationships. When we kiss, when we laugh, smile or get hungry, when we give or receive a hug a caress or sex, with the feelings and emotions that someone produce in us, with a hunch and with an intuition, with the games and the rivalry, while eating and drinking in company, when we sing or listen, with art, when we walk in a beautiful or unspoiled place or when we practice sports, when we feel ourselves observing a nice plant or animal, when we feel the ocean, the rain or the wind, etc. when we connect and really sense another person or ourselves we regain some freedom. Apparently we may feel more attached or concern, but we have more knowledge to decide and break away from institutional determinism.

The direct emotional connection with another person or with ourselves, without institutions filtering it, allows us to focus in our peers or ourselves. A person plus the social role and a scenario is different that the person without the social role and no scenario. We see each other in a different way, in a non-institutional way, with more information, therefore we learn from each other different thinks; more emotional and intuitive, less rational. Thanks to this emotional or intuitive knowledge that we acquire with this emotional bond we can see us and the institutional framework with a wider perspective.

 

For instance: imagine a scene with First World War soldiers in the trenches fighting without mercy. Rational information from the institutions tells the soldiers who is the enemy: a flag, a dress, some colored strips in the jacket, very easy objects to inform the soldiers who is the enemy; the danger. But something happens (like Christmas time) and they come to sing or play together and get closer enough to obtain emotional information. When this happens they may escape their institutional determinism and see the war differently because they can’t considerer anymore the other person an enemy just because of a flag or a dress. Reality is much more complex. Now there is much more information to be use before to decide whether or not the other one is an enemy.

The same may happen with the members of a jury if they hear a speech touchy enough to make them empathize with the accused. Then they may consider that the law does not apply to this case. Or a business situation where some tough negotiators have spent months fighting for a contract and then suddenly, because of a joke, everybody begins to laugh and the situation smooth down, they quickly achieve an agreement and settled it down with a handshake. Or much more often, a person so distressed and blocked because of his problems goes out for a walk and just because she is in the forest or walking on the beach, she feels much better and sees the problems in a different way.

 

francois-hollande-candidat-election-presidentielle10 – Do what you have to do

In a social situation we behave as we are supposed to behave, according to a set of “appropriate behaviors templates” that our culture offers; a quite simply ones. And we expect everybody to do the same. That makes sense because in this way, in an institutional system, we can predict people’s behavior in a fast, rational and logical way.

These sets of templates are products of our institutions and are different in each culture. If somebody does not follow this set of templates, and does not have an institutional excuse for not following the rules, then he becomes an outsider. Outsiders do not need to behave as they are supposed to do and people usually stays away from them. When somebody’s behavior doesn’t make sense anymore that person could be a danger for the group. Nobody can forecast what he will do next, just having a previous institutional knowledge of the situation. If somebody wants to know what an outsider will do, he will have to know personally the outsider and understand his different viewpoints of the situation. It doesn’t mean that he has to agree, just to be able to see the institutional frame from another point of view, the outsider point of view. And to broaden the perspective, there is no no need to break the outer limits of society, we are institutions as well, so is much better to begin breaking up our internal limits.

 

The institutional filter doesn’t allow us to grasp the whole picture, just part of it, mainly the rational one, but as we said there is a huge amount of knowledge that it is not visible from inside the institutional frame because most of this knowledge cannot be reduced into words or scientific formulas easily. We can know more that we can tell but to achieve this knowledge we have to make the institutional filters thinner, more transparent and make the distance between the persons shorter, the closer we can get to persons or environments, the better.

There is nothing new about it, that’s what we do instinctively! When somebody has something really important to say to another person he/she doesn’t look for an administrative form, or for a template letter or for a committee or for any special institution. When something is so important that we need a lot of information we say: “I want tot talk to you”, “I have to see you”, “I need you by my side”, “please come to me”, etc. For almost any human beings it’s very important to feel the other person near by, to be able to look at his eyes, to perceive how the other person is reacting to our communication, even to hold hands, or walk together in order to obtain all this non-rational information that gives us much more information. And the same applies to oneself, because we talk to ourselves, we communicate with ourselves, we need quite places to ‘sense’ ourselves.
When we communicate with people or with ourselves, using almost no institutions, it becomes easier to observe ourselves, to get access to any ‘non-institutional’ flow of information and to observe the system from outside. Thus, to look at an institution as a foreign object allows the observer to be critical of its flaws and appreciate its virtues, which are largely also our faults and our virtues. It’s when observing from outside and knowing from inside that people can really be critical. Therefore it is very important to foster proximity and communication between people in a natural environment or in a de-institutionalized space off the system to be review, because the more knowledge they have, the more critical and compensated the people in a society could be, the more human oriented the management of the society will be.

