This is part of the Systems
Analysis of Organisation, Ego, Control and Authoritarianism.
The sub section is: Governance Pendulum
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.
"One of the findings from the study of self-organizing systems is that maximum benefit comes from de-centralisation, the ability of the parts to do their own thing without overall control. This has major political implications for business and society and here we will look into the ramifications of this on the conflict between state or company interests and those of the individuals making it up. Many countries around the world pride themselves on their democratic systems, yet we will show that in practice the world still operates under the assumption that control from the top must over-ride the interests of all the individuals. The apparent anarchy of uncontrolled society will be contrasted with the self-organized stability of complex systems and we will see that self-organization, not governmental control, is the most effective way of establishing a true democracy." [FR]
In an ideal natural case the ego arises when required and subsides when not required, i.e. one can be individually focused or broadly contemplative as and when required. But when an overdeveloped ego succumbs to naïve realism (see Naïve Realism, its Ramifications and Overcoming) it "gives itself life" by appropriating the life of the organism and comes to believe that 'it' is the body/society hence it unthinkingly uses that body/society to pursue its agendas becomes an authoritarian regime. This is the point at which the ego starts to step out of its jurisdiction. When the ego ceases to serve a purely integrative function and it uses the body/society to pursue its agendas and impose its illusions on the cells/people then it enslaves the cells/people and it becomes a destructive force.
It is strengthened by dire circumstances so in order to sustain itself it instinctively seeks to engineer circumstances of threat and dire need in order to justify its existence and prevent itself from subsiding into a latent state. It perceives peace as death for itself and conflict as abundant life for itself. This does great harm to all individual cells/people so they resist these constraints on their individuality in order to maintain systemic cohesion. This leads to a cycle of internal struggle.
In civilisation the collective ego seeks to pursue its own agendas and it responds primarily to its own desires and fears. It co-opts the culture, which then neglects its primary function as a point of integration through which to manifest the will of the society. Instead the collective-ego imposes its own will upon the society by filling the culture with manipulative propaganda. This then erodes the fabric of society and the ecosystem, weakening communal understanding, which results in social and ecological disintegration and a crisis of civilisation resulting in revolution, invasion or regime change of some kind.
In our own individual lives the ego seeks to pursue its own agendas and it responds primarily to its own desires and fears. It co-opts the mind, which then neglects its primary function as a point of integration through which to manifest the will of the organism. Instead the ego imposes its own will upon the organism by filling the mind with manipulative propaganda. This then erodes the communal understanding, which results in worsening health, loss of vitality, disease, paralysis, dementia and other serious ailments resulting finally in death.
A person leading a deeply egoic life and using allopathic medicine to stay fit is like a dictatorial regime that uses lots of technology to stay productive and keep the people and environment under control, but the people become slaves enacting only the will of the regime and they die from the inside out as does the ecosystem, and no amount of technology can hold the system together in such a scenario.
Whereas when the people are free and vibrant and enacting their collectively will it leads to abundance and a flourishing of creative potential that can overcome enormous odds and that is strong and robust, that lives a long and healthy life with no inherent process of decay. There need not be pre-programmed aging and death for a civilisation, it is through ignorance and abuse that it becomes worn out both socially and ecologically. An ecosystem can survive for billions of years because it does not evolve an egoic power structure that abuses it, however human beings and human civilisations are very short lived because they destroy themselves through ongoing self-abuse. Similar to the case of an ecosystem, there are many stories of sages and mystics who overcame their ego and live for long periods of time. The article Systemic Health [FR] has more on this.
If one considers the problem of egos or authoritarian regimes these root causes of dysfunction have been present throughout the (see The Second Cambrian Explosion) and are instrumental in the evolution of what we call 'civilisation', which is an inherently egoic / authoritarian structure. However it is only recognised as authoritarian when it becomes dangerously fascist. What we are currently witnessing is not just the rise of US fascism that will impact on US citizens and victims of US invasions, but rather the rise of global fascism that is the "end game" of civilisation as we know it. The authoritarian delusion is reaching for its ultimate dream of "full spectrum dominance" [FR, FR, FR, FR] and in doing so it will encounter the fundamental limits of its delusion and be brought back to reality one way or another.
The rise of what we call fascism is just a flower on the tree of 'normal' authoritarianism, which signifies that the egoic delusion is reaching a critical phase. We may pluck that flower but the tree remains. We may overthrow one regime but if we just return to 'normal' another regime will inevitably arise one after the other until the root causes of authoritarianism are faced and dealt with. To remove the threat of fascist psychotic episodes forever we must uproot the tree by uprooting the collective ego throughout the civilisation and the individual ego within ourselves. These egos should still arise when needed but also subside when not needed, serving only an integrative rather than a self-serving dictatorial function.
The ego is partly a force of nature that is beyond all reasoning and it is partly a collective consensus that is amenable to influence by members of the collective. There is a delicate and shifting balance between its "force of nature" aspect and its "collective consensus" aspect. In the context of a collective ego within a society this is essentially the issue of governance and the balance that democracy attempts to tilt in favour of "collective consensus". One extreme is if the government is entirely free to act as it wishes and the people have no say at all, they are not even informed about what is happening and are merely required to obey any command given by authority. In this case the ego is purely a force of nature, that cannot be reasoned with and can either be obeyed or fought, with no other option available. The opposite extreme situation is if every aspect of the behaviour of the government and its various agencies is determined solely by detailed collective participation then government is totally responsive to the people; that is so long as the people are informed and rational, and not subverted and manipulated via other means such as propaganda. These two mark the extremities within which the balance of governance shifts, the extremes are never actually reached because the system becomes unstable before it can reach such an extreme condition.
