Growing up, I was always a bit different.. OK.. a lot different. Most of it came down to how I perceived, or mentally modeled, the world around me. This alternate model the world in turn affected how I saw the actions and behaviors of other people around me.
Case in point- As a child, I was unable to understand why most people had such strong, yet almost always unreciprocated, obsessions about celebrities. I also found it odd that most people were so enthusiastic about belonging to groups or institutions that either did not care about them or cynically used them as slaves or worse. Similarly the ability of ideologies (religious and secular) to repeatedly attract millions or billions of faithful followers without delivering on their promises in an objectively verifiable manner made me question the ability of most people to think rationally.
In contrast to that, I never cared much about what people who were not helpful to me thought about me. I was also unable to obsess about the lives of sport-stars, musicians, actors or other “famous” people. I never felt the need to ‘truly’ belong to any groups or institutions. I just could not commit myself to any cause or ideology. That is not to say I was ignorant or oblivious of the world around me. I was very well-informed about what others thought about me and had a better understanding of current affairs, trivia and ideologies than pretty much anyone around me. Nor was I oblivious to the supposed benefits of group or institutional membership.
Yet I was unable to care about any of that stuff beyond the level necessary to be appear normal.
Some might see this as lack of drive, motivation, positive-thinking or any of the other fairy tales most people keep telling themselves. I, however, saw things differently. From my viewpoint, people who exhibited “mainstream” behavior were the real suckers and morons. But how did I come to this conclusion? and why did I reach it at a much younger age than most who eventually get there?
Well.. It comes to careful observations.
I realized early on, by looking at the lives of people around me, that being kind and helpful to people was almost never rewarded- especially on a quid-pro-quo basis. Now one can certainly extend this observation and decide to become ‘extra’ evil and manipulative, but maintaining minimal and very conditional connections to others is a far more effective and practical response to living in a generally unreciprocative world. Face it.. we live in societies where even ‘close’ relatives and friends are unlikely to help you in any substantial way. So what is the point of caring about, assisting or even spending time with them? Do you really think people spend all that time on FB, Twitter or watching TV because they are somehow magically addictive?
I simply understood this fact much earlier than most. It also helps to be born in an age where technology finally made it possible to reduce personal contact with useless or malevolent people without becoming too lonely.
Then there is the issue of how most people spend lots of time following the lives of “celebrities” or trying to somehow get into their inner circles. Even as a child, I could never understand why so many people worshiped movie stars or sportsmen. What is the point of caring so much about people you will almost never meet, let alone reciprocate it? But where does one draw the line between enjoying the performance of an actor or musician and going into the hero-worship or obsession mode? In my opinion, something like say.. trying to find more information or material by some performer on IMDB or YouTube, is about personal entertainment. However buying a product or service because some celebrity endorsed it or wearing a jersey to express support for some sports team clearly crosses the line into unrequited hero-worship.
My cynicism about group and institutional membership was also based on what I saw as a child. It was obvious to me, even then, that most members of groups or institutions never benefited from their commitment, effort or sacrifices for the “greater good” of those groups or institutions. In almost every single case, a small percentage of people at the top of those groupings took away almost all of the gains obtained through the hard work and sacrifices of their rank-and-file members. We can see this dynamic all around us in groups and institutions as diverse as non-profit organisations, small businesses, large corporations and universities to the armed forces of modern nation states. I would go so far as to say that the “normal” mode of operation for pretty much every single type human grouping or institution is identical to a ponzi scheme.
Let us now move on to the topic of religions, ideologies and other belief system. Once again, I was never able to understand how anybody could believe in something as ridiculous as a god that cared about human beings. I mean.. look around you. Do you see any evidence of a trans-human entity or entities that gives a damn about human, animal or any other kind of suffering or pain? Does believing in god improve the materiel quality of your life? Does it feed the hungry? Does it cure the sick? Does it make you a “better” human being? Does it address or correct obvious injustice? I could go on.. but you get the point- belief in god or gods does not achieve anything for true believers. It can however provide a cushy livelihood for priests and provide a justification for looting those who believe in other invisible sky-dudes or dudettes.
