Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Leaving Eden for the Big City

We left off yesterday discussing the "tyranny of cousins" -- i.e., band-level societies -- and how they are held together not so much by blood as by what Melanie Klein called "constitutional," or innate, envy.

Speaking of bands, oddly enough, it reminds me of a lyric by Alice Cooper: What's keeping us apart isn't selfishness / What's holding us together isn't love.

As Fukuyama explains, these societies "are highly egalitarian." They are essentially horizontal, with primary distinctions falling along the lines of age and sex.

This is primitive communism in all its naked glory. But note that the result -- or basis -- is the same as its modern version, the effacement of individuality by a kind of coercion that is always operating under the surface.

What is the nature of this coercion? As Fukuyama describes it, it is a kind of passive-aggressiveness that keeps everyone in line. No one has to even explicitly tell anyone else what to do.

While some members with leadership abilities will naturally emerge -- as when boys play together -- they do not have any formal power, nor are there any explicit rules or laws. Fukuyama notes that there is "authority" but not power; or again, the power is implicit and spontaneous.

Here again, this reminds me of the implicit regime of political correctness, which is also always present, aggressively pushing people into little boxes of identity in order to enforce community standards. Political correctness is like the rule of law, only furtively established by totalitarians.

And one only becomes aware of the law by transgressing it. Then you understand that there is this alternate source of power and "justice" in the world. It is decentralized and dispersed, but comes together like a collective defense mechanism when needed to attack liberty and enforce ideological servitude.

Importantly, political correctness results in a false unity, since it is founded upon fear and hatred rather than love. It is rooted in thanatos, not eros (or a "false eros," i.e., (-L), as when the troll leaves us with a chirpy namaste, assoul!).

An image occurs to me. If I remember correctly, there is a kind of fungus that exists as individual cells, but which can come together in the form of an elongated tube, which can then "walk," so to speak, by falling forward.

Now, a fungus is neither plant nor animal, but one of those "in between" entities that escape our clear-cut boundaries, like viruses or Michael Jackson.

Like the Walking Fungus, tribal societies "can aggregate at a high level," but "are prone to immediate fissioning once the cause of their union (such as external threat) disappears" (Fukuyama).

Fukuyama mentions an old Arab wisecrock: "Me against my brother, me and my brother against my cousin, me and my cousin against the stranger." This explains how the only real "unity" in the Arab-Muslim world is deeply rooted in the cosmic thanatos of Jew-hatred. This is the same unity as human sacrifice, which I believe Gil Bailie calls "unanimity minus one."

The Walking Fungus also reminds me of zombies who walk around but aren't really alive as we understand the term. Is it possible for Death to be "alive" and running around loose in the world? Or does this only happen in movies?

Oh no, it happens. More on which as we go along. (Click to embiggen.)

How did humans transition from band to tribe? It occurred only yesterday, about 10,000 years ago, and accompanies the development of agriculture. Correlation is not causation, so it is impossible to say which came first.

But on the psychic plane, this represents a profound shift, for it is the transition from a life of freedom and movement within bountiful nature -- one might even say Eden -- to one that is stationary and for the first time involves work that is actually toil instead of "adventure."

There is a big difference between getting together with the boys to go on a hunting trip vs. turning soil and picking weeds. Ask any man.

The need for constant mobility limited the size of bands, but agriculture brought with it great increases in population that required new modes of interaction. Now, for the first time, human beings had to deal with others outside the clan without simply killing them.

As a result, roles that were once concrete and implicit now must become abstract and explicit. For example, instead of "authority" incarnated in the form of "father," the authority must be pried away from the object and understood as role, not person.

Importantly, the authority will still be rooted in the unconscious archetype of Father, only projected into the Chieftain or Big Man.

This kind of arrangement is still halfway between tribalism and a fully developed society, the latter of which is (supposedly) fully conformed to abstract roles and laws. For example, for us moderns, the "president" is primarily an abstract office, not a concrete man.

But not really, for as we were saying yesterday, later stages always contain -- and are sometimes contained by! -- elements of earlier ones. This is true both on an individual and a collective basis. Indeed, Obama's fundamental problem is that the left's archetypal projections of the godman have gradually been withdrawn, thus revealing the emperor's empty suit.

Fukuyama doesn't get into it, but what are the implications for religion of these different stages of development? Joseph Campbell wrote a big-ass, expensive book -- which he considered his magnum opus -- on this subject (published separately as The Way of the Animal Powers: Mythologies of the Primitive Hunters and Gatherers and The Way of the Seeded Earth.

Wait. Fukuyama does get into religion, but not too deeply. In fact, he says that the reason band-level organization "took hold across human societies was due to religious belief, that is, the worship of ancestors."

The spirits of the dead require "continual maintenance on the part of their living relatives, who had to provide them with regular offerings of food and drink lest they become angry" -- like in-laws who never leave.

The bigshots who unified the society were subject to the same courtesy, only on a grand scale -- for example, as exemplified by the pyramids of ancient Egypt. When a pharoah died, it was considered good form to entomb him with a bunch of slaves to tend to his needs in the afterlife.

Likewise, in ancient China "the graves of high-status people were filled with... the bodies of horses, slaves, and concubines" -- not to mention plenty of food -- "intended to accompany the dead person into the afterlife."

Even so, the problem with a Chinese burial was that the spirits were still hungry an hour later.

On that note, I must stop. Time to earn some bread by the sweat of my brow.

