Thursday, June 30, 2016

the masses are treated like asses because they can be...,

dote |  I want to explain a few things. As regular DOTE readers know, I don't believe that humans are exercising "free will" because there is no such thing. Thus I am a determinist. Now, when we think about "free will" we (and researchers) naturally think about individuals—his brain, or her brain or, more rarely, my brain.

On the other hand, I've also arrived at the conclusion that the most important stuff going on in the unconscious mind is social in nature. Social instincts (like harmonizing) are hard-wired and therefore wholly automatic, just like fight or flight, negativity bias and many other processes. Thus it might be more appropriate to think in terms of groups rather than individuals in so far as humans naturally and mindlessly form strong social bonds. It is therefore more appropriate to investigate free will questions at the level of large populations or social groups.

There is a great deal of superficial variation at the level of individuals; at the large group level, there are only predictable behaviors because the unconscious mind has free rein, unencumbered by weak and ultimately deceptive "deliberative" processes in individual minds.

This makes politics the best way to observe human instinctual (unconscious) behaviors. Politics is simply inter-group conflict writ large. This year has been very interesting in this regard. I've written a couple posts lately (here and here) on the Brexit which have a theme similar to many things I've written before. The simplified world view of those posts asserts that there are our ruling elites on the one hand, and basically everybody else on the other.

This simplified view is a caricature of reality, but it's a useful one. 6000 years of historical data makes it apparent that social stratification (hierarchy) in large complex human societies is built right in, so these two broadly defined groups will always exist. By definition, one of those groups (ruling elites) exercise broad but onerous control over the other (everybody else). If that control becomes too oppressive—if there are here & now existential threats—everybody else, if they are feeling threatened or pinched, rebels against the political order.

That is the situation we have reached today in Western societies. And this is where predictable large group behaviors kick in (beyond a more fundamental social stratification). Let's list a few of the things we've been able to observe on a large scale in 2016.