Thoughts on “tribalism” – some aspects and dilemma’s

Here’s a thought I had:

I have always questioned “racism”, “discrimination”, “bias”, and similar ideas.  To me, these are political terms.  Its not a term that refers to “human” things but, rather, political problems and points of view.  Its something that is valid only if you want to accept the political theory behind it or not.  I tend to look at things from a human perspective and, from this angle, you cannot look at things politically . . . it will only distort things.  Because of this, I don’t really acknowledge the term “racism”, “discrimination”, “bias”, and similar ideas as meaning much beyond a political statement.  When someone uses the term it means we are talking about politics not human reality.  I tend to see something more to it all . . .

“TRIBALISM”

What things like “racism”, “discrimination”, “bias”, and all that refers to, on the human level, are qualities that are often found in what I tend to call “tribalism”.  As I use it here, a “tribe” refers to a “perceived body” of something, made up of specific qualities.  These are perceived as being bonded or unified into a single entity usually be these specific qualities.  Anything that does not display the qualities of the “perceived body” are viewed as standing apart from it and are therefore viewed as being something totally different . . . a “non-tribe”, so-to-speak.  The “tribe” generally evokes a sense of safety, security, and similar feelings.  With the “non-tribe” there is usually  feelings such as alienation, apprehension, fear, and such.  Points of view that take this perspective create the quality of “tribalism”. 

Though this idea began with looking at socially based tribal behavior in primitive tribes I began to see that it extended way beyond a social tribe and entailed a general manner of interpreting and living in the world.  This “tribalism”, then, goes beyond society and social relations. The social form of “tribalism” is really only one form of “tribalism”.  In actuality, there are many manifestations of what a “tribe” is.  The “tribe” appears in many different ways and entails a whole range of forms such as:

  • Race and physical characteristics
  • Cultures and ways of life
  • Clans, families, groups, etc.
  • Religions and beliefs
  • Moralities, views of right and wrong, etc.
  • Opinions and points of view
  • The physical appearance of a person appears
  • Unique qualities about a person
  • A persons character or manner
  • How a person see themselves in relation to society
  • A persons feelings about themselves
  • A persons sense of who they are

One thing that is clear is that we can see that “tribalism” reflects a sense of humanity in its many forms.  It encompasses the whole range of perception of humanity from strangers, to society, to family, and to one self.  In this way, “tribalism” is a very human affair entailing all of human life.  This is one reason why I emphasize the need to look at these things from a human angle . . . and to leave politics out!!!

Looking at it from another angle we could say that “tribalism” reflects a perception of humanity in these forms:

  • Humanity as a body (culture, society, etc.)
  • Humanity as an idea (religion, beliefs, etc.)
  • Humanity as ones self (how a person feels about themselves, a persons sense of who they are, etc.).

In this way, we can see that “tribalism” refers to a mentality or a way of perceiving humanity in a holistic and all encompassing way.

I should also point out that “tribalism” is a naturally appearing and normal human phenomena . . . we all do it in some form or another.  In this way, “tribalism” is very much a part of the human experience.  As such, it has good and bad qualities with it.   

Because “tribalism” is associated with a holistic perception of humanity, the basic mentality seen in “tribalism” is applied to all the different aspects of humanity which, though seeming different, are really looked at from the same angle.  For example, a stranger is treated similarly as one treats ones perception of ones self.  A good example is how the effects of “racism” and ones conscience are very similar.  In “racism” one dislikes a person because they are different than they are . . . with ones conscience one dislikes ones self because one is different from ones “moral code”.  In both cases, it can lead to severe and harsh feelings.  In “racism” it can lead to violence . . . with ones conscience one can literally “destroy oneself” for the rest of ones life or even lead to suicide.  In actuality, these reflect the same mentality just applied differently and in a different way.  As a result, they have different manifestations.

Because “tribalism” is related with the sense of humanity it causes a number of things to happen:

  • That humanity senses itself as a whole and a unity.
  • That humanity projects itself onto this “unity” of humanity.
  • That humanity is treated as if all of humanity were “us”.

Basically, what all this means that if we see people that are human we tend to react and treat is as an extension of our selves.  In some respects, humanity has a quality much like dogs who bark when they see other dogs they don’t know but don’t bark at any other animal . . . they obviously sense a “unity” with other dogs and react to it.

Interestingly, much of this reaction to the “unity” of humanity is based on our perceptions of ourselves which is projected onto the “unity” of humanity.  In short, we treat humanity as if it were ourselves.  This is true whether you are part of the “tribe” or not.  Typically, though, the “tribe” gets “special favor” and the “non-tribe” is treated more coldly and impersonally, which can create problems (see below).  What this means is that the whole of humanity is perceived as part of ones self but there develops a “favoritism” toward the “tribe” This general attitude reflects the mentality of “tribalism”.

SOME PRINCIPLES

The “narrowing down tendency”

The distinct qualities that defines a “tribe” tends to be viewed as something distinct and separate in the world.  As a result, it develops qualities such as:

  • It is removed from the world.
  • It is opposed to the world.

This creates a strong sense of the “tribe” and the “non-tribe”.  The result of this is a mentality where things are as if “narrowed down” to the qualities of the “tribe” . . . this becomes the “focus”.  Everything else is disregarded.  I call this the “narrowing down tendency” and is a distinct trait with “tribalism”.  This means that ones focus and emphasis is on a narrowed part of the world (the “tribe”).

Some of the qualities that the “narrowing down tendency” does include:

  • Manageability.  In other words, it “narrows” life down to an acceptable level that can be easily managed.   In this way, it shows a basic need of humanity . . . of taking the vast, myriad, overwhelming, and endless aspects of life and reducing it down to a form that is easy to “digest”.  The fact is that life is made up of so many things that there is no way a single person can incorporate it all.  We have to “narrow it down” so that we can manage it.
  • Integrity of the self.  Keeping things on an acceptable level allows things to become a “part of you”.  This shows that one of the needs of “narrowing down” is the restricting of things to the point that one can consolidate the sense of self and, in this way, one can feel a person and a whole entity.  The fact is that the self is not as big as the world.  We cannot accept the world as the self . . . we need something smaller, “manageable”, and something our self can accept.  
  • Security.  This “narrowing down” also creates a sense of safety and security.  This is primarily because one is not overwhelmed by the world.
  • We feel “in control” of our lives.  By restricting things to a small number we “have a hold” on life and the world making us feel that we have control over our lives.

What we seen, then, is that “tribalism” entails the maintenance of ones self in the world as well as promoting a better relationship with the worldBecause this is such an important part of life, “tribalism” tends to bring up many “deep” feelings, often related with need for self-preservation.   In fact, one could say that “tribalism” is a manifestation of the instinct for self-preservation.   This is something to consider and, in addition, something to respect no matter how it appears.  Because of this, “tribalism” is closely associated with a sense of safety and security . . . self-preservation.  In fact, these qualities are probably what makes “tribalism” so critical and have such value.  It also makes it serious and gives it such depth.  It can also cause tragic reactions.

Strength and weaknesses of “tribalism”

This instinct of self-preservation has a quality of a double-edge sword . . . it manifests both good and bad qualities depending on the situation.  That is to say, the self-preservation qualities of “tribalism” has strengths and weaknesses:

  • Strength – it holds things together, makes one whole (as a society or person), and gives a sense of safety
  • Weaknesses – it can conjure up tendencies of self-preservation which could entail things like hatred and violence

In these ways, “tribalism” can display both good and bad qualities.  On one hand it is “tribalism” that has kept many peoples, and people, together in extremely adverse conditions . . . without “tribalism” they probably would of died.  On the other hand “tribalism” can cause great violence to other people, or people, to the point of death and even extermination.

Being “accepted” or “not accepted”

Since “tribalism” is a “narrowing down” one of the effects of it is that it creates an “accepted” and “not accepted” point of view . . . you’re either part of the tribe or you’re not.  In many ways, this is a defining trait of “tribalism”. The degree of this “acceptance” or “non acceptance” can vary, of course.  Its like a spectrum.  It can range from a marked demarcation, on one end, to almost no demarcation on the other end. My observation, though, is that everyone displays “tribalism” . . . its a human trait.  To have no demarcation of “acceptance” and “non acceptance” only means that you do not follow that particular form of “tribalism”.  Instead, you display it in other forms.  For example, “racism” professes to not be racist but it actually is . . . it just exchanges form.  They condemn the degradation of people of other races which is A form of “tribalism”.  The problem is that they, in turn, degrade people who do not display their form of “tribalism” (calling people “racist” and such).  In so doing, they actually have created a new form of “racism”, so to speak, by degrading other people who don’t take their version.  Its the same mentality recreated into a new form!  This shows how prevalent “tribalism” is.  It also shows the illusion of “acceptance”.  Just because you “accept” your form of “tribalism” doesn’t mean that you don’t display its negative sides in other ways.  As I said, everyone displays “tribalism” in one form or another.  Accordingly, everyone displays its strengths and weaknesses and its positive and negative sides.  Its just a question of what form it takes.

The reaction to “non acceptance”

Typically, the things that are “accepted” tend to be taken as a “part of you” and who you are.  The things that are”not accepted” are not accepted as a “part of you”.  As a result, things that are “not accepted” are generally treated impersonally and coldly and often without consideration or even humanity.  The way this manifests itself varies.  Some of the ways this can appear include:

  • Indifference
  • Uncertainty
  • Apprehension
  • Contempt or disgust
  • Fear
  • Hatred
  • Violence

How one reacts, and its degree, to whats “not accepted” depends on a number of conditions, such as:

  • A persons or cultures character – some peoples, or people, are more inclined to be hateful or violent than others, for example
  • Past history – bad experiences with people, or other “tribes”, can affect how one reacts to what is “not accepted”
  • Situations of stress – this can make people more prone to be apprehensive of other people
  • The specific situation – different situations often promote different unique reactions

What this means is that there are a number of reactions with a lot of variations.  Not only that, the reaction can vary from good to bad.  For example, sometimes apprehension can lead to an inquiry and understanding which can lead to respect.  At other times, apprehension can lead to fear, hatred, and possibly violence.

HUMANITY AS A BODY – “SOCIAL TRIBALISM”

Society and self-preservation

At one time, society was a matter of life and death.  That is to say, society needed a great and strong bond in order to survive.  This came in the form of “tribalism”.  In fact, “tribalism” is what allowed humanity to endure the conflicts, stresses, dilemma’s, and so on of life.  Without “tribalism” humanity probably would not of survived . . . its the glue that cemented us together.  This is particularly true in societies that have qualities such as:

  • They are “primitive” (that is, they live a simpler way of life).
  • They have a small population.
  • They live close to nature.

Because of this, the “tribal” qualities are strong in these societies and are instrumental in holding them together.  Typically, in these types of societies, there is an emphasis on the “tribal bond” and unity in the population as well as being “accepted”.   That is to say, the emphasis is on the “acceptance” and not with a preoccupation with what is “not accepted”, which becomes more prevalent with larger societies.  Much of this emphasis on “acceptance” would figure much in the mentality of these societies.  The social structure would primarily be based in this principle. It would become so important of a need that this “acceptance” would develop new, and different, avenues of expression that went beyond the social structure.  It would extend into nature and life overall.  It would figure prominently in things like:

  • Religion
  • Ritual
  • Magic
  • Belief systems of how the world works

These would develop ways of a “stricter acceptance” to life, which is “beyond human” creating a sense of sacredness.  In this way, the following of a “stricter acceptance” would make one closer to the sanctity of life and would be critical in feeling closer to life.  What we see, then, is the development of “sacred tribalism”. In “sacred tribalism” a person gains power, depth, meaning, etc. in seeking the “proper thing to do” (the proper act, behavior, idea, belief, god, ritual, etc.).  This “proper thing to do” becomes a “tribe” in itself but in a new form.  The “proper thing to do” is representative of the “narrowing down tendency”.  So we see that to be part of a specific “sacred tribe” a person must adhere to specific ways of doing things such as:

  • Specific physical movements, such as dance
  • Specific attitudes and points of views
  • Specific beliefs
  • Specific authorities
  • Specific acts, such as in ritual

In doing these specific things one becomes part of the “sacred tribe”.  If a person does not do them then they are not part of the “sacred tribe”, they are not “accepted”.  “Sacred tribalism” reveals an interesting aspect of the power of this “acceptance”.  It shows that in doing the “proper thing”, and being “accepted”, a person is perceived as being part of the “sacred tribe” and thereby gaining things such as:

  • A security
  • A power
  • A meaning

In this way, religious belief is nothing but a more intense form of “tribalism”.   It is another testimony of the great strength that “tribalism” offers.  It suggests that, without some form of “tribalism” we are vulnerable, weak, and with no value.

As the societies grow (that is, they entail more people, become more complicated, and move away from nature) the “tribal” qualities change.  With growth comes increasing problems.  This causes a condition of a history of problems which can lead to a more harsher reaction as a result.  This means a tendency to do things like:

  • Attacking people who are different
  • Hatred or bad feelings
  • Violence

In other words, it appears that social growth causes a deeper response of self-preservation than the conditions of nature!  As a result of this, with social growth we see a greater tendency to see the negative qualities of “social tribalism”.  Since “tribalism” is based in a human reaction it shows that there is the self-preservation tendency created by nature is different than the self-preservation of humanity. nature is the ultimate authority  horror, acceptance, and working with it  more of a submission humanity has lesser authority  disgust, hatred,  a tendency to react and not work with   more of an active rebellion

The dilemma of the negative reaction of “social tribalism”

The self-defensive nature of “tribalism” often makes negative reactions somewhat severe.  This has created one of the great dilemma’s of this tendency.  Several things have greatly aggravated this recently:

  • Overpopulation – this makes people more “condensed” and deprives people of space
  • Different people impinging on other people – this has caused a tendency of forcing one form of “tribalism” onto another people or in conflicts of different forms
  • Technology, weapons of war, etc. – this has made the negative aspects of “tribalism” particularly deadly and severe
  • Mass communication – this exposes people to conflicting viewpoints, peoples, forms of “tribalism”, etc.
  • The fall of culture, belief, etc. – this is basically the undermining of “tribalism”

These situations have aggravated “tribalism” to a great extent.  As a result, many negative aspects of “tribalism” has appeared.  Some of these have been particularly severe.  The best example would be the holocaust.

Christianity – an attempt at a solution

Much of western society uses Christian principles as the “solution” to the negative side of “tribalism”.  Interestingly, Christianity is rooted in the negative effects of “tribalism” many centuries ago, namely of Roman “tribalism” and its conflict with Jewish “tribalism”.  Its main themes could probably be described as love and peace. Despite all its professes I see no evidence that Christianity has alleviated the negative effects of “tribalism”.  In actuality, Christianity just created a new form!  We must remember that some of the greatest abuses in history have been said in the name of Christianity! The biggest benefit of Christianity, I think, is that it has “softened the blow”, at least in some cases, but it has, by no means, ended it.  My personal feelings is that the biggest benefit of the Christian message of love and peaces is not love and peace but, actually, promoting understanding.  This has caused an awareness that people are different and “not bad”.  As a result, it has caused a slight lessening of the negative affects of what is “not accepted”.

Trying to destroy “social tribalism” and its effects

Because of the negative effects of “tribalism”, which have become somewhat severe recently (the horror of the holocaust is on everyone’s mind), there have been great attempts to practically destroy it.  Several things have tried to do this:

  • Christianity
  • Americanism and democracy
  • Liberalism
  • Nihilism

The problem with these is that they are generally trying to destroy “tribalism” as a whole.  But, as I said above, “tribalism” is one of the great strengths of humanity and what holds it together.  Because of this, the effects of trying to destroy “tribalism” has reflected the fall of these strengths.  Its appeared a number of ways:

  • A tendency to violence.  This is because, without the security of the “tribe”, we feel threatened and are more prone to be violent.
  • A growing sense of fear and paranoia.  Again, this reveals the lack of the security of the “tribe”.
  • A growing lack of unity.  There’s no “tribe” to belong to and to hold us together.
  • A growing confusion and uncertainty.  Without the “tribe” there is lack of direction.
  • An absence of belonging and identity.  We feel we do not belong and are not sure who we are.

In many ways, the undermining of “tribalism” is the undermining of humanity and that is exactly what its doing. 

It seems, to me, that undermining “tribalism” tends to make other forms of “tribalism” more stronger.  In other words, if the need for “tribalism” is reduced in one form it will compensate itself in another form.  This fact, I think, shows that there is a need for “tribalism” . . . we can’t live without it. This is part of the irony of “tribalism”.

“Tribalism” and respect

Interestingly, my observation is that one of the greatest sources of respect for other people (that is, other “tribes”) is through “tribalism”.  Basically, when one respects ones “tribe” (culture, people, beliefs, etc.) one respects other peoples “tribe”.  This doesn’t just “happen”, though.  It seems to reflect a particular character more than anything else.  Some of the qualities of this “tribal character” include:

  • A good attitude about life
  • An awareness of others
  • An absence of problems, dilemma’s, and conflicts, particularly with other “tribes” or peoples – this creates an absence of “bad feelings”

For me, personally, I’ve found that the more I have respect for me, who I am, my culture, and people, the more respect I have for other people.

It seems that “learned respect”, as is taught by Christianity and the U.S., is not that effective.  Telling people that they “need to learn to respect other people” is really rather superficial.  It works for some people but doesn’t last in a population.  The greatest effect,it seems to me, is when it is part of the “tribal character” of a people, culture, or society.

But, at the same time, “tribalism” is oftentimes the cause for lack of respect.  This generally reflects problems within ones “tribe”.  In other words, the lack of respect is often reflective of problems within the tribe.  Some examples of these include:

  • Interior conflicts and disputes
  • Various forms of stress and dilemmas
  • Bad experiences

A good example is the Nazi’s who, as we all know, killed many people.  We must remember that this was after a war, which they lost, and which caused great stress, conflicts, poverty, and difficulties in its aftermath.  My guess is that these all contributed and instigated the particularly severe Nazi “tribalism” that we saw.  Had the stress and conflicts caused by WWI not of happened its possible that Nazism may of never even developed.