Secular religions, such as capitalism, provide another and more modern example of this phenomena. Why are those who slave for, yet never benefit from, capitalism its most ardent and vocal supporters? Why are people getting ass-fucked by the invisible hand of the “free market” often its biggest cheerleaders? Why are all those white knights who support feminism and defend the honor of women not getting laid? Conversely, why are those who support a return to traditional masculine values so eager for female approval, even if comes from a chubby and mentally unstable groupie?
So.. did you notice a common theme running through all of the examples mentioned in this post?
OK.. let me spell it out. In every single example, the majority of people seem to enthusiastically keep on doing something they “know” will benefit them- inspite of a wealth of evidence and repeated reminders that it won’t or is incapable of doing so. So what drives the majority to people to keep on doing something that does not work or cannot deliver on its promise? Are they all suffering from permanent brain damage? Or is something else behind this odd pattern of behavior?
I believe that the answer to this apparent paradox lies in understanding the nature of loyalty and its linkage to the human urge to hurt others even when doing so is not profitable.
I shall explore this issue in an upcoming post.
What do you think? Comments?
This post continues from the previous one in this series and exposes the very deep roots of human self-delusion about their real motivations. Let us start with a very topical example. We are now nearing the “official” start of the holiday season. It is therefore almost certain that you will encounter multiple requests to donate to some charity, food-bank or some organisation that claims to help the less fortunate. Some of you might even give some money or resources to such outfits, if only to make yourself feel “better”.
But have you ever wondered why charity is necessary in this day and age?
While that might sound like an odd question to many, it is probably one of the most important rational question people never ask themselves. Charity makes sense if we lived in an era of real scarcity or resource limitations. But do we live in such an era? Look around you.. Are we constrained by technology or resources in our ability to produce, store and distribute enough food? What about houses or automobiles? What about computers and other gadgets? What about medicines?
The resources and technology to provide a very good lifestyle to every single person on this earth have been around for the last 4-5 decades.
Why do we still have public drives to fill food-banks with semi-toxic crap that nobody wants to eat? Why do department stores sponsor food-bank drives yet routinely throw away much more food of far better quality? Would it not be more rational to just give away good food to those who cannot afford it? How does giving away food that will never be sold affect the profitability of the corporations that run department stores? It is not like we live in times where every woman had 8-9 kids. So what is going on?
A partial answer to this question can be found in understanding the true implications of a news item that recently garnered some attention on the intertubes. You might have read that Walmart was soliciting donations to a foodbank intended to feed its own employees. The slightly neglected part of this news story is that they were soliciting these donations from their own employees. Yes.. you heard that right! Walmart was trying to get its own slightly better-paid employees feed its not-so-well paid employees.
But why can’t Walmart pay its employees well enough to shop at their own stores? It is not as if they are running that corporation at a loss. Nor are the multi-billion dollar fortunes of “Walmart Heirs” in any imminent danger of diminishing. I should also add that their stock is not generally bought or held with expectations of high growth. And where does all that money they don’t pay their employees end up anyway? It is clearly not being recirculated in the general economy and is therefore a net loss to the system.
Walmart is clearly not behaving like the rational profit- and future- obsessed entity that shills.. I mean “economists”.. claim it (and other corporations) are. It is maximizing its very short-term gains through deception and manipulation even if doing so destroys its future customer base.
My point is that the operational model of Walmart, and every other corporation and most businesses, is almost identical to those of cancer cells and viruses. Yet they pretend to be the very embodiment of normality. But why, for whom and to what end? The first part of that question, the ‘why’, is the easiest to answer. They behave the way they do to keep on doing what they are doing- from parasitizing society to avoiding detection and removal. The answer to the next part, the ‘for whom’, is slightly less obvious. While the continued existence of corporations such as Walmart clearly benefits their major shareholders, being rich beyond a certain level lacks positive utility.. To put it another way- being a billionaire cannot make you incredibly handsome, wildly desirable by women (or men), ageless or immortal. And this brings us to the third part of that question- to what end?
Towards the end of my previous post in this series, I made two claims.
