None of the political options offered us in a modern time make much sense, because they are all based on a singular idea: social thinking.
This situation started before 1789, but culminated in 1789, and it was called The Revolution. That expanded into modern liberalism, which also underscores modern conservatism. They are two manifestations of the same idea, enough different that you can cheer for one and not the other and still be within the realm of socially acceptable. However, that's a sliding frame. The more revolutionary a society gets, the less its conservatives resemble conservatives.
I call social thinking Crowdism because it underlies many philosophies, and I don't want to jump on the liberal-bashing bandwagon so that conservatives can cheer their own version of the same thinking. It is important nonetheless to state clearly and firmly that liberalism is a political manifestation of social thinking.
Social thinking is flattery. It's what underscores marketing, entertainment and polite social commentary -- "little white lies" included. If you want others to like you, you set aside physical reality and start talking in terms of how things ought to be. Social thinking is treating all others like you would a conversation partner or someone you meet at work.
The instant you start using that "ought," you're implying that things are bad and they've gotten that way because something went wrong. To be polite, however, the only way you can admit something went wrong is to imply that someone else did it unjustly. After all, you want the person to which you're talking to feel good about himself or herself. So if something is wrong, it's an injustice.
In social discourse, this is not a bad thing. It's an exchange of tokens. If a friend of yours encounters a calamity, you don't necessarily want to blurt out "that's what happens when you drive drunk through a minefield." Instead, you offer empathy, compassion, caring. This is a natural and healthy human instinct, but it starts a cycle because others observe it.
Any observable human action can be cloned by others who want to appear to be having the same thought process, but they may have different motivations. After all, every effect has one cause; every cause has many potential effects. They are making an effect into a cause by imitating the effect of sympathy to convey sympathy. The effect they want to achieve is for others to publically see them being sympathetic.
Acting out empathy and concern, especially to those who are obviously having a rough time of it, looks good. People immediately project themselves into any victim because, as animals with predators in our not-too-distant past, we respond more clearly to threat than lack of threat. Because of that, we see ourselves in the victim and experience fear. Someone appearing to be universally empathic salves those fears.
Unfortunately for us, we cannot tell if that emotion was genuine or if a cynical person, in observing others express that emotion, decided to imitate it. Instead of seeing the emotion, we are often seeing someone acting so that we extend to them the goodwill we would extend to someone who honestly had that emotion. This makes it easy for someone to become popular for "acting."
This is the power of social thinking: you can create your own personal army by being known as the Mother Theresa of the block. If you are a politician, it can make you powerful. If you are a businessperson, it can make you profitable. If you are an individual, it can make you popular -- a celebrity. All of these motivations converge on why someone might want to "look like" an universally empathic person: it makes them succeed through the acts of others.
When people first discover this process, it is rare and revolutionary. They find that if they want to assault a powerful enemy, they have an immediate friend in those who are discontented. This group does not even need to be a numerical majority; there just need to be enough of them that normal people stay out of their way, fearing retribution.
Over time, this group gains political power, and at some point, there is a Revolution -- 1789 in France, 1968 in Europe and the USA -- where the group gains control. It implements a new rule of power: only those who show compassion will win. At this point, the social thinking philosophy dominates all discourse and over time, even undermines those who claim to oppose it -- so-called "conservatives."
From this comes the ultimate stage of authoritarian control: using others to enforce your authority. If you become a leader who crusades for justice for the downtrodden, by definition anyone who opposes you is an oppressor. If you stand for equality, everyone else stands for special preference. Language tokens become their social equivalents, even if reality is far more complex. The only thing that matters is making others like your message.
When a society reaches this level of memetic warfare, people get daily bathed in overstimulus. Marketers are pitching wish fulfillment scenarios about how their product will make you succeed, and everything else is by definition inferior. Politicians are telling you how only they represent the people, and how anyone else is a nasty elitist. In social situations, the people who are most "emotional" win out over the logical.
