Recently, I’m under the spell of goings on in the economic development flux of Cleveland and brewedfreshdaily has provided a stylish foil. (I do wish george would restore me to the blog roll.) This is in the context of a different version of open source development I’m involved with in Lakewood. There the keynote is cooperative civic development rather than economic development, so this difference also provides another kind of foil.

At BFD Don Iannone wrote,

A lot of it has to do with the distribution of power and wealth in communities. That is not an easy situation to change.

I agree it’s hard to pry simoleons from tight grips, but I disagree with the degree of difficulty having to do with power. After all, what the heck is power?

Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.  (C.G. Jung. On the Psychology of the Unconscious:58)

What are we speaking of in the distribution of power in communities? People at the top of food chain-like hierarchies? What’s that about? is it about the ability to command resources, push your simoleons around, make people jump, get your inflated self-sense verified, get invited to all the best parties, etc?

For goodness sakes, powerful persons are powerful because of what mechanisms of group dynamics? Go look it up. (Alternately, see James Hillman; Kinds of Power). Short of this there is a consensus norm concerned with getting things done, which, in group-to-social contexts in a psychological sense and in a sociological sense, does have to do with a kind of mechanical power, a sort of provision for generation of impetus and influence.

But who would volunteer to be beholden to that at the same time they hold more enlightened values? I’ll give an easy-to-grok example. People say that their spiritual commitments are numero uno and then they yoke themselves to some narcissist  causing a lot of interpersonal and social harm for the sake of ‘making money’ and ‘gaining power’.

You might need somebody else’s money, but the only power worth a damn is your own power. And, if power is merely the ability to get things done, then we wouldn’t be talking about those other kinds of power, would we?

“Where love is lacking…” How about: where love is lacking in community development? See, this is heavy stuff when you drill down a bit. It has to be! The ol’ guy-thing drama is done for. We’re at the precipice. Right? You see it?

What interests me about people who are powerful in the normative, organizational sense? What their core values are; what they think the point of life and living is; what are we doing here, supposed to be doing here?

And, I ask ’em! The answers cut a number of ways. In fact, after years of conducting this kind of inquiry, I will reduce my rich findings to a blunt and commonsensical posit: when you ask a powerful person what life is all about you will learn whether all this power is chained to something shallow or is chained to something deep.

One thing I’ve learned is that a certain personality type is distributed among the powerful just as it is among the ‘ittle people. This is the type that assumes that what they think life is about is what everybody else should think life is about. But, often this is a frustrating insight because such persons often think about the ‘ittle people that ‘they can’t get it and, besides, they don’t have any power anyway’. There are lots of ways to characterize this kind of shallow cognition, but my favorite is to term it magical thinking. In other words, ‘magically enough, the world and the people in it correspond to my brilliant personal sense of things’. Another word for this is solipsism.

My opinion is that we’re at the end of the line of doing any kind of smart development from solipsistic dispositions; this goes for economic, personal, social, cultural, political, development. For instance, the war in Iraq can be viewed as the culmination of self-absorbed assumptions about the nature of reality. I could make a good case for this being a feature of this war’s clash of fundamentalisms. And the harm being done on all sides is giant, heart-rending, hideous. Anyway, it’s a rich example in my meta-psychological perspective.

Self-absorbed power is silly and it is often harmful. This is why I unfurl thought problems about kinds of intelligence, and character, and depth of soul, and, ability to unlearn and re-learn, and openness, and, receptivity.

Can economic development start to become concerned with depth and love? Can sustainability? Can education? Hey, I’m just cutting to the chase!

Yes, perhaps masculine, self-absorbed, silly, harmful power distributed in communities is hard to change. Why bother? Learn a martial art instead! Build a pool, dig out a deep end, learn to swim again.

My view is surely idiosyncratic, yet I offer the suggestion: playing stupid games in the shallows where the sharks flop around isn’t anywhere near as ‘powerful’ as playing smart games in the deep end where you might actually learn something, create something without causing a lot of harm, and get to be the deeply powerful, lovesome, spiritual being (ha! you already are!). You know – the one you might otherwise think can somehow survive in the shallows.

My experience: it (your heart!) cannot survive there. And, the whole point of the open source paradigm, (and the cooperative paradigm too,) is to do development from a deep place, sans the magical illusions, and do so in collaboration with people detrained from being shallow and stupid about money, power, and love. And why do this? How about: to serve your fellow human beings?

Yeah, ‘where love rules…’ Economic development from there.

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