By John Ringland (www.anandavala.info)
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of
evil to one who is striking at the root."
(Henry David Thoreau)
This book contains a system theoretic analysis of the ego and its role in the cult of authoritarianism, which leads to tyranny. However the analysis isn't a technical discussion, although many technicalities are touched upon, instead it seeks to encourage a deep understanding of the nature of events in our lives and in the world and to spark up a discourse within progressive communities that can lead to practical and effective strategies to resolve the growing crisis in civilisation and to navigate the transition to a new and more sustainable civilisation.
Something must be made clear at the outset, that although this book speaks of a unified understanding this does not in any way imply a homogenised understanding where everyone must think the same thing. It proposes something radically different.
Unlike most previous conceptual frameworks, system theory is capable of comprehending the true plurality and diversity of perspectives that arise within an integrated complex system - this will be made clear as the discussion unfolds. Due to this ability to comprehend the diversity in unity, using systemic approaches we can devise a unified understanding that can help to integrate a vast diversity of different understandings without doing injustice to them or forcing an artificial unity upon them, which would inevitably result in totalitarianism.
The aim is to create a framework within which diversity can be fully recognised and can flourish, whilst also providing ways to minimise conflicts that may arise from that diversity. The old paradigm way is to impose an artificial unity in order to avoid conflict but the new paradigm way provides a unified understanding that allows us to spontaneously self-organise into a unified yet diverse collective. Just as there is some unifying factor within cells that allows them to act freely with great diversity and yet they spontaneously self-organise into an organism without the imposition of a totalitarian regime controlling each cell.
This book uses a unifying system theoretic approach to step out of the culturally conditioned discourse in order to restructure our understanding of events in the world based upon deeper insight rather than a closed loop of unconscious assumptions. The ideas herein are neither presented for credulous belief or incredulous disbelief, but rather to be rigorously tested from as many perspectives as possible. The challenge is to think for yourself in an imaginative yet rational manner that allows you to step into the new paradigm and ascertain its accuracy and usefulness from that perspective. Then to communicate openly and honestly with others to collaboratively test the ideas.
If you are not already familiar with the non-authoritarian perspective on the state of the modern world then you should first watch the movie Zeitgeist [FR]. This movie, although it still contains deep-seated misconceptions and thus has not entirely escaped the propagandist conditioning, nevertheless highlights important aspects of the global crisis in a clear and accessible manner. If you are also unfamiliar with the concept of the ego from an Eastern perspective (the spiritual perspective not the Freudian/psychoanalytic perspective) then it would also be necessary to read the very accessible book"A New Earth: Awakening to your Life's Purpose", by Eckhart Tolle [FR]. It explores the nature of the ego in the individual context, its manipulative tactics and how it weaves its illusory world and thus excludes us from being present and aware of reality. It describes the ego as an illusion of the mind, its strategies, its agendas and also the state of egolessness, what are its benefits and how does one overcome the domination of the ego to attain liberation, peace and harmony.
This book draws upon the issues discussed in both the above sources (and many others) and re-conceptualises the situation, introducing a radically new way of understanding the global crisis based on insights from system theory that elucidate the wider pattern and that break us out of the closed loop of unconscious assumptions that have allowed persistent illusions to flourish. This new understanding helps to overcome the information overload by assimilating the many particulars into a single unifying understanding that integrates them all and gives them meaning within the broader context of our lives and the life of the planet.
The central idea is expressed succinctly in the introduction and central idea, however for many people the later analyses will be required to make sense of this. But this central idea, when fully grasped and combined with serious imaginative effort and broad general knowledge, is enough to restructure our basic understanding of the situation and to guide us toward an effective resolution of the global systemic crisis. There is a series of interrelated essays that go deeper and explore many details and subtleties of the systemic phenomena and the parallels with current global events to provide further information for those who wish to develop a deeper understanding of the fundamental principles. Note that most of the referenced information regarding current global events was collected from May to July of 2007, but the issues have not fundamentally changed (July 2008) so this information is still as relevant now as it was then. The information doesn't attempt to provide a comprehensive survey of major global events, it is only provided to illustrate the parallels between the dynamics described in the book and some major global phenomena.
The result of the analysis is to highlight the fundamental flaws in our current world view that underlie the many systemic crises. It reveals how these flaws can be resolved by clear rational reorientation toward a more realistic understanding of the situation. This brings to light approaches that can be used individually and collectively to clarify the deep seated illusions, and to relieve the tensions and imbalances that have resulted in our inexorable slide toward global systemic crisis. It is seen that the current situation implies grave danger but also vast potential and by developing greater awareness and understanding we can safely guide the situation toward a highly beneficial result for ourselves, for civilisation and for the planet as a whole.
