SharedValuesVsRightScaffolding (ThoughtStorms)

Context : TheRightWing

This is a response to a couple of discussions on TheNextEdge about the increasing importance of shared beliefs and values for making project happen

Groups held together by nothing more than common beliefs and values have proved time and again to be incredibly fragile and have ended up in schisms and infighting. Because we never have exactly the same beliefs and values, and for each of us, beliefs and values are continuously evolving.

To use a software development analogy, we've long moved beyond the misleading myth that we can design great systems if only we sit down before we start and analyse what's wanted in sufficient detail. We now know that up-front analysis and design can never accurately predict or forecast the changing circumstances of the thing we build. And, in fact, less pre-planning and a more agile response to changing requirements are a better strategy.

Similarly, we shouldn't imagine that if we somehow analyse, excavate, do enough exercises to filter out the wrong people from the start, this will make our projects more successful.

The great strength of the (for want of a better term) "right wing" philosophies (conservatism and whiggery / classical liberalism / right-libertarianism) is that they acknowledge that co-operation happens NOT because of deep shared beliefs and desires but because people can and must accommodate themselves to other motivations : obligations and duties, temporary trade-offs and short-term profit seeking etc.

It's these co-ordinating principles, the ones which are extraneous to our shared values and goals, which form the scaffolding that takes the load in times when individual aspirations and feelings become misaligned. Duty holds the marriage together. The paycheck keeps me coming to the office with the boss I despise and the colleague who's a jerk.

Now, I'm not advocating BecomingConservative or a right-librarian, I don't think imposed notions of duty or market discipline are the right way to go either. But we should be aware that these things that we don't like much are part of the mechanism that makes the systems we don't like much so robust.

And if we want to build a working system to replace them, we need to figure out how to deal with divergent beliefs and values. We have to understand that our friends, neighbours, colleagues and fellow citizens are always in motion and even if today they commit to the programme we can't expect to pin them down and demand that they think that way for the rest of their lives. Changing beliefs and values are NOT betrayals. Or a sudden revelation of a deep inequity.