This pattern is hard to spot because it starts with an individual. They fear for themselves, so they project their fear onto others, which makes it seem as if they're not acting for their own self-interest but for the group. This means they can manipulate the group into doing what they want for their own self-interest, and if something goes wrong, someone else -- an anonymous "we all thought" -- is to blame.
It parallels something called "competitive altruism." I want myself never to be murdered, so I demand anti-murder rules for all people. However, because I am the anti-murder crusader, I am the one least suspected of murder. In addition, I am not seen as an oppressor because I'm asking for something for "EVERYONE" (ever notice how people stress the word EVERY and their eyes disconnect as they say it? a meme controls their brains).
When this type of thinking becomes popular, we start treating the world as a personality. As if it were human, we view it as a series of deliberate gestures targeted at humans, and not a consistent, cyclic pattern that operates like a machine, chemical reaction or mathematical equation. We assign to its negative qualities terms like "oppression," which is our modern day religious-symbolic thinking, like calling it Satan or Beherit.
Our current era of history is entirely dominated by this kind of thinking. If you wonder why there's a new trend every week, and when it fails no one is to blame, here is your answer. Social thinking has dominated our ability to assess what we actually need because instead, we're thinking about what looks good to each other. Too clever for our own good, we manipulate each other into an onrushing darkness to which we are blind.
The only way to reverse this decline is to impose a reality filter. In nature, organisms proliferate consistently with a steady dose of randomness. That which works is promoted; that which does not work is demoted. This process is not violent, but statistical. If 51% of the individuals with a gene do better than others, they begin the slow process of norming the population to that gene. Over many generations, it predominates -- not one conflict.
Social thinking allows us to defer consequences. We can heed image, and do what others seem happy with, but we're basically using a layaway plan. What we enjoy today becomes debt for the future in that at some point, someone somewhere will have to somehow face the consequences. Language is vague, and so is socialization. When socialization dominates, we are paying forward backward -- leaving problems through our selfishness for the future to resolve.
Reality filters come in many forms. The most common are stressors: war, famine, disease and climate. Governments can impose reality filters by reducing the amount of money they spend toward individuals, and instead focus that money into infrastructure like the military, science, and economy. The challenge is getting voters accustomed to spending money they don't have on themselves to approve such a measure. They may need to be misled.
It surprises no one that a society with its government radically in debt also sports voters equally radically in debt. Nor does it shock when it is revealed that most of this society lives in third world conditions -- unskilled labor, chaotic neighborhoods, bad personal behavior. When reality is not rewarded, illusions proliferate and people who thrive by ignoring reality (and consequently, ignoring their own poverty) thrive.
Social thinking teaches us to assume that any person arrived at his or her situation through chance, luck or the acts of a bigger power. That bigger power can be an absent God, an oppressive government, or the aforementioned chance. We are taught to see money as an evil. Instead, we might view money as an outward indicator of how well organized people and populations are. Those who plant the seed corn thrive; those who eat it are impoverished.
The ultimate consequence of social thinking is similar to delusion in our own minds. Appearance in the present tense triumphs over knowledge of reality as a process or cycle, in which today's actions have consequences tomorrow, and our individual actions are not effects but causes. We become passive and create a society of blame. Such a society cannot control itself, stop its cancerous growth or learn from its errors.
We are in a time when social thinking has won out. In 1789, revolutionaries in France formalized the doctrine and used it as an excuse to execute those who were most organized and intelligent in their society. Since then, all Western nations have undergone such populist revolutions, where image dominates over sense of any kind. This thinking infiltrates every disipline, from science to philosophy, because what is popular is what is rewarded.
If you want to know where we went wrong, check your thinking. It does not make sense to blame other groups. Instead, place the blame not on individuals but bad thinking: the thinking that polite conversation, or appearance, is more important than the structure and design of our universe, or reality. And until you reverse this situation, no amount of pogroms or black presidents can fix your decline.
May 29, 2009