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A Conversation about Bottom Up Thinking Applied to Mobs, Education and Top Down Institutions

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Earlier this year I started a listserve group to discuss different aspects and angles about Bottom Up and Top Down, inviting people who had commented on some of my articles that focused on Bottom Up here at OEN. Today, Kevin Tully posted an observation that I thought, combined with my response would be interesting to discuss here. I'd love to see what your thoughts are. Anyone reading this is welcome to apply to join the group. I think this link will get you Google Groups, where you can sign up.

First, Kevin Tully's opening observation:

Rob, there is something that keeps intruding into my thoughts as I'm reading your work. Is the Trump phenomenon an organic bottom up movement in response to the failure of a top down society? If so, is there a built in problem with bottom up -- the masses have a natural tendency to become a mob?

Are top down institutions the capacitors and regulators of the mob? Can you have a mob of educated citizens? Does education start the momentum leading to top down? Is it possible to have effective bottom up institutions in an ideologically divided Democracy? Requires an absolute societal paradigm shift? Will bottom up have to start at the top?


Here's my reply.

Great questions.

We could also include the Tea Party too.

I don't have answers, but here are some off the top of my head thoughts.

1- Trump is, in chaos theory terms, a "strange attractor" a bifurcation or jumping off point for emergence of something new in the existing system. The question is, how does this group of people behave if Trump wins or loses? The same question can be asked about Bernie's revolution. I'm not that hopeful for Bernie's Revolution because he's put top-down thinking leaders in charge. But they are implementing some bottom up approaches, so we'll see.

I don't think Trump's movement is all organic or bottom up. It's been stoked by huge top down mainstream media coverage. But I think you are right that it's a reaction to top down abuses. I've got to write an article about not using the word failure. It's no failure that top down culture is exploiting he 99%. It's intentional.

I think Trump's narcissism and the idol worship he's built his campaign upon is top down in nature. I don't see bottom up cooperation, interdependence, caring, empathy at Trump rallies. I see the opposite, maybe even anarchy, which is not bottom up in my mind. And there is a huge amount of authoritarianism.

The "mob" is a function of big cities. The mob is big, so not really a manifestation of bottom up, which is small and local. (challenge me on this) I think we should talk a lot more about "the mob." It raises very interesting questions.

Part of the issue with the "mob" is what they bring to the table nurture-wise. I think a lot of Trump supporters are badly damaged emotionally, literally abused as children. George Lakoff has written extensively on how liberal/progressive parenting is much more nurturing than conservatives.

There's always a balance between top down and bottom up. Currently, there is much more top down energy and power, Even top down values dominate.

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