THE GROUP: TO SAVE SPACESHIP EARTH—INTERNET EPISODE FIVE

The Group: To Save Spaceship Earth is a work in progress. While settings, plots, theories, objects, and narratives in this novel may be analogous to the same that have happened in various realities around Spaceship Earth, the names, actions, and attributions of characters cast herein are purely fictional, with the exception of a few well known literary and political figures. All parts of this novel will be published in the Effective Learning Report at various intervals on the Internet, subject to revision at any time, hopefully culminating in a final print edition offered for sale to the public.

Copyright 2020 by Effective Learning Publications. All rights reserved. No part of this novel may be copied or printed on paper without permission. Share on the Internet as you wish.

If you want to refresh yourself about what happened in earlier episodes, go to the following website addresses:

Internet Episode 1, https://blog.effectivelearning.net/the-group-to-save-spaceship-earth-part-1/.   

Internet Episode 2, https://blog.effectivelearning.net/the-group-to-save-spaceship-earth-episode-2/.

Internet Episode 3, https://blog.effectivelearning.net/the-group-to-save-spaceship-earth-episode-three/.

Internet Episode 4, https://blog.effectivelearning.net/the-group-to-save-spaceship-earth-episode-four/.

SESSION THREE

ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

JANUARY 2020

Rout was beginning to have serious thoughts about the results of the program. It was obvious the group had improved its psychological and social functioning, agitations had diminished, and the group had become more cohesive. But so what? Was this a sign of significant change and progress or was it disingenuous adapting and flexing to make a buck?  The five thousand dollars a month obviously was enough to entice them to attend the meetings but was participating in the meetings producing changes in their group imagoes, scripts, ego states, transactions, and general functioning?  Would their experiences in The Group cause them to feel, think, and behave differently in other groups that would tend to cause polarizations to diminish so as to in some way help facilitate causations for the construction of consensual answers that would help solve problems posing existential threats to all species of fauna and flora living around Spaceship Earth?

Rout knew his supporters and donors would not continue to fund The Group indefinitely if there were no credible signs the process was producing significant changes in the feeling, thinking, deciding, and behavior patterns of the group members.

Rout had been concerned from the beginning about when and how to make a definitive judgment about how well the process was achieving its purposes, mission, and goals.  While donors had been relatively easy to find to start the process Rout knew there was no assurance the donors would continue to fund the process indefinitely. Although they had said very little up to this point he knew they were bound to be getting curious.  The donors had access to the transcripts and tapes and they could see there had already been changes in the feeling, thinking, and behavior of The Group. 

For one thing, the donors could see that most of the group members now accepted Rout’s leadership and they had accepted the rules of the process.  For sure Rout had already proved the group process could cause group members from disparate backgrounds to at least pretend to change, at least when paid five thousand dollars for one weekend of time and six hours of group participation.  It was a good deal for them, even apparently for the wealthy members.  If the wealthy members did not need the money as they said, then the process was generating psychological satisfaction for them because they were still attending.

It was obvious most of the group members were by now gaining some satisfaction from participating in the process, especially being able to get away from their daily grinds to visit different cities.  They were getting together in small groups for lunch and dinner, and while the groups initially formed based on verisimilitude with respect to various socio-economic experiences, the informal groups were now including individuals with different characteristics, apparently caused by feelings of liking and respect generated by the discussions, which was a good sign, indicating The Group process would cause polarizations among people to diminish here and yon.

There were now fewer critical parent, adapted child, and rebel child ego states cathected and a higher percentage of the transactions were adult-adult and free child-free child.  Every now and then they actually had a little fun in the group. 

At the same time the group had become more serious and business-like.  The time of the discussions was now consumed with more work and intimacy with fewer rituals and Games.  The content of the discussions had become more honest.

Rout now felt that he could make the case to the donors that the program was successful and had achieved what it set out to do. He was confident the donors had seen enough of he video tape and transcripts of the group sessions to enable them to see for themselves what had gone on and happened. 

The question now was where to go from here?  Disband this group and start new ones?  Pay the group members of this group to lead similar groups using Truthers in their communities?  Expand to other countries?

On the other hand, Rout had read and heard about a mysterious new virus that had originated in China that was highly contagious and dangerous. Would it spread to the US? If so would it be feasible for The Group to meet face to face?

