DEMOCRATIC (REVOLUTIONARY) ETHICS
IN SOCIAL ENGINEERING
The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.
If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts: Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate. Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it: Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves. Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast: Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.
For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast? Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings: and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it. And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings: and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord GOD.
Romans 9: 1-33
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.
And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
5 democratic norms
After reading hundreds of books on the process of change (how to change the beliefs and values of students, teachers, administrators, government supervisors, etc.), one of the most informative I have come across to date is the book Human Relations in Curriculum Change (edited by Kenneth Benne). Although it was published in 1951 the material within it is still being used today, unchanged.
Thomas Sergiovanni wrote in his book Handbook for Effective Department Leadership (1994) that one of the articles found in Human Relations, "Democratic Ethics in Social Engineering" is foundational for all the changes taking place today in education (OBE), in the work place (TQM), and in politics (STW). For a clear understanding of leadership training and the development of change agents you should consider reading both books, but particularly the article written by Benne, "Democratic Ethics."
"Democratic Ethics in Social Engineering" was originally published in the socialist magazine Progressive Education in May of 1949 (26:7;204-207). It was republished in Human Relations in 1951. Kurt Lewin, Leland Bradford, Ronald Lippitt along with other social engineers had their works republished in the same book, sponsored by the NEA.
Renamed in Human Relations, the article appeared on page 307 under the title "Democratic Ethics and Human Engineering." The article begins by defining the intended agenda. ". . .There seems to be good reason for locating in the disequilibriated conditions of industrial society the requiredness of current social and educational change and of a planned, an engineering, approach to its control." In other words the change created by an industrial society provides socialists the right environment to not only develop but to also implement their plans for control. They will be able to do this through social and educational changes which they will implement by "re-educating persons and groups in the behavior and relationships" which will be required in a "democratic" (socialist) society.
By getting persons and groups (called client systems) to involve themselves in democratic (consensus building) environments they will be able to re-socialize them to where they will serve democratic ideas and values ( consensus building values). The "core convictions of democratic ideology" according to Benne, is that each person is measured by their conviction in developing in others the democratic ideology of consensus building. As Benne puts it, using coded socio-psychological babble: "The democratic norms acquire operational meaning when they are interpreted as requirements of a methodology for resolving social and inter-personal conflicts in such a way that an adequate, mutually satisfactory, and socially wise resolution is effected."
Therefore, according to Benne, it is the ethical responsibility of the educator (social engineer) to develop democratic values (socialist values) based upon democratic ideology (socialist ideology). Through consensus building each member of the group (OBE, TQM, STW) is helped to develop skills in planning change in social patterns of human relationships. Thus each participant becomes a change agent, committed to change in patterns of thought and relationships not only for himself but for others as well. "Educators or other change agents," (facilitators) trained in stimulating and guiding change, determine the democratic character of persons and groups based upon their incorporation of the democratic norms which lie in the methodology of consensus mindfulness. Therefore character is based upon the methodology used by each person to resolve social problems. According to Benne, the more a person or a group values and incorporates consensus building the more normal its character.
He lists 5 democratic norms:
Benne's definition of consensus building is: "Individuals and groups must be helped to see that the task is to discover and construct a common interest out of the conflicting interests which they bring to the interpretation of the situation and to the direction of changes in it."
MAKE CHANGE THROUGH COLLABORATION
According to Benne, this requires the belief that the future "common interest" by the group will be "better" and have greater value than the partial interests brought into the consensus building environment by each individual. Yet the original "conflicting interests" provided by each individual is required as the "raw material" from which the common interest of the group is to be built.
Benne considered the collaboration (consensus) between "theory" and "practice" essential if the process of change is to succeed. John Dewey, the early American progressivist, and Antonio Gramsci, the Italian transformational Marxist both considered the collaboration between "theory" and "practice" for the same reason. Benne recognized that this form of collaboration did not come "natural."
He believed that change agents must collect and skillfully use the knowledge of relationships between people and their structures of thought which promote and impede change (Kurt Lewin's force fields). This collected knowledge is then used to create social-psychological conditions (climate or environment control) which will allow planned educational change (democratization) to take place under the control of change agents.
