Thursday, 28 November 2013

Respect or Grovelling To Bullies?

Key Thought
Respect must be earned. Those who demand respect are usually bullies who very rarely show the respect they themselves demand. Collective bullying against one individual is a documented characteristic of a social phenomenon known as "Identification Based Fellowship".

I have been following the sorry "Andrew Mitchell Plebgate" saga since it started 14 months ago. The thing that has suddenly struck me for the first time is that Mr Mitchell actually apologised for not "showing respect to the Police". The whole issue of "Respect" is interesting. We have the Human Rights Act 1998, whose purpose is ultimately to safeguard society's Respect for the individual. Mafia bosses (please see "Some Like It Hot!") demand Respect with a capital "R" or else.......! Apart from situations where we demand respect for our loved ones, such as in hospital care or for children in school, why do organized groups demand so much respect for themselves?

The inevitable pursuance of this question leads us to ask, when does an Organization's demand for respect become a demand for a certain amount of grovelling tantamount to bullying? Sometimes, an Office commands respect, but, the incumbent office-bearer does not deserve respect for perhaps not fulfilling the requirements of that Office. Are we then bound to show respect simply because of the Office and regardless of the conduct of the office-bearer? Similarly, if an Organization deserves respect, but is conducting its affairs in a way that cannot possibly command respect, does it deserve to be respected? Is it entitled to demand respect regardless of its own conduct?

We need to ask what the difference is, between commanding respect and demanding respect. Some people command respect by virtue of their character, knowledge and/or ability, regardless of their Office. Indeed, they may not even hold an office; for example, in certain cultures, the oldest member of an extended family is accorded a very special place of respect in deference to their life experience. Sometimes, an individual commands respect for demonstrating unusual courage under fire, such as that shown, right through history, by PoWs; they would not however, have been given any respect from the enemy side.

In organizations, the hierarchical set-up implies the lesser must respect the greater. In our present hierarchy, here in the UK, is a Cabinet Minister above or below the Police? Is the Cabinet, made of elected Ministers of the UK, placed above or below an unelected Police Force? In institutions, such as Universities, is Human Resources (HR)& Management expected to have respect for Academics or is it the other way around? What criteria determine Hierarchy? For example, in a University (an institution of Learning), is it about educational qualifications, training & experience or is it about who possesses, regardless of intellect & education, the administrative muscle of the University? If there is an inability to command respect for proper reasons, will Conduct morph into a pitiless, bullying demand for Respect?

I have always thought, that, like the Electromagnetic Spectrum for Energy, there is a Spectrum of Conduct that ranges from Nazi-type control(NTC) to Gentle Consensual Decision-making (GCD). This Spectrum of Conduct is non-political and its elements therefore cannot be classified as ideologically Left or Right. It is, in fact, about respect for the individual human being, regardless of political affiliation. With the Mafia, it is reasonable to suggest that it draws on the NTC end of the Spectrum of Conduct for its Rules on Governance. We know the criteria for Mafia/Nazi leadership (H) must be in inverse relationship to a capacity for pity (P).

H = 1/P
This is a logical inference, since, should Respect be perceived to be lacking, the Head must be able to order violence against the offender. Any background compassion (k), must be kept to a minimum and the ability to be severe, (s), must be in proportion to the perceived lack of Respect; to be effective in demanding Respect, (s) must be substantial i.e. large. This gives us the equation for the right Mafia boss:-

H = k + s(1/P)
We can go on adding in various factors to refine this basic equation, but this simple equation will suffice for a mere blog. I wonder whether the Mafia Model of Governance, with its ruthless efficiency, isn't the one employed by Human Resources (HRs) in various supposedly non-Mafia institutions? The way to assess that would be to look for certain characteristics. I mention only one characteristic in this blog; it is a loyalty to a "Band of Brothers".

In the December 2012 issue of Scientific American, Michael Shirmer's article "The Alpinists of Evil" provides empirical evidence that it is not individual political inclinations that cause people to collectively attack one person or group of people. Instead, it is a unity to a Band of Brothers, in a phenomenon described as "Identification-based Fellowship". This loyalty is the driving force behind collective bullying. Lead by the biggest unconscionable bully, i.e. the person with the largest value of (H) in my equation, such Identification-Based Fellowship groups function to protect the group by demanding Respect for it. On p.65 of the article, Lt Col David Grossman is quoted as saying "On Killing", ".....the soldiers primary motivation.......was not to politics or ideology, but a devotion to his Band of Brothers. There is a powerful process of peer pressure in which the individual cares so deeply about his comrades and what they think about him,....".

This must mean that, if an individual appears different from this Band of Brothers, that individual is an "outsider". It is therefore essential to the pride of the group that the individual acknowledge the existence of the Band of Brothers by showing Respect. If Respect is not shown, the individual, deemed an outsider and consequently a lesser form of life, must be severely dealt with, and destroying that lesser form of life is acceptable. Destroying the individual's life, reputation, career and family-life is merely "collateral damage" in the business of upholding the honour of the Band of Brothers. In "Plebgate", what exactly was this huge lack of Respect that demanded such extreme punishment? It was the alleged use of the word "pleb". A word that may or may not have been said.

Is it decent or civilized that we, in this country, consider it acceptable to allow a Band of Brothers to set upon one individual, confiscate his career, kill his reputation, subject him to prolonged abuse with the ultimate object of completely destroying him for one alleged word? Just like a cat playing with a mouse before it kills it?

Personally, I would not worry or be offended if someone calls me a "pleb" or "chav" or "oik" etc... ; after all, "a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.......".

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