For many years I have been engaged in spontaneous contemplation of the fundamental principles of systems and the systemic nature of the cosmos, organisms, mind and civilisation. Attention has been primarily focused on metaphysical issues that are related to root causes and deep systemic motivations underlying the experience of life and the progression of civilisation as a whole. This includes the nature of the ego and power structures; how they evolve, how they operate and how to manage their delusions and destructive tendencies, but also countless other issues. The exploration delved deep into Eastern, mystic and non-dual philosophies, however since early 2007 attention has returned to the issue of pathological egos and authoritarianism, perhaps because the world is entering a critical phase of its evolution.
In this discussion I try to avoid non-essential technicalities that may detract from the clarity and simplicity of the ideas being presented. I feel that the ideas can stand on their own and that they will "ring true" in many people's minds and be judged useful because of the light that they shed on otherwise confusing and disconcerting situations, rather than because of technical proofs and detailed evidence. But I do provide many details on certain parallels that for many may be unnecessary but for other's may open their minds to a deeper level of understanding. From these you should pick and choose for yourself.
For the system theoretic background to this analysis and many of the subtleties and technicalities refer to either this Information Systems Analysis of Mind, Knowledge, 'the World' and Holistic Science, the many articles on the blog or the website www.anandavala.info where the mathematical and metaphysical foundations of the world-view that underlies this work is described in detail, and computational models illustrate the coherence of the foundation as well as its technological utility.
. . . . . . . . A New Paradigm
. . . . . . . . Introduction to the Global Ego
. . . . . . . . Introduction to a Systemic Solution
The Central Idea
Survey of the Central Idea
. . . . . . . . Complexity Theory - The Theory of Complex Adaptive Systems
. . . . . . . . Cybernetics
. . . . . . . . System Science
. . . . . . . . Gaia and the Living Earth
. . . . . . . . Deep Ecology
. . . . . . . . Ecopsychology
. . . . . . . . Modern Sociology
. . . . . . . . Philosophy
. . . . . . . . Evolutionary Refinement
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Survival of the Fittest
. . . . . . . . Meta System Transition (MST)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Interaction and Organisation
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . First Cambrian Explosion
Naïve Realism, its Ramifications and Overcoming
. . . . . . . . Introduction to Naïve Realism
. . . . . . . . Evidence Against Naïve Realism
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Argument from the Scientific Account of Perception
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Adverbial Theory
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Quantum Physics
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Virtual Reality
. . . . . . . . Ramifications of Naïve Realism
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Common Manifestations of Naïve Realism and Realism
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Naïve Realism, Le Différend and Organisational Accountability
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Naïve Realism, Common Sense and Authoritarian Regimes
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Naïve Realism and Realism as Evolutionary Forces
. . . . . . . . Overcoming Naïve Realism
Consciousness or Materialism
. . . . . . . . Materialism
. . . . . . . . Systemic Metaphysics
. . . . . . . . Interaction, Awareness and Universal and Individual Consciousness
. . . . . . . . PEAR / REG / GCP Experiments
. . . . . . . . CIA Experiments
. . . . . . . . Mysticism and Unified Science
Memes and Memeplexes
. . . . . . . . Memes and “The World”
. . . . . . . . Memes, Humans and Organisations
. . . . . . . . Memetic Engineering
. . . . . . . . Memetic Conflict
Individual and Collective Ego
. . . . . . . . Growth of the Ego
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Naïve Realism and the Ego
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How does the Collective Mind Arise?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Out of a Collective of Individual Egos How Does an Individual Collective Ego Arise?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Agendas and Values
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conspiracy or Systemic Process?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Implications of the Ego
. . . . . . . . The Man Machine
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Systemic History
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What to Do?
. . . . . . . . Integration or Oppression
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Governance Pendulum
. . . . . . . . Control and Assimilation
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Why is it that Power Corrupts?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How can a System Wield Power Without Becoming Corrupt?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Security? Who's Security?
