Monday, November 10, 2008

Economic Crisis III - Psychoanalysis of Society

We’ve got change in the White House. And in the tennis ATP rankings. A change in Madonna’s marital status, too … for what that’s worth. Not that those last 2 mean much. And whether the first is truly meaningful remains to be seen, doesn’t it?

One thing is clear, though … there’s not much change in the economic picture.

Today on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head, we’ll continue our series looking at the causes of the economic crisis.

Well, after a historic day at the polls, America has woken up to the same scary reality as before. Jobless rates are up, stock prices are generally down … well, you know the story. Some of you much better than me, actually. But what I’ve been trying to do in this series of podcasts over the past few weeks is investigate some of the reasons for the mess. And I don’t mean in terms of explaining how the sub-prime mortgage market suddenly went south. No. But one thing I can help with is getting at the causes of all this. This is no small feat, in reality, and can be done because of the expansive work done on the subject at the Brazilian school of Analytical Trilogy founded by Dr. Norberto Keppe.

Look, one of the hardest things about trying to get a handle on what’s really going on is the style of the media. You watch CNN or CBS, and you get volumes of information. Analysis of the sub-prime aspect, reporting of G-20 meetings with ex-president Bush (and man, does it feel good to say ex-president Bush) … you get opinions and policies and figures, and spin, glorious spin. But it’s extremely difficult to pick your way through the information.

It’s always been like this. In our Information Age, we’re bombarded with information but starving for perspective. You have to know how to understand all this, and I don’t mean in the sense of being able to debate economic policy - the benefits of government stimulus packages over tighter regulations and broader oversight, or vice versa. No, there’s got to be an overall view to be had.

And it’s exactly here that Norberto Keppe’s work does what was before him very hard to do. Because of his success at mapping the human psyche, Keppe was also able to apply those findings to the society as a whole - verifying that what the human being does outside he first does inside himself. That our external social structures are simply the reflection of ways of seeing the world, of philosophies and biases and often questionnable reasoning.

One of Keppe’s landmark discoveries is that we are inverted. We act against our nature now in favor of our inverted values. “Cash flow is more important than your mother,” as one Wall Street broker termed it. This Inversion stems from inside us. I want to start there today because understanding our psyche leads to understanding our society. And that means putting the finger on causes, so that we can take real steps to change, not just rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. As always, love to hear your thoughts …

Sari Koivukangas, a professor at the Keppe/Pacheco Educational Institute here in São Paulo joins me today.

Click here to listen to this episode.