“Unaided rationality,” a concept of Gregory Bateson in his “Steps to an Ecology of Mind,” allows us to see there are limitations to rational perception. What is amenable to rationality is very limited. West Churchman went on to estimate that the world susceptible to the limits of reason is about 10%. The other 90% involves the domains of religion, politics, aesthetics, etc., what he calls the “non-rational.” Bateson thesis was that that the limits of rationality needed assistance.
The faces of small children illustrate the richness in all that comes from and returns to the human mind in all its complexities and mythologies. Thus we have three ways of thinking about human perception. Clearly the non-rationality, politics, arts, religion, etc., is a major part. Just as clearly the rational is a long standing standard for reducing the complex to the simple, even if wrong or misapplied. The third way is the irrational. What is it? It the rational is to relate to each other and our immediate surroundings and the non-rational is to relate to the cosmos, what is this troublesome way of the irrational? Herein the irrational is what happens when we attempt to harshly fit the non-rational into the rational and retain it there. It escapes as the irrational, doing much harm to others and itself.
The human project faces a fundamental choice over the human direction and nature of human development on the planet. This choice of individual humans has always been with us for eons but somehow the consequences of our choices are now dire. The systemic consequences began in the early 1960s but became harder to ignore a decade later. Much of this is due to the growth of population and the growth of technology. These two now magnify long acceptable and unknown consequence of pursuing intended results.
Just now we are in the hero seeking stage, where we seek rare individuals will rise up from their everyday normal existence to take charge and leading others to a “better state of existence”, or even solve the dire problems confronting the same group. The superman syndrome is all around us, not only in movie theaters. Soon we may see the superwoman version of the same, that will be as unsuccessful, in that “we have met the problem and they are us.”
Evidence now suggest leadership ideas and occupants are akin to Japanese cartoon characters, offering two dimensional leaders with one dimensional aspirations: Glorification of self.
For those thinking more deeply about why and what leadership should be they see that contemporary leadership roles are filled with aspirants to being part of the Faustian Tragedy where all act to build up long term costs for short term gains, with most of the gain intended for themselves. Most governments are now filled with such leaders. This “leader,” usually a he, is most eager to say anything about anything to show command of all things he does not know about. In the US its like a Donald Trump. In other countries it is mostly those who have amassed great wealth via corruption and privatizing the work of others.
A true leader in history is often seen to not even notice if anyone is following. They simply feel strong about what is the right thing and that it must be pursued regardless of personal cost. The more Faustian leader, like a Trump, is more negotiable. He constantly counts those following him and seems willing to say anything about anything to gain temporary support. All is short term, consistent with the thinking of those who follow the leader. This person is on the wrong side of dilemmas where he gains a political following via a base form of political correctness by shaming political correctness. Truth is a casualty. The longer term vision is absent via continual Faustian bargaining, i.e., the long term is sold off for very short term very private gains. Those that close the Faustian deals are seen as societal leaders. Well being of the context, or more poetically the commons, is lost. Quite simply, leadership via the Faustian Bargainers can be seen to be “leadershit,” not leadership.
The end state of this approach to leadership is troublesome to the human project. The results achieved bring about fateful consequences. The results lower the prospects of the human future, and pose an unfortunate aroma. Most people can smell leadershit but they also think it is acceptable in their short term, thereby also being part of the Faustian Tragedy.
Leadershit is frequently associated with trading in and making much use of a related phenomenon, widely known as bullshit. Important here is can we frame a theory of leadershit or articulate a theory of bullshit? This has not been done in that these two terms are seen as too base to bring up, let alone considering their role in society. Herein we take the stance that there are no bad words, only bad phenomena that are titled. Those that will to leadershit and make much use of bullshit are too important in contemporary society to pretend away, or hide in the back room with the dirty words that should be kept from children. Via this approach our children will not have much of a future. For their sake we need to better understand the dark side of human nature.
Via advancing technology the costs of leadershit trading in bullshit is too high. There is less insulation via time for the mistakes of these anti-leaders. Consequences of achieving the wrong results arrive almost as quickly as the results. Nuclear bombs in urban area are a high probability, the destabilizing of the necessary human context via climate change is a certainty.
I have often come to recommend a small black 3″ by 5″ black book over the past decade to friends, students, companies and politicians. The contents help understand the normal by accessing that which is outside the normal. The subject matter is the troubling societal sounds around widespread calls for coherent leadership. The little black book is titled “On Bullshit,” (Frankfurt, Harry, Princeton University Press, 2005) It builds on the prior work seen in a prior book: “The Prevalence of Humbug.” (Black, Max, Cornell University Press, 1985)
In the 2005 book the 1985 concern with growing “humbug” shifts to a term many have come to replace humbug with, more simply “bullshit.” The concern for finding truth in 2005 is spelled in this little black book titled “On Bullshit.” (Frankfurt, Harry, Princeton University Press, 2005). Bullshit is presented as something that precedes a lie and sets the aroma for that which fills the air after a lie. Some call it the smoke and mirrors that makes it difficult to locate and address the lies and lairs in society. This is the world that most citizens have come to expect as the law-making aspect of federal and state legislators. The bullshit implicit in legalese acquired in law school is unfortuante. In the short term is serves to mask meaning, or lack to public service meaning. In this way it mask for whom the law is intended to benefit. In this way the long term is constantly diminished. Democracy is not present therefore change is not possible. Leonard Cohen addresses this in his dream of democracy finally coming to the USA.
Lies are usual to societal communication, especially where the subject is the meaning of life where meaning is sent off to an afterlife domain, i.e., religious beliefs. Religion is used as a basis for control over others or a hope in an afterlife from seeing no sign of hope in real time. While religions still serve to provide the air of bullshit this is not the concern herein. Somehow the contemporary context for lying is outside constructed beliefs for an afterlife since this life is so disappointing. Lies are simply more prevalent and fateful to the future of humans. The bullshit is so thick that we now treat lies and lying as a as a so what phenomenon. We political leaders are not expected to be truthful, in fact we seem to search for and vote for ones we hope will like more than those from other jurisdictions.