Rout decided to keep rolling along as they were for a few more sessions before making major changes in the group. 

Maybe the best thing to do would be to simply terminate the process now and announce to the world in a book that the process works, in which case the major problem would be where could sufficient funds be found to fund similar groups around Spaceship Earth?

Why waste more time experimenting with this group?  On the one hand, it seemed clear that continuing the group process for several months or even several years would produce further improvements in the overall functioning of the group. The knowledge bases and critical thinking skills of most of the members, due to the sharing of information in the dialogical, dialectical, and analogical Game-free Adult discussion process would continue to improve; but would these improvements be worth their cost to the donors, and society at large?

There was no way The Group donors could pay several billion people to attend such meetings, hoping to save Spaceship Earth.

If all governments would contribute funding for large numbers of humans from different countries to attend group meetings conducted in a manner similar to the process used in The Group consensual answers might be found that would save Spaceship Earth  from global warming, climate change, and militarization.

Governments would be paying citizens to attend Game-free group meetings to learn how to act like responsible stockholders of Spaceship Earth, Inc., which would entail a transformation of human relationships everywhere, in which there would be no hierarchies with bosses and subordinates, everyone would be equal in terms of rights and responsibilities, with liberty and true dignity for all, since all human Earthians would be an equal owner of Spaceship Earth, Inc., owning one share of stock that would provide dividend checks sufficient for good standards of living for all Earthians.

It was becoming clearer to the donors and others privy to the tapes and videos of the group sessions that feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors in the group were changing for the better.  The members were more comfortable and relaxed and were less fearful about honestly participating in the process.  OKness levels had increased.

OKness was a major concept in the transactional analysis literature, the whole discipline being based on simple colloquial terms that explained relatively complex problems, issues, and states of affairs.  Of the various social, economic, and psychological disciplines Rout had studied, it seemed transactional analysis was most helpful in understanding group dynamics.  Not only was it concerned about increasing Okness in organizations and groups but it provided specific tools for assessing different kinds of Okness.

All organizations and groups are relatively ok or not ok depending on circumstances, ok with respect to themselves, other individuals, other groups, and the world, or universe. How individuals, groups, and organizations were caused to wind up at their particular level of Okness is a relevant question.  A deeper relevant question is whether individuals, organizations, and groups are actually caused to be what they are in terms of Okness or whether they are just pretending to be at those levels?  As with all social and psychological phenomena a major question is whether perceived feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and decisions are real or faked. In other words are phenomena naturally caused to exist or are they constructions created to simulate natural feelings, thoughts, decisions, behaviors, and the like.

Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt Psychology, used to say, “Most talking is a lie,” meaning he thought most people were rarely truthful about what they were truly feeling, thinking, doing, etc. Perls called most ordinary conversations chickenshit, most organizational communications bullshit, and most philosophical discussions elephantshit. He thought humans are rarely truly honest about what they feel, think, and do about things because of their vested interests and ulterior motives.

In most organizations and groups people are rewarded not only with strokes but money for conforming to the requirements of the authority structure of the organization.  One can build the case that almost no one can be fully honest in organizations and groups, since most appear as they do after having manipulated themselves through various adaptations to conform to the organizational scripts imposed at their level and position in the organizational hierarchy to hold their jobs. To paraphrase Upton Sinclair it’s difficult to convince humans of the real truth of the matter when their livelihoods depend on not believing it.

So it’s not easy to tell by looking just how OK a person, group, or organization really is.

One can observe in groups and organizations how time is being structured, by noting what people are actually doing.  TA has five simple categories for describing time structuring—withdrawal, pastiming, rituals, work, Games, and intimacy.  Withdrawal means people are not engaged with others or groups. One can tell by looking whether individuals are tuning the group out, daydreaming, etc.  In this group Rout’s use of the Truther precludes withdrawal and pastiming, talking about favorite hobbies and such, interests in children, cooking, sports, and the like.  The Truther and Rout’s rules require members to do some intellectual work, such as defining problems, figuring out alternatives for dealing with existential problems, figuring out what to do about the problems and opportunities, etc.  There are almost no rituals in Rout’s process, routine reciting of dogmas or doctrines and housekeeping duties, such as voting on past business, etc., such as what one finds in most organizational group meetings. Games are outlawed by the Truther and the group rules. No one can legitimately say they have been Rescued, Persecuted, or Victimized when The Truther selects them.  Sexual intimacy is also precluded during the group sessions. On the other hand, there is talk about truth.  In general intimacy involves telling the truth about what one actually feels, thinks, decides, and does from moment to moment, which rarely occurs.  In this sense one can build the case a major objective of this group is to increase time structuring spent in intellectual intimacy and decrease time spent in other types of time structuring, such as withdrawal, pastiming, and Game playing.

