[From Bill Powers (980501.0-922 MDT)]
Tim Carey (980501.1707)--
This is perhaps the biggest issue I have with coercion Bill. You _must_
consider the intentions of the coercee to know what's resistance and what's
I don't see why. If I decide you're going to sit quietly and listen for
half an hour, and I have the ability and inclination to coerce you into at
least the sitting part (if not the listening), that is what you are going
to do. It doesn't matter whether you're limp or straining against my grasp,
or cooperating as hard as you can. The issue of whether you're going to sit
quietly is settled and you have nothing to say about it.
I really don't understand what the problem is with this simple idea.
If you don't know what my goals are, how do you know whether you're
hindering me or helping me?
What difference does that make to the coercer?
Now if you say that my intentions don't matter
then we have the situation where both helping me and hindering me can be
described as coercion.
Yes, that is right. Coercion is not about what hinders or helps the
coercee. It is about what helps the coercer, period.
I think you could tell the difference between a non-coercer walking his dog
and a coercer doing the same thing. As the non-coercer walks along, the dog
sniffs at everthing it passes, and when it comes to a particularly
delectable smell it stops to bury its nose in it. The non-coercer feels the
tug at the leash and pauses to let the dog have a good sniff, then pulls
gently on the leash until the dog gets the message and resumes the walk.
The coercer, when he feels the dog pausing for a sniff, doesn't even slow
down. He just keeps walking, giving a strong enough yank to make the dog
keep moving. This may flip the dog over on his back, but the coercer pays
no attention. He simply drags the dog along while it struggles to get back
on its feet.
You're going to have to explain to me what difference the dog's reference
levels make to the coercive dog-walker.
So are you now saying that teachers in Australia are being coerced not to
Sort of. I'm saying that the background coercion I decribed is relied on by
the teachers to maintain order in their classrooms (especially without RTP
to suggest a different way). The teachers want to know that if some
children get out of hand, the teacher can call on someone with the required
power to step in and force the children to settle down, or to go away. They
may not have the strength to apply coercion themselves, but I'm sure they
are sometimes glad that someone does.
>How many of these people have to have these references before you can
>describe "the system" that way? Is it a majority thing, or 100% or would
>just one person do?
It's closer to 100%.
So if less than 100% have references of using force to control others, how
can you describe "the system" as coercive?
Easily. I can say one system is absolutely coercive, another is almost
entirely coercive, another is coercive enough to bother me, and still
another is only mildly coercive. When I speak of a whole system being
coercive, I'm talking about formally-established policies that everyone is
supposed to adhere to. If there's a policy saying that after the second
disruption, a student will be summarily and without exception removed from
a classroom, I would count that toward the degree of coerciveness in the
system as a whole.
To see what aspects of the school system are coercive,
you have to ask what rules apply to all people in all school systems, and
are enforced without regard to the wishes of anyone in the school system
(meaning all the schools in the country and their personnel).
And wouldn't they have to be continually enforced in order for the system
to be coercive. If people get away with the laws at times, aren't they
being intermittently rewarded for breaking the laws?
No. Reward is an illusion. They are learning that the coercion system has
some flaws in it, and they may take advantage of them to avoid being
coerced. This doesn't change the intentions of the coercers to attain
absolute control of the coercees.
If all kids all the
time are forced to be in school and the only reason they are there is
because of fear
Setting up the straw man, here. I have never said such a foolish thing.
how do you explain:
1) street kids; and
2) the very large percentage of kids (up to 98% in my state) who attend
school past the compulsory school leaving age. It would seem to me that if
someone was being forced to do something against their will, then the
minute the force was taken away they would be out of there.
I'm gratified to hear that the aborigines go on to higher education in such
Since you made up the assertion, you explain it. I can observe, however,
that by the time a child reaches school-leaving age, all the alternatives
to school attendance may have long been forgotten, or brainwashed away. Or
maybe the schools in your state are just very good schools, free of
coercion, with no disipline problems, and so forth. What do you need RTP
intention, comparison, action, and feedback through the environment. If a
person is organized to coerce, this means that whenever there is a
disturbance, the person tries to correct the error with no internal
limitations on how much force will be used if the disturbance is caused
So by this definition I wouldn't be able to describe any teachers I know of
in Queensland as users of the coercive process because they all have some
internal limitations on how much force they can use with kids.
Right. You have to think of degrees of coercion. I've describe the 100% end
of the scale. Some teachers are clearly far more coercive than others. Some
teachers try to be totally noncoercive, but they probably don't do much
better with maintaining order than the coercive-to-the-max teachers do.
Under "use of force," incidentally, I would include calling on others who
are authorized and strong enough to use force, not just using one's own
A disturbance created by a person is treated just like a
disturbance created by the wind; one simply acts as strongly as
(if possible) and prevents the disturbance from having any effect. What
this does to someone else's life is not considered. A coercive person
treats other people as objects.
Again, this doesn't fit the description of any teacher I know.
It does when a child disrupts, refuses to stop, and refuses to leave. At
that point the child is simply an object to be removed, for someone else to
deal is with outside the class. You can't tell me this never happens
because I've seen it happen.
Coercion doesn't "occur." It's like the track on which trains run.