When a “tribe” has stress and problems its not uncommon for them to “project” it onto another “non-tribe”.  In this way, the way these tribes interpret other “non-tribes” is more reflective of itself than the “non-tribe”.  Its because of this “projection” that people see things in “non-tribes” that are not there, such as threats, evil, bad intentions, and so on which do not exist.  In some respects, the “non-tribe” becomes something like a scapegoat where all the bad, problems, etc. of the tribe is identified.  This seems to do a number of things:

  • It places all the stress, conflicts, problems, etc. on something else other than themselves
  • It gives them something to express their frustrations on
  • It gives the illusion that the “tribe” has no problems

What this shows is that problems within a “tribe” are quickly transferred to other “non-tribes”.  This tendency has caused a lot of problems for humanity as a whole. 

The need to respect “social tribalism”

My observation is that people are naturally “racist”, “biased”, or “tribal” in orientation.  That’s the way it is.  It is part of the ways of humanity.  As a result, one should really expect it.  The normal response, at least in the U.S., is as if to villainize and attempt to “exterminate” it which, I think, is more like a denial than anything else.  Morality, the American Constitution, protests, etc. isn’t going to change it.  It is too ingrained in the human character to “exterminate” or get rid of with political ideology.

I’ve always felt that we should understand and respect “tribalism”, as a whole, and not condemn it.  This point of view I take became very evident on a trip to San Francisco in the 1980’s, I think.  We went into a Chinese herbal store in China town (we were wandering around there).  The Chinese man at the counter looked at us with horror but he knew that he couldn’t kick us out (though I’m sure he wanted to).  I know that, to him, this place was for Chinese only and, accordingly, we were not welcome.  It was at this point that I began to realize how I viewed things.  Instead of getting upset . . . which is what some people do, I accepted and respected it.  I wanted to say, “I understand, this is a Chinese thing” and walk out.  More importantly, I understood, intuitively, that there was “something more” behind his feelings and that there was, in actuality, no malicious intent, which is what other people assume.  This, really, started my inquiry into what I now call “tribalism”.

This, of course, does not mean that I’m saying that the negative effects of “tribalism” are “OK”.  Its really an acknowledgement of the good and beneficial sides, that “tribalism” is part of the human character and is needed.

HUMANITY AS AN IDEA – THE “TRIBALISM OF IDEAS”

Typically, we tend to “accept” what we “agree” with.  In this case, then, “agreeing” with an idea makes that “idea” our “tribe”, so to speak.  Any other idea is viewed in a similar “non acceptance” stance as described above. Generally, ideas do not contain a “threat” to them, at least by themselves.  As a result, ideas tends to not evoke the self-preservation tendency that we see with society and which is described above.  This, of course, changes if the ideas become associated with society and similar things.  Despite this, we get many “tribal” mentalities with ideas often evoking deep and serious feelings leading to arguments that could even lead to things like hatred and so on. In some cases, the “tribalism of ideas” often turns into, or becomes a basis, for social tribalism.  A good example would be religion and politics.

HUMANITY AS ONES SELF – THE “TRIBALISM OF SELF”

Much of our life is dominated by the “tribalism of self”.  How well we fit into this “self tribe” determines how happy we are in life.  It creates security, integrity, and wholeness. The nature of the self is that it creates a sense of “right” or “properness”.  In effect, the self is small and requires us to “narrow down” things so the self can have a grasp of things.  As a result, the self is greatly associated with the “narrowing down tendency”.   which creates the feelings as described above. some of the origins of this sense of “right” include:

  • Morality we follow what is “right”  this can often evoke the self-preservation tendency
  • personal inclinations and experiences
  • reactions to ones self
  • stress
  • bad feelings

The “tribalism of self” is also something that continually changes.  It changes with age, experiences, changes in life (such as getting married), and so on.  Because of this, we are always trying to “catch up” with the “self tribe” and to seek its “acceptance”. In many cases of “tribalism of self” the negative effects are inflicted on ourselves by ourselves (whereas in social tribalism, for example, it tends to be inflicted on others).  We, in a sense, torment ourselves.  In effect, much of our suffering and unhappiness in life, originates with our own “tribalism of self”.

OTHER EXAMPLES OF “TRIBALISM”

Other aspects of “tribalism” include things such as:

Identity

“Tribalism” is crucial for identity.  In fact, one could say that “tribalism” is the base of identity.  The stronger the “tribalism” the stronger the identity.  In this way, “tribalism” is critical for a sense of a person or a people.

This means that identity is affected by the strengths and weaknesses of “tribalism”.  In particular, the security of identity is the same as the security caused by “tribalism”.

In addition, identity ebbs and flows depending on the condition of “tribalism”.  This causes a number of identity problems such as:

  • “Under-identity”.  Low, or inadequate, “tribalism” causes a lack of identity.
  • “Misguided identity”.   This is when you think you’re something when you’re not.
  • “Over-identity”.  A “tribalism” that is too strong creates an identity so strong that it can literally strangle a person.  It often creates a very rigid and constraining society, culture, or person.

Territorialism

Because of the “narrowing down tendency” there is a tendency to emphasize ones “territory” or the land that one accepts as “ones own”.  In fact, one could say that territorialism is actually a “tribalism in physical space”.  As a result, it entails many of the qualities described above with “tribalism”.  As a result, ones “territory” tends to revolve around things such as:

  • Identity
  • Security
  • It sets a people apart from other “tribes”

This is one reason why ones “land” is viewed so seriously.

Roles

Many of the attitudes that surround a persons role is associated with “tribalism”.  In fact, it probably wouldn’t be too far off to say that a persons role is really a more “personal” form of social tribalism.

Roles are generally viewed from two angles

  • Personal.  It affects how one views ones self as a person.
  • Social.  It reflects how one see’s one self in society.

In these ways, roles defines who one is, what one does, and what ones place is in relation to society.  This allows for growth and development in a person as an individual and in society.

Social status

The different gradations of social status, or social position, can be compared to “gradations of social tribalism”.  Social status is often closely associated with a persons role in society.

In some cases, social status, or class, becomes a “tribe” in itself, a “tribe within a tribe”.  As a result of this, we see the good and bad qualities displayed.  This makes it so that social status can both benefit and tear a society apart, depending on conditions.  We must remember that civilizations are founded on the strength of social structure.  At the same time, it can tear it apart.  This shows that the strengths and weaknesses of many societies are found interiorly, within itself.

In fact, I tend to believe that civilizations are built up, and created, by the “tribe within a tribe”, only for it to tear it apart later.  Perhaps this can be described as a definition of civilization?  This reveals the great enigmatic quality of “tribalism”, of its good and bad quality (see below).

Fame, prestige, social ideals

Things such as fame, prestige, and social ideals reflect a form of “tribalism”.  They are often closely associated with things like social status and therefore reflect the “tribe within a tribe” point of view.  These are nothing but the specific qualities that the “tribe” views highly.  By catering to these qualities one “rises up” and becomes part of a more-favored  “tribe within a tribe”.  As a result, of this “rising up” one gains the benefits of “tribalism” such as a security.

Relating with society

Many social problems are caused by the effects of “tribalism”.  Some examples include:

  • Too weak of “tribalism”.  People become lost, alienated, and confused.
  • Too strong of “tribalism”.  People become too rigid, robot-like, snobbish, arrogant, etc.
  • A failure of “tribalism”.  This is often seen in conditions of overpopulation where “tribalism” doesn’t work effectively.  People begin to not know who they are or feel a part of anything.  This often makes people feel insecure and vulnerable, which is what we are seeing in this society.

Knowledge, right and wrong, and morality

Any form of conceptual thought is really a form of “tribalism”.  This is because knowledge “narrows down” things down, defines it, and gives it a specific quality.  In this way, knowledge becomes a “tribe” in itself.  This is why any form of “knowing” tends to narrow things down to a true/false, or right/wrong situation.  In addition, it makes it so that we “belong” or “don’t belong” to the point of view of a particular form of knowledge (which is really a “tribe” in itself). This reflects the very nature and quality of “tribalism”, except on a more knowledge-based perspective.

This same tendency tends to reflect itself in the right and wrong of morality.  When one stays within “moral code” one stays within ones “tribe”.  When one is “immoral” one strays into the “non-tribe” which means one feels the effects of not being “accepted”.  In this way, one could say that morality is nothing but a form of being “accepted” by the “tribalism” of morality.

Decoration, design, style, etc.

Things like decoration, fashion, style, etc. reflect qualities of “tribalism”.  This can appear in a number of ways:

  • The style that one creates for ones self, such as the clothes one wears
  • The style of what one does, such as ones character, manner of speech, and such
  • The style of ones surroundings, such as how one decorates ones house

By staying within the specific style some qualities are often found:

  • They often these become associated with identity and greater meaning in life . . . which happen to be some of the deeper aspects of “tribalism”.
  • It also offers security by familiarity and identification.

In these ways, “style” is a reflection of “tribalism” and, accordingly, one gains some of the benefits that “tribalism” offers, such as identity.

Mental problems

It seems, to me, that a lot of mental problems are often associated with “tribalism”.  One could say that many mental problems are a result of the loss of “tribalism”, in one form or another.  As a result of this loss, there is an attempt at things like:

  • Creating a “tribalism” to deal with a specific situation, such as a false image of oneself or reality.
  • Maintaining a “tribalism”, such as to maintain an identity or thought that makes one feel “in control”, even though it is out-of-place or doesn’t work.
  • Exaggerating a “tribalism” to gain from its effects, such as security.

These offer things such as:

  • A sense of control, of narrowing things down to an acceptable level.
  • An overall sense of security, that one is not vulnerable.
  • A sense of “personal integrity”, that one is “whole”.

In fact, many mental problems can be described as a “desperate attempt at tribalism” as a reaction to some threat, real or imagined.  In this way, the symptom really becomes an “attempt at tribalism”. 

Mother instinct

The female often develops a tendency for an intensive and unique form of “tribalism” as a result of the mother instinct.  Much of this originates from the “victim mentality” that the mother instinct tends to create (see my article “More thoughts on the “female-as-victim” – revealing aspects of the mother instinct“).  These tend to create a tendency to feel vulnerable, threatened, abused, etc.  As a result, it tends to predispose the female to things like neurosis or mental problems.  In other words, the “victim mentality” of the mother instinct tends to create a “desperate attempt at tribalism” in the female.   This often creates qualities somewhat similarly as in mental problems.  This makes it so that the female life is often dominated by a “tribalism” to the point that it actually impairs them and even the people around them.  This “attempt at tribalism” often appears as a tendency where things must be the “right way” around females, they are easily offended or bothered, they see threats everywhere, and so on.

THE DOUBLE-EDGE QUALITY OF “TRIBALISM” – THE ENIGMA

From the above we see that there is a double-edge quality to “tribalism”.  That is to say, there is definite good and bad qualities in “tribalism”.  This gives “tribalism” an enigma quality to it:  is it good . . . is it bad?

There are like two extremes to “tribalism”:

  1. Positive – Integrity, identity, and security
  2. Negative – Strictness, hatred, and violence

The dilemma caused by these two qualities has become more apparent as a result of the effects of the modern world which has thrown everyone together in a small space.

One could describe this double-edged quality this way:  “By avoiding the negative we deprive ourselves of the positive.  By emphasizing the positive we prone ourselves to the negative.”  As the world becomes more and more of a mass society, this dilemma is becoming more prevalent.  We lose, at to some extent, no matter which direction we take

OVERPOPULATION AND DIVERSITY

Overpopulation and diversity tend to undermine “tribalism”.  This is because it destroys a sense of “unity” and the specific qualities that define a “tribe”.  Overpopulation and diversity tends to create a mass mentality.  We must remember that the “tribe” is not the same as mass mentality.  In many ways, mass mentality is a sign of the failure of a “tribe”.  It is not a “tribe” nor does it offer the benefits of “tribalism”.  In mass mentality one belongs only be being part of the faceless and identityless blur of humanity, the mob, the masses.  In this way, mass mentality undermines and destroys “tribalism”.  This can cause anything from alienation to a greatly watered down “tribalism” that lacks substance.

THE “ABSTRACT TRIBE”

Because of the problems created by “tribalism” there has begun to develop what I often call the “abstract tribe”.   This is the tribe as an abstract idealistic idea.  Its really something like a “half tribalism”, or a tribe that isn’t a tribe, or a tribe that is only a tribe in principle.

This point of view seems largely on Christian ideas, the idea of the “brotherhood of man”, the “body of Christ”, and “love your neighbor”, the idea that we are all the same.  But, we must remember, that this is nothing but an abstract idea, an ideal.

Much of this idea would be carried over into communism and democracy.  In this way, it has been given “political sanction”, which gives the illusion, at least for many people, that it is “correct” . . . but its still an abstract idea.

Over time, the “abstract tribe” point of view would turn society into what I call the “system”.  This is really an ultra-organized society geared to keeping the faceless mob happy.  In other words, the “system” is about catering to the masses, the mob, and not people.  This gives it a very unhuman quality about it.

My feelings is that, though it may seem to work for now, the “abstract tribe” is actually doomed to fail.  This is primarily because its based in an abstract idealistic idea.  However it may seem, humanity is not based in any “idea”.  A person cannot create, remold, or modify humanity based on an “idea”.  As are result, you cannot make all of humanity “love one another”, for example, because that’s your “idea”.  That’s just the way it is.  This, I think, is the failure of America and the modern world . . . they are trying to fashion humanity, and the world, to an image.

With the “abstract tribe”, and the coming of the “system”, there has developed a lack of bond between people.  That is to say, there is no cultural unity.  This failure of bond is often compensated by things like:

  • A prevalence of law, that one must obey
  • The idea of “principles of behavior”, that one must do or must not do certain things

These create a quality of control that often has no meaning, typically.  In this way, the “abstract tribe” actually tends to create a controlling society that often has no human meaning to the person.  People take on the quality of minions.  It seems, to me, that this is what we are seeing nowadays.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Historical stuff, Identity and identity problems, Modern life and society, Primitive society and people, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Society, The 'system' and 'systemism', Tribal society and the tribal sense | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on “bourgeois society” – its effects, problems, and reactions toward it

Recently, I mentioned that much of my life has been a reaction to and against the condition and problems of bourgeois society.  In many ways, my life, and the attitudes I have developed, are based in the problems bourgeois society has created.  This is true for many people in Western and modern society, which is derived from it.  I think that there is great truth to this.  As I thought about it I said some things such as:

BOURGEOIS SOCIETY

The term “bourgeoisie” is a French term that refers to people living in a city (a Germanic equivalent would be “burgher”).  The term “bourgeois” would refer to something like the ways or manners of the “bourgeoisie”.  Over the years these term has had many connotations, often referring to the merchant or middle class in one way or another.  In this article tend to use it in a particular way.

First of all, I speak of “bourgeois society” which is referring to a particular way or style of society, living, and viewing the world.  I seem to think that this society began to really take form in Western Europe particularly in the 1700’s with the rise of the merchant or middle class who grew in power and influence.  As a result, they gained enough money to imitate the nobility and upper classes, which were viewed as the “highest in society”.  In addition, they also developed more power and influence, particularly as the consumer and industrial world grew.  Some common themes of “bourgeois society” include:

  • The idea of “common people” rising in power – this is a result of their origin in the merchant and middles classes but it is supported by Christianity (“the last shall be the first”) and democracy (“people rule”)
  • Self-righteousness – this is primarily because of the association with Christianity and democracy, as described above
  • Money – an emphasis on money plays a big part in “bourgeois society” as it is instrumental in their rise and power
  • Power – in some respects, the “bourgeoisie” basically “usurped” power from the nobility and upper classes which, in a way, makes it something like a “take over”
  • Status – their money, rise, and power made them able to imitate and take the place of the nobility and upper classes 
  • “Acting as if they are important” – this originally appeared as acting like nobility but has changed through the years
  • Achievement – there is great emphasis on achievement as it figured prominently in their development and growth in power

These all came together, in a unique way, and created a particular style, culture, or society that revolved around these themes.  I tend to believe that it has practically became a belief system, almost to the point of a religion, which is why it has persisted for so long.  In some ways, the beliefs of “bourgeois society” replaced and filled the void of the failing Christian belief which was growing in the 1700’s.  This probably accounts for why there are many Christian elements in it (such as described with the idea of the “common people” rising in power above).  It may also account for its self-righteous qualities as well.  If this is true it would mean that “bourgeois society” is “somewhat religious” in orientation.  For many people it does dominate and motivate life on an incredible scale.  It determines their ideals, their aspirations, and their dreams.  Some people will go through great stress, anguish, and effort to pursue these ideals, almost to the point of killing themselves.  That shows the power this society has over people.

As the 1800’s went on the attitudes of “bourgeois society” would spread to more and more of the population.  By the late 1800’s it was a common attitude in almost all levels of life.  Victorian society is largely a result of the attitudes of bourgeois society.  This has carried on down to modern life.  One could very well say that modern life is a form of bourgeois life and is based on it.