1] Human beings are predisposed to hurt others even if doing so is not profitable in anything but the short-term.
2] This predisposition is somehow connected to the human ability for self-delusion about their real intentions.
Let us try to explain the behavior of corporations and businesses, especially their owners and employees, through the viewpoints of these two claims.
How would you go about abusing, impoverishing and damaging others while still maintaining the self-delusion of being a decent, caring and honest human being. Well.. there are two ways. You could start an organisation that purports to provide a useful or important social service while consciously (or subconsciously) structuring it to achieve the opposite. Alternatively you could join an organisation that purports to provide a useful or important social service while consciously (or subconsciously) working to achieve the opposite while ignoring or denying the obvious. To put it another way- you could either become a leader, capitalist, owner.. or the enthusiastic follower, worker or drone. The later routes are easier and offer more plausible deniability.
My point is that pretty much all of what you consider as normal, from business models and corporate hierarchies to institutional structures, exist for the sole purpose of abusing, impoverishing, damaging and killing other people. Any real reform of these institutions, structures and hierarchies would remove their very purpose for existence and popularity.
In the next part of this series, I will explore the origins of the human urge to hurt others even when doing so is not profitable.
What do you think? Comments?
Here are some NSFW links to keep you occupied till I finish a couple of my longer posts.
Amateur BJs : Oct 22, 2013 – Amateur cuties blowing their guys.
More Amateur BJs : Oct 22, 2013 – More amateur cuties blowing their guys.
Towards the end of my previous post in this series, I had suggested that most human behavior and almost everything created by it (groups, societies and institutions) were driven by an irrational and overwhelming sadism despite of all claims to the contrary.
Have you considered the possibility that the primary intent behind almost all “normal” human interpersonal interaction is to somehow con, swindle, abuse, hurt, maim or kill the other party?
Now some of you might say.. “That is such a stupid idea. Why would people, especially the ‘smart ones’, devote their lives to screwing each other over than rein in their worse impulses and reach some sort of detente – if only to make their own lives better.” My answer to that question is- aren’t you assuming that humans are rational and logical rather than irrational and logical? There is a lot of evidence (link 1, link 2) that people will actively ignore opportunities to vastly improve their lives if doing so requires them to lighten up on screwing other people. This irrational sadism pervades all aspects of human interactions from those between parents and their kids, two (or more) long-term sexual partners, the smallest social group to the largest human organisations and societies.
It is as if all “normal” interactions between two or more humans were designed to deceive and screw over the more vulnerable and naive party or parties.
To be clear- I am not claiming that every single human being is like that. But it is very clear that most people are like that and have always been so. But why is it so? Well.. the full answer to the ‘why’ will take a couple of more posts because humans lie to themselves the most. We can however start down that path by going through a few examples of human behavior that are considered normal but are blatantly irrational. As I will show you in this and the next few posts in the series, a lot of human behavior is not what it seems to be.
Example 1: We have all read hundreds, if not thousands, of blog posts and comments about the unrealistic standards and qualifications demanded of men by average women. But why are average women so demanding in the first place? Why can’t they be more realistic about their expectations? The conventional answers to that question involve some version of hand waving about fragile egos, rank status, evolutionary psychology, cost of sperm versus egg and other assorted bullshit. But are any of them true? If any of them were true, how do you explain the fact that women become more bitchy, demanding and demeaning as they lose their looks through aging and having kids? Shouldn’t relative stability and/or a decrease in their market value make them less bitchy, demanding and demeaning? What does a woman in a financially secure situation and functional relationship with a guy really gain from being an abusive, insufferable and duplicitous cunt? and why is this behavior so universal?
A possible answer to that question can be found by looking at the effects of her behavior on those negatively impacted by it- specifically those who treat her well. But why would a person expend so much effort on screwing over their closest and most useful human contacts while simultaneously sucking up to people who detest them. As I will explain later on in this post, and series, understanding the reason underlying this behavior requires us to abandon a lot of what most people believe about human beings. Moving on.. here is another example.
