Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Calculated Chaos

I’ve enjoyed reading Butler Shaffer’s articles at for a number of years. I finally got around to reading one of his books, which I believe is his first of several- Calculated Chaos (1985, Llumina Press). Much of the chaos that appears around you is not accidental or random, but rather “calculated” or intentionally created confusion or unrest to benefit institutional agendas, and therefore, increase their power over individuals.

The theme of this book, according to Shaffer is that “institutions are the principal means by which conflict is produced and managed in society. Peace is incompatible with institutional activity. Stated another way, the success of institutions depends upon the creation of those conditions in which personal and social conflict will flourish.”

The concepts explained in this book will help you understand a good part of the insanity appearing daily before your eyes and the questionable and even ludicrous responses individuals offer toward such events- sometimes in ways that do not serve their best interests. As Mr. Shaffer explains:

“Until we are prepared to acknowledge, to ourselves, that the demands and pressures from others can exert influence upon us only if we allow them to and that institutional demands can get in our way only if we help to construct the barricades, we shall go on playing the same old game with only minor variations of the rules. Only when we understand that our complicity in institutional behavior is a denial of our nature and our
capacity for living as self-directed, self-controlling, self-responsible persons, will we liberate ourselves and take ourselves out of conditions of conflict.”

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