Thoughts on the “modern cult”: the “progress cult” and “freedom cult” – some effects of Christianity and neoclassicism

I found this article I wrote in 2010 that is quite interesting (I had to work on it a bit to finish it up).  It involves ideas that I forgot about but some of which I have developed and written about.  I think its relevant to record:

THE ‘MODERN CULT’

Over the years I began to speak of what I call the ‘Modern Cult’.  To me it is a cult like any other.  People sacrifice themselves, and others, for it.  For some people it’s like a God.  The basic premise of the ‘modern cult’ is that if we don’t have ‘modernity’ we’re all going to be miserable shape or even die.  In addition, there is the belief that we, and everyone else in the world, needs to attain ‘modernity’ and become modern.  

I tend to believe that the idea of ‘modernity’ has deep origins in the neoclassical movement in Europe which began in the middle ages.  By neoclassical I mean the revival of Greek and Roman classics and philosophy.  This movement hit Europe like a storm and helped to create changes in the government, religion, knowledge, art, architecture, and other things.  Very few people really realize the influence this movement had.  Basically, a lot of our view of the world and what we have originates from this movement.

As time went on this movement would be mixed with Christianity.  Slowly, particularly after the Protestant Reformation, the neoclassical philosophy would replace Christianity as Europe’s ‘unofficial religion’, so to speak.  By the 1800’s a large part of western Europe was engrossed in what I like to call the ‘neoclassical religion’.  They basically gutted Christianity and replaced it with neoclassical thinking.  Instead of Christ saving us it became ‘modernization’.  It’s for this reason that I consider this a cult as well as the fact that it often has a resemblance to a religion.

The ‘modern cult’ consists of two main branches or ways of thinking:

  1. The ‘Progress Cult’ – originating from the scientific and knowledge aspects of neoclassical thinking.
  2. The ‘Freedom Cult’ – originating from the political aspects of the neoclassical thinking.

THE ‘PROGRESS CULT’

This philosophy is a product, really, of science and scientific thinking.  The basic premise of the ‘progress cult’ is that knowledge, and what knowledge produces, will save us.  Without them life will be miserable.  If we live in a state of ‘not knowing knowledge’ we will be in a horrible and terrible state.  It glorified knowledge as if it was the ‘height of humanity’ or the ‘great light of humanity’.  Everything else is minor and insignificant.  There is this idea that knowledge is what makes us superior to animals and what moved us out of the ‘primitive’ days.  It made us rise above nature and, basically, to become like gods.

A Solution to Christian Misery

Oddly, Christianity with its emphasis on poverty and misery helped create the image that life was miserable and ‘progress’ would save us.  I’ve found that history is generally perceived as bad or miserable usually from the fall of the Roman Empire (creating the dark ages) to the 1800’s or thereabouts.  What is unique about this period of time?  It was the time when Christianity reigned at its height.  What did Christianity preach?  Poverty, misery, and that life was an ordeal because of our sins and the evil nature of humanity.  Is it any wonder this period of time is perceived as ‘dark’ or miserable?  That’s what Christianity told people life was and, oddly enough, that is the memory we have of this period of time.  Personally, I do not believe that life was all that miserable back then.  The people, reared in Christianity, colored life that way and, in a sense, made life miserable.  That’s what they were taught that God wanted!  What do you expect?

With this image of the Christian era before us as miserable, people who believe this cult tend to believe that the past is miserable.  I’ve talked with many people who automatically assume the past is miserable.  This is such a strong belief that I could prove them wrong and they still won’t change their point of view.  As a result, it’s created a lot of myths about the past.  I’ve seen people turn everything about the past as miserable.  A good example is one I’ve heard several times.  In the middles ages there was a lot of partying.  People went to festivals and fairs and did nothing but party.  Why?  To a ‘progress cult’ mentality it must be because they are miserable.  As one person said, “they partied because life was so miserable and it was the only time they can be happy.”  My God, the misery these people had to endure . . .  The problem is that observation shows that people who are ‘miserable and poor’ don’t go around partying typically.

Reviving the Glory Days of Greek and Rome as the Solution to Christian Misery

The rediscovery of the Greek and Roman classics seems to of given this notion that, by adopting their viewpoints, we will adopt the glory of those former times and solve the misery of Christianity.  The Greek and Roman period of time, then, is perceived as a ‘golden’ time, followed by the dark miserable Christian era . . . but no worry.  We have been saved by progress, by the rediscovery of the Greek and Roman classics.  Now a new golden age begins where Christian misery will end, or so they think.

The Worship of Knowledge

Many people who believe in this cult believe that knowledge is the answer for everything.  They seem to think that knowledge contains everything.  Knowing some fact or figure is tantamount to being ‘transformed’ by it into some greater thing, like a caterpillar into a butterfly.  My observation, though, does not support this viewpoint.  My experience, actually, has shown that knowledge does not create better people nor, necessarily, improves them as is often claimed.

Typically, the knowledge preached by this cult is without heart.  It is dry facts and figures, oftentimes without any emotion.  It’s cold logic.  As a result, it is a passionless way at looking at the world.  There is no belief, faith, passion, trusting, or anything like that.  There is also a lack of ‘artistic expression’ as well.  As a result, there is a tendency for people in this cult to take a cold distant ‘non-human’ way at looking at life.

This cult tends to preach the need to question everything.  In a way, this cult teaches not to trust anything or anyone.  Many times you’ll see people in this cult say things like, “I’ll believe it if I see it with my own eyes.”  This makes this philosophy very suspicious about everything.

Because this cult emphasized knowledge it glorified the person.  After all, it is the person who had to ‘learn’.  This tends to make believers in this cult to have a self-centered outlook on life.

Because of the ‘progress cults’ emphasis on knowledge it has created the necessity that everyone must go through absurd amounts of schooling.  I’ve always remarked how it’s weird how the kids have to go through all this schooling nowadays but, yet, in primitive-like societies, where they live in nature, they don’t need to know a quarter as much information.  It’s created a ‘burden of information’ that, I think, is almost unbearable.  Frankly, most of the knowledge taught nowadays is a waste of time and useless.

From the middle ages to about the 1800’s or so there was something like a competition between Christianity and neoclassicism.  With the rise of the Protestant Reformation there became a doubting of Christianity.  It seemed like Christianity split into many groups, each claiming they were right.  This, it seems, put a lot of doubt in the population about the validity of Christianity.  As a result of this, it seems, neoclassical thinking began to dominate and literally usurped Christianity.  This seemed to be very pronounced in the 1800’s.  But, because of this competition, there began to appear, in the 1700’s or so, a notion that still exists today, that science refutes the belief in God and proves he does not exist.  Darwin’s theories, no doubt, really brought this dispute out into the general population.

Phases of the ‘Progress Cult’

The ‘progress cult’ movement seemed to of had three phases:

  1. In the first phase, it was primarily a ‘knowledge movement’.  As a result, it was primarily focused at the Universities.  It was not extended into the general population.
  2. Later, in the 1700’s and 1800’s it went into the second phase.  This is when the application of knowledge began to see its fruit, primarily in machines and consumer products as well as certain facts about nature.  This is when it hit the general population and they became aware of it.
  3. In the mid-later 1900’s it went into the third phase, when consumer products and technology was highly developed affecting everything and everybody.  The products of the ‘progress cult’ became so powerful that no one could escape it.

Some Problems

These later two phases, described above, has created a massive ‘technological onslaught’, as I always say.  The ‘progress cult’ created all these machines that, adherents to this cult seem to think, we have to have and what’s more, they have to be developed to ungodly proportions.  The developing of machines and technology is almost like a mania that affects some people in this cult.  Blindly, and for no apparent reason, they will just invent and keep inventing with no thought of the consequences of what they’re doing.  As a result of this, the ‘technological onslaught’ has a blind quality, of someone driving a steamroller without looking where he’s going or seeing the effects of what he’s doing.  This, to me, describes one of the problems of this cult.  Sure, they may have the knowledge and the know-how but they have no common sense and practicality.  They also don’t foresee the consequences of what they do nor do they usually seem to care.  In a word, you could say that this cult lacks a ‘wisdom’ in life.  This quality seems very lacking in this cult.

Another problem with the ‘technological onslaught’ is that you can’t “uninvent” something.  Once something is invented you can’t get rid of it.  They invent blindly without any real wisdom motivating what they do.  This creates a condition where things are created that you can’t get rid of.  I often speak of this as the ‘Technological Disease’.  In many ways, the ‘technological onslaught’ has been one big infection on the world, a disease that runs rampant.  We can’t get rid of this disease either.  The ‘technological onslaught’ created such a massive surge of technology with such power and influence that it seems to of developed a life of its own.  In many ways, we are now slaves to the machine, we are its subjects.  We don’t dominate it . . . it dominates us.  It also affects us in a multiple number of ways, ranging from good to bad.  Regardless of whether it is good or bad, we are powerless against it.

As a child I was brought up with the ‘progress cult’ almost like it was a god.  I can remember, when I was in grade school, reading a book I thought was the ideal of life.  Basically, it was about this boy who built all these machines that did everything for him.  I distinctly remember how when he got up in the morning the bed would tilt and he’d fall out, half asleep, into a pair of pants.  Then a machine would finish dressing him and try to feed him breakfast while he’s still slumbering.  I thought that was the neatest thing in the world and, for years, I saw that as a great thing.  As I got older, in my 20’s. I began to see otherwise.  I began to see that it actually is a sick and twisted way of looking at life.  What kind of life is that . . . a machine doing everything for us?  But yet that is the ‘ideal’ of many people who believe in this cult.  The more a machine does for us the more happy we’ll all be.  There are some, even, who think that in machines lies the path to happiness in life.

The problem is that machines have actually taken away from life and, in a way, stolen ‘human life’ from us.  Through the influence of the ‘technological onslaught’ they have taken our control of life from us, our ability to live like ‘natural human beings’, and have added all these unnatural variables in our life.  The net result of all this is that the ‘progress cult’ has created an inhuman dehumanizing world when you look at now.  It’s also made life and the world horribly complicated.  I always say:  “the modern world is unfit for human beings.”

The Need for Moderation

I should point out that I am not against technology or ‘progress’.  But, to borrow a phrase from religion (the “competitor” of progress!):  “technology and progress is a good thing . . . in moderation.”  The problem is that there is too much of it.  Really, the control of ‘progress’ and technology is just as bad as it was in the ‘religious era’.  Things haven’t really changed all that much, just what’s in control has changed.

THE ‘FREEDOM CULT’

This philosophy very much developed, apparently, in England in the 1500-1600’s.  It appears to be a product of the English reformation and is associated with the rise of English prosperity.

I began to question the idea of ‘freedom’ in high school.  I began to notice that everything violated everybody’s freedoms or rights, it seems.  It got to the point that anything could be construed as a ‘threat’ in some way.  This made me wonder.  What kind of philosophy is it that sees threats everywhere?

It wasn’t until 10 or so years later that this subject was brought up again while I was studying history.  I began to notice these weird claims they were making.  There seemed to be a pattern.  Many of the claims seemed obviously wrong.  I began to look at it closely.

Some Traits of the ‘Freedom Cult’

Here are a few of the traits of this thinking:

  • They seemed to think life is a fight against some threat.
  • They are very paranoid.
  • They are also easy to scare and get frightened easily.
  • This threat is something trying to take away their freedoms typically.
  • This freedom is a political/legal idea.
  • They feel they need to have all these safeguards to protect them.
  • They believe that the threat is usually government or someone in power. This person is trying to take something from them.
  • All the old governments are of the type which they call tyrannical or despotism.
  • They see the solution as the creation of a NEW government, which means destroying the old. This new government is a democracy.
  • They glorify the people, as if the people are the source of power, wisdom, and sanctity.
  • They seem to think they are the answer to the worlds and life’s problems.
  • They get wound up with high causes and principles. It seems to intoxicate them once it gets started.
  • There is an absence of a belief in humanity, though they say otherwise. They seem to try to take the human out of the picture.
  • There is little sense of loyalty to authority. The old European sense of loyalty to people in power is absent.
  • They act scared of authority.
  • They seek to destroy authority.
  • Their general stance and outlook on life is looked at from this point of view.

A New Form of Christianity

As I looked at it it became clear that this point of view is really a varied form of Christianity.  I sometimes call this point of view ‘post Christianity’ as it seems to be a result of the failure of Christianity after the reformation.  To put it simply, the reformation created great religious fervor in some of the population, but for many it created a religious dryness.  In some ways, with all the religious problems religion became too unbelievable.  As a result, there was a move to look for something new, a new hope, a new god, a new belief as I mentioned above.  This was found in neoclassicism.

As with the ‘progress cult’ they gutted Christianity and replaced Jesus with democracy, the new savior.  If you look at the freedom and democracy movement you will see that a lot of it is Christianity with a new name.  It behaves and assumes many things just like Christianity but it goes by another name.

A particularly good example of this is the glorification and sanctifying to the ‘people’ which seems to have origin in the Christian principle of the ‘body of Christ.  To glorify the people, therefore, had a ‘religious’ quality to it.  It turned the people into this great holy thing.  Even during the French Revolution there was talk of building a ‘Temple of the People’.

A lot of the ‘freedom cult’ act like the Christian missionary movement used to trying to convert the world to democracy.  This should be no surprise as it descends from it.  In many ways, it’s just a continuation of it.  Just like the Christian missionaries they seem to think they have the answers to the world’s problems.   As a result, they go around the world pushing their government and philosophy onto people.

Defying Authority

I was always mystified by the paranoia and fear that seems to be so common with this cult.  But, we must remember, that the reformation was a direct act of defiance with the Pope, the symbol of god on earth.  To refute the Pope was like refuting god.  As a result, it became very important for this new ‘branch off the reformation’ (the freedom cult) to justify its defiance.  Again, it used the Greek/Roman model in particular (early on they seemed to use things from the bible like Moses freeing of the slaves).  I feel that this defiance against authority was a very important issue with this movement as I seem to feel that it has created this deep inner sense of fear that seems unique to this movement.  It’s so strong that it created within the movement a certain mentality that can only be called a paranoia.  It persists to this day and permeates the whole philosophy.  More than once have I called this moved the ‘paranoid movement’.  A lot of their principles and ideals seem to do nothing but to stave off this paranoia.

Recent Examples of Conflicts Involving the ‘Freedom Cult’

Three conflicts all used the ‘freedom cult’ philosophy:

  1. English Civil War.  I believe a lot of this movement began to be formed into a cohesive philosophy during the English Civil War.  Many philosophies stated there are still said today.  It was also there that they had the King executed and created a new style of government, refuting 100’s of years of tradition and authority.
  2. American Revolutionary War.  But this style of thinking would be used again.  I believe the American Revolution was just another tax dispute in British history.  In other words, it wasn’t the great cause they made it out as.  If it wasn’t for two accidental firing of guns (the ‘shot heard around the world’ and the Boston massacre) violence probably would never of begun.  After those events happened it became ‘us against them’ . . . war.  Once the violence started they had to create a cause.  What do you think the British university trained people came up with?  The philosophy started in the English Civil war – the people in power is threatening them and tyrannizing them so they need to fight for their freedom.  That was their excuse.  It’s not what happened.  They naturally used the philosophy that was popular at the time.
  3. French Revolution.  The French also used ‘freedom cult’ philosophy quite heavily during the French Revolution as well.  It really became the basis for it all and what they did.

Two killed their kings.  And what they claimed happened wasn’t what happened.  They made events fit their philosophy.

Democracy as the Only Solution

The ‘freedom cult’ seem to think that the main solution to problems is  democracy or democratic-like government.  Though this idea has origins in ancient Greece, it seems Rome had more influence on this cult.  Not a lot of people are aware that Rome saw that the people and senate are what rule the government (this is because the later reign of the Roman Emperors is what most people think of when they think of Rome).  Their emblem , SPQR, means Senatus PopulusQue Romanus.  This means ‘the senate and people of Rome’.  In some ways, it became an ideal for this cult.

The Illusion of Democracy

I should point out that democracies, really, don’t work.  It didn’t really work in ancient Greece and it never has ever worked successfully.  Not even primitive tribes are democratic.  Most ‘attempted democracies’ break down to something like a republic or what I always call a ‘representative assembly’.  This means that a person represents a group of people at some assembly.  This is sort of what SPQR meant.  It’s also how American and British government work as well.  I believe ‘representative assembly’ governments, of which there are many variations, are the normal form of government.  Even many primitive tribes use a variation of this style of government.  This is why I think the ‘freedom cult’ should use words more like ‘republic’ to describe their governments instead of democracy which is misleading.

A Philosophy of “-ifying”

During the neoclassical era they ascribed everything to Greece and Rome.  The problem is that many things used by the British actually did not originate with them but with people like the Vikings.  When they say the Greeks or Romans are the origin of certain things and it actually came from somewhere else I speak of them as ‘Greekifying’ or ‘Romanifying’ things.  Moses and his ‘liberating’ the Jews has a great impact on this movement.  In many ways, the liberation or freeing of the Jews from Pharoahs control became the base for this whole mentality.  This point of view would be continued with Christianity where the Christians are now “liberating” the people from the Romans and sin.  I sometimes speak of this as ‘Jewifying’ or ‘Jesusifying’ things.  When one looks at it the ‘freedom cult’ is nothing but a philosophy of “-ifying”. 