Historical development

Looking at it on a greater, and more detailed, viewpoint it seems, to me, that bourgeois society is something that has developed over a thousand years and went through phases, each phase offering its own qualities.  These phases, and some of their qualities, are:

  1. Germanic invasion of central Europe – about 300-1100.  This created a “warrior ethic”, which is the beginning of bourgeois society.  One effect of this is that it established the theme of achievement in bourgeois society.  The glorification of the warrior would also create the theme of individualism, of worshiping what the individual can do, which has carried on down to today.
  2. Crusades/Christianity – about 1100-1600.  This took the “warrior ethic” and gave the the image of the warrior as representing authority (the church).  In this way, the warrior was part of a “greater story”, what he did represented more than himself.
  3. The knight/nobility – about 1100-1600.  Many warriors (knights) were given, as payment, land for their services.  This would make many warriors (knights) land owners and turn many into nobility.  This fact would became the basis of much of the attitudes surrounding the bourgeois society.  It established the idea of “moving upward in society” and the theme of “becoming nobility”.  Its an early version, in some respects, of the “rags to riches” story which, in a way, is at the heart of bourgeois story.  More specifically, the knight is an issue of upward social mobility and the nobility is an issue of status.  These themes would figure significantly in bourgeois society.  In this way, we can see that bourgeois society is largely based in the knight during the middle ages and early modern period.
  4. The merchant class – about 1400-1900.  The growing merchant class would be able to compete with the knight/nobility beginning in the late middle ages.  Their main “power” was money.  As a result, it established the issue of money as an issue in bourgeois society.  In addition to that, it establishes the issue of what money can buywhich would later turn into a strong tendency to materialism.
  5. The “new nobility” – about 1600-1800.  During this time people could “buy their way into the nobility”.  It was not uncommon that a person could “purchase” a job or position in the government even making themselves nobility (this is one way the government generated revenue!).  This established the theme that anyone could rise in status.
  6. The middle class – about 1800-today.  The rise of the middle class allowed many people to imitate the “new nobility” because of their new wealth.  This established the theme that anyone could imitate nobility, the upper class, or people with money.
  7. Mass society (mass communication/consumerism/technology) – about 1800-today.  After the Napoleonic wars there developed what can be described as a “mass society”.  This is largely a result of mass communication, consumerism, and technology.  This made it so that just about anyone, even the lower classes, could at least “act important” to some extent.  In other words, it allowed the rest of the population to be able to basically do what only the middle class did.  But, more importantly, it created the issue of mass mentality.  By this, I mean that it developed a slavish quality to it, everyone blindly followed the tendency to imitate, and that people tended to do things in a mass.  In this way, it as if turned everyone into something like sheep.

We can see that these phases contributed a number of themes which are very prominent in bourgeois society:

  • Achievement
  • Individualism
  • Representing authority
  • Upward social mobility
  • Status
  • Money and what money can buy
  • That anyone could rise in status 
  • That anyone could imitate nobility, the upper class, or people with money
  • Mass mentality

All of these, through the decades and centuries, would become ingrained into Western European society affecting its overall culture, outlook, attitudes, etc.  The point being that we are looking at a process that has gone on for centuries and is rooted in many aspects of society.  This makes it, really, more than a “social movement”.  It is an aspect of culture and has an almost religious quality to it.  Because of this, bourgeois society is very influential and has had great impact.

In addition, because these are associated with deep themes in the culture (religions, status, etc.) they give bourgeois society more than just a “way of living”.  To me, some of the unique qualities of bourgeois society is that it is deeply ingrained in the society and has an almost religious quality to it.  I often think that this has a lot to do with a number of things:

  • The “warrior ethic”, which gives great meaning to the individual actions.
  • The crusades, which established the knight with the church giving it a far deeper quality than it would otherwise have.
  • The nobility as a ruling class and protector of society.
  • Mass mentality, which makes everyone “follow along”.

Without these things bourgeois society would probably of been something that “came and went”.  In other words, these things have deeply entrenched it into society and, accordingly, make it persist, despite the problems it causes.  In my opinion, this makes bourgeois society very unique in the world.

The “warrior ethic” and its influence

A big trait of bourgeois society the tendency to try to be “something you’re not”.  This creates qualities of phoniness, hypocrisy, shallowness, and so on.  This is a quality that are often mentioned, and condemned, in bourgeois society.  I tend to feel that these began to appear with the “warrior ethic” origin of bourgeois society.

Basically, one of the ways that warriors and soldiers deal with the life and death situation of combat is to create a “false image” of themselves, usually as being more powerful than they really are.  This would help them deal with difficult situations and deal with the stress of battle.  I often call this the “Munchausen Effect” after Baron Munchausen who was known for fabricating tall and fantastic stories (see my article, “Thoughts on the ‘Munchausen Effect’ and the military – the power and dilemma of illusion“).  It seems, to me, that this attitude was carried on down to through the centuries primarily through through the knight and nobility which, remember, were warriors at one time.  Even after they ceased their warrior role, these attitudes persisted in their attitudes, identity, and way of life.  When the common people started to take up the bourgeois attitude, which came from them, it would persist down to them as well.  In this way, the common people “inherited” the warrior attitude, and its “Munchausen Effect”, even though they are not warriors at all and never were.  To put it another way, bourgeois society is rooted in the attitudes of a “war-based” society and, accordingly, maintains much of the attitudes of that society.

Interestingly, the attitude of the “Munchausen Effect”, and its effects on people, were noted very early, particularly when the role of the knight and war was declining in importance, particularly in the 1500’s.  In fact, it was so common that it was made fun of in a number of  books that became quite popular:

  •  “The Ingenious Nobleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha” by  Miguel de Cervantes, published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615,
  • “Baron Munchausen’s Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia” by Rudolf Erich Raspe, 1785.

Both of these were caricaturizing the “Munchausen Effect” attitude that was continuing to persist at the time.  In a way, it is a mocking of a “warrior code that many people continue to maintain but which has become out-of-date”.  In both of these books the main character is noted for his fanciful tales and interpretations of things which originate from the warrior tendency to fabricate a “false image”.  This same quality is a defining trait of bourgeois society.  Its for this reason that I often joking call bourgeois society the “Quixote society” or “Munchausen society”.  Bourgeois society is basically behaving like these two characters.

The appearance of bourgeois society in different countries

The appearance, and manner, of bourgeois society varies from country to country, and even from time to time.  Some countries which have developed its own quality of bourgeois society include:

  1. Germany.  I am unclear about bourgeois society in Germany.  This is probably because of the conditions that Germany has been in.  Before the late 1800’s Germany was not really a single country but made up of different political entities.  Each entity developed its own style of doing things and, as a result, we cannot really say that there is a one style of bourgeois society for Germany as a whole . . . each place was different.  With the Nazi’s, in particular, Germany became more unified but it was controlled more by the state.  After WWII Germany became very consumer oriented.  But, from what I have seen, it appears that before the end of WWII bourgeois society in Germany primarily appeared through an emphasis on achievement and social status and seemed to only been seen only minimally in the lower classes or common people (that is, it seemed more “artistocratic”) .  After WWII it was based more in money and consumer society and seeped down into the common people.
  2. France.  It seems that the qualities of the bourgeois society was largely seen in the “new nobility” and some of the merchant classes primarily (that is, it more reflected attitudes of the rich).  It didn’t seem to seep down into the common people and lower classes all that much.  This changed, though, after WWII where, like Germany, it seemed down into the common people.  It seems that what is often called “bourgeois society”, in France, is usually referring to a consumer society.
  3. England.  Unlike France, the English version seems to of seeped down to more levels of society.  There is often a more active effort, on the part of the common people, to try to “pretend” that they are nobility than in other countries, though.  This, it seems to me, appears to be a result of “Royal Emulation” (see below) where the common people emulated the nobility and royalty.
  4. The U.S.  The qualities I describe in this article largely reflect the U.S. form of bourgeois society.  The U.S. form of bourgeois society is just a continuation of the English form, but stronger and more prevalent in almost all levels of society.  In some respects, the ideals of the U.S. are bourgeois in origin so that we could call the U.S. the “bourgeois country” of the world.

One thing that is somewhat prevalent is that there was a big change after WWII as a result of the rise of consumer society.  This caused many bourgeois attitudes and mentalities to seep down into the common people and lower classes.  In this way, we could probably call post WWII consumers society the “popular bourgeois society”.

England, it seems to me, has developed a unique association with the nobility that has given a unique quality to English bourgeois society which, of course, would be carried on down to the U.S.  I tend to think it originates in Anglo-Saxon society.  Basically, with the Christian conversion there developed an unique attitude about the common people and nobility.  Christianity preached that we were all sinners.  The original pagan view of the nobility tended to view them as “Holy” or somehow closely associated with God.  As a result, the nobility would be viewed as being “close to God” and, therefore, “saved”.  The common people, on the other hand, are not “close to God” and are therefore sinners and “must be saved”.  In this way, this developed a viewpoint where the nobility is “good” and the common people are “bad”, which persists down to today.  This created a tendency, in the common people, of wanting to emulate nobility or be like them in English society.  By being like them they see themselves as being “saved”, so to speak.  I speak of this as “Royal Emulation”.  This tendency gives the imitation of nobility a unique, religious, and social significance that is not seen anywhere else.

The Norman Invasion, which brought the feudal type society of the Normans, and many other problems, greatly upset this image of nobility in English society.  That is to say, the nobility was no longer acting “Holy” and “saved” in the common peoples eyes.  This has created a great dilemma of viewing nobility, and authority in general.  It can be summed up as “the nobility is supposed to be saved but why aren’t they acting like they’re saved?”  This has created a great doubt and contempt for authority and many other bad feelings.  These attitudes are very dominant and prevalent qualities in English and American societies down to today.  Its one of the reasons why politics, and the themes of authority, are so “touchy” in these societies.  I also believe its why there are so many problems with politics and authority in these countries as well.

But, more importantly, it shows that, in English and American society, the tendency to imitate nobility hides a darker side behind it, of a frustration and conflict with authority.  In other words, they are trying to emulate and imitate what they, deep down, have a conflict with.  This “hidden contempt”, it seems to me, is one reason why people greatly condemn, and often grow to hate, bourgeois society when they become frustrated and disillusioned with it.

Qualities of bourgeois society

Bourgeois society has qualities such as these:

Attitudes originating from imitating nobility

  • A “want-to-be” attitude.  Because this society originated in the rising merchant classes gaining more money it allowed them to “dress themselves up” as if they were nobility which were viewed as the “betters” in society.  In some respects, this attitude is the base of this whole society.  It is also the origin for some of the traits described below.
  • A “brown-nosing” attitude.  Since they are trying to be like the nobility they tend to be brown-noser’s and “suck up” to things . . . they’ll do anything to get ahead.
  • An “upstart” and “social climber” quality.  Since they tend to try to be like their “betters” they often develop this “upstart” or “social climber” quality.
  • They tend to try to be somebody they aren’t.  Many develop views of themselves that are not true in their pursuit of the better social image.
  • A tendency to blindly imitate things like social fads or ideals.  For some people this becomes a way of life.
  • A worship, preoccupation, and obsession over ideals.  A person is often measured by how well they stack up to these ideals.  A person who does the ideal is “favored” over one that does not.
  • A need to adhere to a specific “image” Much of this society is based in seeking this “image”, almost as if it were god.
  • A tendency to be class or status conscious.  In many cases, this can become almost obsessional and a motive for some peoples lives.
  • A preoccupation with “measuring people”.  They tend to find ways to determine who is better than another.  Sometimes, its things like who wins or makes the most money.  But it has even gone into what seems like “official” or even “scientific” measurement.  A good example are thing such as IQ and grades, which many of them tend to believe as if it were an act of God, particularly if they score high.  In reality, this mentality is just a continuation of their preoccupation with status.
  • A preoccupation with following “official” views.  The “image” they quest after is an “official” image, meaning that it has an authority.  In actuality, it is the authority found in the “image” that they seek.  The presence of this authority gives it an “official” quality, so to speak.  As a result, they seek after, and emulate, “official” views.  In many ways, they take the point of view, “if it sounds official then its correct”.
  • There is an emphasis where things must be done the “proper way” This “proper way”, of course, must follow the pattern of the “image” and “official” views.  They set what is “proper” and their brown-nosing attitude makes them have to do what is “proper”.
  • A tendency to favoritism.  They favor people who emulate the “image”, who “measure up” to what they view as “better”, who take the “official” views, and do things the “proper way”.  They will often praise these people and give them special privilege.  Sometimes, they will almost worship these people.  If a person does not emulate these qualities then they are typically treated as if they don’t exist.
  • A preoccupation or overvaluation of “honors”, achievements, awards, and such.  These things can include things like good grades, being on the “honor role”, winning first place, various “impressive” titles, the fact that you climbed a mountain, and so on.  They’ll take these things almost as if they were signs from god.  I’ve seen cases where an “honor” places a person so high above everyone else that everyone else is treated like garbage.  They’ll even get special privileges, entitlements, and such, that no one else does because of it.  People will even treat them better.  I’ve even watched how the people who actually “do things” are swept to the side, like they were nothing, because someone else, who actually didn’t do anything, happened to have an “honor” or some thing viewed as “officially accepted”.  I’ve even seen how they will get the credit for what the other person did!

Attitudes originating from their origin in the merchant class

  • An emphasis on money.  This is a result of the fact that it is based on the wealth developed by the merchant class.  As a result, this society is firmly rooted in money and what money can buy.
  • An emphasis on materialism.   There is a tendency where they emphasize the things they have and this is often looked at seriously.  In some cases, this is used as a means to determine who’s “better”.
  • A worship of achievement.  Much of the wealth was created by the fact that one “achieved”.  As a result, this trait is worshiped to this day by this society.
  • A worship of success and winning.  Some people will make this their whole life.  In some cases, it will be used as to determine something like a scale to determine who is “above” another.
  • A tendency to be overly competitive Sometimes, relationships with people is based wholly on competition so that the relationship is based in “who’s better”.
  • A very opportunistic point of view.  They seek any opportunity to “get ahead”, particularly if it means getting ahead of another person.
  • They tend to put emphasis on being better than other people.  For some people, this becomes a major motive in life.
  • A tendency to take a “dog eat dog” orientation.  The quest for money, and status, often creates an attitude where they will do anything to get it.

Effects of bourgeois society and life

The attitudes caused by the bourgeois society and life tend to cause a number of effects.  Some of these include:

  • A tendency to be “rigid” and formal.  Since this whole society is based in trying to seek an “image”, a person tends to develop an attitude of self-abandon, of relinquishing ones self for this other image.  This creates a coldness, in a person, which makes one “rigid” and formal in quality.
  • A lack of spontaneity and “life”.   The overly “rigid” quality of this society tends to stifle any spontaneity and life in people.
  • A sheep mentality The obsessive need to follow ideals and an “image” tends to create a “drone-like”, robot, or sheep quality in people.  In actuality, bourgeoisie society is a sheep mentality.
  • A tendency to mass mentality.  The sheep mentality creates a strong mass mentality quality in this society.  As part of this quality is the tendency to mass hysteria or mass mania that is seen in this society.
  • A strong self-consciousness Being focused on ones “image”, personal achievement, etc. there is a tendency for them to be very self-conscious and aware of themselves.  This can be to such an extent that it can go reach the point that it represses them.
  • A tendency to artificiality or “phoniness”.  Being that this society is based in a “want-to-be” attitude they are basically acting like “something they’re not”.  This causes a tendency for them to artificiality or “phoniness”.
  • A tendency to hypocrisy.  Since they pursue an “image” they tend to think they are the “image”.  The problem is that they seldom match the “image”.  As a result, there is an inconsistency between what they think they are and what they really are.  This tends to make them very hypocritical.
  • An absence of any “deep belief” . . . the life-view is shallow and empty.  Since their life is in seeking an “image” they tend to look at life in a shallow way, seldom developing any sort of a “deep belief” in life.  This is often one of the first qualities noticed.
  • A tendency to arrogance and self-righteousness.  This can become quite strong in people who feel confident that they have “accomplished” the bourgeois image . . . the more confident they feel the more arrogant and self-righteous they become.  But, overall, many people in bourgeois society will develop these attitudes to some extent.
  • A tendency to contempt of authority and society.  Once a person becomes disillusion and confused with bourgeois society its not uncommon that there develops a great contempt for it, and all authority, even to the point of hatred.  This can create a tendency to “endlessly rebelling” against it, to “abandon” it, to despise it and all it represents.
  • A tendency to boredom and apathy.  The empty bourgeois life tends to create a life that is somewhat empty and without meaning.  This often appears as a boredom or a lack of interest in life.  This can sometimes lead to a depressive or apathetic quality.  For some people, this can be so strong that it becomes a problem in their life.
  • A tendency for society to be a “rat race”.  With everyone clamoring for status, achievement, and money its inevitable that society would become something like a war between people, each trying to “outdo” everyone else.

POWER AND REALITY

Bourgeois society is rooted in the behavior of a small group of people and their desire to imitate their “betters” in society.  In this way, this society does not sprout from existing realities and conditions but, rather, from the greed of some people who have developed a power.  It has developed a great economic and social power because of a number of qualities:

  • Individualism and achievement.  This puts emphasis on and inspires people to do things.
  • Social status.  This gives it a social power and influence.
  • Money.  This gives it economic power.
  • Consumerism/mass mentality.  This exposes bourgeois society to people on almost all levels.  In this way, it as if “ropes in” the bulk of the population.
  • Industrialization/technology.  This has created an economic system that infiltrates and affects just about everything, even our everyday life.

Its these different qualities which have made it so powerful and given it such influence.  In fact, it has become more than a power.  It has become a “reality”.  By this I mean that it is something that everyone is exposed to and that has infiltrated into everything.  This makes it something that is always “there” in our life, in some way or another.  As a result, everyone tends to believe it, at least to some extent.  In this way, it becomes a “reality” that impacts all of us.  It dictates, or has influence, to the world around us, whether we want it to or not.  In some respects, the problem with bourgeois society is that it has so much power.

But this is a power and reality that becomes imposed onto almost all the people.  For those who do not believe it, relate to it, or cater to it, this can cause problems.  Its a power and reality on such a scale that it dominates and offers little other pathway or direction (“its the bourgeois way or the highway”, so to speak).  Because of this, conflicts caused by bourgeois society are often caused by its incredible power and reality.  In fact, I tend to feel that much of the complaints and attacks toward the “power of government”, that we’ve seen these past two centuries, is really referring to bourgeois society . . . the government is just an easily identifiable “target” to attack.  This would mean that all this commotion about democracy, freedom, tyranny, and all that is not about government at all . . . its about the power and reality of bourgeois society and its effects on us.  I feel that there is a lot of truth in this.

