Author’s Preface Post 11

Discipline and The Rules of Engagement: What Every Parent Needs to Know about the Use of Force

21. A Warning

         Be careful. My book itself is a rejection of a fundamental analytical concept in social science. To explain that, we have to look at the analytical division of human activity into the micro and the macro. The Little World and the Big World. This division is fundamental to most studies in sociology, psychology, and economics. However, I submit that in real life this conceptual division is not only misleading, it is destructive.

22. The Micro and the Macro: An Analytical Conceptualization

         People narrowly focused on their own little inter-personal face to face, computer to computer, commentary, interaction, home building, community engaged lives—the micro, may miss the larger forces—the macro—rising unseen, unnoticed in the towns, villages and states all around them.

By the same token, in reverse, individuals with enormous power and authority, operating as heads of states, illuminati in think tanks and universities, directors in powerful bureaucracies, banks, insurance and other financial operations, not to mention various magnates in these organizations, as well as private entrepreneurs—these people literally think of themselves as “big picture” operators. They think in extra zeros. They don’t think in thousands of dollars, they think in millions, or more. If the DOW[1] is a remote measure of the behavior of these individuals, then collectively, these individuals and their behavior, however measured, can be conceptualized to be a reflection of the macro, and their actual impact on the micro may not be what they think it is.

As social scientists, and I am one, we divide our examination of the worlds of human activity into the macro and the micro, and our academic publications, departments and class titles follow suit. Sociologists who practice reductionism literally cannot graduate with advanced degrees in the discipline. It is axiomatic (an iron Rule) in sociology that there are forces at the macro level in societies that cannot be reduced to explanations using the interplay of individuals as primary variables controlling social outcomes.

To avoid being defrocked in my own discipline, I make this defense: conceptually, the micro and the macro are secure in their place as analytical tools. But there are some concepts that transcend the micro-macro conceptual division. Human ideas about the use of force in society, and by extension the social construction of the rules of engagement in the use of force at every level of society, is one of these concepts.

Anyone who adopts the sociological notion in its purest form — that the Rules of the Many will, given time, almost always overpower the Rules of Any One Person—will benefit from an examination of the Rules of Engagement. It will from many a blunder free you.[2]

Any ongoing analysis of the Rules of Engagement will transform your capacity to see the world, not as you want it to be, but as close as you can get to how the world of human interaction really is. This book can do that for you. Or, rather, you can use this book to do that for yourself.

After that, you will be able to help others. Perhaps even your children. The reason this book can give you a new way of looking at your world is because I don’t have to put everything in the book. I can make the do-it-yourself part short and simple.

23. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

         Sharing and building together is the beauty of non-fiction, the beauty of science. In any field, we build knowledge slowly and, literally, on the shoulders of recognized giants whose written work is already accessible. The explosion of information available through the Internet means many published authors’ works are “out there,” and those who are still alive are often blogging their hearts out in contemporary exploration.

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[1] The Dow Jones Average.  Or the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  Or the Stock Market Index.  A key measure of financial activity from 1896 to the present for Wall Street, USA.

[2] Borrowed directly from the poetic observation I was taught in its original Scottish cadence:  “Oh, wad some pow’r the giftie gi’us, to see ourselves as ithers see us, it wad from many a blunder free us, an’ foolish notion” with apologies to Robert Burns, To a Louse, 1786.

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Dr. Franny

The job’s not over until the paperwork is done!

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