Forcing the Interpretation

Over the years I began to notice that the ‘freedom cult’ has a pattern of thought that is often predictable and narrow in its conception of things.  Whenever the cry of Freedom is yelled these patterns of thought go into play, regardless of the situation.  It’s like a pre-formed philosophy that is brought up and the situation is made to fit the philosophy.  I call this ‘forcing the interpretation’.  Because of this ‘forcing the interpretation’ they have a history of misinterpretation.  Take the U.S.  Look at their explanations for all their wars:

  • Revolutionary War – fight for freedom against tyranny
  • Civil War – fight for freedom against tyranny
  • WWI – fight for democracy
  • WWII – fight for freedom against tyranny
  • Korean War – fight for freedom
  • Vietnam War – fight for freedom
  • Iraq War – fight for freedom against tyranny (isn’t it called ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’?)

It’s the same viewpoint war after war, conflict after conflict, year after year.  From the American point of view everything is about freedom.  Doesn’t that seem a little suspicious to you?  Doesn’t that seem a little bit too convenient . . . everything fits into their point of view?   There’s a lot more to why things happen than freedom and democracy.  What’s happened is that the ‘freedom cult’ has become narrow in its conception of things and favor their point of view.  As a result, everything is looked at the same way.  This gives them the illusion that they are right because they see their right in everything.

Because of their one sided way of looking at things I have learned that whenever I hear certain words and I immediately question it.  These include:

  • Freedom
  • Democracy
  • Liberation
  • Tyranny
  • Rights
  • Professing to know the will of the people or knowing what the people want.

Becoming Self-Proclaimed Representatives of the People

Since this philosophy is a ‘power of the people’ philosophy the people in ‘power’ have this habit of becoming self proclaimed representatives of the people.  A good example is when the Rump Parliament of England voted on January 4, 1649 that they were the representatives of the people and reflected the will of the people.  They VOTED themselves this!  Another example is Bush in the Iraq War who, without even asking anyone, chose a path that would affect the lives of millions of people.  Naturally, the solution for Bush was to use his government and economy.  He never even asked those people.  The great symbol of democracy became a self-proclaimed representative and a self-proclaimed liberator of the people.  Doesn’t this contradict the democratic principles of the philosophy?

Justifying Authority

The ‘freedom cult’ seems to use two procedures to try to justify its authority, oftentimes.    These are:

  1. Trials
  2. Voting

They seem to think these hold some magical mystical power of truth.

There seems to be two types of trials they hold:

  1. Trials of leaders, usually after they overthrow a government
  2. Trials of ‘threats’ which are usually everyday people that do individual acts

Most trials of the ‘freedom cult’ are, really, ‘show trials’ . . . they are done to show and display their philosophy and ‘truth’ in the situation.  It often has the quality of “does everyone see that they’re bad and we’re good?”  In some trials they won’t even let the opposition state their case, they’re so committed to stating their point of view only.  I’ve seen it where it is nothing but an exposition of how ‘right’ they are.  What this means is that trials often become a pulpit to preach their cause.

The using of trials for their own purposes shows how they have a tendency to distort the law and manipulate it to their own end.  In fact, this is a major problem with this cult.  Ever since the ‘freedom cult’ has got hold of the law it has been nothing but misuse and distortion of the law.

One of the attitudes of this cult is the destroying of authority.  In many ways, the ‘freedom cult’ is an anti-authority philosophy.  They have done nothing but try to degrade and undermine authority in its many forms.  Despite this, there has to be authority.  One of the ways they maintain an authority is by exalting law.  Basically, human authority is replaced by the authority of ‘written law’.  The human being is taken out of the picture.

Voting is another way they justify their authority.  This is a good example how they exalt the ‘people’ as this great authority and ‘god’.  I always joked about how when the ‘freedom cult’ wants to consult ‘god’ they hold an election.  Voting is their ‘oracle’, so to speak.  The problem is that voting isn’t quite as great, revealing, or as accurate as they think.  People determine what they vote for often based on shady concepts and media-based viewpoints.  In addition, voting is usually a ‘nay’ or ‘yay’ to something or a choosing of someone.  That’s not that much of a ‘voice’.  Not only that, most voting involves thousands, even millions of people in some cases.  The more people there are the less ‘power’ you have.  To vote for the president of the U.S., for example, involves so many people that your power is as great and influential as a grain of sand in a sand pile.  But yet they think it’s this great power that reveals truth.

The Three Conjurings

There is something which I call the Three Conjurings.  These are:

  1. A Conjured Up Cause
  2. A Conjured Up Threat
  3. A Conjured Up Enemy

These are part of what paranoid ‘freedom cult’ government does when an event scares it and they can’t determine who it is.  I call this the ‘Elusive Ghost Threat’.   They are seeking the Elusive Ghost, that great threat that is plotting against them.  This is a threat from someone that may do something at any time but they cannot determine who it is.  In effect, it is a witchhunt and show that the ‘freedom cult’ has a tendency of doing witchhunts.  I believe it is, in some way, a continuation of the old witchhunts of the middle ages.

In a response to threat or fear they ‘whip up a cause’, as I always say.  They ‘Conjure Up a Cause’.  And then up comes the high and mighty principles and self-righteous cause.  This cause ends up being exaggerated and blown out of proportion.  It is not looked at as an event in life but looked at as part of some “life” struggle involving some divine notion of a “truth” that they are fighting for.  This, I believe, is why it has this tendency to get out of control.  It can be a small event but they’ll make it out like some big deal.  They get too wound up with it.  If it was looked at more simply and level headed then I don’t feel it would get blown out of proportion.  I would compare it to going into a panic that you’re going to catch an infection and die because you poked yourself with a pin.  What’s sad is that they become a slave to this Conjured Up Cause, it becomes like a god to them.  I often call this the ‘Cause God’.  They will often worship it and, in some sense, make sacrifices to it (I have often wondered if the “enemy” is nothing but a form of sacrifice to this God, as their explanation of the enemy often makes no sense whatsoever).  They develop a mindless subservience to the cause.   In some cases they become almost like robots to it.  The cause for everything!  I believe this ’cause worship’ is why this movement has become so tragic and has a history of getting out of control.

Because the ‘freedom cult’ has a ready-made philosophy it uses it and forces the interpretation, as I said above.  Therefore, with the creation of the High Cause they must create a High Threat to match it.   The ready-made philosophy establishes a prefabricated image of the threat and the enemy.  In other words, the enemy is often based on the image created from the ready-made philosophy rather than the image of the enemy in real life.  Most of the time there is little resemblance.  Remember that the ready-made image is an image centuries old created before any of the ‘enemy’ was even born.  Yet people have been judged by a court and condemned based on that image.

This exaggerated threat creates what I call a ‘Phantom Enemy’.  It’s an enemy that doesn’t really exist on the scale they say it does.  Usually, an event happens that displays that there is an enemy.  The problem is that it’s often small.  But with the High Cause comes the High Threat which requires a High Enemy.  Eventually, they will find people who fit the ‘enemy profile’.  They’ll find new threats, new enemies, and it goes on and on, year after year.  Once the ball gets going it snowballs.  They end up creating new threats and new enemies, making a larger snowball.  The cause is elaborated and glorified even more making an even larger snowball.  It will often grow out of control and develop a life of its own.  A good example is the ‘spy hysteria’ from the USSR in the 30’s or the McCarthy era in the U.S.

It seems that once the Elusive Ghost Threat mania begins about the only way to stop it is to get the people in power, who believe it and sustain it, out of power.  The other way is that time slowly dissipates it.  It seldom “just ends”.

Many people have paid for this mania, probably in the 20-30 million range from 1789 on.  It seems that the ‘freedom cult’ is one of the most deadliest philosophies in history.   It’s also the most disruptive, destructive, intrusive, and damaging philosophies in history. 


 

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Britain and British things, Christianity, Christian conversion, Post-Christianity, and Christian influence, Freedom fanatacism and the freedom cult, Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Philosophy, The U.S. and American society, Twenty first century and post cold war society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on my statement: “I’m tired of living in an atmosphere of paranoia and fear . . . ” – some effects of “freedom fanaticism”, with remarks about the “panic mentality” and the “American idea”

In a recent conversation I stated something that got onto some interesting thoughts.  Some of these ideas I may of spoken of before as some of this is based on observations I’ve made years ago.  At any rate, here is what I basically stated:

“I’m tired of living in an atmosphere of paranoia and fear, of having to walk on tip toes around everyone, of having to be careful of everything I say and do, of the endless accusation and blame, and that horrible self-righteous attitude.  I’m tired of being around people who find abuse, rights violations, racism, and hatred in everything, who are offended by everything, and are all-too-willing to hurl accusations at people.”

I said this out loud in a KFC, so that everyone could hear, in an attitude of contempt and disgust.  Looking at it now, I was sort of saying, in a roundabout way, “you Americans have become a pathetic joke!”

What I’m speaking of is the ridiculous paranoid delusional and accusatory mentality that we see so much in American society today.  I should point out that the mentality, which prompted the statement, was instigated by the statements, acts, and behavior of many people in the U.S, not Trump, not the politicians, or anything like that.  Its a reaction to an aspect of American society and culture, originating from the people themselves.  This is an important point and must be understood.

DESCRIBING A LOST AND INSECURE SOCIETY – THE U.S. IN THE 21ST CENTURY

It seems, to me, that American society, in the 21st century, has become a society that displays qualities such as:

  • An insecurity
  • A tendency to fear too easily
  • Its a society that finds hatred and bad intentions in peoples statements and actions almost like they are seeking it out
  • Paranoia
  • A panicky mentality
  • Being very “touchy” or oversensitive
  • Overreaction to the point of ridiculousness
  • Hysteria
  • Self-righteousness
  • Blind idealism
  • Excessive blame and accusation, often done falsely and unjustly
  • A tendency to want to relive past glories

I have jokingly called American society a “scared, paranoid, uptight, and high and mighty society”.  Personally, I find American society ridiculous.  It seems a victim of itself, of its own creations and its own mentality.  I’ve often said that “America is killing itself with its own crap”.  I have also said, “America’s worst enemy is itself”.  I have also said “the U.S. will destroy itself with its own ideals and beliefs”.  The more I look at it the more true these seems to be. Not only that, the U.S. has also has a weird self-destructive quality.  They often call this self-destructive tendency things like “progress”, “change”, or some other positive sounding thing, as they always make whatever they do sound “good” or beneficial in some way.  But, as I have watched it over the years, I see another picture.  I would describe my life in America as watching the devaluation and destruction of the human in life.  I’ve often said, “the U.S. will devalue human life so much that there will be very little of human life anymore.  Life will consist of a job and buying stuff . . . and that’s it.  Morality, belief, culture, tradition, identity, roles, families, marriage, and such . . . all the stuff that makes us human . . . will slowly disappear and never be revived.”  Couple this self-destructiveness with an arrogance or high and mightiness, of the belief that its the “greatest country in the world” or “savior of the world” and it doesn’t make a good combination.  Basically, it gives the U.S. the quality of a country that thinks its the answer to life’s problems . . . but its “answers” are really destroying itself.  That’s what it seems like to me anyways.

Overall, the U.S. strikes me as a very insecure society that has become lost in the 21st century.  It no longer knows where it fits in anymore.  The glory days of the U.S. is over:  there’s no great enemy to fight, everything has already been done, everything has basically been invented, everything is a continuation of what was created in the last century , America has lost its novelty, and so on.  One of the main activities of the U.S., it seems to me, is trying to “recreate” the glory days  of the last century (see my article Thoughts on the American scramble for the “inheritance” of their parents and grandparents – the fight for “post WWII glory”).   This makes them do things such as:

  • Many parents, and much of the society, are forcing the kids to “succeed” and “achieve”, such as in school and sports, which is causing a lot of stress and mental problems for many kids.  In my opinion, this has become an abuse.
  • We’re starting to see many females who are trying to paint the females of the past as if they are like the men of the last century who created the American glory.  I won’t be surprised if some females will come to think that they are the cause of American glory.
  • Many females are trying to BE the men of the last century who caused the glory.
  • There is an attempt at trying to recreate the ideals of America, particularly during the Cold War, even though they are not relevant.  This is done in ways like the creation of false enemies, trying to liberate themselves when there’s nothing to liberate from, seeing the cause of freedom in everything, seeing oppression in everything, etc.
  • There is a tendency to exaggerate American ideals to an absurd and fanatical level.
  • People are fighting each other so they can have a piece of the glory . . . everyone wants a piece of the pie.
  • People think they are “automatically entitled” to the glory since they are in the U.S., as if it should be handed to them.

It all paints a picture of the U.S., in the 21st century, as past its prime.  The country is like a man in mid-age crisis, wanting the glory days of his youth.  This, it seems to me, has placed the U.S. in a difficult situation and dilemma which it cannot resolve.  As a result, a lot of weird, neurotic, and bizarre reactions are appearing.  Many of us, who were all brought up in the last century, are looking at the U.S. and going “what the crap . . . ?”  Its turned into a place none of us know nor does it reflect anything we believe.  We are finding ourselves in an increasingly foreign country.  Once, I’ve found myself saying, “the U.S. seems lost and does not know what it is anymore”.  I then stated, “the U.S. appears to be in a transition phase of changing into something totally different than it was . . . but what is it changing into?”  This seemed to worry me.

THE “POPULAR SOCIETY”

Of course, many of the above qualities does not reflect what everyone is like in the U.S. but it seems to reflect a common generalized social quality.  I often speak of this as saying that it reflects “mainstream society”.  It may be more accurate to say that I am speaking of “popular society” as, from my observation, it appears that much of this mentality actually reflects a minority of the population who have a means of a “popular voice” that makes their views more noticeable.  This gives the illusion that it is a bigger part of the population than it really is.  But it is not necessarily reflective of most of the greater population and I don’t believe it is.

More and more it seems that America has two “societies”, so to speak:

  1. The”popular society”
  2. The “not popular society”

The bulk of the population, it seems to me, is in the “not popular society”.  This means that most people don’t have a “voice” in the greater population.  This is exactly what my observation has shown too.  The “voice” that I hear in the media, popular society, and such, is actually the voice of a minority of the people.

I seem to think that there is something like a war or conflict happening between the “popular society” and the “not popular society”.  These two societies are, it seems to me, becoming increasingly different and opposed to each otherIn some aspects, they are becoming increasingly incompatible.  

THE “PANIC MENTALITY”

The “popular society” of America seems to be like a bunch of nervous, frightened, and scared children to me.  This reflects a mentality which I call the “panic mentality” which, it seems to me, is part of the American character.  I more specifically speak of this mentality, when it reflects a generalized American character, as the “American panic” (more on it below).  As we’ll see later it appears to have origins in the beginnings of America and goes back to England, and may go back perhaps as long as a thousand years ago, and is part of a mentality I call “freedom fanaticism” (also more on it below).

I should point out that when I use the word “panic” I use it in a specific way that may be somewhat misleading.  Its a mentality that has qualities such as:

  • A tendency to become too easily stressed or frightened
  • A tendency to paranoia and false feelings of being threatened
  • A tendency to mass hysteria or panic
  • A tendency to blow things out of proportion
  • A tendency to fabricate false stories, conspiracy theories, etc.
  • A tendency to believe whatever they’re told, of mindlessness
  • A tendency to view themselves as the victims of someone else, often an image of authority
  • A tendency to view one self as innocent and blameless
  • A tendency to accuse and blame
  • A tendency to justify their feelings and actions with some high and mighty cause, usually of a political or legal nature

The term “panic” may be a bit strong but its a term I began to use in the 1990’s and it has stuck.  I first began to use the word “panic” as a result of its mass hysteria qualities, as it often has a quality much like a bunch of people “in panic”.  But this is more than a mass hysteria mentality.  It has origins in a cultural mentality based in history . . . that’s what makes it unique and makes it more than a social/psychological mass hysteria type of phenomena.  Its a “panic” created by the circumstances of English and American history and the character it has created . . .

Early Origins of the “Panic Mentality”

I first saw the “panic mentality” in females in the mid-late 1980’s.  They were seeing abuse, victimizing, rights violations, etc. coming out of the woodwork and were hurling accusations out like it was nothing.  My inquiry into the Vietnam War protests and Hippie movement, which began in the early 1990’s, further showed a paranoia that seemed more than a paranoia of a situation (the Cold War).  It seemed to be part of the American mentality and character.

As I looked further into the mentality I began to see that it has origins in the very beginnings of America and actually has origin earlier than that, in England.  In fact, my inquiry shows that this mentality actually originates in the Norman Conquest of 1066 and its effects.  This would mean that this mentality is almost 1000 years old!  It has been there so long that it has become part of the cultural character and mentality of England and the U.S.

Some specific qualities that have played a role in this mentality include:

  • A fear and hatred of authority originating from the Norman Conquest when the Normans forced their rule on the Anglo-Saxons.
  • The idea of “freedom”, and “freedom from oppression”, originating from the Norman Conquest but reviving, in different ways, in things like the Protestant Reformation, English Civil War, and various social/political problems that appeared
  • The wars of religion, in the 1500’s and 1600’s, which further caused a breakdown in the belief of authority, causing more disillusionment, hatred, and contempt
  • The use of ideals as a “righteous cause” originating from things like Christianity, the ideas of democracy, and the Enlightment
  • The success of the American Revolutionary War as “proof” that this mentality is true . . . this, of course, only applies to the U.S.
  • The fear and horror caused by WWII, the Holocaust, and the Cold War (nuclear annihilation)
  • The mass hysteria tendency caused by mass media and mass communication

These have all helped to cause a “panic mentality” through the years in the English and American character.  Its more than a social or psychological phenomena . . . its a cultural mentality that is based in historical events.

