Secondary adustments

Sociologists define Secondary Adjustments as the practice whereby a member of an Organisation would use said organisation’s tools or means to achieve his or her own targets, unbeknown to the organisation. The individual seeks to achieve his or her enjoyment of fine things in life by adapting the common interest to his own, while at the same time strengthening the organisation’s institutional stability by reaffirming his or her own loyalty to the organisation. Miguel Blesa (finances), Hosni Mubarak (politics) or Marcial Maciel (religion) are exemplary cases of secondary adjustments within their respective organisations.

In slave or feudal societies, secondary adjustments were common practice and wide ranging within the working masses, since pre-capitalist organisations lacked the tools to either limit or control this practice. Slaves and serfs in the plebe would pilfer a large part of what they produced, and both slave empires and feudal lords succumbed to the infidelity of those who they ruled over and to the generalised fraud within their production means.

Fulfilling what others expect from us is one of the existential worries that we all have. Life within a society has so many advantages, that for many, from their adolescence until their death, it flows as mere subjects to the expectations placed upon them by others. A large part of the individuals in the organisations led by Miguel Blesa, Hosni Mubarak or Marcial Macias, were part of the group of human beings who spend their lives overwhelmed by the look of others, and who by their own existential negligence, facilitate the secondary adjustments which occur in all types of human endeavours.

Frequently, loyal and conventional individuals can take their organisation to the top of the power through the invaluable help of luck. Caja Madrid’s profits were never as large as when under Blesa’s direction, neither was Egypt ever better governed than as under Mubarak, and never were the Opus Dei or the Jesuits as cornered as when faced with Maciel’s brunt.

On the other hand, evolutionary pressures have moulded our brain so that coherence is prioritised over all other rules of functioning, which, according to Daniel Kahneman, explains how once we have changed our opinion, we partly lose the capability to remember how we thought before. Thus, with no doubt, Blesa will be remembered as the man responsible for Bankia’s nationalisation, Mubarak as a blood-thirsty dictator and Maciel as lover of under-age sex. By only archiving the final version of any story, our brains supress any ambiguity, deleting any prior information which may diminish the coherence of the story.

Understanding the world on the basis of coherent stories, rather than on that of true stories, has had clear evolutionary advantages for the human race, particularly so for some professionals like journalists, economists and accountants.

Hatred is also an adaptive virtue of the species and also serves the basic purpose of coherence. The world becomes a more comprehensible and predictable place for someone who hates, since hatred allows them to link causes and effects, and reduce the anxiety produced by the complexity of life. If we understand the brain as a ecosystem in which clusters of neurons compete to control behaviour, hatred of others would help us to overcome the inner chaos that we are and that prevents us from acting and taking decisions.


In evolutionary terms, the most productive hatred for society is that of the strong against the weak. This gives the opportunity, to those who do not succumb to the hatred of others, to overcome such a human limitation as cognitive greed. Either by coalitions of neurons (David Eagleman) which allow them a higher degree of focus on their aims than the rest of people or by the traditional combination of sociology of deferred achievement and of compensatory behaviours, it is the case that being hated can be the prerequisite to being an artist, a scientist or a remarkable member of society. One way or another, one has to recognise and be grateful to, the old inhabitants of Castrillo Matajudios (Burgos province, Spain) for their contribution to the 175 Nobel prizes (amongst many other achievements) achieved until know by the people of Israel.

One of the biggest human preoccupations is to fulfil what others expect of us. Sadly for humanity, this desire to be like everyone else, on its own, would not have led our species any further than being carrion-eating Australopithecus. Being hatred, as an individual, is a curse, but it can be a virtue for the species, that unable by itself to go much farther that reproductive functioning, delegates onto some of its members,  by the brutal method of running for one’s life, the amplification and intensification of nice things in life.

The best of civilisation, the intensification of the nice things in life, is sustained, paradoxically, on intellectual overdrive and the suffering of a few, just like our individual lives, rest on the hundreds of thousands of massacred sperm (our siblings) and our brain, that person known by our family and friends, has created, as it is, over the murder of a hundred thousand million innocent neurons in the last stages of pregnancy.


Fernando Alvarez

About the Author
Sociologist of university education; public Employee of the Kingdom of Spain, in the area of public finance; ten year chairman of the Israel Association of Solidarity Spain; regular contributor in the economic press Spain.