Culture Consciousness

In the science fiction novel The Mote in God’s Eye, from 1974, written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the imagined system of space travel involves something like ‘worm holes’ which are shortcuts between fixed points at widely distant areas of galactic space. One especially important worm hole has an opening so close to the surface of a star that any ship emerging from the hole without appropriate shielding is immediately destroyed. Considering this as an analogy, individual intelligences arrive into cultural interconnectedness in a similar way, and almost literally soak up with their mother’s milk a culture shaped by a hostile ideology of alpha-trophy-looting design.

Given the enormous joys, pleasures, and advantages for us monads in sharing intelligence by forming attachments (as described in posting 36, July 12, 2012, First Language Nurture and in posting 37, July 26, 2012, Sharing Awareness), it is inevitable that structures of artifacts, imitated gestures, and ways of living are going to accumulate rapidly in clusters of people. Soon every infant arrives into a situation of vital support already richly elaborated by a culture made from the creative projections of past generations, most of those projections now alienated from their ad hoc, accidental, and personally inventive origins, and consequently now stipulated as sacred traditions divinely pre-ordained or as necessities of nature.

Every child monad (that is, an original locus of creativity and freedom) is engulfed on arrival by brute nature through embodiment, but every child is also engulfed by the culture carried in the bearings of the caregiving individuals who nurture and share awareness with him or her and who depict “the way we live” by carrying on their lives within the child’s sensitivities. The long hours of first-language-nurture face and voice time with mother, the bonding and shared awareness from that gesture-imitation play, accumulate for an eternity (the passing of time speeds up dramatically with increasing age) before the child begins to use his or her own body to move about and explore the cost-benefit shape of nature. So interconnectedness and some culture come before the full-bodied encounter with nature.

(The Mote in God’s Eye, written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Published by: Pocket Books, Mass Market Paperback: 592 pages, ISBN-10: 0671741926, ISBN-13: 978-0671741921.)

Law as a Microcosm of Culture and History

Sovereign law is connected by history to two deeply suspect social phenomena, namely religious cults, especially those with written teachings of a prophet or divine avatar, and crime families which exercise control by force over the population of a certain turf or territory. (By far most human societies prior to modern democracies have been brutal dictatorial empires controlled by some variant of a crime family in partnership with religious cults.) Both religious cults and crime families are parasitic on self-subsistent groups of families carrying within themselves a cultural heritage of surviving and raising children within the indifferent environment on the surface of planet Earth. So, religious cults, crime families, and self-subsistent first-language-nurture collectives are three fundamental engines of culture and history.

A religious focus on divinely inspired writings tends to interpret those writings as containing divine commands (super-parental commands), an original paradigm of law. The three Abrahamic religions all exemplify how cultures, organizations, and traditions of scholarly study, writing, and ongoing interpretation of holy books grow into a bridge between refined religious orthodoxy and the control of general communal behaviour by pervasively applicable laws. Related to that, law historically exemplifies the mystique of written language. Words were once widely thought to be the mechanism of divine creation and of divine action in general (Logos). The rule of law is the rule of words engraved in a medium which points toward eternity, a work of cultured craft achieving a sublime unification of ethereal words with an elemental and enduring material. Such engraved figures or characters were suspected of sharing in the power of charms and talismans.

Another, closely related, paradigm of compulsory (parental) command is the decree of the effective local warlord, chief of the most powerful crime family. Such organizations reach a point of wanting to regularize, institutionalize, and legitimize their control over a population by supplementing the personal whims of the alpha-chief with enduring public lists of decrees to form an orderly and predictable framework of expectation and performance in the relationship between parasitic crime family and host population, and even impose their ideas of order within the primordial subsistence collective which is the effective grounding of the whole social arrangement.

Such is the origin of law. The organizations of the religious source and the crime family source tend to co-operate and form a partnership to mutually strengthen one another and share in enjoying the “surplus” produced by the primordial collectives under their mutual control. All along the primordial collectives carry on with their focus on raising children.

Plagues and Peoples, written by William H. McNeill, Published by: Anchor (October 11, 1977), Paperback: 340 pages, ISBN-10: 0385121229, ISBN-13: 978-0385121224. (Plagues and Peoples specifically identifies aristocracies as parasitic plagues. See pp. 7-13.)

Infant Monads

That brief overview of the origins of law in human culture is a portrait in miniature of the universal history of culture. From time immemorial, we monads arrive as infants into a culture in which the most extreme and grotesque caricature of egoistic masculinity, in the form of crime family ideology, has over-asserted itself to the detriment of the whole system but especially to the detriment of the first-language-nurture segment of the social system. The fundamental parental duality, alpha-trophy-looting father versus first-language-nurture mother, projects itself onto the universal politics of human cultures. Human culture is so dominated by the crime-family caricature of masculinity that the natural influence and cultural expression of the common feminine focuses is disastrously suppressed. There is almost a sense of biological determinism to this problem as an obstacle to be encountered by any interconnectedness of monads which is embodied and gendered on the human model. Societies which have the sense to re-balance to give the feminine first-language-nurture segment equal recognition and cultural expression get to survive and advance. Societies that get stuck in masculine over-assertion reach a point of effective self-destruction.

