“The role and function of social conflict is an extensive field of study. The results may be summed up as follows: there are two distinct patterns of conflict distribution. One binds society and the other disunites it. The pattern of conflicts that unite society is that which is distributed randomly and forms a MATRIX. In other words, each conflict is so distributed among the population that the people that are grouped together in one conflict are not grouped together in another. “We might suppose,” says Dahrendorf, “that in a country there are three dominant types of social conflict: conflict of the class type, conflict between town and country, and conflict between Protestants and Catholics. It is of course conceivable that
    these lines of conflict cut across each other in a random fashion, so that , e.g., there are as many Protestants among the ruling groups of the State as there are Catholics and as many townspeople in their denominations as there are country-people.

    This is the type of conflict pattern that unites society. The more numerous the conflicts and the more random their distribution, the stronger the matrix that unites the society.

    If on the other hand, we have conflicts that are so distributed that the same people in one conflict group are also members in another conflict group, then the pattern is not a matrix but a SPLIT. We can imagine a society with the same types of conflicts as in the above example, but they are distributed in such a way that the Protestants belong to the ruling class and they are all town dwellers. In this case there will be a SPLIT between the two groups. On group will consist of Protestant-urban-rulers and the other of Catholic-countrymen-ruled. “A society…..,” says Edward Alsworth Ross, “which is ridden by a dozen oppositions along lines running in every direction may actually be in less danger of being torn with violence or falling to pieces than one SPLIT just along one line.

    If we have a united society it means that we have conflicts of the MATRIX type. In order to disunite our society we have to change the matrix conflicts into SPLIT conflicts.

    We start this operation by chosing one conflict out of the several we have and making it the DOMINANT conflict. If one conflict is already dominant–like, for example, the Protestant-Catholic conflict in Northern Ireland or the Anglo-French conflict in Canada–we leave it to that. If there is no dominant conflict, we intensify and activate one to make it dominant.

    If the dominant conflict is not the class but the religious conflict, the best way to intensify if is by adopting one of the religions as the official state religion and outlawing the others. if, for one or other reason, it is impossible to outlaw a religion, discrimination will also do. In religious and racial conflicts, political assassination if of great help. It is difficult to account for the sharp intensification of the racial conflict in recent years in the United States wihout reference to the assassinations of the Kennedys, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.

    While the dominant conflict is intensified we start to rearrange all the other conflict so that they are superimposed on one another. [For example in the U.S…wedge issues such as abortion, prayer in the schools, integration, immigration, LGBT rights] If, for example, the dominant conflict happens to be the class conflicts and among the other conflicts in the matrix there is a peasant-landlord conflict, the latter can be superimposed on the former by a process of COMBINATION. The class and peasant conflict are combined into one. This can be easily done by redefining the terms of the conflict. Instead of having one conflict between the proletariat and the capitalists and a different one between the peasants and the landlord, the new conflict is between the EXPLOITED and the EXPLOITERS. [Consequently, for example Trump represents the exploited and Clinton represents the exploiters] In this way the peasants and the proletariat find themselves together in one group and the capitalists and the landlords in the other. This was done successfully by the Communists before and during the revolutions in Russia, China and Cuba.

    It can be seen that the social conflict split is not only a powerful tool to disunite a society. It can be –if carried to the extreme [like NOW in the U.S.] a DEFEAT IN ITSELF. AN EXPLOSION OF A CONFLICT SPLIT MAKES A NATIONAL WAR OBSOLETE SINCE IT MAKES SOCIETY ITS OWN ENEMY. IN THIS CASE, DEFEAT IS ASSURED WHICHEVER SIDE WINS.

    “But if the present internal dissension continued,” wrote Livy more than two thousand years ago, “then the war between Rome and Carthage would be nothing in savagery compared with the CIVIL WAR which was bound to come to Syracuse, where within the same walls each side would have its own army, its own weapons, its own leaders.”

    “The White Flag Principle: How to Lose a War and Why” by Shimon Tzabar (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1972) pp. 48-54.

    Sheila’s speech was magnificent, but the effect of logical rhetoric, no matter who delivers it, is severely minimized by the above political reality we are all having to face in present-day America.