The Norman Conquest, in particular, has started a number of things that are still part of this mentality today:

  • A fear of the King, authority, the government, religion, etc.
  • A concern over oppression, victimizing, etc.
  • A seeing of oneself as oppressed, victimized, etc.
  • A seeking of “freedom” or deliverance from oppression, victimization, etc.
  • The use of politics and law as a defense
  • The glorification of ideals

It seems that some of the reasons why these issues became so significant is because of things like these:

  • The Normans came in and tried to control everything, primarily by their overly strict feudalism and its laws and ways
  • The Norman control of everything upset the society and people
  • The Normans offered themselves up as Kings to a people who honored the King but they did not act like a King, mistreating the people and land

This caused a great reaction of fear, contempt, and hatred against the Normans that turned into a general English mentality that has continued on into English society, where it plays a dominating role to this day.  It was then passed on down to the English colonies in the U.S. and passed into the American mentality.  Its effects are so strong that one could say that the American Revolutionary War is really a continuation of the reaction to the Norman Conquest, or so it seems to me.  Because of this, the ideas, and political views, of America is actually rooted in the Norman Conquest and the “panic mentality” it helped to create.  Because of this, the U.S. displays this mentality quite often.  It has become particularly prevalent since the U.S. has become a “world power” after WWII.  Its as if this caused the U.S. to took at itself more seriously and, accordingly, took much of its mentality, views, and ideals more seriously than before.  In short, it amplified it.

The Effects of Judeo-Christianity

Much of this mentality seems to have a basis in Judeo-Christianity.  In fact, it seems to of set the foundation for the interpretation and explanation of things that subsequently followed.  Examples include:

  • The idea of oppressor – Pharoah for Moses and the Romans for Jesus
  • The idea of deliverance – the Exodus for Moses and the Doctrine for Jesus
  • The idea of the oppressed – the Israelites for Moses and the people for Jesus
  • The idea of law – the law for Moses and the Doctrine for Jesus
  • The idea of an ideal – The law for Moses and the Doctrine for Jesus

In other words, Judeo-Christianity offered the examples set by Moses and Jesus which became the base for the “panic mentality”.  In addition, laid the foundation for what would became “freedom fanaticism” . . .

“FREEDOM FANATICISM”

This whole theme, and the “panic mentality”, revolves around what I call “freedom fanaticism”. This is a mentality that English and American history has created by the conditions created by the Norman Conquest, as referred to above.  But, in the past 200, or so, years we have seen a particular form of it.  Its a reaction to the French Revolution of the late 1700’s.  Because this mentality became so prevalent after the French Revolution, in particular, I often jokingly call it the “French Revolution madness”.  The horror of the French Revolution, which caused the beheading of a King, the Terror in which thousands were beheaded, and all the commotion associated with it, caused a “panic” in Europe.  This had great impact on England, especially, which feared it may go through another French Revolution, particularly with all the problems of the early-mid 1800’s.  The “French Revolution madness” cast a shadow over the 1800’s.  This was accentuated, and amplified, by the increasing media and mass communication that began to appear.  In this way, the style of “panic” and “freedom fanaticism”, that we see today, is descended from the French Revolution.  

Contrary to what a lot of Americans may think, my inquiry is that the French Revolution had more impact on the fanaticism,and ideas, around freedom than the American Revolution.  The French Revolution basically caused a “panic” in Europe, particularly England, which spread over to the U.S. in the early 1800’s as part of the Victorian society that was beginning to appear.  As a result of this, much of America’s view of freedom doesn’t really originate from the American Revolution.  I tend to believe that this is because, after the British left, it no longer became an issue causing it to be disregarded or even forgotten.  But, with the “French Revolution madness” appearing, with Victorianism, the U.S. followed England in its mentality.  Because of several events that happened in the U.S, the Victorian “French Revolution madness” would become “Americanized”.  Several events that were instrumental to this would include the Civil War, WWII, and the Cold War.  It caused a tendency to do what I call the “reenactment of the American Revolutionary War” where people are trying to turn situations into another American Revolutionary War (see below).

Freedom fanaticism” is really a form of religious fanaticism, having root in Christianity, that has been “politicized” . . . the great cry of this fanaticism is not god or Jesus but freedom and democracy.  It can be as fanatical and “insane” as any fanaticism and can get just as bad.  In my opinion, it is a continuation of Christianity and the religious fanaticism it has created.  One could call “freedom fanaticism” a religious/political fanaticism . . . a combination.  

Because it is fanatical many of its claim, beliefs, and actions really has no basis.  This is not surprising as I can remember, even decades ago, wondering why people did things such as:

  • Claiming things are oppressing them when they weren’t
  • Seeking “liberation” when there is nothing to be liberated from
  • Creating all these “conspiracy theories”, acting as if people, the government, and other things were plotting against them
  • Not being able to define what “freedom” is, even though they sit and worship it
  • People feeling threatened when there is nothing threatening them
  • Accusing and blaming people for things they didn’t do

I can see, now, that this is a mentality that is reflective of a cultural character, a way of interpreting the world, which makes them interpret things a certain way.  As I said above, it has origins in events in English history which, through the centuries, turned in into a cultural character.

I have suspected that “freedom fanaticism” originates from a progression much like this in English history:

  1. In pagan times the King was “holy”, like a god on earth.  In this way, the King was looked at as gods representative.  As a result, the fears, hopes, and dreams of life were associated with the King, who is authority.  The King offered security.  The King, then, is the image of authority and is associated with the hopes of life, of security, as well as the fears of life.
  2. When Christianity came and brought in new ideas.  It brought the idea that we were sinners and need to be punished.  Since the King, and nobility as well, were associated with god they were viewed as “saved”.  The people, on the other hand, were sinners needing to be punished.  This made a more marked distinction between King, nobility, and the common people.  It also made the people look up more to the King.
  3. When the Norman Conquest took place it disrupted this belief system.  The Norman King and nobility seemed to be against the people . . . the King as the image of authority and the hope of life was smashed.  The Norman Conquest caused a disillusionment of the King and the image of authority. 
  4. The problems created by the Norman Conquest eventually caused a fear and hatred toward the King which turned into a fear and hatred of authority in general. 
  5. Over the years this caused a need to find a scapegoat to blame for their frustration with authority and the loss of security the King offered.  These attacks would be against the King, government, and practically anyone in power.
  6. Because of the conflict with the King, and their bad feelings toward it, they began to worship the idea of becoming free, or “liberated”, from the King which caused a worshiping of freedom.
  7. Because belief in the King is part of the culture the people still wanted to maintain it and, as a result, it caused them to try to find a new “King” to look up to. 
  8. Since the King is associated with politics there became a tendency to worship political theories.  Since Christianity was prevalent they worshiped a political version of it called democracy which placed the people (the “body of Christ” in Christianity) above everything.
  9. The new political theory becomes the new god and there develops fanatical ideas about it, following the example of Christian fanaticism.

So we see some common themes in “freedom fanaticism”:

  • The continual looking up to authority for hope and security
  • A frustration with authority
  • The loss of hope and security because of the frustration with authority
  • The frustration turning into  fear and hatred of authority
  • The need to find a scapegoat to vent ones frustration, fear, and hatred causing
  • A tendency to accusation and blame and the attacking of authority or authority images
  • The tendency to view one self as an innocent victim of authority
  • The idea that authority is a threat
  • The idea that one must seek freedom, or be “liberated”, from authority
  • The turning to political theory as a substitute and solution for ones conflict with authority
  • The worship of ideals
  • The idea that they have “high cause”
  • A tendency to fanatical thinking
  • Continuing to see themselves, and humanity, as miserable and wretched (coming from the Christian idea that we are all sinners)

Basically, the conditions of history has as if combined many different qualities creating a unique mentality . . . “freedom fanaticism”.  

In some ways, one could say that an overall attitude of this mentality could be said in this statement:

“We are always oppressed and need to fight for our liberty!’

This statement shows a number of qualities:

  • The idea that we are all being, in some way, harmed by authority (for it is authority that oppresses)
  • The idea that we always need to be “liberated” from this oppression
  • That this is a continual endless threat and fight

As a result, “freedom fanaticism” has made a life out of getting away from authority, which one views as a threat and, therefore, fears.  This means that “freedom fanaticism” creates a life lived in endless fear and where one finds threats in things.  This is why this mentality makes people paranoid, easy to accuse and blame, see themselves as victims, find abuse in things, etc. . . . in short, it makes people easy to “panic”.  This is why the “panic mentality” is so prevalent in “freedom fanaticism”.

Since this mentality has a strong base in finding threats in things much of its claims of oppression, threats, or fears is unjustified, unprovoked, and uncalled for.  Many times it as if this fear “appeared” out of nowhere, as if people were conjuring up this fear like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.  I’ve seen cases where anything that provokes a bad or unpleasant feeling “oppresses” them and gives a cause to “fight for ones liberty!  My personal observation, and feelings, is that the false claims of oppression, abuse, victimizing, etc., that “freedom fanaticism” has caused, has become an abuse in itself.  This is why I often jokingly say, “we need to free ourselves from freedom“, meaning the delusional and paranoid fanaticism of “freedom fanaticism”.

This blind fear that caused all this, as I’ve said, is rooted in the fear of authority . . .

THE FEAR OF AUTHORITY

If I were to describe the “panic mentality” in its simplest way I’d probably say, “its a bizarre fear of authority and the reaction to that fear”. As I’ve watched it through the years I’d say “bizarre” may not describe it correctly but I don’t know what word to use. Some other words that come to mind include: weird, unjustified, unnatural, misplaced, out-of-place.

To me, the “panic”, or fear of authority, is actually of a deep-seated fear, that hits deep within a person. The fear, it seems to me, seems to get at the nature of authority and shows several qualities of the image of authority:

  • Authority as an image of hope and security
  • Authority as an image to stave off the fear, horror, and pains of life

One can see that authority is greatly associated with the depths of life which is why it has such deep feelings and any frustration associated with authority causes such a dilemma. In the image of authority is safety, security, and happiness. In many ways, the image of authority describes a parent/child association.  In this way, the “panic mentality” is like a bunch of children upset with their parents for not giving them the security they want. Its interesting that, above, I spoke of the “popular society” as “nervous, frightened, and scared children”. That’s because, in many ways, they are.

When one takes a look at it overall, and at a distance, it looks as if the “panic mentality” is really a fear of being abandoned by ones security image.  In this way, “freedom” really means being free from the image of authority that one looks up to and has disappointed ones sense of security . . . its a freedom from the image that disappoints.  This means that “freedom fanaticism”, then, is when a person becomes overwhelmed by this sense of disappointment, and the fear it creates, and desperately tries to get rid of that image.  

Remember that this is the origin of the fear.  Over the years there has been so many layers of stuff that has been built upon it that its often hard to see.  The multitude of events in history has given it a labyrinth of ideas and themes.  These include:

  • Religious ideas
  • Political ideas
  • Historical events and happenings
  • Personal feelings
  • Mass mentality
  • Mass hysteria

These make it hard to see that, behind it all, is nothing but a desire for an image of authority that creates security!

THE “PANIC” AS AN ATTITUDE, MENTALITY, AND CULTURAL CHARACTER

The “panic” is rooted in a deep rooted human fear, as I said above.  In the “panic mentality” the fear exists on its own, unprovoked and automatically appearing, as a reflection of a cultural character.  In some respects, it is a learned fear.  Because of this, the “panic” is an attitude and a general stance in life.  This makes the “panic” appear in a number of ways:

  • It lies dormant, unknown, and unseen
  • It surfaces on its own for some reason or another
  • The “panic” attitude is used as a basis to interpret specific things
  • Something provokes the “panic” causing it to come out
  • Something actually causes one to fear and panic

In many of these, we can see that the “panic” isn’t necessarily based in reality.  Instead, the “panic” attitude predisposes someone to “panic” easily and see “panic” in things.  In short, a lot of “panic” is not based in real world reality and situations.  As a result, it tends to cause a distortion or warping in the interpretation of the world, happenings, and events.  Because of this, the “panic mentality” has a tendency to do things like these:

  • To fabricate threats and happenings that aren’t taking place
  • To see things in things that aren’t really there
  • A tendency to exaggerate and blow things out of proportion

Overall, it tends to create a paranoid frightened mentality and way at looking at life and the world.  This gives the “panic mentality” a quality of an insanity at times.  Of course, for the people who “believe it” its all so real and doesn’t seem insane.  But for those who don’t “believe it” its insanity is more apparent.

A PROGRESSION OF THE “AMERICAN PANIC” IN RECENT YEARS

I started to see the “American panic” about 40 years ago:

  • I first noticed it in the 1980’s.  I tend to believe that what I saw in the 1980’s was the after effects of the Vietnam War protests and hippie movement of about 1970.  What I was seeing is what I call the “cold war panic”.
  • There was then a lull in the 1990’s.  I tend to believe that the end of the Cold War caused a temporary calming of the mentality.
  • It started to increase at the beginning of the 21st century.  The calming effect of the end of the Cold War began to wear off and the “panic mentality”, being a cultural character, began to surface.
  • It got progressively worse as the century progressed. I tend to feel that the War on Terror aggravated the condition to some extent and made the mentality more prevalent.  In a way, it set the stage for the next event . . .
  • The Trump presidency has greatly revived and accentuated the mentality . . . what I call the “Trump panic”.  It seems, to me, that much of the paranoia, hysteria, panic, nonsense, accusations, and such that has surfaced in the Trump presidency is nothing but an uncovering of this mentality that was already in existence.

Several recent “panics” stand out:

The Cold War Panic

I’ve actually been looking at the “American panic” since the early 1990’s.  At that time, I thought it was primarily a result of the cold war and so I called it the “cold war hysteria” or “cold war panic” (which is where I first used the word “panic” to describe this American phenomena).  I’ve written a number of articles on this subject, such as Thoughts on some origins of many ridiculous attitudes of the American mentality – the ongoing effects of WWII, Cold War, and the Vietnam War era, fear, and on how the U.S. is living in the past and Thoughts on the 70’s mentality and its continuation: the continuation of cold war hysteria.

In this “panic” there became a fear and contempt of authority because of the threat of nuclear annihilation.  Here we see the familiar themes of “freedom fanaticism”:

  • The importance of the authority image
  • Security
  • Failure of authority giving security
  • The cause of freedom!
  • Fear, hatred, and contempt of authority

This reached a height about 1970.  I tend to believe the next form is a continuation . . .

The Trump Panic

Much of the current panic, that actually instigated my statement at the beginning of this article, has been sparked recently by the Trump presidency.  I need to point out again that the statement I stated at the beginning of this article was not in response to statements of Trump but to the behavior, statements, and actions of the “popular society” of America . . . its reacting to what people are doing!   I speak of this reaction by the people as the “Trump panic”This refers to a social hysteria, primarily instigated by the media, and has nothing to do with politics.  and have written a number of articles on it, such as Thoughts on a media-induced mass hysteria . . . the “Trump panic” and 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.

Though this panic has come out in the Trump presidency it actually predates him and actually has nothing to do with him.  To me, the “Trump panic” is a continuation, and the latest installment, of the English/American “panic mentality” that has been going on for centuries.  This panic is particularly ridiculous in that it has been instigated by words . . . insults, or perceived insults . . . that Trump may or may not of said (frankly, I can’t tell who is saying what anymore).  We see some familiar traits seen in “freedom fanaticism”:

  • The fear of authority
  • The contempt of authority
  • Fabricated abuses, insults, claims, etc.
  • Blowing things out of proportion
  • Accusation and blame, whether true or not (does it matter?)
  • How the people are assumed to be innocent (notice how everyone points their fingers at Trump and never looks at what they’re shoveling out, even though they’re causing almost all of the nonsense) . . . the people are always innocent and authority is always the villain
  • The cause of freedom!

Over time, though, I began to see that much of the “American panic” was very much influenced by the uniquely American condition caused by an aspect or, rather, a problem of what I call the “American idea” . . .

THE “AMERICAN IDEA”

The U.S. is really based in a fantasy image.  Its based in an idea, the “American idea”.  After being brought up with this idea I’d say some common themes of this idea, that are often worshiped, include:

  • The idea of living in a “freedom”. This is often looked at as the motive of life and is worshiped.  But, frankly, the question of what constitutes “freedom” is very subjective and unclear.  No one, that I know, has actually been able to define what this means, exactly, which always struck me as weird as everyone brags about it.  I generally interpret freedom as “no one is telling us what to do”.  Unlike the “American idea” I do not worship it or view it as the great motive of life nor is it what life is about.  Its just something that appears in life every so often, like an illness.  In “freedom fanaticism” it is looked at religiously.
  • Being able to live and be the way we want.  
  • Being able to live where there are no problems.

