|"Just have an election"|
This series assumes, for the purpose of discussion, that civilizations can become sick.
I am not referring to a pandemic composed of physical conditions that render the populace physically sick, such as Covid-19.
Instead, I am referring to psychological sickness such as denial, depression, mania, and psychosis that isn't physically apparent (in the pandemic sense).
It's a mental realm type of discussion.
A historian who was at one time the most often quoted historian, alluded to this type of sickness:
"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."
Toynbee's study covered about 26 prior civilizations, but the disease did not end way back then:
The Act of Killing focuses on Anwar Congo, one of the self-proclaimed "gangsters" who executed over a million suspected Communists and ethnic Chinese in Indonesia
during the bloodbath of 1965-66. Congo, much like his fellow
executioners that he remains friends with, has yet to face prosecution
for the war crimes he committed as a younger man and lives as a national hero.
Congo is a man who appears to live in an eternal cinematic fantasy. He's always dressed sharp—inspired by his Hollywood heroes John Wayne, Marlon Brando, and Elvis Presley. What exactly inspired him to murder a thousand people is never quite explained. The only slight ever mentioned that he takes from the communists was their desire to block screenings of his beloved American films. Tapping into this love of cinema, Oppenheimer offers him the opportunity to tell his story by making a dramatic film in which he's the star of his own story.
This does not end up being The Act of Killing itself, but a meta film-within-a-film that allows Congo to tell his own story as he chooses to see it, guts and all. He casts his own friends, adds a romantic subplot where one of his friends dresses in drag, and even has musical finale at the foot of a waterfall where his own victims thank him for murdering [them]. But despite all of these flourishes, he manages to stay true to the story in the recreation of his preferred method of execution.
Demonstrating to Oppenheimer's documentary crew how he strangles his victims with wire, he boasts that he learned it from American gangster films.
(Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala - 2). It's a group thing eh?
Another famous "old timer", who is called the "father of psychoanalysis", was on to this phenomenon:
"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]"
"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]"
(Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud, 1929, emphasis added). The gist of it is that "group psychology" of the type we have developed nowadays is not what Freud had in mind.
Our "treatment" or therapy is to have an election (Etiology of Social Dementia - 18). But our forefathers knew that even the realm of psychology was not the only source of knowledge that is instructive, that offers an answer:
An answer from the sages in our past who we are very fortunate to have had, but sages which we have ignored to our great demise in recent times.
An answer that seems today to be totally and completely at odds with the conventional wisdom-hype and propaganda, which is composed of the glorification of the greatest source of the toxins of power.
Our founders were well aware of the question and the answer hundreds of years ago.
They spoke the answer with unmistakable words and with certain clarity:
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied: and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. Those truths are well established.
The above quote is from his "Political Observations," April 20, 1795, in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, Volume IV, page 491-492.
Notice, in the quote above, how Madison equated or associated the toxins of power with disease epidemic concepts, saying that the war toxin "develops the germ of every other" anti-freedom toxin.
The previous post in this series is here.
Perhaps some clues (cultures hallucinating conflicting realities?) are presented in the following video: