I read an interesting book recently called Them, by a sort of renegade London journalist, who spent years working his way into various fringe groups to see what made them tick—Islamist fundamentalists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and most interesting of all, the so-called Bilderbergers… that small circle of rich and powerful men (mostly) who are said to secretly shape government and industry, and in effect rule the world from behind closed doors somewhere. If you want some central insights into these fringe groups, you’ll probably enjoy the book.
Author Jon Ronson is an unlikely choice to be hobnobbing with the extremists. He’s Jewish, most of them hate Jews, and many of them, for one reason or another, know that he’s a Jew. For one thing, his nose is a dead giveaway, as he says in his book. Somehow he survives his many adventures in good humor, which rears its chuckling head in the writing in unexpected ways.
There’s one passage in particular (p222) that caught my interest (not a particularly humorous one), as it has to do with groups… and the dynamics that cause them to fall apart amid bickering, jealousy, and general chaos. Ronson is writing about the various Klan factions, talking to one of the faction leaders named Richard Bondira:
“Thom (Robb) says he wants to be the voice (of the Klan),” says Ronson.
Bondira replies, “He’s always wanted to be the voice. He wants to be the new Adolf Hitler. Jeff Berry (a third faction leader) wants to be the new Adolf Hitler. They’ve all got their eye on the number-one position and they’re all pathological liars. Thom Robb is falling apart. A lot of your Klan groups today are people who split off from Thom Robb. And all these little fractured fragments continue to break down into their subatomic parts. Every group has infighting and rivaly. They split. More factions form, like little fingers that are never drawn together into a fist.”
My take on this: Whenever a group is driven largely by fear, envy, greed, power-grabbing, animosity, and other savage emotions, whether it’s an extremist group or a conservative political party or an ITC research association, the group tends to splinter through a process of conflict and chaos. That’s the nature of our savage side: It creates chaos and tears people apart… while our noble side, driven by trust and good will, fosters order, commitment, and friendly collaboration in human affairs.
Applying that to ITC, then, if you plan to start a research team, nothing is as important as fostering genuine good will among your fellow members!
You might want to go so far as to get a brain scan of each member and potential member… because in terms of amygdalas (the savage centers of the brain)… size matters.