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Foundational Time, a Place to Stand

Obviously it has been impossible so far to dislodge the rule of cowboy masculinity, crime-family masculinity, but progress might be possible if we confront it with an entirely novel system of orientation in which individual intelligences, only and all individual intelligences, are acknowledged instances of transcendence, specifically the transcendence of creative freedom. This can be done because a place to stand outside gender roles, social/ economic class designations, ethnic placement, and culture in general has been identified. All those roles and designations are cultural tags, all arbitrary artifacts of political and economic systems riddled with injustice and distortions of reality.

Time, however, is foundational, and time is inconceivable without an encounter between individual intelligence and nature. Please see posting 54, February 6, 2013, Freedom and Time, and  posting 60, May 4, 2013, The Zombie Apocalypse in the Rearview Mirror. Time is a construct of creative intelligence encountering the brute actuality of nature. So individual intelligence is foundational in an encounter with brute inertial nature. Certainly there is social and cultural structuring of time, but the original experience of time is not socially constructed. It is a construct of individual intelligence. Therefore, although much of reality is socially constructed, not everything about experience, about reality, is socially constructed. It follows from this, since time and individual intelligence are inseparable, that the individuality and self-identification of individual intelligences are also not entirely constructed socially or intersubjectively. There is a place of innocence from which to judge the influences of culture, indeed to judge the reality of social constructs. This contradicts the understanding of human subjectivity and of culture based on the Freudian model, which is still profoundly influential.

The Freudian Model

It is commonplace to explain social behaviour, culture, and history as projections of psychology in the Freudian tradition, expressing forces other than individual freedom. In that model the main vectors of force are the Id (representing bestial lusts for pleasure and power, the lower two-thirds of Plato’s model of a three-part soul, but on the Freudian view supposed ultimately to be biological imperatives), and the Superego, (representing authority figures, such as parents, police, priests, from ambient society, internalized by the individual’s exposure to education and socialization). Those two vectors of force confront and balance one another in every person, and at their point of balance a semi-stable image seems to appear, an image called the Ego, or personality. There is no original or autonomous force or substance to that Ego image, no reality. The Ego has only the force of Id as bent into some semblance of social conformity by the force of public authority figures. That is all there is to a Freudian-type intelligence, really just another iteration of the pre-Lutheran Christian vision of human nature driven by original sin and constrained only by the scourges of Church and military-monarchical states.

The Civilizing Force

Theorists in the Freudian tradition could proceed from the observation that there just are social supervisors, no matter what their legitimacy or their origin, and people must socialize by internalizing their influence. However, in the absence of a Christian appeal to divine intervention in the appointment of social supervisors, Freudian theory could also use something like Hobbesian social contract theory as a foundation for social authority figures. Hobbes’ vision of the state of nature is a decently accurate depiction of the world of cowboy masculinity: a war of all against all. On the Hobbesian vision, the carriers of the cowboy masculine will-to-power agree to acquire the benefits of social order and civil society by participating in a social contract by which a monarch, with absolute power over life and death, is instituted to decree laws by which all will be bound (when they can’t think of any way around enforcement). So, from nothing more than cowboy self-interest (ultimately determined biologically), the authority figures of civil society emerge to constrain somewhat the many faces of Id. This is a vision which has eliminated transcendence completely, satisfying the demands of respectability imposed by science.

Seeing social behaviour, culture, and history as a manifestation of instinctive human nature as envisioned in Freudian theory has the same effect as seeing history as acts of God, namely the effect of making history necessarily as it was in every detail, entirely pre-determined and unquestionable. When history is taken as divine (or natural) utterance, then the facts of history are self-justifying and unimpeachable. For example, on those views, both slave-masters and slaves are equally manifesting the same inherent human nature. All are equally sinners in their nature (the will-to-power has the same force as original sin) and the forces of nature are merely working themselves out. That is why, in Foucault’s analysis of oppressive power, it is impossible to identify either a perpetrator or a victim.

However, with the foundational experience of time revealing that individual intelligences are instances of transcendence in their creative freedom, the Freudian type of model fails completely, and what stands out is the monumentally important fact that intelligence exists uniquely in individual embodied units, individual persons. Seeing history as a manifestation of a large number of human intelligences, intelligences with individual creativity and freedom, reveals history as largely provisional, imperfect attempts at indistinct and creative aspirations, where mistakes were made, and where crimes, with identifiable perpetrators and victims, were committed.

There might seem to be a contradiction between the fact that intelligence comes only and always in the form of individual persons, and any criticism of cowboy masculinity, which claims to be the natural expression and pure realization of individualism, rugged libertarian individualism. However, cowboy masculinity is not and never was independence, but instead is always parasitism, and so not an expression of autonomy-of-intelligence. In spite of the claim to be rugged individuals, the primordial cowboys were never actually independent, but always parasitic on herd animals. In addition, they did not choose to stay with the free open wilderness of desert and steppe, but instead formed confederacies and preyed on the settled communities of farmers and cities, and took possession of them to secure the higher level parasitism that human hosts enabled. That is the historical origin of top-down political forces.

As already mentioned, Hobbes’ vision of the state of nature (a war of all against all) is a decently accurate depiction of the world of cowboy masculinity. The carriers of cowboy masculinity resist emotional or empathic (social) interconnections with other people, because they want to be parasitic and to use others as hosts. Decently ethical behaviour arises from empathy, from an ability and a willingness to appreciate and care about the interiority of other people’s experience, and to act from that caring. Morality depends on empathy, is a function of empathy. However, empathic or emotional interconnectedness is exactly what parasites refuse to enter, and so is conspicuously absent from the Hobbesian social contract. That particular unwillingness is the definitive condition of cowboy masculinity and the kind of individualism characteristic of cowboy masculinity.

That intelligence exists only in individual persons is in fact far more compatible with a different kind of expression, especially considering that intelligence is clearly gratified and amplified by identification of and empathic interaction with other intelligences, so much so that the human interconnectedness is the most magnificent creation ever of our multiple intelligences (mainly the work of women), even though it still needs a lot of work. The current culture of femininity cultivates and encourages the attaching/ relationship talent of intelligence, the interconnecting talent. However, champions of communitarian or collective power and cultural authority (normally preserving systems of parasitism) need to stop resisting the elemental truth that intelligence exists only and always in individual persons, which makes it necessary to re-conceive the human interconnectedness on the basis of empathic interactions among individuals. That is the entirely novel system of orientation which eliminates the need for anything like the Hobbesian social contract, and finally dislodges the rule of cowboy masculinity.

Copyright © 2013 Sandy MacDonald. The moral right of the author is asserted.