Capitalism And Social Progress

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Overview

Why, when America and Britain are wealthier than ever, do millions of children live in poverty, neighborhoods want for basic amenities, and the middle classes fear for their families, jobs, and futures? The historical legacy of the "golden era" and the ideology of market individualism are obsessions that the New Democrats in America and the New Labour in Britain have failed to exorcize. Yet the forces of knowledge-driven capitalism provide an unprecedented opportunity to build societies more equitably based on the individual and collective intelligence of all. Capitalism and Social Progress shows how this change can be achieved.

Proceedings of the fifth Dialogue Series, held at Madras from January 28-31, 1994.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In light of the failure of economic growth to achieve the social stability and prosperity that thinkers dreamed of at the beginning of the 20th century, Brown (social sciences, Cardiff U.) and Lauder (education and political economy, U. of Bath) investigate how to reconcile the goals of economic competitiveness, social justice, human freedom, and security in post-industrial societies. They argue that governments must take a more active role in making their economies competitive. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780333922910
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 5/4/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Phillip Brown is Research Professor in Sociology at Cardiff University.

Hugh Lauder is Professor of Education and Political Economy at the University of Bath.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 13: Collective Intelligence

It is often social hierarchy and the world views associated with it that restrict the unfolding of human capacity, and not the limitations of natural endowment. Charles F. Sabel

Every expansive era in the history of mankind has coincided with the operation of factors which have tended to eliminate distance between peoples and classes previously hemmed off from one another. John Dewey

In a survey of the moral and spiritual worlds of 'middle' Americans, Robert Bellah and his colleagues concluded that if there was a selfish 'me generation' in America they did not find it. But what they did find was that the language of individualism, as the primary language of self-understanding, limited the ways in which people think.1 In another celebrated work, Small is Beautiful, E.F. Schumacher tells us that we can not free ourselves from the bondage of the existing system without the development of a vocabulary which is capable of mounting a challenge to the logic of individualism. To reassert conventional ways of thinking about the relationship between the individual and society, therefore, is to effectively rule out new ways of understanding ourselves and the world in which we live. In this chapter we examine the idea of 'collective intelligence' and argue that it is integral to the reinvention of society. In presenting collective intelligence as an alternative to market individualism it can be shown that it is capable of improving economic performance and the quality of life for all.

The first step in the move towards a definition of collective intelligence is to reclaim 'intelligence' from the grip of the eugenics movement and from its impoverished representation in the form of IQ tests. Axiomatic to the idea of collective intelligence is an understanding of human intelligence limited by social hierarchy and cultural learning which has led to feelings of inferiority, stupidity and incapability among the majority, at the same time that a minority have staked their superiority on membership of nature's aristocracy of talent.2 This premature excommunication of many people from their natural capabilities is not congenital but a cultural and institutional problem within society's power to correct, as each period in history can be characterized by both its mode of economic organization and its model of human nature.

In the twentieth century Western culture has harboured a dim view of intelligence among the majority.3 Despite a culture that has celebrated the victory of human endeavour over nature, it has remained sacrosanct to Western thought that there is a limited pool of talent. This faith in the few who have been blessed by nature, or managed to rise above it, are the people whose faces fill the biography and business shelves of bookshops and TV chat shows. This is the 'great man' and 'token woman' view of history. It is a celebration of individualism which recognizes social progress to result from the extraordinary efforts and insights of a few.

In many respects this dim view of intelligence was analogous to Plato's 'royal lie', given that in the Golden era only a few were required to develop their intellectual potential fully, while the recourse to a gift of nature served to legitimate to the many why they were not among the elite. Nevertheless, the social distribution of intelligence has remained an active battleground for debates about equality of opportunity and social justice. On the one hand, the concept of intelligence has been embodied in the notion of IQ. The gist of this tradition is, as we have seen, based on the view that intelligence is measurable; that it is largely decided by nature rather than the social environment; that it is largely immutable or fixed, which means that it can be predicted at an early age; and that high intelligence is in limited supply as suggested by the metaphor of the bell curve. Unsurprisingly, this view of intelligence has been consistently used to explain the exclusion of various social groups in society and, as Stephen Jay Gould has noted, to justify the privileges of those in whose service the notion of IQ has been pressed.4

A celebrated attempt to explain the obdurate existence of the underprivileged and underrepresented is The Bell Curve (1994) by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. The book is subtitled Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, and purports to explain why African-Americans are at the bottom of the social pile and why the rest of society should not do much to help them because it reflects the blueprint of nature. For Herrnstein and Murray some 'races' are simply more intelligent than others and this is what explains their relative positions in the class structure. Accordingly, it is asserted that we are now confronted with a genetically-determined meritocracy in which those at the top are the most able and those at the bottom the least able for whom there can be little expectation of self-improvement, even with state support. This attempt to shackle the opportunities of the poor and powerless is connected to Murray's racist account of the urban underclass, which claims that the underclass is largely the product of a culture of dependency resulting from over-generous state handouts. Murray obviously had a Malthusian solution in mind given that the poor should not receive state support because of its cultural consequences, but there is also no way of improving their lot because they are too stupid! On the centre-left of the political spectrum there have been those who have developed counter-arguments about the nature of IQ and intelligence. They point out that intelligence as measured by IQ tests has been steadily rising in the United States and elsewhere since the 1930s, which suggests that these gains in intelligence cannot be genetically based.5 It has also been shown that people from disadvantaged groups consistently underachieved in terms of school performance or in the job market, even when their IQs were found to be equal to those from privileged backgrounds. What these researchers have argued is that rather than there being a limited pool of ability in the population at large, there is a massive wastage of talent among those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, from minority ethnic groups and among women.6 In Britain in the 1960s, for instance, Floud and Halsey were able to show that a selective system of education, in which children were sorted according to various tests (including IQ tests), into different kinds of school at the age of 11, meant that many able working-class students were prevented from following an academic syllabus which was a requirement for entry to University. Research by Bowles and Gintis in the United States was also able to demonstrate the significance of social class background on educational achievement and subsequent job destination, even when IQ scores were taken into account.7 More recent research by Lauder and Hughes replicated Bowles and Gintis' studies in New Zealand - considered one of the most egalitarian of nations until recently - and arrived at similar results.8

This research into the social influence on achievement is conveniently ignored by the likes of Herrnstein and Murray. But others who have reanalysed their data have shown that Herrnstein and Murray have exaggerated the impact of IQ on performance.9 This re-analysis has shown that if everyone had the same IQ scores but came from different social backgrounds, the impact of equalizing IQ is a 10 per cent reduction in income inequality. If everyone had the same social background but different IQ scores, Fisher and his colleagues claim that inequality in income would be reduced by 37 per cent.10

This tradition of centre-left research has been important for refuting what has been at best a narrowly mechanistic and naive approach to questions of intelligence. It has drawn attention to the all important influence of environmental factors - especially the influence of social inequalities - in determining educational achievement and in exploring the legitimizing myths used to explain that achievement. While inequalities of race, gender and class are always intertwined, we should bear in mind that the racial targets in Herrnstein and Murray's study are part and parcel of a resurgence in the politics of racism in the United States, whereas in Britain it has been used, primarily, to support class inequalities.11 And in both countries, as indeed in Continental Europe, the IQist tradition has been an instrument in the maintenance of patriarchy as Murray and Herrnstein's analysis of unwed African-American mothers testifies. Had they looked at the utterances of their precursors they may not have leaped so confidently into their geneticist claims about single mothers. After all, it was only a little over a century ago that Broca was claiming that it was well known that women, on average, were less intelligent than men on account of their smaller brains, and that his colleague Gustav Le Bon was warning that to give women higher education would be to unleash a social revolution.12

Although much of this research has targeted genetic accounts of IQ in showing that it varies significantly according to social circumstances, what is implicit in much of this work is the fact that intelligence is a social achievement. The idea of meritocracy offers an instructive example of the social nature of intelligence. In meritocratic competition the winners are encouraged to exhibit little sense of obligation to the losers because the competition was judged to be fair and based on individual qualities. Intelligence is usually seen as an attribute of individuals. IQ tests, for example, are given to individuals rather than groups. Student examination results are taken as a mark of individual ability rather than as a reflection on the quality of teaching, course material or the quality of a culture. In Christopher Lasch's description of The Revolt of the Elites, he notes that 'although hereditary advantages play an important part in the attainment of professional and managerial status' the new elite he suggests, has 'to maintain the fiction that its power rests on intelligence alone. Hence it has little sense of ancestral gratitude or of an obligation to live up to responsibilities inherited from the past. It thinks of itself as a self-made elite owing its privileges exclusively to its own efforts'.13 This is a view which holds considerable sway among the population at large. Becoming an eminent professor is seen to result from extraordinary individual ability rather than as the product of a massive collective adventure involving family, teachers, colleagues and the authors of all the books, articles, television programmes, etc., that have informed the work for which the individual has received personal acclaim. But it is not only eminent professors who stand on the shoulders of their ancestors and who rely on others. We all do. As John Dewey suggests, 'The conception of mind as a purely isolated possession of the self is at the very antipodes of the truth. The self achieves mind in the degree in which knowledge of things is incarnate in the life about him; the self is not a separate mind building up knowledge anew on its own account'.14 As individuals, we possess only the potential for intelligence, in the sense of an ability to acquire and interpret information; to solve problems; to think critically and systematically about the social and natural world; to communicate ideas to others; and to apply new skills and techniques. It is developments in the social world that stimulates the mind's potential for new forms of feeling, reasoning and understanding.

If 'intelligence' is to be reclaimed for more progressive purposes it is also important to show that what counts as intelligence is historically variable. The idea of intelligence in the Golden era, for instance, is redundant in the world in which we now live. The way work and family life are organized; the way we interact with one another; and the tools we use to create wealth and communicate have changed dramatically. Intelligence is not, therefore, a fixed capacity as is so frequently asserted; rather the capacities and potentials of what we consider intelligence and intelligent action change in relation to new demands and practices of any given age. It follows from this view that new forms of intelligence will be invoked as the institutions and practices of society change.15 We have shown that the dominant conception of intelligence in the Golden era was represented by the IQ test. That this should be the case was not surprising since it chimed well with the way the world of paid work, education and everyday lifestyles were arranged. We have seen how economic activity was organized on the basis of giant corporate hierarchies and Fordist assembly lines. This involved a clear division of labour, usually with an elite at the apex making policy decisions, a large number of white-collar workers overseeing a reluctant army of blue-collar workers whose tasks could be performed best when 'their minds were least consulted'. This division of activity was mirrored in the education system where it was only the managerial and professional elite that received an extended period of formal education beyond the age of eighteen. Hence, the normal curve depicting the distribution of IQ mapped quite well on to this distribution of corporate decision-making power. But equally important was the view that intelligence was in the main cognitive. It involved the learning of pre-existing bodies of knowledge in the sciences and the humanities which were neatly subdivided into 'subjects' and offered according to the perceived future destination of the student. Technical and craft knowledge were assumed to require less intelligence to master than the academic. And the acquisition of tacit knowledge, especially by people of colour, women or the working class, stood beyond the conventional definition of intelligence dominated by the precepts of scientific reason. As Western societies have moved into a more technologically advanced and knowledge-intensive world, the limitations of this understanding of intelligence have become more obvious with the decline in bureaucratic work structures, and more flexible labour markets.16

Howard Gardner's Frames of Mind is indicative of a sea change in our understanding of what constitutes intelligence in a post-industrial world. In this book he argues against the unitary idea of intelligence as represented by the IQist tradition and instead outlines a theory of multiple intelligence, numbering among them linguistic, musical, logical and mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic and personal intelligence. Our concern here is not with the way Gardner has de-limited different forms of intelligence but to note how the changing social world has made a theory of multiple intelligence relevant, if not inevitable.17 Of particular interest is his theory of personal intelligence. For Gardner, personal intelligence involves access to one's own feelings and an ability to notice and make distinctions between the moods, temperaments, motivations and feelings of others.

