Don't read this...
...if an explicit take on reality makes you uncomfortable. Especially since I am unable to supply the reader with a phone number to a counselling service at the ready to calm all those for whom what follows has "raised issues".
However, if you believe it is not your duty to be miserable because of someone's delusion, this page is for you.
Human society is largely driven by human (inter)actions. We do things for any number of reasons, and usually we would like to see a result in line with our inclinations.
But often that's not how it works. Reality, in this case all the others who are also part of society, they too have their own inclinations that drive them in directions not necessarily shared by the originator. As a result, what is actually happening is a confluence of many factors, whether we like them or not. That result may or may not be shared by so many others in turn, since for most of us the consequences of some action down the line are equally opaque - we are all in the same boat.
Sometimes the effects are such that delving into the reasons for an outcome becomes highly uncomfortable if they do not fit our perceptions we have of human affairs. In that case pointing them out can lead to anything from opprobrium to anger, even to vengeance. And so the reasons will be rejected and the problem continues and usually gets worse. Reality has the last word - always.
Every one of the items featured below has the potential to severely compromise humanity on this planet. The danger increases as we become ever more powerful and influential. In our past annihilations occurred already, only the participants were so ineffective the damage was more or less contained (but we're catching up). Societies are human activity systems on a large scale and as such behave in a nonlinear manner. The mechanics of chaos: a primer for the human mind describes their nature - how to observe and analyse them, what degree of stability or otherwise we can expect, and how they can deteriorate and why.
The 10 axioms of Society define the situation in general terms.
Here are some of those scenarios.
The more things become criminalised, the further society is divided into the smarts who didn't get caught and the schmucks who did. Which also means we share our space with an increasing number of people who got caught in the past but who are now free, yet possessing a mindset not in sync with the declared ideal. Once again we have a class system, but hidden from view. The issue is insidious because in most cases the changes in law are based on good intentions. We turn into a society of criminals under the law.
As ever more entities are created that are meant to deal with individual shortcomings, personal resilience is outsourced to the public arena. Since the entities are run by people from that self-same society, as a consequence the entities themselves become dysfunctional although they are expected to help. A downward spiral leading to dissolution.
A democracy allows input from the individual and so answers to the wishes of the average. In an authoritarian regime the top echelon decides and no-one else. Hence in a democracy there is more variance but tempered by the multitude, whereas in a dictatorship the range of possibilities is narrow but what remains is being done. Both experience a reversal from the grand view towards the situation on the ground: in the democracy individuals become authoritarian if reality demands decisive action, and in a dictatorship individuals become more pragmatic because the orders from on high have become unworkable. Either development represents a challenge to the system.
Morality - whether derived from religious or secular decrees - serves to distinguish between the good and the bad. Either the individual's sense of 'good' shapes that person's moral framework, or the framework shapes the individual. In the end there is no good or bad morality. What matters is the overall composition of society, whether it is largely made up of people who out of self-confidence format the rules, or whether the majority allows itself to be formatted by the rules.
Growth - destruction - renewal. An overall phenomenon recognised since ancient times. The argument should not be about its veracity since it occurs over and over again at any scale. Rather, why do people never cease to perform actions that quite clearly lead to their suffering? Is it because they actually do want to see suffering (and never mind the 'politically correct' version of their thoughts)? Or is it because they have a however subliminal desire to follow the grand principle? In the case of the latter it would leave the concept of Free Will on rather shaky ground. Homo sapiens is the only species that rewards madness.
Arguably the most effective way through which a species ensures its survival over time is the innate regenerative capacity of its young. And so the best way to control pests is to interfere with that capacity in their offspring. Biologists make use of that principle with great success once they figure out how to do it. Human society is no exception. That's why the most reliable indicators of decay are self-destructive tendencies and gratuitous violence in young people once they have become a pattern.