Example 2: Have you ever noticed that devout followers of all religions and ideologies are very enthusiastic about spreading their version of the “good word”. But what is the point in getting more converts and believers of one particular collection of fairy tales. Why believe in a god if such an entity will not intervene on your behalf at a statistically significant level. Throughout human history- the lives of average people were almost equally miserable once you adjust for temporary booms caused by benefiting from genocides, conquests and other forms of looting of other groups. No divine entity has ever intervened to save people from famine, epidemics, conquests or genocides. Neither has such an entity ever helped people who were in physical or psychological pain.
Yet there is no shortage of people who desperately want to believe in some type of god and anything that even vaguely resembles religious doctrine. But why? One answer to that question can be obtained by observing what the most overtly faithful members of a religion focus on. Have you noticed that devout Christians talk a lot about the supposed inhumanity of abortion while ignoring or trivializing the quality of life of kids after they born. Such people also spend an inordinate amount of time trying to censor and interfere with the sexual lives of other people. But why? What do they gain from it? Or what about devout Muslims who get upset about alleged misrepresentations of their belief system by ‘infidels’ while ignoring the very real abuses, extreme inequality and poverty in countries where the sharia is enforced as law? Why are they so eager to fight for the cause of a religion that in many cases cannot even provide them a semi-decently compensated livelihood or sexual partner of the opposite sex? Could it be that all this religious or ideological zealotry is a cover for facilitating and normalizing the abuse of even weaker members of your own group. And this brings my next example.
Example 3: Academics and “credentialed” professionals provide yet another example of this almost universal human urge to hurt others for reasons that are clearly not rational. Academics talk a lot about fairness, humanitarianism, merit, personal and scientific integrity. But how do they treat their graduate students and post-doctoral fellows? When is the last time you saw an academic trying to raise the salary of people who work under them? How many care about the future prospects of those who slave away for them? Why not? Credentialed professionals such as physicians provide yet another example of this issue. How many physicians are interested in at least trying to give their patients the most optimal treatments for their ailments. Now compare that to the number who will prescribe newer drugs regardless of their efficacy, treat ailments to maximize their income or minimize their work. It is rather obvious that a majority of physicians perceive their patients as money-making annoyances and most would kill their patients if the financial incentive to do so was greater than not killing them.
So what are the common themes running through all these examples?
Well.. in all of the above stated examples, “conventional” or “normal” behavior patterns are clearly the less profitable ones in all time frames except possibly the very short-term. Also, so-called “smarts” do not have any measurable effect on this intrinsic sadism as a barely literate bible- or koran- thumping zealot is as likely to engage in it as the supposedly “smart” and secular academic or physician. The sex of the person also appears to have no significant influence on the willingness to engage in irrational sadistic behavior.
We are left with the disquieting possibility that there is something fundamental about human beings that predisposes most of them to hurt others even if when it is not profitable for them.
So what drives most people to consistently act in this manner under a variety of circumstances? Instinct alone cannot explain such complex and persistent behavior patterns in self-aware creatures with a rudimentary ability to reason. I believe that the answer lies in the human predisposition for self-delusion and will explain it in the next part of this series.
What do you think? Comments?
Here is a two part documentary on the effects of emasculation in developed countries. I am not sure if some of you have already the documentary, but do watch it if you have not already done so.
and here is part II
What do you think? Comments?
Have you ever wondered if capitalism could become a victim of its own “success” in ways other those put forth by Marx over a century ago. While it is certainly possible that the effects of declining profits and progressive impoverishment of the majority will derail capitalism in a world where there is not much left to plunder or conquer in an economically viable manner, there is an alternative (and possibly synergistic) pathway for things to fall apart.
The reason you have probably never heard of this ‘other’ pathway is because the conditions that made its existence possible are relatively new. Even today- most economic thought, literature and analysis is the product of people mired in the mindset of previous eras. It also helps that doing so keeps the rich patrons of these sophists (economists and intellectuals) happy and thereby ensures a steady stream of table scraps.
So how did I stumble across this pathway? Well.. it comes down to an extension of one of my observations about human beings. We are often told by “intellectuals” that human beings do things because they are naturally competitive. But how many people would jump through all the hoops and cripple themselves in ways that are considered “normal” in developed societies if they were really doing it for themselves?
