Essay: Technology

By
Prof isaac galistein

Technology is good but we don’t understand it. We need a philosophy of tech, taking into account its psycho-socio-political implications. Tech made us human, in that it required an opposable thumb for manipulation, also freeing our forelimbs for erect walking. But I think its effect was deeper than this.

evolution of mind

Tech required us to concentrate on the task in hand, freeing us from instinctual drives. This required a repository for thoughts not of relevance. Hence, could tech have caused the split between conscious and unconscious mind? If so, then a specifically shortsighted conscious would have been the result, with the possibility that the more information we have, the smaller and more individualistic our conscious becomes.
History bears out this possibility, with moves against spirituality and community as tech information increased. If this process continues, the time could come when tech shrinks our mind so much that we are no longer human.
We can see this in moral behaviour. We seem to be far more benevolent to each other nowadays, but could this only be because tech provides services and order which cancel out our need to survive? It could be that we have simply sidelined morality instead of being moral.

info-tech

Modern info-tech holds problems. Information and surveillance has now come to the point that the private is disappearing. As this trend continues, we are increasingly monitored, and this is allowing authority unprecedented control over us. Tech is taking away our freedoms.
It is also taking away our ability to think. Computer tech is rigid, with tasks now following strict patterns taking away our ability to use our initiative. This is transferring to society, where rules are becoming increasingly fundamental. We are becoming cogs in a social machine. Forget The Terminator. The machine world is already here, and it’s subtle!
All these problems can be overcome if we realize that they exist. Do so and tech can be what it should be. Our servant, and not our master.

Essay: Individuality

by
guru tony

Who is you. I say this as opposed to ‘who are you’ because as a personality it may not be down to you. It is all to do with what an ‘individual’ is and is not.
The idea of individuality is quite recent for most of us. It is most likely a spin-off of social evolutionary processes. It requires the time to think that you ARE individual. Hence, it will arise at such time that you are no longer preoccupied with survival.

history

In this sense it came down the classes. The old God-Kings can be said to be first to not have to worry about survival, so were the first to appreciate their individuality. As technology advanced, so, too, the numbers able to be individuals, descending down the aristocracy, the middleclass, and finally the working class.
Of course, in a mass consumer society this is important. You need to express yourself individually to be a good consumer. Indeed, throughout history trade has occurred to expand the numbers of individuals. In this sense, individuality is a consumer device.

concept

This does, of course, suggest that individuality is a concept rather than an absolute. We don’t like to think in this way, but it could be true. We’re back to what is ‘you’? Well, ‘you’ is shaped by many things outside of you.
Ancestry, culture, environment and society all shape who you are. Then there are instinctual drives. Now, we’re said not to be controlled by these any more. We’re no longer just animals. But is this really the case, or have such drives merely adapted to our evolving species?

emotion

We all express emotions of various kinds, but whilst the reason for such expression may be personal, the emotion itself is universal throughout the species. Jung identified universal archetypal character types which we all express. So these, too, seem to be of the species.
As I see it, individuality is really an amalgam of outside influences, shaped into ‘you’ by your experiences, certainly, but a cauldron of outside impulses nonetheless.
Don’t get me wrong. Individuality is good, but maybe not as absolute as we think. We should bear this in mind when we say individuality is everything. It may give us a new understanding of community and togetherness.

Essay: Racism

by
philip osophy

Racism is one of the most difficult subjects you can write about. What lies at the heart of racism? Is there ever a single cause? Can it be understood rationally? And if so, is there an answer to it?
The first obvious impulse that could lie behind it is a sense of differentness. A minority race can look, or act, differently to the majority, and this can lead to non-understanding, and in non-understanding we find fear.

normality

A majority is what is seen as ‘normal’. Anything that does not seem to fit this ideal will cause an impulse towards marginalization. As well as showing what is ‘wrong’ with such a minority, this also confirms what is ‘right’ about the majority. In this way, concepts such as good and evil are born.
This leads to racism as an intellectual pursuit. First seen in various religious theologies, such intellectual racism was given a boost by evolution theory. This allowed a different race to be seen as being of a lesser evolutionary stage than a majority. The science and discipline of eugenics was born from such an ideal.