 

Let’s present it in another way. To change the institutional system implies -or requires- to change the people. They are the institutional framework and they are the only ones who can change it. But people may attempt to change something if they are able to appreciate what has to be changed, that is to say, if they are able to observe and analyze the institutions as an outer object and appreciate what it is working fine and what it is not working at all. And to study and analyze something, the researcher cannot be part of the system to be observed. The more a person can disengage from the system to be observed, the better view he/she will get from the whole system. Therefore the system can not be the pivot point of people happiness because in this case they will never be able to detach from it, be critical with it, control it and improve it.

So, for instance and just to name a few ones: no politician (party), businessman (markets), public servant (administration), member of a powerful institution (IMF) or a patriot (country) will ever change something if they are part of what has to be changed. When these people have a sudden propensity to change the world, usually this urged is inspired by the motto of Prince Salina in The Leopard: ‘everything changes so that nothing changes’.

 

220px-Teenagesfromist11 – Without institutions

But is it really possible to fully disengage from the institutional system to be analyzed? Is it possible to found a leader who has no attachment at all to any institution?

No, because our senses and brain which are involved in the perception of the system, participate thereby in our knowing of all other things outside and they are already molded in an institutional way, e.g. we do not know how to communicate without symbols with meaning, we need a language, we found it weird to get facts or data without a logical or empirical process, we have institutional patterns of reasoning about what can be think or the way we think. It’s like trying to prove with a scientific method that a scientific method can prove nothing.

And this is good! It means that nobody holds the true to the problems of our society, because nobody can really observe it and rationally analyze it from outside, and still be a person. You stop being a person if you get rid of what defines you as a person. So when somebody claims that he/she has the solution to all our problems either she is nuts or not a human being. Whoever proposes a rational solution for our society has to be humble enough to accept that his/her solution is a faulty one and the improvement of this proposal will always come from other people because no one can have the whole picture, so somebody has to see the other one as a part of the picture. Again, this is obvious to almost everybody, although it looks like we wish that this ‘person’ with this ‘magic solution’ it does exist.

Lets get back to the point. It’s impossible to get rid of all the institutional attachments in order to observe our society and rationally create a better society. We need institutions. We are institutions. But at the same time, those institutions blind us from other kinds of knowledge and do not allow us to have different viewpoints. A love and hate relation. We cannot keep using so many institutions; but we cannot stop using institutions; we need them.

OK, nobody can live without institutions but, is it easy to live with fewer institutions?

No, it’s risky and requires you to really get involved in life; which people usually don’t like to do.

Without institutions people have to forecast the other people behaviors based on their personal knowledge of those persons, therefore they are responsible of their mistakes and nobody else back up their decisions. So, if security and happiness cannot depend on the institutional system but on each person, each person will be an outsider living in a world where only the knowledge of people counts. It will be a real human world with lots of emotions and plenty of life but isolated and tough very tough.

art 478On the other hand: if your security depends entirely on the system, your knowledge of people is basically what you see on TV, you just follow the guidelines of your group (party, ideology, fashion, etc.), you never take a decision unless your lawyer says so, you never act without a legal insurance or someone else to take the responsibility, etc. In this case, you surely will be fully integrated in society and you will live a secure life. But it is not healthy to be integrated in an inhuman environment and from this lack of humanity is impossible to make society more human and respectful.

The abuse of institutions produces a society without human control, but to live without or with few institutions places the person out of the system.

With meta-institutions all this gets worse. Meta-institutions are so effective in managing society that we tend to leave everything, so to speak, in its hands. Liberty is abandoned, people offers voluntary servitude in exchange for security and predictability. And if somebody doesn’t want to play this game, she has no options; meta-institutions are very aggressive with people trying to live without institutions. Try to say to the government that you do not need an ID, that you will decide about your own taxes, that you will follow your own rules or that you will apply your own laws and live the way you like and see what happens.

 

art 44112 – Balance the situation

With L-1is or L-2is people can create friendly institutions to counter-balance the power of unfriendly institutions -an institution may abuse people, another institution helps people against abuses- but to balance the power of hostile Meta-institutions people would need controlled and friendly Meta-institutions, which is impossible because meta-institutions can not be controlled and are utterly inhuman, they simply don’t care about humans.

If they don’t care about humans, how come they are so good in managing society?. The key of its success is that they have turned everything into bounded and tagged “things”, which are easy to deal with because they have a tag and a defined limit. Whatever cannot be bounded and tagged it simply does not exist.

If you have to deal with something in society, which has no limits or very blurry limits and seems to be a node in an invisible and blurry net of relations you have to take into account the whole society. You have to adopt a systems approach, which is much more difficult to manage only with numbers and formulas. Therefore is much better -from an institutional point of view- to bound everything; to turn everything into numbers or resources rather than take in to account that everything is related with many other parts of the system and that there are channels of information that can not be converted into numbers.

