Monday, June 8, 2009

5. Conservatism is Unnatural

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People look back on the societies of the past with a type of amused superiority. They wonder how we could have ever been so silly. Without even a consideration of what it means to live in a present as a product of its past, it’s as if they have no doubt of their perfection. Despite this commonality it remains difficult to affect change in this flesh bound paradigm. To have opinions different that the norm is to be branded as having some form of deficiency. People who currently look at the human condition with even minimal awareness can see it as shortsighted. Yet we do, or are capable of nothing to facilitate any change. Why? Is it that we hide our alternate views from others for fear of persecution? Is it that the change that is required is too great to be formulated, packaged and distributed, except perhaps through the acceptance of a religion or other collective movement?

Of course, you can’t start an alternate religion or political party either. Politicians who stir the pot don’t get voted in and if they do, they’ll shortly be killed by professionals just doing their job. Start a religion and you’re immediately reduced to a loony tune, likely to be killed by anyone and perhaps rightly so. You are, regardless, no less dead either way. So the most common way to affect change is to find how to change yourself and then share the knowledge with others, leading by example. The widespread individual shift becomes the social shift. (Enter the Author, Preacher, Teacher, Artist. Here, of course, we must be careful of the message being presented. However, in our case, we are presenting no message beyond “be aware of the message.”)

If ideas and concepts are understood in networks of relations, can an ideal series of correlations be achieved? Attempts to do so by outside influence are the domain of social engineering, whether or not those influences are clandestine. New paradigms in our understanding of the evolution of everything have led to the development of new concepts and the redefining of old ones. Continuously and with an increasing rate of intention there have been large scale shifts in “what people know.” In, for example: psychology, technology, politic, economy, ecology, bio, chem, geo, socio, this list includes nearly every subject. Unfortunately, the surge of “society as an organism” thinking lends itself to find controls, whether or not it seeks them. We can then use these controls for our own detriment or gain. These are more likely political ideological shifts that bleed into the culture of “what people think they know.” (Which we now know to be nearly meaningless.)

Interesting that by also studying other societal systems, like that of insects, we can see that there are illogical steps taken to cause systems of a counterproductive nature to fail, or force change. In other words, if an ant colony is getting too big it will sacrifice a part of itself for the good of the whole. That is not the nature of our conundrum for we, lest we forget, are the species that doesn’t always work in its better interests. We can, at the least, gain an ability to recognize when we’re being handed our hat. (Anti-Social Engineering...)

In this chapter we will further diverge from the new-age or psychological efforts of those who lay claim to the pathway of Authentic Self. None of them removing their own blinders to look at sociology and history with a reasonable philosophical eye. We will begin to understand the influence of Social Norms as well as their difference from eXperiential Norms. (The S and the X are underlined to remind you that these are the terms under Paradigm in the philosophy generator.) I'm sure you remember, in the generator, P can be divided by X, S or X and S. This means that paradigms can be sourced from associations that are strict social norms, (cannot be experienced,) or they may be both, or they were built on your own, with no influence. These are the only possible options. In symbolic logic the word “or” may be expressed as a lower case “v” and the word “and” can be a dot, so we now can symbolize:

P > (X v S) v (X . S)

If it's Paradigm, it's either experiential or social, or it's experiential and social.

Whatever shift is required will only occur when it becomes a necessity. In a natural system the preceding (repeated) statement is true. This means we can deduce that change is a necessity. If there is human interference then change can be created, destroyed, controlled, etc. It was this realization that caused the “first” Enlightenment which began at the last half of the seventeenth century. French philosophers, unhappy under what they considered the tyranny of their own leaders, “woke up” and started asking questions. “Why does the church have to be linked to the state?” “Why do our young men have to join the campaign or be labeled traitors?” “Why does one who has worked hard to gain stature fail and those who are merely born into it succeed?” “How did we get to this point?” To put it bluntly, the Enlightenment came from the realization of philosophers that “common” people didn’t have to be the way they were because anyone said so, yet they were. It wasn’t just the French, there was a vast uncorking of new ideas all over Europe, into Russia and carried over into the “New Land.” Stemming from the growing ease of travel, the printing press, the chemical, medical and mechanical advances in industry and other conveniences, a new society of powerful people was created, the individual, the “person.” (The Middle class.) Modern philosophy was born from realizing the quick, rampant influence of unavoidable change and shortly thereafter, secret philosophy came along too. For if the masses decide they are going to be aware, if they are going to literally revolt in the streets to get what they want, then control seekers must find a subversive way to tell the people what they want. If they are skilled enough that no one notices the programming, it doesn't exist. We are, to this day, still trying to rid ourselves of this veil. We put our hands on some bible or other to swear honestly, we use our congregations to elect politicians, we turn away from big business displacing populations when it's called “war” and seek it out when it's called “progress.”We are constantly lied to. We even lie to ourselves, amazingly enough, we do so anonymously! This is key to our own examinations, the programming instilled, if kept secret from the bearer is as much a mystery as his or her own subconscious, but not to the programmers! This means that modernity has created a second subconscious: the Manipulated Self. This is the programmed Human.

