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TRANSCULTURAL FRIENDSHIP: OUR POLITICAL FUTURE

Chapter Eleven: The Educating Society

Section 6: Education as a Functional Mode

 

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As society develops, education is elevated from a methodology for training children to fit into adult roles to a fundamental mode of human interaction. The integration of education into careers and marriage, discussed in the previous two sections, illustrates the increasing centrality of education. In a political friendship, education becomes the primary functional mode for human relations.

 

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In chapter four we discussed Roger Fisher's three means for achieving systems objectives: self-help, influence, and education. Reformulating the first as an interactional mode, there are three modes of achieving an objective in the face of a potential conflict: 1) dominance, 2) influence, and 3) education.

 

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"Dominance" refers to refers to accomplishment of one's objective while ignoring or nullifying conflicting perspectives. Subordinating or killing one's opponents are dominance approaches. Dominance is the primary functional mode of most autocracies.

 

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Influence does take into account others' perspectives, but only in so far as determining how to make it worthwhile for the other to conform to one's wishes. Influence is less costly than dominance, and does not necessarily require superior power. It involves inducing another to perform in a certain way, usually by extrinsic rewards. Paying another to perform a service or to deliver a product are types of financial influence. Economics generally is a system of influences. In a democracy, winning means getting people to vote for you or your issue, to pay you or buy your product or services, irrespective of the diversity, inconsistency, and unenlightened character of their reasons. Thus, influence is the primary functional mode of democracy.

 

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The weakness of influence is that the other's action is not induced by the inherent meaning of the action. There may be no internal commitment, and, thus, implementation of the action may be less effective. Although influence is less costly than dominance, it does have its price.

 

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Generally, education is less costly, and when effective, generates the intrinsic commitment often necessary for optimal implementation. Education involves presenting information to another that allows the other to see that a given course of action is to the other's self-interest. The other's self-interest is not to be served merely by, an extrinsic reward attached by the educator to the action; the action must have intrinsic rewards for the actor. If the other perceives the intrinsic reward, one will freely choose the course of action become internally committed to its object, and maximize the effectiveness of the action. Other than the effort involved in education, there is no cost to the educator.

 

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Each of the three modes has a reciprocal aspect. with dominance, the reciprocal is degenerative -- "mutual defeat": both parties lose the battle and the objective. "Compromise" is the result of reciprocal influence. Reciprocal education promotes a synergistic synthesis of objectives, so that both parties win.

 

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In a friendship, all objectives are subordinate to the overall welfare of the group. Theoretically, it is always possible to determine a best objective by assessing its ramifications for the entire group. The ramifications are determined by the sharing of perspectives and interests among the group members. This educational process results in commitment to objectives and mutual caring. Thus, education is the primary functional mode in a political friendship.

 

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A primary functional mode is not necessarily exclusive. In a primitive autocracy, dominance may well be the only capability available. However, eventually equals within a dominance hierarchy will need to develop an influential alternative. When enough members of an autocratic group master influence, the tendency will be to evolve a more democratic order. Democracies will depend primarily on influence, but dominance will be maintained as a tool for use when necessary. Likewise, influence and dominance must remain in the repertoire of a friendship for those occasions when education is ineffectual and one's objective cannot be abandoned. The next section focuses on this problem.

 

 

 

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Transcultural Friendship: Our Political Future

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