. . . . . . . . Why do Some Egos Become Psychotic?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Why the Sudden Rise in Egoic Fascism of Late?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Why are Some Societies More Susceptible to Fascism than Others?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Structural Dynamics of Society and 'Terrorism'
Most human expressions, activities and inventions first arise as thoughts and are shared via communication, therefore civilisation can be described as the outward manifestation of a communal understanding or a resonance of minds or a memeplex. The breakdown of communal understanding is instrumental to the breakdown of this civilisation. The work of rebuilding communal understanding must ultimately be the foundation of any effective attempt to resolve the crisis. The cause of the breakdown is complex but ultimately stems from fundamental delusions within our minds, which lead to the corruption of public discourse by manipulative agendas. The remedy is for each of us to overcome our fundamental delusions and for sanity to re-emerge within that collective discourse and clarify the confusions thus creating a space for rebuilding a communal understanding. "Speech is civilization itself.... it is silence which isolates." [FR] From this, greater awareness will arise and collectively we will know how to act to resolve the crisis and put civilisation on a firm and realistic foundation.
For greater insight into the root cause and how it unfolds into a global systemic crisis, see Simplified Anatomy of the Global Systemic Crisis and How to Heal Civilisation.
Whilst ever the dominant discourse is corrupt the voice of reason is just noise in the background that cannot meaningfully penetrate the discourse and bring sanity into the overall situation. There is already a vast body of knowledge that provides detailed evidence and deep analysis of the many problems but these have been accumulating for decades, even centuries, and have had minimal overall impact. Whilst these analyses are vital in the long term, at present they are largely impotent because the dominant discourse cannot entertain the simple logic and has no desire to act on it even when it can. Furthermore analysing and exposing issues one at a time is a reactionary strategy that creates an information overload that people cannot properly digest because there is no coherent paradigm within which to make sense of it all. What is required is a subtler strategy that can eventually penetrate the wall of denial.
There are rapidly growing numbers of open minds and we have the potential to form a diverse and integrated community that can create a parallel discourse that weakens the corrupt discourse and shifts the balance of power. We need a way to manage the information overload and integrate it into a coherent and compelling communal understanding that forms the seed of a more humane and more sustainable civilisation.
For details see these Introductory
The sub sections are:
A New Paradigm
Introduction to the Global Ego
Introduction to a Systemic Solution
Below is a general description of the central idea at the heart of this book. The idea is an extended analogy (or homology) between organisms and organisations, which is mapped out using system theory. It was briefly described in the introduction along with many of the related details but here the analogy itself will be presented in more detail. For some, this description may be all that is required to set in motion a sequence of realisations that will transform the way they understand and relate to their world. For others, the analogy may not become clear until more details are given and after much time has elapsed for the information to be integrated, however it is useful to keep this extended analogy in mind when approaching those details and going through the integration process.
To understand these ideas clearly and to fully comprehend their profound ramifications requires a paradigm shift away from simplistic traditional ways of thinking and seeing the world and towards more realistic ways. This is not just a minor intellectual idea that you can logically test against what the mind already knows and thereby discern it to be true or false. It involves a radical paradigm shift, which requires a reorienting of everything that we know about ourselves and the world. It involves looking at things from an entirely different perspective and thereby seeing them in a different way. We must approach it with an open-mind and look through the new paradigm at the world to see things anew and then test its coherence and explanatory power. We must test the analogy in our own lives and only then will we have tested it effectively.
First in brief. The ecosystem consists of all organisms including ourselves. It is the body of a planetary super-organism that some call Gaia and we organisms are cells within that body, just as organisms are cellular ecosystems. The large scale ecological dynamics involving climate, forests, mountain ranges and oceans comprise the overall physiological processes of that super-organism. The interactions between individual organisms comprise the detailed biochemical processes analogous to those between cells within an organism.
However we humans are rather specialised organisms because our interactions channel information and are therefore analogous to neurological processes. Our human interactions create society and culture which give rise to the mind of Gaia. Our informal culture, composed of individual communication and interaction, is Gaia's subconscious mind. Our power structures and the public discourse, composed of legislation, institutions, mass media and academia, are the conscious mind of Gaia. Mass media, diplomatic channels and telecommunications are the conduit of conscious thought for Gaia.
The feedback loops between mass communication and individual communication form the space in which culture resonates and comes to experience itself. Within this cultural/macro-cognitive scenario a collective ego has arisen that experiences itself as an individual being and uses society as “its body”. Just as within human organisms, which possess a complex self-reflective mind, an ego arises that experiences itself as an individual being and uses the organism as “its body”.