In the factory model roles were carefully de-limited both at home and at work. Knowledge of oneself and of others in the exercise of work roles was discouraged as unprofessional or irrelevant, beyond an evaluation of the individual's job title, authority or certified expertise. Pre-existing roles prescribed the way individuals should act and it was only from the late 1960s that these were subjected to serious challenge. Now, knowledge of oneself and of others is necessary to function adequately. Where once roles were prescribed, now they are more likely to be negotiated. Under such conditions the interpersonal skills which come from such knowledge are at a premium. In the corporate world hierarchies of roles have been replaced by team work in which the 'person' is as important as the technical skills they may possess; indeed the two have become inseparable.18

Of course, it is not just changes in the world of work that have brought personal intelligence to the forefront. For some time feminists have been pointing out that personal intelligence has been the prerogative of women precisely because as 'homemakers' they have been the keepers of subjectivity and the emotions. But with the increasing flexibility of gender roles within the home and at work feminists have also pointed out the stunted nature of the male psyche because of the absence of personal intelligence. The emergence of personal intelligence as a necessary quality for all individuals can, therefore, be seen partly as a consequence of the breakdown in the division of labour between women and men. The net results of these changes in the division of labour and in our modes of interaction has been that our ideal of the intelligent person has changed, especially for men. A well-rounded personality is one in which emotional or personal intelligence is as important an attribute as logical and mathematical intelligence. Since the Enlightenment, emotions including fear, anger, sadness, love and happiness have been bracketed off as expressive, and therefore seen as irrational in an age of scientific rationality. The labeling of the emotions as 'feminine' has been used by male elites as a convenient way of demonstrating the inferiority of women in a scientific world. This mind-numbing interpretation of intelligence is far removed from Aristotle's philosophical enquiry into character, virtue and the good life. Here the issue is not cast in terms of how to eliminate emotions from everyday interactions and activities, but rather one of how to manage our emotions with intelligence. And this, as Daniel Goleman's account of Emotional Intelligence suggests, will include self-control, zeal, persistence, and the ability to motivate oneself.19

It follows from this account that what we consider, as intelligence needs to extend well beyond the boundaries of book learning to include among other things the artistic, communication and emotional dimensions of human capability. Intelligence in post-individual societies must include the ability to solve problems, to think critically and systematically about the social and material worlds, to apply new skills and techniques, to empathize and to have the personal skills needed to communicate and live alongside others. Above all, in a society characterized by risk and insecurity, it means being able to imagine and assess alternative futures. In turn, this means being able to go beyond established paradigms of thought. As Colin Lacey has suggested, 'Intelligence has to do with...making judgements about when it is appropriate to create new courses of action or avenues of thought' and 'it involves the development of a morality that is capable of guiding action'.20

This definition of intelligence is consistent with the ethical, emotional and cognitive processes, feelings and ideas that constitute collective intelligence. Indeed, collective intelligence depends on the development of the capacities for problem solving given that in a context of rapid personal, social and technological change this is the basis for personal empowerment, whether it involves dealing with the emotions of love or hate for an estranged lover; negotiating bedtime with young children; working through a restructuring package with work colleagues, or managing a successful career strategy. John Dewey, the American educationalist and philosopher, centred his whole intellectual enterprise around the concept of a 'problem'. This approach is well summarized by Alan Ryan in his biography of Dewey:

Individuals and societies alike are stirred into life by problems; an unproblematic world would be a world not so much at rest as unconscious. Such a world is unimaginable. Life is problematic; even when we are not thinking about our situation, our bodies are continuously solving endless problems of their own sustained existence. Problem solving is the condition of organic life. Societies, like individuals, solve problems and, like individuals, must do so by acting on the environment that causes the problem in the first place. Interaction with the environment alters the society or the individual that acts on the environment, with the result that new problems arise and demand new solutions. To the degree that this process gives the organism more control over itself and its environment, more ability to rethink its problems, and the potentiality for fruitful changes along the same lines, we may talk of progress. Dewey's preferred expression was always 'growth'.21

If the development of these capacities and skills is an indisputable feature of collective intelligence, then we must rid ourselves of the dim view of human intelligence which infects self-confidence and our view of others. The fact is that all rather than a few have growth potential in terms of practical and intellectual achievement, of creative thought and insights, and of taking responsibility for making informed judgements and choices. We need to jack-up the 'normal curve' of ability so beloved by conservatives eager to explain social inequalities as a product of genetics.22 Critics will argue that we are utopian. That we are ignoring the fact that there are differences in innate make-up. There is no need to deny this argument because it is irrelevant. None of what we are suggesting need doubt the existence of innate differences in the potential for intelligence (although it clearly depends on what is taken as a measure). What we are arguing, on the basis of research evidence, is that the vast wealth of talent has not been harnessed by current systems of education and training; in the jobs available to the vast majority; or in patriarchal family structures. It is simply nonsense to suggest that current levels of academic performance or economic productivity are an accurate reflection of individual and collective capability.

This view is supported by comparative evidence which shows significant differences in the proportion of students participating in higher education. These reflect societal differences in terms of culture, economy and politics. We do not, for instance, subscribe to the view that American or British students are innately less intelligent than the Japanese or Koreans!23 Here, evidence of the impact of culture on educational achievement is conclusive. Lawrence Steinberg has shown that at every level of measured ability migrant Asian students outperform their American counterparts, but this is not the case for second-generation Asian students. In other words, Steinberg is able to demonstrate a strong cultural component to educational performance even when measured ability is taken into account.24

We are also struck by the ever-increasing numbers of 'mature' students who previously had few, if any, formal qualifications. Given a clear reason for undertaking college or university study (and the opportunity), they generally prove themselves to be able students. Education and work must be organized in order to nurture this wealth of talent. It will require the redirection of attention away from the attributes of individual students or workers as the source of low ability systems of education or poor levels of productivity, to focus on the cultural and institutional context in which the learning or work process takes place.

This will also involve abandoning another cherished cultural myth that there are a few born to lead and while the masses are born to follow. All must be armed with the power tools to make individual and collective judgements. This is not an argument for mass indoctrination, but involves a celebration of the iconoclast, the critic and the diverse ethnic cultures and religious faiths which characterize post-industrial nations. Erich Fromm correctly reminds us that 'The right to express our thoughts means something only if we are able to have thoughts of our own'.25 The failure to recognize this rich diversity and to learn the lessons of the past in the attempt to confront short-term concerns is to fail in the pursuit of collective intelligence. Denial by Nation states of full and accessible information to their citizens about the key issues of the day - for instance, the causes and consequences of environmental pollution; the risks and causes of HIV and AIDS - or failure to offer political education as part of the school curriculum, is symptomatic of a failure to develop a nation's collective intelligence.

Critics will again say that the world has become too complex for ordinary people to make appropriate decisions about their own lives let alone broader policy decisions. It is certainly true the world is far more complex, that a grand narrative of industrialism or modernism seems less appropriate as a guide to action. It is also true that we can never know enough about everything to make specific operational decisions. It is for this reason that global corporations are breaking themselves into product groups which enjoy considerable independence for Head Office, to allow faster decision-making by those with a grasp of local markets. HQ has become a strategic rather than an operational centre. The task of those who oversee the corporation is to build the bigger picture and encourage developments in areas which conform to the mission statement of the organization. In a similar vein, in the complex, fast-changing environment in which we live, it is impossible to empower people to make operational decisions in all areas of everyday life. However, what we can do is ensure that the decisions which are being taken by politicians, professionals and experts, conform to the moral values upon which social life is founded. These moral and spiritual foundations are surprisingly accessible, durable and transportable. They boil down to questions about whether people want to live in a society which puts individual self-interest or profits for shareholders before all other considerations of quality of life or social justice. The reinvention of society depends upon developing the collective intelligence to decide.

The redefinition of intelligence is a key part of the struggle for collective intelligence. But it is inadequate because of its limited focus on individuals. There are many private troubles felt by people that require public solutions, such as raising productivity, knowledge production, reducing poverty and crime, or improving education or the quality of employment opportunities, which cannot be resolved without collaboration with family, friends, neighbours, co-workers or fellow citizens.26 In post-industrial societies it is the collective intelligence of families, communities, companies, and society at large, which will determine the quality of life as well as economic competitiveness. Despite the obsession of some who still believe that we can find ways of controlling human beings - if not by turning them into machines which was popular for much of the twentieth century, then by rendering them redundant through the development of artificial intelligence - for the first time in human history we confront the task of developing and pooling the intelligence of all of the population of the advanced societies.

Collective intelligence can be defined as empowerment through the development and pooling of intelligence to attain common goals or resolve common problems.27 It is inspired by a spirit of co-operation rather a Darwinian survival of the fittest. In a society that eulogizes the virtues of competition, self-interest and acquisitiveness, rather than co-operation, common interest and the quality of life, it is difficult to maximize human potential or to co-ordinate opportunities for intelligence action in an efficient matter. The struggle for collective intelligence therefore involves more than a democratization of intelligence, it involves making a virtue of our mutual dependence and sociability which we will need to make a dominant feature of post-industrial society based on information, knowledge and lifelong learning.28

To develop our understanding of the social foundations of collective intelligence at any given historical moment, a distinction can be made between the capacity for intelligence and relations of trust. The capacity for intelligence describes the raw materials on which the development of intelligence depends. It refers to the state of knowledge, scientific discovery, technology and learning techniques, on which societies can draw. In many respects the capacity for intelligence has become global in scope as new ideas, fashions, technologies and sources of productivity traverse the global in real time through the media, Internet and MNCs. The shift from Fordism to Lean production in the 1980s and 1990s represents an example. Another is the Human Genome Program launched by the US Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health in 1990. One of its major aims was to identify all of the approximate 100,000 genes in human DNA and combined universities and research centres in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Denmark, Israel and Italy. At a societal level the capacity for intelligence would also include the scale of investment in the knowledge, learning and research infrastructure in the form of schools, colleges, universities, libraries, museums, training centres, research institutes and information superhighways.

Conventional economic approaches have limited their horizons to trying to measure certain facets of the capacity for intelligence, such as attempts to measure the nation stock of human capital. Obvious problems with this approach are the crude measures, such as years of formal education, which are used to calculate the quality of a nation's human resources, and the way that human intelligence and learning are reduced to a question of earning a living.29 If these are serious problems its death knell is the failure of human capital models to acknowledge intelligence as a social gift. How intelligence is defined; whether its cultivation is restricted to a few or extended to all; the extent of 'our' knowledge, including scientific discoveries, art, literature, and music; whether we have the opportunity to use our brains at work; and the quality of the culture which furnishes the definition of intelligence and human nature, are shaped by individuals as members of society. We make our own history but in co-operation with others, and not always in way that we choose or intend. The nature and distribution of intelligence will be shaped by the social groups to which an individual belongs and the cultural, economic and political fabric of society more generally. In low-trust societies, for instance, education, knowledge and learning are treated as part of a zero-sum game, where extending opportunities to less privileged groups and the pooling of intelligence are seen as a threat to the positional advantage of social elites.30 Therefore, the development and pooling of intelligence is severely restricted for less advantaged social groups and for society as a whole, unless high trust relations can be fostered.

