|A culture of mania|
I. The Creep State
In this post the phrase "The Creep State" (TCS) indicates the condition that manifests when a culture suffers arrested development in the form of reverting back into behaviors that are less of "a shining city on a hill" than they are of "stinking up the joint."
TCS can be anything from: a) reverting back to racism (Symbolic Racism: A Look At The Science - 3), b) surreptitious formation of a police state (Will The Military Become The Police? - 10), or c) the full blown industrialization of ignorance (Etiology of Social Dementia - 18).
But always TCS is primarily the population segment diagnosed as a despotic minority which the once most-often-quoted historian, Toynbee, fingered as one of the members of the trinity of extinction that he found in all civilizations that were about to become very successful at becoming extinct:
That something is the dementia that produces and ends up in suicide:(Etiology of Social Dementia - 18). That particular "minority" is not a racial or ethnic minority, rather, it is primarily composed of a destructive suicidal trance (Choose Your Trances Carefully, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."(A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee). There is no cure for the final symptom of that group dementia, there is only prevention by way of avoiding it altogether in the first place.
The components of that group dementia were pointed out in an encyclopedia piece concerning that historian quoted above:
"In the Study Toynbee examined the rise and fall of 26 civilizations in the course of human history, and he concluded that they rose by responding successfully to challenges under the leadership of creative minorities composed of elite leaders. Civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively, and the civilizations then sank owing to the sins of nationalism, militarism, and the tyranny of a despotic minority. Unlike Spengler in his The Decline of the West, Toynbee did not regard the death of a civilization as inevitable, for it may or may not continue to respond to successive challenges. Unlike Karl Marx, he saw history as shaped by spiritual, not economic forces" ...(Encyclopedia Britannica, emphasis added). The show stopper, in terms of remedy, in this type of group dementia is that it is a contagious dementia.
II. Science Friction
When a group loses its moorings, eventually the individuals within that meme complex will also lose their moorings.
Perhaps the most striking thing about such trances is how quickly they can develop:
(Comparing a Group-Mind Trance to a Cultural Amygdala). It is as if a wireless server forms within the group whereby the group behavior is eventually completely synchronized by a centralized controlling essence.American psychologist Boris Sidis wrote of a striking instance of a trance that was not limited to one person, but affected a whole group. He cited the memoirs of Russian writer and journalist Ivan Ivanovich Panaev, describing the riots of military colonists in Russia in 1831. Panaev recounted that in the course of some of the hardest fighting, he came across a corporal lying in the street, crying bitterly. When Panaev asked why he was crying, the young soldier said it was because down the street, a mob was trying to kill his beloved commander, Sokolov. Panaev suggested that the corporal stop crying and go to his leader's aid. A little later, when Panaev himself brought soldiers to help Sokolov, he was astonished to see that the corporal had joined the mob and was beating Sokolov with a club. When Panaev asked what on earth he was doing, the young man replied: Everyone else is doing it. Why shouldn't I?
Immersed in the energy of the mob, the corporal had totally given up his own individuality and control of his own mind. His normal perception of reality had disappeared, and he was locked into the thinking and reality of the mob. The mob possessed a corporate mind that overwhelmed the personal views of all who came under its sway. The "group mind" of the rioters was so strong that even the soldier, who was sincerely devoted to his commander, could not resist it. He was plunged into a group-mind trance in which he was absorbed in the thought and emotion of the group and out of touch with reality as he normally knew it.
Group-mind trance does not occur only in highly charged temporary gatherings, such as riots or lynch mobs. Group-mind trance is a part of the everyday life of each one of us. We belong to various kinds of groups--families, work groups, churches, and other organizations. Each has its own group mind that entrances us, perhaps more subtly than a lynch mob, but every bit as effectively. And in the group-mind trance, we experience all the features of other trance states.
Group-mind trances give us a basis for understanding the macrotrance of culture. We could think of group-mind trances as existing on a spectrum from the family on one end to culture on the other. Culture is the group-mind trance of a whole people, and because it is so pervasive, it remains largely invisible to those who are held in its sway.
The influence of group-mind trances cannot be overestimated.
The trance that is least recognized but very significant in our lives is group-mind trance ... Here the individual becomes a carrier of the values and drives that characterize the group as a whole. While immersed in the group mind, people may think and act in ways that are totally out of character with how they are when separate. Group-mind trance can occur in connection with such groups as one's family, church, or club; at sports events, rock concerts, tenants' meetings, and political conventions; or when involved with the staff at work or friends at a gathering. Group-mind trance forms a bridge to cultural trance, which may be thought of as a group-mind trance on the level of a whole people.
This seems to be the modern version of what was said to explain how a group-mind phenomenon can eventually control the morph of individuals within its borders ("It is forbidden to kill therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." - Voltaire).
Some who lived quite a while ago, looking ahead from that vantage point now long gone, envisioned the end of the matter: (“The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson).
There seem to be two approaches to solving group-mind trances, Leave it to Beaver, or leave it to Freud:
If the evolution of civilization has such a far reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization——or epochs of it——possibly even the whole of humanity——have become neurotic under the pressure of the civilizing trends? To analytic dissection of these neuroses, therapeutic recommendations might follow which could claim a great practical interest. I would not say that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilized society would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness. But it behooves us to be very careful, not to forget that after all we are dealing only with analogies, and that it is dangerous, not only with men but also with concepts, to drag them out of the region where they originated and have matured. The diagnosis of collective neuroses, moreover, will be confronted by a special difficulty. In the neurosis of an individual we can use as a starting point the contrast presented to us between the patient and his environment which we assume to be normal. No such background as this would be available for any society similarly affected; it would have to be supplied in some other way. And with regard to any therapeutic application of our knowledge, what would be the use of the most acute analysis of social neuroses, since no one possesses power to compel the community to adopt the therapy? In spite of all these difficulties, we may expect that one day someone will venture upon this research into the pathology of civilized communities. [p. 39](Civilization and Its Discontents, S. Freud, 1929, emphasis added). I'm with Freud on this one.
Men have brought their powers of subduing the forces of nature
to such a pitch that by using them they could now very easily exterminate one another to the last man. They know this——hence arises a great part of their current unrest, their dejection, their mood of apprehension. [p. 40]
The next post in this series is here.