Lies and the bullshit they are packaged within used to concentrate on giving humans current meaning via images of an afterlife that promised to be meaningful. The same routine is used in Islamic and Christian religions. For the extremes in each religion the occupied life is meaningless except for deeds that get them access to the afterlife as soon as possible. This seems to continue in places like Iraq, Syria, South Carolina and Texas but but due to new technology of IT and nuclear destruction it is easier to talk about this and achieve an Armageddon ideal sooner. Overriding this is of course the certainties of longer term climate change as a consequences of shorter term economic results. The bullshit obscures discussion of how to respond.
There are two dimensions to bullshit. One is the intent to deceive about a subject at hand. The second is to deceive at a higher level, to keep the one deceiving from being seen to be involved in deception. The second aspect may present the more serious problems for society in that it often stimulates wider deception and lies. To engage in bullshitting thus implies that there is a context for a stream of lies each intended for some reason to deceive. It is the context for lies not necessarily the lies that are of interest in Frankfurt’s book and herein.
Herein this is interesting in that not only the US political system but its offshoot, the US judicial system, may well be based on and in bullshit. This may explain why the US has more people in prison than and other nation. Bullshit is a smoke screen over the normal process of seeking justice. This explains why those with small drug use offenses are in prison but no Wall Street Banker is even charged for his anti societal acts.
Assume there is a disagreement about something, where there are two or more interpretations of what is truth. The law sets the rules for how truth may be determined and by whom under what conditions but here too there can be an allowance for bullshit, or even an invitation to bullshit. Lawyers on both sides of an issue are assumed to, even expected to, provide bullshit about what happened so their vision of truth will prevail. That lawyers are expected to lie is a given, in that they are excused from what they say during a trial. Via the New Jersey ethics law of 1994 lawyers were held to the same non deception standard as other professionals. This proved to be unworkable and thus they were excused from the ethics law in 2007. This takes us to the question of does the end of finding the truth justify the means of lying and deceit? I will not go into this now.
My concern is that in business transactions, especially with customers that provide one time transactions, there is opportunity for deceit. In legal transactions it seems to go well beyond this, to essentially assume, even expect, deceit is important to the process. Certainly prisoner interview processes, from questioning to torture, require bullshit, deceit and lies. Studies show that those who have done it a long time even come to forget what they do and thus deceive themselves in the doing. It would seem that the search for truth in the legal process is more laden with deceit then is the business process. Perhaps because the customers of the first can walk away. Customers of the second must endure and depending on the amount they can afford to pay a legal representative they can fill the process with their own bullshit. Once a law school course teaches that students must keep a distance between the law and ethics, and follow the first while avoiding the ambiguity of the second, the die is cast.
Add to this the steady creeping in of strategic thinking. Strategy began in military operations where it was a level above tactical thinking. One deal with mental map, the other was management of the tangible operations. First articulated in 1866 by General Causwitz in Prussian in “On Warfare” strategy is clearly deceit. He defined it as where if deceit is not involved, then it is not strategy. It is on lying to the enemy about intentions, and perhaps even lying to those working with the soldier in charge. It can involve losing a battle,or pretending to, in order to win the war. During the 1950s it made it into business thinking, especially at the Harvard Business School that was formulating an idea to make business more like law by bringing case method to learning about business. By the 1970s strategy was an integral part of all MBA programs. This is the stuff of why CEOs are expected to prepare different numbers for employees, customers, boards of directors and shareholders. Deception was crucial to success. It is interesting for purposes herein that such strategic thinking then entered the public sector, including judicial process. Yes, the means were deceit, but the end of truth was thought to be served. Where deceit got too far out of hand there was always a more supreme court to oversee the deceitful process of finding truth. This maybe how bullshit became ever more prominent to the judicial process. The non speaking of Associate Justice Clarance Thomas illustrates one dimension of bullshit. The bad writing and speaking logic of Associate Justice Antony Scalia illustrates the other dimension of strategic bullshit.
Is bullshit endemic to the human process? What causes it to grow louder and more pervasive during certain periods in history? What allows it to be embarrassing during other periods?
Here is a small story from a 2012 judicial hearing held in Bridgewater, New Jersey. Much finer grain analysis will be provided elsewhere on this hearing and the bullshit surrounding it as well as the leadershit behind it.
On January 16, 2012 a hearing began that was scheduled for two weeks. It involved a university, defined as a state agency, against one of its former employees who had been fired for ethical violations of New Jersey ethics. The NJ ethics law allowed the agency to do the firing but if contested it needed to hold a hearing to get to the objective basis of the ethical charges, to see their merit before the Agency was allowed to certify that the firing was legitimate. The Agency could use an administrative judge or hire its own, with its own money. The agency, the university, decided to hire its own version of a judge. Prior to that the university hired two lawyers as prosecutors during the search for objective truth. One of them had been fired by the person charged with ethics violations of NJ law. This brought noticeable passion to the objective hearing. It is not known if these two lawyers selected the sort of judge to determine the truth in the hearing but they may have played a role in recommending “the best” person to judge the merits of two sides. The Hearing commenced with the judge beginning by welcoming the second prosecutor with a large smile and a first name salutation. No one else was ever called by the first name during the hearing, as it was an objective process, set up for truth finding.
The Role of Optimism in Leadershit via Bullshit
Lewis Armstrong is helpful to seeing the dilemma in human optimism. He sings he very optimistic song in a very sad manner, thus helping use understand the implicit dilemma. Its easy to note how leadership attempts at power by trying to inspire, to describe and picture a pathway of how to get to the good life. all as so mournfully presented by the power of Lewis.
Armstrong’s sadness in outlining human happiness seems very insightful. It is as if optimism is not warranted. When outlined by those who would be leaders optimism seems to never be honest. More often than not leadership outlined by would be leaders sets the stage for ruin. This can be see in leaders emerging from the ruins of WW I. Therein Germans choose a risky leader, one who promised to make Germany great again, and allow Germans to rise above hopelessness. I gave a lecture in 2007 in Germany on this subject. It was to the Liebnitz Society of Sciences, where most of Germany’s leader scientist gather. The subject was tolerance. My point was should we be tolerant about intolerance? Should we have accepted Hitler’s presentation of intolerance towards some, as we seem to accept Donald Trumps current intolerance of others?
The basis for WWI was clearly unwarranted, but the consequences from WW II are seldom connected to the results of that war. It is as if leaders are presupposed to lead to war against something bad from others, not lead for something good for all. Just now the stakes of leadership are much higher then at the end of WW I. The proposed war is not against another societal group but against the ravages caused by nature, ravages that are mostly a consequence of decades of human results.