intelligence

A predominant culture can add to the problem. Intelligence is more than your ability to be wise. It is also an ability to relate to your culture in a way that can be seen as intelligent. People not of a predominant culture cannot relate in the same way, so can be incorrectly seen as intellectually inferior.
As such, if a society has a predominant idea about itself, it cannot be anything other than racist. However, this is a form of racism based not on hatred, but simply the way humanity works.

multi-culturalism

Some see the answer in diluting culture. Known as multi-culturalism, it subverts a predominant culture. This is a bad idea. It is contrary to free speech, and it takes away any hope of shared values. The result is a cauldron of multiple racial hatreds.
The answer, I’m sure, is to work towards an over-culture with shared values. This MUST include meaning identified by the predominant race, but taking into account differentness by including a spirit of compromise, toleration, moderation and manners.

pogroms

At times these natural differences can boil over. A classic case is poverty. At such times, natural differences become extreme, and it is here that a pernicious hatred arises which can lead to pogroms, even genocide.
It begins with an ideal based on bigotry. An extreme form of politics will arise, and at the heart of it will be a form of scapegoating. The society is actually crumbling because of faults in the majority culture, but those faults will be placed on a minority. After all, an angry society never blames itself.

psychology

A concept arises that can best be called ‘psychological distancing’. It takes intuited differences and makes them fundamental. Assisted by extreme intellectual racism, the scapegoated minority becomes sub-human. In being sub-human, this removes moral restraint, and atrocity becomes ‘acceptable’.
Transference has then occurred. By this, I mean all the angst and failures of a predominant culture become symbolized in a stereotypical minority form. A minority no longer consists of people, but is a concept which must be eradicated.
Of course, this is just a quick look at racism. In it, I’ve tried to show there are degrees. At the lowest level, it is a natural condition, and no amount of denial will change it. Accept it and we may learn how to live with it. Then, at the extreme, we have the stuff of nightmares. Yet I think the best way to understand this form of racism is as a form of social virus. Maybe if we thought of it as an illness, we can work on a cure.

Essay: Unity

by
Polly Ticks

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if the world sang from a single tune? Actually, no. It would be horrendous. This may be the dream of Globalization, with world peace fuelled by a corporate world of sameness, but it could well hold the seed of our extinction.
Globalization is built upon mono-culture, where everything has to be big, and the same the world over. Global brands reinforce this growing attitude.
But the immediate upshot of this is that localized economies and culture are shattered. This makes Third World countries dependent on Big Biz, and leaves their people without meaning or direction. Is there any wonder so many of these countries are failing?

SAMENESS

It gets worse than this. From languages to religions, cars to wheat, a plethora of choice is changing to a few standard models. Wheat shows the problem starkly. With an infinite variety, infection cannot wipe out the lot. Have a few standard models and the infection becomes greater, threatening the very existence of wheat. This same process works throughout Globalization.
Trading by large countries has always caused problems for weaker ones under their influence. This has invariably led to small, localized wars, which, whilst horrendous, are manageable in global terms. Increase the influence and we get a bloc mentality and face global stand-offs such as the Cold War, or irritate peoples to the point that it fuels global terrorism.
The infection spreads far and wide – and the dangers multiply accordingly. The reality is we have failed to learn from nature and evolution, which survives through absolute diversity. That which can be done is, and everything thrives, with problems isolated.

ANTI-EVOLUTION

Globalisation and the idea of unity through trade is anti-evolutionary. True unity can only come through following the principles of nature and seeking balance through diversity – by finding meaning in our localized way, yet understanding our common humanity.
I’m a Yorkshireman and proud of it. Yet I’m also happy to be British, and understand I’m also part of the global family called humanity. My difference enriches the world more than a global McCulture could ever do.

