Friday, February 10, 2012

social control myths and the corruption of america

oftwominds | We typically think of fractals--structures that are scale-invariant--as features of Nature or finance. For example, a coastline has the same characteristically ragged appearance from 100 feet, 1,000 feet and 10,000 feet in altitude. It is scale-invariant, i.e. its characteristics remain constant whether it is viewed on a small, medium or large scale. This is how Kathy described social fractals:
"This dishonest, self-serving individual behavior is a fractal of what is happening in our society at large: dishonest and self-serving people are extending and pretending, and their complicity keeps the system going."
The concept of social fractals can be illustrated with a simple example. If the individuals in a family unit are all healthy, thrifty, honest, caring and responsible, then how could that family be dysfunctional, spendthrift, venal and dishonest? It is not possible to aggregate individuals into a family unit and not have that family manifest the self-same characteristics of the individuals. This is the essence of fractals.

If we aggregate healthy, thrifty, honest, caring and responsible families into a community, how can that community not share these same characteristics?
And if we aggregate these communities into a nation, how can that nation not exhibit these same characteristics?

If this is so, then how do we explain the complete corruption of America's financial and political Elites? What else can you call a nation that passively accepts financial predation, looting, robosigning, etc. by protected cartels as the Status Quo but thoroughly corrupt?

There are three distinct but highly interactive dynamics in America's social and financial fractals that have led to the nation's corruption. We can think of these dynamics as feedback loops: positive feedback is self-reinforcing, negative feedback offers restraint and opposition. From Wikipedia:

Negative feedback is used to describe the act of reversing any discrepancy between desired and actual output. A simple and practical example is a thermostat. Biological examples include regulating body temperature and blood glucose levels.

Positive feedback is feedback in which the system responds so as to increase the magnitude of any particular perturbation, resulting in amplification of the original signal instead of stabilization. Any system where there is a net positive feedback will result in a runaway situation.

These dynamics also share certain characteristics of the dialectic method in philosophy, a system of reasoning through arguments and counter-arguments (thesis and antithesis) to reach a synthesis or new understanding. The Socratic method is to show that a given hypothesis leads to a contradiction that forces the withdrawal of the hypothesis as a candidate for truth.

The social fractal element is individual behavior: the actions we choose based on our internal values, emotions, worldview and goals, and our belief in social control myths. This is a powerful concept brought to my attention by correspondent Diemos, who cited these examples:
The untouchables in India are told that they deserve to be treated as outcasts because of their karma from bad deeds done in a previous life. Of course, in reality, they are no more or less deserving than any other human being of a good life but as long as they believe that they deserve their station in life they are less likely to agitate for changes that will impact the wealth of the ruling class.
In the US we're told that an all-powerful, all-seeing, perfectly impartial free market gives everyone the wealth they deserve due to their own efforts. So if you're poor it's because you deserve to be poor and if I'm rich it's because I deserve to be rich. So you're more likely to accept your place in the Status Quo than if you believed that the division of wealth was more a function of an individual's political power and ability to participate in various crony-capitalist schemes.
In all cases a social control myth is an idea designed to affect the behavior of the people who believe it to the benefit of the people who are promulgating that idea.
I had a devil of a time understanding economics until I understood that 95% of what gets said in the name of economics is a social control myth rather than science. Economics is actually pretty straightforward to understand once you strip out all the propaganda, self-serving rationalizations, wish-fulfillment and outright misinformation that passes for analysis these days.
There are two key social control myths in America: one, that everyone is equal before the law, and two, that similar fundamental opportunities are available to all.

Using the Socratic method, let's see if these hypotheses are true or false.

5 comments:

nomad said...

"
Correspondent Kathy K. recently elucidated a powerful concept: social fractals. We typically think of fractals--structures that are scale-invariant--as features of Nature or finance. For example, a coastline has the same characteristically ragged appearance from 100 feet, 1,000 feet and 10,000 feet in altitude. It is scale-invariant, i.e. its characteristics remain constant whether it is viewed on a small, medium or large scale."

This is a powerful concept. Something I have thought about. How the dysfunction of smaller social units, like families, reflect the dysfunction of society at large. A great way of conceptualizing it.

DD said...

Charles is a neat guy, he bought me breakfast in Oakland last year. He's got an "in" to Occupy as well, though his view of it is a little pessimistic.

Makheru Bradley said...

Whitney Houston dead at 48.

nanakwame said...

Branches…Reaching at clear blue sky –Grasping rituals/With one called Whitney/Going Back...© kac

CNu said...

Pipecock...Sucking on clear glass stem -GetHigh rituals/With one called Bobby/Schmoking Crack...

Golddigger Prank Exegesis....,