Home Concepts Organizational Theory Journey to Irony I: The Lands of Alpha and Beta

Journey to Irony I: The Lands of Alpha and Beta

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Heroes of Beta – such as McCarthy, Hitler and Mao – become despots and their minions becomes accusers, torturers and mass murderers. Even the creators of wonderful children stories and fantasy lands (such as Walt Disney) have their very dark sides and are noted not just for their cultural gifts, but also the horrible way in which they often treated their employees.

Something more was operating in Beta. I must be honest about what really happened when I was dwelling in this land. While lingering briefly, I found that there was a stirring of my soul. I felt passionately about my own values and found resolve in my own beliefs. I was righteous in my critique of Beta – thinking about Eugene McCarthy, Adolph Hitler, and Mao Se Tung. There is a right and a wrong. There are good guys and bad guys. There are the evil people who are dualists and the good people who are not dualists. I was dualistic in my critique of dualism. Hard Irony reigns supreme!

In the real world, we do find appropriate causes worth fighting for and perhaps even worth dying for. Heroism does exist and there is something more than expedience and agility. But I worry about how seductive this land of Beta can be and how easy it is for me to be drawn into the banner waving and labeling of other people with whom I agree and with whom I disagree (on some points).

Richard Rorty’s (1989 )emphasis on engaging those thought and people who are “unfamiliar” doesn’t seem to hold much traction in Beta. I appreciate the courage to be found in this land, but hate the stupidity (see, there I am being judgmental again!!). I hope to take the courage with me to the next two lands, but not the judgment and attendant stupidity to be found in Beta.


Gergen, K. (2001) The Saturated Self. New York: Basic Books.

Riesman, D. (1950) The Lonely Crowd. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.

Rorty, R. (1989) Contingency, Irony & Solidarity. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

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