As human capital ideas have come to dominate government policies there has been a considerable emphasis on increasing post-compulsory access to tertiary education, adult training and wiring-up schools to the Internet. This kind of capacity building is important but inadequate as such policies fail to take account of how the raw materials of post-industrial economies are weaved into the social fabric. The inter-relationship between capacities and relations is vital because it addresses the extent to which people are institutionally encouraged to pool their intelligence.31

To aid our understanding of relations of 'trust' we need to distinguish it from its everyday meaning of whether we think someone is honest. Trust is used here to refer to whether the development and pooling of intelligence is reflected in the relationships between individuals, groups, and classes that are embedded in classrooms, offices, shopfloors, households, neighbourhoods, welfare policies and taxation systems. This emphasis on institutional embedded trust does not ignore the importance of national cultures or political ideologies. Confucianism as exhibited in some Asian countries is, for example, usually seen to encourage social harmony, whereas the tenets of Western individualism as applied in the last twenty years or so, has made it virtually impossible for people (even within the same family) to think in terms of co-operation and mutual dependence. The cultural context will clearly have a powerful impact on social values and attitudes: as R.H. Tawney reminded us in our introductory chapter, it is impossible to achieve significant social change without changing the 'scale of moral values which rules the minds of individuals', because it is these values which have shaped social history.32 But we have to do more than look at the principles which guide how people treat each other. Allan Fox correctly highlights the need to focus on the way social relationships are embedded 'in the institutions, patterns, and processes themselves which are operated by people who are capable of choosing differently'.33

At a societal level, the taxation paid by different income groups, the generosity of welfare provision for those who do not have access to waged work, or the provision of lifelong learning to all sections of society whether rich or poor, act as important signals which are easily decoded by people into 'this is a society which is pulling together in the interests of all' or 'this a society based on looking after number one'. The more inclusive the society the more people from all walks of life are likely to feel that they have a stake in the system as Richard Wilkinson has demonstrated in his international study of Unhealthy Societies. He found that the social polarization in the 1980s led to a growth in the number of poor people dying prematurely, committing suicide, getting divorced, and whose children were underachieving at school. He is able to show that these social pathologies where less a direct consequence of material deprivation, than a symptom of a collapse in trust as fellow Americans or Britons were seen to be indifferent to their suffering and that they were no longer bona fide members of society.

This research not only shows that poverty leads to low trust relations between the haves and the have nots, but that it also undermines the capacity of disadvantaged neighbourhoods to develop collective intelligence because their social isolation robs them of the opportunity for informal 'social' learning which can build social capital at the grassroots. James Coleman, thought that social capital inheres in the relationships between individuals in a community which is characterized by high trust relations and shared responsibilities.34 An example would be a network of the mothers of kindergarten and primary school children, who share the duties of ferrying kids to and from school, and who share the responsibility of looking after other parents' children when the need arises. The reason why this leads to the creation of social capital is that these activities also involve communicating to children a shared set of expectations about appropriate standards of behaviour, the value of education, and the benefits of sharing resources including cars and time. This form of informal learning may not be overt or even oral, but is achieved by prompting such as 'have you got homework today?', or by parental interest in what the children did at school that day. It is the messages of the community in sum that is significant in the creation of social capital. The relative wealth of communities in this respect is reflected in the performance of their children in school as Coleman and Hoffer attempted to empirically demonstrate.35

The impact of inequality on the development of informal learning is not difficult to understand, although it often operates in subtle and complex ways. Communities or networks which are rich in social capital, for instance, take time, energy and resources to build. They also depend on a high degree of stability in the family and neighbour context. This is highlighted in Coleman and Hoffer's research as they found that the most significant impact on educational failure was the amount of times a child moves school. But this kind of instability is most frequently found in poor school districts.36 This is not the only malign effect of poverty in the creation of social capital. The impact of the ghettoization of American inner cities on the decline in social capital is graphically portrayed in the work of William Julius Wilson which was noted earlier and is worth reiterating here.37 Wilson shows how a perceptive ghetto youngster in a neighbourhood where some people have been able to keep good jobs, even in a context of increasing joblessness and idleness, can continue to see a meaningful connection between education and employment. The problem is that these neighbourhoods show signs of becoming even more polarized when those who are able to find decent jobs leave the neighbourhood. As a consequence, the more social groups become isolated from one another the fewer opportunities exist for the kind of informal learning that contributes to collective intelligence.

Building high trust relations is at the heart of the struggle for collective intelligence, in that it is a way of moving towards a form of associated living which involves making experience more communicable through a reduction in social stratification which make individuals impervious to the interests of the others.38 This conforms to John Dewey's notion of democracy which is more than a system of government as it defines the way people live together and pool their intelligence.39 Collective intelligence is exercised through the development of the art of conversation and to give an authentic voice to all constituencies of society. This in turn depends upon the breakdown of social divisions that inhibit the free communication and interaction between people and groups. This applies equally at the level of society where social barriers are constructed around class, race or religion, as it does to the workplace or home, when sharp distinctions are imposed between management and workers or breadwinners and home-makers. Such barriers serve to undermine the potential for collective intelligence. But it is not only the powerless who lose out in these circumstances, its consequences for social elites may be less material and less obvious, but remain insidious as, 'their culture tends to be sterile, to be turned back to feed on itself; their art becomes a showy display and artificial; their wealth luxurious; their knowledge over-specialized; their manners fastidious rather than humane'.40

In such a society the development of intelligence is severely constrained by inequality, poverty and cultural elitism. As a result all social groups lack the trust upon which conversation is possible. It denies a society of novel and challenging ideas that frequently stem from diversity in situations and social and cultural experiences. Collective intelligence involves a 'widening of the circle of shared concerns and the liberation of a greater diversity of personal capacity'.41 A trivial instance was given recently by a friend whose favourite radio programme was Desert Island Discs, produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation. The programme involves someone, usually a celebrity or prominent public figure, talking about their life and selecting pieces of music which they would take with them to listen to on their deserted island. Our friend commented that two of the recent castaways were people she had intensely disliked on the basis of their media image. On both occasions she observed how listening to their life stories, anxieties and concerns, had led her to cast these individuals in a more positive light (of course, greater understanding can also lead to the opposite response) because she had had the, albeit brief, opportunity to recognize common points of contact and concern. To share what amounts to a common humanity. In a pluralistic society of different life styles, patterns of behaviour, language and customs, it is basic to the establishment of collective intelligence to recognize aspects of common humanity and for these to be institutionally encouraged.

The development of high trust relations therefore offers the best chance of making a positive feature of cultural pluralism and of meeting post-modern calls for a politics of difference. What is recognized in the struggle for collective intelligence is that different voices which reflect the rich diversity of cultural identity and social experience are the lifeblood which fuels the collective effort to resolve common problems in an attempt to improve the quality of life for all. Equally, this involves recognizing that there are different ways to live a life. But in polarized and divided societies people come to feel isolated and fearsome of groups with which they share little in common and with whom they rarely come into contact. This situation fuels the ideology and practice of self-interest which neutralize ethical decisions, and despite the fact that the struggle for money, power and status leaves most people unfulfilled, it robs people of the collective intelligence to engage in 'conversations' about the nature of society, working life and personal relationships.

Relations of trust also have profound implications for the organization of economic life in the early decades of the twenty-first century. This is because they shape the nature of co-operation between economic actors, whether as employers, employees, trade union representatives, government policy-makers or consumers. The nature of this co-operation has been historically transformed. Co-operation in pre-industrial societies involved acting for purposes of economic production or distribution on established routines and 'mechanical' solidarity.42 Co-operation involved little scope for human freedom, as Marx suggested, 'the individual has as little torn himself free from the umbilical cord of his tribe or community as a bee has from his hive.'43 Marx noted that there were few examples in ancient times of co-operation on a large scale and where this did occur is was founded on slavery. With the rise of industrial capitalism new forms of economic co-operation developed based on the 'free' wage-labourer, who sells his labour-power to employers and the development of the factory model of production. The factory system involved a fundamental change, in that workers had to be disciplined to co-ordinate their working day and work activities, which greatly increased productivity, as Marx observed, 'the socially productive power of labour develops as a free gift to capital' whenever workers are organized in this way.44

Marx saw this form of social co-operation as a valuable source of capital (although he did not use the term social capital). He also believed it to be exploitative as the owner and controllers of production appropriated the fruits of this collective activity, but as workers came to understand the injustice of capitalism production he believed that they would seek to overthrow the system as they had 'nothing to lose but their chains'. History has proved Marx wrong. The development of mass production in the twentieth century not only enhanced corporate efficiency and profitability, but it also gave workers the chance to collectively mobilize to claim an increasing share of the fruits of productive co-operation as we have described in this book.45 However, the low-trust relations inherent in the factory model inhibited the patterns of commitment and communication which made it difficult to compete with Japan and the Asian Tiger economies in the 1970s and 1980s.

Low-trust relations led to worker resistance, minimum levels of commitment, high rates of absenteeism, and wild cat strikes. These responses have traditionally been interpreted by management as a manifestation of the feckless and irresponsible nature of most workers. Indeed, managers have typically used these responses to justify the introduction of intensive surveillance and the threat of sanctions in the control of the workforce. A more plausible interpretation is that they are a rational response to working conditions where little is expected of workers and little is given in return.46 Again, we do not subscribe to the view that American and North European workers are innately more lazy, selfish or incapable of assuming responsibility than those in Japan or Singapore. The higher rates of productivity achieved by Japanese manufacturing companies is not simply due to having more robots than their competitors, or having more efficient inventory systems such as JIT, but it also results from having a human relations regime which encourages workers to think rather than leave their brains at the factory gate, to participate in work teams and to feel empowered in the work setting, rather than as a moron who is so distrusted by management that they are forced to pay a deposit if they want to use a knife and fork in order to eat their lunch.47

Today the economic imperatives of capitalism in its post-industrial phase represents an historically unprecedented opportunities to redefine co-operation and the foundations of trust relations. The declining significance of mass employment organizations; the decline of the factory model of efficiency and with it the demise of bureaucratic careers and jobs for life, are transforming the model worker-citizen. Co-operation in high-performance companies depends on the collective intelligence of economic actors, as intellectual and emotional intelligence have become a key feature of the learning, innovation and productivity chain. In a knowledge-driven economy characterized by rapid change, adequate job performance cannot easily rely on external controls, as people need to be proactive, solve problems and work in teams. It is no longer enough to bring people together to generate the 'socially productive power of labour'; co-operation which is value added depends on the development of collective intelligence.

There is a growing body of literature which suggests that in circumstances where employees are given room for individual discretion and see some point in what they are doing, they will show a strong tendency towards co-operation and competence rather than resistance and resentment. The reason for this is because it conforms to a basic human trait - the desire for individual and collective growth. Daniel Goleman has noted that the single most important element in what he calls group intelligence is not the average IQ in the academic sense but social harmony, 'it is this ability to harmonize that, all other things being equal, will make one group especially talented, productive, and successful, and another - with members whose talent and skills are equal in other regards - do poorly'.48 Equally, Nahapiet and Ghoshal build on these insights to argue that the development of social capital can improve the productivity of knowledge workers and the organizational capacity for innovation.

