Thursday, June 9, 2016

Micro or Macro Society

Where we live affects who we are and how we think.

Case 1:  Bigger is not necessarily better.  The larger the social context in which we live, the greater the risk of isolation and impersonal relationships. Large scale social institutions replace traditional community involvement, and they remove our personal investment in social efforts.  Things that used to be handled by neighbors or by a local committee are now relegated to some impersonal government office and program.

The larger the social context, the more we tend to be observers, untouched by the lives we see and by the things that happen.  We tend to spend our lives walking by on the other side of the street.

Mass society, mass media, mass market, massive mindlessness.
As the mass media ramps up, our personal involvement in the public forum is generally seen as of little value.  You can't really speak louder than the talking heads.  There's no venue where your voice matters much these days unless you're mega-wealthy.

Case 2:  The greater the social and economic inequality, the less voice most individuals will have in their own lives and country.  The problem is not being poor, although that is deadly enough.  The problem is having no voice or power to affect any change for yourself or your family.  Your children are in the forefront of your mind as the priceless treasure they are and for whom you cannot do anything no matter how hard or how long you work to make a difference.  That's the brutality of persistent inequality.

How hard can it be?
So among those things which disengage, demoralize, and demotivate a culture ... we find western norms. Mass media, mass programs, and massive economic inequality, all are common in post-industrial developed economies.

Normal life less than a century ago included deeply connected neighbors, communities, families, towns and villages ...  even states were cohesive and culturally distinguishable...

... but not so much anymore, and now we perhaps understand; that's why we fight being thoughtlessly conformed to the world.*

So how might we adjust our focus to improve our own thinking and for the good of others?

*It's a relatively controversial phenomenon called mass society.  Much useful conversation while the academics debate the processes.


Carl Jung stressed the importance of individual rights in a person's relation to the state and society. He saw that the state was treated as "a quasi-animate personality from whom everything is expected" but that this personality was "only camouflage for those individuals who know how to manipulate it",[a] and referred to the state as a form of slavery.[1][2][3][4]  He also thought that the state "swallowed up [people's] religious forces",[b] and therefore that the state had "taken the place of God" -- making it comparable to a religion in which "state slavery is a form of worship".[c]  Jung observed that "stage acts of [the] state" are comparable to religious displays: "Brass bands, flags, banners, parades and monster demonstrations are no different in principle from ecclesiastical processions, cannonades and fire to scare off demons".[d] From Jung's perspective, this replacement of God with the state in a mass society led to the dislocation of the religious drive and resulted in the same fanaticism of the church-states of the Dark Ages -- wherein the more the state is 'worshipped', the more freedom and morality are suppressed;[5] this ultimately leaves the individual psychically undeveloped with extreme feelings of marginalization.[6]

Was he right?