Essay: Victims

by
guru Tony

We are said to live in a victim culture but what is a victim, and why has it become so important? Life is full of adversity – some of our own making, some not. This produces casualties, but these are not victims. Victimhood comes from self-indulgence upon your problems. Hence, 50% of victimhood is self-made.
Such adversity should fuel the person to rise above it, thus being the making of you. We should thrive through adversity, so why is this not the case for so many today? One reason is that life is no longer about survival. We have time on our hands to think too much about our place. This led, correctly, to the idea of human rights, but also to the idea that life is not fair. This is very true, but a pointless attitude.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

However, what we are is usually dependent upon the system and culture to which we belong. Predominant here is political correctness and the idea that minority groups are victims to the majority. Again, this is quite true and it is right that such groups achieve equality. But the system did not leave it here.
As super-capitalism arose, it was realized that political correctness destroyed meaning in an over-culture. Meanings such as tradition used to ease feelings of alienation and offered direction, but there was no profit in this. But if tradition could be destroyed, then meaning could be transferred to the personal and self-satiation. And what better way to achieve this than the owning of luxury consumer goods?

PERFECTION

But even this was not enough. Soon the idea of consumer perfection arose, with a celebrity culture goading you on to be even more perfect in terms of clothes, accessories, looks and lifestyle.
But the reality is, perfection is an unachieveable goal. Thus the feeling of victimhood is intensified, with your only course the continuing vicious circle of consumerism in the vain hope that you may achieve and no longer be an alienated victim. In the victim culture, super-capitalism has captured the human psyche.

Essay: Freedom

by
polly ticks

We always need rules to guide how our freedom and excellence is expressed. For instance, you have the freedom to excel in, say, football or as a violinist, but it can only be expressed within the confines of a team or orchestra.
What we think of as freedom is actually a balance between freedom and unfreedom. Lose the balance and we have totalitarianism or anarchy, the latter still ending up as licence for the strong to dominate the weak.

individuality

Individuality can be counter to freedom. It makes you answer only to the culture to which you belong, which is inevitably guided by the powers-that-be. Important to this process at the moment is the degrading of family. Traditionally, family is the defensive line between the person and the powers, so ‘individuals’ do the job of the powers for them.
Such power in society forms naturally. Indeed, it often feels like a conspiracy is going on. This is not the case – but the powers need such scares so as to make detractors seem crazy.

totalitarianism

Of course, you seem to have freedom, but totalitarianism isn’t total. As long as you toe the line of the ideology they leave you alone. Hence you can be anything you want to be as long as you have a mortgage, fat pension plan, love shopping, wear designer clothes, buy a new car every year and holiday often.

Essay: Media

By
Pappa Razzi

We all watch it, read it, sometimes even breath it. It informs, entertains, moulds, advises, sells, even befriends us. I’m talking about the media. But just how does it work, and what effect does it really have on us?

SIGNS

Semiotics may be useful here. This is the science of ‘signs’ – things that inform us, such as a road sign. A cloud can be a sign of rain. But they react strangely. A label showing soup on a tin can make us salivate – a bodily action due to an assumption, not the food itself.
Drama provides oodles of signs. And it is a peculiarity of storytelling that the bad guy is always more interesting than the good. But whilst there is no direct link between TV and violence, could constant repetition of the sign have a more subtle effect?

SOAPS are not good

SOAPs are particularly interesting. Daily media has been used in the past to ‘condition’ social behaviour. This is evident in the Christian year, linking daily activity to Christ’s life through the Bible. Although a different culture, in a sociological sense, SOAPs carry out the same function. Behaviour and drama may be more closely linked than we realize.

HOPES

This process is increased by media motivation. Today’s media barons have a mania for ratings. Hence, in all forms of media, the idea is to grab your attention. This is done by the use of sensationalism. We are being taught extreme behaviour.
Modern media also promises affluence. This is good for mass consumerism, but bad for tradition, where morals such as thrift and duty reside. Affluence is easier, we are told, so why stick with boring tradition? So media takes away the impulses that could place a brake on our desires to consume. How fortunate for Big Biz.

EMOTION is the key

Emotion is important to modern media. You see it particularly in the news. News should be cold and simply tell the facts. Now we see victims all the time, stirring up the emotions. This prompts an immediate response, but without reasoning. Hence, when the emotion passes, so does our desire to do something about it. Emotion stops us thinking.
Opinion polls work at the emotional level. Media will do them at the height of a social emotional outburst. This pushes our responses towards the extreme. Then the media publishes the results and governments are forced to act. This is media manipulation of us in order to induce government policy that Big Biz likes. Direct democracy stinks.