Identity represents the core of ourselves. The closer a challenge gets to that core, the more assertive the defence. It can even lead to murder. Likewise, for the owner of the identity it becomes ever more difficult, if not impossible, to accept a solution to some problem as soon as their own self would be compromised.
As nations become more advanced, there is an increasing distance between those who can avail themselves of the opportunities and those who can't. Since education takes time (which is essentially limited) the number of the educated decreases relative to those who are unskilled. Where does that leave democracy with its majority rule? Furthermore, in order to remain competitive would a nation therefore trend towards elitism?
The debates about what constitutes value compared to what doesn't can be endless, yet the answer is quite simple. As an opera singer once said when asked a similar question within the context of music, "How long does it take an opera singer to sing a pop song, and how long does it take a pop singer to sing an aria?" Unfortunately, many people become uncomfortable just thinking along those lines.
If two competitors eye each other they do so in order to spot some weakness. It happens at any scale, from individuals right up to entire nations. Teamwork, if and when it happens, merely pushes the principle up to the next level. Hence a provocation can be seen as the consequence of looking for a weakness. Whether the weakness is realised by its owner, or whether that perception is true to begin with, is another matter.
Education is the fundamental framework serving to prepare the young for the contingencies of their society. The contingencies are derived from two sources, reality overall (ie, nature) and, in the case of humans, how the members perceive their society. The closer those two are aligned with each other the more productive education will be. On the other hand, in case of a mismatch the young will not be sufficiently prepared because nature does not modify itself to assist society; society needs to adjust itself to nature. An education system that insists on ideology and wishful thinking will not only harm the young, ultimately it will harm the entire society. Animals do not have that optionality. Either the young learn their lessons and survive, or they don't; retribution is swift. Only humans have the luxury to delay the inevitable. But that's all it is - a delay.
Everything has a cost. Everything. Winning a million dollars in the lottery comes with a cost, and we are not even talking about the price of the ticket. The question is not, is there a cost; there is. Rather, how can one deal with the costs and still come out ahead. A derivative is the inclination to re-examine one's actions should the result have been negative. Most people do that (what went wrong and why). However, how many would do the same if the outcome had been a success? What guarantee is there that the circumstances will be exactly the same next time?
There are essentially two ways in which a decision can be reached: the decision comes from a single individual (made possible due to that person's influence), or it is the result of a number of individuals having achieved consensus (via a committee). Since a 'good' decision represents a sufficient degree of understanding of the situation, that understanding could be problematic in either case. If overall positive there is no immediate problem, but what happens if the decision leads to a negative? In the first instance a better alternative is only possible if the one who made the decision can be persuaded otherwise, and that could be seen as undermining their authority making the framework less stable. As for the second, coming from a committee the questionable result can be sheeted home to a scapegoat, which in itself can lead to debates veering away from the actual situation at hand - the focus has shifted. It is an age-old difficulty accompanying decision-making entities in whatever hierarchy they may be situated. Public perception usually concentrates on the visibles on display; the individuals, the decisions, and their outcomes. Yet often the underlying dynamics are the real obstacles to a successful result - with the public none the wiser.
Organisations can grow until they acquire a momentum all their own. It can be observed in nature as well: a plant species having proliferated and now dominating an entire area, particular animals having grown in number and now influencing their environment on their terms. When it comes to humans the organisation can apply its newly found strength for the purpose of self-preservation. It means the reason for its existence can be exaggerated in order to serve itself (and therefore become even more powerful). In a society featuring such bodies it is not reality that is largely responded to, it is the declared state of affairs based on the needs of those bodies. As a consequence there are three factors influencing the overall state of society: (1) its existing capability, (2) the absence of some capability here and there but addressed by organisations designed to help, and (3) the induced perception of a lack in order to prepare the ground for greater assistance. Factor (3) undermines factor (1), which in turn renders factor (2) less and less useful. We end up with a runaway condition.
