The fabric of society, dual control & legitimacy, and the Big Zipper
Written with Miroslaw Manicki
In the age of the network, geopolitics still matters. Geographic dispersion isn’t all it used to be, however. The compression of time and the instantaneous nature of information flows from the ever-present network result in a shifting of the balance in our day toward the Internet and its enticements. Cloaked in both geopolitical and technological frames of reference, however, is an embedded hostility toward process, particularly knowledge-driven process orientations controlled by experts and the personal preferences of individuals and societal institutions. Rational efforts in support of underlying processes, resulting in dual control and order, will not only forestall open hostility and chaos, they can permanently strengthen the fabric of society.
The weft of society is that which brings knowledge and tradition together. This can lead to “due process” of every kind — the least of which is legal and financial. Warp represents authority, the key aspects of society and governance that harbor power and legitimacy in order to protect the people and provenance in general.
What we see is the widespread application of a Big Zipper, an effort to remove the tensile strength of knowledge and tradition, thus fundamentally weakening key institutions and traditions and introducing risks to all that are not warranted.
We see this happening throughout the world — or at least there are many attempts to do so. In order to bolster authority, parties mistakenly try to weaken those elements of society that make authority possible in the first place. It isn’t just conceptual ‘articles of faith’ that are compromised, it is process, it is active rationality, it is the foundation on which they themselves depend, along with their compatriots.
Use of the Big Zipper may come through violence if not a more subtle uncooperative pattern of behavior. Following are kinds of conditions that describe such unravelling. In one way or another, they represent an absence of process resulting from overt or passive undermining of rationality and legitimacy. They represent an unraveling of civilization itself.
This is contrasted with more salient, supportable, and stable conditions as seen below.
These are not mystical, nor are they fanciful. They constitute the primary findings of mankind through millenia. This is what civilization is. This is how to get along with each other; this is how to get along with Nature. As we conclude in the book:
We are fond of pointing out that although nature does not sit around the negotiating table, she always has the last word. This is an immutable fact, made even more clear under conditions of human conflict.
To the extent that the parties are in denial generally, combatants take on Mother Nature when they take on each other. She is a far more formidable foe than whoever else you may find that you are going to be up against. It is better to penetrate the depths of reality and find common ground for enlightenment and resolution. — Kenneth Tingey and Miroslaw Manicki