I often think that a fair bit of things related to this stuff is all bullshit, but I have to say, I find the category “non-antagonistic contradiction” in Mao’s writings to be really interesting. It makes me want to read more Mao. (And makes me wish I remember more of the stuff I know I’ve read but somehow didn’t retain.)

Anyhow, it seems to me quite reasonable to say that in any organization that wants to or objectively does contest the prevailing states of affairs in some way, there will likely be disagreement. Given the potential stakes for these organizations, disagreement can easily become conflict. This stuff happens, in my experience.

It seems to me it’s important to avoid treating the other side in a conflict as analogous to the organizations’ opponents. It’s also important to avoid becoming narrowly focused on getting one’s way in a conflict for the sake of getting one’s way. On a related note, it’s important to try hard to tell the difference between one’s own investments in the outcomes of a conflict and a more sober assessment of a conflicts’ implications for the organization (and the class). It is particularly important that one not get into the habit of treating all disagreement as always-already conflict. It’s is also particularly important that one understand how conflicts and disagreements link to larger matters, again as part of not simply seeking to have one’s way.

Some conflicts will be composed of multiple conflicts. It is important to see how conflicts link up (or how pursuit of one can be at cross purposes with pursuit of another). It is especially important to retain as much involvement as is feasible in other work in the organization beyond intra-organizational conflict, for the sake of one’s credibility and even more so for one’s happiness and effectiveness.