All this sounds good.  It really describes an “ideal” state which, I think, most people in the world would like (meaning that its not really an “American” idea).  What all this shows is that the “American idea” is really an ideal, describing a world we would all like.  My response to this has always been, “yeah, I’d like to live like that”, and this from a person born and raised in the U.S.!  Am I not supposed to be living it here in the U.S.?  I don’t seem to be.  The problem is that it is a fantasy world, a world that really does not exist and cannot exist.  That’s why its such a powerful idea or ideal.  Its an image one can hope for but never really attain.  That world has not been created, not even here in the U.S.

The “American idea” is actually a result of the idealism that was created during the Enlightment of the 1700’s.  This ideal was prompted by the problems then happening in the 1700’s, most of which was caused by overpopulation.  This Enlightment point of view created an idealized image of “perfect societies” and “perfect governments” devoid of the problems affecting western society in the 1700’s, using words like freedom, democracy, equality, etc.  It all sounds good, and means well, but we must remember that its all an idealized image.  Its this idealized image that the “American idea” is based on.

The Enlightment point of view had qualities such as:

  • It is an ideal created in response and as a solution to specific problems
  • It is based in an intellectual idea created by intellectuals who “thought about it” in their head
  • It is an untested and unproven idea

The Problem of the Ideal

An ideal is an image of a fantasy world, a world where things are the way one would like things to be.  Being based in a fantasy, it is often something impractical and unrealistic.  As a result, ideals seldom come true and, if they do come true, they generally don’t fit the image one originally envisioned.  In some cases, they may solve problems only to create new ones.

The ideal can appear a number of ways:

  • The ideal remains an idea only, as something one “imagines”.  I think this is the greatest power of ideals, as something “hoped for”, as an image of hope.
  • There are attempts at trying to make the ideal a reality.  This is where ideals often go astray as, if the ideal is not realistic, it can lead in odd directions.
  • There is a worship of the ideal.  To me, this is when ideals have been taken too seriously.

In America they often worship the ideal and then try to make the ideal a reality.  This, in many ways, is the “American dream”, to make the ideal image into a reality.  As a result, there is all this emphasis on “making your dreams come true” and “holding on to your dream” and so on.

I should point out that there is a difference, at least to me, between a “dream” and a “desired change”.  A “dream” is idealistic, fantasyland-like, as if one is going to live “happily ever after” once they attain it.  A “desired change” is practical and realistic, such as wanting a better job.

There are problems relating to the idea of an ideal or “dream”:

  • Its a man-made idea reflecting man-made ideas, wants, and concerns
  • It is often based in whims, fancies, and impractical wants
  • It tends to be fantasy-like
  • It is often based in an idea of a specific era, time, or condition that usually disappears and becomes irrelevant after a while, such as when one gets older or the times change
  • It is often not based in real world reality
  • It is often motivated as a solution to a conflict one has with the real world
  • It often requires a warping or distortion of reality to make it a reality

Seeking the “Idea”

To me, the “American idea” has a quality of chasing shadows.  To be frank, much of American life appears just that way . . . a bunch of people chasing shadows or, better yet, trying to grasp smoke.  In some respects, this has become a way of life, of a life trying to endlessly grasp smoke as a motive.  In fact, my observation is that its the “idea” that is often sought for, not the attaining or realization of it.  I’ve always felt that this quality is a very unique American quality giving the U.S. a great illusionary quality about it.

The seeking of the “idea” does several things:

  • It gives a certain quality of “hope”.  A lot of the hope, in America, is based in the belief that the “idea” will materialize.
  • It creates a unique frustration, unhappiness, and feelings of being unsatisfied.  Overall, I would not call Americans a happy people because of this.

Both of these are uniquely “American” and create a great irony in the American character.   The “American idea” both uplifts people and brings them down at the same time. 

The “Forcing” of Reality

The effect of trying to make the “idea” materialize is a “forcing” of reality into a prefabricated mold of what we want it to be.  In other words, a person doesn’t follow life, and its conditions, but tries to force life into their ideal image of life.  The real world is seen as something that must conform to their idea . . . they do not conform their ideas to the real world.  Naturally, this “forcing” of reality tends to fail . . . this is the basic dilemma and problem of idealism, the “American idea”, and the “dream”.

As a result, the pursuit of the “American idea” often causes these things:

  • The forcing of reality to fit the ideal
  • The discovery that the “idea” doesn’t materialize
  • Despite this, they continue to worship the “idea”

This causes qualities such as:

  • Frustration
  • A high and mighty attitude
  • A pig-headedness
  • An ambitiousness . . . the ideal at all costs!
  • Stress and pressure

The result is an uptight person who is always trying to “fit an image” or “force things to be a certain way”.  Many people have become like slaves and kill themselves trying to find this image, of trying to achieve the “idea”.  They’d be happier if they abandoned it!

The Creation of a Paranoid Attitude

But reality does not fit a prefabricated image of an ideal or an idea.  In many ways, the “American idea”, and idealism in general, are in conflict with real world reality.  When the “idea” doesn’t work there is a tendency to view it a number of ways, such as:

  • To view the world as “against them”
  • To see the world as threatening 

In other words, idealism, and the “American idea”, tends to cause a paranoid attitude.  

As I’ve watched this over the years it often has this insane quality about it . . . its like a madness.  It was in the late 1990’s that I jokingly said that there was a “paranoid freak” quality in the American mentality.  People are in a panic over nothing, seeing threats that aren’t there, fabricating abuses, villains, blaming, accusing, and so on.  Its almost unreal at times.  It sometimes seems that America is often almost tittering into another McCarthy era, in a way.

Fear as an Origin

Another aspect of the “American idea” is the fact that it is rooted and based in fear.  The ideals of America is really a result a reaction to the problems of Europe and the fear they provoked in the 1700’s.  This means that the “American idea” and “dream” are not rooted in a naturally appearing and common condition of life but in a unique and specific condition of history, primarily the conditions of western Europe (especially England) that were existence in the 1700’s.  The ideals are in response to those conditions, not to general life conditions.

The Creation of a False Image of the World

But one of the problems is that the “American idea” acts as if its ideals are dealing with a general life condition, that everyone else is dealing with in the whole world.  This is not the case.  In this way, it has created a false image of the world and life that is wrong and erroneous.  To put it another way, they have made the world out as if it is stuck in the conditions of the 1700’s when the U.S. was founded and the “American idea” appeared.  They interpret everything in that light.  In this way, America interprets the world, and life in general, as if it is an endless Revolutionary War against the British.  This tendency I often call the “reenactment of the American Revolution” . . .

A Mentality of Reenactment

This mentality is one of reenactment.  It tends to follow this pattern of thought which is in imitation of the American Revolutionary War:

  1. There is always someone who oppresses (the British)
  2. There are always people who are oppresses (the American colonists)
  3. The oppressed are always seeking freedom against the oppressed  (the revolutionary war for independence)

The “reenactment of the American Revolutionary War” causes qualities such as:

  • Falsely villainizing people.  The need for an oppressor causes a tendency to create oppressors, “bad guys”, villains, and victimizers.
  • False threats.  People find and create threats that don’t exist.
  • False claims of abuse and victimizing.  People find ways to make themselves oppressed, victims, and disadvantaged.
  • False accusation and blame.  People are falsely accused of oppressing, abusing, and victimizing them.
  • False “liberation”.  People are always seeking to be “liberated” when there is nothing to be liberated from.  Generally, people are trying to “liberate” themselves from a threat they’ve created in their own minds.
  • Self-righteous attitude.  Since this is all done in imitation of the American Revolution, it is done with high and mighty cause.
  • Abuse of political and legal theory and principles.  They use political and legal theory to justify their “false” claims and, in so doing, abuse and distort it.
  • The absence of authority.  Because the American Revolution is an attack on the authority of the British there is a tendency to not accept any authority image.
  • The contempt of authority.  There is often a contempt of authority, a hatred of authority, and a desire to destroy authority.
  • The burden rests on the individual.  The cause of freedom and liberation places the individual as all important.  This causes an overemphasis on the individual person often causing a stressed and uptight person.

The net result of this is the creation of an atmosphere as I described a the beginning of this article.  These are the base for the “panic” mentality.

The Creation of the “American Panic” Mentality

It seems, to me, that several things have had great impact on the “American panic” mentality:

  • WWII/Cold War.  This caused a great fear that has never been seen before, the fear of nuclear annihilation.
  • The media and mass communication.  This helped spread the fear further.
  • The high and mighty cause of freedom and democracy.  These causes gives a “license” to blow things out of proportion or go to extreme lengths one normally wouldn’t go.

I would even go so far as to say that these are what really turned the previous fears and paranoia (Norman Conquest, 1700’s, the Enlightment, etc.) into a “panic”.  This shows a number of things about “panic” mentality:

  • It is a creation of the mid-late 1900’s
  • It means that the “panic” mentality really begins with the “cold war panic”
  • It also shows that it is primarily an American mentality as the U.S. played a big role in the WWII/Cold War

Aspects of the WWII/Cold War

The WWII/Cold War seems to fit the American mentality very well, catering to the fears, paranoia’s, and self-righteous cause originating from the Revolutionary War, 1700’s, Enlightment, Norman Conquest, etc.  As a result, the U.S. took WWII/Cold War “dear to heart”.  In some respects, WWII/Cold War was the maturing of the American character.

The ending of the WWII/Cold War era, in about 1990, has had dramatic impact on the U.S. and its mentality, or so it seems to me.  The U.S. matured during this time because it catered to its many fears, and such, which were given meaning and place.  When that disappeared it left a big vacuum in the society.  The 1990’s was a time of “huh, now what?” in America as a result.  As time went on the vacuum increased.  The U.S. was becoming ripe for a new WWII/Cold War.  I can recall saying that the “U.S. needs a new WWII/Cold War to make it relevant again”.  The War on Terror partially revived it but not to the level of WWII/Cold War . . . the terrorists just weren’t the great enemy the Nazis or Soviets were nor did it have this great “world threat” quality.  The hysteria, media circus, villainizing, etc. of the Trump presidency is like a continuation of the War on Terror, only partially satisfying it.  What’s interesting is that they turned a U.S. president into the enemy instead of the Nazis, Soviet Union, or terrorists.  That, in a way, gives it a more serious quality almost as if they are trying to revive the serious “world threat” of WWII/Cold War perhaps???

Overall, the U.S. seems as if it is lost to me.  The 21st century isn’t offering much to make the U.S. valid.  It seems like the U.S. is struggling to find validity in the post WWII/Cold War world.  One of the thing the U.S. is doing to try to find validity is attempting to regain the glory of the post WWII and Cold War world of the last century.  Some examples include:

  • The the forcing, and glorification, of their kids going to college and becoming “successful” . . . a sure fire way to prove the greatness of America.  This, though, is being done almost to the point of abuse as I, myself, have seen.
  • By fostering the worship of technology and innovation, which are significant factors in the glory of the last century.
  • By the worship of achievement.
  • By making money and buying stuff.

These are nothing but attempts at regaining a former era, though, which more or less is an admission that the glory has passed.  One thing that is apparent is that nothing is new.  Its all a repetition or an attempt at duplicating.  In many ways, just as the U.S. is trying to reenact the Revolutionary War we could just as well speak of a “reenactment of the WWII/Cold War era”.  I think there is great truth in this.

Mass Media and Hysteria

Mass Media has had great impact on the development of the “American panic” mentality.  One could even say that the “American panic” is a form of mass hysteria primarily caused by the prevalence of mass media.  I think there is truth to this.  Despite this, I wouldn’t call it a mass hysteria where people are running around in panic.  Its a hysteria with qualities such as these:

  • A fear
  • A loss of common sense
  • A tendency to believe whatever you’re told

It creates something like a mindlessness and an all-to-easy tendency to emotions like fear and self-righteous cause.

Some Further Thoughts . . . On how the “American Idea” is Out Dated

In my opinion, all shows that there is a need to abandon the “American idea” and to let go of the 1700’s, the ideals of the Enlightment, and the Revolutionary War, of the ideas of oppression, liberation, and so on Holding onto these ideas are only creating an insane way of looking at the world and a paranoid uptight people.

To put it simply:   its time to have a new way of looking at life and the world . . . the old American freedom line of thought has become old and out dated.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Britain and British things, Culture, cultural loneliness, etc., Freedom fanatacism and the freedom cult, Modern life and society, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Society, The 2016 Presidential election and things associated with it, The effects of WWII, the Nazi's, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War era protests, The U.S. and American society, Twenty first century and post cold war society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on stress – aspects of the self, the tribe, and the tribal way of life

In a recent conversation I began to speak of some interesting things.  We were talking about how people are so stressed nowadays.  They wondered if people were stressed thousands of years ago.  I went on to say that people in primitive tribes are often the most calm and relaxed people in the world.  They wondered why.  I then went on to say some things:

I stated that, if I recall right, the Frenchman Alexis de Touqeuville came over to the U.S., in 1830-1832, and made some interesting observations which I also have made.  He noticed that Americans were stressed and that people in France were not.  He felt that this was because, in France, they had the aristocracy and in the U.S. they have a democracy.  In France, then, people had someone to look up to.  In the U.S. there is no one to look up to as the “people rule”.  In this way, it placed all the burden on the individual person which eventually creates stress.  In short, democracy predisposes people to stress.  In addition, since democracy is associated with individualism, and the glory of the individual person, it shows that individualism predisposes people to stress.

I also mentioned that, in 1870, Dr. Beard defined a mental condition called Neuresthenia which is basically stress, or so it seems to me.  This became, in a sense, the “American disease”.  One of the cures?  Go to Europe where life is “slower” . . . this started the craze of going to Europe for vacation.  This shows that by the late 1800’s stress was becoming a clinical problem in the U.S. and in which people needed a cure.  Also see my article Thoughts on the ‘uptight American’ – the price of individualism for an earlier observation.

QUALITIES OF STRESS

Normally, people think stress is caused by the pressure of things, things being “too fast”, being “out of control”, or something similar.  But I tend to think that the observations described above get more to the heart of the matter.  They describe two qualities:

  1. An absence of something to look up to
  2. An excessive burden upon the self

What we see, then, is an overemphasis on the self caused by an absence of something to look up to.  This places a burden on the self which causes stress.  In this way, we can see that stress is caused by an inadequacy of the self.  The self needs support.  The inability to find this support causes stress.  

What ends up happening is that we try to find “something” to support us, to take the burden, and decrease the stress.  Some ways this happens include:

  • Finding a “substitute support” that only appears to support us but really doesn’t.
  • By a display of great emotion whether it be good or bad, such as anger or blind optimism
  • By a display of great belief, such as that god is helping us
  • By feeling a despair, loss, or something similar
  • By depression or turning away
  • By denial
  • By blanking ones mind

Though these seem to decrease the stress they really only hide it.  I’ve found that behind many peoples actions is a hidden stress.  In this way, many people live with a stress they are not aware of.

THE TRIBE, TRIBALISM, AND THE TRIBAL WAY OF LIFE

I then said that “in many primitive tribes they are calm because the self is not rooted in the person but in the tribe”.  I then went on to say that “what makes people calm is the tribe” or, to put it another way, the absence of the tribe tends to cause stress.  This shows the importance of the “tribe”.

But what is a “tribe”?

A “tribe” is a group of people that have a quality I call “tribalism” (see my article Thoughts on “tribalism” – some aspects and dilemma’s).  One way to describe “tribalism” is that it is some perception, image, or awareness that is unified into a mass or form that one can belongs and relates to.  This “belonging and relating to” creates a calming and relaxing atmosphere.  In this way, “tribalism” creates a security.  In this way, the “tribe” means an awareness of a specific group of people, who have specific qualities, that one belongs to.

I should point out that “tribalism” has many forms.  It isn’t necessarily a tribe as most people think, like a clan or social group.  It can appear as a belief system, an identity, a style, and so on.  Many peoples quest to find “meaning” or worth is a form of “tribalism”.  The lack of “tribalism”, in one form or another, causes a lot of despair in the world.

One could say that, for many people, the seeking of a “tribalism”, of some form or another, is the focus of their life.  That is to say, many people are seeking security by trying to find a form of “tribalism”.

But, in regard to stress, a socially based tribalism plays a large role.  This is because the person, or self, is actually inadequate to deal with the world and life.  This is why the overemphasis on the self causes so many problems, such as stress.  We need the social system as a support.  This shows that stress is rooted in society and social relations.  This also suggests that the character, traditions, beliefs, etc. of a society can cause or promote stress in people.  Accordingly, it can also decrease stress. 

In this way, what we are really speaking of is “social tribalism”, a form of “tribalism” that revolves around society. This consists of a number of things like:

  • The people one belongs to
  • A style or way of being
  • A belief system
  • The conception of the world and how it works
  • Ones association with nature and the greater world
  • The individual person

To me, many primitive or tribal societies has all these united into one, as a unified whole.  In this way, we could speak of this unity as the “tribal way of life”.  Because of this, all these qualities are often so intertwined and connected that one can’t necessarily make a distinction between them.  This unity, in many ways, is one of the powers of the tribal way of life and why the tribe is so important.  It creates a firm and stable base for the individual person.

An important aspect of the tribal way of life is that the person, or self, is not really perceived as a separate entity but as a part of the tribe, as part of the group.  As a result, the self of the person becomes more like a “collective self based in the tribe”.  The sense of individual self, such as we see in large societies, can be almost non-existent or minimal or only appears at certain times.  In reality, its a whole other perception of self than we see in larger societies.  Oftentimes, in larger societies, the individual self is perceived as opposed to the society and the world, as a separate entity removed from it.  This is usually not the case in the tribal way of life.  The self, the tribe, and the world are intertwined.

