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Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. - MPF

Is it time to reconsider our MPF banner:  Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. - MPF

Did Follett's thoughts on unity continue to evolve, as did much of her thinking?  I've just been rereading the talk she gave in early 1933 (she died in Boston in December of that year) to the newly formed Department of Business Administration at the London School of Economics under the collective title of The Problem of Organisation and Co-ordination in Business.

I'm reading from Freedom and Coordination originally published in 1949.  Page 76.  In 1933, in London, Follett is saying:

"The most important thing to remember about unity is -- that there is no such thing.  There is only unifying.  You cannot get unity and expect it to last a day--or five minutes."

She did like those "ings!"

Albie Davis


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Do you think what she means by that is that you never get there? Kinda like the journey is more important than the destination? Or did she mean something else?

John Sarvey
Perhaps we should be the Unifying States of America.

Matthew
The Unifying States of America. I like that, Matthew,

And, from there, The Unifying Nations! It's enough to make one start thinking!

Albie

Matthew Shapiro said:
Perhaps we should be the Unifying States of America.

Matthew
Congratulations Albie for waking us from our Follettian slumbers.

As we know, Follett was fastidious about words and, as you say, she did love her ‘ings’.

Nouns, for her, were too static. She preferred gerunds: the thinking, the willing, the purposing, the giving, the relating and so on, to underline the ongoing activity in the process. But her ‘inging’ did not prevent her from using nouns when they were more appropriate. Just refer to the collective title of her lectures. And she had evolved into ‘inging’ well before 1933.

Incidentally, I never thought that I would disagree with anything Follett wrote.
But seeing the sentence starkly on its own that ‘you cannot get unity and expect it to last a day – or five minutes’ has done it. Surely it must at least last five minutes – if only to enjoy the glow of achievement when the individuals in the group have together produced the common idea and the common plan.

I remember Emmanuel Groutel asking whether Follett was an optimist. Well, on the basis of this sentence, she certainly was not. I mean to say with all the travails that we would have gone through in unifying, we could expect at least five minutes of peace in unity – another means of unifying anyway!

Affectionately

Pauline
Pauline,

Say it isn't so! You haven't been slumbering, have you? I thought you were more like Follett and NEVER slept!

Makes me now understand her words toward the end of The New State when she says, "We must have more life in our universities, more education in our life." (p. 369)

Then she goes on to say, "Chesterton says of H. G. Wells, "One can lie awake nights and hear him grow."

Is this true? Did Chesterton lie awake at nights hearing Wells growing?

You know, of course, that I am teasing, for I am aware how much you love to dance and have fun. I think Isobel took Mary up to Vermont every summer, way out in the woods, so Mary would HAVE to relax! But, even up there Mary was watching the plants growing. Maybe on September 3rd, her birthday, we should declare a day of rest. NO INGS allowed!

Warmly, Albie



Pauline Graham said:
Congratulations Albie for waking us from our Follettian slumbers.
As we know, Follett was fastidious about words and, as you say, she did love her ‘ings’.
Nouns, for her, were too static. She preferred gerunds: the thinking, the willing, the purposing, the giving, the relating and so on, to underline the ongoing activity in the process. But her ‘inging’ did not prevent her from using nouns when they were more appropriate. Just refer to the collective title of her lectures. And she had evolved into ‘inging’ well before 1933.

Incidentally, I never thought that I would disagree with anything Follett wrote.
But seeing the sentence starkly on its own that ‘you cannot get unity and expect it to last a day – or five minutes’ has done it. Surely it must at least last five minutes – if only to enjoy the glow of achievement when the individuals in the group have together produced the common idea and the common plan.

I remember Emmanuel Groutel asking whether Follett was an optimist. Well, on the basis of this sentence, she certainly was not. I mean to say with all the travails that we would have gone through in unifying, we could expect at least five minutes of peace in unity – another means of unifying anyway!

Affectionately

Pauline
I think that what Follett was trying to say was that there is always the reality of the situation as we know it and the ideal expressed in that situation. In that sense, unity is something that's always evolving. (Think of Teilhard de Chardin's concept of Omega Point: his theory was that Reality is always evolving toward more unity until finally reaching the Omega Point where unity and harmony are in a state of perfection.)

