Addressing Fractionation: Principles for Arbitrating the “Common Good”

Cultural diversity. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Author: მარიამ იაკობაძე

By Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service


1. Fractionation

There is an urgent need for healing the divisive separation of people, societies, and nations. A continuation of the present intentional and unintentional “fractionation” forebodes a tragic future. Humans and the institutions they have created for collective living, now threaten life and lives as they assert selective group domination and control.  While unity should be an aspiration, population “fractionation” across virtually every societal status marker is producing chaos and havoc. We reap what we sow.”     

“Fractionation” among population sectors across the world has brought widespread local, national, and international violence, conflict and destruction. Toleration of separation, division, and detachment for selected population sectors has promoted a cascade of “populist” ideologies, now threatening to destabilize existing social, political, economic, and moral orders. While these orders have often failed in their expected noble purposes, and while they are now the very seeds of narrow xenophobic and rabid nationalist “populist” movements, it is essential responses be guided by principles promoting justice and equity.

Brexit, Trumpism, and scores of similar populist movements across the world are promoting intense “nativist-alien” competitions for power. The fate of entire nations (e.g., France, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Poland) is now in play. Widespread fears, anger, and rage are endemic in populist movements. Globalization is considered the fault and the enemy.

2. Hegemonic Globalization

Rather than globalization, however, “hegemonic globalization,” or globalization controlled by a few powerful nations (G-8; G-20) may be the source (Marsella, 2005; 2012; 2017). Hegemonic globalizations legitimized USA global dominance and a unabashed freedom to invade, occupy, and exploit nations across the world. As this unbridled foreign policy proceeded, the Middle-Eastern and West Asian regions brought mass documented and undocumented migrations of refugees and immigrants seeking relief from civil wars in  Iraq, Syria, Libya, Turkey, Nigeria, Congo, and other African nations, and “terrorist” assaults in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

“Hegemonic globalization” ignores and silences, the “common good.” In contrast to “hegemonic globalization,” the “common good” is driven by equity, equality, democracy, and human and nature rights. “Hegemonic globalization” favors a homogenized global community, subservient to special interests and exploitations, serving wealth, military power, and position. Never before has the term “One World” become such a danger!

In the struggle against the pernicious consequences of “hegemonic globalization,” there must be a commitment to the “common good.” “Common good” must become the global goal. The word “common,” itself speaks against fractionation or separation. Interdependency is an unavoidable reality. Even as the risk of “Black Swan” events remains, efforts must be made to develop principles for arbitrating policies and actions insuring the “common” good will trump fractionation. This is the reality!

Opportunistic foreign policies by USA and NATO powers, produced massive national upheavals in identity, and facilitated “fractionation” within and across population sectors.  As easy solutions to the problems fell beneath the failed recognition of the complex consequences of intrusions and forced regime changes favored by the USA and its allies, the notion of “endless war” emerged.  As usual, these nations concluded their errors revealed the dangerous state of our world, an assertion requiring more global violence, conflict, and destruction, a tragic position favoring only warmongers rooted in government, corporate, and military positions.

Whether by choice, intention, or diabolical impulse, population sectors identified as “different” by status markers (e.g., religion, race, gender, age, gender preference) have emerged as threats, dangers, or risks to the existing status quo. Tragically, the status quo, through media and educational controls, nurtured myths of its “benign” status.

Manichean distinctions became popular among politicians, generals, and war industry mavens. “You are either with us, or against us!” Really! How many Cowboy and Indian movies generated that distinction? Did anyone ever ask the Indians? This in a world of massive population differences! Simplistic solutions from simplistic minds failing to grasp the reality of imposing prejudicial solutions on a world now tired of Western exploitation and dominance, the consequences which now are destroying the West from within!