I should also point out that,as I noted above, the tribal way of life goes beyond the society itself but into belief as well as conception and association with the world.  This makes the tribal way of life more than social in orientation.  In some respects, “society” is really the world and all it contains, including the social group.  As a result, one could say that in the tribal way of life the self is based in both society and the world.

THE BREAKDOWN OF THE TRIBAL WAY OF LIFE AND THE TRIBE

As the society grows, and gets larger, something like a breakdown takes place in the tribal way of life and the sense of a tribe.  There starts to develop a fragmentation of the way of life into separate qualities.  In other words, the unified whole as if splits apart into separate groups and areas of emphasis.  As a result things like these begin to develop as distinct and separate institutions:

  • Organizations
  • Governments
  • Culture
  • Philosophies
  • Belief and religion
  • Concepts and views of the world
  • The family

Its not uncommon that there develops a strong emphasis on one or more of these to the point of being a fixation or obsession.  Examples include the obsession or fixation over religion and nationalism.  What ends up happening is that one, or several, of these become dominant and all the others are neglected.  As a result, the society can not be described as a tribal way of life . . . its no longer unified.  One effect of this is that society, and the people, loses a sense of tribalism and the sense of the tribe falls.  Because of this, the security of the tribe is absent and more burden is put on the person causing more stress.  Also, as part of this, there is accordingly a change in the self.  The self is no longer a “collective self based in the tribe” but becomes more removed from the tribe and separate.  The individual person now stands out as a distinct entity.  The support decreases or disappears completely.  In this way, the support for the individual person tends to fall leading to more stress.

There also develops a tendency to create other forms of “tribalism’s” to compensate for the loss of the tribe.  This seems to be the cause for much of the fixation and obsessions spoken of above.  In other words, the attempt at creating a “tribalism”, after the fall of the tribe, tends to cause a tendency of intense focusing on something specific (such as religion or philosophy) that can take on qualities of a fixation or an obsession.  Despite this, these new forms of “tribalism” tend to not be that effective.  This is because they are only “part of the whole”.  This is why religion, nationalism, and philosophy failed as a source of support.  It works for a while but ends up failing.  It seems that, at least in the U.S., the family became a “new tribe” and many tribal feelings became associated with the family.  Many attitudes surrounding the family were not unlike those seen in primitive tribes.  This gave the family great power and influence (at least as I was brought up).  But even now that’s deteriorating.

THE NEED FOR THE TRIBAL WAY OF LIFE

I’ve often said that a trait of larger societies is that they are trying to regain the qualities seen in primitive society – the tribal way of life – but can’t seem to achieve it.  It often works for a while but it keeps failing, but they keep trying and trying.  This would suggest that we innately need the tribal way of life but conditions keep disrupting or preventing it.  Ironically enough, a major factor that seems to prevent the appearance of the tribal way of life is overpopulation and large societies . . . too many people.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Modern life and society, Overpopulation and its effects, Primitive society and people, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Relaxation and stress, Society, Tribal society and the tribal sense | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on some effects caused by the replacing of human-to-human contact by electronic gadgetry

In a recent conversation I said something that got onto some interesting things:

I mentioned that I was watching a show from the 1980’s and noted how there is a difference between people then and now.  This is something I’ve noticed many times before.  I remarked that “back then, life was based in human-to-human contact.  Nowadays, this is lacking and seems to be causing some weird effects.”  This is not a new observation.  Over the past some odd years this has made me wonder about the impact the lack of human-to-human contact has made as well as its effects.  I then stated, “I wonder if the paranoia, over sensitivity of people, and how people see threats in other people, which is so prevalent nowadays, may be related to the lack of human-to-human contact.  Its as if the lack of human-to-human contact has made it so that people have a harder time relating to other people.  One effect of this is that people expect other people to be the way they want them to be and, when this doesn’t happen, they see them as threatening in some way causing a lot of paranoia and fear that doesn’t exist.”  I think that there is a lot of truth in this.  Naturally, I thought more on it . . .

ELECTRONIC GADGETRY

The lack of human-to-human contact is primarily caused by electronic gadgetry that has particularly appeared in this century.  The prevalence of this gadgetry has, in some sense, replaced human-to-human contact to varying degree’s and ways.  Many of the younger generation, I am told, are having problem associating with people because of their reliance on electronic gadgetry.  This doesn’t surprise me.

This association of people through the medium of electronic gadgetry causes a number of conditions:

  • There’s no personal association and so there is no”personal connection” . . . they are not associating with a person, in reality . . . this often makes many people look as if they are “looking into a void” with a blank expression
  • People are seen in a distant and narrow way . . . primarily as words, sounds, or images
  • There’s no “reading” of people . . . no intuition or insight into people, human nature, and ones self is required
  • There’s no having to learn to adjust to different peoples qualities
  • There’s no reason to have to accept other peoples qualities and ways
  • Being based in words, sounds, or images, and not the person themselves, the association is dictated by what you want it to be . . . you “take what you want and leave the rest” . . . this causes a tendency to exaggerate some things and ignore others which tends to cause distorted interpretation
  • There is nothing to signal that you did something wrong or right . . . there’s no feedback . . . so you tend to think you’re always right or that everyone agree’s with you

One could say that the overall effects of these conditions are:

  • There is no feedback
  • One is dictated by ones own thought or feelings
  • The association is without personal-to-person meaning 
  • There is little or no altering of ones self to fit the conditions of the association

Basically, the association, through the medium of electronic gadgetry, is like associating with people in a partial or half-hearted way.  In some respects, a person is as if “in a shell”, and all by themselves, associating with an “artificial image” of the person that is conveyed through electronic gadgetry.  This association is primarily done in these ways:

  • Through words (such as email)
  • Through sounds (such as the telephone)
  • Through images (such as some social media)

As a result, the person is only “partially there” and is never “completely there”, so to speak.

There seems to be two ways this association can appear:

  1. Active.  Where a person does some active effort in the association, such as talking on a phone.
  2. Passive.  Where a person sits passively and receives something from somewhere, such as reading the news.

Both play a big role.

SOME EFFECTS

It seems, to me, that electronic gadgetry has caused a distorted or warped association between people.  Its done this a number of ways:

  • An unnatural normal response.  This is a result of having to adjust to the conditions of electronic gadgetry which are not “human” and “normal”.  That is to say, people are reacting normally but to the unnatural condition and reality caused by electronic gadgetry which makes it appear distorted or warped.
  • An unnatural unhealthy response.  The lack of, or modified, human association has caused growth and personal problems.

The effect of these include things like:

Social

  • An inability to convey thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc. to other people
  • An inability to connect with other people
  • A lack of genuine empathy or concern for people
  • A tendency to be oversensitive and over reactive when people are not the way you want them to be or when something bothers you
  • A tendency to be insecure in associating with people . . . a lack of confidence
  • A tendency to feel threatened by people, particularly if the association involves some form of conflict
  • A tendency to not accept the ways of other people
  • A tendency to have difficulty with problems between people
  • A sense of “feeling empty”, or unsatisfied, with people
  • An absence of associating with people
  • No desire to associate with people
  • A tendency to only want to associate with people through electronic gadgetry and not on a human-to-human level

Personal

  • There is no “discipline” in ones association . . . a person interprets, does, thinks, or feels whatever they want
  • A tendency to “live in ones own world”
  • A tendency to project personal qualities, traits, issues, problems, etc. to other people

Conceptual

  • A tendency to misinterpret people even to the point of fabricating things
  • A tendency to think that you are always right
  • A tendency of intolerance
  • A tendency to think everything should be the way you want 
  • A tendency to look at things in an abstract way . . . that is, expecting things to be the way you think its going to be and not how it really is
  • A tendency to dictate the association between people in rigid ways, such as that association should be based on specific principles, political ideas, morality, etc. 

The Phenomena of Self-Association

The overall effect, in a way, is that one does not associate with a person but with the “artificial image” of the person.  But the “artificial image” of a person does not have a “life” of its own.  As a result, the “artificial image” is given the “life” of ones self.  That is to say, the “artificial image” becomes a reflection of ones self.  The effect of this is that the association with other people really becomes a form of association with ones self.  I call this self-association.

This can cause some qualities such as:

  • Projection.  One projects qualities of ones self onto the “artificial image”. These qualities can reflect any quality with ones self, good or bad.  For example, what one thinks other people are thinking is really a reflection of what one is thinking.
  • Narcissism.  Being based in an association with self, one begins to see the “artificial image” as ones self and it becomes something one grows to love.
  • Alienation.  Because it is based in an association with ones self there is a tendency to become disconnected and alienated from other people.

The Loss of Self:  Mass Mentality and Mass Hysteria

For some people, electronic gadgetry causes a loss of self.  In other words, they look to the “artificial image” of the person to be their self.  As a result, they become particularly sensitive and responsive to this “artificial image”.  The effect of this is that there is a tendency to:

  • Mass mentality.  Since the “artificial image” is their self they easily succumb, believe, and follow whatever it says.  This is often done blindly and without thought.
  • Mass hysteria.  Being without a self, there is a tendency to “get away with one self” and quickly become frightened, panic, and such often blowing things out of control.

These seem very prevalent nowadays.

The Confusion of Self’s:  Hypocrisy

The lack of human-to-human contact also seems to cause a tendency to hypocrisy.  By “hypocrisy” I mean “saying one thing and doing another” or “criticizing a person for something one also does” or displaying a “double standard”.

Hypocrisy shows a confusion of self’s.  That is to say, one treats the other person as if they are them.  This treatment generally reflects an expectation that they will do ones personal ideals.  Being idealistic these ideals reflect “how one would like things to be” which usually means that they don’t practice it.  As a result, the person is judged on the basis of ones ideals that one does not really practice but would like to.  This is basically hypocrisy.

This confusion of self’s – hypocrisy – is caused by the fact that one is not associating with a real person but an “artificial image” of a person that is not “real”.  As a result, one projects ones self, and ones ideals, onto that image.  When that image, which is not perceived as a “real person”, does not behave the they want there is a tendency to extensively criticize them.  This can be done quite extensively and severely.

The Fabrication of Stories and Seeing Things That Aren’t Happening – The Creation of a “Self-Satisfied World”

Since a person is “in ones own world”, and not responding to “real people”, there is often a tendency to fabricate stories and see things that aren’t happening.  This is because many people are not responding to the situation but, rather, they are using the association as a reflection of themselves.  This makes the association something like a “platform” for their problems, issues, conflicts, views, etc.

One effect of this is that it often gives an illusion that they are “right” or that the world agree’s with them.  This can give many people a false sense of satisfaction or certainty or confidence.  But, because of the lack of feedback caused by lack of human-to-human contact, there is nothing to help them “adjust” to the real world situation.  As a result, they further sink into their “own self-satisfied world”.  I tend to believe that many people, nowadays, are living in this “self-satisfied world”, as if in a cocoon or shell, that has been created by the conditions caused by electronic gadgetry.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Dehumanization and alienation, Mass communication: media, social media, and the news, Mass hysteria, mass society, and the mob, Modern life and society, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Science and technology, Twenty first century and post cold war society | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on my statement: “God, I can’t stand the emptiness of this society” – an aspect of the emptiness of modern society

Recently, I made an interesting statement that got me to thinking about things.  I think it shows an aspect of a current situation.  It all began when I said:

“God, I can’t stand the emptiness of this society”

This was said with a number of qualities such as:

  • It was said in an all-of-sudden manner, almost without thought
  • It was said with great disgust and nausea
  • It was said in great seriousness
  • It was said with an incredible desire to get away from this society and leave it
  • It was said in an attitude of “I can’t stand it anymore”

Sadly, what prompted this statement was after some observations of the younger generation who are often not unlike a machine or automaton and who are often complete and absolute slaves to technology and the media (which is why I often call them the Drone Generations . . . for example, see my article Thoughts on the post cold war generations – some observations . . .).  But these observations are really a culmination of a long period of observation.  In fact, its a culmination of almost a lifetime of observation living in this society.  Its because of this that it had this quality of being a conclusion, as if to say, “this is what I have concluded about this society . . . that it is empty and I can’t stand this emptiness”.

“EMPTINESS”

But what is “emptiness”?  This is a term that is not that easy to define.  Its actually very involved and deals with many subjects, making it a difficult thing to define.  Some aspects of it include:

  • There is little or no belief
  • There is no authority
  • There is no culture
  • There are no “people” . . . everyone is a “blur of humanity”, as I always say
  • Everything revolves around mundane and materialistic things

Its like human society has become a “nothing” . . . its there but not there.  If a person lives in it, and believe it, then they become a “nothing” too.  This is why I often speak of modern people as the “nothing people”.  And that’s what this is really about, a dilemma caused by the modern world.

To me, the modern world is not unlike an inhuman machine.  If a person adopts its ways then one becomes an inhuman machine as well.  But my observation is that this is not just about modern things:  industrialization, radio, TV, automobiles, refrigerators, telephones,  computers, consumerism, etc.  Its also not about their effects.  There’s more to it.  There is actually something else that started all that, or so it seems to me.

My personal inquiry, at this point, shows that there is an earlier origin, a “something” that got a ball going that has led to the current situation.  To me, it seems to be the Christian conversion . . .

THE CHRISTIAN CONVERSION

The Christian conversion refers to the attempt at converting Europe to Christianity.  It caused things such as:

  • The devaluation of existing belief
  • The forcing of a foreign belief system
  • The forcing of foreign ideals and ways
  • The altering of existing social structures
  • The altering or disruption of authority
  • The idea that if one does not follow the new foreign belief then one is damned and doomed to hell
  • The idea that this new foreign belief is the savior and answer

These created a condition in which there was a “forced altering of a society”.  In other words, it created a condition with qualities such as these:

  1. People were uprooted from their existing society and belief
  2. They were forced to follow foreign beliefs and ways
  3. They were told the new foreign beliefs would save them
  4. This was all done with threats of damnation

These 4 qualities seem to be the base of the “emptiness” and gives it many of its unique traits. 

One thing that is apparent is that “emptiness isn’t really emptiness” but is a condition that consists of many traits and qualities that lead up to a sense of emptiness.  In this way, the “emptiness” is more than something like an absence of authority or belief.

Overall, I would describe the “emptiness” as the sense caused when you have discovered you have been tricked out of something.  Not only do you find it gone but you feel the “emptiness” of its absence.  In many ways, the Christian conversion tricked us out of our belief and society and laid upon us a belief and society that was not all that convincing.  But we tend to not be aware of this emptiness because we have been told it will save us and threatened us with damnation if we didn’t believe.  As a result, we don’t see it as a loss.  Despite this we still feel it deep down and it continues as a “sense”. 

This “sense” continues to surface from time to time.  I tend to feel that this “sense” played a lot in things like the Protestant Reformation, the attack against Royalty and Nobility, and the various rebellions against society, institutions, and beliefs that took place in European and American history.  I would say that even my rebelliousness originates from this “sense”.  At the base of all these seem to be a reaction against the loss and “emptiness” caused by the Christian conversion, or so it seems to me.

EARLIEST ORIGINS

Interestingly, I tend to think that the whole process of the Christian conversion is not unlike an imitation, really, of the Exodus of Moses.  In that event Moses led the People of Israel out of Egyptand out of the control of Pharaoh.  Jesus, in imitation of Moses, was doing a similar thing, he was “leading the people out of the control of the Roman Empire”.  In this way, the Christian conversion is something like a “forced Exodus” that is forced upon people.  In other words, the “emptiness” of modern society has an origin from the Exodus.

In many ways, couldn’t we compare the claims of the modern world to the Exodus in ways such as:

  • Isn’t modern society a “freeing us from the bondage of the bad side of life”?
  • Isn’t modern society a Moses, or a Jesus, that is supposed to save us?
  • Isn’t modern society like the Exodus in that it creates a new society?
  • Isn’t modern society like the Exodus as it is an uprooting of people from where and what they are?
  • Isn’t modern society like the Exodus in that we have to follow a new law or way of life?
  • Isn’t modern society like the Exodus in that it has an image of some idealized new place where we will live in happiness?

To me, a lot of modern society has origin in the Exodus.  Though the Exodus is more a reflection of Judaism it was conveyed through Jesus and in Christianity, which is really nothing but a new Exodus.

I’d say that these qualities of the Exodus were not “taught principles” but, rather, attitudes that were passed down from Judaism to Christianity and into European society.  This means that it is more conveyed in mannerisms, points of views, etc. and not in dogma, belief systems, and such.

“PARTIAL BELIEF” AND “PARTIAL CHRISTIANITY”

It seems, to me, that these attitudes became particularly prevalent in the general population after the Protestant Reformation.  This is when Christianity was turned “personal”.  Before a person did what the Catholic church said.  With Protestantism it placed belief on the person.  In this way, these attitudes became more prevalent in the general population of Europe.

Much of this belief can be described as a “partial belief” meaning that people displayed qualities such as:

  • They only believed parts of Christianity
  • They really didn’t believe in Jesus
  • They mixed the parts of Christianity they believed in with other beliefs

In many ways, one could say that people did not really believe but they followed the attitudes. This created something like a “partial Christianity”, quasi-Christianity, a “half Christianity”, that is only partially Christian.  This is one of the unique qualities created by the Christian conversion.  In this way, the Christian conversion actually caused a hybrid Christianity and did not cause a conversion to Christianity as it intended.  This phenomena would create a whole new style of interpretation . . .