This works best when all social actors have a stake in the economy and society; when they have a sense of security; when there are open networks of communication and interaction; when people have a wide degree of discretion and freedom about the way they work and live their lives; and when mistakes and failures are seen to be part of a learning process of experimentation and innovation rather than as negligence or ineptitude. Then people will be institutionally encouraged to pool their intelligence.

Collective intelligence, therefore, depends upon a new disposition of mind which rejects the absurd excesses of Western individualism and sensitizes us to what binds people together in cooperative human activities, as well as our interdependence and responsibilities to ourselves and others. A.H. Halsey, who has been a keen observer of the nature of social change in the twentieth century, would no doubt remind us that 'Exhortation alone is futile, whether to altruism or to tolerance or to recognition of the equal claim of others to share in the bounty afforded by society. The problem is to discover, to establish, and to strengthen those social institutions that will encourage and foster the kinds of relations between people that are desired'.49 The task is one of both re-socializing the mind and of embedding the principles of collective intelligence in the social structure. The difficulties involved in this enterprise should not be underestimated. We can not start from scratch nor can we stand still. We may not, as Giddens depicts contemporary social life, be riding the juggernaut of modernity careering out of control, but there is little doubt that any concerted attempt to build a society based on the struggle for collective intelligence will, as Karl Mannheim recognized, be rather like trying to change a wheel on a train in motion.50 Despite the enormity of the task, the remaining chapters will show how a society based on the principles of collective intelligence would transform the nation state, economy, education, welfare and the foundations of social justice. 13 - Collective Intelligence
1 Robert Bellah et al., Habits of the Heart, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985, p.290.
2 Hence we concur with those who assert that it is often 'social hierarchy and the world views associated with it that restricts the unfolding of human capacity, and not the limitations of natural endowment'. See Charles F. Sabel, Work and Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.244; a similar position is taken by Douglas McGregor in The Human Side of Enterprise, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960.
3 'In this society of free competition the individual appears free from the bonds of nature, etc., which in former epochs of history made him a part of a definite, limited human conglomeration. To the prophets of the eighteenth century, on whose shoulders Smith and Ricardo are still standing, this eighteenth century individual, constituting the joint product of the dissolution of the feudal form of society and of the new forces of production which had developed since the sixteenth century, appears as an ideal whose existence belongs to the past; not as a result of history, but as its starting point.
Since the individual appeared to be in conformity with nature and [corresponded] to their conception of human nature, [he was regarded] not as a product of history, but of nature.' Karl Marx, 'A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy', in T. Parsons et al. (eds) Theories of Society, Glencoe: Free Press, 1961, Vol. 1, p.136-7.
4 Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, London: Pelican, 1981.
5 This is known as the Flynn effect after James Flynn of the University of Otago in New Zealand. See his 'Massive IQ gains in 14 nations: what IQ tests really measure', Psychological Bulletin, pp.171-91, 1987.
6 The scale of 'wastage' is in reality impossible to measure because 'talents' need to be cultivated as we will explain below, but clearly there is a huge untapped pool visible and 'hidden' talent.
7 Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America, New York: Routledge, 1976.
8 Hugh Lauder and David Hughes, 'Social origins, destinations and educational inequality', in John Codd, Richard Harker and Roy Nash (eds) Political Issues in New Zealand Education, Dunmore Press: Palmerston North, 1990.
9 Claude Fischer, Michael Hout, Martin Sanchez Jankowski, Samuel Lucas, Ann Swidler and Kim Voss, Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth, Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1996.
10 Of course, as these researchers point out, such calculations only tell half the story because they fail to explain the way that income, wealth and life-chances are embedded in the social structure.
11 See Michael Apple, Cultural Politics and Education, Buckingham: Open University Press, 1996; Martin Carnoy, Faded Dreams: The Politics and Economics of Race in America, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994; Phillip Brown, A.H. Halsey, Hugh Lauder and Amy Stuart Wells, 'The transformation of education and society: an introduction', in A.H. Halsey et al. (eds) Education: Culture, Economy and Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
12 Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, London: Pelican, 1981.
13 Christopher Lasch, The Revolt of the Elites: and the Betrayal of Democracy, W.W. Norton: New York, 1995 p.39.
14 John Dewey, 'Democracy and Education', New York: Free Press, 1916, p.344.
15 Perhaps the most telling point about the way our ability to develop more powerful mental capacities has evolved socially comes from the work of Ian Hacking who has shown how styles of reasoning have developed at specific times in history. He illustrates this through his study of the idea of probability in the nineteenth century. See The Emergence of Probability, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975 and The Taming of Chance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
16 Anthony Giddens suggests that 'decisions have to be taken on the basis of a more or less continuous reflection on the condition's of one's action. 'Reflexivity' here refers to the use of information about the conditions of activity as a means of regularly reordering and redefining what that activity is. It concerns a universe of action where social observers are themselves socially observed; and it is today truly global in scope'. Anthony Giddens Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age, Cambridge: Polity, 1991, p.86.
17 Conservative critics of Gardner's view will claim that the various multiple manifestations of 'intelligence' are derived from a general ability which can be measured by IQ. In other words, people with high IQs will be better at all expressions of intelligence. However, as Robert Sternberg, a leading authority on intelligence has argued, 'The weight of the evidence at the present time is that intelligence is multimimensional, and that the full range of these dimensions is not completely captured by any single general ability', in 'Myths, countermyths, and truths about intelligence', Educational Research, March, 1996, pp.11-16.
18 Phillip Brown and Richard Scase, Higher Education and Corporate Realities, London: University College London, 1994.
19 Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, London: Bloomsbury, 1996, p.xii.
20 Colin Lacey, 'The idea of a socialist education', in H. Lauder and P. Brown (eds) Education: In Search of a Future, London: Falmer Press, 1988, p.94. Lacey also states that 'Intelligence has to do with understanding the relationships between complex systems and making judgements about when it is appropriate to create new courses of action or avenues of thought. Most fundamental, intelligence entails the understanding of the relationship between the internal characteristics of the person and external systems': p.94.
21 Alan Ryan, John Dewey and the high tide of American liberalism, New York: W.W. Norton, 1995, p.28.
22 Arguments about human nature and capability will never be resolved, because nature quite literally unfolds in history. However, to hang on to the assumption that only a few are capable if it were possible to prove scientifically that this assumption was wrong, the denial of talent to the majority amounts to a great evil. To prove scientifically that it is right in conditions where it is assumed that there are no (or few) differences will clearly do far less harm. See Joseph Weizenbaum, Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgement to Calculation, San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1976, p.263.
23 See William K. Cummings, Education and Equality in Japan, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1980.
24 Lawrence Steinberg, Beyond the Classroom: Why School Reform has Failed and What Parents Need to Do, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
25 Erich Fromm, Fear of Freedom, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1942, p.207.
26 The classic statement of the difference between private troubles and public issues is in C. Wright Mills, 1959 The Sociological Imagination, New York: Oxford University Press.
27 This emphasis on problem solving may appear to some readers as too instrumental, leaving insufficient space for forms of collective activities which are analogous to 'art for art sake', but it is better to see our approach as experimental rather than instrumental, because it involves entering into a dialogue with others which is likely to involve differences in political beliefs or interests about what should be seen as the problem to be solved and also different views about the best solutions.
28 Our definition also highlights the fact that the acquisition of intelligence and the ability to use it depends on the learning potential of individuals (and institutions) in all spheres of life and is not restricted to the formal learning which goes on in our schools, offices or factories.
29 The stock of intelligence could also be seen to include the technological resources amassed in society in the form of books, journals, databases, computers and computer programmes, universities, research institutes, museums, laboratories, and super-highways, to name but a few, as these have become the power tools of the information age. To avoid overloading the conceptual work being done by this term, we have excluded this for the purposes of this book.
30 See Phillip Brown, 'The globalization of positional competition?', Sociology, (forthcoming)
31As Fred Block notes in his discussion of the failure of economics to grasp the essences of labour: 'The concept of labor is both the most fundamental and the most inherently problematic of all economic categories. It is the category through which economists understand most of the human input into the production process. Yet in treating the major inputs into production - labor, capital, and raw materials - in a parallel fashion, economists tend to analyse labor in isolation from the social relations in which individuals are embedded. It is not actual human beings who are an input into the production process, but one of their characteristics - their capacity to do work. But this is an inherently paradoxical strategy since the individual's capacity to do work is not innate; it is socially created and sustained.' Fred Block 1990 Post-Industrial Possibilities, p.75.
32 R.H. Tawney, The Acquisitive Society, Brighton: Wheatsheaf, 1982, p.10.
33 Hence, in speaking about these embedded relations of trust we are referring to the perception people have of the trust reposed in their behaviour as it is expressed and embodied in the rules and relations which others seek to impose on them, or they seek to impose on others. See Alan Fox, Beyond Contract, London: Faber & Faber, 1974, p.15; pp.67-9.
34 James S. Coleman, 'Social capital in the creation of human capital', American Journal of Sociology, 94, Supplement, 1988, S95-S120.
35 James Coleman and Thomas Hoffer, Public and Private Schools: The Impact of Communities, New York: Basic Books, 1987.
36 US General Accounting Office, Elementary School Children: Many Change School Frequently, Harming Their Eduction, Report to the Hon. Marcy Kaptur, House of Representatives, Washington, DC, 1994.
37 William Julius Wilson, The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, The Underclass and Public Policy, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1987.
38 Dewey, Democracy and Education, New York: Free Press, 1916, p.141.
39 ibid., p.101.
40 ibid., p.98.
41 ibid., p.87.
42 See the discussion on Emile Durkheim in the previous chapter.
43 Karl Marx, Capital Volume 1, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976, p. 452.
44 ibid., p. 451. For a classic study of the development of industrial time, see E.P. Thompson, 'Time, work-discipline, and industrial capitalism', Past and Present, vol.38, 1967.
45 For an interesting and controversial account see Peter. F. Drucker's account of the 'productivity revolution', in his Post-Capitalist Society, London: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1993.
46 For an excellent study of postwar industrial relations, see Alan Fox, Beyond Contract: Work, Power and Trust Relations, London: Faber & Faber, 1974.
47 This was certainly the practice at the British Leyland plant as Cowley, Oxford in England during the mid-1970s. The Cowley plant has since lost over half its workforce and British Leyland was taken-over by the Rover Group which became part of the German car company BMW, before it was then sold on for £10.00.
48 Emotional Intelligence (see n. 19 above), p.160.
49 A.H. Halsey, Change in British Society, 3rd edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986, p.173; See also A.H. Halsey with Josephine Webb, (eds) British Social Trends: The Twentieth Century, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000.
50 What is equally clear is the need for an holistic approach to social change. It must reject the tendency, for instance, to treat questions of productivity and redistribution as separate realms of policy. This may be administratively convenient but it encourages segmental thinking which downplays their interrelationship in the desire to improve the quality of life for all. Zsuzsa Ferge has made the useful distinction between societal policy and social policy in her study of Hungarian society in the post-war period: 'The concept of societal policy...is used in a special sense. It encompasses the sphere of social policy (the organisation of social services or the redistribution of income), but also includes systematic social intervention at all points of the cycle of the reproduction of social life, with the aim of changing the structure of society'. See T.H. Marshall and Tom Bottomore, Citizenship and Social Class, London: Pluto Press, 1992, pp.60-3.
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—From The Enlightenment by Roy Porter. (c) 2001, Palgrave USA used by permission