Unfortunately, possibilities of good, positive, and virtuous changes are denied in the West amid nostalgic calls for a return to the familiar past in which colonization, imperialism, invasion, regime change, labor and resource exploitation, and pollution of the world became rampant. Whether in Africa, Central America, South America, West Asia, or in oceans, earth, and skies, “fractionation” has been the consequence of “hegemonic globalization.” We reap the legacy!

3. Change as Enemy

Change itself has become the enemy! Population sectors considered “carriers” or emblematic of differences have become targets by closed minds who have failed to understand their own egregious role in producing difficulties. The cries of the old status quo echo:

Remember the “good ole days,” when “men were men,” and you knew what was right and wrong! Remember when we used “bathrooms based on our genitalia,” and our genitalia were sources of pride.” “Men and women knew their place, and foreigners worked their butts off for $3.00 hour plucking chickens, harvesting vegetables, and picking up garbage. Sure do miss those days!”   

Many population sectors, however, did not miss those days, and they fought and struggled to change them because of exploitation and abuse. Racial and gender revolutions of past decades, seeking a modicum of equality and opportunity, became labeled as Communist-inspired conspiracies, insidiously inserted into existing stable societies and nations. Unions were considered problems because they pursued equality. Unions, once a voice for workers, became sources of trouble in businesses, schools, and harvest fields.

“We are being screwed!” became the cry! “Take back our society!” “This is not my nation!” “Get out!”  In the confusing haze of change, governments, corporations, military, and educational institutions became tyrants oppressing change.  Populism became the only salvation for many filled with discontent, fear, and anger.

Ultimately, whether for political, economic, and/or moral reasons, “demonized” population sectors are now being forced into past marginalized statuses. “Fractionation” is omnipresent. Without Constitutional, legal, or moral protections, marginalized population sectors become easy targets for blame ostracism, and justifiable violence. Tensions mount as dominant societal sectors seize power and impose barriers and burdens upon marginalize sectors. “We want law and order!” “We have a right to carry guns anywhere, all the time.  Remember the OK Corral?”

In its extremes, ethnic cleansing, genocide, imprisonment, and other forms of social ostracism and isolation become consequences of seemingly “just” effort to protect society. Tragically, the concentration of wealth, power, and position in the minds and hands of a few seeking to perpetuate a past enabling them to maintain positions of power and influence limits and prevents rising protests among marginalized populations sectors (e.g., women, race, gender preference, immigrants, peaceniks, and the elderly).

It is essential concepts and principles for “arbitrating” the “common good” be identified and applied to proliferating local, national, and international policies, regulations, and laws. The latter are seeking to increase separation under nuanced and ambiguous terms. Spin!

Foreign Policy Bias

Monopolistic concentrations of economic, political, social, and ideological power across the world today assure “hegemonic” control (e.g., Big Ag, Big Media, Big Pharmaceuticals, Big Military, Big Education, Big Business, Big Medicine) (see Marsella, 2015). This concentration shapes government foreign policy actions resulting in invasions and occupations destroying national histories, traditions, religions, stability, and identity.

Within this context, “regime-change” has become a reflexive foreign policy option for the USA and allied Western powers. Consider the vast destruction of Middle-Eastern nations (e.g., Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, and likely, soon Turkey and Iran). These nations are “imagined” threats to USA, UK, and Israel hegemony and imperialistic ambitions.  In the foreign policy room, however, “imagined” has become real as the perpetrators have forced justification of destruction and war.  “Bomb them, accuse them, vilify them, demonize them, and eventually they will respond with anger; at that point we have them where we want them and we can run rampant over them.”


1. Diversity

The issue of “fractionation” is rooted in the contentious ideas and ideologies of diversity, political correctness, and multiculturalism. The world is caught in pressures for cultural and national homogenization versus multiculturalism (e.g., Marsella, 2016). Many government, corporate, and military power sources seek homogenization, because the uniformity will assist in control and domination.

Tragically, “fractionation” is a social, political, economic, and moral distinction and discrimination rooted in differences and diversity.  Diversity is the essence of life itself! Diversity reflects the life impulse; the infinite impulse to evolve alternatives.