16 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Here again, this reminds me of the implicit regime of political correctness, which is also always present, aggressively pushing people into little boxes of identity in order to enforce community standards. Political correctness is like the rule of law, only furtively established by totalitarians.

Heh - yesterday's whiny troll was a classic example. You don't act the way he thinks you should, and suddenly you're the embodiment of everything bad. And he is like a fungus - ever lingering, spineless, lacking even a foundation (for if he had one, he could stop whining and start growing), pulling himself together just long enough to hurl inanities, lacking even a solid identity, though his words reveal him for the same slimy growth every time.

Ugh - even thinking about it that much makes me want to take a bleach bath.

4/26/2011 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Bob, said:

"This is the same unity as human sacrifice, which I believe Gil Bailie calls "unanimity minus one."

Exhibited here as well:

"And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves." Luke 23:12

4/26/2011 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Interesting you place a snap from The Seventh Seal. I finally watched The Greatest Story Ever Told this weekend also starring Max von Sydow.
Always thought I'd seen it before...confusing it with the Jesus of Nazareth movie.

In the latter I don't believe they cover the Pilate and Herod friendship. I think I like how the Satan character seems to be everywhere after the tempting event with Jesus. Played by Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

4/26/2011 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Rick -- also "You don't realize that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed."

4/26/2011 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

The need for constant mobility limited the size of bands, but agriculture brought with it great increases in population that required new modes of interaction. Now, for the first time, human beings had to deal with others outside the clan without simply killing them.

On a tangent, one of the other side effects of this growth would have been both the birth and flourishing of commerce, and a concomitant flourishing of creativity. In tribal life, there is a very limited number of job descriptions that are compatible with survival. With the shift to an agrarian culture, suddenly the possibilities become endless.

The true wonder, again, is that all of that creative potential must of necessity have been present in our monkey brains from the beginning, just as the fully-grown tree is present in the seed. All it took was the proper soil conditions, and suddenly there were advances in art, music, technology, cooking, architecture...

Which again leads to the idea that bread is so much more than just a source of high GI carbohydrates. In some ways, it was the source of life as we know it.

4/26/2011 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

""Even so, the problem with a Chinese burial was that the spirits were still hungry an hour later."

As Jethro might have said to uncle Jed, "today in school I learned that he chinese have discovered and done just about everything! Today I learned that Hu is the president of our country!"

4/26/2011 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Off topic, but this comes as no surprise. Sad, though - it's so rare to find romance in today's music.

4/26/2011 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Also off topic, this reminds me of Athos (the album), though of course it should be the other way around. It took me a few minutes to realize he's singing in English. Lovely; makes me want to go to an Orthodox service, just to sit in the back and listen. And breathe.

4/26/2011 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

There is a big difference between getting together with the boys to go on a hunting trip vs. turning soil and picking weeds. Ask any man.

This is the truth.

4/26/2011 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Down in Glenrose, Texas they used to have an outdoor amphitheater where they put on a big musical of the life of Christ called "The Promise". It's like that. The devil is in every scene, sitting somewhere, standing behind someone, walking around behind Jesus.

4/26/2011 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

There's a scene in The Greatest Story where the mob is asking each other "what do we do with this guy?!" For a second they don't seem to be getting off the pot so Satan sticks his head through the bars of the gate and shouts the idea "crucify him!" They take the bait and roll with it.

It sort of reminded me of that scene, but in reverse, in the Pee Wee movie where the bikers are mobbed around Pee Wee (because he knocked all their motorcycles over) and they're shouting ideas what to do with him. One guy says, "I say we burn him, then we hang him and then we kill him!" Pee Wee throws his disguise voice into the crowd "I say we let him go!"
:-)

4/26/2011 08:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Australopicthecus Sneezing Hard said...

This is an interesting treatise. Humanity may be seen to be formulating ever more massive unions, starting with the band, then the tribe, then the city-state, then the nation-state, then the multi-national bloc, culminating in the global state.

We have yet to achieve the final stage but it is in the works.

The United States should be the leader and become the global hegemon. We should be more militant than we currently are.

Consensus, please?

4/26/2011 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Trollinsky said:

"The United States should be the leader and become the global hegemon. We should be more militant than we currently are.

Consensus, please?"

You want a consensus for consenselessness?
Hyeah! Right out of the democrat party playbook (ie Alinsky 101).

Y'know, you guys really do need some new...material (way to beat a dead ass).
You get poor Marx for work this shoddy (correction is in red no less!).

4/27/2011 01:45:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Even so, the problem with a Chinese burial was that the spirits were still hungry an hour later."

Ha ha! Good one! And it soytenly is tough for spirits to use chop-stick-foo. :^)

In ancient (and not-so-ancient) China (and Egypt, etc.) the dead buried the living.

Hey! Don't shoot the msg-er.

Too late.

4/27/2011 02:00:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Importantly, political correctness results in a false unity, since it is founded upon fear and hatred rather than love. It is rooted in thanatos, not eros (or a "false eros," i.e., (-L), as when the troll leaves us with a chirpy namaste, assoul!)."

Aye! You never see lefties respond to non-pc talk (or normal talk ie free speech) with love, decency, nobility or class.
Quite the opposite as Bob so aptly describes.

4/27/2011 02:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Christ said...

Hole: I also said you ought to remove the beam - in your case, one about the size of a mountain - from your own eye before helping - or in your case, "helping" - your brother remove the mote from his.

NEWSFLASH: Acting like a pimple on the ass of good men and women will neither make you a better person nor fix any of your profound personal problems.

4/27/2011 07:42:00 AM  

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