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Table of Contents

Part I: Economic Nationalism
• The Secular Trinity
• The Engines of Growth Times
• The Adversities of Good Times
• The Manufacture of Intelligence
• The Affluent Consensus
Part II: The New Realities
• The New Global Competition
• The New Global Competition
• Primitive Capitalism
• Downsizing the Corporation
• The Demise of Industrial Man
• A False Start
Part III: The Future of Society
• The Problem Restated
• Collective Intelligence
• The Learning State
• A High Skills Economy
• Conclusion
• Notes
• Index

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First Chapter

Chapter 13: Collective Intelligence

It is often social hierarchy and the world views associated with it that restrict the unfolding of human capacity, and not the limitations of natural endowment. Charles F. Sabel

Every expansive era in the history of mankind has coincided with the operation of factors which have tended to eliminate distance between peoples and classes previously hemmed off from one another. John Dewey

In a survey of the moral and spiritual worlds of 'middle' Americans, Robert Bellah and his colleagues concluded that if there was a selfish 'me generation' in America they did not find it. But what they did find was that the language of individualism, as the primary language of self-understanding, limited the ways in which people think.1 In another celebrated work, Small is Beautiful, E.F. Schumacher tells us that we can not free ourselves from the bondage of the existing system without the development of a vocabulary which is capable of mounting a challenge to the logic of individualism. To reassert conventional ways of thinking about the relationship between the individual and society, therefore, is to effectively rule out new ways of understanding ourselves and the world in which we live. In this chapter we examine the idea of 'collective intelligence' and argue that it is integral to the reinvention of society. In presenting collective intelligence as an alternative to market individualism it can be shown that it is capable of improving economic performance and the quality of life for all.

The first step in the move towards a definition of collective intelligence is to reclaim 'intelligence' from the grip of the eugenics movement and from its impoverished representation in the form of IQ tests. Axiomatic to the idea of collective intelligence is an understanding of human intelligence limited by social hierarchy and cultural learning which has led to feelings of inferiority, stupidity and incapability among the majority, at the same time that a minority have staked their superiority on membership of nature's aristocracy of talent.2 This premature excommunication of many people from their natural capabilities is not congenital but a cultural and institutional problem within society's power to correct, as each period in history can be characterized by both its mode of economic organization and its model of human nature.

In the twentieth century Western culture has harboured a dim view of intelligence among the majority.3 Despite a culture that has celebrated the victory of human endeavour over nature, it has remained sacrosanct to Western thought that there is a limited pool of talent. This faith in the few who have been blessed by nature, or managed to rise above it, are the people whose faces fill the biography and business shelves of bookshops and TV chat shows. This is the 'great man' and 'token woman' view of history. It is a celebration of individualism which recognizes social progress to result from the extraordinary efforts and insights of a few.

In many respects this dim view of intelligence was analogous to Plato's 'royal lie', given that in the Golden era only a few were required to develop their intellectual potential fully, while the recourse to a gift of nature served to legitimate to the many why they were not among the elite. Nevertheless, the social distribution of intelligence has remained an active battleground for debates about equality of opportunity and social justice. On the one hand, the concept of intelligence has been embodied in the notion of IQ. The gist of this tradition is, as we have seen, based on the view that intelligence is measurable; that it is largely decided by nature rather than the social environment; that it is largely immutable or fixed, which means that it can be predicted at an early age; and that high intelligence is in limited supply as suggested by the metaphor of the bell curve. Unsurprisingly, this view of intelligence has been consistently used to explain the exclusion of various social groups in society and, as Stephen Jay Gould has noted, to justify the privileges of those in whose service the notion of IQ has been pressed.4

A celebrated attempt to explain the obdurate existence of the underprivileged and underrepresented is The Bell Curve (1994) by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. The book is subtitled Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, and purports to explain why African-Americans are at the bottom of the social pile and why the rest of society should not do much to help them because it reflects the blueprint of nature. For Herrnstein and Murray some 'races' are simply more intelligent than others and this is what explains their relative positions in the class structure. Accordingly, it is asserted that we are now confronted with a genetically-determined meritocracy in which those at the top are the most able and those at the bottom the least able for whom there can be little expectation of self-improvement, even with state support. This attempt to shackle the opportunities of the poor and powerless is connected to Murray's racist account of the urban underclass, which claims that the underclass is largely the product of a culture of dependency resulting from over-generous state handouts. Murray obviously had a Malthusian solution in mind given that the poor should not receive state support because of its cultural consequences, but there is also no way of improving their lot because they are too stupid! On the centre-left of the political spectrum there have been those who have developed counter-arguments about the nature of IQ and intelligence. They point out that intelligence as measured by IQ tests has been steadily rising in the United States and elsewhere since the 1930s, which suggests that these gains in intelligence cannot be genetically based.5 It has also been shown that people from disadvantaged groups consistently underachieved in terms of school performance or in the job market, even when their IQs were found to be equal to those from privileged backgrounds. What these researchers have argued is that rather than there being a limited pool of ability in the population at large, there is a massive wastage of talent among those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, from minority ethnic groups and among women.6 In Britain in the 1960s, for instance, Floud and Halsey were able to show that a selective system of education, in which children were sorted according to various tests (including IQ tests), into different kinds of school at the age of 11, meant that many able working-class students were prevented from following an academic syllabus which was a requirement for entry to University. Research by Bowles and Gintis in the United States was also able to demonstrate the significance of social class background on educational achievement and subsequent job destination, even when IQ scores were taken into account.7 More recent research by Lauder and Hughes replicated Bowles and Gintis' studies in New Zealand - considered one of the most egalitarian of nations until recently - and arrived at similar results.8

This research into the social influence on achievement is conveniently ignored by the likes of Herrnstein and Murray. But others who have reanalysed their data have shown that Herrnstein and Murray have exaggerated the impact of IQ on performance.9 This re-analysis has shown that if everyone had the same IQ scores but came from different social backgrounds, the impact of equalizing IQ is a 10 per cent reduction in income inequality. If everyone had the same social background but different IQ scores, Fisher and his colleagues claim that inequality in income would be reduced by 37 per cent.10

This tradition of centre-left research has been important for refuting what has been at best a narrowly mechanistic and naive approach to questions of intelligence. It has drawn attention to the all important influence of environmental factors - especially the influence of social inequalities - in determining educational achievement and in exploring the legitimizing myths used to explain that achievement. While inequalities of race, gender and class are always intertwined, we should bear in mind that the racial targets in Herrnstein and Murray's study are part and parcel of a resurgence in the politics of racism in the United States, whereas in Britain it has been used, primarily, to support class inequalities.11 And in both countries, as indeed in Continental Europe, the IQist tradition has been an instrument in the maintenance of patriarchy as Murray and Herrnstein's analysis of unwed African-American mothers testifies. Had they looked at the utterances of their precursors they may not have leaped so confidently into their geneticist claims about single mothers. After all, it was only a little over a century ago that Broca was claiming that it was well known that women, on average, were less intelligent than men on account of their smaller brains, and that his colleague Gustav Le Bon was warning that to give women higher education would be to unleash a social revolution.12

Although much of this research has targeted genetic accounts of IQ in showing that it varies significantly according to social circumstances, what is implicit in much of this work is the fact that intelligence is a social achievement. The idea of meritocracy offers an instructive example of the social nature of intelligence. In meritocratic competition the winners are encouraged to exhibit little sense of obligation to the losers because the competition was judged to be fair and based on individual qualities. Intelligence is usually seen as an attribute of individuals. IQ tests, for example, are given to individuals rather than groups. Student examination results are taken as a mark of individual ability rather than as a reflection on the quality of teaching, course material or the quality of a culture. In Christopher Lasch's description of The Revolt of the Elites, he notes that 'although hereditary advantages play an important part in the attainment of professional and managerial status' the new elite he suggests, has 'to maintain the fiction that its power rests on intelligence alone. Hence it has little sense of ancestral gratitude or of an obligation to live up to responsibilities inherited from the past. It thinks of itself as a self-made elite owing its privileges exclusively to its own efforts'.13 This is a view which holds considerable sway among the population at large. Becoming an eminent professor is seen to result from extraordinary individual ability rather than as the product of a massive collective adventure involving family, teachers, colleagues and the authors of all the books, articles, television programmes, etc., that have informed the work for which the individual has received personal acclaim. But it is not only eminent professors who stand on the shoulders of their ancestors and who rely on others. We all do. As John Dewey suggests, 'The conception of mind as a purely isolated possession of the self is at the very antipodes of the truth. The self achieves mind in the degree in which knowledge of things is incarnate in the life about him; the self is not a separate mind building up knowledge anew on its own account'.14 As individuals, we possess only the potential for intelligence, in the sense of an ability to acquire and interpret information; to solve problems; to think critically and systematically about the social and natural world; to communicate ideas to others; and to apply new skills and techniques. It is developments in the social world that stimulates the mind's potential for new forms of feeling, reasoning and understanding.

If 'intelligence' is to be reclaimed for more progressive purposes it is also important to show that what counts as intelligence is historically variable. The idea of intelligence in the Golden era, for instance, is redundant in the world in which we now live. The way work and family life are organized; the way we interact with one another; and the tools we use to create wealth and communicate have changed dramatically. Intelligence is not, therefore, a fixed capacity as is so frequently asserted; rather the capacities and potentials of what we consider intelligence and intelligent action change in relation to new demands and practices of any given age. It follows from this view that new forms of intelligence will be invoked as the institutions and practices of society change.15 We have shown that the dominant conception of intelligence in the Golden era was represented by the IQ test. That this should be the case was not surprising since it chimed well with the way the world of paid work, education and everyday lifestyles were arranged. We have seen how economic activity was organized on the basis of giant corporate hierarchies and Fordist assembly lines. This involved a clear division of labour, usually with an elite at the apex making policy decisions, a large number of white-collar workers overseeing a reluctant army of blue-collar workers whose tasks could be performed best when 'their minds were least consulted'. This division of activity was mirrored in the education system where it was only the managerial and professional elite that received an extended period of formal education beyond the age of eighteen. Hence, the normal curve depicting the distribution of IQ mapped quite well on to this distribution of corporate decision-making power. But equally important was the view that intelligence was in the main cognitive. It involved the learning of pre-existing bodies of knowledge in the sciences and the humanities which were neatly subdivided into 'subjects' and offered according to the perceived future destination of the student. Technical and craft knowledge were assumed to require less intelligence to master than the academic. And the acquisition of tacit knowledge, especially by people of colour, women or the working class, stood beyond the conventional definition of intelligence dominated by the precepts of scientific reason. As Western societies have moved into a more technologically advanced and knowledge-intensive world, the limitations of this understanding of intelligence have become more obvious with the decline in bureaucratic work structures, and more flexible labour markets.16

Howard Gardner's Frames of Mind is indicative of a sea change in our understanding of what constitutes intelligence in a post-industrial world. In this book he argues against the unitary idea of intelligence as represented by the IQist tradition and instead outlines a theory of multiple intelligence, numbering among them linguistic, musical, logical and mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic and personal intelligence. Our concern here is not with the way Gardner has de-limited different forms of intelligence but to note how the changing social world has made a theory of multiple intelligence relevant, if not inevitable.17 Of particular interest is his theory of personal intelligence. For Gardner, personal intelligence involves access to one's own feelings and an ability to notice and make distinctions between the moods, temperaments, motivations and feelings of others.