What kind of moron would slave away for a house in the suburbs where he would be subject to the simultaneous tyranny of his aging hateful wife and municipal zoning guidelines? What kind of idiot slaves away to live his life surrounded by superficial and scheming people at work (colleagues) and home (neighbors)? What idiot would slave away in occupations that involved high stress or high levels of insecurity? What moron would enter vocations with decade long education and internship requirements but not much in terms of job security?
It is clear that the mindset, worldview and behaviors of the average blue- or white-collar person in all developed countries are blatantly irrational. So why do they persist, or more accurately- why was that behavior so prevalent in the past?
In one of my previous posts, I had put forth the idea that civilization as we know it is a ponzi scheme. I chose that particular term since it best describes the overall structure, mode of functioning and life-cycle of civilization. But it also describes how they grow and become bigger. Civilizations, like ponzi schemes, require a continuous influx of new naive members to scam, exploit, enslave and sacrifice. But why? Well for one you have to pay off the higher ranking (but non-apex) members in the scheme. But there is another reason especially relevant to the fate of capitalism in developed countries with low rates of fertility.
A significant minority of people who cannot move up the pyramid will eventually understand the true nature of the system, even if that realization occurs at a subconscious level.
Civilization always results in a significant minority of its members becoming cynical, disloyal and self-serving once they wise up. There is therefore a constant and unrelenting need for more naive suckers to replace and possibly help eliminate those who have wised up. Finding such new suckers was very easy in the pre-contraception era when the average women has more than two kids who lived to adulthood. But barely or below replacement fertility makes that much harder and hence we had immigration for decades. But today even countries like Mexico and India, not to mention China, have fertility rates that are close to or below replacement.
But what does any of this have to do with an alternate pathway for the demise of capitalism?
The answer to that question lies in the high level of similarity between civilization and capitalism in one area – producing cynical burnouts with nothing left to lose. However capitalist societies are also far more efficient at producing such individuals as they burn the inter-personal goodwill and institutional loyalty of their lower ranking members at far higher rates and levels than their pre-capitalist counterparts. Furthermore, the continuous and ultimately counterproductive competitions that characterize such societies are unsustainable in the absence of high level of growth and some wealth redistribution. The high ambient instability of careers in such societies, even those which involve a lot of personal investment and sacrifice, do not make things any better.
Many societies with these features attempt to stabilize themselves through social welfare programs and regulations to improve career/lifestyle stability. While such measures can be partially effective in the short to medium term, they fail in the long-term for reasons linked to human greed and short-sightedness. Moreover they do not produce fewer cynical burnouts- only slightly less bitter ones. There is a reason why even countries as ordered, stable and affluent as Switzerland, Germany and Japan are not full of highly motivated and enthusiastic people.
Now some of you will say.. but what about the USA? isn’t it an exception to the pattern of capitalistic societies having a significant number of burnt out and cynical people? and isn’t the per woman fertility slightly above replacement or something like that? Well.. let us go through each point.
Firstly the USA is not an exception to the pattern of capitalistic societies having a significant number of burnt out and cynical people. It was just a late comer to that club for reasons I shall explain in a moment. As I have previously said, ponzi schemes can grow and appear stable as long as they can afford to pay off the higher ranking (but non-apex) members in the scheme. So things looked great as long as those born between 1930 and 1945 were getting excellent jobs and enjoying the fruits of rapid and fairly egalitarian post-WW2 expansion. They started dimming a bit when those born between 1945 to 1961 started their working lives but things still looked good and the overall system had enough inertia to keep the real party going into the 1990s. The fall of the USSR, opening of low wage countries like China and India, low interest rates on credit and the housing bubble helped the USA stretch it into the mid-2000s.
But the real cracks were visible as early as the mid-1980s. It was the beginning of an era where wages of average people stopped keeping pace with productivity or inflation. It was also the beginning of a breakdown in the implicit social contract that had existed in the USA since 1933. Lifetime job and stable careers slowly became a thing of the past, as did the formal and informal social welfare system. While this trend initially affected only the blue-collar workers, by the early-1990s even white-collar workers started feeling its effects. While the tech boom in the later half of 1990s and housing bubble in the first half of the 2000s masked the decline somewhat, it was obvious to many that something fundamental about the system had changed.