The more control that the collective ego gains over “its body” the more we organisms become enslaved in a subtle yet all pervasive totalitarian regime. It imposes its perspective and drives the situation in pursuit of its agendas, thereby destroying the fabric of both the society and the ecosystem. Just as the human ego conceives of this as ill-health and ageing, so too does the regime fail to comprehend the true cause and only seeks to eradicate the symptoms in order to continue pursuing its agendas.
As cells within this collective organism our interactions are its metabolic processes, which make it what it is. If we are unconsciously manipulated we serve the collective ego but if we are aware we support the health of the super-organism. Through communicating our awareness we share it with others and spread the light of awareness. This casts out the shadows of ignorance, which returns the entire system to a state of balance and holistic health.
For details see The Central Idea.
This is just a brief survey of information on various related theories and prior scientific research and philosophical theories. It is not an analysis or history, its just a starting point from which to explore further into these subjects if you wish and to show that there is considerable theoretical background to the ideas presented in this book.
The only new thing that I am proposing here is that we take these ideas seriously in a socio-political context and use them as a tool in progressive strategies to develop competing discourses to the propagandist discourse. And to perform analyses of the various issues whilst keeping this holistic/systemic perspective in mind. Certain phrases are highlighted because they are particularly relevant to this book.
For details see Survey
of the Central Idea.
The sub sections are:
Complexity Theory - The Theory of Complex Adaptive Systems
Gaia and the Living Earth
The traditional discourse on evolution only addresses a component of evolution, that related to gradual refinement within a single system level but it fails to mention another even more important and relevant systemic component whereby evolution and collective interaction creates living systems on higher levels. This is most likely due to the total lack of knowledge of systems theory when the evolutionary discourse began and the entrenched systemic parochialism within our language and conceptual frameworks that makes it difficult to discuss or contemplate the systemic component. I won't reiterate the traditional evolutionary discourse, but I will address one common misconception that arises from it due to the narrow context in which it is often considered.
Survival of the fittest doesn't mean survival of the most brutal and callous, that is an interpretation based upon narrow context rationality, which has been used to justify many delusions. It is too narrow to just think of survival of the fittest in the context of a momentary event when a predator leaps upon its prey and then conclude that a violent, opportunistic and destructive tendency makes a being fitter to survive. Evolutionary history shows that those that are best able to adapt and align with the holistic reality of their systemic context are the most likely to survive.
What survival of the fittest really means is survival of the most holistically effective, which for humans means the most aware and most rational in the widest context. It means the most able to align with reality, i.e. the most able to overcome delusion and narrow context ignorance. It means the most able to organise, cooperate and adapt; these are the greatest survival attributes that we humans have. If we remain ignorant, irrational, delusional and isolationist we will quite likely be unfit for survival.
It is a fundamental principle of system theory that systems are "made of" sub-systems and they interact to 'make' super-systems. A meta system transition [FR] is the phenomenon where a group of interacting systems integrate to apparently form a super-system. This process can be observed when particles form molecules or molecules form cells or cells form organisms or organisms form ecosystems or humans form civilisations and so on. We humans are not outside the scope of the systemic dynamics that drives the universe, we are systems operating within a systemic context, we are made of systems and we interact to make systems. To put it another way, we are super-systems that arise from the integration of sub-systems and we are also sub-systems that integrate to form super-systems.
Due to the MST process complex systems integrate and due to its opposite process decay, systems disintegrate. Through these two processes systems appear and disappear, they are born and they die, but what is happening is that they integrate into coherent networks and these networks dis-integrate back into disorganised collections of sub-systems. The MST process underlies all apparent coming into being and its opposite process underlies all apparent decaying into non-being.
In these creative and destructive processes there is nothing fundamentally created or destroyed, it is simply underlying systems changing their state of organisation. It is only organisation that is created and destroyed and organisation is structure or pattern; it is dynamic information. In this sense systems are "made of information" and they process information in the form of communication between themselves and within themselves in the form of the transformation of information from input to output. For this reason I often speak of "information systems" because as quantum physics confirms, there is nothing fundamentally 'solid', it is all a kind of information in flux.
For details see Interaction and Organisation.
A major implication of system theory is what it can say about the nature of organisms, it relates to an aspect of evolution that is little considered by many. An outcome of cells creating beyond themselves is a phenomenon called the Cambrian Explosion which is an example of a global Meta System Transition (MST, see Interaction and Organisation). It was a systemic event that occurred around 550 million years ago whereby the ecosystem of single cellular organism underwent a change, giving certain cells (eukaryotes) enhanced communication capacity. Their subsequent interactions and systems of dependencies self-organised into vast collectives of cells that we call multi-cellular organisms. All plants and animals including ourselves are such organisms and we are self-organising civilisations of trillions of cells with emergent phenomena such as mind and ego. Understanding this is vital for understanding the true systemic nature of ourselves and ultimately of civilisation.