As such a major concern at the beginning of the 21st Century is consequences of the results of winning the war with nature. Who should lead us from this consequential mess? Where are the leaders? What is their location, degree of intelligence and necessary wisdom? Should leadership be in the UN, Washington, D.C., IBM or at the individual level? In history, should leadership have been in the chambers of British royalty or in the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi? Should it be in what sits in the US White-house, or in those walking alongside Martin Luther King? Should it be in the violent words of Lenin or in the ideas of Kropotkin, who was the non-violent mentor of Gandhi and King?
Prior to action, how do you detect good qualities in a leader while lacking good evidence. After evidence of bad leadership has surfaced, herein placed in the category called leadershit, how does a social group reorganize for damage control? Of current concern to the human condition is where do we find new leaders to help us survive climate change after the work of old leaders that brought it about, or preached its non existence? i.e., How do we get to the promised land of Lewis Armstrong?
A Proposal: Good leadership elevates the qualities of the context at the price of the leader. Leadershit elevates the hierarchical prominence of the leader at the cost of context. Jesus would appreciate the first, Adam Smith would argue for the second. Except in the mind of the world’s 1% the actions of the two are incompatible. In conclusion, the good is seen to inspire human improvement while the bad quickly smells like something to fertilizer. Let us use this as a working thesis to better understand what is going on, and what is our best role in goings on.
Assumption One: The Pessimism from Optimism We like to be optimistic, to assume the best in others, of ourselves and from the human condition. We like the words of Lewis Armstrong, always sung with the realism of such deep sadness. We appreciate the optimism of normal leaders, yet….well you know the rest.
The evidence grows that our optimistic trust in leadership in society is unwarranted, even becoming dangerous. Evidence that contemporary ideas of leadership need questioning seems to grow, especially relative to political leadership and leaders. It is being accepted that very few politicians aspire to be leaders in any myopic sense, but simply out to use political power to collect wealth for themselves and their loved ones. this is a problem in all countries and cultures. In fact we do not seem to expect those we vote for or support to be leaders in any myopic sense when we vote for them. We send them to government so we can blame them for what happens, while avoiding our responsibility for what we in fact do. Representatives allow us to feel good about the bad we support. We also argue how its important to find and elect representatives to government that are even more corrupt and problematic then those sent by our adversaries. Thus we might say that we get the leaders we deserve.
In 1888 Ambrose Bierce defined Optimism for the 19the Century. “optimism, n. The doctrine, or belief, that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong. It is held with greatest tenacity by those most accustomed to the mischance of falling into adversity, and is most acceptably expounded with disproof – an intellectual disorder, yielding to no treatment but death. It is heraditary, but fortunately not contagious” (Devils Dictionary, 1888)
Assumption Two: Crack-age Management We generally distinguish leadership from management. Leaders provide direction and inspiration to attain that which is promising, or promised. Management, on the other hand, is sent out to oversee and achieve the promise. Each blames the other for what follows from this. Business schools are especially good at retaining this hopeless process, while avoiding any questioning of it. They are widely known as training graduates to achieve the wrong ends ever more efficiently.
Lewis Armstrong’s poetic words are sweet rain for the soul but the voice carrying the message carries significant concern, almost a cry of hopelessness in his and the general human condition. I recall in 1961 being at a dance in Fairfield Iowa where Armstrong provided this song as a means to the one I loved. I was very drawn to the sadness in his soul, while my dance partner heard the happier theme. After the dance she was drawn to leave me as quickly as possible. I didn’t mind at that point. Truth seemed to discourage happiness. Our love had encountered one of Leonard Cohen’s “cracks in life’s systems”. You might recall his suggestion that “…there are cracks in everything, cracks are what lets the light in…..”
Humans can value differences very differently. From differences decisions are made. The major problem is that we often deal in differences that make no difference except they keep us from seeing what matters while such goes bad. From this weakness the human condition often becomes indirectly defined. This is known as the phenomenon of Roman Circuses, or TV Sports. Leadership, by others, of us, or of ourselves in the face up opposition from others, becomes the variable of success/failure. Can we turn off the TV?
Assumption Three: Some Raise Troublesome Questions My concern for who and what leads us through life was thereby sparked by the above Armstrong song. The concern grew via being at Iowa State University two years later where most teachers could not teach and were not expected to. The concern reached an irreversible cry in the darkness three years later with I was drafted and sent to war in Vietnam. All this concern came from questions about then questions of leadership. The leadership provided by Armstrong example was poetic, contradictory and reflective about the role of the soul. The leadership or lack of it in getting to and managing within Vietnam was discouraging. It served to kill the soul and killed many bodies.
Much reflection is aided by listening to the pessimistic tone of Lewis Armstrong. Much waste and destruction is generated by the optimism of the words, not the voice. It is fair, insightful or gross to title the second category as “Leadershit”? It is direct, overtly vulgar or terribly accurate? Certainly the leadership of taking the US to Vietnam and directing combat while there qualifies as leadershit on the larger scale. Since that time the leadershit at the small scale seems even more rampant and costly for society. One example follows.
When Hawk was asked to be interim dean of the School of Management at NJIT in 2005 he put together a while paper with the help of the most involved, most concerned and most intelligent aspect of the school – its students. A two day retreat was held in the school where faculty were excused from classes for two days to map out the future of the school. All came the first day, all stayed away the second day after more or less saying: “Whatever, you deal with it.” This led to what was posted on the NJIT website as the “dean’s welcome”, to give an idea to prospective students of what the School was concerned with and attempting to offer students via their course work in the School. Courses were changed, and programs were added to reflect this “mission statement.” Leadership in the 21st Century was key with knowledge of international business as the key to future leadership.
Two and a half years later Hawk was “excused” from duty and replaced by Robert English, who gave the impression of not being able to read while repeatedly stating, as he eliminated Hawk’s academic thrusts in his mission statement, via stating: “I have no idea of what this is so I’m dropping it.” International Business leadership was a center piece in Hawk’s work which was address after Hawk was banned from campus via a visit by two FBI agents in September, 2009 to give presentations on the bad of internationalization, somewhat like a Donald Trump lecture. They advised all faculty in the meeting to remove all management secrets from their computers prior to leaving the US as foreigners would steal them. The irony was that sixty percent of the faculty audience was composed of foreign nationals.