But which age group is most observant about such subtle but fundamental shifts? Is it the people who grew up before the 1980s and 1990s or those who were born and grew up in those decades? My point is that the mindset, worldview and behavior of those in their 20s and 30s today is a far better indicator of where things will go. So what do we see in that group?
Do we see tons of optimism in that age group? How many of them believe in a stable livelihood or the possibility of lifelong relationships? How many of them have kids, let alone one or two kids? How many will eventually have more than two kids? How many of them trust institutions? How many of them believe in a bright future filled with endless opportunities for growth? How many of them are crushed under student debt and working part-time jobs that don’t require degrees? How many want to move to faraway cities? and if not, why not? and most importantly- are things getting better or worse?
My point is that people in that age group have, throughout the developed world, become cynical burnouts. Even more importantly- the system has far less leverage over them than their parents generation.
Now there are many minor yet highly publicized reasons for this lack of leverage, from the growth of the internet, game consoles and smartphones etc. But the two major reasons are seldom mentioned so let me do that for you. First.. you cannot threaten what does not obviously exist (their children) or things whose existence is a matter of blind faith (secure livelihoods, meaningful relationships). The threat of sudden job loss, intermittent poverty and a generally uncaring and cruel society cannot extract enthusiastic compliance from somebody who sees that as inevitable even if they play by the rules. You cannot threaten a long-term homeless guy with lifelong poverty, especially if he knows that his compliance does not guarantee you will honor your end of the deal.
Secondly- social pressures don’t mean a lot in societies where almost every relationship is superficial, adversarial or mercenary in nature. This is especially so in an era where less fucked-up alternatives are readily available. People are no longer restricted to interacting with those in their immediate physical vicinity and now often prefer those who are not. Who wants to hang around people they don’t trust, despise or don’t care about.
But what this have to with capitalism, especially its american incarnation? Let me put it this way.. capitalism requires the majority to work hard and sacrifice for the enrichment of a small minority. However getting the majority to keep on playing this rigged game requires a decent chance of mediocre rewards (real or imagined), skin in the game (future of their children, family, friends) and social reinforcement. Without them- even the best lies, propaganda and marketing become useless rather quickly.
In the past capitalism could get around such problems by tapping into the then almost limitless supply of naive young suckers and desperate wannabe-american immigrants. However we no longer have a surplus of naive suckers or desperate immigrants who want to be american- and that is not going to change anytime in the near future.
What do you think? Comments?
More than a few of my previous posts have centered on, or around, an odd but rarely asked, question.
“What is the point of accumulating money beyond the ability to spend it?”
Now, stupid sophists defending the status quo might say that its is impossible to determine what is enough. Curiously these sophists are seldom well off, let alone truly rich, making their defense of the status quo a bit odd. Perhaps they believe that their incessant barking on behalf of the rich might get them get a few more table crumbs or leftovers. But who knows..
Anyway, back to the question at hand. I have previously written that the reasons for accumulating money beyond the point of usability cannot be rational. But what if they are still logical. Confused? Let me explain. An action can be simultaneously logical and irrational, because logic is a mechanistic process in which the inputs don’t have to be factual or real.
For example, burning women accused of having sex with the devil requires that particular entity to exist in the first place and is therefore irrational. However it can be perfectly logical if you were one of those perpetually fearful and greedy semi-retards who believed in the existence of the devil, especially one interested in having sex with human females.
Coming back to our era, a closer look at much of what we think is ‘normal’ and ‘right’ just does hold up to rational scrutiny. Many of my previous posts are about the sheer irrationality underlying a wide variety of systems- from the basic structure of “civilized” society, the bizarre illusion of money, the worthlessness of supposedly important inter-personal relationships to the futility of loyalty to institutions that demand it. To put it another way- most conventional expectations, norms, rules and behaviors are not rational. But what if they are still logical? and more importantly- what does that say about the real nature of the human mind?