In the factory model roles were carefully de-limited both at home and at work. Knowledge of oneself and of others in the exercise of work roles was discouraged as unprofessional or irrelevant, beyond an evaluation of the individual's job title, authority or certified expertise. Pre-existing roles prescribed the way individuals should act and it was only from the late 1960s that these were subjected to serious challenge. Now, knowledge of oneself and of others is necessary to function adequately. Where once roles were prescribed, now they are more likely to be negotiated. Under such conditions the interpersonal skills which come from such knowledge are at a premium. In the corporate world hierarchies of roles have been replaced by team work in which the 'person' is as important as the technical skills they may possess; indeed the two have become inseparable.18

Of course, it is not just changes in the world of work that have brought personal intelligence to the forefront. For some time feminists have been pointing out that personal intelligence has been the prerogative of women precisely because as 'homemakers' they have been the keepers of subjectivity and the emotions. But with the increasing flexibility of gender roles within the home and at work feminists have also pointed out the stunted nature of the male psyche because of the absence of personal intelligence. The emergence of personal intelligence as a necessary quality for all individuals can, therefore, be seen partly as a consequence of the breakdown in the division of labour between women and men. The net results of these changes in the division of labour and in our modes of interaction has been that our ideal of the intelligent person has changed, especially for men. A well-rounded personality is one in which emotional or personal intelligence is as important an attribute as logical and mathematical intelligence. Since the Enlightenment, emotions including fear, anger, sadness, love and happiness have been bracketed off as expressive, and therefore seen as irrational in an age of scientific rationality. The labeling of the emotions as 'feminine' has been used by male elites as a convenient way of demonstrating the inferiority of women in a scientific world. This mind-numbing interpretation of intelligence is far removed from Aristotle's philosophical enquiry into character, virtue and the good life. Here the issue is not cast in terms of how to eliminate emotions from everyday interactions and activities, but rather one of how to manage our emotions with intelligence. And this, as Daniel Goleman's account of Emotional Intelligence suggests, will include self-control, zeal, persistence, and the ability to motivate oneself.19

It follows from this account that what we consider, as intelligence needs to extend well beyond the boundaries of book learning to include among other things the artistic, communication and emotional dimensions of human capability. Intelligence in post-individual societies must include the ability to solve problems, to think critically and systematically about the social and material worlds, to apply new skills and techniques, to empathize and to have the personal skills needed to communicate and live alongside others. Above all, in a society characterized by risk and insecurity, it means being able to imagine and assess alternative futures. In turn, this means being able to go beyond established paradigms of thought. As Colin Lacey has suggested, 'Intelligence has to do with...making judgements about when it is appropriate to create new courses of action or avenues of thought' and 'it involves the development of a morality that is capable of guiding action'.20

This definition of intelligence is consistent with the ethical, emotional and cognitive processes, feelings and ideas that constitute collective intelligence. Indeed, collective intelligence depends on the development of the capacities for problem solving given that in a context of rapid personal, social and technological change this is the basis for personal empowerment, whether it involves dealing with the emotions of love or hate for an estranged lover; negotiating bedtime with young children; working through a restructuring package with work colleagues, or managing a successful career strategy. John Dewey, the American educationalist and philosopher, centred his whole intellectual enterprise around the concept of a 'problem'. This approach is well summarized by Alan Ryan in his biography of Dewey:

Individuals and societies alike are stirred into life by problems; an unproblematic world would be a world not so much at rest as unconscious. Such a world is unimaginable. Life is problematic; even when we are not thinking about our situation, our bodies are continuously solving endless problems of their own sustained existence. Problem solving is the condition of organic life. Societies, like individuals, solve problems and, like individuals, must do so by acting on the environment that causes the problem in the first place. Interaction with the environment alters the society or the individual that acts on the environment, with the result that new problems arise and demand new solutions. To the degree that this process gives the organism more control over itself and its environment, more ability to rethink its problems, and the potentiality for fruitful changes along the same lines, we may talk of progress. Dewey's preferred expression was always 'growth'.21

If the development of these capacities and skills is an indisputable feature of collective intelligence, then we must rid ourselves of the dim view of human intelligence which infects self-confidence and our view of others. The fact is that all rather than a few have growth potential in terms of practical and intellectual achievement, of creative thought and insights, and of taking responsibility for making informed judgements and choices. We need to jack-up the 'normal curve' of ability so beloved by conservatives eager to explain social inequalities as a product of genetics.22 Critics will argue that we are utopian. That we are ignoring the fact that there are differences in innate make-up. There is no need to deny this argument because it is irrelevant. None of what we are suggesting need doubt the existence of innate differences in the potential for intelligence (although it clearly depends on what is taken as a measure). What we are arguing, on the basis of research evidence, is that the vast wealth of talent has not been harnessed by current systems of education and training; in the jobs available to the vast majority; or in patriarchal family structures. It is simply nonsense to suggest that current levels of academic performance or economic productivity are an accurate reflection of individual and collective capability.

This view is supported by comparative evidence which shows significant differences in the proportion of students participating in higher education. These reflect societal differences in terms of culture, economy and politics. We do not, for instance, subscribe to the view that American or British students are innately less intelligent than the Japanese or Koreans!23 Here, evidence of the impact of culture on educational achievement is conclusive. Lawrence Steinberg has shown that at every level of measured ability migrant Asian students outperform their American counterparts, but this is not the case for second-generation Asian students. In other words, Steinberg is able to demonstrate a strong cultural component to educational performance even when measured ability is taken into account.24

We are also struck by the ever-increasing numbers of 'mature' students who previously had few, if any, formal qualifications. Given a clear reason for undertaking college or university study (and the opportunity), they generally prove themselves to be able students. Education and work must be organized in order to nurture this wealth of talent. It will require the redirection of attention away from the attributes of individual students or workers as the source of low ability systems of education or poor levels of productivity, to focus on the cultural and institutional context in which the learning or work process takes place.

This will also involve abandoning another cherished cultural myth that there are a few born to lead and while the masses are born to follow. All must be armed with the power tools to make individual and collective judgements. This is not an argument for mass indoctrination, but involves a celebration of the iconoclast, the critic and the diverse ethnic cultures and religious faiths which characterize post-industrial nations. Erich Fromm correctly reminds us that 'The right to express our thoughts means something only if we are able to have thoughts of our own'.25 The failure to recognize this rich diversity and to learn the lessons of the past in the attempt to confront short-term concerns is to fail in the pursuit of collective intelligence. Denial by Nation states of full and accessible information to their citizens about the key issues of the day - for instance, the causes and consequences of environmental pollution; the risks and causes of HIV and AIDS - or failure to offer political education as part of the school curriculum, is symptomatic of a failure to develop a nation's collective intelligence.

Critics will again say that the world has become too complex for ordinary people to make appropriate decisions about their own lives let alone broader policy decisions. It is certainly true the world is far more complex, that a grand narrative of industrialism or modernism seems less appropriate as a guide to action. It is also true that we can never know enough about everything to make specific operational decisions. It is for this reason that global corporations are breaking themselves into product groups which enjoy considerable independence for Head Office, to allow faster decision-making by those with a grasp of local markets. HQ has become a strategic rather than an operational centre. The task of those who oversee the corporation is to build the bigger picture and encourage developments in areas which conform to the mission statement of the organization. In a similar vein, in the complex, fast-changing environment in which we live, it is impossible to empower people to make operational decisions in all areas of everyday life. However, what we can do is ensure that the decisions which are being taken by politicians, professionals and experts, conform to the moral values upon which social life is founded. These moral and spiritual foundations are surprisingly accessible, durable and transportable. They boil down to questions about whether people want to live in a society which puts individual self-interest or profits for shareholders before all other considerations of quality of life or social justice. The reinvention of society depends upon developing the collective intelligence to decide.

The redefinition of intelligence is a key part of the struggle for collective intelligence. But it is inadequate because of its limited focus on individuals. There are many private troubles felt by people that require public solutions, such as raising productivity, knowledge production, reducing poverty and crime, or improving education or the quality of employment opportunities, which cannot be resolved without collaboration with family, friends, neighbours, co-workers or fellow citizens.26 In post-industrial societies it is the collective intelligence of families, communities, companies, and society at large, which will determine the quality of life as well as economic competitiveness. Despite the obsession of some who still believe that we can find ways of controlling human beings - if not by turning them into machines which was popular for much of the twentieth century, then by rendering them redundant through the development of artificial intelligence - for the first time in human history we confront the task of developing and pooling the intelligence of all of the population of the advanced societies.

Collective intelligence can be defined as empowerment through the development and pooling of intelligence to attain common goals or resolve common problems.27 It is inspired by a spirit of co-operation rather a Darwinian survival of the fittest. In a society that eulogizes the virtues of competition, self-interest and acquisitiveness, rather than co-operation, common interest and the quality of life, it is difficult to maximize human potential or to co-ordinate opportunities for intelligence action in an efficient matter. The struggle for collective intelligence therefore involves more than a democratization of intelligence, it involves making a virtue of our mutual dependence and sociability which we will need to make a dominant feature of post-industrial society based on information, knowledge and lifelong learning.28

To develop our understanding of the social foundations of collective intelligence at any given historical moment, a distinction can be made between the capacity for intelligence and relations of trust. The capacity for intelligence describes the raw materials on which the development of intelligence depends. It refers to the state of knowledge, scientific discovery, technology and learning techniques, on which societies can draw. In many respects the capacity for intelligence has become global in scope as new ideas, fashions, technologies and sources of productivity traverse the global in real time through the media, Internet and MNCs. The shift from Fordism to Lean production in the 1980s and 1990s represents an example. Another is the Human Genome Program launched by the US Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health in 1990. One of its major aims was to identify all of the approximate 100,000 genes in human DNA and combined universities and research centres in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Denmark, Israel and Italy. At a societal level the capacity for intelligence would also include the scale of investment in the knowledge, learning and research infrastructure in the form of schools, colleges, universities, libraries, museums, training centres, research institutes and information superhighways.

Conventional economic approaches have limited their horizons to trying to measure certain facets of the capacity for intelligence, such as attempts to measure the nation stock of human capital. Obvious problems with this approach are the crude measures, such as years of formal education, which are used to calculate the quality of a nation's human resources, and the way that human intelligence and learning are reduced to a question of earning a living.29 If these are serious problems its death knell is the failure of human capital models to acknowledge intelligence as a social gift. How intelligence is defined; whether its cultivation is restricted to a few or extended to all; the extent of 'our' knowledge, including scientific discoveries, art, literature, and music; whether we have the opportunity to use our brains at work; and the quality of the culture which furnishes the definition of intelligence and human nature, are shaped by individuals as members of society. We make our own history but in co-operation with others, and not always in way that we choose or intend. The nature and distribution of intelligence will be shaped by the social groups to which an individual belongs and the cultural, economic and political fabric of society more generally. In low-trust societies, for instance, education, knowledge and learning are treated as part of a zero-sum game, where extending opportunities to less privileged groups and the pooling of intelligence are seen as a threat to the positional advantage of social elites.30 Therefore, the development and pooling of intelligence is severely restricted for less advantaged social groups and for society as a whole, unless high trust relations can be fostered.

