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They’re made of people but they’re not human. Nor are they mechanical, though some may strive to make them so. Their behaviour is largely emergent, influenced primarily by the imperatives of their operating environments – growth, profit, survival … – rather than by the intent or values of those who are constituent parts.

Regardless of rank, if members of institutions fail to carry out their functions in accordance with those imperatives they are forced to comply or expelled. Otherwise the institution itself risks failure, probably at the hands of competing institutions. Thus they evolve.

Where does volition lie? With the termite or the hive? With the neuron or the mind? Is there a border between thought and groupthink?

Some of our institutions serve us, protect us and nurture us. But all extract a price. Some of our institutions abuse us, oppress us and threaten our existence. Sometimes the price is too high.

We can try to influence our institutions but as individuals we can’t control them; from without or within. They are bigger, more complex and more powerful us. Some have existed for thousands of years. We can try to face them collectively but doing so spawns more institutions.

Our institutions are killing us yet we rely on them to survive.
Can we stop them?

From → unclassified

One Comment
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