Advertising targets a particular audience since the presentation needs to resonate with the consumer. It goes beyond the obvious: tents for the outdoor types, cat food for animal lovers, and so on. It also operates on a deeper level, in terms of a person's potential to listen to what is being offered rather than dismissing it outright. Hence successful marketing consists of creating an ambience that 'speaks' to the target consumer. The ambience in a 30-second commercial is the recreated equivalent of a situation in the physical world where circumstances trigger one or the other character trait within the participant. For example, a family dinner during which the empathy of a parent is on display, or a scene which portrays the adventurous nature of the person under focus. Outside those video clips there equally are scenarios which enable someone's character to be revealed, such as an opportunity for getting away with theft, or some danger which brings out someone's courage, hitherto hidden. This relationship between advertising and the consumer mostly moves from the consumer to the presentation, since it is the consumer who needs to provide the affinity in the first place for the ad to work. Therefore the manner in which a product is being presented illustrates the character traits of the target audience. Not all of it is positive: narcissism, egocentricity, selfishness can be found as often as empathy, diligence, or forward-looking. Unfortunately, in the case of negatives the implications are apt to be conveniently overlooked. Yet the relevant demographics do exist and advertising reinforces their mindset.
Altruism is a powerful trigger of emotions. It serves to cement one's status in a community. Even in what is commonly held to be its purest form it ends up shoring up one's perception held by others ("Look how good I am"). Just about every religion exhorts its followers to share, to help. What is less considered are the demographic origins of the concept. During the time in human history when religions emerged (and of course before that) human communities were far more homogenous than they are today, certainly as far as the West is concerned. As a consequence any assistance given would be received by someone who is more or less similar to the rest in terms of their innate capacity to use that assistance. Even today in tribal societies the similarity is enforced rigidly. Therefore it made sense to help because it allowed the common wealth to be made use of by society as a whole, and eventually everyone benefitted. However, the more disparate the demographics making up a society are, the lesser the chance of what could be of use to one can equally be useful to some other. The principle applies at any scale, from communities within a nation to countries on the entire planet. In the case of disparity then, there is no overall benefit; rather, resources are moved from the capable to the incapable leading to stress on the side of the former and mishandling on the side of the latter. Barring any artificial influences mitigating the effect, the situation will get worse over time. In addition, those influences tend to come from the capable, draining their resources even further while being faced with the results of mishandling.
When it comes to refugees fleeing an Islamic regime, comparisons with similar emergencies in the past are common. For example, people fleeing Nazi Germany, or escaping the deleterious conditions imposed by Communism. However, there is a simple question purposefully avoided by the advocates of indiscriminate refugee intakes: how many Jews who fled Nazism were Nazis? Or, how many Vietnamese getting away from Communism are Communists? On the other hand, how many newcomers from, say, Afghanistan, renounced Islam - the very basis for the conditions which made them leave their country in the first place. And so it happens that Western security services never had to worry about swastikas hanging in the homes of Jews, or communist propaganda being disseminated amongst the Vietnamese communities. Yet security services around the world are forced to spend many millions trying to keep an eye on mosques, Islamic schools and the relevant social media circles. If the money should not be there, the populations have to put up with kidnappings and killings.
It is interesting to note a tandem development in advanced nations: as more and more use is made of science and its methodology of logic and reason, there is also an increased tolerance towards ideology, whether spiritual or secular. Examples of the former are our evolving understanding of the cosmos, the sophistication of information technology, or becoming aware of biological complexity. As to the latter, we have the acceptance of religion enshrined under the law no less, the proliferation of pseudo-medical advice, the adulation of the primitive. Since human activity systems are highly interdependent, the conflict is bound to influence our decision-making processes. And yet, reality is the ultimate master of ceremonies.
When humans play their role as members of society, how much they know and indeed can know are part of the question. Unfortunately, it seems the very meaning of such words as information, knowledge and wisdom are often not
fully understood. So here is an analogy:
If you can play a game of cards, that is information.