Think back to about 550 million years ago (about the time of the First Cambrian Explosion), the earth had been dominated for billions of years by single celled organisms we call prokaryotes. They are individual beings that encounter their world on their own terms, they are formed simply of a cell membrane that divides their world into inner and outer and they maintain a DNA-RNA-Protein cycle within that is their mechanism of creation, sustenance, perception, response and dynamical existence.
For details see The First Cambrian Explosion or the Global Cellular Meta-System Transition.
This subject is one of the most difficult for the mind to approach. Not because it is complicated or difficult to understand but because the mind often simply refuses to go there. This subject cuts to the root of all delusion and therefore challenges everything that the ego holds dear. It is however a vital issues to understand. It is a core fallacy that is indelibly enshrined at the heart of Western civilisation, permeating its common sense, religion, politics, empirical science and virtually all aspects of culture. It has also come to dominate Eastern civilisation as well. However the tide is turning in regards to naïve realism; it is has been well understood by Eastern mystics and a few Western mystics but in recent times a growing number of philosophers and scientists are beginning to understand it as well.
It has been debated by Western philosophers for centuries [FR] and has been unequivocally proven to be a false perspective by quantum physics [FR]. However the entrenched naïve realism and positivism [FR] at the heart of empirical science has suppressed this realisation for almost 80 years, but in recent years it is becoming more accepted that naïve realism is a false perspective. There is still little mainstream awareness of its operation at the root of our minds, thus distorting every moment of conscious experience and causing us to dwell amidst persistent illusions that bare little resemblance to the reality that we actually operate in.
Naïve realism describes a general property of all systems but it will be introduced in the context of human perception because that is the context in which it was first analysed by Western philosophy. It is usually not realised by most people that it is a philosophical position, but is rather just assumed to be obviously the way things are but there is unequivocal evidence that it is false. Hence it is a profound and ubiquitous fallacy that forms the foundation of “common sense” and goes entirely unquestioned in virtually all cultural discourses, which are therefore entirely naïve realist and dangerously flawed.
“Naïve realism is a common sense theory of perception. Most people, until they start reflecting philosophically, are naïve realists. This theory is also known as "direct realism" or "common sense realism"... Naive realism holds that the view of the world that we derive from our senses is to be taken at face value: there are objects out there in the world, and those objects have the properties that they appear to us to have. If I have an experience as of a large apple tree, then that’s because there’s a large apple tree in front of me. If the apples on the tree appear to me to be red, then that’s because there are objects in front of me, apples, that have the property redness; simple.” [FR]
In its most common form a naive realist thinks "I ... am a human being. There is this one physical world, the space where everything exists and the time in which everything happens. There are many things in this physical world, each largely separate from the other and persisting over a span of time... My senses give me direct knowledge of reality. If I see a chair, it is because there is a chair physically where and when I see it. There are exceptions, like when I am dreaming or watching a movie, but these are rare and obviously not real. I can know things through my senses, through thinking about things, and through communication with other people. Other people's beliefs may be correct or not, but beliefs of people I respect, and beliefs held commonly by most people in my society, are usually true." [FR]
For details see Naïve Realism, its
Ramifications and Overcoming.
The sub sections are:
Introduction to Naïve Realism
Evidence Against Naïve Realism
. . . . . . . . The Argument from the Scientific Account of Perception
. . . . . . . . The Adverbial Theory
. . . . . . . . Quantum Physics
. . . . . . . . Virtual Reality
Ramifications of Naïve Realism
. . . . . . . . Common Manifestations of Naïve Realism and Realism
. . . . . . . . Naïve Realism, Le Différend and Organisational Accountability
. . . . . . . . Naïve Realism, Common Sense and Authoritarian Regimes
. . . . . . . . Naïve Realism and Realism as Evolutionary Forces
Overcoming Naïve Realism
Empirical science only claims "that a good theory need only provide an empirically adequate description of observable phenomena" [FR] It doesn't claim to be able to ascertain any kind of truth but rather it only claims to have phenomenological adequacy regarding descriptions of our perceptions of things. This means that empirical science is fundamentally unable to address any questions of ontology (what actually is) and it can only address questions of phenomenology (that which appears to the human mind).