Watching the videos of the group sessions and listening to the tapes it’s possible for observers to notice changes in these variables. Other things that can be observed are transactions within the group. Transactions are communication vectors beamed from one ego state in an  individual to ego states in others, whether individuals, groups, or organizations.  There are three types of ego states, parent, adult, and child.  Ego states are emotional and behavioral states of being that are parent-like, adult-like, and child-like.  Individuals and groups and organizations transmit messages to others using various combinations of ego states, and individuals and groups respond to what has been transmitted to them using various combinations of the three ego states.  The Truther generally fosters or cathects (a word for turning on or energizing ego states) Adult ego states.  Parent and Child ego states can be seen in the group by noting facial expressions and body language of various  sorts.  Parent ego states usually entail general dogmatic statements and stern facial expressions and pointed index fingers used for emphasizing the person is in a Parent ego state and should be listened to. 

It has become obvious to Rout and his board of advisors, experts in TA and other social and psychological fields, that the process has increased the use of the Adult ego state in the group and has increased honesty or intimacy within the group. Whether this improvement will transfer to other groups that the members of this group belong to remains to be seen.

This is the hard part. You can have good ok groups but still have not ok governments and economic systems.  If not ok people get in control of organizations, regardless of the type of economic system they use, the organization will not produce Okness for everyone.  Such is now the case with capitalism, which is producing massive inequality with the rich getting richer while the rest stagnate of decline, while governments do and say things to make lower and middle classes feel, think, and believe they are more ok than they really are.  One way to do that is by starting wars, which takes the minds of not ok people off their economic plights and puts them to work fighting and making war equipment and munitions.

The issue is whether to continue The Group process for much longer.  One can build the case The Group has already proven it can produce increases in OKness, etc.  Would continuing the process for more months or years eventually result in creating consensual answers for society and psychological problems.   Most likely it would, but the problem as always is not to have consensual answers for sake of producing consensual answers but to implement them so as to make everyone more OK.  One can build a case no one can be fully ok until everyone is OK.  Such has never been the case aboard Spaceship Earth.  There have always been serious differences among the OK levels of humans. A major purpose of religion has been to make people think they are OK regardless of how not OK their psychological, social, economic, and political positions are, if they publicly profess to believe certain dogmas and doctrines and conform to the dictates of various religious leaders.

This leads to some other TA terms for organizational and and group analysis, such as agitations and cohesions, among and within organizations.  To fully analyze organizations and groups one needs to find out whether or how OK people are but also how agitated or cohesive they are at various borders of their organizations, internal and external borders, and whether the agitations and cohesions are between members or between members and leaders, there being three general types of leaders—designated, psychological, and effective.  Once such agitations are located various and sundry consensual answers might be developed to deal with them.

Spaceship Earth is now very agitated, probably experiencing more agitations than ever before in history, agitations between nations, between the leaders of nations and leaders of other nations, agitations between leaders of nations and their own group members, and between countless organizations and groups within nations. It appears the root cause of the increased agitation is the economic systems used, and the organizational systems used, which are causing global warming, climate change, and income inequality.  No amount of organizational and group therapy will cure these problems, unless you can get OK leaders of nations together to seriously discuss how to create new economic and organizational systems and technologies to solve the real causes of the agitations.  

Unfortunately Spaceship Earth is now experiencing negative feedback loops that exacerbate rather than ameliorate the conflict and agitations. Relatively not OK voters is so-called democracies vote for not OK individuals as leaders because the leader reinforces their not OKness, leading to even more not OKness, and so on, and the entire system continues to decline, possibly eventually resulting in the extincton of the Earthian human race.

