Socially constructed war LO30000

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 03/16/03

Replying to LO29997 --

Dear Vana, hello losterners,

Good question, although artificial reification sounds a bit like a
pleonasm: reification "is" an form of art. It is both the highest and the
lowest form of the art of thinking. Can't think without it, can't think
with it.

And, call it coincedence or not, i've being discussing reification and
social constructivism over the last weeks with some fellow learners in a
small master class on intervention. And deconstructing too. And paradox.

The current situation - "the war", the "threat of war" - seems to me an
already classical example of group think, a no-win prisoners dilemma.
Reality has nothing to do with it anymore; clear, rational thinking about
this dilemma has been taken over by irrationality and emotionality -
although there is nothing wrong with that. The current situation is like
the joke about the patient suffering from "achtervolgingswaanzin", what
was it called in English? Persecution syndrom? The diagnosis will invoke
this reaction: "may be so, but it doesn't prevent others from presecuting

What we see here are the paradoxes of power, perception and scarcity.

Power: contains "problems" like: we can "use" power only when empowered by
the others, the weak, the powerless. We have only the power to control
behaviour when the other allows us to control their behaviour. When we
use one type of power, the other uses a different type of power - unfair
!. The more powerful we become, the more vulnerable we are for incidents.
So, in a way, the weak control the strong .

Perception implies that we can only see ourself through the interactions
with others. But when we assume the other is inferior to us, do we like
how we're being perceived? So, in a way, the strong percieve themselves as

Scarcity: what we have, another cannot have and vice versa. We could
co-operate in ways that we increase our common wealth, but how should we
divide the earnings? We see ourselves as more powerful, better, so we're
entitled to the lion's share? Why does the other doesn't see it this way?
Better that we all live in poor conditions, then that there exists the
intollerable injustice of unequal shares, shares that others didn't

Being caught in a paradox means that there is no rational solution but to
attack Iraq. Therefor we have to find paradoxical answers, like:
 - the UN should have commanded the US to attack Iraq, not because Iraq
misbehaves, but because the US doesn't see it another way. (Like the drunk
searching his key under the lamp). It is not too late to do this!
Remember: people will suffer and die both ways.
 - whenever the US says it feels treatened, it should inform the UN and
NATO who should form an army to deal with this treath. These bodies could
be far more effective in dealing with these treaths, so the US will not
suffer the added anxiety of having to deal with these terrorists.
 - acknowledge that the US, the # 1 superpower, is painfully hurt by a
terrorist attack. However it survived, it is still #1 and the US should
search countries that have never suffered from terrorist attacks and
should help them in preventing this from happening there. Even if that
would imply to recall their ambassadors from these countries (in order to
prevent terrorist form attacking US diplomats in these countries).
 - US should create havoc in economics: when the world economy slows down,
it will hurt the weak countries the most.

Later more,


Vana wrote:

>I've found myself in numerous conversations the last few weeks with
>intelligent and well educated people who talk about "the war."
>I stop them and ask, "what war?"
>"Well, the war in Iraq of course."


Drs J.C. Lelie (Jan, MSc MBA) facilitator mind@work

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