Re: rkm: The story of my quest for understanding

Bcc: FYI
yvonne ollivier wrote:

I thank you for your thoughts. I do not recall where I first stumbled

on your writing, but I am glad that I did. …
Nice to hear from you yvonne. Permit me to excerpt the rest of your remarks, and respond to a few key points you make. I especially like the perspective you’ve adopted regarding what to believe:

Then…what makes the most sense? Am I being steered to believe a particular story, to accept a specific view, and if so, why? … I keep in mind that liars can unwittingly reveal truths, generally mixed in lies, and honest people can be deluded or misinformed or simply incorrect in evaluations…so, it’s my own discernment I rely on, however good (or flawed) it may be. It improves as all questions are allowed. [emphasis added]

If only more people would have the courage to rely on their own discernment! Most limit their discernment to choosing a media channel to believe in. They are seduced by voices that appear to share their sentiments and values, and once hooked by that bait they open themselves to accepting concocted narratives as truth. They have hooked themselves up to a drip-feed that controls their beliefs, becoming in effect possessed zombies.
Here you make an important observation:

I do not see people as apathetic, but rather as having concluded, realistically in my opinion, that there is no hope for a culture based in freedom and co-operation.

One can interpret non-voting as apathy only if one believes that the political system works as advertised, that democracy is real. Engagement with the political process is a sign that one has been hoodwinked by political mythology.
You ask me about an issue that is apparently of central importance to you:

Have you ever pondered the problem of evil? … I have tried to comprehend it. If it could be understood, could it not also be rooted out of the mental and emotional equipment of human beings?

No, we cannot change human nature. Any attempt to try becomes in reality an exercise in brainwashing and mind control. Everyone experiences urges from time to time that could be seen as sociopathic, and if acted on might be interpreted as a manifestation of evil. At one point or another in life most of us experience the thought, “I’d sure like to kill that asshole!”. Mick Jagger illustrates our moral predicament very well in Paint it Black, “I see the girls go by dressed in their summer clothes; I have to close my eyes until the darkness goes”.
For me the important question is not what people are potentially capable of, as regards good and evil, but rather what kind of social behavior tends to manifest in different flavors of societies and cultures. I find hope in the fact that there have been many examples of stable cultures where harmony generally prevailed, and where ways had been found to routinely diffuse anti-social urges. We cannot change human nature, but we might be able to find ways to transform our cultures. In any such endeavor it is important that we be aware of what anthropology has to tell us about cultures that have embodied the virtues we admire.
thanks for sharing your thoughts,
Harvey Jones wrote [excerpted]:

Hi Richard.
Great to read your messages again and better understand your processes learned over some time.  I have a copy of your book and don’t believe I have taken the red or the blue pill.

Your last 4 points are interesting and remind me of the anonymous movement and its associated large mobilization of the populace in marches and demonstrations.  These were effectively shut down following the introduction of the anti-terror regulations after 9-11…

I believe you would be fully aware of the opposing forces which would resist any real opposition to the current status of control.  …  Control of the masses via the media has moved to a more refined method using social media platforms which can precisely target messages corresponding to recipient viewpoints.

Meanwhile, the general populace is entertained and confused with their local government fiascos as seen with Brexit in the UK and the president in the US who rules by tweet. …
Thanks Harvey for your thoughtful response. You are of course right that the establishment has many ways of opposing or neutralizing movements that challenge their hegemony over the public mind. However the movement I’m dreaming about does not present such a challenge, not until it has become very widespread. At the beginning it’s just about people learning how to work on community issues together. Only when lots of communities are on board, and they start communicating with one another, would the focus of the conversations naturally begin to move toward larger issues. At no stage would protests or demonstrations be involved, as they accomplish nothing.

The implicit movement strategy is to stay well below the radar until the movement is well entrenched. After that it would be hard to subvert, because it is based on face-to-face communication, where social media and mainstream media can’t directly interfere.
Your comment, ‘general populace is entertained and confused’, is an important one. The movement can’t begin until we find a way to get members of the distracted populace to sit down and talk with one another.
Jay Fenello wrote  [excerpted]:

I believe you are on the right path …

rkm: My theories of ‘the problem’ and ‘the solution’ have evolved by this process over the years … Eventually I reached the position that still dominates my thinking: the problem is hierarchy itself … We’ve lived under hierarchy ever since civilization began

By common definition, civilizations share 1) a hierarchical social structure, 2) a common belief system, and 3) a written language. … Note that all three are related.  If someone is able to capture the written language (through censorship or propaganda, for example), they can impact the common belief system, and impact the social order. … Comments welcome.

Nice to hear from you Jay. We agree on the main point, that civilizations have been characterized by hierarchy. And we seem even to agree on the radical notion that hierarchy itself is the problem we need to address.

As a minor unimportant side issue, I find the ‘common definition’ of civilizations to be absurd. It might have some relevance to a single society, a small homogeneous nation, but our civilization today is global, with many localized hierarchies, many different languages, and many different belief systems. Even in a large single society like the USA or China, one does not see all three qualities being shared by the whole population. 

Madeline Bruce wrote:

I agree with your conclusions.  My career & education has been largely about small group interaction – therapeutically.  The world authority on that is Irvin D. Yalom.  He wrote the Bible on that, currently in its 5th edition:  The Theory & practice of Group Psychotherapy.

Nice to hear from you Madeline. You jump right to the heart of the matter, that small-group process will be central to the envisioned transformational movement. I didn’t mention ‘small group’ in my posting because then I’d need to get into ‘representative microcosms’ as well, and it would all get too technical.

If you have any insights to share, about what makes for good group process, I’d be eager to hear.
Susie Jenkins wrote:

Hi Richard
Lovely idea. But I can’t see any way of it working. Even looking at baboons,  monkeys there’s a hierarchy.  However we can dream.

Susie J.
Thanks Susie for responding. I believe that as humanity evolved, it learned to overcome the alpha-male paradigm while other primates (not so much Bonobos) retained the paradigm. I think development of language was important here, enabling the members of a band to find their direction through conversation, rather than depending on an alpha for all decisions. Indigenous societies are not characterized by alpha-male dominance. The domination paradigm returned to humanity as civilization developed.


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