Addressing Fractionation: Principles for Arbitrating the “Common Good”

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D.


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

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D.

is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu.

He is known nationally and 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 15 edited books, and more than 250 articles, chapters, book reviews, and popular pieces.


First published at:TMS: Addressing Fractionation: Principles for Arbitrating the “Common Good” 

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