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Centralized Hierarchy

It can be argued that civilization would not be possible without centralized hierarchical organization. Certainly the military would not be possible, nor large corporations or national governments. Let us bear in mind, however, that any hierarchical organization is a tool in someone’s hand. Hierarchies are devices for carrying out superiors’ decisions without confusion or question. But confusion and indecision are natural responses to the richly ranging texture of experience moment to moment, which includes empathy for others. Hierarchical organization and the rule of procedure, on the other hand, mean life by the template. The richly analog context of openness to direct experience, which ought normally to inform our actions, is replaced by a formula. Units in a chain of command are not supposed to make their own decisions, based on diverse and potentially contradictory experience, thought, and feeling, but to apply their skills only to interpreting and carrying out accepted procedure, or orders issued by others, within a circumscribed latitude of discretion. In short, they are to bracket their humanity. This permits and requires ignoring the questions, doubts, protests and fears that normally arise in course of considering an action, as well as alternatives that might creatively present themselves. In other words, it precludes the exercise of wisdom.

RELATED TAGS: [mechanical organization, mechanization of society, centralization, rule of procedure, bureaucracy, formulaic life/society, banality of evil, Hannah Ahrendt]

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