One of the main feature of conventional models for the human mind, be they religious, secular or “scientific”, is the assumption that human beings are intrinsically good, rational, caring or at least capable of all those things. Even religious models that portray human as sinful and fallen, or whatever their secular equivalent are, allow for the possibility of being saved, lifted or “enlightened”.
But what if that is not the case? Could it be the vast majority of humans, including the supposedly smart ones, are fundamentally incapable of being rational.
This question is best answered by looking at the entirety of available evidence (aka historical evidence from multiple sources) factoring in the inevitable underlying contexts and biases. Throughout most of the last 5,000 odd years (aka the age of civilization) the general standard of human living was very low and even the very rich were an infection, poisoning or puncture wound away from death. To make things easy and clear, let us temporarily ignore the actions and behavior of insecure and desperate people under constant stress or duress.
We will therefore, for the time being, willingly ignore most of human history- even though it strongly suggests humans are highly irrational.
Let us focus on societies where a combination of resources and technology make it possible to deliver a very high quality of life to all their members. In case you are wondering, I am talking about the situation in developed countries after WW2- especially after the early 1960s. Studying such societies allows us to eliminate the role of scarcity on human behavior or the ability to reason.
Does the functioning of these societies suggest that humans are capable of rational behavior when not under any real resource constraints?
The answer to this question is complicated. From the end of WW2 to the late 1970s, the socioeconomic changes in these countries suggested that human beings might be capable of rationality- at least under certain conditions. Those times were characterized by very significant technological progress and considerable improvement in the living standards of the median person in those societies. This era was also characterized by fairly low income inequality and a realistic chance to improve ones position in society. It was as if after millennia of screwing around without anything to show for it, human societies had finally found the ability and institutional structures to provide a safe, stable and reasonably good existence for almost all of its members.
But there have been many changes since the late-1970s and almost all of them have taken those developed societies increasingly further away their early post-WW2 vision. But why? It is very clear that we do not lack the technology, resources, productivity or ability to extend the general socioeconomic improvements that occurred within the first three decades after WW2. But every single developed society has abandoned the path of improving the lives of its median, let alone its poorer, members.
How can we account for the rise of neo-liberalistive/neo-conservative (neo-feudal) ideologies throughout developed countries since the early 1980s?
There are those who see this is the result of clever propaganda, institutional capture or mass media-driven brainwashing. While this line of thought might sound appealing to those who see average humans as fundamentally good and therefore gullible victims, there are reasons to believe that it is not the case. You might have noticed that a lot of the ideas recycled by neo-conservatives or neo-liberals, from “personal responsibility” to “work ethic”, are actually old lies and fairy tales.
So what makes people want to believe in obvious lies such as “work ethic”, “meritocracy”, “invisible hand of market”, “creative destruction” and “personal discipline” while discarding other equally old and popular lies about the role of divine entities in human affairs.
Are people really that stupid, unobservant and innumerate? Then there is the troubling question of why the middle class is so eager to believe in the lies, scams and bait-and switches which trick, hurt and abuse them the most. Surely, they are not that retarded or unobservant. I also don’t believe that this behavior is due to learned helplessness. A rational person who understood his lack of control over events would not strive for the benefit of those who were abusing him.
Could it be that most people believe in or play along with norms, rules and paradigms that are against their rational interests because it provides surreptitious satisfaction of much deeper urges in their minds?
In a couple of my previous posts (Link 1 and Link 2) I had suggested that hoarding money beyond ones ability to spend it was irrational as it offered no real objective benefits to the hoarder. But what if hoarding money was about depriving others of resources, security and happiness rather than improving your own existence. Furthermore, what if the behavior of the rich is merely an exaggeration of how most humans relate to each other.
Have you considered the possibility that the primary intention behind almost all “normal” human interpersonal interaction is to somehow con, swindle, abuse, hurt, maim or kill the other party?
In upcoming parts of this series, of which there will be many, I shall demonstrate how my model of the human mind is a far better fit for available evidence on human behavior in a variety of situations.
What do you think? Comments?