If you are able to cheat at the game, that is knowledge.
But if you know why not to cheat you have gained wisdom.
At first glance the officially sanctioned and implemented form of childcare seems to be a positive. Then again, by its very nature it is complimentary to the feminists' idea of women in the workforce, thereby becomes a collectivist, socialist model. In a capitalist economy it is also answerable to the profit model and so competes directly with the woman's motive to earn a profit from her work. Since most childcare workers are women, and are therefore subject to the same profit-driven pressures, childcare turns into an overall nullifying factor unless working there automatically means being in a lower - if not the lowest - category of income.
A practical advice for all the young people who suffer at the hands of bullies. First, you need to understand the nature of bullies. They are the kind of people who think they can harass and attack anyone who in their eyes is weak. For example, their target could be someone who doesn't get a thrill out of throwing a ball from left to right and right to left, or who doesn't shout, yell, or swear. Of course, none of this is an actual sign of weakness but that's not how bullies see it. As soon they come up against someone who they feel is stronger, they run. The thing to do therefore is to hit back, but be careful. If, let's say, a teacher appears on the scene the bully with his sixth sense for danger will have disappeared and the victim is left standing there and may actually become the target of the teacher. Not only that, even if the teacher is on the victim's side they can't be around all the time and the harassment will only get worse. So when you hit back (you just have to overcome your inner reluctance) do it away from prying eyes. That way the bully gets the message and the authority figures are none the wiser. And what if the bully is so much stronger? Having put up even some resistance will at the very least leave you with the firm knowledge that you are not entirely useless. Believe it or not, from that point onwards the burden will be much lighter. Later on as an adult the lessons learnt will be just as useful, although the situation may be more nuanced.
To have people with disabilities participate in the workforce is a hallmark of an advanced society because its diversity provides for opportunities that go beyond the physical limitations suffered from in earlier times. The less advanced a society, the more stringent the discrimination (Australian Aborigines for example placed malformed newborns on an ant hill and the ants did the rest; in South America Amerindians bury the infant on the riverbank; during the Middle Ages in Europe some unfortunate soul served as amusement at fun fairs; many a king or queen kept dwarfs at their court). Once the non-discrimination is elevated too highly however, a question arises: what guarantee is there that a critical assessment of somebody's performance is not avoided lest it be seen as some form of bias?
In Australia the question of monarchy vs republic achieves prominence at regular intervals. Currently (October 2022) the titular head of its parliament is the British King. Essentially republicans argue for the king to be replaced with a president. Aside from all the arguments surrounding history and the law, when it comes to the practical situation on the ground we are dealing with two basic mindsets (in principle that can apply anywhere): if we must have some ultimate authority, do we prefer that authority to be in our midst or half a world away - because both have obvious implications. One can turn the question around: what would the mindset of someone have to be who prefers to have a powerful entity constantly looking over their shoulder as it were, or having them far away? After all, there are adults who generally prefer having someone overseeing their affairs (a possible consequence of having grown up under helicopter parents), and there are those who enjoy striking out on their own. Monarchists may not like having their subject treated in this way, but reality has a habit of throwing things at believers.
If a certain perspective is derived from ideology and/or based on a theory (and not more at that stage) then disapproval can generate despair in the mind of the holder especially when the criticism is ridiculous. Then again, if based on an accurate redescription of a scenario then regardless who rejects it, at the very least the holder can be at ease in the knowledge that the world is behaving as it always did despite someone's delusion. For them there is no inducement to substitute knowledge for power; knowledge already is power. Hence acquiescence to some authority does not mean agreement. Two famous examples from history are Galileo Galilei and Giordano Bruno. Galileo's idea of the earth orbiting the sun was based on observation and mathematics, and when he was accused of heresy he recanted. The earth did what it did no matter what a pope declared; Galileo was a scientist. Bruno's view, among others, that we are not the only beings in this universe also made him an enemy of the Church. But he was essentially a monk and defended his ideas passionately. He spent the last seven years of his life being tortured by the Inquisition and in the end was burned at the stake for his efforts.