Would you say the same thing for other processes such as "cooperation"?
What gives coercion some special pride of place over all the other things
that go on in schools?
You're right, cooperation is also a process. However, as far as I know
cooperation is not a hurtful and destructive process, while coercion is.
And copperation requires two people to share a goal, while coercion
requires only one person to initiate it.
immediately corrected. Similarly with coercion. A coercive person is not
necessarily applying force all the time; if the recipient happens to be
behaving exactly as the coercer wants, no force is required.
No, but they _do_ have to have references of using force that are present
all the time don't they?
No, the reference level applies to perceptions, not actions. The coercer
has certain outcomes in mind, and generates outputs intended to bring those
outcomes into existence. What makes a coercer different is the
single-mindedness with which this goal is sought, while abandoning all
other goals like those of getting along with people, allowing others their
opinions, and helping others to be self-determined. For a coercive teacher,
the only important thing in a classroom is for the children to be in their
seats, feet flat on the ground, mouths shut, and ears and eyes open. What
the children think about doing this is irrelevant. The children are there
to be taught, not to have opinions or talk back. They may answer a direct
question from the teacher. Otherwise they are to shut up.
I get the impression that you've never encountered any teachers like this.
Maybe they don't have them in Australia.
Again, the vast majority of teachers in schools in
my state would have no references for the use of force.
>So if we have a group of say 20 people: 19 have references to do with
>cooperation, negotiation, and compromise, and one has references to do
>using force to achieve his goals and this person uses coercion 0.0001%
>the time. Do we have a coercive system?
No, that wouldn't seem reasonable to me. But I think it is remarkable how
even one coercer out of 20 people can spoil the social situation.
Sure, I think any coercer, anywhere at anytime can make things less than
ideal. My only query is your reference to a "coercive system".
>In whose heads does this coercive
>system exist? Does it make any difference if 19 of the people would
>describe their group as cooperative? Is it still a coercive system?
It exists primarily in the heads of the people who want to coerce.
And as we've just pointed out, it's unreasonable to describe a "system" as
coercive unless you have some idea of the proportion of people within the
system who do and don't have references of using force to control others.
The main reason I'm being so dogged about this subject is that unless you
understand what I mean by coercion, you won't see why I consider one
of RTP so offensive. It's not enough to turn me off to RTP altogether,
it does reduce my admiration considerably.
OK, so let me check again to see if I'm still with you. By coercion, you
mean, someone using force on another person without any regard for the
intentions or goals of the other person.
I'm wondering at this point whether you make a distinction between
controlling the actions of another person and controlling the person.
Yes. You can't control a person; you can only control variables, like
position, speed, force applied by the person, sounds made by the person,
and other things at high and low levels of organization.
only thing that someone who is external to the system can do is control the
actions of the system but the actions aren't what the system is
controlling, the perceptions are. So to really control a person, wouldn't
you have to control their internal references?
You didn't wait for my answer. You can't control "a person". You can only
control variables. A coercers, is only interested in controlling a
person's behavior as the coercer sees it.
So when we speak of coercion
we are only speaking of controlling actions, and not controlling the
person, or is this distinction unimportant in your definition of coercion?
The coercer controls only his experience of the coercee's behavior.
would have chosen had all options been open. And it is unfair to put the
I'm wondering here what you mean by "all options". Is it all possible
options that are available given unlimited time, and resources, or is it
all options that the individual can think of or is it something else?
I mean all options of which the person might think at the time.
disrupt, you go to the RTC." None of this horseshit about "I see you have
chosen to go to the RTC." That's phoney and the kids know it's phoney.
few kids sit down and think, "I've decided to go to the RTC. What's a
way of doing that? Let's see, I could turn and tell Freddy about my
I agree Bill, and I've had this conversation with Ed. I would prefer to say
something like "It seems that you're not controlling for staying in class
at the moment, you'll have to go to RTC"
I would prefer to say, "My rule is that the second time you disrupt in this
class, you go to the RTC." As far as the kid is concerned (usually) the
subject of controlling for staying in class is no more relevant than
controlling for keeping his hair on. If he'd been thinking about staying in
class, he wouldn't have disrupted. He was thinking about something else.
What he needs to make a plan about has nothing to do with staying in class.
It has to do with how to handle excitement in the class, or overhearing a
joke, or such things, so as not to interrupt others.
Where does this leave us with the coercion discussion
It has to do with acknowledging coercion where it is actually part of the
system. This has been my whole point through this entire discussion.
Coercion is involved in removing kids from class to send them to the RTC;
if they go willingly, the force never has to be applied, but it is there,
ready to be applied, at the first sign of resistance. As you said yourself,
you call in the administrator, then the cops, if necessary. It is this
force that lies behind the forced choice: stop disrupting, or go to the
RTC. To try to disguise this coercion by saying it's the kid's choice is, I
claim, simply dishonest. It's much more honest just to say, "If you
disrupt, you go to the RTC, and that's it." At least then you're taking
responsibility for the rule you yourself set up, and for what you do (or
have done) to enforce it.
I think I probably chafed at the lack of honesty among my teachers when I
was in school 60 years ago. Griped me then, gripes me now.