Monday, May 23, 2016

Etiology of Social Dementia - 15

"There must be some way out of here"
(All Along The Watchtower)
I. Background

This series has taken a look at the various and sundry dementias that historically infect then destroy civilizations.

Our civilization has not officially implemented ways to deal with group dementia, leaving the yeomen’s work on dementia to its manifestation in individuals; so, to the extent that there are similarities between dementia in an individual and dementia in a group, nation, society, or civilization, that has also been addressed in this series from time to time (Etiology of Social Dementia, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13).

In today's post I want to address the habitat of dementia within "groups, parties, nations ... epochs" and civilizations, a la Nietzsche (“Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” – Friedrich Nietzsche).

II. What Is Habitat?

In both British English and American English there can be several meanings given to a word.

Seemingly innocuous, at times this innate doublespeak can render discourse anywhere from problematic to catastrophic (Good Nomenclature: A Matter of Life and Death).

So, I often make an attempt to isolate a particular word's meaning to a particular context.

That is probably especially needed in the context of a discussion about "the habitat of dementia."

Seeing as how 'dementia' has been defined in this series, let's define "habitat."

I want to use the word 'habitat' with an expansive meaning, so let's start with:
"A habitat is made up of physical factors such as soil, moisture, range of temperature, and availability of light as well as biotic factors such as the availability of food ..."
(Wikipedia). The "physical factors" (dirt, water, temperature, light) in this sense are "abiotic", and they are in contrast to the "biotic" factors:
A fair definition of Biology is:
... the science of life or living matter in all its forms and phenomena, especially with reference to origin, growth, reproduction, structure, and behavior.
(Dictionary, emphasis added). A fair definition of Abiology, then, ought to be:
... the science of non-life or non-living matter in all its forms and phenomena, especially with reference to origin, growth, reproduction, structure, and behavior.
(see e.g. abiological). One problem or question that biologists struggle with is the art of defining life (Erwin Schrodinger, PDF), but, to be sure that arises most often inside the twilight-zone between the abiotic and the biotic realms.
(Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 27). For those who would take umbrage at this Dredd Blog explanation, relax, there are other sources for your reading comfort:
Habitats consist of both the biotic and abiotic factors found in the environment. Biotic factors are living things, while abiotic factors are nonliving things.
(What Is Habitat? - Definition & Explanation, emphasis added). If you want an utterly long look into the abiotic habitat that existed billions of years before the additional carbon based, organic, biotic habitat evolved, check out (On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13) and (The Uncertain Gene, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

III. What Is Civilization?

Let's begin to answer the question with a look at some specialized literature:
"The meaning of the term civilization has changed several times during its history, and even today it is used in several ways.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries CE, it was widely believed among European scholars that all human communities were involved in a process of straightforward progression by which the conditions of a society were gradually improving. As part of these changes, it was believed, societies experienced different stages: savagery, barbarism and, finally, civilization."
[Establishment social science was of that mindset too: "Lastly, I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilisation than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risks nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago, of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races [Chuck was a tad-bit racist eh?] will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world." - Charles Darwin (1881); cf. "Even what were once considered elite scientific journals have turned out to have been utter long-winded bullshit (The Eugenics Review Vols. 1 to 60; 1909 to 1968)" -Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 28]
"Civilization, in this context, was understood as the last stop in the long journey of human society. The different stages of this social evolution were equated to specific human communities: Palaeolithic and Mesolithic hunter-gatherer communities were considered part of the savagery stage, Neolithic and Bronze Age farmers as part of the barbarism stage, and finally Bronze Age urban communities (particularly those in the Near East) were considered an early phase of the civilized world. Today, this approach is no longer valid since it is linked to an attitude of cultural superiority, by which human communities which are not yet "civilized" are seen as somehow inferior.

In everyday conversation, there is a tendency to use the word "civilization" to refer to a type of society that displays a set of moral values, such as respect for human rights or a compassionate attitude for the sick and the elderly. This can be problematic, since moral values are inevitably one-sided and ethnocentric. A behaviour considered "civilized" by a particular culture may be judged senseless or even seen with horror by another culture. History records an abundant number of examples of this issue. A famous one is reported by Herodotus, who describes the conflicting funerary practices of a group of Greeks, who cremated their dead, and the Indians known as the Kallatiai, who ate their dead:

During his reign, Darius summoned the Hellenes at his court and asked them how much money they would accept for eating the bodies of their dead fathers. They answered that they would not do that for any amount of money. Later Darius summoned some Indians called Kallatiai, who do eat their parents. [...], he [Darius] asked the Indians how much money they would accept to burn the bodies of their dead fathers. They responded with an outcry, ordering him to shut his mouth lest he offended the gods. Well, then, that is how people think, and so it seems to me that Pindar was right when he said in his poetry that custom is king of all (Herodotus 3.38.3-4)."
(Ancient History Encyclopedia, emphasis added). I think that many of these cultural dynamics of "civilized behavior" are actually cultural trances induced in many cases by the cultural amygdala (Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala, Choose Your Trances Carefully).

In another sense of history, civilization is merely a group entity which comes to an end by suicide or murder, but much more frequently by the former (A Study of History, Toynbee).

In another sense we could call it "the largest form of a human group."

IV. The Habitat of Cultural Dementia Within Civilization

The early stages of social dementia resemble being lost in, of all places, space.

In other words, not knowing where we are - lost - even though we have been schooled and given a "YAH" map (You Are Here).

We hear of individuals walking around lost, but that is actually the legacy of civilizations that have come and gone too.

In the current presidential elections in various countries, right wing extremism is challenging the status quo.

In the U.S. version, one candidate does not know were we are in terms of believing that the environment, the habitat writ large, can't be harmed.

The other is like the current president, who talks like a showman but acts like the worst of the worst, killing entire nations for their oil as those who went before did (The Fleets & Terrorism Follow The Oil - 6).

The social dementia lurks behind the billboard of lies, hides in the media generated reality, incessantly covered by the cocoon of propaganda (The Deceit Business, The Authoritarianism of Climate Change).

Cultural dementia hides within the institutions of civilization, within the literature, within the educational system, within the government, within the military, and especially within the corporate media.

The study of that dynamic, that generating of ignorance, is being done within the (most likely) soon-to-be-doomed discipline of Agnotology (Agnotology: The Surge, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17).

These ignorance generators within society produce what the institutions perpetuate in an epigenetic dynamism we vaguely see and describe as "the status quo."

It plays out in a more and more obvious, more and more exposed, and more and more degenerate stupor (Comparing a Group-Mind Trance to a Cultural Amygdala).

Economically, it plays out as an economy morphing into a plutonomy within a wartocracy, i.e. neo-feudalism (American Feudalism, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

V. Conclusion

It won't get far having failed The Test (The Tenets of Ecocosmology).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Black guitars matter.

1 comment:

  1. Well phrased Dredd!

    "Utter long winded BS is right." And, to achieve and validate 'that' level of BS requires an enormous arrogance which has NOT paused and has yet to brought under control.

    Concurrent with this widespread arrogance is a truly demented superciliousness which will every time, disrespect, ignore, ridicule and attack the noble 'spirit' of mankind that has existed for millennia in the great thinkers and do-ers you reference. It's going to be difficult finding a way out of this 'predicament' and I suspect desperate and violent actions will be tried; if only to temporarily protect the 'spirit' a bit longer. The conjurers and beneficiaries of the 'dementia' will likely be terrified to observe how fast things devolve-like many times before in our history.