Who Goes There?
By Mark Mason at Jun 10, 2011
What is the difference between an Israeli in Tel Aviv and a Palestinian in Gaza? Software programming. That's it.
The world of human conflicts comes down to software programming of the human wetware.
There are no significant differences among the almost seven billion of us as we are organized into various cultures. The uniqueness and preciousness of each human is based on the assertion of moral values. An Israeli, a Palestinian, a Zimbabwean, a Turk, a Thai.
The human institutions and human believe systems are products of the human imagination. It's all made up. It's all make-believe. It’s all a fantasy.
The great bulk of the violence of humans against humans is founded, justified, upon nonsense, upon thin air, upon a socially accepted delusion.
Death and destruction in the name of nothing, arising only out of the domination of one group by violent means of another.
“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Mao Zedong. Political power does not grow out of the barrel of pretension proffering morality or justice.
From what we know, the history of human social interaction during the past few thousand years has not been random. There is something measurable called progress. The powerful cannot enslave the people using iron chains. Nowadays, enslavement continues but it takes the form of the control of language, attitudes, and beliefs.
We are going somewhere, though rather too slowly for my druthers. The class struggle originates with the cultivation of land, sedentary life, and the expansion of the size of human social groups. With expansion, identity fragments into subcultures, some bent on the domination and control of the others. In search of stability from within the unstable, brutal dynamics of large human populations, one wants to know if we have the capacity to form egalitarian, stable social structures. Large populations are historically non-existent. We evolved out of and within small groups. The only way to know is to systematically experiment.
Cornel West speaks of the world of make-believe cultivated by the elites. Indeed, civilization might be defined as the degree to which the elites resort less to violence and more to ideology to control the people. Elites concoct a dream-world of denial, a defense, for disparities of wealth and power. Ownership and control of the mass media is central to promoting denial.
Noam Chomsky refers to the term Thomas Carothers uses, schizophrenia, for the discrepancy between elite ideals and realpolitik brutality and exploitation. He also refers to Orwell’s doublethink which is the capacity to think two diametrically opposed ideas simultaneously without a public, visible hint of discomfort or sense of hypocrisy.
Measurable cognitive dissonance is indicative of the existence of conflicts between reality and the self-serving internal software programming.
The unconscious programming, the ideology, the attitudes, the cultural beliefs, are Zizek’s “unknown knowns.” The concept of the unconscious presumes that humans cannot possibly be cognizant of, aware of, the basis for many attitudes and actions. Only the rare, honest cynic accepts hypocrisy. Lying to oneself can be driven by massive rewards to do so, rewards of social capital and tangible money-in-your-pocket capital.
From here, we might examine the concept of noosphere, although the term smacks of mysticism. The terms worldview, weltanschauung, and zeitgeist all fail to capture the sense of universal stages of human beliefs or human cognition itself, or human moral principles. For example, the near-universal rejection of chattel slavery (but not totally eliminated)---the ownership of one person by another---is relatively new in the context of human history. What norms of today will make tomorrow’s list of human horrors?
The human condition, the human dilemma, the violence perpetrated one against another on the modern grand scale is a moral problem, a socio-economic problem, a human organizational problem (and therefore an experimental scientific problem), and perhaps also a human genetic problem or limitation. Can we all get along---in large, sedentary agricultural groups? We know what doesn’t work. Not only what came before is much reviled, but what we’re doing now doesn’t work, either.
Shall we try something new and different? The principle obstacle to trying something new and different is the persistence, and perniciousness, of elite make-believe ideology. What we're missing is a functional experimental science of human organization. The social sciences are mostly bunk functioning to perpetuate denial and distraction.
To try something new and different...
That science itself has failed to be scientific about ourselves should not be so surprising. Big Science is also big hypocrisy. While working for Big Science, the abuse of power and the duplicity and hypocrisy of Big Scientists becomes painfully evident. I left the realm of Big Science while watching Big Scientists outsourcing labor. Amidst the move to create a workforce of temps, shedding the cost of benefits due to regular employees, I suggested that the Big Science lab could save even more money by outsourcing Big Science management. The results were predictable. Big Science is Big Schizophrenia. The collegiality, the careful work, the careful observations, the openness, and the honest reporting within the realm of the laboratory, disappears as soon as the Big Scientists step outside the lab and into the hierarchy of domination and control in the domain of institutional management. Lying and secrecy in Big Science management is routine.
Thus, we should not be surprised to find that Little Science, in the realm of examining human social behavior, is channeled by the enormous pressure of "the doctrinal system" devised by elites, to protect elites. A functional social science simply wouldn't be allowed. No institution that accurately represents the reality of human social behavior is permitted. How could it be otherwise? This should be evident from the internal consistency of explicit institutional organization and control. Big Science is allowed to accurately and honestly examine the realm of sub-atomic particles and deep space, whereas the scientific examination of the human social and power dynamics within a Big Science lab is not permitted. As a paleontologist, I was permitted free reign to explore the what-is of paleontology. I was a harmless researcher exploring the deep past. Since turning my interest toward the what-is of contemporary human social interaction, many people will not speak to me. I've suddenly become persona non grata. My own dissertation advisor suddenly went silent.
Social institutions offer vast rewards in material and social capital for those who opportunistically obey the rules. The self, and the ideals, are both sacrificed often on the altar of self-aggrandizement. Different cultural contexts. Different cultural programming. Different attitudes towards the concentration of wealth and power give us opportunities to explore more just societies.
Some people will exploit others, when we let them do so, when our institutions reward and condone exploitation. Defining "we" in the context of new and different social organizations that reflect different attitudes towards exploitation is the task at hand. The challenge before us is how we are organized. Human behavior is widely plastic, conforming to whatever rules we put before ourselves. Focus on principles and practices. Focus on organizational structure. Perhaps software programming may be moved toward the substitution of duplicitous make-believe with a freedom from contorted ideologies, doublethink, and domination--freedom from tyranny. Tyranny is not a stable human organizational structure. History bears this out. The maintenance of tyranny is through either violent physical coercion, or violent ideological coercion.
The challenge before us is institutional, wherein all institutions are figments of the human imagination.
Who goes there? Our institutions define who we are, wherein our genes present possibilities and limitations. We may have the freedom for careful, humane, open exploration of the possible.