THE “EXODUS-STYLE OF INTERPRETATION”

As time when on these attitudes would be imparted on many things done by the common people:  politics, philosophy, science, etc.  In these ways, it gave an “Exodus-style of  interpretation” to many things.   This style of interpretation tended to interpret things with the 4 qualities described above in ways such as:

  1. A glorification of being uprooted, often glorified as change or progress
  2. A forcing of points of view and belief, often glorified as new discoveries and ideas
  3. Being told how it will save us
  4. Being told that if we don’t do them then we will be miserable

These are many qualities found in modern society.

In particular, this style of interpretation would figure a lot in scientific mentality and point of view and would figure prominently in the development of scientific theory, industrialization, and technology.  It affects these things in ways such as:

  • How things are interpreted
  • How its used
  • Its hopes and claims
  • The estimation of its value

If one looks closely one can see that a lot of science and technology is really a restatement of the Exodus but in a different way!

What we see, then, is that the attitudes of “partial belief” created the “Exodus-style of interpretation” which was applied to many things creating, in a sense, a whole new society or way of looking at things.  Even though they were “new” many of these things maintained the attitudes of the Christian conversion.  These attitudes, though, tended to be “hidden” or was disguised with other words.  As a result, many of these Christian attitudes would not be recognized as originating in Christian thinking.

THE EFFECTS . . .

The effects of these qualities create a condition, attitude, or mentality the display things such as these:

  1. A voluntary uprooting
  2. The taking on of views that we don’t believe
  3. A blind belief that all this will save us
  4. An underlying fear or dread

In this way is created a mentality that has a great irony . . . we don’t believe it, but we still follow it because we think its good and because we’re frightened (probably of life).  This creates a mentality that “goes nowhere”, a “belief that isn’t a belief” or a “hope that isn’t a hope”.  This quality can be described as an “emptiness”.

In this way, we see that the “emptiness” is more than an “emptiness”.  Its really a condition of being misdirected or misled, in a way.  Its like we’re being led off the trail, walking to nowhere, but we think we’re going somewhere.  Its “empty” because we have an “empty direction” and an “empty belief”.  

A HISTORICAL PROGRESSION

In these ways, we can see a progression of the attitude:

  1. The Exodus creates the attitude
  2. Christianity expands the attitude
  3. The Christian conversion of Europe forces the attitude on greater society
  4. The Protestant Reformation makes the attitude “personal”
  5. The attitude proliferates in many things in the ensuing centuries
  6. Industry, science, and technology takes the attitude and applies it
  7. A social system is created as a result . . . the modern world
  8. We have to live in this social system . . . the “emptiness” of the modern world is created

THE REFLECTING OF A FAILURE OF A SOCIAL SYSTEM

The “emptiness”, I think, shows the failure of this attitude.  It shows how ineffective it is.  This is because of things such as:

  • It is based in a past event
  • It is based in the event of another culture
  • It is based in an abstract image
  • It is based in forcing this image onto conditions that do not reflect it
  • It is based in not reacting to the current situation and conditions

More specifically, its a reflection of using this attitude as a basis for a social system.  When I say “social system” I mean an overall structuring and ordering of society, belief, motive, etc. that was a result of industrialized, scientific-based, technological society.  This primarily began in the 1800’s and were largely a creation of Great Britain.  Before that, the attitude was primarily localized to religion and various religious elements in life.

But there were early versions of social systems that tried to make these attitudes as the basis of society.  These were primarily more “fanatical” aspects of Christianity, many of them being a result of the Protestant Reformation.

The English Social System

In England, where the social system really got established, there was a group of people generally called “Puritans” which had great impact on the society, particularly in the 1600’s.  “Puritan” really reflects a mood in the society, that was particularly prevalent in some people, of creating a more serious and Christian society.  During the Napoleonic wars the same attitude would create many more Protestant groups and movements, such as the Evangelical movement and Methodists, that would have great impact on the society of the 1800’s.  In this way, these “Puritan” attitudes would be the backdrop to the creation of the English social system in the 1800’s.  As a result, they would figure prominently in their development.

As far as I know, all of the “Puritan” groups eventually failed.  Its really no surprise that this modern society is failing as well, being that it is based in much of these attitudes.  It seems that in these “Puritan” groups they failed because they were too strict.  Being a small group there was more control and means of control.  In modern society these attitudes are more casual being directed to a greater population.  It is failing because its too empty.

The American Social System

Most of the American social system is rooted in the English Social System and descends from it.  As a result, it has many qualities with it even down to worshiping technology as a savior.

In fact, the U.S. goes further as the very idea of the U.S. is, in many ways, nothing but a reenactment of the Exodus in ways such as:

  • It is a perceived escape from a “bondage”
  • The discover of a new place to live
  • The implementing of a new “law”

As a result, much of the very interpretation of America reflects the “Exodus interpretation”.

One of the unique qualities of the U.S., though, is that it tends to have an emphasis on the fear or dread aspect of the Christian conversion. This became particularly prevalent after WWII during the Cold War.  Much of the hysteria seen during the Cold War was based in the fear and dread created by the Christian conversion.  This fear and dread was caused by the Christian idea that we are all sinners doomed to damnation and hell if we didn’t believe in Jesus.  As a result, it is rooted in the idea that humanity is inherently evil and, oddly enough, a common theme is the idea that humanity is evil, that everyone hates everyone else, and that humanity wants to war against everyone else.  Much of this was aggravated by the horrors of WWII and its aftermath.  The effect of this is to create a ridiculous and blind paranoia that is very prevalent in the U.S.  Despite what Americans think they act like they are frightened scared children. In response to this is the “other” Christian message:  we must love one another.  As a result, another segment of the population preaches love and peace . . . Christianity, but stated in a different way.  The fear and paranoia is so big in the U.S. that this preaching of love and peace is often done with great self-righteous and pig-headed cause.  As a result, we see a remnant of the Christian conversion in American society:  on one hand is the fear and dread of a humanity that is evil and on the other hand we must love one another.  But even all this has becomes a form of “emptiness”:  the fear and paranoia has no basis and we are told that we must love one another, but why?  I can see the Christianity in it all and the “emptiness” that the Christian conversion causes.

AFTERTHOUGHT

All this seems to show a number of things:

  • That the Christian conversion, in actuality, destroyed belief creating societies that are “empty” of belief
  • It shows that Christianity was not the convincing philosophy the Christians thought
  • It shows that people only”partially believed” and used a portion of it for their use
  • It shows that the Christianity of the Christian conversion is really a hybrid Christianity
  • It shows that there were many creations created by this “partial belief” and that the “emptiness” of the Christian conversion carried on down with it as well

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Britain and British things, Christianity, Christian conversion, Post-Christianity, and Christian influence, Judaism, Moses, and the Exodus, Modern life and society, Science and technology, 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, Twenty first century and post cold war society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on how I reacted to current conditions in the same way as in Medieval times – on how the modern world is a continuation of the Medieval world, with remarks about some effects of the Christian conversion on Germanic society

Here’s a thought I had:

When I went to the University I was appalled by it.  I condemned and criticized it while I was there.  The result is that I dropped out of the University.

Now, after 30 years, I begin to see more of the reasons why . . .

THE MEDIEVAL SYSTEM

It seems that I complained about similar things that was complained about in the medieval Universities.  Basically, there was a rebellion against the medieval system.  Because of the Crusades, and the growth of the Catholic church, there became increasing control in the society.  I see three phases of medieval control:

  1. Carolingian control – about 800-1100 This ended with the Crusades which brought the Catholic control into power.
  2. First Catholic control – about 1100-1350.  This ended with the black death which disrupted almost all of Europe for most of the late 1300’s, in particular, and into the 1400’s.
  3. Second Catholic control – about 1400-1550.  This ended with the Protestant Reformation.

The control that was rebelled against was the second Catholic control after the black death.  This control seemed to be particularly extensive and strong.

The University seems to of largely been a result of the Crusades and growth of the Catholic church.  Because of this, they are related.  They reflect a growing sense of things such as these:

  • Control
  • Systemization and organization
  • Expectations of what one is to do
  • Conformism

These were felt in both the University and Medieval society, as a whole, causing two movements to appear:

  • Counter University movement
  • Counter System movement

The movements seemed to be in reaction to qualities that became particularly important in Medieval society such as:

  • Systemized knowledge.  In many ways, the systemization of knowledge as a whole was a continuation of the Christian conversion, of “forcing an accepted knowledge” upon the population.  This set the general tone toward knowledge and it was displayed in areas like the University.
  • Power structure.  This, of course, has a lot to do with the growing power of the Catholic Church in society.  It would eventually extend to the government and social structure.

What this means is that the Crusades caused a growth of control over society that, in many ways, define Medieval society.  This became so extensive that it caused  reactions, or movements, against it.

In general, the movements were against the emphasis on the system and power structure which caused a degradation of the “human being”.  The net result is that, during the Medieval period there became a conflict between the system/power structure and the human being.

UNIVERSITY BEGINNINGS

Much of this rebellion seems to of begun at the Universities.  There seems to be a number of reasons why:

  • It was a systemized and very organized environment
  • It promoted a systemization and organization of knowledge
  • It was associated with the power structure (church, government, social structure)
  • Because it was exposed to different forms of knowledge, from other places, it offered a “different perspective” that was lacking in everyday society

In many ways, the University was an concentrated version of Medieval society with all its power and control and systemization.  As a result, the opposition began there.

HUMANISM

It seems that the first effect of this opposition at the University is often called humanism.  To me, humanism is the emphasis on human qualities as significant and important in life.  But, when you look at the history of humanism, I think, it is somewhat confusing.  Over the years there has developed many versions and aspects of what it is.

I seem to think there are two forms of humanism:

  1. Southern humanism.  This primarily comes from Italy.  This is the humanism that is usually looked at.
  2. Northern Germanic humanism.  This is primarily Germanic in origin.  This tends to be overshadowed by the southern humanism and is often confused with it.

In this article I am looking at Northern Germanic humanism.

I tend to feel that the Northern Germanic humanism has early origins.  It seems to reflect the Germanic tribal society mentality.  In its simplest way, I’d say that Northern Germanic humanism is a reaction against the infiltration of southern Italian, and Christian society, on what is a strongly tribal society.  In this way, it is a rebellion against the conquering society and social system of the south.  One could then say that the Northern Germanic humanism is really an emphasis on “our way” versus “your way” or as an emphasis on “us” and “our ways”.  It seems to primarily focus on the idea of a people, and not necessarily as individual people.  This was how it was initially, or so it seems to me.  In this way, Northern Germanic humanism is really reflective of a culture clash with southern Italian and Christian culture.  I believe that clash still continues to this day.

THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION

The humanistic feelings, of emphasis on “us” and “our ways”, would transfer to the Catholic church, which was responsible for much of the control and power during the Medieval times.  Many people were involved with this opposition but it would end up centering on Martin Luther in Germany.  In the early 1500’s he would start a movement which would eventually oppose and shatter the Catholic church, and Christianity in general.  This is the Protestant Reformation.

A significant point about the Protestant Reformation is that it made things more “personal”, putting the emphasis on “me” instead of “us”.  This is seen in Martin Luther’s statement sola fide (faith alone).  This reflects the emphasis on the individual, not the society, as the source of belief and religion.

It seems, to me, that this created something like a “half-individualism”.  By this I mean that the mentality is rooted in a culture clash, and is social as a result.  But the philosophy of Christianity, which it tried to reform, emphasized conversion and belief.  This puts the emphasis on the individual (that is, the Christian conversion required the individual to convert as part of its process).  In this way, half-individualism is a form of individualism based in as social conflict between cultures but which uses a philosophy that emphasizes the individual.  In this way, it only seems to be individualistic.  To put it another way, “the person fights a social conflict as if it were an interior and personal battle”.

The effect of all this is that the Protestant Reformation caused an emphasis on the individual as a source of belief, conviction, and religion.  This fact would reveal an important aspect of this problem . . .

THE HUMAN BEING VERSUS THE SYSTEM

What all this is about, really, is the tug-of-war between the human being and the system.  That is to say, the problem became an issue as a result of the Medieval system becoming too powerful and squashing the person.  In this way, the human being and the system became at odds and have been ever since.  Its resurfaced again and again, and in a multitude of ways, since the Medieval times.  It even resurfaced in me . . .

MY EXPERIENCE AT THE UNIVERSITY

My own conflict at the University was, in many ways, a smaller version of the situation that was seen in Medieval times.  I had many of the same conflicts:

  • I was appalled by the systemization of knowledge
  • I was appalled by the systemization of the whole process
  • I was appalled by the power structure and how it manipulated everything
  • I was appalled by the conformism
  • I was appalled by how I had to “do and believe what they wanted”
  • I was not convinced that the University was the “great-all authority of knowledge” . . . its just an organization . . . who made them god?!
  • I felt squashed by it all as a person

These caused a reaction . . .

MY REACTION . . . AND THE SIMILARITIES

I was so appalled that I ended up dropping out of the University at about 1990.   In the decade following I found that I replicated many themes seen in the Medieval opposition movements.  Some of these include:

  • I began to use the word “human” a lot.
  • I coined the word “humaness” to refer to naturally appearing human qualities.  
  • I spoke of “The Human” referring to the importance of human qualities.  
  • I emphasized the need to follow natural inclinations.
  • I created the phrase:  “the human takes precedence”.
  • I emphasized “dehumanization” and its damaging effects.
  • I spoke of the System and Systemization, which tends to degrade “The Human”, human qualities, and natural inclinations.
  • I stated that there was a “war for humaness” and that we have to fight against the System to maintain our humanity.
  • I began to oppose the System.

In many ways, I reflected many views seen in humanism and the reformation.  In short, I saw, and reacted to, a battle between the human being and the system.  To me, it seems that I am reacting to the same conditions seen in the Medieval world and in a similar way.  I tend to feel that this seems to show that the modern world is really a continuation of the Medieval world . . .  

MEDIEVAL TIMES AND THE MODERN WORLD . . . WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE???

I tend to believe that the modern world is just the “latest installment” of a social system that began during Medieval times.  Its a continuation of that system.  I see a number of similarities between the Medieval system and the modern world.  These include:

  • There is a background of tribal mentality in society which tends to cause a rebelliousness in some people
  • There is an influence of foreign beliefs and other influences
  • There is a lot of new things being created
  • There is a particularly strong power structure
  • There is an an organized systemization of belief, knowledge, etc.
  • There is a self-righteous cause
  • There is the idea that it (the modern world) is the answer to everything
  • There is the idea that it (the modern world) must change the world

The result of these is the exaltation of an ultra-organized society (what I call Systemism) at the expense of the human being.  This is the same condition seen in the Medieval world.

Many of the above qualities originate from Christianity and the Crusades (for example, we have a high and mighty cause to change . . . I mean, save . . . the world).  When you stand back and look at it we (that is, Western society) act like we are still in the Crusades.  Of course, there are changes, such as that Jesus Christ has been replaced by science and the Catholic Church has been replaced by the state, but it hasn’t changed all that much.

I see several dominant qualities of this mentality which originate in Christianity:

  • A self-righteousness – Christianity is the only true belief in the world
  • An emphasis on power structure – the power of the Catholic Church preserves the only true religion
  • A systemization of knowledge and belief to “accepted” way’s – one must believe in Jesus Christ and the beliefs established by the Catholic Church
  • An emphasis on the “new” – Christianity is a “new” belief that replaces the “old” pagan belief
  • The idea that we must change the world to our way – The world must be converted to Christianity
  • The idea that the “new” will save us – Christianity will save the world

These are all qualities developed during the Crusades and which persist down to today.  In many ways, they are the basis for the modern mentality showing that we are not as far from the Medieval world as we think we are.

THE CHRISTIAN CONVERSION, GERMANIC SOCIETY, AND “TRIBALISM”

To me, it seems that this whole phenomena is rooted in the Christian conversion and its effect on Germanic society (by “Germanic” I mean the culture that includes Germany, France, England, Scandinavia, and everywhere in between).  Basically, the Christian conversion brought in many foreign elements from the south and these had a great affect on the Germanic tribal mentality and prompted a reaction as a result.  This seems to be at the base of the problem anyways.

The whole phenomena is a reflection of what I call “tribalism” and a dilemma that surrounds it (see my article Thoughts on “tribalism” – some aspects and dilemma’s).  To put it simply “tribalism” refers to a sense of a “tribe”, or people, as a distinct and separate entity in the world.  In this “tribe” is found unity, security, and meaning.  When things disrupt this “tribe”, such an the intrusion of foreign ideas or social structures, it can create conflict for people.  For example, it can cause insecurity, fear, apprehension, confusion, loss, despair, apathy, etc.  When this happens various reactions can appear such as anger, violence, alienation, rebellion, etc.

The Christian conversion, being foreign in origin, caused such a reaction in the Germanic tribal societies.  It disrupted Germanic “tribalism” in a number of ways:

  • It brought in new beliefs and attitudes
  • It brought in new social structures
  • It was authoritative in nature
  • It made itself out as the authority in society
  • It attempted to destroy existing mentalities, beliefs, traditions, etc.
  • It was often very forceful upon the population

All this was intensified by the Crusades which, in a way, made it more forceful, authoritative, and destructive.  In this way, it only disrupted the unity, security, and meaning of “tribalism” eventually prompting a reaction.