UN-INFORMED

Media also keeps us uninformed. This might seem strange in an information age. However, media is dependent on advertising. Advertisers won’t advertise in media that does not support the Big Biz system. Hence, issues that disagree are not covered by main media. Media naturally marginalizes ideas counter to mass-consumerism.

CELEBRITIES

Celebrities are essential to media. They live the ultimate dream of affluence. In other words, they are ‘perfect’. This is another old device. Saints used to be perfect. But the point is, perfection is unattainable. It used to condemn people to be sinners. Now it condemns us to angst, satisfied by retail therapy.

CONTROL

Media is moving into new forms of control. This is achieved by the way you can now use technology to provide exactly the media you want to watch. At first, this appears empowering. But in reality it traps you in an individualistic world of your own making. There is just you and the media. Nothing else. You’ve been alienated from all other influence.
Media has removed the dividing line between fact and fiction. This is seen particularly in 24 hour news. What really happens is not defined until after an event. So in providing ‘news’ as it happens, you’re really dealing in gossip. We’re all conditioned now.
Orwell would be so proud. Or not.

Essay: Law

by
philip osophy

Law is in a mess. It has become too complicated, and a law that is too complicated for people to easily understand is a bad law. This is my attempt to go back to basics and devise a more acceptable law and constitution.

CONSTITUTION

THE STATE is an entity subject to this law and shall own all property except where Contract says otherwise, and consisting of the People, for whom the following bodies exist:

THE LEGISLATURE (where representatives will debate and vote on new laws unhindered by association and elected under one person one vote by the people);

THE EXECUTIVE (which shall be appointed by the legislature to collect a fair tax to administer the State);

THE JUDICIARY (which shall be appointed by the legislature to oversee, advise and pass sentence over offences of Criminal Law and arbitrate over affairs of Civil Law);

and HEAD OF STATE, chosen by the People (UK excepted) and having ceremonial duties alone except the sole power to dismiss the legislature (after a period of two years and call an election) and appointees of judiciary and executive.

THE FAMILY is defined as those of same blood, or those attached by family based contract, or given by the People, and the State shall have no jurisdiction over this entity unless criminal or civil law has been broken.

THE PERSON is a member of the State, born to or fathered by or granted membership by the People, and all persons of the State shall be known as the People and are subject to this law and, if 18 or over, shall pay a fair tax if in employment as decided by the legislature, represent the People when called to decide innocence or guilt in breaches of criminal law, and have a duty to defend the State from foreign aggression.

THE STATE has the following duties to the Person: to provide or sanction education; health and social care (if requested); energy, water, transport and communications infrastructure; police and defence forces; and fair financial assistance in retirement and in case of illness or unemployment.
The State must also guarantee for the Person freedom of movement, association (except in the legislature), speech, religion and sexual choice, and shall have no power over the Person except as detailed in this law, unless the Person is sentenced for offences against Criminal Law or is of unsound mind, or awaiting judgement thereof. A foreign national within the State comes within the Law below.

THE LAW

CRIMINAL – It is an offence against the people to conspire to, or take, damage or coerce property or a human life, or restrict freedom of movement, association, speech, religion or sexual choice of the latter, unless involved in fighting offences above, or except as agreed by contract or of unsound mind.

A CONTRACT is an agreement between two or more people or parties to honour the conditions thereon, provided it is made freely and openly, and in obeyance to criminal law, and cannot be broken other than as stated in the conditions of the contract.

THE PERSON can be deemed injured in law if another person or party has caused negligent damage of property or person, or has said or written untruths about the person, or has broken a contract; and can seek redress before the people.

LEGISLATION

All legislation following from the above shall be in the same spirit of brevity and simplicity as the above.