As the shift tilts toward totalitarianism the people become either submissive or revolutionary, usually both in various ways in order to protect themselves from persecution. As the shift tilts toward total democracy the people become empowered and patriotic and they actively participate in governance. Like any oscillating system, these two create opposing forces so lets call this overall system a governance pendulum.
When the people are empowered and patriotic the collective ego becomes strong because the people channel their power into the centralised power structure and that structure grows. Furthermore the people trust it so they are more open to it and see its penetration into everyday life as a beneficial thing. But the collective ego then succumbs to naïve realism and feels 'itself' to be strong and powerful. That power is not its own but in its ignorance it doesn't know this, all it knows it that it feels strong. Over time it uses that power to formulate and pursue its agendas thus gradually using that power, channelled by the people, to suppress the people and coerce them into enacting its will.
In the opposite swing, a strong totalitarian government oppresses the people and destroys all faith that they have in the government, they come to see it simply as a force of evil with which they cannot meaningfully participate, it is alien, unresponsive and hostile, hence their power is gradually withdrawn. Don't forget that the government has no power other than that which it appropriates from the people, it is merely a control system, a cultural construct and the people are the underlying reality. The appropriated power can be stored in reservoirs such as military institutions, bureaucracies, various agencies and elites for a time and bank vaults of money can motivate greedy people for a time but ultimately all these things rely on the support of the people. In this way a strongly egoic government gradually weakens its support base but it is totally ignorant of this fact.
Egos are ignorant of most things that are not directly related to their desires, fears and agendas; beyond that they know mainly just assumptions and delusions. As the power base is withdrawn from underneath the government it weakens to the point where it can be overcome by revolutionary action, external invasion or forced to start responding to the will of the people, which is the smoothest return swing of the pendulum. The pendulum is highly non-linear and may follow a path that leads through successive cycles of totalitarianism or cycles of democracy, but the underlying structure of the system is like a swinging pendulum of governance. Like any oscillating system, it can swing wildly and out of control, it can swing gently or it can rest at equilibrium.
However the nature of the governance pendulum changes as the political, ecological, social, ideological, economic and technological context changes; this is analogous to a complex and changing gravitational field for a pendulum so the equilibrium point changes over time. For example, as technologies advance and the feedback/control mechanism of economics penetrates deeper into all aspects of the life of the society and the lives of individuals governments are increasing tempted to rely on technological / economic supremacy over the people rather than the good will and free participation of the people. They increasingly use highly advanced technologies of manipulation, surveillance, suppression, deception, persuasion and brute force. Because of this they no longer rely as much on informing the people, listening to the people and managing debate and consensus. Instead the communications are more about distracting the people and manipulating their consent.
This effective enslavement of the population leads to systemic resistance of countless forms. Governments usually underestimate just how much they rely on the good will and support of the people. The rise of vandalism, non-compliance, acts of subversion and sabotage indicate the degree to which governments have tried to subvert the people and break away from reliance on the willing cooperation of the people, thereby enslaving the people within the government's agendas. For an 'unorthodox' analysis of the issue of "regime building leading to conflict with innocent forces that become embittered due to authoritarian attitudes, thus leading to entrenched struggle that undermines the very foundation of the regime" see the article Analysis of Regimes and Resistance [FR] and also this short story Descent into Chaos [FR].
The attempts by governments to demonise resistance as 'terrorism' or 'treason' and to remove all mechanisms whereby the people can protect themselves from the technological / economic power of the government indicates that these collective egos are attempting to free themselves from their reliance on the power of the people and to "go it alone" with a small heavily conditioned elite to operate the technology that will be used to suppress and enslave the remaining population. The elites are conditioned to believe that it is they who are in control, but they are the most tightly enslaved from birth to death, they are the innermost mechanism of the growing ego.
This is an entirely natural trend driven by the ego's lust for control and it seems rational and imperative to the ego through the lens of its ignorance and delusion. It comes to see the freedom of the people as a threat to its security, which indeed it is because when peace breaks out the ego subsides and all its delusions evaporate.
The principal driving force of the pendulum is the collective-ego's naïve realism, first in confusing the influx of people power as its own power and secondly in thinking that it can oppress the people without weakening itself. Another driving force is the fact that after generations of oppression and suffering the people do not get weaker, they get stronger, and after generations of comfort and security the people do not get stronger, they get weaker. When the people have little to lose and much to gain they risk everything for even small gains, which soon adds up to revolution, but when they have much to lose and little to gain they are prevaricating and 'pragmatic', which soon adds up to tyranny.
The way to dampen and eventually break the cycles of the swinging pendulum is to overcome naïve realism by deep and systematic self-awareness, both individually and collectively. By people being aware of the nature and functioning of their own egos and the manner in which they form a collective ego. This doesn't destroy the individual or collective ego, it simply brings it back into balance and allows the underlying system to live in peace. A peaceful society is naturally self-organising and there is no need for a centralised regime to control things.
Next section is: Control
Or return to: Systems Analysis of Organisation, Ego, Control and Authoritarianism