The Politics of Safety Legitimization
It is always interesting to watch commercial TV run these Top 10 shows as if they are an assessment of worth or value. When ratings seem to be low, out they trot with some ‘Top 10 Movies of all time’ or ‘Top 10 fails of all time’ etc. Then the show draws together a few clips and seeks opinions of proposed ‘celebrities’ on something they are not qualified to comment. How amusing this Gogglebox phenomenon that is entertained by sports stars and Murdoch morons asking their view on everything form epidemiology to musicology.
In popular culture as in safety, it is assumed that numerically verifiable and chartable representation equals significance and an assessment of value/worth. It doesn’t seem to matter that unqualified comment is attributed to worth, just as long as it is entertaining (Neil Postman – Amusing Ourselves to Death)
The capacity to dictate what standards are normalized seems to be beyond criticism in a culture that normalizes such amusement.
What people rarely see behind all this is the setting of a standard as equal to the control over the process of legitimization. This is what the AIHS achieves with its Body of Knowledge (BoK). In a similar way to a Top 10 hit list, a selective mono-disciplinary view of what comprises valuable knowledge is defined by the AIHS BoK as safety normal. What is excluded is deemed irrelevant to the task of safety.
The last thing such a process wants is critical (non-compliant) thinking about any part of the legitimization process. As long as you conform to the AIHS shibboleth of zero, then you can be in the club.
Any form of legitimization by dogma is a political process. The BoK is the doorkeeper to debate and significance, acknowledging zero then becomes the substance of compliance to the defined order. In ethics for example, the deontological ethic of the AIHS BoK(https://safetyrisk.net/the-aihs-bok-and-ethics-check-your-gut/) is normalized against other legitimate ethical perspectives and by omission are deemed illegitimate. This is the foundation of indoctrination, the opposite of education and learning.
The kind of language and discourse (power in language) used in dogma carry ethical weight as a system of control. In this way legitimate knowledge is defined so that one knows how to comply and how to fit in. The conformance to accepted mono-disciplinary knowledge defines the group, which is why zero is the most divisive form of language/discourse. Zero normalizes the political absolute in several ways and is then downplayed as ‘a global by-line’ by an organization embarrassed by so few safety people who associate.
A ‘poetics of political thinking’ is attuned to the dynamics of how all this works, thought the language, metaphors, literary devices and expressions that articulate conformance. In ‘the poetics of political thinking’ the medium is just as important as the message (https://safetyrisk.net/the-medium-is-the-message/). For example, in the discourse on error (https://safetyrisk.net/an-ethic-in-error-for-safety/) the choice of medium (tunnels, pyramids, swiss-cheese and taxonomies) carries the legitimization of mechanics against an understanding human personhood. This is why a discussion of personhood is omitted from the AIHS BoK and safety discussion anywhere. The moment Safety starts to discuss personhood zero becomes invalid. The moment we move away from the mono-disciplinary view on numerics and metrics, zero becomes invalid. Symbol, knowledge and political power are all interdependent.
What a BoK does is set up a legitimization process that tells a group what to distrust. In the legitimization of such a mono-disciplinary view, it makes only this view authoritative. So when one seeks a view on anything eg. epidemiology, that view must come from within the camp. Of course, this is consummated by awarding points and ‘professionalised’ value to what knowledge has been legitimated, a neat little circle that resists a Transdisciplinary approach.
Once a group endorses certain dogma, one is well on the way to making religious adherence the essence of such a political legitimization.
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