The bullshit factor was that even though all programs to meet the aspirations of the Dean’s Welcome were eliminated the School’s Dean’s all continued to use Hawk’s Statement until 2015. There are extensive email comments from students during this time about the irony. Here is the Dean’s Welcome as written by Hawk in 2005 and as still plagiarized by the position holder three dean’s later.
David L. Hawk, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone: (973)-517-6130
Who is this David Hawk, and how best to characterize him? He was born and raised on a farm near Fairfield, Iowa. He lived in a house with no running water until he was 12. The luxury of an indoor toilet and bath tub had a remarkable impact on him, to which he remains grateful. When he was 14 he became president of his local 4-H chapter, which he closed that day due to members being cruel to animals. He worked extensively in the farm fields from age seven until 18, and had responsibility for milking 27 Jersey cows until the day in 1963 when he left, against his fathers wishes, to attend Iowa State University. During high school he was only allowed to take farm related courses and banned by Ms. Mary Jane Petitt from taking college preparatory math and English courses. She rightfully argued he came from a farm and would probably always remain on a farm. As president of the local Future Farmers of America Chapter in high school he won the state Audubon Award for closing the practice of FFA members bringing paper bags of animal and bird heads to school on Monday mornings, in order to receive points for their getting rid of varmints and pests.
Hawk worked full time, mostly on a UPS night shift, to pay for his college. He began in electrical engineering as he was told it was the most challenging subject. He then transferred into Architecture a year later after overhearing a class room lecture by Professor Vernon Stone on the merits of ever greater use of “brutalizing concrete” to make humans more obedient to leadership. Hawk saw this idea and man as too tragic to ignore.
Hawk enrolled in AFROTC with a new found friend from Nigeria who know much about being treated badly. Hawk and his friend were removed from the AFROTC in an Air Force ceremony to illustrate what happens to those who do not respect the hierarchy, if its upper level bullies the lower level. Those bullies were not at the ceremony called against Hawk, in that they mysteriously ended up with extreme diarrhea. The ceremony was to show what happens to those who cannot obey, but mostly showed what can happen to those who need to be bullies in life.
Near the end of Hawk’s third year at ISU he was contacted by his local draft board to criticize him for transferring from a four year college program to one that took five years. He was informed that during the forth year he would have his name put into the group that would have their names drawn at random, and not be given the fifth year to avoid the army. To be funny Hawk suggested that he be drafted immediately, knowing under the law they could not so such. They could and did such, and drafted him immediately suspending the practice of drawing names. He was to report to the army after finals were completed. He entered the service in Spring, 2006.
He completed helicopter school in fall of 2006 and was sent to Vietnam. Prior to being assigned to the 282nd Assault Helicopter Company, North of Da Nang, he did a month of patrol duty, with his specialty being tunnels. The low point of his tour was on 003 hours, January 31, 1968 in the regional capital of Hua during the beginning of the TET Offensive by the NVA. At one point Hawk was charged with disobeying a direct order of an officer. After due process and a hearing he was promoted two ranks to Spec-5 for having resisted bad leadership. He was promoted four times in twelve months under combat conditions. In March, 1968 he was discharged and sent back to Iowa, even though he did not want to leave Vietnam. It had become he true home, with the spirit of his true friends being there.
Hawk eventually completed his university degree than developed a career helping students at many universities in many countries. He was fired by NJIT in September, 2010 for being guilty of 25 charges related to non ethical behavior. He was not surprised in that his resume list all jobs he had been fired from, always to be offered a better job by those thinking badly of the ethics or leadership of the prior place. Hawk was found guilty of the charges in a secret meeting of the New Jersey State Ethics Commission, where he was not invited due to the extreme seriousness of the charges brought by NJIT against him. In an open hearing conducted during eighteen months all the evidence behind the twenty-five charges was found wrong, or simply derived from lies but none the less he was found guilty of one charge, one thrown away early in the hearing, but brought back at the end once all 25 were found wanting. All involved knew Hawk was guilty of something, just not sure of what and with what evidence. The process is not concluded yet.
Most important to Hawk’s career, he has had the pleasure of having about ten thousand students in his classes, where he continues to be touch with about one thousand. He helped and still helps them as he could and can with housing, tuition, advice’s, and employment. Many have visited his homes and traveled with him. He seldom locked his New Jersey homes where students and visiting faculty were warmly invited to treat as their home. Most end of term presentations by his classes were held in his homes.
Hawk now lives part time on his small horse farm in Mt. Olive, NJ in a stone villa from 1836. He lives much of the time on his larger Iowa farm, in a corporate conference facility where many of those he advises hold meetings. He does extensive work for several companies always having them pay charities instead of him for services rendered and facility use. His needs are and always were small. He drives a 2005 Nissan van and a 2008 Altima both with about two hundred miles. He has no need to dress in suits as he spends part of each day with horses and cows. He works to help support woman and children with no homes and food in various places, including the US. He will help anyone who has been one of his student with any request. Many of the companies he advises are expected to hire his former students.
Admittedly Hawk is a character, with many weaknesses. His character is very open for inspection. He has used his meeting facility to elect Obama, to support Sanders, and to deny Christie access to Iowa farmers in his corner of Iowa. While he and Trump attended the same business school, he sees Trump as a representative of the dark side of the human condition. Hawk understands the frustration of those supporting Trump but feels the initiate Hawk has started of a ballot allowing a mark for none-of-the -above as a more helpful path out from the present of badly trained lawyers managing bad governance.
Hawk hates no one, only what they find they must do for reasons that they are afraid to expose. He holds no resentment again the lawyers and judges of New Jersey who willfully took millions from public monies, with the help of Governor Christie who was on the Board of NJIT, all to deal with this phenomenon called Hawk. They did not exactly steal from the public coffers as clearly other lawyers had passed laws allowing them to serve their own private interests in the name of serving the public interest. It was not up to them to question being unethical in the name of guarding the ethical stature of New Jersey. As they said, they did not write the laws allowing a two week hearing to take eighteen months where they and a retired judge received $500/hour compensation. But, it was up to them to systematically ignore or refuse to examine all evidence that worked against their need to serve the client giving them unlimited access to public monies.
Greater evidence on how others treat the subject of character is seen in njitbs.wordpress.com and njitbs.com. Abstractions outlined herein are given more substance therein. In addition, there is a complete data set of the context, charges, depositions, testimony, exhibits, and findings in Hawk’s My Cloud Public Site. The access points are given later.
