Sometimes a song says so much about the singer’s view of her personal life. I can bet you that the current reconciliation between her and Chris Brown is neither her first nor her last.
The idea I am about to propose is not fundamentally a new one and many people including myself have previously written about the issues involved, but mostly in a peripheral manner. However few writers, if any, have dared to point the central issue- largely because it is so unpleasant to admit.
Have you ever considered the possibility that post-WW2 “civilized” western societies are actually sociopathic systems masquerading as just and benevolent entities?
Note that I said ‘sociopathic’ not ‘cruel’, ‘barbaric’, ‘unjust’ or ‘unequal’. The reasons behind my choice of that particular word will be clearer as you read this post.
Human history shows us that societies, civilizations and “nations” which are deeply fucked up, sadistic, barbaric, repressive and otherwise overtly repulsive are rather common. They however differed from contemporary post-WW2 western societies in one fundamental way.
They did not pretend to be just, fair, nice, decent or caring!
One could argue that west-European societies, especially anglo-saxon ones, did exhibit the beginnings of sociopathy as early as the mid-1800s. However even at the height of their pre-WW2 hypocrisy it was common knowledge to even the most illiterate villager in any given colony that west-Europeans were greedy human scum.
But WW1 and then WW2 changed things.. A combination of technological developments and the aftereffects of these wars made it clear to everyone with more than half a brain that the old ways were unworkable. It is no coincidence that the modern model of a supposedly caring and benevolent state which provided for its “own people” came into being after WW2 and under the threat of communism. But old ways of perceiving the world die hard. The supposedly caring, just and benevolent society was a mask for the ugly human mind underneath it. A lot of the hostility, savagery and repressiveness got sublimated into general society giving us the dystopia we live in today.
Though modern western societies frequently proclaim that they are good, just, fair and decent institutions- it is now becoming obvious to many that they are not what they fervently claim to be. And that is my point- They have become systems that try to rule via polished deception, scams, fraud and propaganda. This hallmark of sociopathy is especially obvious When you look at how they treat individuals who trust them and work for them.
Consider the following..
1. “Law and Order” is supposed to protect the rule-abiding citizen from criminals. How does that work in practice? Most of the people currently in jail or probation are small time crooks or unfortunate people. How often do you see supremely corrupt people caught, let alone prosecuted or jailed?
But isn’t it supposed to protect you from thugs who want to steal your stuff or harm you? Isn’t that all of main-stream media keeps on telling you? Isn’t that what society keeps on telling you even when it is clearly not the case. Contrast this to old monarchies or dictatorships which seldom tried to hide the real reason behind ‘law and order’ which has always been repression and assisting the rent seekers.
2. Consider banks and other financial institutions. Modern western societies portray them to as fair, “legal” and objective handlers of money. But is that true? Aren’t they just officially sanctioned oligopolies who lend money they don’t have to collect money obtained through real work? And what is with nickel and dimming their customers and trying to screw them over with ‘gotcha’ clauses. Then there is the issue of differential conditions for lending whereby a well-connected conman can get and default on millions or billions while they chase some guys who took a student loan for a four year degree from some state university.
But western societies portrays their banks as well-meaning, decent and law abiding- even when the converse is true. Society will cover all loses incurred by banks who conned everybody else while treating the average citizens as indentured laborers who were trying to con the banks.
3. Have a look at the medical systems, private or public, in western countries. Why are they so inefficient and expensive? Why doesn’t increasing expenditure improve outcomes and patient sanctification? Some of you might think of doctors as poor souls doing a thankless job for moderate wages. But is that true? Isn’t the medical profession really about making ever-increasing amounts of money from sick and dying people regardless of the outcomes? You might have noticed that western doctors don’t like less expensive competition. Is it about protecting the patient or their income stream? Are they really so good and the others really so bad?
But everywhere you look physicians are glorified by society as selfless heroes who will move heaven and earth to help their patients. How can societies act as if plainly observable reality is false?