During the Enlightenment questions were posed of the implications of mixing church and state in ways that go beyond allegiances in courtrooms and politic in sermons. There was the realization that it was morality legislated and categorization by belief. I like to imagine it this way, for thousands of years, peoples all over our lovely little planet have been experimenting with types of societies. After all that time, a system began to be duplicated, by desire or by force, that was able to have control of it’s people while giving them the opportunity to live happy, healthy, productive lives. The system was, in a word, “Modernity.” ‘You use your skills to earn your living’ rather than, ‘you live off the flora and fauna.’ This system had been used for quite a while before the enlightenment turned it into the physical manifestation of the middle class. Controls move from the church to state. Money is worshiped. The lines blur.

The difference between the old Enlightenment and the new is that we now are waking up from our subconscious servitude (social engineering) whereas during the Industrial Revolution we were waking up from our conscious servitude (serfdom.) We have now “caught up” to Philosophers of our past. Therefore, back then we learned that we were real individuals, that if any human had rights then we all them. Now we wake up to learn that we're being controlled with ideas, our rights aren't really ours and we are only allowed to exercise them within a fairly rigid framework , society.

The powers that governed over this transformation sought out controls that could be accepted by the masses. They hid them in the morals of church, law, and the accoutre that complicates the logic of trying to correlate them. They set into church and state rules that made it seem we wanted to follow them, because it seemed right, even though we’re not sure why. For eg: In most countries it is against the law and it is considered morally wrong to kill a person. (Of course I mean a person who doesn’t “deserve” it, both religion and governments have people who kill in their names.) Just generally, Murder is Illegal and Wrong. I think a lot of you will agree with that, but why? Because it ends the life of someone who could have done good, been loved and will be missed? No! Stop it, don’t think that way, you’re categorizing him. By doing so you induce that there could be a circumstance where murder could be right if he couldn’t have done Good, been Loved and no one M2issed him. You’re completely missing the point as well as being illogical. (The M has the 2 after it because we have two terms symbolized by M.)

[ M > ( W . I ) ] > [ P > ( L . M2 . G ) ]

[ M > ~( W . I ) ] > [ P > ~(L . M2 . G ) ]

M > P

This rather complicated looking syllogism is nothing to be frightened of. The brackets group ideas together. You remember, the > creates the conditional statement “if... then.” The dot . simply means “and.” The squiggly minus sign, called a “tilde”, as you would guess, attaches negation. The first statement says, ‘Murder is wrong and illegal if the person is loved, missed and good.’ The second statement says ‘Murder is not wrong and not illegal if the person is not loved, not missed and not good.’ Common sense tells us that this isn’t true, so does the equation. The positives in the first statement, (W and I) as well as ( L, M and G) get cancelled out, like they would in any math solution, by the negation of themselves in the second statement. (~) All that’s left is ‘If it’s murder then it’s a person.’ Which, while being true, (with apologies to all other species and those who love them,) it in no way expresses our point that murder is wrong because the person killed could have done good, been loved and would be missed. Therefore, it is an invalid syllogistic argument. It doesn’t mean we’ve proven ‘murder’ right or wrong. It means that our ‘murder’ paradigm, built on the argument above, is invalid. If indeed this is what we believe, we have no explainable reason for thinking the way we do about murder. So it seems, for us, the “murder” paradigm is illogical, a paradox that we don't even know we are wrestling with.