Institutions are one of the purest forms of human instrumental rationality. They are something brilliant because thanks to them we are persons and society. At the same time, they are something terrific because people are not just numbers that can be tabulated. Institutions have no way to deal with human feelings; they have no emotions, are people the ones who give emotions to institutions but seems like we have resigned of this responsibility with the meta-institutions and now meta-institutions rules, and people obey.

 

Beijing Celebrates The 60th Anniversary Of New China13 – Once upon a time

The beginning of the XX century was the time of meta-institutions. Not because they achieved their perfection but because people really thought of them as the solution to the problems of our industrial society. The consequences of ruling the world just from a rationalist and instrumental point of view left no room for all the human emotions and at the end, repressed emotions and overpowered instrumental intelligence allied in a devastating war and in a sort of realpolitik where meta-institutions were paramount and persons something like ammunition. After the Second World War this spotless and naive perception of meta-institutions began to change. Some people began to claim that we couldn’t live in a world controlled by in-human institutions, but there was no other option or solution except going back to a time without meta-institutions; which was impossible. So meta-institutions continued doing its job taking over more and more aspects of our society, transforming more and more human features and emotions into numbers and transforming more and more aspects of our planet earth into numbers and resources. Its motto was something like:

“if you cannot count it, it doesn’t exist.

If you can count it, make a profit out of it”

To counterbalance the enormous analytical power of Meta-institutions and its great control of instrumental reason, was necessary to find something that could complement or do the same tasks that our society needs but with more human control and more sensitive to the people’s needs. To counter-balance the meta-institutions it was necessary to obtain knowledge out of the instrumental and emotional information and use it as the meta-institutions do.

At present time, this is almost impossible. For example, a public officer can manage thousands of traffic fines and access within the reach of a click millions of rational data for each recipient of a traffic fine. But it’s impossible for the same officer to know personally the recipients of those fines. Neither can nor wants to know how these people are and how affected emotionally and personally will be because of this traffic fine. It is simply a type of information that it’s not collected.

Socially our ability to act base on instrumental knowledge is infinitely greater than our capacity to act base on emotional knowledge. This is where, despite the risks, level 4 institutions will become a very useful tool to reach the next institutional level as they amplify human capabilities related to emotional intelligence to an enormous extent. L-4 institutions allow different people to get connected and work together for a particular need without lots of meta-institutions in between. Future is not one person’s power but selective co-work power.

 

250px-Leonhard_Kern_Menschenfresserin14 – Next step or back step?

And what happens if we do not make the jump to the next institutional level?

It is not the first case in our history that a society has not been able to reach its next institutional level, in fact this is usually what happens and the best-known case is the Imperial Rome.
Rome successfully went from a society based on first level institutions; the Roman Republic, to a society based on second level institutions; the Imperial Rome. This new structure allowed Rome to expand easily.
Rome therefore made a smooth transition from Level 1 to 2, from an oral culture to writing culture (from tribe or clan to empire) but at Emperor Diocletian’s time, the crisis exploded; the empire was too large and too complex and the enemies to powerful to be managed the way it was. It was a time for the meta-institutions to be created in order to deal with the increasing size and complexity of the institutional structure that the Empire needs it. But instead of creating level 3 Institutions like a Estate and all of its departments or organizations who could pass new laws that will shift the power from the persons to the institutions, Diocletian divided the empire and its management. He wanted to rescale its complexity and make it easier to manage with second level institutions, that means persons instead of institutions in the key positions. Diocletian focused on a system that would assure that the best men (l-1i) for the job, ascended to the throne (L-2i) not on finding the best meta-institutions (L-3i) for a modern State (L-3i).

 

This move did not solve the problems but delayed the conversion of Imperial Rome to a proto-state; an industrialized nation. This conversion would have allowed Rome, to create L-3i estate structures and powerful enough companies to deal with the economic and military dangers that threatened the very existence of Rome. At the end, Rome collapsed and Europe went back to a L-1i or even a L-0i society, depending on the area, and with traces of L-2I, scattered in small isolated places.

 

If our society does not change into a 4 level institutions’ society, and keeps growing and developing new technologies, possibly it will collapse like Rome did. Most likely it will go back to a digital version of an “early industrial revolution society”. That means, an elite exploiting a large mass of people living without labor rights, neither social benefits, and working just to survive another day, in a world with its resources at the corporations service.

 

books15 – Conclusion

Nowadays we live surrounded by a bubble of laws, regulations, administrations, companies, organizations, etc. that protects us from our own kind, sets us free from responsibilities and provides us the assurance that if we respect the institutional framework, things will work in a somehow predictable way, and this is fine for us.