  2. “A year or so ago, I came across the proceedings of a symposium on political civility. The contributors wrestled with difficult questions: what is the difference between the necessary arguments that illuminate differences and help us resolve them, and rhetoric that “crosses the line”?”

    This blog, and especially the copied and pasted paragraph above, immediately brought to my mind President Obama’s earliest campaigning. Republicans and Democrats alike belittled his initial political employment as a Neighborhood Organizer. His job was in probably the most dangerous area of Chicago where even the words “civil” and “civility” were virtually unknown. He had to begin at the bottom of the stack to educate residents and business owners in those areas to the fact that volunteering their time, abilities however small, money however little, and working together would ultimately benefit themselves, their families and their businesses. This was no easy endeavor but he did a commendable job and got a workable volunteer system started.

    Having worked in Mayor Bill Hudnut’s Division of Community Services (DCS), I immediately recognized what a “Neighborhood Organizer” faced and the difficulties of the job before him. Through DCS we had an incredible system of Multi-Service Centers, Senior Centers and Health Centers; our office monitored the federal funds which helped to support this system. But…the centers relied on volunteers and donors to succeed in providing necessary services to all in their area. No one was turned away.

    Then Reagan was elected, all federal funds were lost and the system spiraled – BRIEFLY – into turmoil. The call went out for volunteers and donors and that call was quickly answered; some services were cut through no choice to save the basic centers. The Hispano-American Center was the only source for assistance for all immigrants coming into Indianapolis and Marion County; today we still see the results of the loss of some of their valuable services here. Many senior centers were shut down, leaving elderly with nowhere to go for help or companionship.

    This was only one city who suffered under GOP lack of understanding and/or caring for those in need; the denial of assistance was a national problem and has escalated to what we see at the top government level today, the failing education system, crumbling infrastructure and the rising crime rate in our neighborhoods. Volunteers cannot maintain our crumbling infrastructure, repair the broken education system or fight crime in our streets but they can provide support to those who perform these vital services; freeing them to do their jobs better. We are all depending on you; as one who can no longer physically “get out there”, I know how much you are depended on.

  3. I am impressed with Sheila’s speech, which diagnoses our lack of civic engagement and provides the medicine we need to attain social cohesion. We can agree to disagree but we cannot disagree to agree if we are anywhere near “all in this together.” As I have often blogged, if we lose our social cohesion, then Katy bar the door! In such an event (and hateful rhetoric of the day is moving us in that direction at an accelerated rate), I don’t know what will happen, but I daresay it won’t be good when any society (including ours) discards its democratic values in favor of anarchy inspired by libertarian nihilism. As for instant information provided by the internet, such information could be a force for good as well as bad if people are steeped in democratic values, but curricula designed to only celebrate making money and not strengthening fundamental democratic values (See the abolition of civics for high schoolers in Texas) doesn’t help. Sheila has identified the underlying threat to our democracy and has proposed counter measures to reinstate democratic understanding of how to deal with such assaults on our most precious national asset, our democracy. We are well advised to listen to her.

  4. Pingback: elderblogger
  5. Nothing like being “sandwiched”

    Definition: to be sandwiched between someone/something and someone/something to be in a small or tight space between two people or things that are larger

    The tiny kingdom was sandwiched between Austria and Czechoslovakia.

  6. I love this! It is off subject, but the tribe won’t mind. They usually are, too.

    What do you call someone who uses a partisan website, referring to a partisan ‘fact checker’ to prove that her candidate is the 2nd most honest politician in the land?

    In addition, the ‘study’ includes 50 statement made by ‘the 20 most prominent politicians in the country.’ The 20 most prominent, includes only 4 from the party of the blogger, the website, and the fact checker.

    Of the 4, they occupy 4 of the 6 most honest positions.

    Only a partisan hack would do that, as you did on October 10th, Professor. So a self admitted bigot, and now a hack.

  7. I thought it was great. Thanks Professor.

    william forgot his pills today. it’s sunday, lighten up.

  8. Happy Sunday!

    Even a bigot hack deserves a day of rest. Didn’t get the memo it was Sunday.

Comments are closed.