Carne Ross, from UK Diplomat to OWS Proponent

Carne Ross

Carne Ross

I don’t know his Enneagram type, but I like his story.

I think of him in a similar category to Richard Alan Clarke, former counter-terrorism czar, who tried to warn Bush before 9/11 and was ignored. Then he insisted Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 so we should not go to war against Iraq and was ignored again. He left the Bush administration in 2003.

Carne Ross (born in 1966) was one of only two British diplomats who resigned over the 2003 Iraq War. He left the civil service in Britain in 2004.

Naturally competitive, Ross dreamed of becoming an international diplomat. When he took the British foreign service exam he was one of 20 out of 5,000 who were accepted.  He joined the Foreign Office and worked at the UK embassy in Bonn, Germany, then as the expert on the Middle East for the UK in the United Nations.

Ross worked on the Security Council resolution rewriting the Iraq policy and establishing the weapons inspection body. He negotiated the resolution for the UK that established the security force in Afghanistan.

Now Carne Ross runs the first non-profit diplomatic advisory group, Independent Diplomat, from New York City. It advises governments and political groups.

As a member of the elite of the Foreign Office, Ross had been on his way toward his goal, ambassadorship, before he resigned. Once Ross had been a strong force for British policy. Then, he said, “I found myself seriously doubting the rightness of what we were doing—… above all the pretenses and disconnection from the reality of what we were trying to arbitrate. Because the one major absentee in all of our discussions was the Iraqi people themselves. I was the British lead on Iraq negotiating international law on hard-core issues of national security like how to deal with weapons of mass destruction or how to respond to Al-Qaeda after 9/11. I was catapulted to a position with real power, influence and status.”

Excerpt of Ross’ article Occupy Wall Street and a New Politics for a Disorderly World in The Nation on February 7, 2012:

“…This [OWS] is a politics of the many for the many, rather than that of a small clique of elected representatives, co-opted by the powerful few. It requires patience and work, as the Occupiers of Zuccotti Park have learned. The consensus principle is vital, and prevents the “tyranny of the majority,” but it must (and can) be engineered to allow fast decisions and discussions of complex issues. In Porto Alegre, Brazil, mass participation in decision-making has succeeded in deliberating the affairs of a city, and the results clearly indicate more equal provision of services, better environmental protection and an improved political culture, one that is open, nonpartisan and uncorrupted.

…Participatory democracy should be promoted for every public setting, from our neighborhoods to our cities and counties. As turkeys will not vote for Thanksgiving, politicians are unlikely to institute such systems. Instead, we will have to set them up ourselves, starting local—our street, our building, our school—and in doing so establish legitimacy from the ground up, a legitimacy that today’s politicians evidently do not enjoy.

The second element is equally critical: this is the politics of the personal. Our political goals must be embodied in everything we do, for this is the most direct way to produce necessary and urgent change. Despite its perpetual encouragement by over-promising politicians, the habit of asking government to produce the ends we seek is out-of-date. Given the way that Washington (and indeed London or Paris) works, there is zero chance that any politician, even one with the best intentions, will deliver a just society, where the weakest are properly cared for and where the earth that sustains us is itself sustained…

Self-organized, nonviolent action by the many, consulting all those affected: …you cannot have a fair, cohesive or happy society when a tiny few hold the vast bulk of the wealth and where companies are legally bound to maximize profits over all else, ignoring any un-costed effects to the environment or society.

… As Britain’s massive retail giant John Lewis has shown, cooperative companies can be just as successful, and can endure much longer, than the merely profit-driven. “Triple bottom line” companies give equal weight to their social and environmental impacts alongside the profit line… And we can support them by choosing them over more negligent businesses. In the OWS Alternative Banking working group, for example, we are building the elements of a new Occupy Bank, which would be democratic, transparent and egalitarian, and would offer better services than for-profit banks.

I would like to know Ross’ Enneagram type. Principled Perfectionist or Questioner? Maybe, but not enough to go on.

See my blog on Obama cartoons as the nine Enneagram types 5/8 and on my Psychology Today blog 6/19.

Do Some Activists Blame Instead of Taking Action?

Cartoon by Elizabeth Wagele

I agree with the Occupy Wall Street movement. So much is dreadfully wrong with our country, what else can we do but take to the streets?

One of my friends has a problem with Occupy, however. First, he says the word is aggressive. I see what he means: occupying is a hostile concept. We are angry and want to fight back, but perhaps throwing anger around is counter-productive to achieving the changes we want – for several reasons. Is it time to cool down and concentrate on our priorities and developing strategies for action?

As an Observer Enneagram type, I’m sensitive to having my space intruded upon. The thought of being occupied raises the hair on my back, wouldn’t make me want to cooperate. We are outraged the government and Wall Street messed up housing loans and the Supreme Court messed up elections. But does the word occupy encourage everybody to want to join in and work to improve our country or does it vaguely say invade? Not that marches and sit-ins are bad, but we’ve done that for months and months. I wonder if assertive action is called for now, as in “let’s implement the high ideals we want for our country, such as EQUALITY, EDUCATION, INTEGRATION, PEACE, DIGNITY, JOBS, HOUSING, FAIR ELECTIONS, HEALTH CARE, COMPASSION, ECOLOGY, FREEDOM, TOTAL CONTROL OF OUR OWN BODIES…”

Second, my friend doesn’t like the way the movement demonizes the 1%. They’re all kinds of people, some good, some not so good he says. Some are philanthropists who share their wealth and do other good deeds. So while we don’t like the imbalance, we are condemning individuals for their financial status without knowing how they got there, what their attitudes are, whether they’re generous or greedy, or what. We’re essentially calling people names instead of accentuating our determination to replace bad policies and bad laws with sound ones. When we rail against the 1%, we may not mean to, but by our language we’re demonizing a group instead of criticizing a practice or economic and social policies.

Demonizing is a propensity we’re born with. Greedy and people demonize when they steal. Politicians demonize when they lie. We demonize the competition. We demonize people we’re at war with. We dehumanize individuals who have hurt or shamed us. I have demonized and I’m ashamed of it. We forget we all breathe the same air.

Carl Gustav Jung said, “The real existence of the enemy upon whom one can foist off everything evil is an enormous relief to one’s conscience. You can then say, without hesitation, who the devil is; you are quite certain that the cause of your misfortune is outside, and not in your own attitude… Much could be said about the close proximity of good and evil, and even more about the direct relations between of pairs of opposites…” So those of us who don’t want to do the hard work of positive activism—over and beyond sitting in and marching—just might prefer to find a scapegoat to blame and leave it at that.

I like the Occupy movement because I don’t like what has happened to our country, but I think my friend has a point. Demonizing hurts and kills. For example, demonizing is why American soldiers burned Qur’ans in Afghanistan. So I suggest we shift away from negative wording and toward carrying out our demands for positive changes. Non-violently.

See for list of famous Enneagram and mbti types