Essay: Bureaucracy

By
polly ticks

I’m disgusted with the ‘efficiency’ of most modern bureaucracies. The more efficient and centralized they are, the more they fail to deliver to the local. Administration should be geared to back up the frontline, not dictate to them.

efficiency

Efficiency is actually about making a system run smoothly, which usually means it isn’t people-centred. The inevitable result is a disenfranchised population.
Efficiency is also about running to its optimum, most cost effective way. Nowadays this makes it machine-like and doesn’t cater for the unexpected. This is why systems so easily overload today. The ‘efficient’ is actually inefficient.

ideology

One major problem here is that a bureaucracy caters for an ideology alone. It may not seem to be the case, but a totalitarian system is not total, and never has been. If it was, a totalitarian system could not operate at all. As long as you don’t question the ideology, dictators usually leave you alone.
Today’s bureaucracies are edging towards totalitarianism as they are geared purely for globalised consumerism. Think different and you are so easily marginalized.

single system

Such totalitarianism will always appear when the bureaucracy is geared to a single system, for whilst such a system needs a fanatical centre, it grows and survives because of the little people in bureaucracies. They naturally slide into propping up the system.

time to serve

This is why a totalitarian system can take over a country so easily.
If you think it isn’t happening today, just note the speed and totality of the political correctness brigade, trashing everything traditional, just as globalised consumerism requires. A true bureaucracy should always be as small as possible, non-ideological, and there to serve the people through a myriad of organizations of every type. But instead, today’s bureaucracies have perfected subtle totalitarianism with the onward march of little dictators in jack-slippers.

Essay: Cults

by
guru tony

Cults are thought of as on the fringe of society. Whilst this may be true, I think they hold importance to understanding society. This is because I am convinced they highlight the extreme end of the spectrum of normal social interaction.
A definition of a ‘cult’ is vague. I class it as a small grouping of people who follow a ‘guru’. As the cult grows, it can become an ‘alternative’ religion. And if it really takes off, it can enter the area of world religions.

WHO JOINS?

Who joins a cult? It is easy to say they are not very bright, and maybe from deprived backgrounds. Evidence says this is not so. Rather, the average cult member is intelligent and middleclass. The defining point is that they seem to have seen searching for meaning – a meaning a guru has provided.
Are cult members ‘brainwashed’? No such thing. A process of sleep deprivation and bombardment with Scripture CAN reinforce the disciple’s beliefs, but, bearing in mind the point above, evidence suggests they really do want to be there.

THE GURU

The central element of the ‘success’ of a cult is the guru himself. He invariably has a charisma that is almost hypnotic in nature. Part of this is based on his absolute belief in his ‘rightness’, but equally it is a product of his life path.
Gurus tend to have an identical life path. Growing up in some form of adversity, they don’t seem to fit, and they begin to question the world. This leads to a form of mental breakdown, which they interpret as a spiritual experience. They exit this period of life convinced they have a spiritual truth and authority.
This makes the guru charismatic. But more than this, his theology places him at the centre of devotion. In essence, he is ‘god-like’, and thus he is absolute law, with absolute power.

WHEN CULTS GO WRONG

It is through this process that a cult can begin to go wrong. Power corrupts. And it is through this process that genuine ‘goodness’ can turn into a perverted totalitarianism.
The cultish system becomes a vicious circle, with disciples increasingly requiring meaning, and the guru increasingly needing the adoration. In this way, the process becomes, in a sense, ‘vampiric’ with each and every member insatiably feeding their soul.
This process increases self-esteem all round. But self-esteem is really a need for validation, born from a person with distinct insecurities. And so, too, with the ‘system’ of the cult. In this way, it becomes increasingly paranoid, unable to take criticisms and want to explode in the occasional violence.
Most cults do not get to the above extreme stage. But those that do have become dangerous. It drives them to become more and more insular, taking themselves more and more out of the world. The cult becomes all.

ARMAGEDDON FACTOR

Holding inherent insecurities, as noted above, if the cult is then overly challenged, the search for meaning can turn in on themselves. The cult can require itself to prove itself through ultimate sacrifice. The cult has become mass-suicidal. And we are all aware of what that means.
There are thousands of cults in the world, and although it can be painful for families of members, the reality is, most are innocuous and do good work. But in the above, I have tried to highlight the processes involved, and how, in the extreme, they can become highly dangerous.