Colour Me Heretical

Via an e-newsletter from futurist extraordinaire Watts Wacker:

“He drew a circle that shut me out- Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in.”

— Edwin Markham

BTW – Art Kleiner wrote a book about two or three years ago, titled The Age of Heretics

In the review to which I have linked (on The Well), the following paragraphs caught my attention:

“New truths,” said Thomas Huxley, “begin as heresies.” He was defending Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. He might have added that new heresies also begin as truths.

A heretic is someone who sees a truth that contradicts the conventional wisdom of the institution — and remains loyal to both entities, to the institution and the new truth. Heretics are not apostates; they do not want to leave the “church.” Instead, they want the church to change, to meet the truths that they have seen halfway.

 Beginning in the late 1950s, a growing number of heretics emerged in the dominant institutions of our time — mainstream, publicly held, large multinational corporations. These were people within the firm, who saw a truth which ran against its prevailing attitudes. They saw how, despite the power of corporate practice, something desperately desirable had been lost in everyday corporate life: A sense of the value of human relationships and community. They saw how, without that human spirit, corporations could not perform.

 Modern heretics are not burned at the stake. They are relegated to backwaters or pressured to resign. They see their points of view ignored, or their efforts undermined. They see others get credit for their ideas and work. Worst of all, they see the organization thrive as a byproduct of their efforts, while the point of their heresy, the truth they fought to bring to the surface, is lost.

 Corporate heretics were reviled from the Left (as “ineffectually trying to work within the system, when the system should be destroyed”) and from the Right (as “disloyal, effete, snobbish, and maybe Communistic”). Many corporate heretics were silly or pretentious: snake oil salesmen (and saleswomen) of one sort or another. And yet, corporate heretics may be the closest thing we have, in our self-contradictory time, to genuine heroes. They provide the unsung conscience of our civilization.

 They also represent an inevitable historical process


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