What is anger doing for us?

Rob Paterson talks about his work with KETC hosting conversations on the subject of immigration: Why are so many people so angry? Often he writes the stated reasons are about loss of jobs and crime…

But I wonder is that really the source of the anger? After all I don’t see this fuss about crime generally. I don’t see a big fuss against all the employers who have shuttered workplaces and exported jobs abroad. I don’t see the fuss about how technology has driven jobs away and lowered wages

I get the sense that anger seems to drive a lot of politics. I don’t subscribe to the view that anger is a “bad” emotion; it can be very energising. But I think it sometimes provides a way to establish a sense of power or relationship where people would otherwise struggle to do so.

By chance this morning I reread my post quoting Ekso Kilpis on complexity. He suggested we shift our focus from what we should be doing to what we are doing and said

Our focus should be on the communicative interaction creating the continuously developing pattern that is our life.

I think Rob is asking that kind of question.

4 thoughts on “What is anger doing for us?

  1. David Gurteen

    Dave Snowden says something about KM very similar to Esko

    “Knowledge Management should be focused on real, tangible intractable problems not aspirational goals. It should deal pragmatically with the evolutionary possibilities of the present rather then seeking idealistic solutions.”

    This is quite a change to current ways of thinking about the world. I am in Esko’s and Dave’s camp.

    Carpe Diem!

    best wishes David

  2. Earl Mardle

    Couple more observations about anger – it is so often directed at others and removes the angry person from the responsibility to act – “They failed me” “They did this to me” and so on.

    Secondly it enables demagogues to drive mobs. The demagogue takes on the task – Vote me in and I will deal with “Them”


    The one and only time I met Craig Newmark in SF in about 2003 he talked about cycling and the anger that motorists exhibited towards people on bikes.

    He said, “if anyone can harness that anger for political purposes they will have an unbeatable machine”.

    I’ve often thought of that as I watch the right wing do exactly that, especially in the US. We talk about formless unease and generalised fear on which politicians prey, but we rarely mention the underlying rage that seems to infect so many of us.

    Its as if we suffer from some kind of collective Tourettes syndrome and it acts as a deep well of malevolent energy that we draw from at our peril.

    And that’s the difference I think. Anger is a response to some specific event or circumstance and it can serve us reasonably well, but rage is something altogether different.

    Rage uses anger as the conduit into the world where it expresses itself completely out of proportion to the apparent stimulus. When that happens we have to ask where the rage comes from.

    We talk a lot about terrorism but so little about the underlying rage that drives people to the point where they are prepared to die as long as they can take enough others with them.

    Maybe its just existential, but maybe its generational injustice, exploitation and the contempt of others. Until we have a legitimate public discussion about that, none of the mitigation strategies will have any effect at all.


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