 

But this agreement has two troubling consequences:
First one. Institutions dehumanize society, isolate people and enhance human fears. Don’t take me wrong, institutions are not a sort of new ‘evil’, institutions just do their job, is us the ones who have abandoned our humanity on behalf of the Institutions. And without humanity there is no respect for people and without respect corruption, distrust and abuse of authority become a structural phenomena. We have to take control of our lives and our institutions in society and be responsible for our decisions; we must be more humans and have more interest in everything that makes us human. Is being human that we can observe our society in a critical way and offset the cold rational management. It may look old fashioned but we need ethical values to run our society.

 

We need a society in which people may act using the minimum amount of institutions. A society where the bonds of trust could be as good as the legal ones. A place where could be possible to exercise something as simple as to speak and hear the stories of people. Again, we do not have to blow up everything and get rid of the entire institutional framework that we have. Our institutions are awesome creations; we are just overusing it a lot. We need to find the equilibrium between what we are -a person- and what we need -institutions-. We need to talk and communicate not because we could dream that another world is possible, but because in this world, nothing from the global economy to a parent’s meeting at the school, is possible without trust. There is no rationality without trust and emotion.

Second one. Is impossible to recycle an inefficient institution in order to better meet the needs of the moment, since new necessities arise precisely because of such institution. Pretending to save or reform the institutions that do not function just makes them bigger and useless and therefore increases the depth of the crisis and the risk of collapse. For the same reasons, it is impossible for institutions to change the system. Changes will only occur removing useless institutions and adopting new institutions, but since the current system is precisely under control of the Meta-Institutions that have to be removed it’s very unlikely that they will take this self-destructive step and save the system. On the other hand, if they do not disappear the impasse is causing the collapse of the welfare society and destroying a huge segment of society.

The solution could be to amplify what makes us human, using L-4is and start working to avoid its problems.

 

Catechetical GuildIs_this_tomorrowThere is an extra problem arising from these approaches. In general, improvement of society has been proposed in terms of: a dream and an enemy

– A dream. Certain ideal objectives that we can achieve or that we must recover. A glorious past! Or a splendid future!

– An Enemy. The fight against something that stops our advance towards that ideal society that we deserve, or that halts us from recovering what we once were.

 

To have a clear goal and a clear enemy always helps to define our society and us. But if we accept the institutional approach to social evolution we have to realize that there is no such a thing as an oppressor evil to fight, nor utopian dreams to be reached or glorious past to be recovered. The key to success and the improvement of society resides within people, in every person as an individual who has ties with other persons. We are part of the problem and there is no perfect future, but a future with different human problems.

 

It’s important to emphasize this point “the improvement of society resides within people”. To think of society as something outside of us has a great advantage, society does not dependent on us for its proper operation. Therefore, we can complain and demand politicians to fix the problems, we can blame the financial markets, we may look for supposed groups of powerful people who conspire to control the system or we may ignore anything that is related to society and shelve ourselves in a mental bubble made out of children, home and work and leave the rest of the world outside, as if society had nothing to do with them. But if we accept the assumptions exposed in this article, we have to accept that we are institutions. Society is the cause for whatever happens to us and we are the cause and reason for the problems in our society. So, to make a better world is up to us. We can’t just blame politicians and powerful people for our current social problems; it’s not their fault, or at least not completely.

 

Obviously, a person who holds a great power or authority (such as a Head of State or a CEO from a multinational) will always attempt to maintain its power and might act in an inhumane manner without any remorse, but he will act like this because this is the Meta-Institutions’ way to act, he can be an excellent father or a faithful friend but once in his role in a meta-institution he is part of the meta-institution. And anyone involved in a second grade institution (such as a businessman, a military or official) will tend to adopt a dogmatic, protectionist attitude, depersonalized and expansive of its role because this is the way second level institution works. And almost everybody linked to a first level institution will adopt an elitist attitude of symbiosis with their office, rank or lineage and protective of their group, that’s partly the function of a first level institution and finally an absorbent friend or protectionist mother will act in this manner because relations in a zero level institution needs an absolute knowledge of the other one so losing knowledge about the others is like losing part of themselves.

 

We can’t anthropomorphize an institution but just as a metaphor we can say that there are exploitative, elitist or inhumane institutions and whoever is linked to an institution, and does not have enough emotional intelligence or power -pathologies aside- tends to act as the institution does, because he is part of the institution. Obviously this is not an excuse for doing nothing against unfair politics, corrupted politicians or harmful people, we do have to combat harmful and damaging situations that some institutions and persons associated with them create, but we have to know that we are addressing the symptom of a problem; not its deeper cause neither its fundamental solution. It is wrong to think that if we remove people from key positions in an institution and assign other people to this position, it will improve the institution. An institution will only improve if we are able to place better people with real control over the institution, i.e. people that emotionally do not need the institution but accept to get involved, so they can judge its real work with capacity to dismiss the institution. Otherwise doesn’t matter what person you assign to direct the institution, because they will end up subjected to the needs of their meta-institution.

 

 

 

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