As human capital ideas have come to dominate government policies there has been a considerable emphasis on increasing post-compulsory access to tertiary education, adult training and wiring-up schools to the Internet. This kind of capacity building is important but inadequate as such policies fail to take account of how the raw materials of post-industrial economies are weaved into the social fabric. The inter-relationship between capacities and relations is vital because it addresses the extent to which people are institutionally encouraged to pool their intelligence.31

To aid our understanding of relations of 'trust' we need to distinguish it from its everyday meaning of whether we think someone is honest. Trust is used here to refer to whether the development and pooling of intelligence is reflected in the relationships between individuals, groups, and classes that are embedded in classrooms, offices, shopfloors, households, neighbourhoods, welfare policies and taxation systems. This emphasis on institutional embedded trust does not ignore the importance of national cultures or political ideologies. Confucianism as exhibited in some Asian countries is, for example, usually seen to encourage social harmony, whereas the tenets of Western individualism as applied in the last twenty years or so, has made it virtually impossible for people (even within the same family) to think in terms of co-operation and mutual dependence. The cultural context will clearly have a powerful impact on social values and attitudes: as R.H. Tawney reminded us in our introductory chapter, it is impossible to achieve significant social change without changing the 'scale of moral values which rules the minds of individuals', because it is these values which have shaped social history.32 But we have to do more than look at the principles which guide how people treat each other. Allan Fox correctly highlights the need to focus on the way social relationships are embedded 'in the institutions, patterns, and processes themselves which are operated by people who are capable of choosing differently'.33

At a societal level, the taxation paid by different income groups, the generosity of welfare provision for those who do not have access to waged work, or the provision of lifelong learning to all sections of society whether rich or poor, act as important signals which are easily decoded by people into 'this is a society which is pulling together in the interests of all' or 'this a society based on looking after number one'. The more inclusive the society the more people from all walks of life are likely to feel that they have a stake in the system as Richard Wilkinson has demonstrated in his international study of Unhealthy Societies. He found that the social polarization in the 1980s led to a growth in the number of poor people dying prematurely, committing suicide, getting divorced, and whose children were underachieving at school. He is able to show that these social pathologies where less a direct consequence of material deprivation, than a symptom of a collapse in trust as fellow Americans or Britons were seen to be indifferent to their suffering and that they were no longer bona fide members of society.

This research not only shows that poverty leads to low trust relations between the haves and the have nots, but that it also undermines the capacity of disadvantaged neighbourhoods to develop collective intelligence because their social isolation robs them of the opportunity for informal 'social' learning which can build social capital at the grassroots. James Coleman, thought that social capital inheres in the relationships between individuals in a community which is characterized by high trust relations and shared responsibilities.34 An example would be a network of the mothers of kindergarten and primary school children, who share the duties of ferrying kids to and from school, and who share the responsibility of looking after other parents' children when the need arises. The reason why this leads to the creation of social capital is that these activities also involve communicating to children a shared set of expectations about appropriate standards of behaviour, the value of education, and the benefits of sharing resources including cars and time. This form of informal learning may not be overt or even oral, but is achieved by prompting such as 'have you got homework today?', or by parental interest in what the children did at school that day. It is the messages of the community in sum that is significant in the creation of social capital. The relative wealth of communities in this respect is reflected in the performance of their children in school as Coleman and Hoffer attempted to empirically demonstrate.35

The impact of inequality on the development of informal learning is not difficult to understand, although it often operates in subtle and complex ways. Communities or networks which are rich in social capital, for instance, take time, energy and resources to build. They also depend on a high degree of stability in the family and neighbour context. This is highlighted in Coleman and Hoffer's research as they found that the most significant impact on educational failure was the amount of times a child moves school. But this kind of instability is most frequently found in poor school districts.36 This is not the only malign effect of poverty in the creation of social capital. The impact of the ghettoization of American inner cities on the decline in social capital is graphically portrayed in the work of William Julius Wilson which was noted earlier and is worth reiterating here.37 Wilson shows how a perceptive ghetto youngster in a neighbourhood where some people have been able to keep good jobs, even in a context of increasing joblessness and idleness, can continue to see a meaningful connection between education and employment. The problem is that these neighbourhoods show signs of becoming even more polarized when those who are able to find decent jobs leave the neighbourhood. As a consequence, the more social groups become isolated from one another the fewer opportunities exist for the kind of informal learning that contributes to collective intelligence.

Building high trust relations is at the heart of the struggle for collective intelligence, in that it is a way of moving towards a form of associated living which involves making experience more communicable through a reduction in social stratification which make individuals impervious to the interests of the others.38 This conforms to John Dewey's notion of democracy which is more than a system of government as it defines the way people live together and pool their intelligence.39 Collective intelligence is exercised through the development of the art of conversation and to give an authentic voice to all constituencies of society. This in turn depends upon the breakdown of social divisions that inhibit the free communication and interaction between people and groups. This applies equally at the level of society where social barriers are constructed around class, race or religion, as it does to the workplace or home, when sharp distinctions are imposed between management and workers or breadwinners and home-makers. Such barriers serve to undermine the potential for collective intelligence. But it is not only the powerless who lose out in these circumstances, its consequences for social elites may be less material and less obvious, but remain insidious as, 'their culture tends to be sterile, to be turned back to feed on itself; their art becomes a showy display and artificial; their wealth luxurious; their knowledge over-specialized; their manners fastidious rather than humane'.40

In such a society the development of intelligence is severely constrained by inequality, poverty and cultural elitism. As a result all social groups lack the trust upon which conversation is possible. It denies a society of novel and challenging ideas that frequently stem from diversity in situations and social and cultural experiences. Collective intelligence involves a 'widening of the circle of shared concerns and the liberation of a greater diversity of personal capacity'.41 A trivial instance was given recently by a friend whose favourite radio programme was Desert Island Discs, produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation. The programme involves someone, usually a celebrity or prominent public figure, talking about their life and selecting pieces of music which they would take with them to listen to on their deserted island. Our friend commented that two of the recent castaways were people she had intensely disliked on the basis of their media image. On both occasions she observed how listening to their life stories, anxieties and concerns, had led her to cast these individuals in a more positive light (of course, greater understanding can also lead to the opposite response) because she had had the, albeit brief, opportunity to recognize common points of contact and concern. To share what amounts to a common humanity. In a pluralistic society of different life styles, patterns of behaviour, language and customs, it is basic to the establishment of collective intelligence to recognize aspects of common humanity and for these to be institutionally encouraged.

The development of high trust relations therefore offers the best chance of making a positive feature of cultural pluralism and of meeting post-modern calls for a politics of difference. What is recognized in the struggle for collective intelligence is that different voices which reflect the rich diversity of cultural identity and social experience are the lifeblood which fuels the collective effort to resolve common problems in an attempt to improve the quality of life for all. Equally, this involves recognizing that there are different ways to live a life. But in polarized and divided societies people come to feel isolated and fearsome of groups with which they share little in common and with whom they rarely come into contact. This situation fuels the ideology and practice of self-interest which neutralize ethical decisions, and despite the fact that the struggle for money, power and status leaves most people unfulfilled, it robs people of the collective intelligence to engage in 'conversations' about the nature of society, working life and personal relationships.

Relations of trust also have profound implications for the organization of economic life in the early decades of the twenty-first century. This is because they shape the nature of co-operation between economic actors, whether as employers, employees, trade union representatives, government policy-makers or consumers. The nature of this co-operation has been historically transformed. Co-operation in pre-industrial societies involved acting for purposes of economic production or distribution on established routines and 'mechanical' solidarity.42 Co-operation involved little scope for human freedom, as Marx suggested, 'the individual has as little torn himself free from the umbilical cord of his tribe or community as a bee has from his hive.'43 Marx noted that there were few examples in ancient times of co-operation on a large scale and where this did occur is was founded on slavery. With the rise of industrial capitalism new forms of economic co-operation developed based on the 'free' wage-labourer, who sells his labour-power to employers and the development of the factory model of production. The factory system involved a fundamental change, in that workers had to be disciplined to co-ordinate their working day and work activities, which greatly increased productivity, as Marx observed, 'the socially productive power of labour develops as a free gift to capital' whenever workers are organized in this way.44

Marx saw this form of social co-operation as a valuable source of capital (although he did not use the term social capital). He also believed it to be exploitative as the owner and controllers of production appropriated the fruits of this collective activity, but as workers came to understand the injustice of capitalism production he believed that they would seek to overthrow the system as they had 'nothing to lose but their chains'. History has proved Marx wrong. The development of mass production in the twentieth century not only enhanced corporate efficiency and profitability, but it also gave workers the chance to collectively mobilize to claim an increasing share of the fruits of productive co-operation as we have described in this book.45 However, the low-trust relations inherent in the factory model inhibited the patterns of commitment and communication which made it difficult to compete with Japan and the Asian Tiger economies in the 1970s and 1980s.

Low-trust relations led to worker resistance, minimum levels of commitment, high rates of absenteeism, and wild cat strikes. These responses have traditionally been interpreted by management as a manifestation of the feckless and irresponsible nature of most workers. Indeed, managers have typically used these responses to justify the introduction of intensive surveillance and the threat of sanctions in the control of the workforce. A more plausible interpretation is that they are a rational response to working conditions where little is expected of workers and little is given in return.46 Again, we do not subscribe to the view that American and North European workers are innately more lazy, selfish or incapable of assuming responsibility than those in Japan or Singapore. The higher rates of productivity achieved by Japanese manufacturing companies is not simply due to having more robots than their competitors, or having more efficient inventory systems such as JIT, but it also results from having a human relations regime which encourages workers to think rather than leave their brains at the factory gate, to participate in work teams and to feel empowered in the work setting, rather than as a moron who is so distrusted by management that they are forced to pay a deposit if they want to use a knife and fork in order to eat their lunch.47

Today the economic imperatives of capitalism in its post-industrial phase represents an historically unprecedented opportunities to redefine co-operation and the foundations of trust relations. The declining significance of mass employment organizations; the decline of the factory model of efficiency and with it the demise of bureaucratic careers and jobs for life, are transforming the model worker-citizen. Co-operation in high-performance companies depends on the collective intelligence of economic actors, as intellectual and emotional intelligence have become a key feature of the learning, innovation and productivity chain. In a knowledge-driven economy characterized by rapid change, adequate job performance cannot easily rely on external controls, as people need to be proactive, solve problems and work in teams. It is no longer enough to bring people together to generate the 'socially productive power of labour'; co-operation which is value added depends on the development of collective intelligence.

There is a growing body of literature which suggests that in circumstances where employees are given room for individual discretion and see some point in what they are doing, they will show a strong tendency towards co-operation and competence rather than resistance and resentment. The reason for this is because it conforms to a basic human trait - the desire for individual and collective growth. Daniel Goleman has noted that the single most important element in what he calls group intelligence is not the average IQ in the academic sense but social harmony, 'it is this ability to harmonize that, all other things being equal, will make one group especially talented, productive, and successful, and another - with members whose talent and skills are equal in other regards - do poorly'.48 Equally, Nahapiet and Ghoshal build on these insights to argue that the development of social capital can improve the productivity of knowledge workers and the organizational capacity for innovation.

