Obedience, Conformity and Compromise

Matthew McCoy DC, MPH
Obedience, Conformity and Compromise

While it might be extreme to draw comparisons between all the uprisings around the world in the past several years and the current uprising within our profession there are some basic fundamental human traits that come through.

Of all of the uprisings I find what’s been happening in Russia over the past decade or so most compelling. Russians have an historical respect for strong leaders and after Yeltsin died Putin was brought in to fill that role of the traditional strong Russian leader. But nobody knew him and over the years he revealed his true nature. He consolidated power, jailed opposition figures, brought private companies under state control, seized control of the media, and many actually believe had some hand in the murder of numerous members of the press.

Gradually, the younger generations grew tired of Putin’s authoritarian style and this has spread to older generations, the growing middle class and even elites. This has resulted in the largest street demonstrations since Soviet times including a Christmas Eve outpouring in 2011 of over 120,000 people who poured into the frigid Moscow streets.

Change, it seemed was finally at hand.   

But you cannot underestimate the role of obedience and conformity on the human psyche. You also cannot underestimate a leader’s ability to manipulate his subjects.  Putin had Medvedev who has a softer style and held the hands of concerned oligarchs and common people telling them everything would be okay. Just prior to the recent elections Putin and Medvedev gave Russians assurances that things would change and that they would have a voice.

Now, after the unprecedented election of Putin for a third term, nothing could be further from the truth.   

Putin has intensified his efforts at silencing his critics with Parliament about to enact outrageous fines and jail penalties for demonstrators and their organizers. The iron fist is back.

Our profession can learn some serious lessons from this. Tomorrow, an historic meeting will take place among a diverse group of chiropractors and organizations to address the crisis facing the profession centered on the Council on Chiropractic Education.

Compromise is on the agenda.

We are being told that compromise is necessary in the efforts to reign in the CCE and protect the future of subluxation centered chiropractic. During the 20 years that I have been involved in the politics of chiropractic I have heard this repeatedly from our leadership. Time after time we have been told by the old guard that we must work with those that seek to marginalize us. That we must have a seat at the table with them. That we can change them from within.

This strategy has never worked. It has failed every time. And there is no greater example than the accreditation crisis. The only thing compromise has done is to further entrench, consolidate and expand the power of these leaders.  

There have only been three generations of chiropractors. The first generation struggled with the establishment and development of the profession, went to jail for it and fought for licensure in every state. The second generation finished those battles, but then turned their attention quickly to other things: insurance equality and third party pay. Through monumental efforts this second generation accomplished those goals and ushered in the Mercedes 80’s. The money was flowing. Practices were big. Management companies teaching chiropractors how to maximize reimbursement flourished. It was a heady time. The profession worked itself into a drunken, insurance driven stupor and the Chiropractic Cartel emerged.

Now, we see the waning days of the second generation and the dawning of the third generation’s role in the stewardship of our profession. And as the third generation wakes up they come to find the aftermath of what amounts to a profession wide frat party – pink flamingos in the pool and the whole nine yards. You can almost hear the collective questioning: What the hell did you guys do? Look at this mess!

Its time for the third generation of chiropractors to do the work that needs to be done. To clean up the mess left over when a once great profession lost its way.

So the next time you are confronted by authoritarian leadership within the profession, leadership that tells you what the rules are, what you can or cannot do, to speak when spoken to and that they have all the answers – just look at their track record.

As Dr. Phil would say “How’s that workin’ out for ya?

As always I look forward to your feedback, comments and suggestions.

Matthew McCoy DC, MPH
Publisher – McCoy Press