It isn’t about deservedness. “Rights” have been created. You’re judging things by standards that are going on three hundred years old, and they were based on standards that came from two thousand years ago. To say "Yeah, but it’s working so well," is to deserve a smack upside the head! So I ask you, if the man who was killed was a wife beating child molester would he then deserve to die? Of course not. He could be treated and go on to make amends with all those he hurt, even help others, so inclined, turn their lives around. Who are you, judge, jury and executioner? Yes actually, you are but you’re off the hook because you’ve been made that way. The decisions made in the establishment of the Establishment have decided who you are and what you believe. (Sanctioned killing is okay, murder is abhorrent.) Nature tells us that Humans can and will kill whatever we want. We know this is true. Consider believing what you’re shown, not necessarily what you’re told. These passages are neither an endorsement of murder nor an admonishment of religion. The statements are made in keeping with the overall theme of my theory that missing or misdiagnosing influence is dangerous and living uncontemplatively is living dumb.

Is it natural or instinctual to know to allow certain impulses or emotions and suppress others because of a set of predetermined guidelines? If you answer yes, you’re buying into what they’re telling you. If you answer no, you’re denying all the evidence around you and within you. People today are now practised in allowing and suppressing because of their paradigms. In order to rid us of these binding perceptions we must consider all paradigms, even and especially disturbing ones. The reasons are twofold: Firstly, a healthy, open mind can only gain strength from that which makes it uncomfortable. (More on that later.) But we must also question every paradigm because the foundation of our personal natural instinct could be a fabrication. How are we, as individuals, supposed to know after thirty years, or a lifetime, or after three hundred years, or two thousand years if a particular set of guidelines have steered us well? Despite our ever quickening pace of advancement we are still idiots. (Grab your dictionary, look up the word “idiot.”) What I know compared to what I don’t know could be expressed in the same ratio as my lifetime compared to the eternity before and after it.

To contemplate the ancient concept of self with a being that is truly “not-self” without even the ability to conceptualize having rules put upon you is to perpetuate ignorance and demonstrate the absurdity of modern human existence. To even achieve the question requires a paradigm shift that instantly opens an endless stream of possibilities. Furthermore, paradigms once found, put the mind into the flow of enlightenment. It is this new modern enlightenment that will spread the understanding to the point of beginning to answer difficult questions, and undoubtedly pose new ones. This point is all but completely accepted by contemporary authors, be they ripe with opinion or strictly empirical. Because I have picked on Dr. Phil and Eckhart Tolle for being right for the wrong reasons, let’s pick on some others for being wrong for the right reasons. Dan Dennett is a popular contemporary philosopher and author. So is Andrew Cohen. But they are at opposite ends of a spectrum. Dan’s position is summed up nicely by his opening comments at Beyond Belief 2 (an annual conference of scientists concerned with enlightenment, held by The Science Network.) He called it, “The difference between diplomacy and dishonesty.” He said, “Excuse me Sir, but do you realize that your entire life has been constructed around you through a fantasy based belief structure and by passing it on to your children you are exacerbating a dangerous continuation of nonsense.” Andrew Cohen, someone who specifically uses the term, “Authentic Self,” claims to have insight to the ultimate causation. That is, where Dan will not give an inch on his Atheism and his distaste for the idea of faith; Andrew will neither yield his Theism nor his interpretations of God as the “act of creation, itself.” To be fair, Dan Dennett would probably argue that he was referring to religion and not God specifically. To be equally fair to Andrew Cohen, he could be right. As I’m sure you are growing accustomed to, you and I can’t answer either men. The fact that we recognize our limitation is our reward. There can be no blinders on the open mind. Apparently it’s not enough for the new modern Philosophes to acquaint you with yourself, they want to push into the unknowable and declare the fantastic, most doing so vehemently. Despite the lack of comfort provided by the truly reality-based point of view, the empowerment of understanding validity outweighs the need for faith. Faith, however biased, is still welcome with your Assignee’s Prerogative, as it is your own. Have all the faith you want, just know that it’s faith. Be mindful of influence and determine it worthy or dismiss it as irrelevant. Herein also lies the beginning of appreciating the difference between eXperiential Norms and Social Norms.

