Saturday, September 5, 2015

National Personhood


If we want to understand humankind, we must look to animals.   

Nation-states?      Look at an an anthill.


A "country" is just another an insect civilization with a collective mind, made up of zillions of tiny, individual, if vertebrate consciousnesses not so different from those of your wife or husband, boyfriend or girlfriend.      

 Look at them, doing their thing -- their happy ant-like thing,  day in day out, pretending they had some choice in the matter -- that they are "individuals", when in the end it is the collective will that matters, that winds them up.  

It's The Routine That Matters

It is is true that this analogy breaks down to the extent that ant societies are rather better organized than human ones. And ants don't have personalities. 

But the basic principle is the same.  A society is the sum total of all the  regimented  little minds that comprise it -- at least of a consensus of those minds at any given moment.  And countries are just expressions of societies.  

Collective Intelligence

So, when we think of nations, we must consider the Hive Mind. 

You Are Never Alone

Human beings, unlike ants, use personhood to quash internal contradictions and achieve unity of purpose -- and bigger hive, more complex hives -- which is why long after human beings have become instinct, there will still be ants and other eusocial insects.   

Let's take the UK as an example. 

It has a name, an identity -- a personality.  But from the get-go, there are contradictions.   


Caricatures like Uncle Sam and John Bull are memes that tell us about the national persona.  Uncle Sam is austere, uptight, and probably Christian.  John Bull is a drunk publican with a big ball sack.

John Bull Then
 OK... sounds right -- but.such memes are limited.   Times change.  And John Bull cannot appeal much to today's "generation", who prefer something sexier.    But you get the point.....

John Bull Now

At the risk of boring the shit out of you: let me repeat for the millionth time - we are social animals -- and everything is personal.
And "personal" is a delusion, a dream from which you will inevitably awaken. 

The Awakening

Returning to the UK, as a "national person", it must pretend  to values as you and I (mostly) do.  Which is why it is always talking about morals, in general terms, which really don't mean anything.  Yah-de-yah-de.   The drunken publican:  freedom, democracy, self-determination.  The UK uses these terms for, say, the Falkland Islands -- but not for Donbass and Chago -- of course. Yah-de, yah-de, yah-de.

A country has  no more  cognitive consistency than your mother-in-law (or YOU!) after a couple of pints.   When exactly do you ever hit the mark?  When was the last time that the UK did that?   Certainly not in Iraq or Afghanistan. Certainly, not in confronting economic problems.

To Hit the Mark You Have to See It
Of course, the UK is not unique in this respect.

Why are countries so often wrong?  Why do they always seem to miss the target?

The answer lies in a kind of cognitive dissonance. 

To understand this, we have to turn form a moment to the paradox of individual "mind" .

Your personality (as I have said before) – is just an interface – like the GUI of your multi-core computer.  We try to unify it with "themes" consisting of icons and boxes and the like -- operational simplifications, so we feel in control.

You Are a Gui

Then everything gets complicated!

Computers Suck

Yeah, I know -- we are NOT computers.  We are not silicon but flesh and blood.  Our world is not binary   -- rather it is a social universe – similar to a computer only in the need for background resolution of conflicting content -- the  parents and friends, teachers and a million others, with their endlessly diverse views inside us.   Add to that -- diverse inputs from the outside—new situations, new demands, new paradigms – change.  

Collective Inspiration?

As social animals, we evolved responding to new challenges --collectively, even when we think this response is individual.  Every genius relies on the work of other genius'. 

A bee or ant by itself cannot survive – nor can a human being.    Our individuality,  therefore depends on the noisy inner dissension of collectivity -- which ironically can also threaten identity.

Facebook is the popular medium of its time. Why?

Facebook. You are One. You are Many.

Back to Britain.....
Cool Britannia

 Returning to the UK  -- it pretends to be different.  Unique -- as in  fuck the French, who created modern Britain and even the English language by conquering Alfred in 1066.   We must always hate parts of ourselves.

Fuck the Norman Conquest

  Human beings are not logical.  Neither are countries.  

30 Years of Economic Progress

 So, why is surprising that for thirty years, the Brits have elected governments that work against the interests of most of the people -- against the Hive against parts of themselves.  And yet these governments are representative of the Hive Mind. Fuck the French, yes. But also fuck the "working class".     

Fuck Somebody

Take the current government --  David Cameron’s Tories, which is supported by an oligarchy of rich and powerful people, a small tribe, mostly from Oxbridge, disdainful of the hoi polloi. David Cameron's family made its money from slavery and forcing tenant farmers off the land to make way for sheep.   It's a tradition! Like pederasty and buggery.

David Cameron -- Everyman
Are the hoi oligoi in power just because they own the media and can brainwash the masses?   Because of artful PR and propaganda?

Who Owns What?

It might seem that way.  But, as I have argued before this is not really the case -- the power of the media and PR depends on the disposition of the popular mind, which is remarkably resistant to manipulation.  The media appeals to simple emotions and "facts"-- none of which make a difference unless the public to get off the couch to consider them.

The Tories represent tradition – an historic culture – going back centuries – embedded values and memes-- King Arthur, the Battle of Trafalgar (Fuck the French), Waterloo (Fuck the French again), Winston Churchill (Fuck the Germans) -- all the things that make it easier to stay on the couch and use the remote.  The Tories are the status quo.  So is the couch.   

Remember the Seven Deadly Sins?  Yup, sloth.

Every Brit Would Be Arthur
 Myth is  real power.  All  other tribes of the UK subscribe to some of the same values and memes –  driven by simple animal instincts --  first sloth -- convenience -- and then envy and greed.

Remember: Fuck the French
Oh yes, many wanted the UK to be David Cameron – rich, aristocratic, authoritarian, powerful.  Because they wanted to be David Cameron -- to have what he has -- endless money and the leisure to play at politics,while staring at tits.   The working class has always aspired to be the leisure class.  And besides -- fuck you France!  

PMs Do Tits
Add to this a simple lack of solidarity.  The tribes of Britain  do not get along any better, than the average Brit does with his (her)  mates.     Think also:  football clubs.

Debate in the UK

As we have said, the collective mind is full of contradictions.

For the last twenty or thirty years,  the tribes have voted for Tories, including Blair who turned Labour from a party of the people to a neoliberal party beholden to the rich, the man who Margaret Thatcher touted as her greatest accomplishment.

Blairism:  One for One, All for One

Ironically,  that was because the British people had demanded redistribution of wealth and power after WWII -- and achieved  some measure of it under "Old Labour".

Once Upon A Time:  Before

But once the working class conceived of itself as "middle class", greed and envy took over, solidarity disappeared and everyone wanted to be somebody with an Aston Martin, and license to kill.

But now the consequences are becoming plain.  Austerity.  Unemployment.  Debt-slavery.  A new police state.

Green: Eco-Friendly -- Not People-Friendly
So people see Thatcher and Blair and Cameron as what they really are (or were).  Rich and powerful,   assholes.  Probably French.

War Can Be Fun
Growing inequality puts paid to any dream of rising in society, of becoming better or measurably more affluent.  No, you won’t do better than your neighbor -- you are all fucked, you realize.  And things just keep on getting worse, with your kids facing an uncertain future.

The Future


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