Issues of character are central to what we think of as well as what others think of us. Questions of character are used explicitly or implicitly throughout our lives.
The importance of character can be seen in “stories.” The stories illustrate what others think or need to think for financial purposes of my character. How they come to defend their needed thoughts then says a great deal about their character, as well as the character of the system they have aligned their life with. The deeper one goes the more interesting is the dilemma presented by those who conduct business and trade in character. This supports the thesis made by others of the US judicial system being a business with transactions made in character, the assassination of some and avoidance of others.
NJIT vs Hawk, or, more accurately President Altenkirch, The Board of Trustees, four high level administrators, five faculty vs Hawk and NJIT Students
Character is herein discussed via a case the officially began in December, 2007, continues into March, 2016, and only deals with can NJIT fire Hawk, not yet examining the evidence for why he can be fired for what he has said, nor what it was he said. The case presented by NJIT against Hawk has been in an out of one Federal and four State Courts. Hawk asked for explanation of why he could be banned from campus and have his property seized proposing at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. This is where four long term professors in the School of Management at NJIT discussed the downside of David Hawk, the Dean of the School, with the then President Altenkirch. One of the four proclaimed she was the Presidents “very close friend” and had gotten him to fire Hawk. Hawk had criticized the four for their performance in teaching, based on student evaluations, and removed them from teaching in the increasingly popular Executive MBA Program that Hawk was rebuilding. Each received an additional ten to twenty thousand dollars a year extra compensation for teaching in that program. Hawk has also criticized their performance in showing up for classes. The President then asked for Hawk’s resignation. In testimony in a legal hearing in January, 2012 the then Provost pointed out that Hawk was banned from campus due to rumors that he planned to take over campus.
they use we gain insights into their character as well. Some characterizations appear as deeply felt and meant while others seem to causally used to attain other ends, mostly associated with being paid to cast a dark light on my character regardless of what is seen. This last group primarily consist of those attempting to practice negotiation with the idea of laws they didn’t write and perhaps never understood, and seemingly do not need to understand relative to saying what best achieves Faustian ends.
A deeply felt characterization arise in a final report on my character as Dean of a Business School where I was removed by the president of that university January, 2008 from complaints by a female friend of the president about my treatment of she as a business school faculty member. She and the president have since left that university. In early March, 2008, after I had been asked to resign as dean by the president in late January, 2008, this woman brought eight legal charges against my character. Prior to stepping down, being fired, I was told by the provost that the call for my stepping down came from a meeting between this woman and three other professors that I had removed from teaching in a special program where they received extra compensation above their wages. The woman, whose name doesn’t matter here, formalize eight charges against me relative to her inner most feelings on my character. This was a teacher removed from teaching executive students due to their comments that “she is not bad unless she forgets to take her meds, then she is crazy.” Her charges against me were ostensibly softened by a legal counsel she hired, who was later paid for on the record by the university.
An example charge was “She was marginalized in a meeting with executives of (a) Foundation in the Summer 2007. She was seeking to have her research funded by the Foundation. During the meeting it appeared that a decision had already been made to fine (a person), a younger female associate professor.” The facts were that it was a luncheon with the Foundation President and the woman they had tentatively agreed to give the $2 million chair in their name and eight members of the university community also attended. The woman charging my character also showed up and presented her resume to the Foundation President. On the way from the lunch to a private room where he and his associate were to interview the candidate he was seen to walk by a trash can and dropped the other woman’s resume into it. The charging woman was upset by this.
Between March 3 and September 11, 2008 a university wide investigation was carried out by the VP of human resources of the university by members of his staff. On the final page of a nine page report the VP states? “While the totality of the incidents described, may have been unpleasant, it cannot be concluded that such behavior was “severe and pervasive” based on gender or age. Rather, such behavior is reflective of Hawk’s personality, his personal management style, and his assessment of whether he believed you were competent.” In his presentation of the report to me the VP went on to point out that to not tolerate “incompetence” might, as he stated in his written report, “….well call for an assessment of (Hawk’s) fitness for an administrative appointment.” The investigation concluded that none of the charges could be substantiated but further review and attention be give to me.
An example of the other approach to characterizing character can be seen in the operations of New Jersey’s Chair of the State Ethics Commission. Since was was a lawyer it is not clear how she could hold such a position dealing with ethics with any competence but that is not just a question for New Jersey. The university had presented her with three investigative reports that were later all to be found heavily prejudiced by a group of faculty and administrators up with me me, and were seen in a public hearing to be mostly wrong. Without ever contacting me or notifying me of a Commission secret meeting I was found guilty of the secret university charges. When she was later asked to explain in a hearing how she could do this she expounded on how this was allowed in cases where the charges were especially egregious. While showing considerable skepticism of such logic the judge went on to allow her to expand on such thinking. While being paid what was said to be ” a very high fee” she testified in a hearing against me how egregious the charges I was obviously guilty of were. I and a lawyer noted that she went on to expand on her thinking to say even if she had never met me that these were the most serious of charges, and if I was not punished it would mark the end of western civilization. I commented that I thought it ended a long time ago. Later is was shown that almost everything she said about my character had no basis in fact but she was never questioned on how she could hold a secret, potentially unethical and certainly unusual, meeting about my ethics. None the less she was well paid for days of testimony on characterizing my character. She is now a law school professor that seems to make sense.
You will see how the sense of character and its strength can float. This allow students, their families, their employers and the tax-payers to see what they got for what they invested in their public servants. It may allow some insight into the growing distrust in US society for its public institutions and those who lead them.
The occasional music, heard only if you tap on it, taps into the passions of musicians long concerned with the public issue of how to represent those with little voice and no choice. In contemporary society we mostly hear from larger voices who simply assume and take the many choices.
Following is Bruce Springsteen’s not so popular song “Jack of all Trades.” It is about the feelings of the 99% relative to the rules of the 1% that forever strive to structure all social items while spreading hopelessness in the 99% via conspicuous consumption, rudeness, and corruption of the public institutions they purchase. Trump and his expressions about Mexicans typifies the 1% and their lack of concern for the grounding context known as the public good, or even intelligent speaking. This is how the least educated come to be the most rabid followers of Trump like ideologues.