This works best when all social actors have a stake in the economy and society; when they have a sense of security; when there are open networks of communication and interaction; when people have a wide degree of discretion and freedom about the way they work and live their lives; and when mistakes and failures are seen to be part of a learning process of experimentation and innovation rather than as negligence or ineptitude. Then people will be institutionally encouraged to pool their intelligence.

Collective intelligence, therefore, depends upon a new disposition of mind which rejects the absurd excesses of Western individualism and sensitizes us to what binds people together in cooperative human activities, as well as our interdependence and responsibilities to ourselves and others. A.H. Halsey, who has been a keen observer of the nature of social change in the twentieth century, would no doubt remind us that 'Exhortation alone is futile, whether to altruism or to tolerance or to recognition of the equal claim of others to share in the bounty afforded by society. The problem is to discover, to establish, and to strengthen those social institutions that will encourage and foster the kinds of relations between people that are desired'.49 The task is one of both re-socializing the mind and of embedding the principles of collective intelligence in the social structure. The difficulties involved in this enterprise should not be underestimated. We can not start from scratch nor can we stand still. We may not, as Giddens depicts contemporary social life, be riding the juggernaut of modernity careering out of control, but there is little doubt that any concerted attempt to build a society based on the struggle for collective intelligence will, as Karl Mannheim recognized, be rather like trying to change a wheel on a train in motion.50 Despite the enormity of the task, the remaining chapters will show how a society based on the principles of collective intelligence would transform the nation state, economy, education, welfare and the foundations of social justice. 13 - Collective Intelligence
1 Robert Bellah et al., Habits of the Heart, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985, p.290.
2 Hence we concur with those who assert that it is often 'social hierarchy and the world views associated with it that restricts the unfolding of human capacity, and not the limitations of natural endowment'. See Charles F. Sabel, Work and Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.244; a similar position is taken by Douglas McGregor in The Human Side of Enterprise, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960.
3 'In this society of free competition the individual appears free from the bonds of nature, etc., which in former epochs of history made him a part of a definite, limited human conglomeration. To the prophets of the eighteenth century, on whose shoulders Smith and Ricardo are still standing, this eighteenth century individual, constituting the joint product of the dissolution of the feudal form of society and of the new forces of production which had developed since the sixteenth century, appears as an ideal whose existence belongs to the past; not as a result of history, but as its starting point.
Since the individual appeared to be in conformity with nature and [corresponded] to their conception of human nature, [he was regarded] not as a product of history, but of nature.' Karl Marx, 'A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy', in T. Parsons et al. (eds) Theories of Society, Glencoe: Free Press, 1961, Vol. 1, p.136-7.
4 Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, London: Pelican, 1981.
5 This is known as the Flynn effect after James Flynn of the University of Otago in New Zealand. See his 'Massive IQ gains in 14 nations: what IQ tests really measure', Psychological Bulletin, pp.171-91, 1987.
6 The scale of 'wastage' is in reality impossible to measure because 'talents' need to be cultivated as we will explain below, but clearly there is a huge untapped pool visible and 'hidden' talent.
7 Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America, New York: Routledge, 1976.
8 Hugh Lauder and David Hughes, 'Social origins, destinations and educational inequality', in John Codd, Richard Harker and Roy Nash (eds) Political Issues in New Zealand Education, Dunmore Press: Palmerston North, 1990.
9 Claude Fischer, Michael Hout, Martin Sanchez Jankowski, Samuel Lucas, Ann Swidler and Kim Voss, Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth, Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1996.
10 Of course, as these researchers point out, such calculations only tell half the story because they fail to explain the way that income, wealth and life-chances are embedded in the social structure.
11 See Michael Apple, Cultural Politics and Education, Buckingham: Open University Press, 1996; Martin Carnoy, Faded Dreams: The Politics and Economics of Race in America, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994; Phillip Brown, A.H. Halsey, Hugh Lauder and Amy Stuart Wells, 'The transformation of education and society: an introduction', in A.H. Halsey et al. (eds) Education: Culture, Economy and Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
12 Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, London: Pelican, 1981.
13 Christopher Lasch, The Revolt of the Elites: and the Betrayal of Democracy, W.W. Norton: New York, 1995 p.39.
14 John Dewey, 'Democracy and Education', New York: Free Press, 1916, p.344.
15 Perhaps the most telling point about the way our ability to develop more powerful mental capacities has evolved socially comes from the work of Ian Hacking who has shown how styles of reasoning have developed at specific times in history. He illustrates this through his study of the idea of probability in the nineteenth century. See The Emergence of Probability, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975 and The Taming of Chance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
16 Anthony Giddens suggests that 'decisions have to be taken on the basis of a more or less continuous reflection on the condition's of one's action. 'Reflexivity' here refers to the use of information about the conditions of activity as a means of regularly reordering and redefining what that activity is. It concerns a universe of action where social observers are themselves socially observed; and it is today truly global in scope'. Anthony Giddens Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age, Cambridge: Polity, 1991, p.86.
17 Conservative critics of Gardner's view will claim that the various multiple manifestations of 'intelligence' are derived from a general ability which can be measured by IQ. In other words, people with high IQs will be better at all expressions of intelligence. However, as Robert Sternberg, a leading authority on intelligence has argued, 'The weight of the evidence at the present time is that intelligence is multimimensional, and that the full range of these dimensions is not completely captured by any single general ability', in 'Myths, countermyths, and truths about intelligence', Educational Research, March, 1996, pp.11-16.
18 Phillip Brown and Richard Scase, Higher Education and Corporate Realities, London: University College London, 1994.
19 Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, London: Bloomsbury, 1996, p.xii.
20 Colin Lacey, 'The idea of a socialist education', in H. Lauder and P. Brown (eds) Education: In Search of a Future, London: Falmer Press, 1988, p.94. Lacey also states that 'Intelligence has to do with understanding the relationships between complex systems and making judgements about when it is appropriate to create new courses of action or avenues of thought. Most fundamental, intelligence entails the understanding of the relationship between the internal characteristics of the person and external systems': p.94.
21 Alan Ryan, John Dewey and the high tide of American liberalism, New York: W.W. Norton, 1995, p.28.
22 Arguments about human nature and capability will never be resolved, because nature quite literally unfolds in history. However, to hang on to the assumption that only a few are capable if it were possible to prove scientifically that this assumption was wrong, the denial of talent to the majority amounts to a great evil. To prove scientifically that it is right in conditions where it is assumed that there are no (or few) differences will clearly do far less harm. See Joseph Weizenbaum, Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgement to Calculation, San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1976, p.263.
23 See William K. Cummings, Education and Equality in Japan, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1980.
24 Lawrence Steinberg, Beyond the Classroom: Why School Reform has Failed and What Parents Need to Do, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
25 Erich Fromm, Fear of Freedom, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1942, p.207.
26 The classic statement of the difference between private troubles and public issues is in C. Wright Mills, 1959 The Sociological Imagination, New York: Oxford University Press.
27 This emphasis on problem solving may appear to some readers as too instrumental, leaving insufficient space for forms of collective activities which are analogous to 'art for art sake', but it is better to see our approach as experimental rather than instrumental, because it involves entering into a dialogue with others which is likely to involve differences in political beliefs or interests about what should be seen as the problem to be solved and also different views about the best solutions.
28 Our definition also highlights the fact that the acquisition of intelligence and the ability to use it depends on the learning potential of individuals (and institutions) in all spheres of life and is not restricted to the formal learning which goes on in our schools, offices or factories.
29 The stock of intelligence could also be seen to include the technological resources amassed in society in the form of books, journals, databases, computers and computer programmes, universities, research institutes, museums, laboratories, and super-highways, to name but a few, as these have become the power tools of the information age. To avoid overloading the conceptual work being done by this term, we have excluded this for the purposes of this book.
30 See Phillip Brown, 'The globalization of positional competition?', Sociology, (forthcoming)
31As Fred Block notes in his discussion of the failure of economics to grasp the essences of labour: 'The concept of labor is both the most fundamental and the most inherently problematic of all economic categories. It is the category through which economists understand most of the human input into the production process. Yet in treating the major inputs into production - labor, capital, and raw materials - in a parallel fashion, economists tend to analyse labor in isolation from the social relations in which individuals are embedded. It is not actual human beings who are an input into the production process, but one of their characteristics - their capacity to do work. But this is an inherently paradoxical strategy since the individual's capacity to do work is not innate; it is socially created and sustained.' Fred Block 1990 Post-Industrial Possibilities, p.75.
32 R.H. Tawney, The Acquisitive Society, Brighton: Wheatsheaf, 1982, p.10.
33 Hence, in speaking about these embedded relations of trust we are referring to the perception people have of the trust reposed in their behaviour as it is expressed and embodied in the rules and relations which others seek to impose on them, or they seek to impose on others. See Alan Fox, Beyond Contract, London: Faber & Faber, 1974, p.15; pp.67-9.
34 James S. Coleman, 'Social capital in the creation of human capital', American Journal of Sociology, 94, Supplement, 1988, S95-S120.
35 James Coleman and Thomas Hoffer, Public and Private Schools: The Impact of Communities, New York: Basic Books, 1987.
36 US General Accounting Office, Elementary School Children: Many Change School Frequently, Harming Their Eduction, Report to the Hon. Marcy Kaptur, House of Representatives, Washington, DC, 1994.
37 William Julius Wilson, The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, The Underclass and Public Policy, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1987.
38 Dewey, Democracy and Education, New York: Free Press, 1916, p.141.
39 ibid., p.101.
40 ibid., p.98.
41 ibid., p.87.
42 See the discussion on Emile Durkheim in the previous chapter.
43 Karl Marx, Capital Volume 1, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976, p. 452.
44 ibid., p. 451. For a classic study of the development of industrial time, see E.P. Thompson, 'Time, work-discipline, and industrial capitalism', Past and Present, vol.38, 1967.
45 For an interesting and controversial account see Peter. F. Drucker's account of the 'productivity revolution', in his Post-Capitalist Society, London: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1993.
46 For an excellent study of postwar industrial relations, see Alan Fox, Beyond Contract: Work, Power and Trust Relations, London: Faber & Faber, 1974.
47 This was certainly the practice at the British Leyland plant as Cowley, Oxford in England during the mid-1970s. The Cowley plant has since lost over half its workforce and British Leyland was taken-over by the Rover Group which became part of the German car company BMW, before it was then sold on for £10.00.
48 Emotional Intelligence (see n. 19 above), p.160.
49 A.H. Halsey, Change in British Society, 3rd edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986, p.173; See also A.H. Halsey with Josephine Webb, (eds) British Social Trends: The Twentieth Century, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000.
50 What is equally clear is the need for an holistic approach to social change. It must reject the tendency, for instance, to treat questions of productivity and redistribution as separate realms of policy. This may be administratively convenient but it encourages segmental thinking which downplays their interrelationship in the desire to improve the quality of life for all. Zsuzsa Ferge has made the useful distinction between societal policy and social policy in her study of Hungarian society in the post-war period: 'The concept of societal policy...is used in a special sense. It encompasses the sphere of social policy (the organisation of social services or the redistribution of income), but also includes systematic social intervention at all points of the cycle of the reproduction of social life, with the aim of changing the structure of society'. See T.H. Marshall and Tom Bottomore, Citizenship and Social Class, London: Pluto Press, 1992, pp.60-3.
260

—From The Enlightenment by Roy Porter. (c) 2001, Palgrave USA used by permission

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