Energy Control and Hard-Boy Gangs

Freedom in the world of physics is largely a matter of controlling the movement and application of energy, from sources as various as (but not limited to) food, the muscles of animals, flowing water, coal, and oil. Disputes and rivalries over control of energy on a large scale have been dominated by gangs of hard boys. The ordinary individual has little-to-no leverage against those gangs, and no one should have their day-to-day happiness depend on fixing the hard-boy problem. People equipped to tackle that problem directly become the next dynasty of gang-boys. Strategically, that is why revolutions don’t work, but reformations sometimes do. Significant progressive change in economics, politics, and culture was accomplished from small beginnings around the arrival of text printing technology in the middle of the fifteenth century, culminating during the enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, driven by ideas of individual dignity and empowerment from literacy and philosophical ideas of human rationality. Some, but not all, of that has been blunted or rolled back, and the hard-boy regressive forces are still operating.

To this day, even in the most modern and scientifically advanced nations, the ethos and ideology of the class of people which owns and controls capital, the leadership or control class, is a tweaked version of crime family ideology. The core ethos of the crime-family faction is monopoly, full-spectrum dominance by violence and the elimination of potential competition and alternative visions, the alpha-trophy-looting ethos. It is not possible for people high on that Kool-Aid to do anything other than suppress alternative and dissident voices, especially the values expressed in the segment of society devoted to nurturing children and engaging children in the learning of their first language. The result of the dominance of the hard-boy faction is a narrow-spectrum conception of what is possible, resulting in futile political discourse within nominally advanced and democratic political entities, all due to factional control by an ethos dedicated to celebrating inequality as such, to celebrating the dominant faction’s omnipotence and transcendent immunity (a mockery of authentic transcendence).

Transition to Modernity, the Schematic Version

Cast of characters: 1) rural-military crime families, 2) urban-commercial-financial crime families. The post-Roman hegemony of 1) in Europe was eventually followed by the rise and hegemony of 2), but 2) continued to use the mechanisms of social control employed by 1), which were mainly the strict organization of war and religion. In addition, 2) added some of their own techniques such as alienation from land and total dependence on markets, debt, employment for wages, and new commercial narratives delivered outside churches via novel mechanisms of communication.

The controlling faction is more stealthy now than in historical periods when the sovereignty of the most powerful crime families, aristocracy and monarchy, was overt. The new crime family oligarchy is far less open in its economic and political control, masked by the trappings of democracy. Also, a more elaborate legitimizing ideology has penetrated the worldview of all classes through the agency of mass media, commercial advertising, glorification of the Olympic Games and professional sport, and the vilification and dehumanization of dissident or alternative political visions. Mass media have become incomparably more penetrating into individual consciousness, and the predominance of messages carried, not only in explicit sales promotion, is controlled by concentrated media ownership. The educational and research systems are similarly controlled by the necessity of direct funding from private or investor/ donor controlled organizations, which also arrange behind the scenes for restrictions on public funding of education.

Leadership Incompetence

The current twin crises in global economy and in geopolitical conflict clearly establish the incompetence of the control faction. The economic/ financial crisis blossomed in 2007-08 after decades of incompetent public policy, and the geopolitical conflict might be said to have blossomed after 2001, but really goes to the core of American ambitions boosted in the wake of WWII and again after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. Keep in mind that, in accordance with the theory proclaimed by the leadership class, the leadership structure is a meritocracy, so those with the most power, influence, and effect are the most talented leaders, the best of the best. It cannot be contested, then, that the ongoing crises just mentioned reveal the incompetence of the best of the leadership class.

Neither the economic crisis nor the geopolitical crisis have been brought into being by the desires and efforts of the common majority of people in any country or from any ethnic cultural tradition. Both the economic crisis and the geopolitical crises are manifestations of a general cultural problem, namely the excessive power and influence of groups expressing a particular ethos, an ethos hatched in the history of crime families, and now faced with a global situation beyond its competence.

The incompetence of the leadership class is firmly rooted in the basic value system they champion and express, namely the crime-family derived alpha-trophy-looting worldview. The heart of that worldview is revealed in academic economic theory and social philosophy, in which self-interest and egoism are advanced as the universal human motivating forces. The point that is proved by the philosophical emphasis on egoism and atomic self-interest, in combination with the common experience of mothers supporting one another in devotion to nurturing children, is that there are two very distinct and contrasting worldviews in the human community, and one of them, but only one, is very authentically depicted in all that academic emphasis on egoism. The other worldview, the first-language-nurture culture, is regarded with contempt and so largely unknown by the egoist/ self-interest faction. The incompetence of the leadership class is an inevitable expression of the narrowness of its competitive egoistic culture.

Copyright © 2012 Sandy MacDonald. The moral right of the author is asserted.