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13. The Anatomy of Hierarchy, from Alternative Economics 101 - TAX Your Imagination!

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To think that one is superior because of the group they belong to is absurd. All groups are structurally the same and experiencing the rhythm of life. We are all a part of all of them, and they are all a part of us. The only thing we can be superior to is our past self. We need to recognize the distinction between better, worse and the same. Organizations make promises and threats to compel our obedience. The charts below show how that is accomplished.

Language of Organization-Positives by Steve Consilvio

Language of Organization-Negatives by Steve Consilvio

We need the group as much as the group needs us, which is why there is the tension between what is good for one versus what is good for all. We cannot exist without each other. Human and civil rights arose because of one group being dismissive of the importance or equality of another group. Equality is a delicate balance which embraces diversity without superiority or inferiority.

Organized Success

Everywhere we go, it seems as if a line is forming to make a group, which assembles and then disperses. It is not difficult for the individual to serve the group, or for the group to serve the individual. At lunchtime, people are attracted to a restaurant, form a line, sit and wait, consume and leave. There is a constant need for the different types of nourishment that organizations provide. An organization needs some form of group habit to survive. Every group also needs a group to serve (hungry patrons). Hospitals serve the ill. Schools serve the young. There is a symbiotic relationship between everyone and the groups that we need, which we can manage well or terribly.

Organizations need a location to operate and carry out their activities. They observe formalities regarding expected dress, spoken words, and group movement. The internet has created a new location of global proportions.

Grouping patterns are common, regardless of the type of organization. We are the same as every perpetually migrating and foraging species, but, for us, the entertainment of one person is the work of another. In our head, they are dramatically different activities, but the similarities are present. Some people are paid to pick apples when elsewhere people are paying for the pleasure of picking them. The dress for a rock concert differs from dress for church, but in the same manner, the faithful gather to listen to words that satisfy. The fan and the flock choose their preacher. The leader believes his propaganda. We need to unify the disparate propagandas into something consistent, peaceful and true. Unlike the natural world, we rely on one another to build and maintain a broad infrastructure. An infrastructure of competition is illogical.

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Ambition is self-defined. It is usually a simple duality: Grow or die, win or lose, succeed or fail. Leaders want and need maximum participation and fidelity, which returns to them as an advantageous revenue stream, which can then be used to further the organization's purpose. The mission of every group is more growth. 

There is a lust for wealth, power and fame within all of us. Everyone wants to conquer obstacles and feel good about themselves. We can attain self-esteem by being productive and creative within a virtuous group as easily as within competitive groups. Producing goods, satisfying others, and personal consumption all give us pleasure. It is trade that makes life pleasant spiritually and materially. Our labor should be guided by regulations that make success easier for everyone. Engineering and moral clarity require cooperation. Society should not abandon itself to chance and the reckless freedom of competition. It is well within our grasp to discern how our organizational and group behaviors fit into the whole, and act accordingly.


Clothing and events serve to indoctrinate, promote and mark the mission of the organization. Gatherings take on significance for the participants. There is worship, recognition of the faithful, and the common joy of mutual identity. 

Events are formed based on the nature of the organization. A Ku Klux Klan rally uses robes to establish self-identity the same as robes at a college commencement or a religious ceremony. The conferring of titles and awards marks the success of purpose, acceptance and legitimacy. All these activities serve to reinforce the authority of leadership. Leaders are careful to not betray the expectations of the followers. The organization defines what is important, not the participants. Our membership reflects an acceptance of tradition. A Klansman who favored racial integration would immediately be castigated. Any action (thought, word or deed) against the group's defined virtue would meet a similar fate. The propaganda must be supported. Once one rejects the propaganda, by association the group feels rejected, and the group rejects the individual. Brother can be divided against brother in an instant.

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Saints are formed within every organization. A scripture is recognized. History is then glorified as a reflection of its own virtue. The flock follows and evangelizes a world-view. Invariably there is a sense of superiority and a greatness that is shared through association. The PC versus Macintosh favoritism was just as fervent as Catholics versus Protestants, Jews versus Christians, believers versus non-believers, nation against nation, or political party against political party. Group identity is a common part of self-esteem. The printed t-shirt, which is a recent phenomenon (1970's), proudly declares our many affiliations.

language of Organization-Practices by Steve Consilvio

It is impossible to escape groupthink. We have to love and accept something. We cannot exist untethered. We will always be defined by what we accept or reject. However, the unwillingness to interact cooperatively with others indicates dissonance. It is as common to see multiple churches built on the same intersection of a city street as it is to see competing gas stations. The freedom to compete, and the freedom to organize, is also the freedom to engage in denial. Denial is tragic in the hands of omnipotent power, but it is the same denial when held by a powerless individual. The oak was once an acorn. Adolf Hitler is proof of how one individual believing a lie can grow powerful and infect an entire society. How we understand our group has consequences.

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Steve grew up in a family business, was a history major in college, and has owned a small business for 25 years. Practical experience (mistakes) have led him to recognize that political rhetoric and educated analysis often falls short of reality. (more...)

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