4. Society portrays corporations as job creators, but who really creates jobs? Doesn’t demand for a product or service by consumers who happen to have money create jobs? But contemporary western society seems to forget that and portrays people who spend as stupid and impulsive while glorifying those who “save” money thereby removing it from public circulation. Who will buy stuff or services if everybody saves lots of money? and where are the jobs to redistribute that money come from, especially in our era of outsourcing and automation?
While some of the more socialistic countries are more restrained in their praise and adulation of corporations, there is no mistaking the general attitude of western societies towards them, which can be summed up as- corporations are almost always right unlike the median citizen.
5. The educational system in western countries is another class of protected holy cows who can do no wrong. But does the current educational setup facilitate any learning- other than teaching students how to kiss ass and follow the herd? Now that may be the real reason behind their existence, but why are those in the system and society so unwilling to call them out on the con? How can the majority of people go on blathering about improving our schools and universities when their very existence is the real problem?
You can look at the few examples I have given above in isolation and see them as individual problems. But is that really the case? Aren’t they the small-scale outcomes of a larger phenomena- namely that modern western societies have become slick, unscrupulous and dishonest systems who constantly and loudly preach something while setting up things to generally do the opposite of what is advertised?
Isn’t the relationship of contemporary western societies with citizens functionally identical to the one between a sociopath and his/her victim.
What do you think? Comments?
These links are NSFW.
Smartphone Self-Shots: Feb 26, 2012 – iPhone is still the leader, though a very significant number look like Androids.
More Smartphone Self-Shots: Feb 26, 2012 – and the bathroom mirror is still the most common location.
One of the more popular responses to younger people complaining about the lack of decent job opportunities goes something like this-
“You should have gone into some trade or taken some vocational training.There are lots of well-paying blue-collar jobs that kids like you don’t want to do because you think they are beneath you.. yadayada.”
Another related one goes something like this-
“You should have done a major in some STEM discipline rather than some liberal pinko commie artsy subject. Look at those hard-working Asians.. yadayada “
These points, or some variation therefof are the staple responses of old farts, baby boomers and disturbingly enough some of the older gen-Xers (born before 1970). In my opinion, both types of responses are based in some combination of cognitive dissonance, lies, bullshit and wishful thinking. Here is why..
Let us look at the viability of entering vocational training, trades and similar blue-collar jobs. While some jobs in those areas still pay well, there are some serious issues with recommending them to everybody.
1a. More entrants into any of these vocations will depress wages. You must be aware that jobs related to building houses, meat-packing and even agriculture once paid OK wages. But is that still true? Could it be that an influx of Mexicans and immigrants in these occupations have depressed wages? Would more people entering these vocations not have a similar effect on wages?
1b. Technological changes can quickly render entire vocations utterly worthless. Even simple technological changes and innovations can reduce the demand for occupations or make them redundant. How often do you have to fix newer cars as compared to those built-in the 1970s? Do we still set newspaper type by playing around with hot lead and molds? How many people want to repair their computers nowadays as compared to even 10 years ago?
1c. Then there is the tricky question of how people and businesses can pay for more well-paid tradesmen when the amount of money in general circulation is shrinking. It is kinda hard to pay more people better wages when your own incomes are going down and the economy is shrinking.
1d. What about pensions, disability and money after retirement? As many of you know, tradesmen-type jobs become much harder to do after a certain age as they are physical- unlike desk jobs. Given that the income stream for most tradesmen is not constant how do you intend to provide for these people after they can no longer work in their occupations?
Now let us talk about STEM jobs..
2a. Most STEM jobs require aptitude and a significant investment in university education, typically 5 years or more. However the majority of them pay less than 70-80k/ year (typically 50-70k/ year). Today many of the people entering these fields have large student loans. Combine that with poor job security and difficulty in getting another job in the same general area. Is it still a good deal?