Common responses to the power and reality of bourgeois society include:

  • Rebellion
  • Contempt of society
  • Going your own way away from society
  • Apathy
  • Developing a self-righteous cause

When you have a great power and reality hanging over you, like bourgeois society, these are about the only responses a person can make.

THE FAILURE OF BOURGEOIS SOCIETY

Overall, bourgeois society is insufficient as a culture and a society.  It fails on many levels of human life.  Much of this, I think, is because it is based in the pursuing of an “image”, an abstract idea which is praised and sought.  In this way, it is not based in the human world or human reality.

In some respects, bourgeois society is based in a “pie in the sky” mentality.  It tends to lead to an attitude of idealism, of pursuing the ideal (the “image”) as the motive and pinnacle of life.  Because of this, there often becomes points of view of “things should be this way”, “this is the proper way”, etc.  A person is often “measured” by how they stand up this this ideal.  Many people will kill themselves trying to follow this ideal as well, suffering great anguish and despair as a result.

But, bourgeois society is the only society that is offered to us.  It is all there is.  There are no alternatives, no options.  Because of this, its failings come upon all of us.  There are some, though, who are not bothered by it and, in fact, thrive in it.  Most people, I think, feel at least some adverse effect by it.  Most of us will try to follow its ideals until it begins to fail us.  But how we respond depends a lot on how much its failed us, our character, and similar things.

REACTION TO THE FAILURE OF BOURGEOIS SOCIETY

Once the failure of bourgeois society takes place in a person it tends to evoke a reaction.  It appears in different ways.  It seems that a lot of the personal and social problems, of the last 200 years or so, have some basis in the failure of bourgeois society.  In fact, one could probably say that much of the problems of modern life is rooted in the failure of bourgeois society.

It appears that the males response is different than the females as a result of their different characters.

Male response

Some common qualities that the failure of bourgeois society creates in males include:

  • Despair
  • A disconnectedness 
  • An artificiality
  • Alienation and dehumanization
  • Confusion and feeling lost
  • Meaninglessness 
  • Boredom 
  • React against power – contempt, outrage, anger, etc.
  • Mental problems – stress, depression, neurosis, etc.
  • Social problems – social tension, bias, favoritism, etc.

These qualities are often spoken of by males and in many different ways and forms.  In fact, I’d say that they are qualities that have become a part of most males lives in bourgeois society.  For some males, its just a quality that “hangs there” but, for others, it can lead to a a major life crisis.

The qualities described above often evoke responses which include:

  • An attempt at abandoning the bourgeois life and “reality”, at least in some way, and often seeking another society, belief system, or way to be
  • A seeking to be more “genuine” and true to themselves
  • Rebelling against society
  • Seeking refuge in smaller “social groups”, such as friends and family

This often creates a tendency in males to “drop out” of society.  I often call this the “male exodus” (see my article “Thoughts on “failing” boys and males “dropping out”: “the male exodus” . . . another account of the fight against dehumanization???“).  Many of us males have become disinterested in society because of the effects of bourgeois society . . . we really don’t have that much interest in it and don’t really want to be a part of it.  In other words, bourgeois society tends to make males want to drop out of it!  It seems that many males have to be “coaxed” into staying in society.  This, interestingly, often seems to be various forms of “toys”, gadgets, or diversions.  I tend to believe that the male “dropping out” of society – the “male exodus” – is actually a crisis nowadays (its another one of those “hidden crisis” no one acknowledges).

My observation is that the male reaction tends to be something like a spectrum:

  • They follow along with it – this usually means it suits them in some way
  • They become “Mr. Agree-all” – they agree whether they like it or not
  • They feel its adverse effects and learn to deal with it – such as frustration, despair, etc.
  • They feel lost and confused or don’t know what to think
  • They feel contempt
  • They rebel
  • They turn away from society

A lot of how they respond depends on their character, their situation, the condition of the times, and so on.

The female

The female response seems to primarily be one of following the dictates and ideals of bourgeois society, often to the point of enslaving themselves to it.  Bourgeois society has a quality with it that literally “sucks” females into it.  In fact, it seems to me that bourgeois society has devastated the female and femalehood for this reason.  In some respects, its turned the female into a “puppet” to trend, fad, social ideals, and such.  To go even further, for some females, they become so enslaved by it all that they literally “lose their mind” to it, so that social trend, fad, social ideals, etc. becomes their mind and replaces it.  This phenomena has caused nothing but problems for females for the past two hundred years and more.  I would even venture to say that it is a significant contribution to many female problems in these recent several centuries.

Because females tend to enslave themselves to bourgeois society, they often feel enslaved or controlled (or that they don’t have control).  The problem with this is that they tend to blame other people for this “enslavement”.  In my experience, the male is usually blamed first, then society is blamed . . . but they never blame themselves!  In this way, females often tend to feel these things:

  • They feel controlled, enslaved, threatened, etc.
  • They play the “blame game” and blame it on someone or something else
  • They see themselves as blameless and see themselves as “pure” or without fault

This has always struck me as somewhat comical.  Many females willingly, without any prompting, enslave themselves to the dictates of bourgeois society, following its every beckon and whim.  This causes problems for them after a period of time making them feel enslaved and controlled.  They then find someone or something to blame for it.  Once they find it they give them the blame and, accordingly, fashion themselves as “innocent”.  But the whole thing is caused by their own tendency to be enslaved by bourgeois society, something no one forced them to do!  Its sort of funny . . . but its really not all that funny.  I rank this as a serious problem.  From what I have seen, its eating the female up.

Bourgeois society tends to make females develop many of the bourgeois traits described above, such as:

  • A “want-to-be” attitude
  • A “brown-nosing” attitude
  • A tendency to imitation
  • A tendency to be someone they aren’t
  • A preoccupation with social status
  • A tendency to follow fads, trends, social ideals, etc.
  • A tendency where everything must be done the “proper” way

These tendencies often become very pronounced in the female.  In some sense, one could say that there develops a “sucking up to society” quality in many females.  This often becomes an obsession which preoccupies many females whole lives, in one way or another.  For many females in bourgeois society its not a matter of obsession but the extent of the obsession.  This obsession tends to adversely affect them.  Some of the effects of this include things such as:

  • They lose control over their lives.  
  • They feel “vulnerable”.  Giving up their lives (and minds) to bourgeois society, they as if “expose” themselves to society making them feel “open” and vulnerable.  This can make them feel insecure and “frightened” of things.  Oftentimes, they begin to become oversensitive and over reactive to things.
  • They lose their “mind”.  As I said above, many will so enslave themselves in bourgeois society that they give up their mind to it so that it becomes their mind.
  • They lose their identity.  As they let bourgeois society enslave them it takes over their identity and the identity of the female.  In bourgeois society the female identity is determined by bourgeois society, with its trends, social ideals, and such.  It is NOT determined by the female.
  • They lose “female society”.  Since female identity gets lost in bourgeois society, so does “female society”.  What I mean by this is that they lose that part of society which caters to, and includes, all the females and which stands a part from the males.  With its loss the female-as-a-group fades and dies, which it has done.  Nowadays, the female no longer has a distinct “society” to belong to.  It is now replaced by social trend, fad, social media, and so on.

The net result of these is an undermining of the female and femalehood.  In this way, the female becomes a victim of her own obsession and slavish mentality in bourgeois society.

The influence of the self

In both male and female we see that there is a sense of being helpless to the power of bourgeois society.  The difference in the response, it seems, tends to revolve around the self:

  • The male, who tends to have a stronger sense of self, will struggle with his self’s reaction to bourgeois society . . . he will rebel, go into despair, become “Mr. Agree-all”, etc..
  • The female, who tends to have a weaker self, tends to lose themselves in bourgeois society and get “lost” in it and lose hold of who they are.

THEMES OF THE FAILURE OF BOURGEOIS SOCIETY

When people feel the failure of bourgeois society it seems several themes are often mentioned in one way or another:

  • That society is lacking, failing, “sick”, insane, and so on . . . basically, there’s a sense that “something is wrong in society”.
  • A loss of meaning, value, and a view of ones self in a degraded way . . . a person feels a loss or inadequate in some way.
  • A need or want for a new society or way to be to replace the existing society.

One thing this shows is that the failure of bourgeois society tends to create a sense of frustration and unhappiness of society, and even of oneself, which then causes a tendency to Utopian thinking, of wanting to seek a “better world” or society.  Since this Utopia is in reaction to a condition that is causing problems it generally has a quality of “the grass is always greener on the other side” or a “pie in the sky” mentality . . . this new society is always “better”.

This Utopian thinking will cause many people to worship things like change, anything new, as well as technology.  In other words, a lot of the worship of change and technology, that we see nowadays, is almost always hiding a frustration and unhappiness caused by bourgeois society.  It caters to the Utopia thinking, of a fantasy world that is “better”.  Of course, the problem is that none of these “better worlds” have been better, they just sound like they will be.  In fact, no one has found this “better world” to replace bourgeois society, though many have tried.

I tend to think that bourgeois society will be hard to replace.  This is primarily because of the power it has.  At this time, there is really nothing that can compete with bourgeois society.  In fact, many societies of the world can’t even compete with it.  It now has almost complete domination of most of the world and I see no signs this will change soon, either.

A COMMON REACTION . . . TURNING AWAY FROM SOCIETY

It seems that one of the inevitable results of the reaction to bourgeois society, particularly for the male, can be described in this saying of mine:

“Turn away and tend to ones self.”

This means:

Turn way – have little involvement in the society . . . be on the margin of society.

Tend to one self – follow ones inclinations and feelings of what one feels is correct . . . don’t bring society into it nor impose it onto society.

I often speak of this point of view as the “casual life”.  Its sort of a stance in life that is caused because there is “nothing else we can do at this time”.   What I mean by that is that it is not a normal healthy response to life but, rather, a reaction to a condition that forces one in this direction.

Problems of this condition, though, include:

  • It does not solve the problem . . . bourgeois society remains.  
  • A person is not part of a society.  This is an issue as usually when a person feels the failure of this society they want some form of social support . . . but its not coming.  This leaves a “great absence” that is never filled.  The Utopian viewpoint tends to make people create what can be described as “pseudo-societies” to replace bourgeois society and that appear to be new and lasting but tend to fail.  A good example are the hippies.

The net result of this is that everything is placed on the person and puts weight on the person.  Because of this, it forces a condition onto people that has qualities such as:

  • A more individualistic standpoint
  • A tendency to feel more strain or stress
  • A tendency to feel more insecure or vulnerable

Many people are not “up to”a life with these qualities.  As a result, many people will waver between rebelling, at some times, and at other times agreeing with society, for example.  Because of this, even reacting to bourgeois society can create a sense of “unsteadiness” that never goes away.

MENTAL PROBLEMS IN BOURGEOIS SOCIETY

Image illness

The nature of bourgeois society is that it puts undo stress on the person which can eventually causes mental problems.  In particular, because bourgeois society is related to trying to be something you’re not and seeking an “image”, a problem that it creates is what I often call the “image illness”.  This is basically a condition where a person has a conflict between an “image” they are trying to be and what they really are.  The result is a number of mental problems that are prevalent in bourgeois society.

The bourgeois condition often develops something like two selves:

  1. The “image self” – the self that corresponds to the “image” they are trying to seek
  2. The “inner self” – the self that reflects what one truly is

Often, one is only aware of, or conscious, of the “image self” because, in bourgeois society, this is what matters and where the focus of life is located.  Despite this, the “inner self” still functions and is often trying to work its way from underneath the weight of the “image self”.  As a general rule, in the “image illness” the “image self” is dominant.  The symptoms of the illness are caused by how the “inner self” is struggling with the “image self”.  This creates a number of situations such as:

  • Frustration/depression – The” inner self” is strong but struggles under the weight of the “image self” . . . the person is unable to live up to the “image”.
  • Neurasthenia/stress – The “inner self” is struggling and desperately trying to live up to the “image”.
  • Alienation/disconnection – After seeking the “image self” for so long one loses touch with ones “inner self”.
  • Neurosis/detachment – The “image self” has become dominant so long that it becomes removed from the “inner self”.  Despite this, the “inner self” tries to asserts itself but can’t under the weight of the “image self”.  This ends up causing neurotic symptoms.

These problems are very prevalent in bourgeois society.  In some respects, they define it.  Their continual presence tends to give bourgeois society this quality of being “nervous”, “uptight”, “neurotic”, and “insecure”.

Imitation illness

Since bourgeois society is based in imitating the upper class there is a tendency for there to be strong imitative tendencies in this society.  That is to say, imitation becomes a way of life for some people.  In fact, people are often “measured” by how well they imitate and if they imitate the proper “values”.  Not only is this true with “measuring” other people but how well a person “measures” themselves.  In this way, imitation has great impact on how one views other people and ones self.  

To go further, in this society, what is called education is really nothing more than imitation and learning how to imitate . . . what is a test than determining if you’ve “imitated properly” (that is, repeated what you heard, read, or did properly)?  In addition, a lot of work is nothing but imitating, almost an assembly-like imitation which dominates a large part of many peoples everyday life.  This means that, in this society, imitation has become a necessity for making a living.

The prevalence and necessity of imitation often creates qualities such as:

  • A robot-like mentality
  • A lack of being genuine to oneself
  • A blind sheep-like mentality
  • A overly competitive mentality based in “out-imitating” each other
  • The creation of a false “social structure” based in how well a person imitates properly

Since most people can’t imitate properly, or have problems with it, most people tend to fail at the “imitation game” causing various problems such as:

  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Contempt of society and people
  • A feeling of being distant with society and people – alienation
  • An absence of a desire to participate
  • A lack of initiative – apathy
  • A lack of belonging
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • A desire to “get back” at society even to the point of violence
  • A tendency where people kill themselves in order to “imitate properly”

Problems originating in imitation I tend to call the “imitation illness” (I actually have a category, in this blog, where I discuss problems of imitation, if your interested).  I tend to view the “imitation illness” as somewhat of a problem.

It seems to me that imitation has gone so far that it causes what can be described as an “imitative character”.  That is to say, a character of person where imitation is the dominant trait and determines their whole world view and how they relate with the world.  This seems to create a character of person that has qualities similar to Asperger Syndrome.  In actuality, its a “learned Asperger Syndrome”.  I tend to think that this has become very prevalent nowadays and is reflective of the overly imitative qualities of this society.

BOURGEOIS SOCIETY AND PROGRESS

The bourgeois tendency to seek an “image” and try to be like something your not has permeated much of this society.  In fact, it has, it seems to me, had great impact on what it produces and creates.  In other words, the tendency to try to be like something your not has created an attitude of “looking beyond oneself”.  This has allowed bourgeois society to as if “transcend itself”.  This has caused a point of view, and a willingness, to take things further than they normally would.  The result of this is that it has caused a tendency to great progress in many different areas:  consumer products, machines, science, entertainment, weapons, etc., etc., etc.  This has never been seen before.  Normally, people take a limited view of things and tend to look at things in a more narrow perspective which inhibits any progress.  The bourgeois attitude, with its attitude of being something your not, tends to create a more expanded perspective which, of course, has created a more expanded progress.

This element of progress is one of the things that has strengthened it even further.  This is because progress has had a great impact on the economy.  Since bourgeois society is based in the merchant and middle classes it caters to much of the mentality and origins of this society.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Dehumanization and alienation, Historical stuff, Imitation and the problems it creates, Mass hysteria and the mob, Modern life and society, Oversensitivity, the 'rift personality', shyness, love shyness, and Asperger's, Society, Victorianism and Victorian society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the “monotony of change”

In a conversation some time ago I said something that was interesting:

I basically said that “change” has become “monotonous”.  I called this the “monotony of change”.  Its the “same thing” over and over again and again and again.  Something new, something novel . . . again and again and again.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah and a whoopidadoo too.  A new gadget, a new app, a new whatever.  After awhile it all becomes the same.

At first, particularly when you’re young, its neat and exciting.  But, as you grow up, this excitement wears off.  You begin to find that its not the great thing it seemed to be . . . its just an endless ceaseless cycle of changing things.  Everything becomes ‘just another change’.  Change is no longer change but a big blur.  In many ways, change has become so prevalent that its actually become boring.  I often hear of something new and want to say “so? . . . its just another one to add to the collection”.

It doesn’t matter what is created today . . . it will change tomorrow.  In a way, change has become a burden, an endless cycle of having to learn new things, of continually having to reorient yourself.  Just the other day I stated “I’m tired of having to learn new things . . . its become exhausting”.  Every time I turn around, it seems, I have to learn how to do something.  And, rest assured, that will be gone in a little while and replaced with something new . . . and another thing to learn will return.

Not only that, I will probably have to buy something new as well.  Just in my life I’ve seen things like BETA players, 8 track tapes, vinyl records, cassette tapes, floppy discs, VCR’s, laser discs, CD’s, DVD’s, personal computers, cell phones, and flash drives, and all that in about 40 years.  With just the examples I gave above that’s one new thing every three years (and that’s only some of what has appeared!).  My god, what more do we need?  And every time something new appears the old one becomes out dated so you have to buy something new.  Don’t you think that’s a little excessive?

All this change makes everything transitory . . . nothing lasts.  Nothing has time to grow and implant its roots into life.  Once this begins to happen change destroys it.  It creates this quality of a ‘continually uprooting’ of life.  Nothing seems to last.  What’s here this year is out dated next year.  When I hear of a new thing that everyone is raving about, that’s going to change life forever and improve our lives 100 fold, I always remind people that it will be out dated and replaced possibly as early as in a few months . . . if it lasts a number of years it will be a miracle.

