What’s the Plan?

I want to believe that somewhere within all this operational momentum is a latent explosive force that will, once activated, bring the whole thing down, collapsing into itself. There is a sickness and it’s spreading. We have entered the age of Plague, and yet the illness is not new. One of the difficulties I face in recording all this is finding new language to describe an old problem.

One danger we face, in our effort to stem the tide of operational momentum (a very real kind of oppression), is that we will reach a point of limited movement or forced inactivity. Those familiar with the Plague and its ravages will recognize that pervasive feeling of exile, of standing still, frozen before the void. The first casualty, we know, is the collapse of courage, willpower, endurance. We cease looking to the future, and memory (institutional memory in particular) no longer serves a purpose. There’s a sense of being abandoned. Some light fires hoping to purge the infection but are then left homeless, staring at the ruins. And of course these radical arsonists will face heavy penalties for their actions, which helps no one. One could say there are people (even within our team) acting on crazy impulse as they wander the lifeless streets with darkness in their hearts.

But something must be done. We are losing the profession (our occupations) to political necessity and economic expediency. A response is required. This Plague is everyone’s concern, and while the mood is gloomy and we may feel an overwhelming sense of deprivation (for which many of us were not prepared), we need a plan, an action plan.

This journal is itself a hatched plan for communicating with the outside world but it’s not enough. The larger plan requires some version of the following:

  1. mapping the whole environment; defining our position relative to the lethal center
  2. clarifying our coordinates viz. other avenues of approach
  3. defining the pieces, arranging pieces for better understanding
  4. recognizing key players; keeping track of their movements

We’re not talking here about a wave of revolutionary violence but a coordinated action plan designed to make it clear that we are the answer to all their problems.

We have to start somewhere. All our recent work with productive modeling is just the beginning. Battles won on the design front are very satisfying but mean nothing in the end. The structural problems run much deeper, so while we defend the home front we must remember, too, that the plague’s reach is much wider than our own local institution.

We start at the center, then, and work our way outward.

Bill Marsh

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