Chart 1 displays examples of population sector “fractionations.”  Current political movements directed toward electing or imposing “conservative,” “neo-cons,” “right wing,” and “fascist” governments and national identities are omnipresent. “Fractionation” is strengthened by competition for limited resources (e.g. financial, education, health). There is a need for justice; not only the perception of justice, but an accepted and established template for arbitrating policies and practices.

Chart 1: Examples of Fractionation Sectors

chart 1

Chart 2 lists proposed concepts and principles for arbitrating public and private policies and actions for the “common good.” Chart 2 concepts and principles are founded within the recognized need for compromise and acceptance rather than imposed force. The issue of “diversity,” so apparent in Chart 1 on “fractionation,” is best resolved, not through “power” politics, but through establishing an equal playing field.  How much diversity can a society or nation take before it looses coherence and the ability to function as a whole?  The answer is both complex and simple.

“A society or a nation can tolerate as much diversity as it is willing to establish equal opportunities for access to shared society or nation rewards.”

Arbitration principles and concepts displayed in Chart 2 are well known. The challenge is to use them.  Consider the reality that science, religion, philosophy, and all other anchors of moral codes speak of these principles on a near daily basis. They are no longer sources of debate, but rather sources of hypocrisy. The world agrees “justice” is essential in arbitrating legal and regulatory policies and procedures, but “justice” becomes ignored by the time its meaning is tarnished through debate and argument, especially at the hands of those who value injustice.

Chart 2: Principles for Arbitrating “Common Good”

Chart 2

Institutions and professions speak daily of ethics and moral codes, and yet they fail to se human rights as the foundation of any ethical or moral code they advocate. Why not begin with the United Nations statement on “human rights?”  This universal statement, UNHCR should be read by all professions and specialty services; it should be read by school students either before or after the various pledges of allegiance. Will this provoke controversy and discomfort? Yes, of course, but political and religious codes and pledges are at best attenuated to an institution’s favor.

Or consider “complexity!”  Rather than propose simplistic solutions favoring a particular positions or group, acknowledge the situation is complex and will require a consideration of the many complex variables needing to be considered, and appropriate multidisciplinary models. What about “activism?” While authorities seek to contain activism, and even to label it as a crime or terrorism, fundamental principle of citizen activism is enshrined by law and history. Repression of activism rights and privileges to offer counter opinions and to protest is the hallmark of fascism. Addiction to control and dominance in fascism destroy the human spirit and erode choice.

These principles for arbitrating the “common good” stand as a bulwark against the forces of fractionation.  When these principles are advocated and used, the “common good” will survive and thrive.


The challenge of addressing “fractionation,” is in essence, simple. As Sister Joan Halifax said, “There is no other!”  There is only one. Addictions to actions and policies of “separation” represent a pull from primitive instinctual impulses when recognition of differences were considered essential for survival.  This was a need in ancient times when perceived differences were considered sources of risks and threats to security and survival.  But that was then, and this is now!   Evolution has demonstrated primitive instincts can yield to reason. Recognition that “differences” are, in fact, expressions of essential evolutionary life expressions is gaining acceptance.

The cosmic principles of “fission” and “fusion,” which characterize and describe the very creation and evolution of the universe itself, contain the message:

“Separation is essential. It offers variations and differences. At the same time, fusion of connection and unification of differences is also essential because the fused creation contains emergent properties yielding yet new opportunities for creative evolutionary possibilities.”

That is life! It is time to accept a new code: “Lifeism.” (Marsella, 2011). To do less, guarantees destruction. To life!


  1. “Globalization” is the process and product of transnational and trans-border policies in communication and information technologies; financial transactions and controls; social, economic, and political dependencies; military pacts and alliances; laws; treaties, transportation; and mega-corporations (Marsella, 2012, 2017).