It seems that the reaction that happens when “tribalism” is threatened often entails things such as:

  • The regaining of unity
  • The regaining of security
  • The regaining of meaning
  • Rebellion against the foreign intrusion

My observation is that, contrary to what most people would think, the reaction against foreign intrusion, and the disruption of “tribalism”, is seldom automatic rebellion and violence.  The first reactions are often attempts at regaining the unity, security, and meaning that was lost.   If these are not reestablished then it can turn into rebellion and violence, particularly if things are forced upon them.

It seems that the Christian conversion created many attempts and methods of regaining the unity, security, and meaning of “tribalism”.  Some of these include:

  • Siding with Christianity and making it the new “tribe”
  • Going in some other direction, which often meant going “underground”
  • Maintaining the “old ways”, at least in some way or form
  • Appealing to other new things as a substitute
  • The creation of new points of view
  • Migrating somewhere else

Many of these qualities describe the conditions of Germanic culture particularly following the Crusades.  This shows that the disruption caused by the Christian conversion has caused a new form of culture that is endlessly trying to regain “tribalism”.  Perhaps we could cause this the “regaining culture”?  In this way, we can see that a big part of Germanic culture is a continual attempt at regaining the unity, security, and meaning of “tribalism” that was disrupted by the Christian conversion.  

It is my belief that this continual attempt at “regaining tribalism”, which is a reaction to the Christian conversion, is one of the reasons why the Germanic people became so productive, created a lot, was so innovative, discovered many things, and explored a lot.

Despite all that they have done, though, the “tribalism” was never really recovered.  One of the reasons for this is that all the new stuff created just became a new “foreign intrusion”.  This shows how a vicious circle is often started with the attempt at “regaining”:

  1. “Tribalism” exists in the society
  2. A foreign intrusion appears
  3. “Tribalism” is disrupted
  4. There is an attempt at “regaining tribalism”
  5. This causes the creation of many new things as a substitute for “tribalism”
  6. The new things become a new form of foreign intrusion
  7. There is a continued disruption of “tribalism”
  8. Back to phase 4 and the cycle is repeated

Perhaps we could call this the “vicious circle of the regaining culture”?  What seems to happen is that this vicious circle becomes a dominating quality with the “regaining culture”.  It creates a society that is, in a way, “continually moving but getting nowhere”.

I should point out that all cultures in the world reflect “tribalism”, at least in some way.  Its a very natural phenomena and the disruption or loss of the “tribe” has an impact, though it may not seem like it.  Personally, I feel that many of the problems of the world are really based in the disruption or loss of the “tribe”.   Each culture reacts to it differently though.

“HALF BELIEF”

But the Christian conversion seems to of caused a unique reaction.  This was primarily seen in the Germanic peoples reflecting, of course, that the unique quality of Germanic tribalism.  There seems to be a progression of event in how this went:

  1. There is an already existing society based in the “tribe” – the “Germanic people
  2. There is a foreign intrusion dressed out as a “savior” of the people but not part of the “tribe” – Christianity
  3. The “savior” seems convincing to the people so they start to believe the foreign “savior” but maintain tribal mentality deep down – people seem to convert
  4. This condition continues while there are no tensions or conflicts
  5. When tensions and conflicts appear it puts a strain on the society and the original base “tribe” mentality comes out – people start to go against the foreign “savior” and its belief falls

Its like there are two levels in the mind of the culture that the Christian conversion caused:

  1. The base “tribe” mentality
  2. The belief of the “savior” which is overlayed on the base mentality

When there is a conflict people “fall back” onto the base “tribe” mentality and the “savior” is tossed to the side.  In this way, one could say that the culture only half believed.  That is to say, something like a “half-belief” appeared.  One effect of this is the “half-individualism” described above.

Basically, in “half-belief” people followed Christianity with their minds or, for the more serious, with their hearts . . . but their souls rest with the “tribe”.   The reason why ones soul rests with the “tribe” is because of things such as:

  • It is associated with self-preservation of the “tribe”, people, and culture
  • It is deeply ingrained in the culture as a result of its presence for centuries

This is why the “tribe” and “tribal mentality” is so deep rooted and why its disrupting is so impactful.  As a result of this, the “tribe” becomes the “default” mentality, so to speak.  This made it difficult for the belief in Christianity to never really became that firm or established.  In this way, the Germanic people were never really converted to Christianity.

It seems, to me, that “half-belief” is a common problem with Christianity, at least in some form.  I think one of the reasons why is because of the three-fold levels I described above:

  1. Belief with ones mind – the weakest
  2. Belief with ones heart – stronger but still weak
  3. Belief with ones soul – strongest

Basically, the Christian conversion relies on peoples understanding to cause a conversion.  That is to say, it requires the weakest aspect of all . . . the mind.  In reality, most of the Christian conversion is rooted in understanding.  The more serious tried to bring the “heart” into it, at least in some way, but it never really worked in the conversion.  This reliance on “understanding of Christianity” is, really, the weakest aspect of Christianity and why it tends to fail.

One of the interesting effects of “half-belief” is that because the belief primarily rests with understanding, with ones mind, there is a tendency for this aspect to be “remembered” and there is a tendency to forget or, rather, disregard the original belief . . . the “tribe”.  As a result, this makes it so that consciously people become unaware of the “tribe” and its importance.  Despite this, its still strong, and part of the culture, which makes it affect people unconsciously, often without their knowing it.  This is why the Germanic people often kept resorting to various forms of worshiping of ones culture, history, and “volk” throughout history.  The most dramatic version of this is, of course, the Nazi’s or some attitudes of the British Empire.  This behavior reflects that unconscious “tribe” mentality that, really, everyone forgot but is still functioning in the culture.  In this way, the “tribe” mentality continues to exist but becomes a silent and unknown force in the culture.  As a result of this presence, it keeps reappearing in many different ways and its usually not recognized as such.

In my opinion, Germanic society is still tribal in its deeper orientation.  In this way, it is basically displaying qualities similar to what we see in some primitive tribes.  But, since the Christian conversion, it has lost touch with that quality . . . it has become unconscious.  In addition, it has also been pushed more into the unconscious by many things that have happened since, such as:

  • All the creations, inventions that have appeared
  • All the events and happenings
  • All the wars and conflicts that have appeared
  • The effects of overpopulation and dealing with masses of people
  • The growth of media and communication
  • The growth of consumerism and materialism
  • The growth of information
  • The infiltration of many foreign things, people, etc.

These have created something like “overlays” on the tribal mentality making it even more hidden from view.

THE QUESTION OF AUTHORITY

Another problem of the Christian conversion is that it tried to make itself out as the authority.  In a society with a “tribe” mentality this is not as easy as it sounds for the “tribe” is the authority . . . you don’t just walk into it and replace it.  It seems, to me, that one of the main reasons why Christianity failed is because it tried to make itself out as the true and only authority in an already established tribal society.  In fact, it seems that the question of authority caused the counter movements above, humanism, and the Protestant Reformation.  It also caused my reaction.  Personally, I felt as if I was having the “wool pulled over my eyes” or as if a “pretend authority” was trying to be imposed upon me.  In addition, it was like a “self proclaimed authority” was trying to tell me what to do.  The problem is that I did not accept it as authority.  I tend to feel that similar feelings also motivated the Medieval reaction as well.

The “pretend authorities” came from many sources:

  • Christianity . . . a foreign authority
  • Being told what to believe . . . primarily from the Catholic church
  • Being told what knowledge was true . . . primarily from the University
  • Having to submit to a power structure that one can’t relate to

The problem is that all this was coming from “without” . . . it was foreign.

This question of authority is often why, if one looks closely, one can see that much of Germanic society is trying to find authority in one form or another throughout the centuries.  Examples include:

  • The new Protestant interpretation of Christianity
  • Science
  • Inventions
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Economics
  • Nationalism

It almost looks like much of Germanic society, from Germany to Britain to the U.S., is on an endless quest seeking an authority which it can’t seem to find.  In this way, Germanic society is somewhat uprooted . . . it can’t find its “center”, so to speak.  This seems to be a common problem as, it seems to me, that the overall effect of the Christian conversion is an uprooting of cultures.  

INDIVIDUALISM AND GERMANIC SOCIETY

Interestingly, much of the individualism we see in Germanic society may have strong roots in the emphasis on “regaining tribalism” as a result of the Christian conversion.  In other words, Germanic individualism may be more about the “tribe” than the individual.  This is rather ironic as it seems to be going in the opposite direction than what it claims.

There seems to be a number of things that it originates from:

  • The warrior ethic developed during the era of the Roman Empire and the wars that followed its downfall
  • The warrior ethic of the Crusades which is really a continuation of the previous quality

What it seem, then, is that Germanic individualism was originally associated with war, which is really distinguishing oneself in battle for the benefit of the “tribe”.  Already, then, we see the “tribe” as a motive of individualism.  In some respects, the individual is elevated for a protection of the “tribe”.

But the Christian conversion created another threat to the “tribe” . . . the disruption of “tribalism”.  In this way, the individual would again be elevated again for the protection of the “tribe” but not as a warrior, as such, but in a different and unique way.  Instead of elevating the individual-for-the-tribe, as a warrior, he is elevated as the individual-as-an-ideal, of a glorification of things like an individuals understanding, faith, belief, achievements, and such.  Interestingly, this emphasis on the individual has many qualities that originated with the Christian conversion, such as:

  • Christian belief – the need to “understand” in the conversion process
  • Protestant Reformation – emphasis on personal belief (referred to above)
  • “Half-individualism” (referred to above)

In this way, one could say that the individual-as-an-ideal originates from a combination of the warrior individual-for-the-tribe mentality and qualities created by the Christian conversion which tends to put emphasis on the individual (described above).  I tend to feel that these qualities were interpreted in an individual sense because of the Germanic warrior ethic and the threat to “tribalism”.  If one looks at other places where Christianity tried to convert people there are very few other cultures that interpreted things quite in that light.  Because of this, the individual-as-an-ideal is a unique Germanic reaction to the Christian conversion.   

But the individual-as-an-ideal is based in the “tribe”, as I said above.  This makes it so that there is often a unique confusion between the individual and the “tribe”.  There is something like a spectrum.  On one end of the spectrum its hard to say which one is being spoken about . . . they are as if blended together.  On the other end of the spectrum they are in conflict . . . it becomes the “tribe” versus the individual.  At this point the “tribe” takes on other qualities.  It refers to the greater existing society . . . the church, the government, the King, the aristocracy, the laws, etc.  I generally refer to all this as the “system”, as I’ve stated above.  The result of all this is that the individual-as-an-ideal tends to create two main conditions:

  1. The blending of the individual and the “system”.   This creates a person who does what society wants.  This has made Germanic society very efficient but it tends to create “robots”.
  2. The individual versus the “system”.  This creates a person who emphasizes what a person does, and is willing to oppose things for the right reasons, but it tends to create rebels.

Of course, which path one takes depends on the person and conditions.  Both qualities have had great impact on Germanic society.  The counter movements, humanism, Protestant Reformation, and my reaction (described above) reflect the individual versus the “system” perspective.  This does not necessarily reflect society as a whole.  If you look closer, you’ll see that the other perspective is also seen in Medieval as well as Germanic society (in addition to other perspectives as well).  What this means is that the reactions I have described reflect a reaction toward the Christian conversion . . . its not the only reaction.

For some related thoughts see:

Some thoughts I had while walking through a University campus: the revulsion in becoming a “systemite” and the “war for humanness”

Thoughts on a problem when I was a teenager and its relation with problems of teenagers nowadays


 

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Christianity, Christian conversion, Post-Christianity, and Christian influence, Dehumanization and alienation, Education and learning, Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Stuff involving me, The 'system', 'systemism', and the power structure, Tribal society and the tribal sense | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on relaxation . . . to rejuvenation . . . to contemplation

Here’s a thought I had:

I have been putting great emphasis on relaxing recently.  I feel that it is very important and healthy and can lead to deeper things.  Because of this, I tend to have certain viewpoints about it . . .

Most people think relaxing is just relaxing but I look at it differently.  I would define relaxation in this way:  relaxation is the releasing of tension so that passion can work effectively.  This means that passion and tension must be understood (I will discuss these below).  What this shows is that there is an unhealthy quality that is created when tension disrupts passion so that it is not felt properly.

The sensing of passion causes a “rejuvenation”.  In other words, the purpose of relaxation is actually to be “rejuvenated” with passion.  To just be “relaxed” is like becoming like a limp vegetable . . . its incomplete.

In addition to that, if one continues deeper into relaxation then it turns into contemplation.  This means it turns into something else.

The subject of relaxation brings up two important qualities:

  1. Passion.
  2. Tension. 

PASSION

Passion is a word that came to me about 30 years ago.  It originated from a sense of something like an “energy” in life.  It felt as a “something” that I couldn’t fully define and, frankly, still can’t fully define.  But it seemed to be a form of “life-sense”, a “something” that was everywhere and in everything and which had a “life” to it.  Another word I often use is “livingness”.  I cannot say what it is.  I also cannot say why I believe it is so important.  Its just a “gut feeling” that it is important.  Without passion things seemed dead, meaningless, worthless, etc.  In this way, one could say that passion is the energy, heart, or soul of life.  As a result, I tended to view passion as the foundation of life.  In this way, we could say that in relaxation we are seeking to rediscover the foundation of life.

This means, of course, that a person must have a sense of what passion is in order to seek it.  I cannot say how this is done as, frankly, it just appeared to me.  How a person in which it has not appeared begins to know it I cannot say.  My personal feelings is that most people do not know it, at least consciously.

The Conditions of Passion

The conditions of passion are:

  • Passion presence. This is a sense of being “immersed” in passion, that it is all around us.
  • Passion glows.   This is a sense of a “life-sense”, as a localized energy in a specific space.  In a way, its a “localized passion presence”.
  • Passion flows.  This is a sense of “movement” of the passion in space.

In relaxation we are trying to really retrieve all these conditions, in one way or another.  Much of how this is perceived depends a lot on how it is “sensed” . . .

 The “Sensing” of Passion

Passion is something that is “sensed” by a person.  This requires these things:

  • A passion to be sensed
  • An ability to sense it
  • A self to acknowledge it
  • An ability to react to it and use it

There’s a number of senses:

  1. A generalized sense.  This is an overall sense all about me, as if I am in a fluid (I often speak of this as the “primal fluid”).
  2. A localized sense.   This is passion being perceived only in an object.
  3. A flowing sense.  This is passion being sensed as moving among other things.  This is a more recent version
  4. An imagery sense.  This is a localization of passion in a specific image or object, like a god or spirit.

I tend to see the first as the oldest and original sense of passion.  As it progresses down the passion degrades and differentiates.  This would mean that the “god-sense” (a sense of a divine being), being an imagery sense, is actually a lower or degraded sense of passion. I believe that this is true.  That does not mean, though, that the “god-sense” is wrong.  Its just not as “pure” as the generalized sense. The fact is that passion is a hard thing to sense.  As a result, there is a tendency is to “scale it down” to a form that one can more easily associate with.  The “god-sense” allows this to happen in many people.

Passion has two basic “senses” in how it is perceived:

  1. The “life-sense”.  This is a sense of “aliveness” or vitality or energy.  This often creates a sense of the divine or sacred.
  2. A spatial/time sense.  This is a sense of the “life-sense” in space and time.  This often creates a sense of the eternal.

How it is “sensed” is often one of these or a blending of the two.

1 – The “life-sense”

Passion is  felt as a “life-sense” in ways such as:

  1. An undefined “generalized” sense
  2. A “thick” fluid-like sense
  3. A “tingly”, warm, or other sensation
  4. A heightened awareness, of a “livingness” in things

The former seems to be the oldest sense.  As it progresses down the “sense” goes through a degradation (see below).

2 – A Spatial/Time Sense

It seems, to me, that there is a close relationship between the “life-sense” and spatial relations. Time is actually a form of spatial relations as time is an awareness of thing from moment-to-moment.  

I seem to feel passion a number of ways:

  • An overall presence:  it is all around me like a fluid
  • Localized in me: it glowed like an ember with in me
  • Localized in an object: it glowed like an ember in an object
  • Localized in space: it glowed like an ember about me in a specific segment of space
  • Flowing without me:  it as if moved or flowed around me
  • Flowing within me:  it as if moved or flowed within me

We can see that these all describe strong spatial relations.  I have always emphasized the importance of spatial relations in awareness (see my article “Thoughts on the importance of spatial relations and the self – the creation of a “self-space” and its effects“).  I have always felt that space is one of the first awareness that we have.  This is one of the reasons why I think space figures so prominently in awareness.

The “Passion/Spatial Tension”

It seems that passion and spatial relations are the first awareness that we have.  But there is a conflict in these sense:

  1. A conflict between a general spatial sense and a localized sense in space.  That is to say they are polar opposites.
  2. That passion and space are not the same and have different natures.

When we try to define it in space we actually degrade it.  But life is made up of space.  Because of this, there is a tug-of-war between the all-pervasive quality of space and localized conditions of the real world.  This, it seems to me, creates some of the first tensions, the “passion/spatial tension”.