Change also takes on a quality of a tyrant.  Once change happens, you don’t have a choice but to change with it!  In a way, all this change has actually taken our own ability to have control over our lives.  How can we have control when we have to continually change to fit what’s new?  Change controls us, we don’t control it.  We are its minions, its slave.  We have become helpless peons in all this.  One of the ways people have dealt with this, I found, is by being a “Mr. agree-all” . . . they just agree with it all.  If you agree with it all it gives the illusion of control.  But remember . . . its an illusion.  Watching people having to do this is not all that inspiring . . . I can see what’s going on . . . I can read between the lines . . . I can see it hides a helplessness.

And do all these new things really benefit us and make things easier?  I don’t really think it does.  My experience is that ‘getting used to something’ is just as valuable as some new thing to do it for you.  The old line, “it will make life better”, has gotten old with me.  I’m old enough to know that the bulk of these things do not make life better.  In fact, as I’m getting older I find that I want to live without all this.  Why?  Because it makes life better!

I once said that “a good change would be an absence of change”.  I think there is truth in that.

Something to think about . . .


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Current affairs and events, Life in general, Modern life and society, Personal gripes, Science and technology, Stuff involving me | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the prevalence of speculation and how its being taken as fact

Here’s a thought I had:

Recently, I have been emphasizing how speculation is far more prevalent than we think.  I tend to think that the bulk of what we hear is speculation.  There is so much speculation that its hard to tell what is true or not or even what to believe.  In fact, the prevalence of speculation has caused a prevalence of points of view which has caused an uncertainty in things.

Not only that, there is a tendency where we are accepting speculation as truth.  I tend to think that this has caused a general dilemma in knowledge, truth, belief, and so on. which, it seems to me, is becoming and increasingly bigger problem.

SPECULATION

By “speculation” I mean a “statement about something which may or may not have any meaning or relevance to you or your situation”.  It can consists of things like:

  • A “casual observation”
  • An opinion – a statement of an understanding that one has
  • Idle statements of news, information, etc. with no real intentions
  • Chit-chat – people just “stating things” in conversations and, accordingly, its not “thought out”
  • Gossip
  • Blabble – people just saying things for whatever reason, usually without any real motive

In general, speculation is not intended to find or state a “truth” but is motivated by other reasons.  It often sounds, though, as if it is stating a “truth” which is part of the problem.  This is particularly true nowadays with all the science, technology, and so on.

Examples of these other reasons that motivate speculation include things such as:

  • The social situation.  A good examples is the tendency to “follow along” with what other people say.
  • Hysteria, worries, concerns, etc. that are prevalent at the time.  Stating things about something difficult makes us feel more “in control”.
  • A following of the “powers-that-be” or “status quo”.  This refers to interpreting things according to the current prevalent point of view.  For example, in the U.S. people often tend to interpret things in the context of the American Constitution and democracy.  Whether its right or wrong it doesn’t matter.
  • A reaction to conditions.  By stating and explaining things about ones condition, it creates a sense of control or a means to have a “handle on the situation”.

One of the things these reveal is that speculation is a reaction to the immediate situation as a way to “deal with” the immediate situation.  Some qualities of this reaction includes:

  • The need to “flow with the situation”
  • To deal with any conflict
  • To get a “handle on a situation”

What we seen, then is that speculation is a means of associating with the current situation.  One could say that speculation is a “thought association” with the current situation . . . using thought as a means to participate and associate with ones situation.  A person states this or that – speculation – as a response to something that is happening and as a way to relate to it.

In this way, speculation does not reflect a “greater point of view” nor does it intend to.  Having a more narrow outlook, and focused on the immediate situation, it lacks a breadth and width typically.  As a result, it does not discover or state any “great truth” behind things.  In other words, speculation does reflect a deeper view of life such as what we see with religion, philosophy, and science . . . it has too narrow of a world view.

TAKING SPECULATION AS FACT

But, nowadays, there is a tendency to take speculation as if reflects this deeper view of life, as if it is a statement of “fact” or as reflecting a greater world view or as a great truth, as if it were written in the Bible.  This tendency, it seems to me, comes as a result of the prevalence of things like:

  • Education.  This makes people “believe” everything they are told.
  • The prevalence of knowledge.  This gives the illusion of “truth” in things.
  • The myriad forms of information.  This makes it hard to tell what is true and what isn’t.
  • A mass mentality.  This makes people “blindly follow” things.
  • The prevalence of media.  This makes people exposed to an endless amount of speculation, to the point of nausea.

With these cause are things like these:

  • A confusion between “truth” and things that aren’t necessarily meant to be “truth”.  An example would be taking a “casual opinion” as if it were scientific truth.
  • Excess.  There’s so much that one can’t “digest” it or make sense of it.
  • A tendency to “blindly assume its true”.  Statements are taken as being true without question.

These tend to create a condition where “anything is believed” no matter its source or intention.  As a result, speculations are treated as fact and even gospel.

THE MYTH OF SCIENCE, THE FORGOTTEN IDEA OF THE “EDUCATED GUESS”, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE “GUESS”

Contrary to what is generally assumed, most of what is called “science” is, in actuality, speculation.  I have always been bothered by how many scientists talk as if all that they state is “scientific truth” . . . its not.

For something to truly be “scientific” it must display qualities such as:

  • It must be demonstrable
  • It must be repeatable
  • It is demonstrated in a controlled environment
  • It must be measurable

Very little “science” fits those categories.  Really, one could say that only some aspects of physics and chemistry would fill those qualifications.  All the other forms of science is nothing but what I call “I & I”.  This means:

  • Inquiry.  A deliberate and organized inquiry is undertaken.  It often consists of observation or tests.  This tends to give a direction, based on the motive, and a format based on how it will be interpreted.
  • Interpretation.  This is the interpretation of the result of the inquiry.  Typically, though, this is only taken from a specific point of view.  In this way, all interpretations are actually “biased” in some way.

What “I & I” creates is what is often called the “educated guess”, a term I haven’t heard in a long time.  Most of “science” is nothing but an “educated guess”.  This means that despite all the fancy explanations, all the fancy associations and clever notions, and all the technology, its all still a “guess”.  This fact needs to be remembered.

We could go on to say that any explanation, regardless of how or why it is created, is nothing but a “guess”.  This includes things such as science, religion, philosophy, opinions, speculations, and points of view.  Our conception of the world and life is, in fact, nothing but a guess.  I think it wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that we are literally “guessing our way through life” and its always been that way . . . humanity lives in a state of “perpetual guessing”.

It seems, to me, that the question isn’t if our “guess” is correct or not . . . its whether its relevant to us and our lives.  In other words, we need the “best guess”, that works for us and our condition.  Its this that makes it “right”.  This means that any world view or conception is very “specific” to us.  Its not going to fit for everyone.   One could say that a good and healthy world view is one that is “tailor fit” for us individually.   Because of this, there will never be a “one way” or “one explanation” of the world and life.  That’s just the way it is.

THE PROBLEM OF THE MODERN WORLD, BELIEF, AND WORLD VIEW

Speculation seems to be replacing belief systems, culture belief, traditional belief, and so on, all of which have largely fallen in the modern world.  After the fall of these what is left?  All that’s left, really, is the speculations of people.  As a result, speculation is replacing these belief systems primarily because they are “just there” or, perhaps, because they are “all that’s left” after all the hub-bub of the modern world.

But, as I said above, speculations are not firm enough for a “world view”.  In this way, the prevalence of accepting speculation as truth is causing something like a “narrowing” of the world view.  In some sense, we are getting smaller and smaller in our conception of things and ourselves.  In many ways, we are getting dumber and dumber as a result.  Many people, for example, have become “believe-all’s”, believing everything they are told without question.

In addition, most of speculation reflects a point of view that is only relevant for those people.  When you take another persons speculations, and accept it as fact, it means that you are usually taking views that are not relevant to you or your condition.  In this way, the speculation does not “match” you or your condition.  This creates something like an alienation . . . its like “living in another persons shoes”.

A SPECTRUM OF INTERPRETATION

The fact that speculations are good for immediate conditions but not for a greater world view suggests that there is something like a spectrum in the interpretation of things.  Perhaps it could go something like this?

  • Speculation – this refers to responding to ones immediate conditions and day-to-day situations
  • A way of life – this refers to an overall view point of view of life, of looking at ones condition form a distance (it does not deal with the deeper meaning of life)
  • The greater belief  – this refers to a deeper meaning in life such as is what is found in religion

Its like a spectrum going from small (speculation) to massive (the greater belief).  One interesting point is that it shows that, at each level, there are different interpretations.  In other words, the interpretation of life depends on where you stand when you look at life.  A person, then, has different interpretations, not just one, as if often supposed.  My observation has shown this to be true.  When you look at something in the smaller context you will see it differently than when you look at the same thing from a greater context . . . that’s just the way it is.

In the modern world the greater belief has largely fallen, the way of life is there at least to some extent, but speculation is prevalent.  This means that we have become increasingly narrowed to our day-to-day lives.  As I said above, the prevalence of speculation is making us “small” and to look at things in a small way.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Education and learning, Modern life and society, Philosophy, Science and technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the progression of spirituality from primitive to mass society – the ‘conditions of spirituality’

Here is a thought I had:

STAGES OF PROGRESSION

I said that, in regard to spirituality, there were some interesting stages in the progression from primitive society to mass society.  I see six stages:

  1. Participation
  2. Devotion
  3. Achievement
  4. Thought
  5. Creations
  6. Stagnation

Here are the stages:

1. Participation

In primitive society there are people like shamans.  These could be described as “holy” people, so to speak, who actively participate in the ‘spirit world’ oftentimes.  This active participation is generally done for the sake of society or other people.  In other words, its not done for “personal development”.  It entails an active participation with the ‘spirit world’ for someone else.  Not only that, many of the customs and traditions of primitive society, which is practiced by the people, also entail participation.  They dance, sacrifice, and so on.  In this way, primitive society tends to create a spirituality-by-participation.

It’s during this stage that we get the ‘spiritual/self distinction’. This creates a point of view that spirituality requires that the self must “die” or “be forgotten” or be “absent”.  This fact dictates much of shaman and religious behavior in primitive society.  Much of the religious behavior is rooted in perceiving various forms of “sacredness”.  In this way, one could say that a trait of “sacredness” is the absence of the self.  Or, perhaps, one could say that an absence of self allows one to sense “sacredness”.  Since much of primitive life revolves around a “sacredness”, which requires a form of absence of self, it means that primitive spirituality is rooted in “sacredness” and ones association with it.  

What we see, then, is that primitive spirituality is a spirituality that requires an active participation, but without the self, in order to associate with “sacredness”.  The most tricky aspect of this is “participating without a self”.  Dealing with this situation gives many of the unique qualities of primitive religion.  Some ways this is achieved include:

  • Ceremonies and ritual
  • Sacrifices
  • Superstitions
  • Interpreting dreams
  • Divination
  • Magic and spells
  • Shamanistic “journeying” and trances

What a lot of people don’t understand is that when primitive people associate with the more “deeper aspects” of life and nature they associate with it without a self (remember, that’s how “sacredness” is felt).  As we will see later, as society progresses the self becomes more important.  Since we are from the later phases we tend to look at life as a “self-dominant” and, accordingly, think that association with the world is a self/world type of thing.  Primitive peoples tend to not use the self and this is hard for modern people to understand.

Because of the prevalence of the world we could say that “primitive society” is a society that is living with the world “in its face”.  In other words, people “rub elbows” with the world and are “naked” against it.  With the development of society the society ends up creating something like a wall between the people and the world.  As a result, people become more removed from the world, as we’ll see below.

In this way, spirituality (at least as I use it here) refers to a sense of a “connection with life” that hits deep within the person.  In fact, its so deep that it is beyond the self.  This is why there is a need for the self to be absent.  In addition, the purpose of spirituality is to associate with the “sacred” . . . to associate with “sacredness” the self must be absent.

So we see these traits:

  • There is active participation
  • The world is “in your face”
  • Spirituality requires an “absent self”
  • A “connection with life” entails a spirituality and an association with the “sacred”

2. Devotion

As society grows the shamans disappear being replaced by priests, doctors, and other people who transform the shamans role into a role of ritual or know-how.  In other words, it becomes less spiritual.  But there are still people who are spiritual-like.  As a result, there develops a new form of spirituality that is geared to this group of people.  This group of people tend to not have any shamanistic, priestly, or medicinal role but are just ‘spiritual’.  What is then created is a group of people who become devotional.  This is spirituality-by-devotion.  Here people devote their whole lives to the god without having any shamanistic, priestly, or medicinal quality.  They create monks or holy men or guru’s and such.

So we see these traits:

  • Active participation is replaced by devotional acts
  • The world is no longer “in your face”
  • A group of devotional people appear
  • A “connection with life” comes through devotional acts

3. Achievement

As society grows even further the presence of a ‘god’ fades.  That is to say, as the tribe grows and fades, so do the tribal gods.  This leaves a growing tendency of a ‘spirituality without a god’.  But some people are still ‘spiritual’.  This creates a group of ‘spiritual people without a god’.  The emphasis becomes on what they do or achieve.  There becomes a preoccupation in what one does and how one does it.  This is seen in Buddhism and other things where achievement is worshiped, such as art and some forms of work.  Because it focuses on what a person does it is a ‘spirituality-by-achievement’.

So we see these traits:

  • The emphasis is on doing and achieving, doing some act
  • The world becomes distant
  • A sense of ‘god’ begins to fade
  • A “connection with life” comes through some achievement or act

4. Thought

It seems that, after awhile, achievement often tends to become empty.  As a result, mental thoughts begin to fill the void, the void that was originally held by gods, culture, and belief.  Now, the power of thoughts and ideas become critical and paramount and, in a sense, replace the gods.  Many themes of spirituality are lost here:  god, the spiritual/worldly distinction, the need for a death.  All are forsaken for what mental thoughts creates.  Here people think and philosophize.  This is ‘spirituality-by-thought’.  This tends to create an alienated spirituality that ends up not being a spirituality at all.

So we see these traits:

  • Mental acts become important
  • The world is more distant
  • A group of people who think about things appear
  • A “connection with life” comes through thought

5 Creations

Philosophizing, and its logical thinking, tends to create things . . . many things.  A whole world has been created by the effects of philosophizing, the ‘world of created things’.  But these are things that are beyond us, as people, and have no origin in our personal self.  This is ‘spirituality-by-creations’.   But once the creations take hold we lose our spirituality completely.  Since they are not of us they are not us.  As a result, a ‘displaced spirituality’ is created if it can be called a spirituality at all.

Not only that, the ‘world of created things’ start to take a dominating role in life.  In some cases, it will begin to control and dictate our life.  As a result, it has not only displaced our spirituality but us as people.

So we see these traits:

  • The emphasis is on mental creations
  • The world fades
  • A group of people who create things appear
  • A “connection with life” comes through what has been created

6. Stagnation

Once we are ‘displaced’ our spirituality stagnates and, often, disappears.  This is ‘spirituality-by-stagnation’ which is no spirituality at all.  This seems to be the stage of mass society and is where the modern world is today.  In this stagnating stage what spirituality there is consist of a ‘personal spirituality’.  But there do develop many ‘pseudo-spiritualities’ or ‘attempted spiritualities’ by some people in the society . . . they tend to fail though.

At this stage we have lost hold of things like:

  • The world
  • The tribe or society
  • A spiritual sense: the spiritual/worldly self
  • A need to grow:  to “die” and be “reborn”
  • A need for god

In so doing, spirituality fails and dies.  As a result, people begin to feel “disconnected with life”, alienated, and such.  This condition, of course, is part of the great dilemma of large civilizations and the modern world.

It seems, to me that there are two big causes for the failed spirituality that appears in this later phase:

  1. The power of philosophizing
  2. The power of creations

I do not believe that it is because they are inherently bad but because they have so much power, and are so strong, that they literally usurp any spirituality.  In this way, humanity as if becomes “dominated” by society and its creations.  Being disconnected with itself humanity then becomes alienated from its true nature, lost, shallow, and so on.

THE PROGRESSION AND THE ‘CONDITIONS OF SPIRITUALITY’

These shows a strong association between world, society, self,and creation.  Just looking at these elements, we could say the progression follows this path:

  1. World-dominant (primitive society)
  2. Society-dominant
  3. Self-dominant (thought and achievement)
  4. Creation-dominant (mass society, to the point of stagnation)

This movement from primitive society to mass society seems to show a movement away from the world.  By ‘world’ I mean that the perception that we are in it and that it is a reality we face.  As I said above, in primitive societies the world is a reality that stares you in the face.  This creates a spirituality that is also “in your face”.  As the society grows there’s a tendency for the world, as perceived this way, to fade and become something distant.  Its as if society is pushing out the world and, over time, builds a wall against it.  This shows that there is a ‘world/society association’.  What this means is that as society increases the world being “in your face” tends to decrease.  To put it another way, its as if the world and society are diametrically opposed.

As a result of the increase in the growth of society (and the decreasing of the world) the sense of “me” becomes more dominant.  This causes a big change in the perception of things.  In other words, the growth in society causes a change from a ‘world-based’ perspective to a ‘me-based’ perspective.  As a result, things become more person-centered.  This shows a ‘world/me association’.  Because of this, as the world fades, there is more emphasis on what one, as a person, does.  This makes it so that things like achievement, what we think, and what we create become important, which is what we see in the later phases.

And so the spiritual progression from primitive to mass society seems to begin with an intense world-focused spirituality but ends with a failed me-spirituality.   Perhaps you could say that spirituality went off the tracks as society progresses.  This shows a ‘world/spirituality association’.  In other words, the closer we are to the world the more spiritual we are . . . the closer we are to “me” the less spiritual we are.