Since the group has proved its feasibility it would seem more and more similar groups should be established.  Problem is where will the money come from.  The dismal reality is that this group worked because the donors paid the members to increase their OKness.  That is a hell of a note, having to pay people to increase their own OKness, as if they actually enjoy their not OKness.  

On the other hand, he decided today to give the group a reading assignment.

Rout—“Before we select a Truther leader, I have decided I would like to make a reading assignment.

“Please go to Google on the Internet and go to the address I just emailed you  http://www.effectivelearning.net/spaceship-earth–inc..html  , and read ‘The Evolution of Spaceship Earth, Inc.’

“I will allocate thirty minutes for everyone to read this article, and then we will discuss the article. The Truther as usual will select the leader to start the discussion.”

After the elapsing of thirty minutes…

“OK, lets’s move on. Whoever got hit last spin The Truther.”

The Rooster crowed and The Truther selected George.

George—“As we all know Trump has advocated building a new wall to keep not ok illegal immigrants out of the US from the beginning of his presidency, without much success, I am afraid.  The Democratic congress has blocked him in every way on this. On the other hand some progress has been made.”

Harrison—“Come on George, you know Trump’s idea for a wall was doomed from the start.  Seems to me there is less talk of it now than there was, especially with this new influx of immigrants from Central America.  I’m not sure why Rout wanted us to read this fantasy article about Spaceship Earth, but if it did come to pass for sure it would cure immigration problems, since everyone would be paid to stay where they are around earth. On the other hand, the article is worse than socialism, it’s a utopian fantasy showing what great things would happen if artificial intelligence robots took over the management of the entire Earthian economy.  Where did you find this article Rout?”

Rout—“I ran across it cruising the Internet.  I assigned it because the article ties together  several aspects of what we have been talking about in our group sessions and it seems to me if it were implemented it would solve most of Earth’s problems.”

Harrison—“Well I suppose in fantasy it might.  But how in hell could people ever implement such a thing.  As I understand it it would require internationalizing, or taking over, all corporations around Earth.”

Rout—“No, it would only require taking over corporations directly involved in the production and delivery of the necessities of life.  There could be other kinds of corporations in other industries, so long as they did not require the consumption of basic resources needed to feed, clothe, and house humans.”

George—“It’ll never happen.  It’s pure socialism or worse.  All freedom would be lost and it would entail redistributing incomes in a major way.  In fact it would require a super government confiscating and taking by force all the wealth of existing people.  What would you do about housing?  How could a billionaire afford to live in a mansion he owns if he has to live off some imaginary dividend check from one corporation, called Spaceship Earth, Inc.?  It’s crazy.  I can’t believe you would have forced us to read it, the only time you ever did such a thing. Its becoming clear to me that what you have really wanted to do all along is brainwash us all with socialism or worse pure communism.”

Noam—“I’ll grant you, the article is a bit radical but it covers a lot of ground and it does make a major point, namely that artificial intelligence and faster and more powerful computers will enable humans to do things that have never been possible before, utilizing data bases that never existed before.  And it’s based on solid mathematical theory, linear programing, that has been around for a long time.  As to its suggestion about the dividend income for all humans, it is similar to the basic of idea of basic incomes now, sometimes called MMT, or Modern Monetary Theory. Some experts are advocating paying or giving citizens a basic income to insure there is enough money in circulation to generate a viable economy.  And this idea in this article is based on Buckminster Fuller’s idea to award mind grants to to all humans to eliminate employment overnight, based on the philosophical notion that all people have value, so paying them to think about whatever their talents happened to be might pay off in the long run. For sure it would require massive changes in all countries, not just in the rich countries, but in theory it could work, and something similar to it is probably necessary to stave off global warming and climate change, and human extinction, not to mention the extinction of thousands of species of fauna and flora around spaceship earth.”

Sam—“Good perspective Noam.  Yes, radical changes are going to have to happen, and it’s going to require thinkers with more than a little ability to think outside of political and social boxes.  Whether a group like this one can do it remains to be seem.  There’s a lot of disagreement among the members here. True enough we have learned to respect one another more and I think most of us are more open to differing views and ideas than we were, but I wonder how many of us would vote for something like Spaceship Earth, Inc.”

End of Episode Five

To Be Continued…