At the same time, I am thinking of the theme in the Zen and the Art of Archery to the effect that you and the target are one, and what would Follett had made of that. In other words, would it not be better to conceptualize that unity is always there, underlying every situation, and that what we have to do is uncover what is already present?

Just some thoughts, evoked by a very thought-provoking entry

Tom Let
Tom, I really like the Zen and the Art of Archery concept of "you and the target are one." Follett was a great believer in trying things, experiencing them, and I certainly have experienced that feeling at certain times. In recent years I've taken up a "dream deferred," painting, and every so often I get into a "zone" a psychic place where intent and accident and evolution unfold before my eyes. I am both doing and watching with amazement.

I'm going to take a quote from Follett somewhat out of context and toss it into this discussion. It's from page 53 of Creative Experience. Well, I'll give a bit of the whole concept, putting the part that intrigues me in bold.

But while many political scientists and economists as well as statesmen and labor arbitrators have stuck to the thory of the balance of power, of the equilibrium of interests, yet life continually escapes them, for whenever we advance we slip from the bondage of equilibrium.

The bondage of equilibrium! What an interesting thought! Does this relate to unity? Could unity become a form of bondage?

Let's leap backwards in time (no problem for Follett) and look what she says in the New State (page 38).

Never settle down within the theory you have chosen, the cause you have embraced; know that another theory, another cause exists, and seek that. The enhancement of life is not for the comfort-lover. As soon as you succeed--real success means something arising to overthrow your sercurity.

Plenty to think about! Albie

Tom Let said:
I think that what Follett was trying to say was that there is always the reality of the situation as we know it and the ideal expressed in that situation. In that sense, unity is something that's always evolving. (Think of Teilhard de Chardin's concept of Omega Point: his theory was that Reality is always evolving toward more unity until finally reaching the Omega Point where unity and harmony are in a state of perfection.)
At the same time, I am thinking of the theme in the Zen and the Art of Archery to the effect that you and the target are one, and what would Follett had made of that. In other words, would it not be better to conceptualize that unity is always there, underlying every situation, and that what we have to do is uncover what is already present? Just some thoughts, evoked by a very thought-provoking entry Tom Let
I am reminded of the saying, That which you pursue evades you (and that which you evade pursues you). In that respect, I don't think that pursuing unity is as much of a bondage issue as it is a matter of wasted effort. In other words, you cannot go directly after unity in the same way that you cannot pursue love or friendship by going directly at them. It seems to me that in these cases one would have to first think of the necessary conditions that will have to be met in order to create a situation that is favorable to the creation of love, friendship, unity, or what have you. Take love, for instance. A person complaining about not having any love in his (her) life would be advised that the way to gain love is to follow the dictum that "the whole world loves a lover." In other words, pursue your interests, get involved wholeheartedly in life and love will follow.

That issue aside, Albie quotes Follett:

Never settle down within the theory you have chosen, the cause you have embraced; know that another theory, another cause exists, and seek that. The enhancement of life is not for the comfort-lover. As soon as you succeed--real success means something arising to overthrow your sercurity.

Emerson comes to mind with his "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." However, I would like to bet that Follett, just like Emerson, had a world view that allowed for an Absolute as the background for it all. In that sense, all the flux in their lives--be it inconsistency or lack of adherence to this or that theory--had a secure foothold at the base of their lives.
Tom,

You are on to something here. Maybe the paradox of the bondage between "eds" and "ings." The ability of Follett to make me think twice about any "givens." I could write a whole book about her one line, "I always feel intimate with my enemies." (New State, 212)

I'm taking up way too much space on this forum, so after this, I'll take a vacation for a while, the one I urged Follett to take.

As a mediator and mediator trainer, I'm always on the lookout for pithy one-liners to get across a point. Yesterday in the Fox/Urwick edition, p. 282, I came across another Follett gem, which seems along the lines of your comment, "That which you pursue evades you . . . "

"Confidence cannot be forced."

