Pulling Rank with Robert Fuller, Ph.D.

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What happens when one spouse intimidates his or her partner day after day after day? What impact does it have if an employee's dignity is stripped away by abusive corporate policies? When a powerful government flexes its muscle against weaker nations, what price will it pay? These are questions Robert Fuller explores in his discussion of "rankism," defined as the abuse of power inherent in rank. He explores the short- and long-term effects of bullying by individuals and institutions, and lays the groundwork for how we can overcome abuse of power in our relationships, on the job, and within our government. The solutions may surprise you. According to Fuller, "Rank is not the culprit. We need, in order to organize human affairs, to have certain ranks with certain powers, just as we do in the U. S. government. But we need to have checks and balances on those ranks." Sadly, the checks and balances provided by our Constitution seem to be falling by the wayside, and Robert Fuller's theories may hold the key to restoring balance in our political system and every other area of our lives. (hosted by Michael Toms)


Robert Fuller, Ph.D. is a physicist and former president of Oberlin College. He has consulted with Indira Gandhi, met with Jimmy Carter regarding the President's Commission on World Hunger, and worked to defuse the Cold War in Russia when it was known as the USSR. As Fuller reflected on his career he realized that he had been, at different times in his life, a somebody and a nobody. His periodic sojourns into “Nobodyland” led him to identify rankism - the abuse of the power inherent in rank - and ultimately to write the book Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank. He has become a recognized leader of the dignity movement to overcome rankism and keynoted a Dignity for All conference hosted by the President of Bangladesh. His many other accomplishments include co-authoring the text book Mathematics of Classical and Quantum Physics.

Robert Fuller’s books include:

To view a video about the work of Robert W. Fuller click here, or go to his website: www.robertworksfuller.com.

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How you can overcome an abuse of power in your personal relationships
  • Why our democracy must evolve if it is to survive
  • Why it's dangerous to subject people to indignity
  • How democracy can play an key role in our schools, in our churches, and in the workplace
  • Why abuse of power is a root cause of terrorism
Host: Michael Toms      Interview Date: 10/20/2004       Program Number: 3069