The Great Resignation

Previously, I mentioned “The Great Resignation,” which is a social phenomenon that has recently taken root in the United States, whereby millions of people are quitting their jobs in order to focus on both their mental health and the elevation of their quality of life. Although the phenomenon began to appear in small traces in the years prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the phenomenon manifested itself tremendously with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Moreover, “The Great Resignation” has much to do with burnout. But burnout, as mentioned before, stems from organizational failure on a number of levels, and in turn, organizational failure stems from what the 20th century physicist David Bohm called “chaos of thought.” Bohm argued: “Thought is part of a system which includes all our reflexes, our relations to other people, all that we do, all our society, and everything. But it has a flaw in it.”

Bohm also argued that the boundary or separation between thought and the physical world can be considered conceptually as merely a “dotted line,” and as a result, thought permeates the boundary or separation in order to shape the material world. Bohm also argued that thought pervades culture because thought encompasses “the world” as a whole. But culture seeks to preserve a “self-image” of what it perceives to be reality, according to Bohm.

This “self-image” in turn denies and rejects any information that undermines the self-image, and as a result, the basic flaw of thought which was mentioned before ends up persisting. And while thought upholds the system, the thought which is upholding the system is fundamentally flawed, and as a result, the system is flawed, thus leading to the organizational failures we are witnessing at the moment on a number of levels.

In order to understand organizational failure even further, one must backtrack to a certain extent and define the term “organization.” Max Weber defined “organization” as “a system of continuous purposive activity of a specified kind.” Corporations are organizations of a particular kind, and a “corporate organization” is “an associative social relationship characterized by an administrative staff devoted to such continuous purposive activity,” according to Weber.

However, in every “associative social relationship,” there is the element of power, according to Weber. In turn, “power” is defined by Weber as “the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rests.” But in order for power to effectively take hold within an associative social relationship and thus an organization, those who are on the receiving end of power must conform to the will of the party which is exerting power in an associative social relationship. Thus, power – in order to take hold – requires conformity of thought more than anything else.

As a result, it is safe to assume to a certain degree that organizational failure on multiple levels and thus economic and social phenomena such as “The Great Resignation” translates into the breakdown of conformity in both action and thought, and thus the diminution of power within associative social relationships in a number of places. Although such a phenomenon is threatening to the status quo, on the flipside it means more autonomy of thought and more agency for individuals and thus the dispersal of power. The economic, political, and social effects and ultimate outcomes of such phenomena will have to be analyzed and studied by scholars over the course of time, given that such social phenomena are rare to the American experience, even though such phenomena have already been experienced in both Europe and elsewhere.

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