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Friday, January 6, 2012

What Is Wrong With Consensus

What's Wrong With Consensus

Con-sen-sus — 1 : group solidarity in sentiment and belief 2 a : general agreement: UNANIMITY b : collective opinion (Webster's Seventh Collegiate Dictionary)

More and more people are hearing the term "consensus" used. The foundation and purpose of "consensus" follows.

Consensus is the very essence of the Hegelian Principle. The Hegelian Principle was formulated by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), German philosopher. Hegel was greatly influenced by Immanuel Kant, known as the "father of the romanticist movement." Kant's attack on reason, this world, and man's happiness paved the way for future philosophers to reject the tenets of reason and logic for subjectivism and relativism. Hegel was no exception. Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Hegel was a philosophical idealist. He maintained that the mind was the source of all reality; the individual mind to be an estranged part of one universal Mind, that through the process of rational dialectic that Mind would be restored to oneness. [1] This "rational dialectic" is the basis of the Hegelian Principle or Dialectic wherein "an entity passes over into and is preserved and fulfilled by its opposite" [2] through a three part process:

a. thesis: "embodying a particular view or position;"

b. antithesis: "providing an opposing or contrary position;" and

c. synthesis: "which reconciles the two previous positions and then becomes the basis of a new thesis." [3]

In theory, this principle provides, then, a pathway to continual evolution to Oneness of Mind, to "ultimate wholeness achieved through freedom, reason and knowledge." [4]

After his death, in 1831, Hegel's followers split into two camps, the Old Hegelians and the Young Hegelians. The Young Hegelians rejected Hegel's basic premise of the mind as the source of all reality,

arguing that it is the physical and material life of human beings that determines consciousness and thought. [5]

This is the philosophy later adopted by Karl Marx (1818-1883) and from which he developed his theory of alienation. Marx was born in Trier, then the part of Prussia known as the German Rhineland, now located on the west side of Germany. He attended the University of Bonn and University of Berlin, majoring in philosophy. On graduation, he entered the field of journalism, his thesis paper not having netted him the university position he wanted. But having his journalistic works rejected by the Prussian government, he moved to France where he struck a life-long relationship with Friedrich Engels and began writing for the German French annals. Displeased with the revolutionary ideology of the paper, Prussia issued warrants for the arrest of the editors. The job did not last and Marx could not return to his homeland. In 1847, he attended the first Congress of the Communist League in England where he and Engels were commissioned to write a simple declaration of the League's doctrine, resulting in the Communist Manifesto, published in 1848. In 1849, in disrepute in his homeland, France and Belgium, Marx settled in London, England, where he lived the rest of his life.

True to the Young Hegelians, Marx centered his philosophy in the belief that the physical and material life determines consciousness and thought while holding to Hegel's belief in Oneness of Mind. Marx believed this would be achieved in the classless society in which the workers, as a collective held in the government, own all means of production and ownership of the land (communism). He believed religion was a form of self-alienation in which man attributed all goodness and wisdom capable to a remote God instead of recognizing goodness and wisdom as essentially human capacities — coming from within. Marx's entire theory regarding social, political and economic systems centered on eradicating "self-alienation." He believed this eradication would progress naturally, not consciously, via the Hegelian Dialectic. This progression is known as dialectical materialism. [6]

The process of dialectical materialism is not, however, a natural process. To achieve dialectical materialism, the process cannot be left to chance. Thus the need for facilitators — professional change agents, trained in group dynamics and on the intricacies of how to move a group to a preset conclusion. And true to definition, each member of the "consensus circle" is expected to abide, support, and accept ownership of the "synthesis of opposing views." This obviously means that people must change their existing belief systems in order to come to consensus — to Oneness of Mind.

Consensus is the very essence of the Hegelian Principle. In a group setting, opposing views are formulated and synthesized into a collective view which then becomes the new thesis. In theory, through natural progression, Oneness of Mind evolves. This walks hand in glove with dialectical materialism.

The Hegelian Principle is also the basis of the organizing technique used by the Industrial Areas Foundation [7]. It is the process

1) used by trained change agents (facilitators) to facilitate planned change, to move groups to a preset conclusion (the Delphi Technique);

2) of outcome-based education/mastery learning...

a) facilitated learning (teacher as facilitator),

b) conflict resolution/peer mediation,

c) critical thinking programs,

d) leadership building programs;

3) of Total Quality Management (TQM),

4) of the High Performance Work Organization (HPWO),

5) of Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), and

6) of School-to-Work (STW).

There is also a host of other names under which this process is known.

Any time you have ...

1. a diverse group

2. dialoging to consensus

3. over social issues (crises)

4. in a facilitated meeting (controlled environment)

5. to a predetermined outcome

you have what is known as a soviet — the term used for the same process in the former Soviet Union. [8] Anytime, in any setting, (and this process of consensus building is being used everywhere and in every setting), that this process is used, you have a soviet, moving people from making decisions based on fact in which they are an active participant in the decision-making process, to relationship building in which they become mere puppets of a predetermined outcome.

Many meetings are being run by consensus. When one understands the purpose of consensus, that it is intended to produce the Oneness of Mind necessary to dialectical materialism, one understands why it stands counter to the best interests of our country.

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