Now, the last page of The New State, p. 360, gives us a sense of where she was heading as she finished off this book, while WWI was still being waged, I believe:

"This book is a plea for the more abundant life: for the fulness of life and the growing life. It is a plea against everything static, against the idea that there need be any passive material within the social bond. It is a plea for a splendid progress dependent upon every splendid one of us."

My personal thoughts? Although I think Follett's philosophy is timeless and universal in many ways, for better and worse, as an American, she is also "of our culture," and the "progress paradigm” can be a form of bondage.

I’m eager to hear what those not enamored with the concept of “progress” have to say.

Over and out for a month! Albie


Tom Let said:
I am reminded of the saying, That which you pursue evades you (and that which you evade pursues you). In that respect, I don't think that pursuing unity is as much of a bondage issue as it is a matter of wasted effort. In other words, you cannot go directly after unity in the same way that you cannot pursue love or friendship by going directly at them. It seems to me that in these cases one would have to first think of the necessary conditions that will have to be met in order to create a situation that is favorable to the creation of love, friendship, unity, or what have you. Take love, for instance. A person complaining about not having any love in his (her) life would be advised that the way to gain love is to follow the dictum that "the whole world loves a lover." In other words, pursue your interests, get involved wholeheartedly in life and love will follow.
That issue aside, Albie quotes Follett:
Never settle down within the theory you have chosen, the cause you have embraced; know that another theory, another cause exists, and seek that. The enhancement of life is not for the comfort-lover. As soon as you succeed--real success means something arising to overthrow your sercurity.

Emerson comes to mind with his "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." However, I would like to bet that Follett, just like Emerson, had a world view that allowed for an Absolute as the background for it all. In that sense, all the flux in their lives--be it inconsistency or lack of adherence to this or that theory--had a secure foothold at the base of their lives.
This issue of "progress" reminds me of an exchange I had with Kevin Mattson, who wrote the historical intro to the 1998 edition of The New State. He said that as a postmodernist, he took issue with what he perceived as Follett's idea of an evolutionary journey that had a particular direction. As a student of general evolutionary theory, I disagreed, suggesting that when you look at the longest-term picture, there have been a spiral series of shifts toward both greater differentiation and greater integration in the universe and in human society alike. That while the dangers and wounds from "progress" deepen with each era, the benefits and promise increase even more.

This is ultimately tied to the mythic concept of a universe (and a life) that is simultaneously challenging, dangerous, and perfect (I use the word "mythic" in the spiritual sense, not in the sense of "imaginary.") I believe that this crosses us over from science into spirituality, and faith. Faith not in some inevitable golden age, but in our potential to get closer. "Progress is an infinite advance toward the infinitely receding goal of infinite perfection," says Follett in The New State. If that sentence does not capture the essence of the human journey, I don't know what does.

Albie M. Davis said:
Tom,

You are on to something here. Maybe the paradox of the bondage between "eds" and "ings." The ability of Follett to make me think twice about any "givens." I could write a whole book about her one line, "I always feel intimate with my enemies." (New State, 212)

I'm taking up way too much space on this forum, so after this, I'll take a vacation for a while, the one I urged Follett to take.

As a mediator and mediator trainer, I'm always on the lookout for pithy one-liners to get across a point. Yesterday in the Fox/Urwick edition, p. 282, I came across another Follett gem, which seems along the lines of your comment, "That which you pursue evades you . . . "

"Confidence cannot be forced."

Now, the last page of The New State, p. 360, gives us a sense of where she was heading as she finished off this book, while WWI was still being waged, I believe:

"This book is a plea for the more abundant life: for the fulness of life and the growing life. It is a plea against everything static, against the idea that there need be any passive material within the social bond. It is a plea for a splendid progress dependent upon every splendid one of us."

My personal thoughts? Although I think Follett's philosophy is timeless and universal in many ways, for better and worse, as an American, she is also "of our culture," and the "progress paradigm” can be a form of bondage.

I’m eager to hear what those not enamored with the concept of “progress” have to say.