The Degradation of the “Sense” of Passion

The original forms of the “sense” is the “purist” form.  It seems to me, that to truly be relaxed one must go back to the earliest senses, the generalized (spatial) and undefined (life-sense) forms.  

Degradation of the sense causes passion to “split apart” by things such as:

  • Differentiation of passion into separate elements
  • Multiplies passion into different directions and paths
  • Confuses passion
  • Focuses passion on specific areas
  • Neglects passion in specific areas

Passion, the Self, and Origins of Passion

Passion is projection of pre-self, causing an awareness, which appeared as a “tingling” which is the origin of the “energy” sense.   This means that it originates from the beginnings of awareness.  Relaxation, as I said above, is a regression.  This means that I am speaking of a regressed awareness as the origin of passion.  What this means is that passion is really the awareness of existence in its earliest forms and that relaxation is the regaining of the sense of passion in a more pure sense

Early forms of passion has these qualities:

  • It is pure, unclouded, unfettered
  • It contains a hope
  • It is “living”

This gives it a very “sacred” quality to it.

TENSION

Life, by its nature, creates a tension in us.  Overall, I’d say that tension is the preparation and reacting to the variable and unpredictable conditions and situations life.  Therefore, tension is actually a part of life and is a natural response.  It should not be looked at as being “unhealthy” or bad.  It only becomes that way if it becomes too strong or gets out of control.

Because tension is the “momentary and preparatory storing of passion to deal with a situation or event” it shows that there is an awareness of lacking in passion or full.

  • An awareness of situation
  • storing of passion
  • a sense of time something will happen
  • an awareness of a relaxed state versus a passionized state
  • mental imagery a lot of tension is stored by mental imagery

Causes of Tension

Tension seems to be caused by things such as:

  • An anticipation or waiting for an event
  • A concentration or focusing
  • A responsibility in handling, participating in events
  • A “preparing” for an event or situation
  • An intensification of mental abilities or actions
  • A tightening up of physical qualities like muscles

I think that the responsibility of dealing with life is one of the hardest tensions to deal with. In other words, the sense of responsibility in life hits deep.  It keeps demanding us to confront life and keeps pulling us into tension. Weaning oneself off of responsibility is something that takes a lot of time.

Types of Tensions

There are many types of tensions, which include:

  • Tension caused by imminent conflict.  This is a tension that is caused by a conflict that is currently taking place.
  • Conflict-based tension – of recent origin.  This is tension caused by an event that did not happen that long ago but which is “still on ones mind”.
  • Conflict-based tension – of old origin.  These generally tend to be unconscious and a person is unaware of them.
  • Conflict-base tension – of abstract origin.  This is when one is aware of a conflict but it is not happening.  Its something one “knows”, such as going to a doctor for a “mysterious pain” one is may think may be serious.
  • Tension caused by pressure.  
  • Tension as a participation in life.  The normal conditions of life cause the need for tension.  As a result, life, overall, tends to cause a tension.
  • Tension caused by awareness or mentally alert. 
  • Tension caused by “passion/spatial tension” (see above).

The tensions caused by conflict and pressure of usually somewhat superficial as they are transient events.

The deepest tension comes from the “passion/spatial tension”.  It is a tension that always exists and seems to be the base of all tensions.  After that is the tension caused by awareness.  As a result, when one goes deeper in relaxation one gets to these levels.  Tension caused by the “passion/spatial tension” and awareness just “is”.  It exists.  When one reaches this depth of relaxation there is a tendency to “not be aware” and there is a loss of self.  When one reaches this point one is going into contemplation (see below).

It appears that tension prepares one with the conditions of life by doing these things:

  • Storing passion.  It as if “holds” the passion in certain organs, such as muscles, which may tighten up.  This seems to be the physical manifestation of tension. 
  • Directing of passion.  It makes passion go into certain traits, such as anxiety.  This quality seems mental manifestation of tension.

In the normal healthy condition, this tension is “released” and disappears.  There are a number of stages for it to be “released”.

  1. The situation must be confronted
  2. The situation is reacted to
  3. The passion is expended
  4. The situation is fulfilled
  5. The passion  satisfied

When any of these stages is disrupted tension continues to exist.

This shows that in relaxation it would be more accurate to say that we are speaking of “prolonged tension” and not tension itself.  “Tension” really refers to a transient situation that is in response to a condition and disappears after that condition.  “Prolonged tension” is “tension” that is unresolved and continues to exist.  Generally, in relaxing we are trying to rid ourselves of “prolonged tension”. 

When tension is not released several problems take place:

  • The tension stores too much passion in a specific area
  • The tension has directed passion to the wrong area

This is caused by things such as:

  • Over-reacted tension.  This is caused when the tension is much too severe for the situation.
  • Frustrated tension.  This is tension that is not satisfied.
  • Unresolved tension.  This is tension that is not resolved and continues on.
  • Tension from habit.  This is tension caused by a habitual reaction.
  • Residue tension.  This is the “remnants” of all the tensions that one has in life.

The effect of this is that the passion tends to get bound up and in knots, the “tension knots”.  These tend to grow and grow as life progresses.  It causes many “tension residues” in life, which are the effects of these knots that affect our general life.  Some causes of these include:

  • Unresolved issues
  • An excited state
  • An absence of relaxation
  • An inability to react

“Tension Molding”

Tension tends to affect many aspects of life, such as:

  • Our mental state
  • Our awareness
  • Our perception and interpretation of life and its events
  • Our muscle tension (so that it affects posture, appearance, etc.)
  • Our physical organs

In many ways, the tension tends to “mold” us into a particular state or “form”.  In other words, tension is a major element in how we grow and instrumental in the make up of our “form” which could be compared to our character.  I would go on to say that a lot of what we become is created, or influenced, by tension in some way or another.  I speak of this tendency as “tension molding”.

It seems that, once tension has molded us into a form its hard to get rid of that form.  This is particularly true if it has existed for a long time or if we have grown a life that depends on that particular molding of tension.

The “Grasping Reflex”

There is a tendency to “grasp” at things in life.  I call it the “grasping reflex”.  This can be very strong and become very difficult to overcome.  To me, it often appears as a tendency to want to “have” or “possess” something that can be so strong that its like one is desperately scrambling for it.  Generally, we are grasping for something specific.  But I think that many of us are “grasping at life” or, rather, trying grasp for a perception of life.  Not only that, many of us don’t know what we’re grasping at.  In this way, many people develop a “grasping lifestyle”, of perpetually and endlessly grasping almost like a bunch of wolves.  In some cases, we can “kill ourselves grasping for things”.

When we grasp it tends to cause things like:

  • An intensification of passion energy
  • A concentration of passion in a specific location

The net result is that grasping tends to cause more tension and can make it more intense.  If it becomes a lifestyle we can grasp and grasp and grasp so that we compound it.

Relaxation as Regression

One could say that relaxation is the “undoing” of the effects of life (that is, tension).  In this way, it has a regression quality to it, as if regressing to the beginning of life, of starting anew with a “clean slate”, of a “starting over”.  Its almost like returning to the infant state.

STAGES OF RELAXING

I see several stages in relaxation:

  1. Relaxing
  2. Passionizing
  3. Reintegration

1 – Relaxing

One could say that relaxation is a “retreating away from the normal conditions of life”, to avoid the natural tensions that are a part of life, and then getting rid of the residue tension that remains.  In other words, relaxation begins with removing one self from the world.  This condition allows for these things:

  • A calming of ones mind.  The mind needs to be silenced.  No thought, no emotion, no reflection.
  • A calming of ones body.  This refers to the body being relaxed, muscles relaxed.
  • A “letting go” of an overall sense of tension.  This is getting rid of “knots” that continue to exist.

Oftentimes, relaxation can uncover unknown or forgotten tensions and conflicts.  In this way, one may actually get more tense as one relaxing.  Because of this, one has to put more effort to relax and it may become a struggle.  I often feel this is why many people will end up trying to relax.  Its like an uncovering of tensions, layer after layer, that gradually reveals more hidden tension.  This fact shows that a lot of tension is unknown to us and is as if covered up.

Sometimes, its surprising what makes us tense.  In many cases, the little things of life make us tense.  Often, looking at what makes us tense is reveals what is important to us.  It may entail things we never realized.  Sometimes its good to inquire of the conflict that causes tension because of this.

One could say that there are two forms of relaxations:

  1. Relaxation to a specific tension
  2. Relaxation to life’s overall tension

When one starts relaxation we tend to focus on specific tensions.  As we get more progressed in it, over time, it slowly turns into a relaxation of life’s overall tension.

Relaxing means an exposing of ones self, which puts one in a vulnerable state.  This means that we often go against the natural tendency of protection.  This exposing of self, in relaxation, can be difficult and hard to do.  Some ways to help include:

  • Try to reconcile the conflict or dilemma that causes the tension
  • Accepting the dilemma or conflict
  • Experience . . . the realization that most tensions aren’t that important

Relaxation requires a “letting go”.  This is a deliberate focusing of mind on the tension.  It entails an awareness of two states:

  1. The tension
  2. The absence of tension

In many ways, in relaxation, of letting go, you’re really trying to be aware of the absence of tension.   This may not be as easy as it sounds.  In fact, I think that many people cannot relax because they are not aware of what the absence of tension feels like!

A person must allow themselves to relax.  This may sound odd but its true.  Many people can’t relax simply because they won’t allow it.  This can be for a number of reasons, such as:

  • A sense of responsibility.  
  • They only know tension.
  • A feeling that relaxing is like walking into an abyss, the unknown.
  • By holding onto tension one has the illusion of control.  
  • A fear of conflict that hides behind some tensions. 

I tend to feel that a big part of relaxing is just allowing yourself to allow it to happen.  

If one relaxes to have no thoughts and emotions, and become physically limp, then one only becomes “empty”.  Its an illusionary relaxation.  Relaxation must follow with passionizing . . .

2 – Passionizing

Relaxation entails the “letting go” of tension, as I said above.  But the letting go of tension doesn’t cause “relaxation”.  Relaxation actually releases passion that is in knots and bound up.  Since passion is like an energy, it means that relaxation actually increases an energy sense.  In this way, this released and newly unbound energy often appears like a tension.  Because of this, there is a tendency to mistake passion with tension.  It has a resemblance to tension because it is unbound and without direction.  This unbound energy can create qualities such as:

  • Being tense
  • Worry
  • Nervousness
  • Fidgetiness
  • Being antsy
  • Uptightness

If one is not careful this newly released and unbound energy will sink back into tension again.  The trick, then, is to prevent this from happening.  In other words, one wants to get this newly released and unbound energy and direct it somewhere else.  I call this process “passionizing”.  This primarily consists of:

  • Being aware of this unbound energy and passion.  This appears as an energy that is not connected with anything.  In other words, a person must be able to distinquish between passion coupled with an object and passion alone.  This, I think, takes practice and experience.
  • Allowing it to “be”.  That is to say, you don’t do anything with the passion.  The “tension knots” are caused by directed passion.  In passionizing you do not direct the passion but let the passion “sit” . . . all you do is be aware of it.  In this way, passion is not bound up in knots and tension.
  • Having no thoughts, issues, or concerns.  The idea is to not have something to direct the passion in a specific direction and get in knots again.

To me, its almost like sitting there and having this passion or energy swirl about you.  The idea is to disconnect the passion from anything.

Often, the released passion can cause some problems, such as:

  • It can release a lot of bound up passion with a lot of energy
  • A persons character may not be able to deal with the new passion
  • The released passion can bring up whole hidden conflicts

This passionizing allows passion to do things such as these:

  • The dissipation of knotted, bound up, or stagnate passion
  • To remove passion from what it is bound up with
  • To make passion flow freely

If passion is allowed to be released but, if it remains unbound, it will find its way back to something and cause tension again.  As a result, the passion must be directed somewhere more fruitful . . .

3 – Reintegration

This means the reintegration of passion with ones self.  This, I think, takes a lot of time with the experience of passionizing and is a natural process that follows it.  In this process the unbound passion is allowed to “sink back into ones self”.  That is to say, when you are aware of it, in passionizing, it is removed from you and separate.  In reintegration it becomes a part of you.  

To me, a very important part of this is the awareness of two things:

  • Passion
  • Self

One must feel the passion as removed from ones self.  In reintegration, one is aware of both and as if let passion become “absorbed” into ones self.  In a sense, the self becomes like a sponge to passion.

The process as a whole and what it reveals

One could say that the whole process follows this pattern:

  1. The release of bound passion from many sources and origins
  2. The separation of passion into a “one” passion
  3. The reintegration of this “one” passion into the self

There are several significant point that this reveals:

  • All passion is “one”.  Passion from all tension is as if treated as if it is the same, even though it comes from different origins and sources.  This implies that any passion, regardless of its origins, is really the same.  
  • The self best associates with the “one” passion.

This shows that when we are born there is as if an “original passion”, a “one” passion.  But, as we live, passion is as if “split into a million pieces” and disintegrates.  This causes tension, knots, and such.  In relaxation we are as if trying to “put all the passion pieces back together again”.  We are, in effect, trying to regain the “original passion”.  As a result, relaxation is almost like starting over again in life, becoming much like an infant.  This creates the rejuvenation effect of relaxation.

THE ACT

I would say that the act of relaxation generally goes like this:

  1. The calming of mind and body.  Sometimes you may want to focus on mind or body specifically but they often go together.
  2. Becoming aware of tension in mind and body.
  3. The “letting go” of tension.
  4. Feeling what appears as a calm.  This is really an “aftereffect” of “letting go”.  There is a tendency to confuse this with being “relaxed” but its really an emptiness created by the loss of an existing tension.
  5. Feeling passion, which is like an energy and can replicate tension in quality.
  6. Being aware of the passion and “letting it be”.
  7. Slowly feeling passion reintegrate into the self.

To me, a person bounces around in the stages.  You don’t go from 1 to 2 to 3 and so on but may go through all the stages to bounce back to an earlier stage and start over, for example.  In some respects, the act of relaxation is much like a massaging of ones mind, body, and self.  Not only that, relaxation never ends.  This is because tension is caused by life which shows that life dictates the need to practice relaxing as an ongoing thing.  A person really never reaches an “ultimate state of relaxation”.

Some Qualities Needed in Relaxation

It seems that relaxation requires some qualities such as:

  • Physical calm.  This usually means sitting or laying down.
  • Reduce stimuli.  Close eyes, quiet place away from people and things.
  • Mentally quiet.  Having no thought or emotion.
  • Breathing.  Listen to ones breath.
  • Awareness.  The ability to watch for any tension and passion.
  • Abandoning.  The letting go of any tension you feel.
  • Openness.  Be open to passion that appears.
  • Embracing.  This means allowing ones self to embrace passion, in particular

Two Forms of Relaxing

There are two forms of relaxing:

  1. Mental relaxation
  2. Physical relaxation

Though these are both different they are, of course, related to each other.  But they often appear as two distinct and separate things.  Not only that, each entail their own specific problems.  These two can, at times, cause quite a dilemma.  They reflect the fact that there is a mental tension and a physical tension and they both need relaxing.  Being different, they may require two totally different techniques of relaxation.

It seems that when there is too much emphasis on one or the other form of tension then the tension is particularly strong.  In other words, when one is too strong one needs to focus on it until one feels the other quality.  For example, if one feels a physical tension one focuses on the physical tension until one begins to feel the mental side behind it.  In this way, we want to combine the mental and physical until they are one.  Often, by this union it loses its “hold” and appears as a passion removed from mental or physical tension.  In this way, one can feel passion.

BREATHING

As part of relaxation I’ve found that breathing is very critical.  In fact, I’d venture to say that relaxation rests on breathing and depends on it.  By “breathing” I mean being aware of ones breathing.

To me, relaxation begins with silencing ones self so one can be aware of ones breathing and then, throughout the process, breathing as if becomes the base or foundation of everything that happens.  Because of this, one must become very aware of ones breath and as if “sink into it”.

Being aware of breathing tends to entail:

  • An awareness of breathing.  This preoccupies the mental aspect of relaxation.
  • The physical act of breathing.  This preoccupies the physical aspect of relaxation.

Here we see that breathing entails the two forms of relaxation described above (mental and physical).  And so we that breathing causes an overall relaxation.

VISUALIZATION

It seems that relaxation often tends to cause a visualization.  It can be as simple as an awareness of an “energy” in space to a fancy imagery, such as a specific object like a glow.

One of the benefits of visualization is that it causes a process I call “leading on”.  Basically, the mind moves attention, energy, relaxation, etc. to where you need it.  It does this a number of ways:

  • It moves the mind to areas that need to relax
  • It moves the passion to areas that need it
  • It uses imagery to emphasize a state, such as seeing oneself as a “glow” or like a “calm pool of water”.

In ways, such as these, visualization can help relaxation further.

CONTEMPLATION

I associate relaxing with the beginning phases of contemplation.  In fact, I tend to feel that, if one truly relaxes then one will automatically go into a contemplation.  Since contemplation is associated with things like Christian Mystical Prayer and Buddhist meditation it means that it is associated with it.

In contemplation one really regress to the state before the self, what I call the “pre-self” (see my article More thoughts on contemplation – its nature, its association with the womb, and other aspects associated with it).  This means that there is a loss of self and a regression to an earlier state of mind.  Since relaxing is like a “starting over” it means that  contemplation is really a furthering of the relaxing process. 


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

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