We’ve examined only one aspect of morality, murder, or more rightfully, killing. There are many more ill defined morals in our modern society from ancient times. Ideas like the sanctity or purity of places, people or objects. Automatic respect or reverence for authority figures is still expected from most human citizenry. Ideas of class, race or kin being of some worth or relevance to anything are all still prevalent. In fact, we use this standard of Fairness, Harm, Ingroup, Authority, Purity as the measuring stick of our sociological or moral makeup. It’s important that we understand the categories of this moral scale. This scale has been in development for hundreds of years and those who wish to follow it’s history should also look up David Hume, Lawrence Kohlberg and Elliot Turiel. The scale itself fits nicely into my philosophy generator thusly:Harm/Care - Fairness/Justice - Ingroup/Loyalty - Authority/Respect - Purity/Sanctity

The five categories are “the Definition of the Domain of Morality” by Elliot Turiel. They are referred to as the “Foundations of Morality.” To be most concerned with a particular single branch or group of branches points to your morality. The stronger the assignation of importance to the beginning of the list, the more left leaning, liberal, democratic, etc. you are. You are a two foundation person. The more importance you assign to the latter three the more right leaning, conservative, authoritative, etc. you are. I’m sure we can agree that the utilization of judgement where Fairness and Harm are the standards is much more logical and productive than using the considerations of Ingroup, Authority or Purity. In fact, the latter three paradigms should be almost entirely dismissed, most are antiquated and spent. Ingroup leads to nepotism, racism, classism. How many of us have helped a friend do something illogical? Authority is weighed well by many still, despite murderous cops, self-serving politicians, and abusive priests. Purity doesn’t refer to the wholeness or correctness of something, but it’s deemed worth. Questions of Sanctity are of value.

The Dome of the Rock is one of the most traveled to places on the planet. It is a manmade structure where people of certain faith come to pay homage to a meteorite. Were they able to, the pilgrims could pick up any rock build a temple around it and assign the same purity to it. They can’t because they’ve been instructed that this rock is special and deservedly so. In fairness, this last point is why I say we should all but dismiss Ingroup, Authority and in this case, Purity considerations, for what if I am wrong and someday an irrefutable force proves to me that the rock is ‘special.’ Furthermore, Ingroup facilitates family responsibility and cultural comfort which are not unhealthy. There is also Authority in the Universe as there is Purity, I just haven’t found either yet. I know they exist because their opposites are so prevalent. (I wish to point out, just for clarity, that my singling out of any one religion, God, artifact or geographic location are for illustrative purposes only.)

It seems, therefore, that nature is left leaning. If considering Ingroup, Authority and Purity is far less important that considering Fairness and Harm, society is in a state of illogical, counterproductive denial. We now begin to just see the tip of the iceberg now, breaking above the water. The monster begins to take shape: Individuals are more to blame than society is more to blame than we. Except that, for the most part, we’re doing what we’re told. If we can accept that nature’s default is that of an open, flexible, dynamic system, then we should be able to accept that we are working against it if we are not doing the same. (It’s not a coincidence that as we move from the moral/political left to right under the philosophy generator we get away from paradigms that are eXperiential and into those that are Social. However, this fact is just a convenient, arbitrarily defined order, it is not scientific.)

If we know that we have been socially engineered to be the way we are, then the forces that made us that way, want us that way. So why do they want us to work against nature? Does that mean we have been programmed to fail? Why? What else have they programmed us to do? Who are these people? These are also the questions of the new enlightenment, but they are not being asked by the spiritualists and the social psychologists. They are being asked by the two philosophers present..

In the following chapters we are going to dive deeper into these concepts and others. In order to create an appreciation of what is happening in our minds we must understand how they work but the same can be said, looking outwardly, at the world. Like ourselves, the world has problems too. (Here we are not speaking of “Earth” problems, such as environmental concerns address, but rather the problems of the caretaker inhabitants of the planet.) We must begin to separate the “me” problems from the “we” problems, not because they are going to be treated any differently, but because they have different causation. These problems, these causes are a product of one simple idea, as old as civilization itself. The following brief historical precis can be considered yet another reason to dismiss the pitfalls of conservatism. There are people out there with an attitude of “if it ain't broke don't fix it,” however, these people are often incapable of recognizing when “it is broke.” It has been broken from the beginning because it is not dynamic, flexible or even willing to change. These are the realities of our investigations.