Over and out for a month! Albie


Tom Let said:
I am reminded of the saying, That which you pursue evades you (and that which you evade pursues you). In that respect, I don't think that pursuing unity is as much of a bondage issue as it is a matter of wasted effort. In other words, you cannot go directly after unity in the same way that you cannot pursue love or friendship by going directly at them. It seems to me that in these cases one would have to first think of the necessary conditions that will have to be met in order to create a situation that is favorable to the creation of love, friendship, unity, or what have you. Take love, for instance. A person complaining about not having any love in his (her) life would be advised that the way to gain love is to follow the dictum that "the whole world loves a lover." In other words, pursue your interests, get involved wholeheartedly in life and love will follow.
That issue aside, Albie quotes Follett:
Never settle down within the theory you have chosen, the cause you have embraced; know that another theory, another cause exists, and seek that. The enhancement of life is not for the comfort-lover. As soon as you succeed--real success means something arising to overthrow your sercurity.

Emerson comes to mind with his "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." However, I would like to bet that Follett, just like Emerson, had a world view that allowed for an Absolute as the background for it all. In that sense, all the flux in their lives--be it inconsistency or lack of adherence to this or that theory--had a secure foothold at the base of their lives.
Matthew Shapiro said:
This issue of "progress" reminds me of an exchange I had with Kevin Mattson, who wrote the historical intro to the 1998 edition of The New State. He said that as a postmodernist, he took issue with what he perceived as Follett's idea of an evolutionary journey that had a particular direction. As a student of general evolutionary theory, I disagreed, suggesting that when you look at the longest-term picture, there have been a spiral series of shifts toward both greater differentiation and greater integration in the universe and in human society alike. That while the dangers and wounds from "progress" deepen with each era, the benefits and promise increase even more.

This is ultimately tied to the mythic concept of a universe (and a life) that is simultaneously challenging, dangerous, and perfect (I use the word "mythic" in the spiritual sense, not in the sense of "imaginary.") I believe that this crosses us over from science into spirituality, and faith. Faith not in some inevitable golden age, but in our potential to get closer. "Progress is an infinite advance toward the infinitely receding goal of infinite perfection," says Follett in The New State. If that sentence does not capture the essence of the human journey, I don't know what does.

Albie M. Davis said:
Tom,

You are on to something here. Maybe the paradox of the bondage between "eds" and "ings." The ability of Follett to make me think twice about any "givens." I could write a whole book about her one line, "I always feel intimate with my enemies." (New State, 212)

I'm taking up way too much space on this forum, so after this, I'll take a vacation for a while, the one I urged Follett to take.

As a mediator and mediator trainer, I'm always on the lookout for pithy one-liners to get across a point. Yesterday in the Fox/Urwick edition, p. 282, I came across another Follett gem, which seems along the lines of your comment, "That which you pursue evades you . . . "

"Confidence cannot be forced."

Now, the last page of The New State, p. 360, gives us a sense of where she was heading as she finished off this book, while WWI was still being waged, I believe:

"This book is a plea for the more abundant life: for the fulness of life and the growing life. It is a plea against everything static, against the idea that there need be any passive material within the social bond. It is a plea for a splendid progress dependent upon every splendid one of us."

My personal thoughts? Although I think Follett's philosophy is timeless and universal in many ways, for better and worse, as an American, she is also "of our culture," and the "progress paradigm” can be a form of bondage.

I’m eager to hear what those not enamored with the concept of “progress” have to say.

Over and out for a month! Albie


Tom Let said:
I am reminded of the saying, That which you pursue evades you (and that which you evade pursues you). In that respect, I don't think that pursuing unity is as much of a bondage issue as it is a matter of wasted effort. In other words, you cannot go directly after unity in the same way that you cannot pursue love or friendship by going directly at them. It seems to me that in these cases one would have to first think of the necessary conditions that will have to be met in order to create a situation that is favorable to the creation of love, friendship, unity, or what have you. Take love, for instance. A person complaining about not having any love in his (her) life would be advised that the way to gain love is to follow the dictum that "the whole world loves a lover." In other words, pursue your interests, get involved wholeheartedly in life and love will follow.
That issue aside, Albie quotes Follett:
Never settle down within the theory you have chosen, the cause you have embraced; know that another theory, another cause exists, and seek that. The enhancement of life is not for the comfort-lover. As soon as you succeed--real success means something arising to overthrow your sercurity.

