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From Apartheid to Schizophrenia: the logic of depersonalized separate development


From Apartheid to Schizophrenia
Structural violence
Human rights - for a static society
Psycho-social ecology
The Person: Key to Freedom
Freedom of others: a risk
Governmental illusion: man the unit
Possible key: social recognition of human organization

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Discrimination and Fragmentation in the 1970s: an organized response to global crisis (Part 2)
(Originally published in International Associations, 23, 1971, 2, pp. 89-102; PDF version)

Common factor?

Can any common factor be discerned in the wide range of problems and incidents noted above ? Two such factors can be detected but first let us consider the wide range of problems which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was designed to meet. The Declaration deals with all forms of discrimination between individuals, degrading treatment, fair trials, privacy, freedom of movement, asylum from persecution, ownership of property, freedom of thought, social security, work, leisure, education, etc. These all gave rise to distinct rights as the ideal solution to the problems which arose in their absence. But common to all these rights and the foundation for them was the concept that :

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." (Article 1)

The human rights are recognized as valid in many circles but perhaps this recognition is only abstract, limited or represented by token concessions. Is it possible that this recognition has been bought at the expense of more subtle rights essential to balanced social development in an increasingly complex society ?

Perhaps in giving these "freedoms" to the individual, society has had to reorganize and readjust itself to protect itself against any changes that they might give rise to. The most probable adjustment would be to "contain" socially the individual in such a way that he can be seen to have rights - namely the material chains and fetters essential to his social welfare are removed. But at the same time the behavioural and psychological chains and fetters impeding full development of his potential as a member of society would be imperceptibly (and not necessarily deliberately or consciously by any power group) increased in such a way that the social processes in which he is embedded subtly but effectively resist, discourage, ignore or misrepresent:

  • any activity which introduces new or different modes of through or activity into his particular environment or attempts to defend threatened traditional modes of thought or activity,-
  • any attempt to increase his ability to initiate change in terms of his own values by linking with others in movements, groups and organizations with a view to participating more effectively in the social processes in his environment which he considers significant.

It is the subtlety of this containment which makes it easy to ignore. Behavioural chains are those to which we are adapted. Just as one tragedy of slavery is the inability of individuals, who have been brought up as slaves since childhood, to conceive of or desire an independent existence, so we are unable to perceive or desire to change the behavioural chains binding us in our environment. But this situation is challenged by the youth crisis of confidence and the emergence of the need to face complex social problems with multidisciplinary international programmes (e.g. environment and development programmes) through organizations of many types. These force us to be aware of other perspectives and challenge the assumptions around which we organize our behaviour and attitudes thus slowly throwing these behavioural chains into relief.

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