Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Following our fears

Network trust grows out of our natural fear of being fearful. It is what makes us cooperate. It leads us into relationships that make us feel comfortable. We know that a feeling of belonging can allay fear even when belonging comes at a price. But, authentic as they are, our personal comfort needs leave us vulnerable to manipulation.

Politicians seek power by reflecting our perceived collective security needs and at the same time judging the price we’d be prepared to pay to get them mitigated. So it’s a fair bet that we can expect the government’s 2005 election campaign to focus on (a) economic stability (courtesy of Gordon Brown) reflecting our fear of raging inflation; on (b) social order (courtesy of David Blunkett’s successor) reflecting our fear of lawlessness; and on (c) continuity (courtesy of Tony Blair) reflecting our fear of change.

That’s fine, one might say, that’s politics. But in trust terms the price of this stability, order and continuity package will inevitably be increased submission to authority leading to even greater power being ceded to the Blair/Brown/New Labour brands when it comes to next playing the fear card. The path from being willing co-operators in a network trust deal to being pawns in a commodity trust power play leads to disillusion and abuse of trust. It’s a path we’ve trodden before.

Network trust is powerful medicine. We need to learn its message: we have nothing to fear but fear of fear itself.