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Aug 25, 2011           

                   Crisis: On some of the roots of the crisis

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   ' If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago. The theory is plain enough; but they are prone to mischief, "to every good work reprobate." '
   -- Hazlitt

Having considered professor Rudolph Rummel's site about democide and genocide yesterday, I today turn to some definitions and descriptions that may explain some of what Rummel reports and describes, and some of the economical and social crisis we live in, namely some defitions from my Philosophical Dictionary, of how I prefer to use the following terms in many contexts:

Society: A society is a cooperation of persons and groups of persons to occupy some territory and to practice agreed upon common ends in organized ways, that maintains itself against outsiders, and differentiates between outsiders and insiders.

Here I am talking about human societies, and try to avoid what's not essential, logically speaking. In the same vein:

All sub-societies of a society are basically face-groups, and are organized as basic hierarchical theatre-companies, with the members as players of parts, which they have to learn, and are socially rewarded for playing properly, and socially punished for playing improperly.

Face-groups are groups the members of which know each other personally and interact personally.

A basic hierarchy consists of the leadership of the group, the executives of the leadership (see: Bureaucracy), and the members of the group.

A social part or role is like a role in a theatre-play, in that it requires the performance of certain definite kinds of acts in certain conditions, often called work, in cooperation with the other players of the group, and possibly outsiders.

A social reward is a socially organized group of commodities or title to such that is given to players for properly playing their parts. When compared to theatre-companies, it is the share in the takes of the group that the player receives.

A social punishment is a socially organized enforcement of the doing of something not valued that is given to players for not properly fulfilling some social duty.

A social duty is a socially organized and prescribed role, with its criterions for correct performance, that players that are given the role are supposed to perform or enact.

A social ideology is a set of ideas about what reality is (metaphysics) and ideals about what reality and human beings should be like (ethics). Most societies and most groups are based on some ideology or religion, that provide its members with shared ends, ideas, values and preconceptions, and thus allow or enable them to cooperate.

A social world is a set of socially shared ideas, values, ends, agreements and practices, that usually includes a code of rights and duties, that is adopted by some group as a social ideology, and as a combined system of commonsensical ideas, and ideals members in a group share.

These are all definitions that are meant to clarify a number of elementary points and concepts about society and the playing of roles that are often left obscure. They can be considerably extended and formalized.

One important point to notice is that "society" is an abstract, theoretical term and that such society as men and women know is that of face-groups and of family and friends: Society itself is a collection of many such face-groups, just as any organisation or institution is a set of such face-groups.

Group in society: Human society is composed of groups i.e. collections of people that know each other personally, and that play roles in that society.

Indeed, "society" is an abstract, theoretical term, and such society as humans know in their own experience is made up of face-groups.

Most of what people believe they know about 'society' is propaganda or wishful thinking, and generally uninformed. Few people realize that, if they are 75 years old, there are - in the 21st Century - some 3 times more human beings in the world than seconds in their lives, namely 2,365,200,000 at age 75.

Also, it is noteworthy that there is little human awareness about their own mammalian and apish nature, although there is both amusing and bitter evidence about this gathered by e.g. Stanley Milgram and Desmond Morris. Some relevant points are

Groupthinking: The kind of thinking, feeling, valueing and desiring that keeps human social groups together.

Much of the thinking that goes into groupthinking is totalitarian in principle, and is made up of principles based on wishful thinking of the following kind:

Usually the members of groups are hardly aware that their membership is to a large extent emotionally and intellectually based on principles such as the above, even though it is very easy to see these principles at work in the mental make-up or the behavior of members of other groups - political parties, religious organizations, soccer supporters, but also firms, schools, universities etc., for one way the human animal is social is by actively belonging to groups and by supporting the ideas, ideals, morals and practices that constitute, regulate or support these groups.

Also, it is noteworthy that the above principles involved in most group-thinking are relatively innocuous, and that most groups also practice such principles as

  • Whoever does not belong to Our Group is less good (perfect, humane, religiously or racially proper) than whoever does
  • Whoever opposes Our Group, Our Leaders, Our Ideologyor Our Faith is, therefore and thereby, morally or humanly or intellectually inferior
  • Whoever does not conform to the practices and principles current in Our Group is immoral or insane

Most groupthinking involves prejudice of all kinds, and the best excuse for this seems to be that, since human beings are social animals, there is an instinctual motivation to wish to belong to and to support a human group.

On ordinay men: Here are some human all too human weaknesses that - especially but not only - ordinary men easily fall prone to

  • For ordinary men
    • most everything is pretension, make-believe or wishful thinking
    • most everything ought to happen in and for groups
    • everybody ought to be a conformist to one's group
    • there are no personal morals or ethics
    • there are no responsibilities or accountabilities except to leader
    • make-believe aka pretension = reality (except in exceptional cases)
    • things are as they think they are because they believe so: they know (or at least the leaders know)                        
  • Ordinary men  
    • engage mostly in wishful thinking (so as to keep themselves "happy")
    • are ruled by bias and prejudice
    • do not know real science, logic, mathematics or philosophy
    • do not do unto others as one would not be done by only within one's group
    • are role-players who play by wishful thinking, make-believe - "The quality or act of pretending; assuming something is true when in fact one knows it is not" (wiki dictionary) - and pretension who normally do not step out of their roles out of self-interest and because of group-sanctions
    • are collaborators: They mostly do as they are told by leaders
    • are followers, of fashions and leaders of all kinds, usually because it is the fashion and they are conformists
    • are levellers: The only one who excel are the leaders of the group and what the media display as excellent
    • believe truth coincides with their interests and prejudices, especially as regards things that involve their or their groups' supposed interests
    • personalize or animate everything: all manner of abstractions - nations, corporations, groups, the people - are supposed to will and feel
    • do not reason in terms of quantified terms: Terms like "Some", "most" are carefully avoided often to infer all from some without mentioning either: ("Women are emotional", "Germans are no good")
    • cannot reason abstractly on any high level
    • make all manners of fallacies esp. of generalization, ambiguity and begging the question
    • are not independent individuals with their own ideas and values intentionally gathererd by their own life's practice
One result, supplementing Rummel's statistics, is this:

"I fear we live in a world in which war and racism are ubiquitous, in which the powers of government mobilization and legitimization are powerful and increasing, in which a sense of personal responsibility is increasingly attenuated by specialization and bureaucratization, and in which peer-group exerts tremendous pressures on behavior and sets moral norms. In such a world, I fear, modern governments that wish to commit mass murder will seldom fail in their efforts for being unable to induce "ordinary men" to become their "willing executioners." " (Christopher R. Browning, "Ordinary men", p. 222-3)

So these are, by implication, some reasons why solving the present crisis will be hard, and some definitions, principles and ideas to help explain it.

For more context and some ideas that may help solve some social problems:

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P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of M.D.s Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5.   Eleanor Stein Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)
6.  William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7.  Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8.  Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.

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