Empiricism is a mixture of naïve realism and positivism. As we saw earlier, naïve realism leads us to assume that the objects of sense perception are physical external objects, and positivism leads us to assume that these objects are the only things that are real. Upon this false foundation, empiricism operates and constructs the rest of empirical science. Hence empirical science has only been able to analyses the objects of perception and the perceived relations between them (phenomenology) and has been totally unable the address issues such as consciousness, present moment awareness and life. This is because in its empiricist foundations it denies the existence of consciousness when it assumes that the objects of consciousness are real external objects (false ontology).
“Science, in the broadest sense, refers to any system of knowledge which attempts to model objective reality.” [FR] But “Empiricists claim that sense experience is the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge” [FR] And because of this reliance of the objects of sense perception, which are unquestioningly assumed to 'be' external objects, empirical science has succumbed to naïve realism and devolved into Scientism.
"Sociologists coined the term "scientism" back in the 1940s, when they realized that many scientists unthinkingly accepted many scientific theories as simple, unquestioned Truths, just like believers in any "ism," and thus we often acted like any prejudiced "believer," especially outside our immediate areas of expertise." [FR] But scientists generally ignore these fundamental limitations of empirical science, and the general public is totally unaware of them. This confusion causes empirical science to intrude into questions of ontology where it is totally incoherent and irrational. This leads to Scientism, which is a very crude form of dogmatic pseudo-religion - the most obvious denomination of which is materialism.
""materialism is the philosophy of the subject who forgets to take account of himself." (Schopenhauer)... an observing subject can only know material objects through the mediation of the brain and its particular organization. The way that the brain knows determines the way that material objects are experienced." [FR] Materialism is the result of naïve realism.
For details see Consciousness
The sub sections are:
Interaction, Awareness and Universal and Individual Consciousness
PEAR / REG / GCP Experiments
Mysticism and Unified Science
We have thus far covered organisms and organisations but there is another vital life form that we must discuss; memes. It has been stated that the ego is a memeplex and here we will go into more detail on what a meme and a memeplex is and how they participate in the three way symbiotic relationship between humans, organisations and memes.
A meme is a cognitive virus. It originates within individual minds as a compelling and self-perpetuating idea. These memes evolve as they interact with other memes. They can be transmitted via any communication medium and they permeate the cultural domain. Each individual mind is a memetic ecosystem and the cultural 'network' connects our minds together into a collective cognitive 'environment' within which memes propagate, compete and evolve.
Ideas, concepts, theories, words, images, songs and all cultural artefacts are the manifestation of memes. Some are useful and some are harmful. Some lead toward vitality, wisdom and liberation whilst others lead toward depression, oppression and suicide.
Activities such as advertising and propaganda are a form of biological warfare, using cognitive viruses to manipulate and exploit people’s minds. “You put an idea out there and seed it, and people carry it for you” (president of advertising firm, quoted from The Asian Age, Mumbai, 2007/04/09)
Memetic (cognitive) ecosystems operate in similar ways to biological (carbon based) ecosystems. There are complex networks of dependencies, population dynamics, antagonism or cooperation between various memes thus forming memeplexes.
Memeplexes are organisations which are formed out of memes rather than people. They operate within the cognitive ecosystem that is the network of individual minds inter-connected via the cultural domain. All ideologies, lifestyles, fashions, and other cultural 'movements' are of this nature. A memeplex is essentially a paradigm.
Memeplexes contain many diverse mutually supportive memes. For example, the dominant memeplex in society at present consists of naïve realism, egoism, empiricism, positivism, desire, fear, greed, capitalism, consumerism, authoritarianism and so on. All these memes cooperate and support each other in their dominance and control of your mind, and the meme ‘cynicism’ seals it all by closing your mind, making sure that no other memes can get a foothold.
For details see Memes and
The sub sections are:
Memes and “The World”
Memes, Humans and Organisations
The ego is the I-thought, the sense of individual 'self'. It is inherently both an individual and collective phenomenon; it is the bridge between a collective of individuals and an individual collective. So the concept of “Individual and Collective Egos” contains a bit of a word conflict. This arises from the inherent systemic parochialism of our language. We experience ourselves as individuals and we experience organisations as collectives of individuals so that is what those terms refer to, however we ourselves are cellular collectives and organisations form individual identities. So in truth both are individual and collective at the same time.
