A Critique of the Strategy of Ineffectuality

It's time to move on from traditional, ineffectual ways and actually get the job done.

There is a hidden motivation behind the ineffectiveness and ineffectuality of traditional organizations. It is the same hidden motivation behind the choice people make to resort to ineffectual but traditional means of getting anything done, when something better is available and they know it. It is the fear that if the job actually got done, there would be nothing left to do. Game over.

But people want to keep the game going.

One reason: If the old game is over, people fear that they would not know the rules of any new game into which they might be thrust by the changes engendered by their previous success.

In that sense, people feel unprepared for success.

That is the underlying, and actually dishonest motivation behind ineffectuality. There is a kind of laziness behind fear of success. It is an intellectual laziness that doesn't want to have to learn the new ways triggered by success and it's a kind of emotional laziness of not wanting to have to face the consequences of success, which are learning and more change.

This kind of intellectual and emotional laziness underlies fear of (or resistance to) change, and it works against the emergence of what will benefit people more than before.

This is the paradox of which I am speaking: people often prefer to go on suffering than to resort to the means that will release them from their suffering. "The slave loves his chains," as the politically-incorrect saying goes. It may be politically incorrect, but it is often correct, nonetheless.

Thus, people to come to somatic educators for relief from their afflictions must be well beyond the internal conflict that wonders, "Who might I be without my pain?" Otherwise, their progress will be slowed and their attitude toward the work contaminated by a dishonest attitude that feigns skepticism but is really resistance to change. Such people may fail to complete, to the point of success, what they started, and instead resort again to the traditional therapeutic means that have already failed them.

The same strategy of dishonest "keeping the game going" via failure (or only partial or temporary or slow success) applies to organizations ostensibly committed to change and growth. The same "secondary gains" apply: by avoiding rapid growth and change, people get to stay within the traditional comfort zone dictated by intellectual and emotional laziness and fear. In the case of organizations, those perpetrating the ineffectuality may also protest that they are working as hard as they can to make progress and ostracize, attack, or undermine, verbally or politically, those who work productively toward growth and change.

Such people and organizations, like a too tight, ill-fitting shoe, actually "put a crimp in the style" of those committed to moving forward with growth and change. Thus, recalcitrant and dishonest resistance to change interferes with the creative imperative of those whose actions would otherwise be effective.

What I have just described is the contrast between what, in his book, Bodies in Revolt, Thomas Hanna described as "cultural traditionalists" and "proto-mutants." (If you haven't read the book, I recommend it.) Some people involved with efforts of personal and cultural evolution are actually cultural traditionalists in drag. They talk the talk but don't walk the walk. They involve themselves with the work but their actual efforts impede it.

To persist as a Hanna somatic educator in the face of a culture pervaded by the Strategy of Ineffectuality, you've got to be at least a proto-mutant, as Thomas Hanna described it in Bodies in Revolt - feeling your way creatively into new forms of action that are more effective than the old ways -- and sometimes you will feel compelled to cry out, "The Emperor has no clothes," if that's the case. A word of note: "political correctness" is the instrument of cultural traditionalists, not of "proto-mutants," for whom honesty is more important than keeping the peace.

If the description of "cultural traditionalist" fits you, you've got a choice: honestly admit it and re-evaluate your commitment to growth or dishonestly use rationalizations and excuses to protect your cultural traditionalism and ineffectuality.

It's time for more clarity about which is which and it's time to move on from traditional, ineffectual ways and actually get the job done.


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