Freedom in Necessity
The characteristics of fallibility are the benefits of fallibility. Unless humans are fallible we can never know the delights of love, forgiveness, relationship, passion, care, helping or learning. The quest for immutability, to be robotic and without error is delusional mythology.
The equivalent of slavery is alienation, from oneself and from being a human person. The quest to be superhuman is its own form of alienation. Alienation means to be possessed externally by something other than oneself. It also means being self-alienated other than oneself, one becomes transformed into something one is not intended to be. This is the essence of a delusion and why an ethic of personhood is essential to understanding an ethic of risk and a discussion of freedoms.
Therefore, any seeking of the absolute against fallibility will be self-alienating as such desires and trajectories are unattainable and seek to make human persons something they are not. Alienation is a social, physical, economic and political phenomenon.
It’s so entertaining watching kids in their imaginations play superhero around the backyard. It’s so much fun to dress in a cape and hold your hands out imagining flying like a superhero. Great to jump off things and crush the imaginary evils on the ground. It all goes well until one is brought back to reality and breaks a collar-bone or cuts a leg.
One of the mythical beliefs that is shattered by Covid19 is that humans should be the masters of their own lives, that others and governments must not have a right to override my individual autonomy, as if we had any.
The myth of autonomy is the denial of fallibility (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/). In SPoR freedom is not defined as autonomy, there can be no autonomy in a social understanding of personhood and community.
The very purpose of Safety Management Systems is to limit autonomy and it’s in SMS that we understand the realities and limits of autonomy. There is a certain freedom in knowing the limits to autonomy. Sartre spoke about it years ago (https://psyche.co/ideas/in-a-pandemic-we-learn-again-what-sartre-meant-by-being-free).
Often when people speak about ‘freedom’ they actually mean complete autonomy and such is not possible in fallibility. In a similar way absolute zero is unattainable (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/for-the-love-of-zero-free-download/). Freedom from necessity is not possible in fallibility either individually, socially or in systems. So, when we speak of freedom we need to be clear in what we mean and how it is defined (https://safetyrisk.net/the-fear-of-freedom-in-safety/ ). The word ‘freedom’ itself is often evocative and yet we rarely define what we mean.
The purpose of many systems often start in serving people but in time they become ends in themselves so that people serve them, systems take on a life of their own (an archetype). When humans are made just a ‘factor’ in a system (Human Factors) and the system alienates us from ourselves as fallible persons then we become dehumanized by the very system we created and need to change it. Dehumanisation is a process whereby people are de-personized by a system that robs them of their fallibility. This is what the language of zero proposes. In SPoR there is a juggle in freedoms – a dialectic, people will always be harmed. In SPoR we are not freed from regulation but from alienation. This is why in the SPoR Handbook (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/the-social-psychology-of-risk-handbook/) dedicates so much space and energy to a definition of personhood and community (pp.30ff). (Neither of these are discussed in the AIHS Bok on Ethics)
Autonomy is not an inherent need. The needs of security, safety, conformity, adaptation, happiness, economy of effort and so on are constant and profound. We are all prepared to accept these things within the limits of how we define freedom. We are all prepared to sacrifice autonomy for the satisfaction of necessities. This is how we understand Due Diligence and the necessities of the law and regulation.
There are several elephants in the room if one wants to articulate an ethic of freedom within an Ethic of Safety. The most important necessities in understanding fallibility are the nature of personhood and power. (Neither of these discussed in the AIHS BoK on Ethics). Without an discussion of how Power is in dialectic with Personhood one will define freedom as autonomy and will most likely have little idea about the meaning of ethics. This is why the AIHS BoK on Ethics advises that safety overrides individual privacy and confidentiality, because it has no ethic of risk. The recognition of fallibility is the first act of freedom and what determines if one is being dehumanized.
Rob Long says
Bernard, will post you a copy of my next book in draft for comment, on vision. I don’t think any of the conservative organizations have vision, most vision comes from outside of stasis.
Several others have recently sprung to mind which include:
a) Alcoa Wagerup
b) Port Kembla copper smelter
c) PFAS contamination
d) CFA Fiskville
e) Magellan Metals and Esperance Port Authority
f) Rio Tinto Bougainville
g) Rio Tinto Juukan Gorge
h) BHP Ok Tedi
i) St Barbara Gold Ridge Solomon Islands
It’s a pretty impressive rap sheet and well worth an order of chivalry or at least an honorary life membership of the Business Council of Australia or Centre for Independent Studies.
Despite its vision, the prolonged silence from the AIHS on many of these issues is embarrassing.
Rob Long says
It’s a shut shop all set like a fortress so that nothing can change and everything stays the same. It’s how power in zero works.
The entire AIHS OHS BoK is merely an architecture of oppression and its advocates are trying to ensure the OHS certification program, which is underpinned by OHS BoK becomes a statutory requirement.
It is a furtive attempt to generate a lucrative revenue stream after its funding was brutally slashed by successive neoliberal governments, which included the ALP administrations under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.
Harmonisation and the COAG intergovernmental agreement under Kevin Rudd merely attenuated the standard of duty of care and provided corporate Australia with a malevolent freedom to harm, viz:
a) Resurgence of black lung
b) Asbestosis and mesothelioma
d) Home insulation program
e) RAAF Amberley deseal/reseal
f) HMAS Westralia
g) Queensland mining fatalities
h) Anglo Coal Grosvenor disaster
i) Seasonal Workers Program and Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme
j) JobActive Program and Work for the Dole
k) Pathway to Work Program
l) Reducing NICNAS chemical registration requirements
m) The McJob gig economy and franchising (7-Eleven and Domino’s Pizza and RFG)
n) Tip Top delivery drivers
There are many, many more examples and it is worth asking what has our peak safety body with its cohorts of certified sycophants, state regulatory authorities, Safe Work Australia, the ACTU and the ALP been doing over the past two decades besides sanctioning the provision of an enabling structure and legislative framework.
The AIHS, the NSCA, the ACTU and the ALP have absolutely no integrity whatsoever.
Rob Long says
For those trying to work out what to read next to be educated in the process of tackling risk here is a hint:
1. Build a bibliography from the references in the AIHS BoK (and there are not that many) and make sure you don’t read them. There is nothing there for much edification. You would get more from reading Fromm’s first page than that lot combined.
2. Another guiding hint might be to look at the association’s non-vision statements and decide to do the opposite and that might help gain some vision of what to do next and where to go in tackling risk. There is no vision in more of the same.
Perhaps read something by Lakoff and Johnson who turn on its head all of the Behaviourist, Scientist-Positivist and Cognitivist mythology that dominate the safetyosphere:
These two publications tear to sheds most of the assumptions Safety makes about cognition and learning and the mythology attached to such assumptions.
Just imagine if Safety could kick its addictions to STEM/Zero and move into a dialectic with something imaginative, creative and envisionary?
What a fascinating post, which led me onto Freedom from and Freedom to and reading a lot of Erich Fromm and Angela Davies until the early hours.
I don’t see either of their names in the OHS BoK