Comfort and ease - especially in the West - have led to the assumption that in some mysterious way things simply exist. Rather like many children having no idea where the milk in the supermarket comes from; for them it's just there on the shelf. An example on a large scale is the naiveté with which advanced and/or dysfunctional nations are viewed. Neither 'just exist'. Nations are made up of people, and it is the people who either create something that works or doesn't. A rational and diligent approach yields a positive result, its opposite leads to failure. In a large human activity system such as a nation there are differences among individuals just as there are differences in temporary conditions, and together they produce an overall outcome as they coexist interdependently; in other words we have a functional average. Hence nations (and demographics, organisations, groups, families) represent an ongoing pattern that unfailingly points to the general quality of their members. Their nature is not to be understood through some presumed ideal but by objectively identifying their material configurations as they have emerged from the respective constituents. Merely attaching a label to something doesn't change its nature.
Why a clown can be a symbol of terror: There is the visage, rigidly set in an expression of hilarity, confronting with its utter indifference to the surrounds. In real life we have a person doing harm while smiling all the time; people rapt in ceremonial ecstasy aiming their emotions towards outsiders; the chanting tribe taking a victim to their execution.
Many debates (mostly in the form of statements one is meant to accept without argument) surround the right to use something by people who aren't qualified and thereby depriving others who are. For example, the use of land by indigenous people rather than by those who can do so much more with it. Let's look at the principle behind. Suppose in a family one child is musically gifted and another is not. One is able to relate to tonality, to harmonious sound as one note follows the next. For the other a shout is as good as a screech. There is also a guitar, a beautiful instrument handed down the years. Who should be allowed to use it? The one who can use the guitar in a productive manner, or the other for whom that guitar is merely a piece of wood?
Religion - or any form of ideology for that matter, including its secular versions - represents a behavioural framework one is supposed to follow. If not, punishments can be severe. Since by its very nature such a framework does not necessarily answer to the reality of the situation, people have learnt from early childhood onwards to navigate around the imposed obstacles in order to make life more bearable (after all, most people don't like to be punished but want something anyway). And so it happens that people growing up under such regimes are almost instinctively disposed towards holding two mutually conflicting views in their minds: on one side is the official set of rules, to be openly recognised and adhered to. On the other is all that what can be done provided one gets away with it. By the time the child has grown into an adult, the transitions from one side to the other are accomplished with considerable dexterity. To disobey the law, given the right circumstances, has become second nature. So much so that recognising the above may not come readily to the reader who is only familiar with their local conditions and not much else, but it will become obvious once being in unfamiliar surrounds. Hence this advice to travellers: tread with caution, to avail yourself of something that may be hidden you need the right key to open the door, otherwise forget it.
It should have become obvious by now that the above is a reflection on how the world, how society works, regardless of what one may wish.
There are also views which may be inappropriate to say out loud, but have been recognised within oneself as true nevertheless - just don't mention them. Such as:
Where is the logic in people claiming to be firmly on the side of human rights but then advocate the admission en masse of those who are on the opposite side of the spectrum?
NO freedom of religion:
You must submit to the god of your ruler's choice.
Freedom OF religion:
You must submit to anyone's choice of god.
The only alternative:
Freedom FROM religion.
One day on a flight...
Most of the passengers were post-modernists who had different opinions about the laws of physics.
And so the plane dropped out of the sky...
Would you join a flight knowing the pilot has no idea about aerodynamics?
Why then have politicians who don't understand society?
If you want to build your nation through immigrants, then go for proven nation builders.
A hallmark of a decadent society:
Being more and more in need of its infrastructure, yet understanding less and less about it.
About free speech and fake news:
Just because I am free to drink water doesn't mean I can poison our reservoirs.