In order to fathom the relatively simple ideas that lead to our immensely complicated world we must define three concepts: Modernity, Complexity and Exponential Growth.

Modernity is a word generally used to describe what we, in this age, would consider “Modern Times.” There is some debate about how far back “these times” should go, or conversely that we are already into “Post Modernity,” mostly because of high technology. Others contend that Modernity stretches back only to our ability to be cross cultural, moving trade, organizing society into specialized segments, basically “creating the system” with which we now live. (This takes us back to about the seventeenth century, just before the industrial revolution.) I'm somewhere in the middle on the “when” of modernity but I think the important deliberations centre around the inherent dangers of programming dynamic social systems.

Since the advent of telecommunications, radio, television, computer, internet, satellite and the peripherals they bring with them, we are constantly inundated with information. So it is that we too, despite appearing free of any bureaucracy insisted upon us, find our own, I call this age of auto-bureaucracy, “Information Age Modernity.” So without even blinking, we have ourselves, like our ancestors, broken free into the Universe of choice only to reassemble in our own governments and religions, etc. For our purposes today, consider that Modernity simply puts the average human into the flow of “production.” You are a cog in a wheel of a nation's economy. You work to pay for the rights and means to live. It used to be that you would just take care of yourself and your family, perhaps playing a role in your tribe. The Earth used to provide for you, now that power has been taken by those for whom you toil.

The idea of complexity plays a twofold role in our considerations. Modern Societies, that is to say, technological societies, (which, if your society isn't already, it strives to be,) all succumb to the type of complexity mentioned in the opening quotation of this book. When Carl Jung speaks of “the amalgamation of collusive factors,” he is referring to complexity and it's hold on the mechanics of society. I don't think I need to go into the details of exactly how complexity bleeds into our lives, just consider where it is that your money goes, week by week, year by year. Think about the steps of actions you take to bring in and send out that money. (You could even just think about the steps you had to take to have the right to make that money.) Complexity is borne of bureaucracy and once you have a system in place, over a period of time, it is going to need revision. If you direct this revision, you are engineering. However, it is important that we realize there are also changes that just “happen.” These changes could be bad or good, we don't care to decide at this point. I only wish to point out that, in addition to being able to make changes to our complex modernity there is also systemic complexity. Systemic complexity is an expected byproduct of our inherently complex system. If you start with a complex foundation I see no reason to expect the systems you build upon that base to be any different.

The idea of systemic complexity has most recently been expressed in terms of “systemic failure,” which I have determined was actually a product of complexity.

Consider the alleged “terrorist attack” in Detroit, Michigan USA, Christmas day, 2009. Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, apparently with an explosive ball between his legs meant to explode by utilizing a syringe, failed to accomplish his “mission,” upon landing. Three months of training in Yemen, how he got on the plane in Amsterdam, who his “well dressed Indian chaperone” was, were all topics that were learned of quite quickly, having caught the young man. Yet all of these issues came second to CNN (and every other news agency,) speculating on who, what, where, when and why. Within the first hour of the event the focus became, “Even after 'all we have done' to improve “Homeland Security” how is it that this could have happened?” (They are getting ready to play the blame game.) All that could be heard by December 27 was, “How could the CIA let this happen?” This question arose because it became known that young Mr. Abdulmutallab was on someone's list A: Form A and B for this side of the Atlantic while on the other he was recorded as being on list A: Form A only. The words “Systemic Failure” began being bandied about. By January 7, 2010 it was announced by U.S. President Obama that in terms of responsibility, “the buck stops here,” and, of course, that the US will take action to improve communication between organizations, to deter “alQaeda” in Yemen, or elsewhere, while tightening security or restrictions to ensure safety. Ultimately, regardless of how dizzy you are from spinning as you point your finger, you will come to rest only on our old friend, systemic complexity, due to what I call “the rampant ineptitude of modernity.”

The second role complexity plays in modernity is a more mathematical definition of the word that we will examine deeper in preceding chapters. While complexity universally is defined as having parts and involving these parts together in some possibly convoluted fashion, mathematical complexity is created when one of the calculated parts is imaginary. We, of course, in our modern systems have many imaginary forces to contend with. If we again look at money, for instance, to buy food with, here we have an imaginary system providing real world sustenance. The point to appreciate here is that even in the very real world, some complexities that we should be controlling, are controlling us instead.