As discussed earlier, awareness permeates the entire systemic context in various forms from particle interactions to human consciousness. This all pervading awareness manifesting within ourselves is what is often called the watcher. To help you recognise it, you can get a taste of it when you are absorbing something in open-minded awe. And if you contrast this state with the state of agitated psycho-babble that the ego maintains it can become clear that the watcher and the ego are distinctly different. You are the watcher not the ego, but the ego will try to deceive you into thinking that the ego is you. This deception results in the idea of a 'person'.
The organism is a complex dynamical system in which high-level forms of awareness arise such as self-awareness and sentient consciousness. These result in a mind, which becomes co-opted and distorted by an ego. The ego sets up a propaganda front, a persona, to represent itself to other egos. The idea of a 'person' is a collective agreement between egos to treat each other's persona as the whole organism, thus protecting the ego's oppressive regime from being questioned. Accepting that “I am a person and that is that” is like accepting the propaganda front of a regime as being the whole society and thereby losing sight of the human beings within it.
The nature of an ego is to not know itself "as it is" it can only know things based on the information that is available to it through the senses and mind and it interprets this based upon its knowledge and beliefs. Hence it is in the nature of the ego to be totally ignorant of the depth and breadth of its ignorance although it assumes that it knows things with certainty.
Although the ego thinks 'I' it is not the real being. The mind is a kind of cognitive software; a control system by which the whole organism integrates and engages in collective behaviour. The mind perceives the organism through the senses and thinks 'I', and this I-thought confuses the life of the whole organism as "its life" then the ego is born. Similarly, government/economy is a kind of cultural software; a control system by which the whole society integrates and engages in collective behaviour. The formal structure (government, economy, etc) perceives the society from its perspective and thinks 'I', and this I-thought confuses the life of the whole society as "its life" then the collective ego is born.
For details see The Growth of the
The sub sections are:
Naïve Realism and the Ego
How does the Collective Mind Arise?
Out of a Collective of Individual Egos How Does an Individual Collective Ego Arise?
Agendas and Values
Conspiracy or Systemic Process?
The Root of the Ego
Implications of the Ego
Through our collective integration or meta system transition [FR], we are in the process of another Cambrian Explosion, which we call 'civilisation'. Understanding this is vital for understanding the true organic nature of ourselves and civilisation. In the following essay I define what I call the man machine, it is the mechanistic construct of traditions, energised thought forms, hierarchies of 'authority' and so on that domesticates humanity, harnesses its power and channels it under centralised control in order to produce a mass labour system that can be used to do work in the world on a scale far greater than any single human.
It is partly a natural evolution of the interplay between informal and formal structures within society (discussed earlier) but it has been harnessed and exploited by the formal structure as an intricate technology of social engineering. This technology has been growing since the dawn of civilisation in various forms but in its most advanced form it has been deployed throughout our civilisation over the last century. The first historical signs of the operation of the man machine occur in ancient Sumerian and Egyptian civilisations where it was most likely first 'invented'. It is based upon advanced communication technologies such as writing and mathematics which allowed for the institutionalisation of power relations.
Initially humans lived in family or tribal groups, which were loosely structured based upon physical power relations and physical necessities such as procreation, biological succession, food acquisition, shelter, and defence. These were purely informal structures (organic collectives integrated via the "grape-vine" and guided by traditions) without any formal structure (institutional control via propaganda and legislation). Without a complex externalised culture, the people confronted their world from a more subjective perspective and where more in tune with their world, with themselves and with each other.
However many thousands of years ago, humans developed intricate and abstract verbal communication systems which led to the development of a formal structure defined by externalised cultural traditions, thus the tribe evolved and became more institutionalised. These cultural innovations further developed into written and mathematical idioms. These enhanced the scope for organisation, collaboration, specialisation, and so on; analogous to the eukaryotes and their enhanced communications (see The First Cambrian Explosion). Thus humans began to organise into complex structures, initially loosely defined, but the roles and relations became successively entrenched and institutionalised.
For details see The Man Machine.
The sub sections are:
A Systemic History
What to Do?
A mind within an organism and a culture within an organisation (society) is a naturally arising phenomenon and it serves an important integrative function. The ego too is a naturally arising phenomenon within the mind / culture that arises when needed but subsides when not needed.
When the underlying system has natural boundaries, such as a body or a geographic region or cultural group and that system is embedded in a context where there are real and discernible threats to the cohesion of the system then the ego arises to assimilate and coordinate the well-defined system and to integrate its functions to optimise the collective's survival potential. In the case of an organism in an ecosystem or a society amidst other societies a strong group identity naturally arises at certain times and the individual cells or people assimilate into that group. This is clearly seen in nations during war time. In such contexts the assimilation is of benefit to all individuals and the cells/people accept many constraints on their individuality in order to create the group cohesion.
