The sense of ‘We’, and creative collaboration
In my discussions with my process friends, a certain insight crystallized recently. We were investigating why it is that Dynamic Facilitation creates a strong sense of We in the participants. We knew that DF enables people to solve problems creatively together, despite incoming disagreements, and we came to the conclusion that ‘creating collaboratively’ is what generates the sense of We.
This insight resonates strongly with my experience in the software world, where our project teams always had a strong sense of We as worked together over the months to create a new product.
We is a two-edged sword
In the context of people working together for their own good, a sense of We is powerful and beneficial. I see this as the way to create empowered communities, and to build an inclusive, grassroots We the People, as a basis of genuine democracy. At the same time, these dynamics of creative collaboration can be used against us.
Something I have always wondered about is why so many in my parents generation supported the Vietnam war. My own parents, for example, had the same values I did, and believed in justice and fairness and all that, and yet they just couldn’t bring themselves to be ‘against their government’.
It now seems clear to me that the reason was their experience of World War 2. In that war everyone pulled together, both government and people, with Victory Gardens, rationing, etc. It was a ‘grand collaborative endeavor’ that everyone shared in, and it created a strong sense of a national We — everyone working together to struggle against the ‘evil Krauts and Japs’. (Racism and hate were important parts of the dynamics.)
That sense of We was so strong that it stuck permanently. Even when it was the US that was the aggressor in Vietnam, employing death squads and all, many in that generation simply couldn’t break their We-identification with their government / flag / nation.
And then there’s the Obama phenomenon. We need to remember here that both parties are funded by the same special interests, and the whole campaign during elections, on both sides, is a staged, coordinated affair, with a pre-determined outcome. We were presented with two dramatic characters. On one side we had the ‘perfect liberal voice’, a seeming combination of Gandhi and JFK. On the other side we had the ‘perfect reactionary voice’, spreading fear and hate, seeming almost in the tradition of the Ku Klux Klan. Not only that, we were led to believe that McCain had a real chance.
As a result, people didn’t just ‘favor’ Obama over McCain, many thousands of them became active volunteers, linked into an email network that gave them ‘things to do’ to help with the campaign. It became a ‘war against evil’, just as in WW 2. And again, this ‘grand collaborative endeavor’ created an enduring sense of We.
From his very first day in office, Obama began doing the opposite of everything he promised, and has continued to do that ever since. There’s little difference between what McCain talked about, and what Obama has actually done. But the sense of We has been so strong, that Obama’s supporters simply couldn’t break their identification with him. Everything happening during his administration had to be someone else’s fault; it couldn’t be his fault that everything Bush started, rather than being ‘changed’, was expanded under Obama.
In the mid-term elections we’ve just witnessed, the same campaign game was used again, only this time it was the Republicans who were the pre-determined winners. The Tea Party movement, funded by the same folks who funded Obama’s earlier campaign, became the equivalent of ‘Obama’s Army’. And just as ‘fear of McCain’ fueled Obama’s campaign, it was ‘fear of Obama’ that fueled the Tea Party movement.
And once again, we’ll see a strong sense of We among Republicans, that will blind them to the fact that the Republican-controlled House will simply expand on what the Democrat-controlled House has been doing.
Once upon a time there was a difference between the two parties, with the Democrats representing workers, and the Republicans representing big business. In those long-gone days, campaigns really meant something, and votes were counted by hand. Today both parties represent Wall Street (despite retaining their old rhetoric), campaigns are coordinated deceptions, and we have no idea whether or not the voting machine outputs have anything to do with how we voted.
Perhaps the Tea Party wasn’t as effective as it seemed. But the hyped media coverage of the Tea Party leads us to believe that the Republican victories were ‘real’, even if they were actually a voting-machine fabrication. We’ll never know for sure. Real or not, the ‘victories’ have already been used as an excuse by Obama to move further into Bush territory, under the guise of ‘reasonable compromise’.
It’s interesting that Bush never saw any need to compromise, and yet the Democrat-controlled Congress endorsed all of his actions. Strange, isn’t it, how the ‘realities of politics’ change depending on which party is in power.
If we look objectively at government policies over time, we see an ongoing Wall Street agenda, with complete continuity regardless of which party seems to be in power. Meanwhile we are stuck in identification with our two We-group-parties, each fearing the other, and blaming the other for the agenda.
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