Sunday, November 02, 2008

Marcel, the guy with a baguette in his armpit

One of the mysteries of organizational psychology is the near inevitability of different social roles emerging inside the human ecosystem. If you put a hundred identical people together in a community, with a few months, twenty will be the responsible hard-workers, ten will be the class clowns, and the other seventy will be middling coalition -- willing to do what they are asked, but also eager to avoid work when they can. The extra discipline of the hard workers comes from a psychological oppositionality in seeing their structural superiority to the mediocre middle and the lazy laggards.

In rare cases, an entire organization -- conceptualizing itself in opposition to other organizations -- can defeat this basic dynamic. By structurally situating themselves in relation to other collectives, they are able to be almost 100% productive -- because they have effectively externalized their tribal need to psychologically represent the roles of class clown. This, of course, is the dark fact of racism's social utility -- and the tragedy of racism is not that one community takes its own superiority for granted, but rather that the other community accepts the role assigned to it -- or that the first community uses its power to suppress the second.

In this campaign, Obama and Axelrod have created a campaign of hard workers, and in broader political ecosystem, McCain's organization is unable to claw their way into the top tier, because the ground is so well occupied, with the bizarre result that their own campaign is so slapdash that it can be infiltrated by a pair of Canadian comedians posing as the Prime Minister of France.

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