Bruce seems to understand all of the above.
Many lawyers, especially acting as Congressional Representatives or impartial judges, can be seen at the center of the anti-public corruption are bought and paid for by the 1%. They use the public assets for the good of those buying them, or their own good, and not the public good they always leave as ambiguously clear. The tri-part system of the US Constitution and its call for conflict, its founding desire to only include white men, its use of English case method without English culture, and its acceptance of having stolen the lands of America.
The story-line stands at the intersection of two New Jersey state public institutions. Set up and financed by the general fund and participant revenues, the institutions are intended to serve and protect the New Jersey public interests. Since the public interest is or can become ever more ambiguous with time, via diversity of viewpoints and values, it is relatively easy for private interests to commandeer such for their very private interests, even to oppose the public interests.
With time, lack of transparency and public neglect, institutions can be taken over by focused private interests. Without effective oversight institutions are taken over by private interests for their own purposes. They can even be turned against the public interest.
Institutions need transparency to have effective oversight.
The essential question herein, within the blog, and on the NJITBS website, is with how well these NJ Institutions serve the public that sponsors them? The danger is that with time individuals, often leaders, find ways to redirect institutions’ to serve narrower private interests. This can be seen in expanding university faculty and administration in the service of status quo and shun improvement. This comes to include lawyers that are not “required” to be ethical nor have any sense of a good character as long as they operate within their own rules, while being highly paid to “protect” business as usual and denigrate agents of change.
The problem is seen in where participants are allowed to turn a projected two week-long hearing into an 18 month spectacle that excluded witnesses and banned evidence later seen to be essential to the truth of what happened. Perhaps this relates to the legal representatives hired to wort our the case for NJIT were given no timetable but were allowed infinite work at $500/hour. Experts steeped in conflicts of interests were allows much control over the specifics of the case.
The Character of Kathleen Wiechnik, Professor of Law, Seaton Hall University
Clearly not a bad person but perhaps overtly frustrated by not having been able to attend a particularly prestigious law school nor now teaching at one with any particular note. have gone to and now teaching at a now particularly good school. In between she held interesting titles for responsibilities she was apparently not up to handling as a public servant. With a better preparation she might well have done a good job, even by non-New Jersey standards as to ethics and its articulation.
An example is where the Chairperson of New Jersey Ethics Commission could hold a secret meeting to find a defendant guilty, where none of this was known by the defendant who was never notified nor questioned, except by an ethics officer that refused in the interview to share her evidence during and after the interview.
This was not surprising as she had no basic knowledge of the law and the judicial cases surrounding the misinterpreted law she was enforcing. Even less surprising is how her conclusions and charges came via she having no college degree, no special training, nor any demonstrated competence in ethics or investigations. This helps to explain how the final bill for the Hearing can be in the neighborhood of $5 million. This money, never entered in a particular account by the Trustees, including New Jersey’s Governor, came directly from student tuition and tax payer monies, was invested in a single case of a single individual.
That agent was seen to set up to change the process for hiring by setting up a democratic search committee, instead of simply hiring someone. He was then charged with doing to so to hide an as yet undisclosed, perhaps even unfounded, private self-interest that was not the public interest. To firm of the vacuous charge he was also charged manufacturing evidence that would mysteriously help him where proof of its fabrication could be seen from there being no erasures or changes on original while only ever having seen a xerox copy. With time the same lawyers can modify the laws used to expand their interpretation while excusing lawyers from the same laws as its hard to operate under such rules.
The two are New Jersey’s 1) Higher Education Systems and 2) Lower Judicial Systems. In 1994 Christi Todd Whitman set the first free from public oversight while continuing to send the public monies that normally require oversight. One takes money from the public domain and distributes it liberally in the other domain. What is the benefit therein derived?
As is to be expected societal institutions requires funding, maintenance, occasional change, and eventual rehabilitation or even replacement. The bias herein is for how to accomplish occasional improvements so catastrophic replacement is not needed. Those interested in the field can look into institution building, often called social architecture. Therein you will find materials to guide maintenance, remodeling and management, but not so much on abandonment. There is additional material on building missing institutions in society where the most interesting ones are built on the refuse of unused or, harmful and previously abandoned, institutions. In the mentality of the US body politic the US Congress is just now a candidate for abandonment. Perhaps the best way to improve is to raise the issue of how each is funded and ask to see what benefits are derived from what the public invests? Perhaps we start with who do these two institutions serve, is it the public, the public good, or do they work for the interests of a few lawyers and a few educators that have taken control over them.
SOCIAL ARCHITECTURE, A MISSING INSTITUTION
Some sense of oversight of New Jersey Public Universities seems in order to replace what was undone by the Whitman Administration in 1994. Its prime purpose is to provide greater transparency of what is decided and then managed, as well as who decides and manages it. It would look into the obvious contradictions of there being a basis for corruption in leadership with no sense of to where to lead, except be better at doing the wrong things, then in teachers that are doubly protected from the results of their actions or inaction’s by having both tenure and union protections in NJ. Probably some weight should be giving to no lawyers being qualified to be on this commission due to have already excused themselves from ethics rules. This much like the story line
Discussion is emerging in politics of creating a missing institution as oversight of traditional governance. It is concerned with rebuilding a more perfect judicial system. It questions the role of lawyers in government and in litigation. Its calls for ethics to enter both activities and manage the consequences of badly written, often corruptly directed laws while helping badly prepared lawyers or burnt out lawyers who have trouble meeting schedules and then lack time for ethical considerations. The role of lawyers would therein be changed. The role of lawyers in writing legislation may need to be reduced in favor of those whose language and attitude can better represent the values of the majority of citizens. Examples of this can be seen in other countries, such as those in Scandinavia where the judicial creed is: “The first step in getting citizens to obey the law is to write it so they can understand it. Lawyers are demonstrably incompetent at this.” (Hawk, 1977)
This may all be relevant since the US has ten times the number of lawyers per capita compared to our trading partners. There is much evidence that the majority of their activities are harmful to the well being of the economy and sense of justice. One argument against reducing the need for lawyers is to point out how effective the current system is in that the US has more of its citizens locked up than any other country in the world, including China. Those with this attitude proudly conclude that: “We must be doing something right.” This is perhaps the Nancy Reagan attitude to crime and punishment: “Just say no, then lock em up and throw away the key.”