ACTIVE PARTICIPATION BY ALL MEMBERS
It is the role of the "democratic engineer" (change agent or facilitator) to get each person under their influence (within their created social-psychological conditions) to participate in social change. The environment must therefore be an "enterprise." The "democratic conviction" necessary for procedural success is that 1) "each person is to be treated as an end," 20 "social arrangements" (how one thinks: traditionally, transitionally, or transformationally) are to be judged by how they effect the person under their influence, and 3) all individual participants are able to include their unique contributions. In this way each individual will learn to contribute to the "collective thinking" of the group while the group learns to elicit individual contributions for the sake of "group thinking" (interaction dynamic not static). "This requires that the organization develop an atmosphere which permits individuals and sub-groups to mature and communicate effectively their unique contributions to organizational change and improvement."
CHANGE MUST BE "EXPERIMENTAL"
According to Benne, all social arrangements must be subject to modification and alteration. In other words, diversity in unity is possible only through the freedom found in spontaneous dialogue. "Democratic ideology requires. . . an ‘experimental' attitude toward all social arrangements." "All social arrangements" not only includes ways of thinking formed from the customary way of doing things but also those ways of thinking formed and reformed by the process itself. This requires that all collaborators not only develop an "experimental attitude" toward relationship building but also be trained with a "research-minded" methodology for the "evaluation of solutions."
CONVERTING DOGMAS TO "HYPOTHESES"
Democratic change, according to Benne, must be anti-authoritarian. Contributions must be judged by their relevance to the problem being addressed, not by the position of authority of the person presenting them. It is essential that people be sensitized in assessing the source of influence: authoritarian, benevolent authoritarian (God, traditional parent, etc.), laissez-faire, or democratic.
All authority roles are to be judged according to their contribution to the process. Therefore authoritarian and benevolent authoritarian are seen as dogmatic. Sergiovanni would see these persons as 0 to 3 in his change-acceptance scale, representing those who sabotage to those who protest against the process of change.
It is therefore necessary, according to Benne, that conditions where "effective communication across barriers of prestige and deferential power" be created. This task is "complicated by a dogmatic attitude on the part of participants toward the viewpoints and ideals of their own group."
Benne sees this "dogmatic attitude" as an error in methodology used as an "intellectual" attempt to save one's privileged position "from open collective criticism and modification." Therefore the facilitator's central agenda is to convert those who hold to dogmas (beliefs) into those who hold to "hypotheses" (points of view). Beliefs can not be dialogued into consensus as can points of view. The person who continues holding to a belief in the process is labeled as a resistor to change.
SEEKING "COLLECTIVE" NOT INDIVIDUAL SOLUTIONS
Not only must the facilitator (social-psychologist) be anti-authoritarian but they must also be anti-individualistic. For Benne, the "collective" character of social problems requires "collective solutions." He not only rejects conservative authoritarian ideology as a solution to social problems he also rejects the rationalization of liberal ideologies as well, seeing them as a "false psychology and anthropology." This is typical of transformational Marxists ideology.
There are no inalienable rights (absolute, immutable, unassailable, indisputable, undeniable, not able to forfeit, or sovereignty) to be defended in Benne's definition of "human rights," only the rights required for the change process. "If human rights are to be guaranteed, they must be guaranteed by appropriate social, political, and economic controls of human behavior." Therefore "human rights" are not gained from above, as in a traditional society, but through participation in the process of facilitated change.
It is necessary, according to Benne, that democratic ideology elevate collective judgment over private judgment, emphasizing the development of skills which will be needed to create common judgments out of conflicting "private" points of view. "It must develop persons who see non-influenceability of private convictions in joint deliberations as a vice rather than a virtue."
It is also necessary that groups and organizations define and redefine common values and standards in their efforts to build common "universal" beliefs and practices. Benne, like most socialists, believed that planned change in human relationships comes from changes of industrial life, where democratic scruples serve democratic aims. "We must find ways for teaching the techniques of social engineering . . . as the ‘hands and feet' which the ethical and methodological ‘heart and head' of democratic action require in today's world." OBE, TQM, STW, Church Growth, and Emerging Church influenced by T. Sergiovanni in the 90's are built upon K. Benne of the 40's.
© Institution for Authority Research, Dean Gotcher 1997-2015