All this shows some interesting facts:

  • Spirituality is rooted in the world being “in your face”
  • Society undermines spirituality
  • The “me” undermines spirituality
  • Thoughts undermines spirituality
  • Creations undermines spirituality

What does this show?  It shows some common phenomena’s seen in spirituality all over the world:

  • Of seeking to live more “in nature”
  • Of an absence of society
  • Of an absence of “me”
  • Of an absence of thought
  • Of seeking simplicity

Perhaps we could call these the ‘conditions of spirituality’?  I find that quite fascinating.  What is shows is that historical progression and growth of society and civilization inherently moves us away from spirituality and its “connection with life”.  Its because of this I have sayings such as these:

“Humanity alienates!”

“Too much human is death!”

Because of the loss of a “connection with life” there develops, for some people, a need for spirituality in the later phases of progression.  This is not the same as the spirituality of the earlier phases.  In fact, they are very much different.  Perhaps we could say that there are two forms of spirituality:

  1. The world-oriented spirituality.  This is the spirituality of the early phases, which are more based in the world.
  2. The stagnation-oriented spirituality.  This is the spirituality of the later phases, which are more reflective of a stagnating spirituality.

This later form is what is generally known as “spirituality” in this society.  This is because this society is of the later phases.  In stagnation-oriented spirituality we are motivated by the fact that we are “disconnected” and are now trying to “reconnect” with the earlier phases.  As a result, we try to “recreate” the ‘conditions of spirituality’ described above.  But, since we have progressed to the later phases we are “exposed” to all the earlier phases.  In this way, stagnation-oriented spirituality is a combination of all the phases but with the intent to “recreate” the ‘conditions of spirituality’ of the early phases as if the later phases didn’t exist.  Because of this, thought, achievement, etc. are all somehow affecting the stagnation-oriented spirituality whether you want it to or not.  The fact is that once you have progressed to the later stages your are affected by all the stages that have affected you.  This dramatically affects spirituality.  The spirituality of primitive peoples, for example, are not affected by the effects of the later phases, such as stagnation or creations.  In this way, they are not feeling “disconnected” and their spirituality is not motivated to “reconnect”.  Because of this, the spirituality of primitive people is more “casual” and truths are just “there” . . . there’s no feeling of loss or a desire to search for something lost.  In the later phases the spirituality is usually motivated by a sense of loss.  As a result, stagnation-oriented spirituality has a quality of loss, need, desperation, and searching which is lacking in world-oriented spirituality.  This makes it more of a “deliberate search”.  One interesting effect of this is that it makes a spirituality that is “deeper” and often more meaningful to the person than in the earlier world-oriented spirituality.

But one thing it points out is that spirituality is a reflection of the conditions we live in.  To put it another way, spirituality is a reaction to our surroundings and how we live.  Its because of this, that a big part of maintaining a spirituality is creating these things:

  • Proper conditions
  • The correct way of life
  • Proper surroundings

This makes it so that spirituality isn’t just “us”, and what we do, but everything about us . . . it is holistic, encompassing the entirety of our life.  This, to me, seems to be one of the great powers of a spirituality.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Contemplation, monastacism, shamanism, spirituality, prayer, and such, Dehumanization and alienation, Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Primitive society and people, Religion and religious stuff, Tribal society and the tribal sense | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the “insult issue”, of insults, and the response to insults, in the 2016 Presidential election and since – revealing aspects of the American character

Here are some thoughts I had about the situation after the 2016 Presidential election (I don’t know what to make of some of these thoughts though).  Keep in mind that these are looked at from a sociological point of view, not a political one.  Here are those thoughts::

THE PROBLEM OF THE RESPONSE TO INSULTS

It doesn’t take a genius to see that a lot of the problems that surround the 2016 Presidential election and since all revolve around insults.  These are primarily insults that were initiated by Trump but, to a lesser extent, Clinton as well.  The whole election became a game of insulting each other, really.  Looking at it from a distance it was actually somewhat comical.  I always remarked that it would make a good comedy.  But the comedy shouldn’t revolve around the candidates.  In my opinion, they should take a “back seat” role.  The real comedy was with the media and the people They were the ones who made the real insults, and are still doing it.  In fact, it was they who made it utterly hilarious (I’ve written aspects of it in this article:  “Thoughts on a media-induced mass hysteria . . . the “Trump panic”“).  I have been wanting to write a story reflecting this (a fictional story, not true history) but I can’t think of a plot that would portray the ridiculousness of the media and the people in a way that would be easy to read.

At any rate, it seems to me that, since this election, this country has become bogged down in the endless nonsense of insults.  I should point out that it isn’t the insults that is nonsense but the response to the insults.  I speak of this as the “insult issue”.

How people are responding was, at first, over reactive and hilarious but now its become ridiculous, and even seems worse after a year.  In fact, after hearing of a number of responses the other day it prompted me to want to say something to these people.  It goes something to this effect:

“I think that it has reached the point where you need to find a way to deal with these insults.  I understand that you were offended by some of the things Trump has said but it has now reached the point that you need to find a way to deal with it.  You need to do whatever it takes . . . go in the back room and cry, have a ‘group hug’, tattoo the American Constitution on your chest . . . you need to do whatever it takes to get over this.  It isn’t Trump that is the problem . . . its you!  Your response to the insults have gotten so bad that it is now impairing the functioning of this government.  Its also creating unnecessary tension, hatred, and turmoil.  You need to find a way to get over this.  This country needs to get moving . . . your response is hindering that.”

In other words, I put the blame not on the insults but the response to the insults.  The response is bogging this country down, or so it seems to me.  In fact, the response to the insults have become, in my opinion, the “real insult” and I think it insults us all . . . the responses are worse than the original insults! 

As I mentioned in the article referenced above, how you respond to a situation is more important than what happened.  In other words, if someone, say, does an injury to you then how you respond to it is more important than what they did to you.  An injury done to you does not give you the right to “get out of control”.  This is because your response reflects you and how you think.  But, in some cases, the response is far worse than the original injury done to them.  When this happens it says that the person injured is worse than the person who did the original injury, so your response says a lot.  Personally, that is what I think we’re looking at . . . the people “injured” are worse than the person who did the original injury!  

** I should point out, and emphasize, that a lot of my stance in this election is based on the fact that I hold the media and people accountable for their actions and how they have behaved.  I do not give them “free reign” to do and say what they want.  It doesn’t matter how how much they have been insulted, injured, or offended, they are still accountable for their behavior.  And, in my opinion, the behavior of the media and people have been appalling, far far worse than anything Trump has done.  I’ve seen villainizing to no end, fabrication of stories, blowing things out of proportion, distortion of facts, etc. on an scale I have never seen before.  And, even more appalling, is that the media and people think they are not accountable for it! **

In addition to “getting out of control” this ridiculous response has become an impairment . . . the government is practically crippled by it.  Trump can’t do anything.  Every time he tries to do something its hampered.  If he moves the wrong way it becomes endless bickering and complaining about it.  Its like people are doing everything in their power to prevent him from doing anything or in trying to debase him in some way.  And this has been going on and on and on to the point of nausea.

So this is the great America, huh?

I tend to believe that this country needs to get moving.  It needs to get out of the pit the media and the people have put us in and we need to do everything we can to get out of that pit.  The way it looks now is that we’re going to be in it for another three years until Trump gets out of office . . . only then will the media and people stop moaning.

That’s how it appears to me anyways.

A number of groups are reflecting this ridiculous response:

  • Democrats
  • Liberals
  • Some females
  • Some minorities
  • Media and news
  • Many gullible people
  • Much of the media

These people are keeping the ridiculous responses going on and on and on.  Many of us are wondering when its going to end.  Its like a shooting match of insults, primarily originating from the people described above.  They all blame Trump but, if one looks closely, one can see that Trump is doing, and has actually done, very little.  For every sentence Trump has said, which someone viewed as “insulting”, there has been a ton of ink spilled in ridiculous insults back!  In actuality, Trump is a minor player here.  From where I stand I’d say he isn’t even involved with this anymore.  The ridiculous response to the insults have developed a life of their own, independent of him.  This is now a matter of the media and the people and its there one should look.  Its also there that one should find blame.

I find it interesting that all this has nothing to do with political theory, policies, issues, and such, which normally happens in government.  It all revolves how some peoples feelings were “hurt”.  Think of it . . . a government impaired because some peoples feelings were “hurt”.  I can’t believe it.  I’ve never heard of anything like that in history.

THE PROBLEM OF MASS HYSTERIA

This, to me, does not look like the “normal” drama, hype, and nonsense that one often sees in politics.  This seems like something else.  I tend to believe that it is.  As I stated in the article referenced above, I consider it a “media-induced mass hysteria”. 

The media has played a large role in this problem.  I would even venture to say that the media is largely responsible for the hysteria.  It did it a number of ways:

  • The nature of media is that it has a large exposure allowing many people to see what it produces
  • It tends to emphasize hype, and other things (whether its relevant or not), all in order to get the peoples attention
  • It has played a major role by being a large contributor to the insults . . . in other words, instead of reporting the news they lashed out insults and treated the insults as news

Because of these, the “media-induced mass hysteria” took this out of the realm of politics into the realm of mass hysteria, fear, and apprehension of people, which is exactly what it has become.  In actuality, this isn’t about politics.  I would even go on to say that politics isn’t even involved anymore, though it can get “dragged” into it from time to time.

THE PROBLEM OF FEAR AND ALREADY EXISTING PROBLEMS

As with most mass hysteria’s this appears to be motivated by a fear, a blind fear.  That is to say, a fear that has no real justification (I discussed this in the article referenced above).  Much of this blind fear seems to, at least to me, originate not from the insults or the election, as is claimed, but the problems of the times.  This more or less means that it has nothing to do with the President, Trump, and the election which is what everyone seems to say.  These, it seems to me, are nothing but an “avenue” or “outlet” for these deep hidden fears.  Its allowed them to come out, so to speak.  That’s what it looks like to me.

Much of this fear are residues from the past, such as:

  • The cold war and the idea of world annihilation
  • The new horrifying weapons of war
  • The Vietnam War protests and all the drama they created
  • All the drama as a result of WWII (Nazi’s, Holocaust, weapons of war, etc.)
  • The worry over the world (environment, war, overpopulation, etc.)
  • The ‘male panic’ or, more properly, the ‘white male panic’ – there is a fear of the white male because he is associated with war, weapons, industrialization, the Holocaust, etc. that has caused a lot of problems recently . . . and Trump’s a white male!  (see my article, “Thoughts on the “male panic”“)

The fear also reflects various problems with American society that remain unresolved such as:

  • Problems between people (black and white, etc.)
  • Questions of America’s “power”, meaning, and purpose in the world

The fear also reflects worry over the future and where the world is headed.  There is basically a great worry over the future and what it will bring.  Since Americans tend to think that the U.S. is the “head of the world” this worry is reflected in the image of the President, so any “problem” associated with the President(such as the problem of these insults) hits a special cord.

The fear also reflects problems, inadequacies, or qualities of the American character, such as:

  • The fact that the American character is somewhat “weak” and can’t handle conflict as much as they think
  • The fact that the American character believes everything the media tells them
  • The fact that the American character is actually somewhat “lost in life”, has no real authority to look up to, and doesn’t know what to believe
  • The fact that the American character tends to be superficial and look at things superficially
  • The fact that the American character tends to reflect a mass mentality
  • The fact that the American character tends to be over reactive and easily blows things out of proportion
  • The fact that the American character is naive and simplistic in nature

The fear also reflects attitudes that originate from democracy, such as:

  • A tendency to paranoia (remember that the American political theory is based in a fear of the government, that the people must “protect themselves” from the government)
  • A tendency to be self-righteous, thinking they are always right
  • A tendency to think that they are always fighting for their freedom, even when there’s no threat

I also tend to believe that this fear reflects another thing that no one will talk about, a “taboo” subject . . . do I dare mention it?  I speak of the failed female identity and the insecure American female it has created (see my article “Thoughts on the ‘failed sex’ – how many female traits have failed – a hidden crisis of the American female“).  Many American females are struggling with a failed identity and the problems its created.  This issue was brought out with great force because a female was running for President.  Many females seemed to think this was going to “solve their problem” (which it won’t . . . how could it?).  In fact, I tend to believe that the female was a contributing factor to why this thing got out of control and went hysterical.  I also tend to think the female contributed a lot to why we got “bogged down” in insults.  In addition, it is primarily they whose feelings were “hurt” and are struggling with it.  Much of this tendency is a result of the failed female identity and one of its effects, what I call the “female-as-victim”, which is a preoccupation, even to the point of obsession, of seeing the female as a victim, usually of the male (see my article “More thoughts on the “female-as-victim” – revealing aspects of the mother instinct).  The “female-as-victim” has played a great role in this election and its response.  In fact, its gotten so bad that I tend to say that some American females are “overplaying the victim role to the point of nausea”.  Many females are so preoccupied with seeing the female as a victim that I wonder what new form of victimizing they will find or create during the rest of Trump’s presidency . . . they’ll find something!  With the female-as-victim mentality they’ll see victimizing coming out of the woodwork and its generally the male who is responsible.  Remember, according to this point of view the female is typically the victim of the male.  There are even some females who think that there is a “male conspiracy” where males are plotting against females to oppress, enslave, or degrade them, believe it or not!  Its almost unreal.

THE COUNTER-INSULT

What we see, then, is that there is a multitude of fears flying about out there all of which contributed to this problem.  Different people tended to reflect different fears.  Regardless of the particular fear that was instigated, the insults prompted a blind fear which prompted a mass hysteria which prompted a defense, a counter-insult.  Some ways this counter-insult appeared include:

  • Attacks on already existing situations (such as the “Trump/Russian connection” . . . so are they implying that Trump is siding with the Russians?)
  • Fabrications of stories and situations that don’t exist
  • Attack on a persons character (such as questioning Trump’s mental health)
  • Nitpicking things to death (such as if Trump mispronounces a word it shows he’s “mentally unstable”)
  • Distorting things so they appear worse than they are
  • Endless and pointless criticizing
  • Seeing wrong in everything
  • Not seeing the good and right in things
  • Making something that appears “bad” worse than it is
  • Accusations of abuse and victimizing
  • Going “on and on” about something

Basically, the fear has prompted a counter-insult that is really more of an “attack” but in a roundabout way that makes it appear as if it isn’t an “attack”.  When you sit and look at it all it all sounds convincing.  The media, in particular, has done a great job doing this (I almost believed what they said a number of times).  But when you stand back and take a look it appears different.  From where I stand one can see that these are nothing but blunt and blind “attacks” motivated out of fear . . . people are frightened and this counter-insult is their “defense”.  The problem is that they are attacking the wrong thing.  First of all, they’re attacking a person and what they are frightened of is not a person but a condition, the condition of the times.  The bulk of these fears predate Trump and will persist after Trump leaves office.  They will then appear in other ways . . . maybe they’ll find someone else to blame?  Maybe someone will say the wrong thing and start another mass hysteria . . . who knows?

Take a look at this:  https://www.msn.com/en-us/entertainment/celebrity/ivanka-trump-slammed-for-tweet-about-oprah%E2%80%99s-golden-globes-speech/ar-BBI8ISj?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=mailsignout .  Here, Ivanka Trump actually compliments a speech by Oprah Winfrey . . . but looks at the response.  She was criticized for it!  Not only that, they accused Trump as a “predator” and such.  But, we must remember, that nothing has been proven (at least, as far as I know) . . . they are only “allegations”.   We see here a number of things:

  • Making something out that was good into something bad
  • Jumping to conclusions without justification
  • A tendency to condemn too easily
  • A willingness to condemn anything associated with the “threat” (it doesn’t take a genius to see that she was criticized because she is Trump’s daughter . . . this is actually an attack on Trump and how they were insulted by him) . . . this often causes a tendency to over-generalize (for example, that because a couple of guys do sexual harassment all males do)

These are some of the qualities we see in the counter-insult.  Anyone can see that these are very “underhanded” and impulsive techniques of desperation.  Its a reaction to a fear.  But you tell me:  who is worse, President or Ivanka Trump or the people who make statements such as these?  The question becomes:  who should you be criticizing?!!!

Interestingly, after all the commotion, hype, hysteria, nonsense, accusations, panic, and such none of the actual fears are being “resolved”.  One things for sure:  a “shooting match” of insults isn’t going to do anything.  It seems, to me, that its only aggravating it and making it worse.

THE QUESTION OF CONTEMPT FOR “POLITICALLY CORRECT” SOCIETY

Here’s another side to things:  I know that, for many males in particular, Trump’s blunt and open and condemning manner was inspiring (it was for me).  A common statement I heard went to this effect:  “he says it as it is”.  Basically, the point being that if someone finds it insulting, then so be it, as long as its true.  But we live in a society where too many people are so oversensitive and over reactive that its ridiculous and we now have to change our lives to deal with them.  One of the ridiculous ideas they have created to deal with this is called “political correctness”.  As a result, I often call this the “politically correct” society.  This has created something like a sense of disgust and contempt in this society for many people.  In fact, I think there is a “quiet rebellion” against it.  I sometimes think, though, that one day this “quiet rebellion” will become a “loud rebellion”.

The fact is that for many of us males (and some females) we have become sickened by current American “politically correct” society because of things like these:

  • Having to live in a phony, “proper”, and “politically correct” society.
  • Where we must watch everything we say and do, where must walk on tip-toes, and handle people with kit gloves. 
  • Where we  have to be continually be “on guard” against offending, insulting, or “hurting” someones feelings.  
  • Where we have to cater to uptight and insecure people.
  • Where we have to make concessions for other people but no one makes concessions for us.
  • Where we are accused and blamed for other peoples problems and issues.
  • Where we have the American Constitution slammed in our face as “justification” for having to live this way.

This condition is something like a lie, a falsity, a big ridiculous illusion.  Its like trying to force a false “harmony” between people that doesn’t exist.  I’ve talked to many males and many of them mention this, in some way or another.  I think there’s a lot of people who feel this way, but no one talks about it.

