Opportunistic Ideologies

If you look at systems over time, you begin to notice something. Very rarely do organizations, businesses, artistic movements, churches, political parties, and so forth stay true to the vision of their founders. Why is this? It is because the people who take over an existing organization, or inherit it, do not share the vision of the founders. Is this a failure of the organization itself? To some degree, yes. I forget who said this, but the quote is this: “Organizations not explicitly conservative, over time, become liberal.” The same applies in much greater strength to organizations not explicitly Christian. The organization must have a distinctive vision and hew to it. It must impress upon its members the primacy of that vision, or risk becoming generic or worse, destructive. Examples of this are legion.

Consider Disney, Methodism, Wal-Mart, the Boy Scouts, and the Salvation Army. Look in the fashion and music world and you’ll brands or bands that once were creative and distinctive now turning out mass-market dreck.

This has a primary cause: the type of people who inherit or take over something. They have opportunistic ideologies. They are not working to achieve a vision, nor are they builders. They inherit or obtain A and use it to make B. They prey upon the existing organization for the purpose of subverting it to do something else. They might respect the power or the presence of an organization but they are at war with its soul. Their stead might squeeze out some marginal profit or value, but their aim is change, which is defiling the original vision of the founders.

So why would any organization allow itself to be taken over by those who do not share its values? Sometimes this happens due to a desire to live the good life; the founders cash in by selling to someone whom cares not for the organization as they do. Other times, founders may have given too much time to the organization and not enough time to their successors; this is especially the case when heirs inherit. Some of it is organizational weakness — a founder or founders does not institutionalize their values so that the organization can thrive after them, or do not pass the torch to a successor. Sometimes the organization is successful but has racked up debts or obligations which it cannot fulfill. In all cases, the organization is in a weak state and is ripe for the picking. Outside forces are always waiting in the wings, hovering about like vultures, to capitalize upon the weaknesses of builders.

We must take the long view and if we do create, ensure that what we build lives on after us. It is a dread and sure thing that the parasites are looking about for things they can take over and subvert to their own fell purposes. “Why should they build when others have done the heavy lifting?” they think, and they are right. As long as we fail to think past our own lifetimes, those who live only for the now will win.

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