We might want to revisit 18th Century concerns about lawyers packing the Supreme Court. There is an argument that the court cannot be worse if there are only non-lawyers on the Supreme Court. In fact, having no law school graduates might allow it to adopt a more citizen based attitude towards laws and legal interpretations. This might limit the widespread use of incoherent legalese to cover up not knowing what to say or how to say it, or not having had sufficient time to reflect on what ought to be said or thought.
The situation in public universities is similar. Prior objectives of providing a forum for student learning and negotiating with if not finding the truth have become overshadowed. College sports, faculty unions and second rate leaders pretending to be business CEOs have provided an agenda that continually raises tuition above any rate of inflation and promote faculty that do their utmost to avoid having to teach, or teach as if it was not the reason they were there. The result are unprepared graduates with stifling tuition borrowings that keeps them from contribution to society improvement.
Both institutions exhibit problems in their character and the characters they attract. The issue of character inside and outside the current judicial and educational systems provide a foundation for discussions about what is and what ought to be. The challenges of climate change will bring human character to center stage. Mass migration, wide-spread arguments over land, food and materials will require much more robust and fair judicial and educational systems then we currently have.
Just now the current determinant of success in court proceedings seems to be the image of power measured by a litigant’s access to money, including access to tax paper’s money. Truth can still emerge but the route to it is often not obvious. It should be more obvious. Success in the university system is measured by teachers who do their utmost to avoid teaching in order to write tier one papers that no one one reads. Promotion and tenure in universities is granted to those who totally avoid service, make derogatory comments about those who want to teach and their students, and spend their time writing papers where their colleagues at other universities evaluate them.
Symbiotic Negatives of Justice Linked to Education
The blog referenced at the beginning is about the process of a university, NJIT, using the judicial process to bring David Hawk to justice relative to the character of Hawk’s actions as a dean. More specifically, was he ethical, relative to conflicting interests in serving the public of New Jersey? Many millions of public dollars and many years of many people’s public service came to be invested in the process of answering this question. During these years Professor Hawk was banned from campus as he was said to have planned a “take over” of the university for his purposes. Regardless of this silliness he as a seemingly successful teaching (per ratings on “rate-my-professor.com” and his having won most student and alumni sponsored teaching awards in the university) was kept from the classroom. Per his rosters he was about ten thousand students in his courses at NJIT while teaching there. He was also banned from an administration tole in the business school, a role that a judge reviewing his management practices commented was a pathway to the 21th Century.
This process began with four professors going to the president to complain about Hawk after he removed them from teaching in an EMBA program where they each received an extra ten thousand dollars compensation. They were removed based on student comments and the role of student comments in re-accreditation. One of the faculty members when on to actually charge Hawk with more serious crimes than only having removed her from teaching advanced students. An internal report concluded six months later that of the 8 serious charges he was faced with there was no evidence to support any of the charges. The report did whimsically comment that Hawk needed to face further investigation and that perhaps Hawk ought not to have have been in administration because he could not tolerate incompetence.
Perhaps this university is due for rehabilitation. Student tuition was raised almost the same amount as the process against Hawk cost. This involved expenditure of millions in direct and indirect costs. The result of this as it emerged in a final hearing that had been scheduled for two weeks but taking eighteen months was 25 charges were reduced to one. Even it was based on speculation and later shown to not be true, based on the evidence provided. There was simply no supporting evidence for even this one charge. None the less the university board of trustees took that charge an added two more seemingly to justify the years and millions invested. The charge was that he had set up then manipulated a search committee to hire a friend of his.
It was the first time a search committee had been used in the school, according to Hawk, in order to bring more democracy into school management. Hawk admitted that the person hired, one of 36 where the judge also evaluated her as the best candidate, was indeed a friend. She was recommended by the search committee. He defined friend as someone he trusted.
Thus, we are left with an interesting questions. Is it more in the public interest to hire those you do not trust? Perhaps more important is how to prove their case the university administration destroyed thousands of pages of material showing the actual search and related process, and the nature of the friendship between Hawk and the person hired. The interim dean, appointed by the university president, who trashed all the evidence of the hiring also destroyed the hard drive of a central school computer so records maintained for two decades were also lost. In addition two computers used by Hawk at the time and in offices where only administration had access were damaged in Hawk’s absence.
As a brief introduction to the idea that characters involved in the case used interesting characteristics to characterize David Hawk’s character. A few are offered in this list:
One of two prosecutors hired by NJIT to prosecute the case against Hawk’s ethics was the first faculty member Hawk fired after becoming Dean as that lawyer was not qualified to teach business law per accreditation requirements.
The University General Counsel hired an outside law firm to prosecute the case against Hawk as well as the judge that would evaluate Hawk’s degree of guilt for eventual punishment. All three were on a first name basis and all were paid $500/hour. The funds were taken from student tuition and tax payer money.
The judge hired to manage the hearing was a retired chair of the appeals court that was to hear the case later to see if it was done in a legitimate manner.
According to testimony the key prosecution witness had been threatened by university lawyers and ended up giving four different versions of what had happened. The judge found him to be credible in his final report, and the one version given consistently by Hawk to not be credible.
Hawk was accused of manufacturing evidence to support his testimony, where the handwritten notes were said by the judge to have been produced long after the search process where Hawk claimed he made the notes. An affidavit of a witness verifying this to not be so was not allowed into the record. A later letter from a member of the search committee verifying Hawk’s account was not reviewed by the Appeals Court thus their former Chair’s logic was allowed to stand.
LIFE: Delightful, yet sometimes sad, we occupy what we call the human condition. Sensing it to be only a temporary location, life offers few clues as to from we come, to where we go, or even if we are. When aspects of life seem challenging we are advised, by those who can’t know, “It’s better than the alternative.”
DELUSIONS AS LIFE: We often believe we are free to think, although within teleological limits, but as social beings we mostly stumble over and around the furniture placed in our minds by others. Willed by others, including those closest to us, these furnishings pose dichotomies (that are generally false), contradictions (which are mostly uninteresting) and dilemmas (whose resolution exceeds our resources). To compensate for our shortcomings in managing all this, we act out as individuals just like everyone else, and then propose: “Well, at least we still have our freedom.” While mostly a vacuous construct, we appear to appreciate it most while supporting processes that enslave others. When all else fails, we attempt expressions, but mostly in small, insignificant ways. From this we ignore what we have done, then become proudly humble of what we could have carried out.
