How Institutions Think

How Institutions Think

How Institutions Think

How Institutions Think

Excerpt

Writing about cooperation and solidarity means writing at the same time about rejection and mistrust. Solidarity involves individuals being ready to suffer on behalf of the larger group and their expecting other individual members to do as much for them. It is difficult to talk about these questions coolly. They touch on intimate feelings of loyalty and sacredness. Anyone who has accepted trust and demanded sacrifice or willingly given either knows the power of the social bond. Whether there is a commitment to authority or a hatred of tyranny or something between the extremes, the social bond itself is taken to be something above question. Attempts to bring it out into the light of day and to investigate it are resisted. Yet it needs to be examined. Everyone is affected directly by the quality of trust around him or her. Sometimes a gullible steadfastness allows leaders to ignore the public need. Sometimes trust is short term and fragile, dissolving easily into panic. Sometimes mistrust is so deep that cooperation is impossible.

A contemporary example will help to bring the abstract issues into focus. In the field of nuclear medicine there is a superb record of mutual trust and cooperation. The scientists have an acceptable means of checking each others' claims; they believe in their methods and have faith in the results in the same way as doctors and patients trust each other. If the strength of solidarity can be measured by the sheer power of achievements, we have here . . .

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