Marsella, A.J. (2005) “Hegemonic” globalization and cultural diversity: The risks of global monoculturalism. Australian Mosaic, Volume 12, #4, 15-22.

Marsella, A.J (2011). Identity beyond self, culture, nation, and humanity to “lifeism.”…/identity-beyond-self-culture-nation-and-humanty-to-lifeism”/  

Marsella, A.J. (2012). Globalization and psychology. Journal of Social Issues, 68, 454-472.

Marsella, A.J. (2014). War, peace, justice: An unfinished tapestry. Alpharetta, GA: Mountain Arbor Press.

Marsella, A.J. (2014, December 1). The epic ideological struggle of our global era: Multiculturalism versus homogenization.…/the-epic-ideological–struggle-of-our- global-era-multiculturalism-versus-homogenization,

Marsella, A.J. (2015 May 11). A template for our global era.…/a-template-for-our-global-era-the-lexical-nexus-of proportion-process-ideology 

Marsella, A.J (2017; in press). Globalization. In F. Moghaddam (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Behavior.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D., a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Emeritus Professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa Campus in Honolulu, Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu.  He is known internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 21 books and more than 300 articles, tech reports, and popular commentaries. He can be reached at

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Marching for Science in Boston

, Gender Schema Lab from Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University, April 22, 2017.

By Deborah Belle

The Trump presidency has put many things at risk, not least the project of utilizing science for the public good. Scientific research budgets are slashed, and current scientific knowledge is actively suppressed when it conflicts with profits for wealthy individuals and corporations.

On Saturday, April 22, defenders of science spoke out in marches and rallies around the country. In Boston many marchers met  at local universities and hospitals, rallied there, and then marched to the Boston Common to join others who had gone to the Common directly.

I joined the Boston March in front of the Metcalf Science Center at Boston University where the focus was on young speakers, many of them undergraduates, who spoke of the value of science, and of getting involved in the political process so that knowledge we have gained through scientific study can be used to save the planet.

One excellent speaker also noted that science is not always utilized for the public good, that scientific theories have been used to disempower already marginalized people. Scientific knowledge is a tool that can be used in many ways, and it is up to us to make sure that it is used to benefit all of us, not simply the wealthy few. Other speakers remarked on the necessity of making our scientific workforce increasingly diverse, so that the insights and life experiences of all can help  create a science that truly works for all.

We set off down Commonwealth Avenue toward the Boston Common to the accompaniment of a great HONK-style band. Spirits were high, as people recognized friends in the crowd, and enjoyed the creative signs of fellow marchers. In the light drizzle, the colors on my SCIENCE NOT SILENCE poster, drawn in erasable marker, began to run, forming what many described as a Monet-like impressionist painting. No matter, there were plenty of legible signs left, and the music was great.

At one wonderful moment the Cambridge contingent from Harvard and MIT joined with us, the currents of marchers combining beautifully. We crossed the Public Garden and strode on to the Common. The crowd that met us there was large and continued to grow as we listened to speakers and cheered at every pause. A few in the crowd wore pink pussy hats, a reminder of the great Women’s March in January. Some also wore hats ingeniously knitted to suggest brains.

One focus of the day was children, who seemed to be everywhere, sometimes serving as delightful props as well as participants. One expressive infant was with a poster proclaiming, “Born to Discover.” Another was wrapped in the words, “Save the earth for me.” Others were dressed as astronauts with their own rocket-ship decorated strollers. Children spoke from the speakers’ platform, reading their award-winning essays on the importance of science and its relevance to them. A clear message was the need in all our political decision-making to think of future generations.


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Start counting the victories

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, with his two-year-old granddaughter Isabelle Dobbs-Higginson on his lap and United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon looking on, signs the COP21 Climate Change Agreement on behalf of the United States during a ceremony on Earth Day, April 22, 2016, at the U.N. General Assembly Hall in New York, N.Y. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]*

by Kathie MM

Activism is probably the lifeblood of a democracy.  Despite the gloominess and scariness of recent governmental and corporate anti-democracy policies and behaviors, activism persists and can count its victories.