FIXED SANCTUARIES: Beneath all this, we assume ourselves to be less fixed, and more fluid, then others yet, acting in concert with others we readily accept fixing limits to our thoughts and movement. As such, our existence is structured by Catch-22s and ethical double binds of “damned if we do, damned if we don’t.” On the occasions when we actually think about it, we find existence generally strange, and thus respond in a usual human way by busily limiting our time to think.
HOPE, 2000: Just now we talk up the possibilities in social media being on the verge of inventing a new era for humans to link to higher forms of societal enlightenment. Then, while logged in to our two-dimensional screens, we encounter the same jealousy laden, self-fulfilling limitations and sexual dilemmas from which we thought we were rising above. In frustration we then return to the imaginary dreams in following the clearly hollow promises of becoming rich and famous in this life, or contemplating the doorways of death. In both worlds we seek access to groups of vestal virgins or comfort from the man with holes in his hands. Our summary judgment then gets reduced to choice between following the cheap thrills of the Faustian short term or our ill-conceived longer term immortality projects that can be even more Faustian.
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: We argue over most things, even whether we should be arguing. Underlying this are issues of the relative importance of: voice, choice or wisdom, while having little of each. When we reflect about it, we note that those with voice mostly use it to irritate those who still listen. Those with choice mostly invest it in the immediately meaningless of the day, while busily constructing immortality projects, that are to be paid for by others. Wisdom, when we have glimpses of it, seems to get banished from our life support systems. We almost always prefer smart to wise, and while being smart we use the technology that could allow us to expand beyond ourselves to reduce and enslave others. Until someone discovers a way to vaporize a major city, via the technology that was to free us from the slavery of need, we may not quite understand the intuitive gaps in what we have come to call sensing, feeling and thinking.
WISDOM: Individuals laden with wisdom are hard to define and even harder to find. As such we confine what they offer to the land of uncertainty, or simply banish them to the universe of ambiguity. Our collective challenge seems to be how to get beyond this avoidance of a need for wisdom. Knowledge-based enlightenment can be helpful, in that it is certainly better than a data driven death, but wisdom is not more knowledge. Even those aware of the difference seem to prefer aligning their activities with the certainties of facts while shunning the uncertainty of ideas. Just now the human project seems to prefer data mining to idea refining. Presumably, this can be changed, but how?
DATA MINING IN PLATO’S CAVE: Herein, the value of data driven reality is given less importance. The questions being raised are more fundamental and fundamentally different. They arise from differences that can make a difference. They look to the contents and intents of three worlds: 1) the rational, 2) the irrational, and 3) the non-rational.
We humans seem to prefer the limits of the first two, while avoiding to the potentials of the third. One and two address the essence of how we describe what humans are and do. In this humans retain the certainties of 17th Century versions of enlightenment, but ignore all that was known before.
HOPE IN THE NON-RATIONAL: The third, the world of the non-rational, offers resources for a new kind of human project. It offers a way out from current self-imposed human conditions. While there is ambiguity about what lies on the other side of the door, it may soon be our only choice.
I would propose that we humans emphasize the power of the rational, while ignoring the far greater potential of the non-rational. We try to not notice the limits of unaided rationality; unaided by all the other ways of knowing. We thus beget and soon encounter the dangers of the irrational, then turn irrational ourselves. The emphasis on demands for rationality, in what we expect others say and do, (an obvious means to control them) seems to excite greater irrationality in them than rationality. This, in turn, excites our irrationality thus we emphasize our version of rationality even stronger.
Much of what we see wrong about our present situation falls into one of the following three perspectives:
That someone is out to get us and we need to get them before they get us, or,
Our life is simply a test track for an after-life, thus we should concentrate on finding and studying the right driver’s manual before the day of the big test comes along, or,
As little Pogo once said in his simple-minded comic strip: “We have met the enemy, and they are us.”
GROUP A: The first camp is heavily populated and especially weary (paranoid?) about any efforts that seem like change. Members of the camp studiously avoid reflection on what they or others actually say. They great each other with the never heard question: “Hi. How are you?” They support almost any actions that promise to freeze, or reverse, societal progress. They hate what they see as “progressives.” The idea of culture is their ally. They see, and probably should see, parallels between their angst and the downfall of all societies; Rome, Myan cities, Spain, England and other constructions leading to societal abandonment. Their key philosophy is perhaps best exemplified by a comment once whispering to me:
“Remember David, even paranoid people have someone after them.”
GROUP B: The second group is relatively harmless. Its members primarily watch TV, consume large amounts of sugar, rely on their government to manage their affairs, and have strongly held beliefs needed no intellectual support for all things. Their reality is structured by wanting clear actions based on obvious convictions. Talking to them reveals that: “If you don’t worship our beliefs, which, by the way, we don’t know very well, then you must be against us; i.e., you are the enemy.”
GROUP C: Members of the third group are the skeptical of reality, especially the versions seen by Groups A and B. They tend to be pains in the ass. They demand coherent responses to underlying questions. They see how their own words and actions have contributed to society’s problems, and are not pleased with it. They are tough to manage via talk of rationality, reason and rationales. It’s hard work being around these people. They keep attempting to take responsibility for what they have done and do, and want you to do the same.
Rationality provides a tidy, predictable world. It appreciates control systems. It offers and supports logical frameworks for structuring chaotic reality. The control it allows works as long it is kept within a closed system. Others, neighbors, foreigners, etc., tend to open up the system and destroy the rationality. Great writers, such as Ambrose Bierce in 1888, was adept at pointing to the weaknesses of all such approaches to closed systems and logic. The strength of rationality is that it is easy to understand. The weakness of it is that to be logical it offers understanding that excludes the problem and the solution.
The non-rational is a messy and chaotic place. It contains religion, politics, aesthetics, poetics and all other forms of confusion that defy rational understanding, control and management. Unfortunately, for those who aspire to control, the non-rational makes their purpose unattainable. In response, control aspirants move to trivialize chaotic. This, in turn, seems only to energize the troubles with the limits of rationality. These difficulties grow to become the irrational.
The contents of this site are dedicated to those who would want to experiment with new ways to see and to manage our realities. This requires suspending our too great faith in methods of control and means of management.
And so it ends: Relationship Alignment: reducing friction, realizing value.