I should point out that much of the mentality doing the ridiculous responses, and blowing things out of proportion, originate from “politically correct” society and reflect its point of view.  As a result, it reflects the ridiculousness of “politically correct” society, showing its uptightness and insecurity.  This gives all this behavior a different quality.  It makes the ridiculous responses, and blowing things out of proportion, an “avenue of contempt” for “politically correct” society.  This, it seems to me, has create something like an underground “counter-movement” going on where many people (mostly males) look at all this commotion and laugh at it all as a sign of how ridiculous this “politically correct” society has become.  Its hilarious:  all Trump has to do is say something and people run around like chickens with their heads cut off . . . the media makes outrageous claims and the people go into a  hysterical frenzy!  You can’t help but chuckle at it all.  I think that there is a great sense of contempt hidden here in the tendency to want to chuckle at it.

An interesting point to remember is that “politically correct” society is a society of people who are already insulted . . . that’s why everyone else has to be “politically correct”, so that this feeling of being insulted isn’t aggravated.  This “already insulted” attitude is why they become offended by everything and why they get so uptight about things.  Behind this “already insulted” attitude is a mentality of dislike of people, apprehension, and fear.  But what they do is hide these feelings behind high political cause which makes it sound “legitimate”.  This pattern of thought is not surprising as much of the attitude of “politically correct” society originates from the fear, apprehension, and ‘high political cause’ coming from the cold war (see my article “Thoughts on the ridiculousness of political correctness – another example of cold war paranoia“).  I’ve been around these “politically correct” people and their “already insulted” attitude is something I’ve always felt uncomfortable with.  I always felt like they are waiting for me to do something so they can be offended or insulted.  In other words, I have always had a sense that they are looking to be offended or insulted.  This is why all this commotion about Trump did not surprise me.  I’ve already seen this coming! I first began to see this “already insulted” attitude in the late 1990’s and its grown and grown since.  Interestingly, I once remarked, 5 or 10 years ago, that “one day someone is going to rub these uptight politically correct people the wrong way and they are going to freak out”.  Apparently, that person is Trump.

One of the reasons why this contempt is “underground”, and seldom mentioned overtly (though its continually referred to in roundabout ways), is because “politically correct” society uses the American Constitution as authority.  This creates a number of conditions:

  • It gives “politically correct” society a “legitimacy”, whether its true or not.  This makes it hard to refute.
  • It makes it difficult for those who despise it to condemn it in a “legitimate” way.  It even makes it hard to point out its failings and problems.

The net effect of these is that “politically correct” society use of the American Constitution as if “stifles” the display of contempt as well as any condemnation of this society and its mentality.  I’ve often said that once the hurdle of the authority of the American Constitution is overcome there will probably be a great condemnation of “politically correct” society and mentality.  At this time, no one knows how to “override” the authority of the American Constitution that “politically correct” society uses.  As a result, contempt for “political correct” society is “underground” and somewhat silent.

Interpreting the American Constitution . . .

One of the ways I’ve begun to “override” the authority of the American Constitution is to point out that “politically correct” society is using a “cold war interpretation of the American Constitution”.  (see my articles, “Thoughts on the cold war interpretation of the U.S. Constitution: distortion “in the name of the Constitution”“, “More thoughts on the cold war interpretation of the U.S. Constitution – the ‘frigid war’, ‘the re-enactment of the American Revolutionary War’, and the ‘historical shadow’“, and “Thoughts on my statement: “The cold war is over. We don’t have to see malicious intent in peoples actions anymore . . . ” – the cold war warpage of American ideals, law, and political views and other things“).   “Politically correct” society is using an interpretation that primarily reflects the 1970’s and the themes of that era.  In this way, “politically correct” society is using an outdated and outmoded point of view based on non-existent conditions.  Therefore, I have stated that I do not acknowledge the cold war era interpretation and its themes nor do I accept its authority.  This fact states that there are, in fact, different ways to interpret the American Constitution and that there is no “one way”.  Just as the Bible has different ways to interpret it, so has the American Constitution.

Much of the “cold war interpretation of the American Constitution” are reflected in attitudes and assumptions more so than any overt definable “philosophy”.  As a result, they tend to be “permeate” points of view and how things are interpreted.  Examples of these includes things such as:

  • An attitude of fear.
  • An assumption that everyone hates everyone else.
  • An idea that we must be “forced, by law, to love another”.
  • Of using or, rather, misusing, the American Constitution as a way to “muscle” your way so you get what you want.
  • An attitude of self-righteous cause, that you’re interpretation is right and that you represent the “people”.
  • The “favoring” of specific people for special treatment and privilege (almost always its not the people “in authority” . . . so, in this point of view, you don’t want to be in a position of authority).

Much of these attitudes reflect the cold war era, the Vietnam War protests, and the Civil Rights Movement, which all have disappeared.  In addition, they are rooted in Christian attitudes, a belief system that is not all that prevalent.  The general result of this outdated style of interpretation, with its attitudes and assumptions, is that it causes things like:

  • A distrust
  • An apprehension
  • False accusations
  • False claims of abuse
  • A bias and favoritism
  • A horrible self-righteousness

These have all become prevalent in this society and in law.  I truly believe that we need to move out of these attitudes and points of view.

THE QUESTION OF INSULT

What does all this show?

The question of “being insulted” is a matter of opinion and the question of what constitutes an “insult” is a matter of opinion.  An insult to one person is a statement of truth to another.

Which, then, is right?

It brings up some questions:

  • What constitutes an insult?
  • What is the proper response to an insult?

To me, an insult is when someone “cuts you down” or “undermines your dignity”.  This can be done a number of ways:

  • Deliberately and intentionally
  • A “perceived insult” . . . they see it as an insult but it wasn’t intended to be an insult

According to my observation most things that are considered insults, in the U.S., are “perceived insults”.  In other words, the person “thinks” its an insult but it was not intentional (not very often do I see people deliberately insulting or putting down other people).  To put it another way, people “find insults” in things.  I tend to feel that this is the situation.

The problem of Trumps character . . . a cause for a “clash”

I am not of the impression that Trump deliberately insulted people but that he is one of those character types that tends to appear “rude-like” or “inappropriate” and says things rather harshly.  A good example of this type of character is George Patton who sometimes had to be warned about what he said before a speech (as he’d swear and say rude things).  He often got in trouble for what he said as well as his behavior (such as the famous “soldier slapping” incidence).  With this type of character type its easy to interpret it as being a deliberate insult when it really wasn’t . . . its just their “harsh” manner, so to speak.  I’ve been around character types like this.  They would often do things such as:

  • Say things that were rude
  • Act in a rude way
  • They “rub people the wrong way”
  • Call people names
  • To “cuss and swear”, often excessively
  • They often have a big ego
  • Be excessively critical
  • Be demanding
  • Be controlling

I tended to associate this character type with my grandparents generation or earlier.  As a child, they scared me.  As I grew older I grew to respect them.  I began to see that a lot of their behavior was really “to do what it takes to get things done”.  Unfortunately, because of this I tended to not want to do have to work with them, as they’d almost be like slave drivers and expected a lot out of you.

I also associate this character type as a very “American” character type created by the conditions of a “growing America” where a person had to “do what it takes to get things done”.  A number of conditions, in America, seemed to create this character type:

  • In big business, particularly in the northeast but also on the west coast
  • As a result of pioneer life
  • As a result of the work, stress, and effort required for western expansion
  • The Depression
  • WWII

These conditions tend to create a male who is often “vulgar”, tends to “cuss and swear”, to call people names, and such, as described above.  This is actually quite common.  There’s a reason for it . . . they don’t do it to just to be malicious.  My observation is that these things are often done as an “outlet” for things such as:

  • Pressure and stress
  • Having to exert themselves a lot
  • Where they are in a position where they might get hurt or even killed
  • When they are facing some form of an unknown
  • Where they have great pressure on their shoulders
  • Where they are in a position where they feel helpless

A persons occupation often promotes these conditions.  This is why people like soldiers, lumberjacks, mechanics, etc. often cuss, swear, call people names, be vulgar, and such.  Because of Trump’s behavior I’m inclined to think that he is suffering from similar conditions and is, accordingly, doing this common male response.  Whats different about Trump is that he says it openly.  Most guys only say these things with their “buddies” or privately with themselves.  But there are certain personality types that are very vocal.  They tend to be flamboyant extrovert type people.

Several things, it seems to me, tend to help create this unique character type and why it is “uniquely American”.  These include:

  • Democracy.  With a society based on democratic ideas it means that authority tends to be limited and the social structure is weak.  As a result, it takes more “effort” to get things done placing more pressure, and stress, upon the person.  It also creates more “tension” between the people in charge and the workers.
  • Individualism.  The American ideal of individualism tends to make many of these guys have a large ego and think a lot of themselves.  It also tends to make them look down on other people.
  • Christianity.  Being a Christian-based society its not uncommon that expressions of frustration would appear as a “rebelling against Christian ideals” as that’s almost like “rebelling against god”.  As a result, it often creates a tendency to do more cussing, swearing, vulgarity, and so on in order to express this frustration.  It can also lead to immoral behavior as well.

What all this shows is that not only the conditions of a growing America created this character type but also the ideals and beliefs of America.  In this way, this “harsh” character type is truly an “American character” created by America.

In this way it becomes clear that these “harsh” character types, like Patton and Trump, are part of the people who built this country and made it what it is, believe it or not!   But this character type has been largely ignored.  Being too “harsh” their unique personalities are quickly “brushed under the carpet” . . . people would rather remember the glamorous hero types with perfect manners, perfect values, perfect behavior, and without a personality flaw.  I have always felt that we need to acknowledge these people and, more importantly, these unique character types for what they have done for this country and to acknowledge that it was the traits of this character type that got things done.  The way it looks that’s not going to ever happen, particularly in “politically correct” America.  God help us all, we don’t want to offend anyone!

I tend to think that Trump is one of those people who displays this “harsh” character type.  If this is the case then it would mean that this situation has caused is something like a “clash” between Trumps “harsh” character type and a number of other things such as:

  • “Easily insulted” people (see below)
  • “Politically correct” society
  • A lack of general understanding of this character type

The result of this “clash” is what has become the problem of this presidency! 

In addition, what it also shows is that the “harsh” character type is not very “public friendly”.  In many ways, the “harsh” character type is not someone who should be in the public view . . . its just too hard and difficult for the public to take. It seems, to me, that this is what we are dealing with.  In other words, the problem is not really Trump but a clash of his character type with the public.  This means that all this villainizing, moaning, and groaning of the media and people are an expression, really, of how the public has a hard time with this character type.  What I find ironic is that this “clash” is with a character type that is uniquely “American” and which America created, as I explained above.

But the reaction to the “harsh” character type, it seems to me, has revealed some other interesting aspects . . .

The problem of “easily insulted” people

It appears, to me, that people who tend to feel “perceived insults” tend to be insecure and uptight people.  Oddly enough, Americans tend to be insecure and uptight people (for example, see my article, “Thoughts on the ‘uptight American’ – the price of individualism“).  Is it any wonder that people are insulted by “this and that” in this country?  Over the years I have talked to a number of people who have referred to this.  Basically, many of us are “stunned” by how easily people are insulted in this country.  There are people who get insulted by a look or a wrong word.  I actually believe that there are people who “look for insults” and seek to be insulted.

The issue of insecure and uptight people (“easily insulted” people) shows something interesting:  that there is a close association between feeling insulted and a “mental stability”.  Basically, the more stable you are as a person the less likely you will feel insulted.  That sounds sort of funny but that’s what my observation has shown.  If this is true then it would mean that the American way of life tends to create a person that is not “stable as a person”.  Sadly, this is what my observation has shown.

It seems, to me, that the proper response to an insult varies with the situation.  My experience is that the best thing to do is to walk away and not make a big deal about it.  Look at it this way:  why should I care what they think?  Whats it to me?  The only time to be concerned is if it has some bearing on me where the insult may have some ramifications later on (such as some situations at work).  Otherwise, insults are “just words”.  From my experience, there are “insults around every corner”.  There’s always something that is insulting, or can be construed as insulting, no matter where you go.  This is particularly true in this “mass society” with all the varied people and such.  In all the times I’ve been insulted, or felt insulted, its never come to anything . . . it “comes and goes like the wind”.  Its generally best to treat it like the wind, in my experience anyways.

An insecure and uptight person, though, can’t do this and they tend to take insults too seriously.  As a result, they tend to blow things out of proportion.  What actually ends up happening is that, with an insecure and uptight person, insults become an “avenue” for personal dilemma’s.  In this way, their reaction to an insult is more a reaction to these dilemma’s than to the insult itself.  Its because of this that, oftentimes, the insult tends to be “transformed” into their personal dilemma.  For example, issues start to all-of-a-sudden appear that have nothing to do with the insult.  Its because of this that you can tell a lot about a person, and their personal dilemma, by how they react to insults.  Looking at things from this angle its clear that the reaction to Trumps supposed “insults” reveals a lot about the mentality of much of the U.S.  In fact, its because of this that I learned a lot about the current American mentality for some of the population of the U.S.  Some of the things it taught me include:

  • That Americans are a frightened people.
  • That the U.S. is struggling with who it is, where its going, and its place in the world.
  • That many Americans need someone or something to look up to but can’t find anything.
  • That many Americans “blindly follow” things such as media, public opinion, etc.
  • That many Americans “hide” behind political theory and use it as a defense.
  • That many Americans “hide” behind a  self-righteousness.
  • That there is no sense of unity in America.
  • That American females have serious “issues” and are looking in the wrong area for solutions (for example, “playing the victim”, having a job, or being a man isn’t going to save them).
  • That American society has become rather ridiculous.
  • That there are many Americans who are tired of this “politically correct” society and having to cater to insecure and uptight people.

In short, many Americans feel “empty”, so to speak.  They have nothing to believe in, to hope for, or look up to, nor do they know where they are going.  They have no god, no religion, no way of life, no social structure, no morality.  I tend to believe that a big cause for this is the shallow and superficial lifestyle that is rooted in money, materialism, and hedonism (the seeking of pleasure).  In other words, many Americans are suffering from the effects of an inadequate and shallow lifestyle.  Whats interesting is that they think this inadequate and shallow lifestyle is great.  This is the irony of America:  the U.S. has all this money and material items and things that cause pleasure, which appears so good and idealistic, but it doesn’t satisfy the “inner need” at all.  Instead, this inadequate and shallow lifestyle causes an “inner emptiness”.  

I also see a lot of this as a sign of being in the post cold war world In other words, since the end of the cold war the U.S. has lost the meaning, purpose, and unity that was prevalent during the cold war and which made the U.S. so “great”.  In many ways it shows how much the U.S. was impacted by the cold war.  During the cold war we were “great” . . . after the cold war we’re “unraveling”.  There’s no longer a war to rally behind, a reason to glorify our political theory, a reason to think we’re great.  Its as if the U.S. is lost, in a way.  To complicate it further, the fears that developed as a result of the cold war (such as the threat of world destruction or government control) are still unresolved and still felt.  During the cold war we had “fear and a cause” . . . now we have “fear and no cause”.  This, I think, came out in this election.  The cold war still hangs over us . . .

In my opinion, this election has brought out the insecure and uptight American who, being unable to handle what they consider an insult, have over-reacted and blown things out of proportion. In so doing, they have revealed much of their insecurity and uncertainty about themselves. 

SOME LAST THOUGHTS ON THE “INSULT ISSUE”

Looking at the situation, overall, it appears that the “insult issue” has placed something like a “stress” on American society which has, it seems to me, brought out many “issues”, character traits, dilemma’s, and qualities of the American character.  In this way, the “insult issue” has become a great revealing of the American character.  Because it is a “stress”, based on a dilemma, it has revealed aspects of how the American character perceives and deals with stress.  Some of these qualities include:

  • An insecurity
  • A self-righteousness
  • A quick tendency to blowing things out of proportion and making things worse than they are
  • A tendency to hysteria
  • A tendency to be gullible
  • A tendency to blame and accuse

To make it even more interesting, this whole this is a response to Trump’s character which is a very “American” character, reflecting conditions of the growth of America and so on (as described above). In this way, its almost like America is “struggling with itself”, from an overall holistic viewpoint.  Its struggling with its own mentality, its own history, its own dilemma’s, and its own character.  I tend to believe that what the “insult issue”, and this presidency, has brought out is a basic dilemma of America, of a country that has lost its unity, its vision, its belief, and its purpose. 

This dilemma, it seems to me, has been a quality that has been largely “unconscious” in the American mind hidden behind images of “American greatness”, commercialism, cell phones, graphics, and all the other stuff that has appeared recently.  Its like this stuff has almost covered this dilemma, keeping it from view.  Despite this, it lay there, unseen, smoldering.  Some of us noticed it, though, and it was referred to from time to time by various people including myself.

It also seems like these “unconscious” themes are dividing the U.S. and tearing it apart, at least on some levels of this society.  In this way, the themes brought out in the “insult issue” have a somewhat destructive and undermining quality to it.

It seems, to me, that there is probably some truth in these thoughts.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in 2016 Presidential election and things associated with it, Current affairs and events, Government and politics, Historical stuff, Mass communication: media, social media, and the news, Mass hysteria and the mob, Modern life and society, The effects of WWII, the Nazi's, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War era protests, The U.S. and American society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the “beating a dead horse era” and “sawdust knowledge” – some of the effects of exploiting things to death

In a recent conversation I said something interesting (I’m not sure what to make of it though):

We were talking about people inventing things.  I made the remark that just about every conceivable invention has already been thought up.  In short, whatever invention you can dream up with, someone else has probably already come up with it.  I said that many of these ideas don’t become known or marketable for a number of reasons:

  • They don’t appear at the right time.
  • Their merchandizing is not effective.
  • Its become lost in the blur of inventions.