Many people are aware of the massive protests led by the Water Defenders against the Dakota Access Pipeline project last fall. Although Donald Trump is attempting to undo the success of that protest, the fight is not over yet, nor should it be.

Many people are also aware of and relieved concerning the huge and successful activist effort to resist Trump’s destruction of Obamacare,  and encouraged by actions from the judicial system to restrain his racist immigration orders regarding Muslim countries.

And lots of people have read of the hundreds of “town halls” going on across the country right now, where local citizens have challenged their political representatives regarding distressing issues.

However, it is likely that fewer people  know about other successful activist efforts that may be more local or fail to get the attention of the corporate media.

Here are  just a few examples:

Opportunities for more activism abound. Voices for peace and social justice, and respect for Mother Earth, unite.

Continuing through April 23, Resistance Recess: Town halls, and other outreach activities to politicians

April 22 Earth Day Protest March for Science .  Learn more about the achievements of activism on this day historically by clicking here

April 29, 2017  People’s Climate Mobilization

Lots more opportunities can be found at the World Without War  events list  aimed at achieving a world without war .

*Let’s not allow this victory to be shattered by the current GPS (greedy power structure) in DC.


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The new brunch

2017.04.15 #TaxMarch Washington, DC. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Author: Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA.

By Deborah Belle

If rallies are the new brunch, then I partook twice on Tax Day. I had long planned to attend the afternoon Tax Day rally on the Cambridge Common to insist that Pres. Trump disclose his tax returns. Then a friend asked if I would like to go to a morning rally in resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline. The protest would urge people to divest from and close their accounts with TD Bank, one of four banks funding TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline.

I went to both.

The day could not have been more beautiful, with the forsythia in full bloom in front of the bank. After opening prayers and sharing the scent of sweetgrass burning in a jar, we stationed ourselves with signs near the TD bank at the Alewife Brook Parkway Shopping Center in Cambridge.

There, we took turns leading call and response chants and swayed to Native American music. Responses to our signs and our chanting were generally positive, often enthusiastically so. Joggers, bicyclists, and people driving cars often gave us a thumbs-up or a shout-out. We concluded the rally with further prayers for Mother Earth, for the water protectors, and for the ultimate success of climate activism.

After a quick lunch I was off to Cambridge Common, where  thousands were assembled, including a sizable contingent of Veterans for Peace  with their flags waving beautifully in the breeze.

The excellent master of ceremonies was Michael Connolly , the newly elected brilliant state representative for parts of Cambridge and Somerville. I had heard Michael a few years earlier when he was running for Cambridge City Council, and was very disappointed when he didn’t win. A short time later he ran for state representative with the support of Our Revolution , the Bernie Sanders spin-off group that provided funds and especially volunteers. Michael is now waking up the state legislature with his important insights, wit, and drive.

Speakers argued in favor of a People’s Budget, rather than the military-heavy budget we now have, support for those who have been incarcerated, and strengthening public education against the threat of privatization. A message from Martin Luther King’s speech of just over 50 years ago was invoked: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Wonderful signs abounded, including one with pictures of Putin and Trump reading “Married, filing jointly.”

Speakers pointed out that during Republican President Eisenhower’s administration, the top tax rate was 90%. What could we do today if we had that kind of money from billionaires and wealthy corporations? Instead, they do not pay taxes at all,  trillions of dollars are stashed away in tax shelters, the poor and middle class are compelled to pay more, and essential services decline.

Babies, children on their parents’ shoulders, and adorable dogs added to the joy of the day. At one point a red-tailed hawk flew gracefully close to me, landing in a nearby tree, then took wing again and circled over the crowd. Perhaps it was curious at this remarkable gathering of humans.

I stayed a bit longer, sharing a wonderful time of solidarity with those around me. I left feeling strengthened for another week in the Era of Trump.

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