Emerson comes to mind with his "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." However, I would like to bet that Follett, just like Emerson, had a world view that allowed for an Absolute as the background for it all. In that sense, all the flux in their lives--be it inconsistency or lack of adherence to this or that theory--had a secure foothold at the base of their lives.
Pauline Graham said:
Matthew Shapiro said:
This issue of "progress" reminds me of an exchange I had with Kevin Mattson, who wrote the historical intro to the 1998 edition of The New State. He said that as a postmodernist, he took issue with what he perceived as Follett's idea of an evolutionary journey that had a particular direction. As a student of general evolutionary theory, I disagreed, suggesting that when you look at the longest-term picture, there have been a spiral series of shifts toward both greater differentiation and greater integration in the universe and in human society alike. That while the dangers and wounds from "progress" deepen with each era, the benefits and promise increase even more.

This is ultimately tied to the mythic concept of a universe (and a life) that is simultaneously challenging, dangerous, and perfect (I use the word "mythic" in the spiritual sense, not in the sense of "imaginary.") I believe that this crosses us over from science into spirituality, and faith. Faith not in some inevitable golden age, but in our potential to get closer. "Progress is an infinite advance toward the infinitely receding goal of infinite perfection," says Follett in The New State. If that sentence does not capture the essence of the human journey, I don't know what does.

Albie M. Davis said:
Tom,

You are on to something here. Maybe the paradox of the bondage between "eds" and "ings." The ability of Follett to make me think twice about any "givens." I could write a whole book about her one line, "I always feel intimate with my enemies." (New State, 212)

I'm taking up way too much space on this forum, so after this, I'll take a vacation for a while, the one I urged Follett to take.

As a mediator and mediator trainer, I'm always on the lookout for pithy one-liners to get across a point. Yesterday in the Fox/Urwick edition, p. 282, I came across another Follett gem, which seems along the lines of your comment, "That which you pursue evades you . . . "

"Confidence cannot be forced."

Now, the last page of The New State, p. 360, gives us a sense of where she was heading as she finished off this book, while WWI was still being waged, I believe:

"This book is a plea for the more abundant life: for the fulness of life and the growing life. It is a plea against everything static, against the idea that there need be any passive material within the social bond. It is a plea for a splendid progress dependent upon every splendid one of us."

My personal thoughts? Although I think Follett's philosophy is timeless and universal in many ways, for better and worse, as an American, she is also "of our culture," and the "progress paradigm” can be a form of bondage.

I’m eager to hear what those not enamored with the concept of “progress” have to say.

Over and out for a month! Albie


Tom Let said:
I am reminded of the saying, That which you pursue evades you (and that which you evade pursues you). In that respect, I don't think that pursuing unity is as much of a bondage issue as it is a matter of wasted effort. In other words, you cannot go directly after unity in the same way that you cannot pursue love or friendship by going directly at them. It seems to me that in these cases one would have to first think of the necessary conditions that will have to be met in order to create a situation that is favorable to the creation of love, friendship, unity, or what have you. Take love, for instance. A person complaining about not having any love in his (her) life would be advised that the way to gain love is to follow the dictum that "the whole world loves a lover." In other words, pursue your interests, get involved wholeheartedly in life and love will follow.
That issue aside, Albie quotes Follett:
Never settle down within the theory you have chosen, the cause you have embraced; know that another theory, another cause exists, and seek that. The enhancement of life is not for the comfort-lover. As soon as you succeed--real success means something arising to overthrow your sercurity.

Emerson comes to mind with his "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." However, I would like to bet that Follett, just like Emerson, had a world view that allowed for an Absolute as the background for it all. In that sense, all the flux in their lives--be it inconsistency or lack of adherence to this or that theory--had a secure foothold at the base of their lives.

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