Unification in the Social Sciences: Search for a Science of Society

5. Energy Conversion
The development of the technology for social organization lags centuries behind the development of material technologies. A comprehensive, integrated unifying science of society can spur rapid development of this unfathomable social potential. There are indeed common principles and processes underlying and governing the multiple expressions of human creative and productive potential. Newton’s laws of motion explain the behavior of material objects. A change in the motion of an object results from the application of material energy as force. So too, all human activity and accomplishment are an expression and result of the release, direction, channeling and application of human energy. That energy may be the phys­ical energy of a laborer or skilled craftsman, the social energy of the dynamic entrepreneur, entertainer, military or political leader, or the mental energy of the thinker, creative artist, planner, or engineer. In War and Peace, Tolstoy referred to the ‘spirit of the army’, an intangible power that enables an inferior military force to overcome great odds, as the English overwhelmingly defeated an immensely superior French army at the Battle of Agincourt, immortalized by Shakespeare in Henry V.

5.1. Directed Energy becomes Force
Human energy is released by human aspiration for accomplishment. The greater the aspiration, the greater the energy released. That aspiration can arise in response to a vast new opportunity or a severe problem. The opening up for settlement of the American West releas­ed the aspirations of millions of indigent European immigrants to abandon their homelands and risk their lives in the quest for freedom, cheap land and gold. All living beings release and mobilize great bursts of energy in response to life-threatening challenges. That explains why remarkable accomplishments issue from severe catastrophic challenges. The American Civil War was the first mechanized modern war in history with devastating impact on the people and the country, yet it was quickly followed by America’s emergence as the pre-eminent economic power in the whole world. Similarly, two horrendous, life and prop­erty destroying world wars in the 20th century were followed by the most dramatic surge in prosperity and social welfare in human history.

Human energy is directed through by our knowledge, goals, values and beliefs. The intensity of energy released and the effectiveness with which it is focused depend on the quality of that knowledge, the type of goals and the nature of values we seek to realize. Truth is reality. The human mind does not possess truth. It does not know reality. It possesses ideas, perceptions and conceptions that seek to represent truth. It relies on language, definitions and abstract mental symbols which present images and impressions of reality, not reality itself. Even an exact photographic image is only a two-dimensional image, not the living thing it portrays. Our minds analyze and view these mental constructions through the framework of social constructions and psychological perspectives that determine our particular point of view and interpretation of reality.10 Thus, the debate between proponents of free markets and regulated markets framed by implicit differences in beliefs and values is presented as logical differences and incompatibilities. In truth, no markets are truly free and none fully regulated.

The mental tendency to divide reality into contrary polar opposites results in a continuous clash between mutually exclusive contradictions that resolve into complementarities at a higher level.11 Capitalism and Socialism were never the stark contraries they were represented as until the 1930s when the USA, the most capitalist nation in the world, embraced socialist welfare principles during the New Deal. China began introducing elements of capitalistic competition into its Communist economy in the 1970s. Today no market system can survive that does not incorporate a significant degree of socialist policy and vice versa. Freedom and equality are complements, not irreconcilable opposites.

“Everything needs its opposite for its existence. The indivisible, whole being that the Individual is, is made complete when he accepts and integrates all aspects of his personality, realizing in the process that contradictions are complements.” – Carl Jung

5.2. Force Organized Acquires Power

The power generated by energy depends on the way in which it is focused and directed. Sufficient solar energy falls on the earth every day to meet all human needs now and in the future, but only a tiny portion of that energy is collected and directed for productive purposes. Raging rivers are storehouses of enormous energy, but only when a river is dammed, the energy channeled through sluice gates into high velocity flows and is transformed into electrical power by turbines is that energy made available for productive purposes. Energy when directed becomes Force. Force organized becomes Power. The technology of a hydroelectric power plant is a mechanical form of organization. Political parties, market places, financial institutions, factories, and educational institutions are social forms of organization that focus and direct human energy and pass it through a variety of processes that transform it into productive power of one form or another. Organization magnifies the Energy it transmits by Integration. It also creates greater opportunities for the growth and development of specialized knowledge and skill among people.