An ego serves a definite purpose in times of threat and dire need, but as an entrenched and domineering force it has no purpose at all, indeed it becomes a great danger to the collective. In the absence of threat it is natural for the ego to subside into a latent state and allow the organism to go about the business of living in a harmonious distributed way rather than being drawn into a centralised and holistically inefficient mode of operation. This is seen in nations that experience long periods of peace, prosperity and security through good relations with other nations. Centralised focus is efficient when coordinated collective activity is required to face a threat or collective need but in all other circumstances the distributed parallel system functions most efficiently in a distributed parallel manner. The centralised ego has a centralised perspective that is inherently inappropriate for governing the detailed functioning of the complex system. The enforcement of its perspective inevitably results in 'le différend' [FR] (see Naïve Realism, Le Différend and Organisational Accountability) and totalitarianism. Only when the system is free to operate according to its intricate and subtle dynamics does it live in peace and abundance.
For details see Integration
The sub section is: Governance Pendulum
The nature of the ego is to control and assimilate. It seeks total control of that which it defines as 'itself' and it seeks to control its environment to acquire that which it desires and to avoid that which it is averse to. In this context it forms agendas of various kinds involving personal security, acquisition, avoidance and expansion. It seeks to expand its field of control and to secure its control, this is its principal agenda. Unlike the body/society the ego has no existence other than as a thought/cultural construct that arises within the mind/culture. Anything that it defines as 'me' or 'mine' becomes a part of itself and in this way it assimilates and grows. Whilst the body/society has definite constraints the ego can grow and grow as it assimilates more and more. In this way the body/society is like the 'hardware' and the ego is a piece of 'software' within the mind/culture, which is the "operating system", hence the ego is effectively a control system program.
A person who owns a vast empire has an ego that encompasses that empire to the extent that they identify with it. If they were to lose everything except their body their ego would feel enormously deflated because it had expanded well beyond the boundaries of their body. This is often the most crushing part of a big loss or a relationship break up; the ego identifies with the possessions or the 'us' and it assimilates this into its identity, which is then torn apart when the possessions are lost or the partner leaves.
Left to itself the ego seeks control of everything that it can reach, over other egos and over the entire environment that it finds itself in. The tighter its control the more secure it feels and the broader its reach the stronger it feels. The more it gets used to having control and strength the more that it feels it needs these, until it has achieved total control and total dominance. The only thing that limits it is either competition from other egos of directed self-awareness that constrains it and keeps it in holistic balance with the associated body/society.
For details see Control
The sub sections are:
Why is it that Power Corrupts?
. . . . . . . . How can a System Wield Power Without Becoming Corrupt?
Security? Who's Security?
A cycle of growing self-deception, delusion and denial occurs if the ego engages in pursuing agendas that conflict with the body/society's deeply held convictions and principles. The sinking feeling of guilt and bad conscience is a direct result and unless there is contrition and self-examination it only strengthens the ego thus leading to manic irrational behaviour such as trying to cover up the bad conscience through distraction or to project the blame onto an external scapegoat.
As the agitation worsens the ego's judgement is clouded and as it becomes gradually more desperate it engages in more desperate actions, which only increase its agitation and so the loop spirals into eventual breakdown. This loop can only be broken through honour, self-honesty, contrition and self-corrective behaviour leading to expanding awareness of reality rather than futilely trying to force reality into the confines or its narrow understanding.
In the case of a collective ego or regime, by the time it has established itself and developed a self-image as well as a feeling of control and a taste for power it has also formed its own agendas, desires and aversions that define its personality. Any laws of the land, constitutions or other restrictions that constrain the regime from pursuing its agendas are easily circumvented if its desires and aversions are strong enough. If necessary splinter personalities are created so that the core personality can retain its self-deception of legitimacy whilst the splinter personality pursues hidden agendas. For example, “the Enterprise” involved in the Iran/Contra operations in the US [FR] and the growing proliferation of covert operations in general both there and throughout the world [FR].
For details see Why
do Some Egos Become Psychotic?
The sub sections are:
Why the Sudden Rise in Egoic Fascism of Late?
Why are Some Societies More Susceptible to Fascism than Others?
. . . . . . . . Structural Dynamics of Society and 'Terrorism'