Sometimes it is the fetters that make for docility.
Whoever doesn't want to know about the world doesn't deserve it.
Nothing excites the failures of this world more than someone or something they can use to justify their inadequacy.
A fundamental question in any democracy:
How tolerant should one be towards intolerance?
People may think they are free, but they are merely on a longer leash.
To have a Royal Commission every time something is wrong with the system is the judicial equivalent of reinventing the wheel.
The more you love the more you're inclined to hate if it's the other.
What if Europe had not been colonised by Christianity all those centuries ago.
No obsession with the Middle East then and now, no Crusades, no love-hate relationships with its potentates, no entanglement with the mess in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria ...
No Dark Ages, no intellectual stupor, no moralistic oppression ...
Think of science today and what it would be like in a thousand years.
Now imagine computers had already existed around 1000 CE.
In a rational society the waving of rainbow-coloured flags makes as much sense as making a song and dance about the fact that the sun rises every morning.
Today's refugee situation is a cargo cult on legs.
We live in dangerous times when a history book is deemed less important than a place of worship.
Feminism - Christianity's bastard child.
What is the present but the past with its adversaries safely out of the way.
A nation cannot call itself truly civilised unless its citizens recognise suffering without being personally involved.
There are two reasons why people end up in a mental institution: either they are mad, or they have demonstrated that they are the ones who are not mad.
If a thief says "don't steal", then by all means condemn the hypocrisy but heed the advice nevertheless.
True evil: a system that thrives on dysfunction.
One can only marvel at the capacity of humans to fool themselves.
We shouldn't condemn those obsessive re-posters and re-tweeters.
Even the mighty oak in the forest needs the little creatures to spread its seeds.
Never underestimate the human capacity for excess.
The politician or academic who belittles the concerns held about hostile cultures is like a child who sleeps contentedly next to the warm hearth completely unaware of what it takes to collect the firewood out there in the woods.
Being rational - the ultimate impiety.
Memory: a device capable of reshaping its contents to harmonise with current perceptions.
Religionists are people whose strength of belief is in direct proportion to their ignorance.
The ideal Westerners for the 21st century:
- are beset with allergies;
- exist in a precarious mental state;
- are challenged by the fundamentals of life (eating, sleeping, moving the limbs...);
- adore the primitive while only too ready to denigrate their own achievements;
- always have room for emotions;
- ever more words, less action;
- lean towards the violent and brutish to balance their penchant for peace and love;
- their children win many prizes (for tying their shoelaces, for showing up in class...);
- are easily traumatised by sex;
- are obsessed with gender, less so with performance;
The more boxes they can tick, the more they'll be admired by the ruling elite. And should they trumpet their false achievements to the world it's an added bonus!
And yet there are nations where works such as Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Carl von Clausewitz's On War are held in high esteem. For them all this is useful information since both authors emphasise, "Know yourself, and know your enemy".
Imagine a society where sex has the same status as sport.
There are societies where sport has the same status as sex. They are so sick, it costs them billions.
It's easy to be indulgent towards opinions - as long as they are not put into practice.
When dog lovers meet and their pets sniff each other's genitals, is that communication by proxy?
Women love receiving a bunch of flowers. As it happens, that little posy is made out of the amputated genitals of plants.
Calling someone cynical is often a euphemism used to describe a person who has a crisp view of reality.
How fortunate that groups like ISIS are based on religion; in other words, phantasy and delusion. What if a similar resolve were derived from logic and reason?
An ideal, if based on a false premise, becomes hell.
Superstition clouds the mind and enslaves the heart.
We educate ourselves by thinking about it.
We educate some others by talking about it.
We influence many others by doing it.
The problem with ideology is not only the disengagement from reality by its members.
As far as the rest of the world is concerned, any of its positive elements are tainted as well.
Women's studies: the usual narcissism, this time in academia (and yes, I am familiar with Freud).