Never let a crisis go to waste

What Rahm Emanuel actually said towards the end of 2008 was:

“You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.” (Source)

From the perspective of the Four Cultures, a crisis is a point of inflection in the discourse of meaning. It’s a moment when, not knowing what to say, we construct our timeless arguments anew, using fresh building blocks to establish…  the same design as before.

The attack on the World Trade Center, the global financial crisis, the Bushfires in Victoria, Australia, and now the flu pandemic – all these are opportunities for us to establish rhetorically and institutionally our own partial and partisan versions of how the world really works. No matter what the issue, the response always takes one of four competing approaches:

  • Egalitarian
  • Individualist
  • Hierarchical
  • Fatalist

Left to themselves each cultural bias will try to take over, each will aspire to be the only answer in town (as Margaret Thatcher liked to say, ‘There is no alternative’). This goes a long way towards explaining the puzzling of how making it better so often ends up making it very much worse.

That’s why it’s so important to become aware of them, to get wise, to challenge the pervasive and pervasively wrong idea that there’s only one rationality and to learn how to articulate coalitions between the four cultures, so that everyone gets some of what they wanted.

The solution is grid-group cultural theory. Now, what was the problem?

(NB. For anyone who has trouble spotting irony, that last sentence was some)

What to read next:

The Ground Zero of Meaning;

Making sense of the bushfires

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