Society can be viewed as a gigantic hydroelectric power project that harnesses a tiny portion of the potential energy of its members, focuses and directs it, channels it through organized structures and activities in pursuit of social goals. What is true of societies is also true of the organizations and institutions of which they are composed and the individuals who are its members. The same principles apply at all three levels. Countries and companies vary enormously in their capacity to release, focus, direct, channel and express the energies of their people for productive purposes. Autocratic forms of organization can compel a minimum level of performance, but have never proven capable of inspiring their individual members for peak levels of sustained accomplishment. Sooner or later internal friction, conflict and suppressed resentments rise to the surface and undermine the organization.

Over time humanity has evolved more and more effective forms of organization more capable of positively motivating and directing human energy. Alberto Zucconi describes a core set of the people-centered strategies which societies and organizations apply to empower their members – democratic relationships, equal rights and opportunities, delegation of authority to instill a sense of responsibility, transparency, knowledge sharing, and empathy.
For all its limitations and deficiencies, America has excelled in the capacity to generate a social atmosphere that provides a high degree of freedom and encouragement for the development and expression of individual initiative. High energy companies such as Apple, Google and Intel remain perpetually dynamic and creative for the same reason. In spite of its evident shortcomings and inequities, the market economy combining cooperation with competition has so far proven to be the most effective form of organization yet evolved for the production and distribution of goods and services, but ample scope exists for eliminating its distortions and excesses.

Human accomplishment is based on relationships between people. Nature produces on the land. Human beings produce by entering into constructive relationships with one another. Society is an infinitely complex field in which human beings relate to one another in pursuit of security, wealth, well-being, affection, knowledge and other values. Ivo Šlaus reminds us that human beings are the ultimate source of all resources. “Anything becomes a resource only when its potential value is recognized by the human mind.”§ Further, human capital and social capital are inexhaustible in potential. He describes the self-augmenting character of human capital through a formula relating its development with political, economic, social (education, health) and natural factors. Human capital refers to the unlimited potential to enhance the knowledge, skills, capacities, attitudes and values of the individual for more effective relationship. Social capital encompasses the enormous power of social organization for coordination, specialization, planning, delegation, authority, hierarchy, standardization, integration and value implementation.

Language, money and the Internet are three of the greatest social organizations so far developed to enhance the capacity of human beings to relate, interact and coordinate with one another for mutually beneficial purposes. Language is a networking tool that makes possible exchange of ideas, information, intentions and transactions between people and organizations. Money is a networking tool that facilitates the exchange of products, services, forms of wealth and power. The Internet is the first truly global social system capable of facilitating and coordinating interactions between billions of people instantaneously with a high degree of individual freedom, empowerment, capacity for customization and personalization. It connects horizontally and integrates vertically all nodes, levels and types of social activity within a single global network. These organizations not only channel social energy, but through complex feedback loops continuously increase the total social energy released and directed.

The evolution of the Internet has spurred rapid advances in our understanding of networks, as a highly sophisticated form of social organization. In reality, networks are as old as humanity itself. The market is a social network that brings together buyers, sellers, financiers and transporters. Cities are networks that concentrate the most advanced capabilities of civilization on a single location to optimize access and interrelationship. Zbigniew Bochniarz cites research on the power of industrial clusters and city networks on climate change to illustrate the important role played by networks in the process of social development.

Banks such as Visa and Mastercard cooperate to compete by providing credit card transfers to billions of people through millions of merchants and tens of thousands of banks. Each bank retains its autonomy and competes for business with other members of the network, yet all benefit from the operation of a shared global information and money transfer system that achieves high speed and efficiency and minimum cost to banks, merchants and customers.

‡ Alberto Zucconi, “Power, empowerment and disempowerment”, lecture delivered during a World University Consortium course entitled, “Toward a Trans-disciplinary Science of Society”, Inter-university Centre, Dubrovnik, Sep 2, 2014.
§ Ivo Šlaus, “Human Capital”, lecture delivered during a World University Consortium course entitled “Towards a Trans-disciplinary Science of Society”, Inter-university Centre, Dubrovnik, Sep 3, 2014.
¶ Zbigniew Bochniarz, “Social Development as Network Dynamics: An Economics Perspective”, lecture delivered during a World University Consortium course entitled “Towards a trans-disciplinary science of society”, Inter-University Centre, Dubrovnik, Sep 5, 2014.
10 Alberto Zucconi, “The politics of the helping relationship: Carl Rogers’ contributions,” Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies10, no.1(2011): 2-10.
11 Garry Jacobs, “Ways of Knowing: Life Beyond Chaos,” Eruditio 1, no.4 (2013): 9-30.

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