I’ve been seeing reviews of The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations around lately, because the Tea Party is using this book, and specifically, the Starfish model, as its organizing principle. The quote that keeps popping up is this:
The title is based on the contrasting biology of spiders, which die when their heads are chopped off, and starfish, which can multiply when any given part is severed — a trait the book’s authors posit is shared by decentralized entities ranging from Alcoholics Anonymous to Al Qaeda to Wikipedia. — Politico
It’s always fascinated me how easy it is to find analogies in nature, for just about any phenomenon. The rhizome and the taproot work well here, too. And I’ve always likened Alcoholics Anonymous to a multi-level marketing outfit, which seem to me to spread like rhizomes. Also, I can definitely see Brendan Koerner’s analogy to an open source program, though it might be more accurate to compare it to a computer virus. I don’t think he could have actually said that, though. AA has it built into its structure to develop both symbiotic and parasitic relationships with outside entities, insinuating itself into every facet of public life in such a way as to maintain its integrity (and by “integrity,” I’m talking mechanics, not character). See, for instance, Bill Wilson’s own vision. Here, he is discussing the reason why AA needs to be receptive to outside agencies, and it is mostly because “most of the work and the money will have to come from elsewhere.”
More than anything, the answer to the problem of alcoholism seems to be in education – education in schoolrooms, in medical colleges, among clergymen and employers, in families, and in the public at large. From cradle to grave, the drunk and the potential alcoholic will have to be completely surrounded by a true and deep understanding and by a continuous barrage of information: the facts about his illness, its symptoms, its grim seriousness.
Now who is going to do all this education? Obviously, it is both a community job and a job for specialists. Individually, we A.A.’s can help, but A.A. as such cannot, and should not, get directly into this field. Therefore, we must rely on other agencies, on outside friends and their willingness to supply great amounts of money and effort – money and effort which will steer the alcoholic toward treatment as never before. – Bill W. “Let’s Be Friendly with Our Friends: Friends on the Alcoholism Front” Continue reading AA and The Treatment Industry