If modernity is the cause of complexity and systemic complexity is the cause of the rampant ineptitude that keeps rearing it's ugly head, and we, in our infinite confusion, attempt only to counter this problem by adding further complexity, are we not just denying there is even a problem? If “they” are the purveyors of the message and “I” no longer exist, I am only my ingroup, am I not a puppet to their whims? Ask yourself, what culture promotes modernity more than any other? Answer at your own peril, for it is at this point it I begin to take the accusations personally and I feel ashamed of my heritage, nationality, race, sex and species. I am however, not here to judge. Hopefully I am not being judged. I wish to only point out some symptoms that I think should be addressed.

All species are biologically competitive. I think we can consider it natural for the phenomenon to bleed into our conscious planning as well. Such is it that religions encourage you to breed and may even frown upon attempting to control said breeding. (Yes, we have babies because we are instinctively drawn to reproduce but when outside sources have an agenda for our breeding it is almost always “Let's have more babies than those “other people” who are having babies.”) Indeed, for many of us, raising children is the one thing that gives our lives purpose. We cannot get too far into the philosophy of reproduction. (This is a fascinating question by the way. “Why does sex feel good?” I realize the evolutionary, mechanical reasons for sex to feel good and I can appreciate the biological necessity for the success of the species, but the fundamental question remains, “Why do we have the desire for our species to continue in the first place?” The only answer we have so far is, “Because we must!”) Nevertheless, putting our curiosities aside, it is by looking at things like the global population that we are able to better understand exponential growth.

Something is said to grow exponentially when the number of members increases by a measure that multiplies itself each time. So the more you have to multiply, the more multiplication takes place. You might be familiar with the graphic representation of exponential growth for one of many subjects but they always start lower and then increase rapidly.

Perhaps you are familiar with the above graph as represented by the International Panel on Climate Change in Al Gore's “An Inconvenient Truth.” In this case the chart would be estimating global temperatures determined by measuring the amount of CO2 in ice core samples. You could also have seen the chart as representation of global population for the last 100,000 years. For this estimation the steepest incline would begin at the industrial revolution. In fact, this population boom would precisely coincide with the inception of the lifestyle we currently call modernity. You could also imagine this graph measuring many, many other phenomenon: the use of oil, the value of gold, the value of any resource, the growth of a successful company, or crop, the advancement of computing power for the last 30 years, the quantity of bullshit espoused by Politicians, the list goes on.

As well you might find more personal associations, such as in evolution; You are here because cells exponentially multiplied, because the biological entities that are your parents multiplied, such as their parents did, such as all your ancestors did and exponentially on from there, (to wherever you see fit.) You may even be able to recognize a sort of “life pattern” to the chart. We, like most living things, are born, mature, live, age and die. This is a truth of the Universe, across the board. It seems to this rule no one and nothing is exempt. So how is it acceptable for the systems we design for ourselves to fly in the face of the apparent laws of Nature? Everything that we, as humans, can possibly know so far points to a finite growth limit in natural systems, yet we, often for reasons not beyond profit, insist upon perpetual, infinite growth from our designs. This shortsightedness is an embarrassing fault that someday we will look back upon with shame.

It seems pretty obvious that there are rules that we should, at least, consider as true and the finite growth structure of Natural systems should be one of these. This is because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that, without energy being spent, all systems in nature break down. The process is called entropy. Still there are countless systems out there bucking this trend. (Can you imagine some corporation wanting anything other than “growing the business?”) We do have internal drives and ambitions that we can consider natural, such as to succeed and provide for ourselves and our loved ones. But it is a rare thing for an individual to instinctively desire more than what he or she needs. That is to say, unless you come to believe something other than your own desires. Entropy, however, is not up for debate. You can watch it happen in your mirror.

Modernity, Complexity, complicated systemic problems in the system, all of it, breaking down because that is what happens. You can deny it if you want, as I stated earlier. I'm not here to change your mind on Universal Truths. You can also deny that you move forward in time, that energy can neither be created or destroyed, that gravity exists, it's your AP. Before you do, think about this: Energy used is energy moved.

Where is your energy going?

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