I went on to say that this refers to things as they stand today.  I am not saying that nothing will ever be created again . . . there’s always something new that appears.  But with the mentality, resources, abilities, etc. that are available today things are pretty much exploited as much as they are going to be.  There are thousands, probably millions, of people who are continuously looking at trying to develop things nowadays.  Not only are there a multitude of people but hours and hours and hours are being spent looking at ways to exploit things.  Many peoples entire lives are being spent trying to exploit things.  And, remember, this isn’t just a few people here and there.  This is thousands, perhaps millions, of people doing this.  For many people this is their living, their job . . . and this probably goes into the millions of people.  In addition, there are schools, colleges, and universities that teach this.  And there are thousands of these all over the world.  The point being is that there are thousands, probably millions, of people that are continuously looking for ways to exploit and invent things.  Because of this, just about everything that can be dreamed up has been dreamed up.

But, keep in mind, that this is with the mentality, resources, abilities, etc. that is available at the time.  Of course, we must remember that anything new may appear in the future that opens up whole new ways to exploit things, offer new inventions, and new markets.  This can happen at any time.  But most of the markets today have been here for some time and every conceivable idea has been explored . . . remember that thousands, or millions, of people are looking at it!  A good example is the digital market which, many years ago, opened up a whole new area of inventions and a whole new market.  Everybody and their dog were looking at ways to exploit it, and it has gone a long way, but soon that will dry up.  In fact, it seems to me that this market has been exploited so extensively that it may be on the verge of being exploited to death, though that’s not how it may appears at first glance.  As it appears to me, most so-called “advancements” in the digital field is, in actuality, nothing but a refinement of existing things . . . its not as new or novel as it seems.

If anything new does appear people are “on it” so fast that it could be exploited to death in a matter of years or even months.  There are so many people involved in this process, so much money invested, so much resources to be used, and so much money to be made that any possible avenue is explored to the point that there is nothing more to explore.  In short, nowadays, it doesn’t take long before things become a matter of “beating a dead horse”.  As a result of this, I jokingly said that we are in the “beating a dead horse era”.  That’s how it seems to me anyways.

This got me to thinking . . .

“SAWDUST KNOWLEDGE”

One of the interesting effects of this”beating a dead horse”, it seems to me, is that it creates a lot of “false knowledge”.  I speak of this knowledge as “sawdust knowledge”.  I call it “sawdust” because its like the sawdust that comes about from cutting wood.  Sawdust consist of bits and pieces of the wood that is used to make the finished product.  But, even though its part of the finished product, it is really nothing but waste. In this way, “beating a dead horse” is much like sawdust as it is creating a lot of “waste knowledge” from knowledge that is useful.  One could also call it things such as “frivolous knowledge”, “worthless knowledge”, and “illusionary knowledge”.

This “sawdust knowledge” is bits and pieces of facts and information that really don’t mean anything but only appear to be.  It comes about as a result of endlessly and continuously looking at things with the intent of finding something.  In other words, its the after-effects of trying to find something when there is nothing to find.  This shows some aspects of the process of seeking for something:

  • The need.  This refers to what you are seeking.  In regard to inventions, nowadays, its usually money and profit.  In some cases, though, the need for creating inventions is a practical need to solve a problem.
  • The looking.  This refers to the mental “seeking”.  It includes the planning, abstract thought, and such required in seeking for something.
  • The creating.  This requires the “doing” of trying to solve the need.  It could be something like building an invention.
  • The fabrication.  This refers to what is actually created to satisfy the need.
  • The satisfaction.  This refers to the need being satisfied by the fabrication.

In “beating a dead horse” all the processes above are performed except for the last, the satisfaction.  This causes something like a frustration.  In this way, the frustration causes a tendency to as if “create” some for of satisfaction in order to get rid of the frustration.  In other words, the condition of “beating a dead horse” tends to create a frustration which causes a tendency where people want the frustration to end.  One effect of this is that they tend to create, to the satisfaction of their own minds, something like little “answers” that aren’t answers, in order to end the frustration.  This is “sawdust knowledge”.  Its intent, then, is to end frustration.

The frustration is particularly intense for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Money
  • Social status
  • Pride
  • Competition

What we see, then, is that a lot of the frustration is not a result of a need, such as that there is actually a need for the invention, but other ulterior motives having nothing to do with the need for invention.  To put it another way, the frustration isn’t caused by the need for inventions!  This is an important point to understand . . . its not about inventions but the various forms of human strife (such as money, pride, and such . . . see above).  The dilemma of human strive gives this frustration a particularly “severe” and “serious” quality.  This is because various things are at stake . . . one’s livelihood, ones pride, ones dominance in the marketplace, etc.  You see, they are “threatened”.  This gives it the quality of being “severe” and “serious”.  This makes the frustration much more intense and, accordingly, the tendency of “sawdust knowledge” to be more stronger.

Now, the need that creates inventions seldom are motivated by being “threatened”.  This can happen, in some cases (such as the need to create a bigger weapon in war), but its not normal.  Most inventions happen “casually”.  That is to say, someone comes up with something that “happens” to have value and use.  As a result, the normal need of invention seldom creates a need so strong that a great frustration is created when its not satisfied.  In this way, the normal need of invention seldom creates “sawdust knowledge”.  What it shows is that a lot of inventions aren’t created by necessity and need, as is generally supposed.  Instead, human strife is a greater cause for inventions than need.  I would even go on to say that if “pure” need for inventions were the only thing that motivated invention then very little would of been invented!  I believe that to be true.  This means that we really don’t need all the inventions we think we need!  In actuality, the need for inventions is a big grand illusion, a false need.  It no surprise, then, that it creates “false knowledge”.

What all this shows is that “sawdust knowledge” is rooted in a sense of being “threatened” causing a need so strong that it cannot stand any frustration.  As a result, it takes things, such as these, as more than they really are:

  • “Little truths”
  • “Little answers”
  • Information
  • Facts
  • Fabrications

Its almost as if the need is so strong that it makes people “need to believe” whatever is available.  This “need to believe” is far more prevalent, nowadays, than it may seem.  One of the reasons why include the need to believe in something which is so prevalent today.  This tendency is caused by things like:

  • The failure of religion
  • The failure of culture
  • The confusion of beliefs
  • The prevalence of too many opinions

In this way, “sawdust knowledge” reveals a failure of belief and, accordingly, a “need to believe” . . . in anything.  I can see that, behind this, is many people who have nothing to believe in but, deep down, want to believe in something.  I would even say that some people have become “desperate”.

Some ways of how “sawdust knowledge” is created includes:

  • There is a lot of words that doesn’t say anything.  I’ve seen whole books that is nothing but a bungle of words that don’t really say anything.  Why they are being published I don’t know.
  • It is basically restatement of existing knowledge.  I’ve seen cases where this is so convincing that it does, in fact, appear new.  But, if one looks closer, one can see that many “new” discoveries are really restatements.  I would say that most ideas and books are nothing but restatements. 
  • Its a mixture of different forms of existing knowledge that appears to be new.  Often, new discoveries are a combination of things that are already known.  This may or may not create useful “new” knowledge.
  • It applies a new point of view that makes it appear “new”.  This really amounts to looking at the same thing from a new angle.  It often appears “new” but really isn’t.
  • It consists of small changes or nuances.  Some “new” discoveries are not a whole lot of different than saying “its not blue, its blue with a slight shade of green”.
  • They focus on trivialities.  Often, a lot of knowledge is nothing but focusing on small trivialities and details, treating them as if they are big things.  In reality, they are not that big of a deal.  I’d say a lot of “education” and learning is nothing but trivialities. 
  • It is made up.  I’ve seen many forms of knowledge that is basically made up out of the blue with no basis in anything.  Often, these are associated with some “known” thing that make it appear “legitimate”.  This is far more prevalent than it seems.
  • They see things that aren’t there.  Many people see things because they want to see them.  This becomes the “new” discovery.  Because of the necessity of creating “new” knowledge for degree’s, ones job, etc. this a lot more prevalent than it may seem.
  • They fabricate alternate points of view that appears “new”.  In some cases, an alternate viewpoint is treated as “new” knowledge.
  • They make assumptions.  A lot of knowledge, nowadays, is really based on pre-assumed assumptions.  Whether believe it or not depends on whether you accept the assumptions or not.
  • They jump to conclusions.  Many “new” discoveries are really people getting ahead of themselves.
  • They reflect a “fantasized world”.  Some people base a “new” knowledge on an image of how they would like things to be.  This “fantasized world” is treated as “new” knowledge.
  • Its molded or modified to fit what the system wants.  A great deal of knowledge has ulterior motives nowadays, such as its a means for a grade, a degree, or money.  As a result, knowledge is often “tweeked” in order to make it fit what the system wants.  This is a lot more prevalent than it may seem.
  • Its actually speculation.  A lot of knowledge, nowadays, is nothing but speculation but they treat it as if it is fact.  Contrary to popular belief a lot of science is nothing but speculation.  In fact, most “science” isn’t based in the “scientific method” at all but an involved and intricate form of “speculation”. 
  • They only look at things from a narrow viewpoint or perspective.  They do not look at things from a “big picture” perspective but only from their specific point of view.  This is very prevalent, from my observation.  Interestingly, the more narrow the viewpoint the more “new” it appears!

Overall, “sawdust knowledge” is creating false knowledge and false world views.  In fact, I tend to feel that “sawdust knowledge” is causing a dissolution of knowledge.  To put it another way, “sawdust knowledge” is hacking knowledge to death Soon, we won’t know what’s truth or not truth.  Everywhere you turn, there will be endless information . . . but what of its truth, its authority?

THE PROBLEM OF AUTHORITY

There is a close association between authority and knowledge.  In short, authority makes knowledge.  Without authority knowledge is just “information”, a statement.  Basically, “sawdust knowledge” is creating nothing but a bunch of “information” that doesn’t mean anything (that is, it doesn’t have any authority).

With the fall of religion, culture, nations, etc., that has happened recently, there has become a fall in authority.  More specifically, there has become a fall of a “centralized cultural authority”.  Its this authority that has made knowledge relevant in any society since the beginning of time.  Its fall is a tragedy, far more than anyone, that I know, seems to realize.

The “centralized cultural authority” creates a “unity of authority”.  This makes it so that everyone tends to interpret everything the same way, a “unity of interpretation”.  This creates a “unity of truth” in any knowledge in that society.  This ends up creating a belief, in that culture, that their knowledge is “ultimate knowledge”, all that there is to know.  Since this is something that is found in that culture its authority is not accepted by other cultures.  It shows that the culture defines the authority, which defines the interpretation, with defines the truth of knowledge in a society.  In other words, knowledge, or the authority of knowledge, is culturally basedAs a result, the fall of the “centralized cultural authority” therefore, has undermined knowledge. 

For the past 300 years or so Western society has been living under its own “unity of authority”.  This made it so that we all interpreted things in the same way, a “unity of interpretation”.  This gave the illusion of “ultimate truth” to us, that our truth was “ultimate”, all that there is.  Now, with the fall of culture, and the many other points of view that the world has offered, the “unity of authority” of Western society has been shattered.  This has caused a basic dilemma of interpretation and the authority of interpretation.  In this way, its caused a dilemma of knowledge . . . where, then, does the authority of knowledge lie?

This same situation, interestingly, has happened in Western history.  With the Protestant Reformation the authority of the Catholic Church was shattered.  As a result of this there became many different interpretations of Christianity and the Bible.  The effect of this is that Christianity shattered into a thousand pieces, much like a glass hitting the floor.  It seems, to me, that we may be seeing a similar scenario.

With the fall of the “unity of authority”, and authority in general, a lot of knowledge is no longer based in a “centralized cultural authority” . . . there is no longer a cultural basis.  Knowledge seems to be becoming relevant only from specific narrow point of views.  These include:

  • Personal.  This refers to what is important to ones self.
  • Abstract logic.  This means that “what makes sense” becomes “authority”.
  • Social.  This refers to fitting things in the current social context that one is in.
  • Trend and fad.  This means that trend and fad are “authority”.
  • Already accepted ways.  A good example is “formal” ways of looking at things such as University-based thinking, accepted scientific thinking, and such.

In other words, the authority of interpretation of knowledge is actually narrowing down to either the person or are becoming “secular”, “mass society based” or “popular” in orientation.

One of the things we see is that they are lacking a base in things like these:

  • Real world reality.
  • Ones association with world.

Why is this important?  Because, for any knowledge to be “relevant”, it needs a base in the “authority of the real world”.  This, in many cases, is greatly lacking in knowledge nowadays.  In fact, the lack of authority in real world reality is a conspicuous absence in knowledge nowadays.  It shows that people are moving away from the real world into the “mental fabrications” of humanity and what it has created.  In other words, people are “losing touch with life”.

ANY-INFORMATION-AS-FACT

A big problem I’m seeing, nowadays, is that any information is starting to be taken as “fact”, what I call “any-information-as-fact”.  There seems to be levels to how this is done:

  • Fact.  They just assume it to be true.
  • Scientific truth.  They assume it is “proven” in some way.
  • Sacred truth.  This is like it was written in the Bible.

Because of these, even though the knowledge is just information and without authority, they are taken as more than they are . . . the information is automatically “fact” which means that it is “correct”.

Some forms of ways that things are taken as “fact” include:

  • Speculation
  • Assumptions
  • Opinions

More and more I see people taking these things as fact.  In fact, I’m seeing a group of people, nowadays, that will believe anything that is told them or that they read.  This seems particularly prevalent in the younger generation.  Basically, there has developed a lack of “discernment” nowadays.  This refers to the ability to determine, or discern, what is true or not, relevant or not, meaningful or not.  This lack of discernment is very prevalent in the younger generations and people who are educated.  Is it any wonder?  Lets look at a common quality in their life:  They spend hours “absorbing” what the social media, internet, school system and professors dish out.  In short, their life is one of blind following.  As a result, they do not learn to discern.  Because of this, they tend to believe everything . . . and blindly.  This condition has created several generations of people who accept every bit of information as “fact”.  And we see several of the reasons why:

  • Too much media.
  • Too much schooling.

In both cases, we see the issue of being “too much”.  There is “too much” of many things nowadays.  And we must remember that this being “too much” is another way of saying “beating a dead horse”.  So what we see is that there are now generations that have made “beating a dead horse” a way of life and accept any-information-as-fact.

THE EXHAUSTING OF A PARTICULAR POINT OF VIEW

It seems, to me, that the Western point of view of things is being exhausted and worn out.  The Western point of view has been “gone over” so many times, from every angle, by probably millions of people.  It has become a “beating a dead horse”, or so it seems to me.

Much of knowledge, and I mean from the Western point of view, is much like the movies.  Me and my cousin used to go the movies a lot.  After words, I’d try to think up all these different plots for a movie.  What I found is that every plot I came up with has already been done!  This is true with movies, in general.  In fact, the movie business is something in a crisis as a result.  There is really no longer “new” plots but, rather, “repackaged” plots, with a different setting, different characters, fancy graphics, and such.  Often, they have to mix plots.  The same crisis that is happening in movies is happening in knowledge.  In this way, any “new” knowledge is a “repackaged” knowledge, much like the movies.  Interestingly, just like the movies, knowledge is getting its “fancy graphics” to impress everyone as well, but that doesn’t change the fact that its still “repackaged”.  To me, there seems a big similarity between the movies and knowledge.  I guess this isn’t that surprising for, really, isn’t knowledge a form of a “plot”?  It has its own characters, motives, action, etc.?  I thought this similarity quite interesting.

It seems, to me, that a lot of knowledge and inventions are based on already existing things that were pretty much established by about the 1960’s or 1970’s.  In other words, anything “new” is really something originating from that time, or earlier.  All that has happened since then is that it was “repackaged”.  There is a number of ways its “repackaged”:

  • By elaboration.  This is expanding on existing things, making them more elaborate and involved.  A good example is automobiles or the TV which has more functions and features.
  • By mixing.  This is mixing of several different existing entities together to create something new.  A good example is the calculator and TV to create the computer.
  • By refining.  By taking something existing and looking at its details, making them more “smoother” and better.  A good example is something like graphics, which was simple and crude but slowly refined to the point that it looks almost real.

If all this is true then it would mean that the basic principles of “modern world thinking” was exhausted by the 1960’s and 1970’s.  We’re just been elaborating on it since then.  This is why I often call the era since 1980’s the “era of elaboration”. 

Some of the reasons why the Western point of view has become exhausted include:

  • Too many people in school.  There’s too many people looking at the same information from the same point of view with the same motive.
  • Its associated with business.  This makes it something that is “looked into” and “invested in”.  In some cases this is to the tune of millions, and even billions, of dollars.
  • It is too established in the system.  This makes the system “dependent” on it.

These create a condition of all these “peering eyes” into the Western point of view and what it creates.  It has exhausted this point of view and perspective, or so it seems to me.

AM I CONTRIBUTING TO “SAWDUST KNOWLEDGE”?

I have questioned if I am contributing to “sawdust knowledge” and creating a lot of “waste knowledge”, particularly through this blog.  As for me, personally, I don’t believe I am.  I have no ulterior motives and am not motivated by being “threatened” (a common cause as I’ve described above).  I make no money for this, I am part of no organization, I am part of no profession.  I do not represent any organization or particular point of view.  I do not care for public opinion . . . I really don’t care if people agree or disagree with me.  My motive is primarily to satisfy a personal inquiry, to describe life as it appears to me, describing it as truthfully and honestly as I can.  I do not seek facts or information or knowledge, really.  What I seek is insight . . . more specifically, a personal insight.  I make no claims that I am “right”, that I have found the “truth”, or that I have the “answer”.  To be frank, I see myself as something like an artist painting a picture of what I am seeing . . . that is all.  That is what this blog is about.  In a way, each article is something like a “sketch”.   This is a totally different condition than what causes “sawdust knowledge”.  But other people, who have the “sawdust knowledge” mentality, could turn it into that but that does not reflect my intentions.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

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