2b. Outsourcing, and H1B-type “insourcing”, is huge in STEM areas. What are going to do if the Harvard educated sociopaths who run your company decide to replace you with someone in (or from) China and India? Face it- they don’t care about the long-term or even the medium-term. It is all about the next four quarters and they don’t care about the quality of your replacement as long as he or she does not cause a large problem within one year (four quarters).
2c. An even worse situation occurs if they simply outsource the entire facility to China or India- as is increasingly the case. Remember they don’t care about anything that won’t hurt their gerrymandered figures for the next 4 quarters. What are you gonna do with your investment in STEM education and a huge student debt?
2d. Have you noticed that employers want exact skill fits but are unwilling to even help with basic employee training? Let us say your STEM degree was in an area in demand 5 years ago. Is that still the case? Would you be hired to do something that was similar, but not a perfect match for the advertised job? What would occur if the business focus of your employer changed?
2e. Then there is the issue of age discrimination. By the time you have put in 5 or more years in University + a few years in the area you are already in your 30s. Even if you are very competent and productive, few STEM-heavy companies now want to hire employees past their mid 40s or early 50s. What are you going to do? It is unlikely that you will have tons of money saved aside after paying off your student loans and white picket fence lifestyle- never mind kids. Can you really retrain? and more importantly- would you do that after knowing how businesses operate in neo-liberal economies?
Do you NOW see the fallacy in suggesting vocational training and careers in STEM?
What do you think? Comments?
I found this one amusing enough to post.
Let me begin this post by saying that I did try to shorten the title. However it quickly became obvious to me that doing so would remove the core concept I was trying to get across. It goes something like this..
The real reasons behind the decline of the family, social congeniality and many related problems in the west have little do with the decline of “morality” in children or liberalism. These issues are, in reality, linked to the world view of their parents and grand parents.
As I have noted in a previous post, the relationship between parents and their children in white (north-European descent) countries is adversarial. One of the most obvious and revealing manifestation of this predominately white parental adversarialism can be seen in how parents from various cultures treat their own children and what they expect from them.
The vast majority of parents in most Asian, African and South American countries for all their other faults are remarkably similar in their approach to parenting. They care about relating to their kids and try very hard to make the lives of their kids better. Whether they can achieve that is open to debate- especially in the case of east-asian parents, but their heart is in the right place. Kids mean more to them than money, deprivation or personal inconvenience. They are willing to sacrifice for their kids on their own- rather than to avoid breaking laws and bylaws. I am not implying that non-white parents are incapable of abuse or cruelty towards their kids. It is just that they are much less likely to do so even if they are not being supervised.
In contrast- most white (north-european) parents see their own kids as adversaries, inconveniences, money pits and hindrances. I have often felt that white parents see their own children as a status enhancer and somebody to boss over, rather than as their offspring. I also believe this attitude arises from a fervent belief in CONservatism.
In most parts of the world parents who demanded rent or utility money from their young adult kids living with them would be considered insane. So would those who let their own kids indenture themselves to banks when they could readily afford to pay for their education or giving them a good start in life. In most part of the world, babysitting your grand-kids is considered a fundamental part of being a grandparent. I could, once again, give you more examples- but that the focus of this article.
Now there are morons who might say- “but will that translate into our kids caring for us when we grow old?” The answer is, by and large, YES! Sure, you can always find examples of children who will not reciprocate but the majority of kids in most societies (and throughout human history) do care for their older parents to a level that might astound those in western countries.
I believe that problems arising from adult children ditching their parents, or measuring all interactions with them in terms of money, in white (north-european) countries are really about payback.
CONservatives try to disguise their reprehensible world view with terms such as responsibility, independence, discipline, manners, hard work etc- but they are fooling nobody but themselves. It is plain to any outside observer that the relationship between parents and their own kids in white (north-european) countries is based on ego, exploitation, status, abuse and is more similar to the one between a master and slave, employer and employee or indentured laborer.
It worked for so long (150 odd years) because there was potential for growth, expansion and increased isolation in the real world. However the ponzi scheme has run out of an increasing supply of naive fools and the pyramid is starting to crumble onto itself.
what do you think? Comments?