Stephen C. Rose
Apr 11, 2015 · 3 min read

See Judging — Medium

Not long ago I launched an idea called Triadic Philosophy. It is summarized in Triadic Philosophy 100 Aphorisms available at the Kindle Store.. It grew into several more books. Gangs is a chapter in a successor work in progress called “The Collapse of Leadership”.


I wish to redefine gangs. The field is fertile. There have always been gangs and there have always been definitions of same. My definition is as follows:

A gang is any willful gathering of persons that engages as a group in perpetrating harm.

A gathering that does no physical or mental harm is not a gang but an incipient community of some sort.

It is evil intent that distinguishes a gang. But note that the intent need not be conscious.

Because, as defined, a gang is on the third downward rung on a ladder that leads to the worst evil — killing — it is a serious form of self-harm as well as of harm to others. Our US prisons are filled with gang members and actual gangs that exercise evil intent within prisons.

But it is neither accurate nor fair to limit this discussion to convicts or those who fit existing stereotypes.

Gangs exist in virtually every institution.

By my definition, the Koch Brothers and Mr. Cruz are deep into gangsterism. The only difference between them and gang members at Lompoc or any other prison is that they are out and able to do harm with impunity. The water is fine for all manner of gangsters whose evil goes unpunished.

There is a major difference between the operations of will and those of consciousness.

Consciousness is a function of our higher self. It inclines to values whose foundations are self-respect and critical thinking and whose inclinations are toward truth and beauty. The operations of will are nothing more or less than the universal application of desire to achieve an end, any end, without respect to harm done. Will does not consider ends. Only consciousness does.

Bernie Madoff is a poster child for gangsterism. Everyone is a gangster in prospect if not in fact. Gangsterism is what operates in us without respect to consciousness or higher values or anything that could hold harm back.

In Bernie’s case, his degree of harm was epic. So was the aplomb with which he achieved his ends. Maybe Hannah Arendt should have called her master work, “The Aplomb of Evil.”

The only way most of us survive is that the legal code does not reach us. Or we are too small to be worth catching.

If you think this is overdrawn, let me ask if you invest.

Those who invest are wilfully seeking to better their financial status, with little or no regard to the effects may be. An oil spill here there, some dead fish here, some children losing their lives across the sea.

We gang up without knowing it. Even if we do not knowingly invest almost any savings we have get to corporations that may do harm. And ignorance is not an excuse.

Do you pay taxes?

You may be able to accept that you have paid into the pension of a terrorist or a pedophile. But you surely do not want to be flagged with complicity for Abu Ghraib.

The problem is that complicity these days is documented. Even a micropayment is a sign of involvement.

We are all more or less fallible, more or less gangsters, more or less corrupt.

Could repentance save us?

We have seen these confessional scenarios on Netscape or remember them from childhood.

There is only one way

The actual achievement of consciousness. The actual amendment of behavior.

Proceeding without illusion. Working to reduce the harm we are partly responsible for.

Ganging up can be highly temporary.

a convenient liaison for purposes of accentuating force. A relationship of convenience. A means of protection and defense.

The common element? Someone out there gets hurt.


The Slow as Molasses Press publishes exclusively on Kindle. My entire Kindle library including SMP books can be accessed here

Stephen C. Rose

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