Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cults'?

This is a forum for discussing philosophical theories of government and social structure. It is not a venue for partisan rants or plugging favored candidates.

Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cults'?

Postby Mossling on December 1st, 2019, 11:27 pm 

No matter whether a democracy or a dictatorship, it seems that in the larger societies, the governing body is always involved in engineering, which includes military strategy and technology, whilst the rest of the society - the majority of the population; the 'masses that matter' (in terms of having the potential to install a new governing body), enjoy the economic benefits of having relatively centralized governance.

In the same way that the average citizen has no idea how to begin going about designing and manufacturing a smartphone, let alone the various complex apps that such a portable computer uses, they also tend to be in the dark as regards sophisticated statecraft and maintenance.

When it comes to those masses envisioning how their sophisticated society should be governed, then, is it not akin to them attempting to envision how to create and programme a smartphone?

Of course a small state can have a very simple social structure and economy - like some of the Vanuatu islands do, for example, and every member of such a community can have a pretty realistic working idea of how their nation needs to be run.

Those islands are also famous for the 'cargo cult' phenomenon, however - where the population just want to receive beneficial sophisticated cargo from outside of their community, and without any interest in the sophisticated culture that created it. They just want the material benefits, and the engineers and their world is of no interest or concern to them.

Is this a microcosm of what is in fact the case in larger, more sophisticated societies, do you think? - Where there is a significant minority of sophisticated engineers, who ply the relatively unsophisticated masses with their engineered 'cargo' in order to keep them on board the sophisticatedly engineered social enterprise?

The Roman leaders and their bread and circuses comes to mind, for example. But does this always have to be the case?

Is it because too many engineers might upset the apple cart at the top? Or that the unsophisticated masses are required to be a buffer between those engineers and any hostile forces? - As those 'expendable fools' man front lines and do all the other dirty jobs?

Is it really just a matter of 'those in the know' using their knowledge to bribe those who don't know to do the things that 'those in the know' don't want to do?
User avatar
Mossling
Active Member
 
Posts: 1340
Joined: 02 Jul 2009


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Serpent on December 2nd, 2019, 1:27 am 

Mossling » December 1st, 2019, 10:27 pm wrote:No matter whether a democracy or a dictatorship, it seems that in the larger societies, the governing body is always involved in engineering, which includes military strategy and technology,

Let's just fact-check, however superficially. Since when is military strategy a branch of engineering? Who/what were governing bodies of larger societies in history? Certainly a lot of generals - but did any of them personally design the siege engines, tanks and missiles they deployed? Nope. Prelates, potentates, kings and queens, sultans, maharajas and czars... nope, not an engineer in the lot. Aristocrats and landowners, inheritors of wealth, anointed by blood, hand-picked by gods - never chosen for their facility with tools. Presidents and Prime ministers with private-school educations and moneyed fathers; arhigos and guerrilla fighters, actors, magnates and populist preachers - no techno-geeks.

whilst the rest of the society - the majority of the population; the 'masses that matter' (in terms of having the potential to install a new governing body), enjoy the economic benefits of having relatively centralized governance.

Where that has economic benefits, the masses get less of the benefit than the rulership, its financeers, security detail, administrators, spiritual advisors, lawyers and techno-savvy contractors - in roughly that order, the contractors being fairly low in the pecking-order.

In the same way that the average citizen has no idea how to begin going about designing and manufacturing a smartphone, let alone the various complex apps that such a portable computer uses, they also tend to be in the dark as regards sophisticated statecraft and maintenance.

I would pay to watch Rupert Murdoch try to fix his sum-pump!
"Statecraft" is neither engineering nor sophisticated - just remember your lines and and don't fall over the furniture - and ferchrissake, don't throw up on other heads of state! The international machinations are carried out by diplomats and spies; the maintenance is done by 'faceless' civil servants on a rigid pay-scale.

When it comes to those masses envisioning how their sophisticated society should be governed, then, is it not akin to them attempting to envision how to create and programme a smartphone?

Not in the least significant detail. Everybody knows how to live. Everybody knows how to be in a community. It takes well-organized leadership to complicate it and screw it up very expensively.

Those islands are also famous for the 'cargo cult' phenomenon, however - where the population just want to receive beneficial sophisticated cargo from outside of their community, and without any interest in the sophisticated culture that created it. They just want the material benefits, and the engineers and their world is of no interest or concern to them.

How I wish that meme/icon/cliche/caricature had not come into vogue!
No, the relationship of the average citizen to his or her government is nothing like that simplistic image. Being deliberately shut out of and misinformed about governance is nothing like indifference. Doing the work one is assigned and paying the taxes one is assessed and offering the service - very often onto the death or sacrifice of a child or a limb - that one is asked to perform, without a voice in the decision-making, is nothing like reaping unearned benefits.

Is it really just a matter of 'those in the know' using their knowledge to bribe those who don't know to do the things that 'those in the know' don't want to do?

No. It's nothing like this at all.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3745
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Mossling on December 2nd, 2019, 5:07 am 

Hi Serpent, thanks for your ideas.

Serpent wrote:Since when is military strategy a branch of engineering?

"...both Cheney and Rumsfeld were minimalists when it came to the Afghan and Iraq wars. They engineered a strategy that paid little attention to the character of the regimes that would replace the Taliban and the Baathists." - Assessing George W. Bush's Legacy: The Right Man? (2010), p128.

It is not a "branch", as you suggest, but there is engineering involved.

Serpent wrote:Who/what were governing bodies of larger societies in history? Certainly a lot of generals - but did any of them personally design the siege engines, tanks and missiles they deployed? Nope.

Some of them have, of course. But see the next statement below - a governing body is not about single actors.

Serpent wrote: Aristocrats and landowners, inheritors of wealth, anointed by blood, hand-picked by gods - never chosen for their facility with tools.

Let's keep the idea of "governing body" as broad as possible - to include civil servants, as you seem to have inferred later on. When the engineer is working on behalf of the politicians/tyrant in charge, then they are performing a civil service that effectively subsumes them into that governing body. I'm working from these premises here.

Serpent wrote:
Mossling wrote: When it comes to those masses envisioning how their sophisticated society should be governed, then, is it not akin to them attempting to envision how to create and programme a smartphone?

Not in the least significant detail. Everybody knows how to live. Everybody knows how to be in a community. It takes well-organized leadership to complicate it and screw it up very expensively.

I recognize that that is true for a small technologically undeveloped community, but does everyone really know about, say, the construction of strategies for securing national interest in the international arena - where complex constellations of competing ideas (diverse groups and psychologies) and their discourses flow and intermingle, as well as, internally, individual wellbeing, group interests, national interests, regional concerns, cultural interests, and moral interests all flow together and interact? Not to mention the details of how social media and security procedures are monitored, rolled out and regulated in amongst all of that. Sorry, I don't see it, Serpent. A sophisticated society's governing body appears to need to be aware of and able to competently master such a complex 'beast', which requires a sophisticated education.

For example, it seems well known that if Trump didn't have sophisticated, educated people around him, his "knowledge of how to live in a community" would get him and his nation into deeper trouble. Replace him with someone who has a better moral compass but a limited understanding of technicalities, though, and they would similarly risk accidentally causing disasters, would they not? Thus, your everyday person needs to be chaperoned by well educated technicians and experts in order for them to appear competent in statecraft.

For a large, complex, sophisticated society, you can have a competent governing body composed entirely of well educated engineers and social disaster may be avoided, but not with a governing body consisting entirely of everyday ignorant but good hearted people. Without sophisticated advice from cleverer people, they'd bring the nation backwards. Therefore, a competent governing body for a sophisticated nation requires sophisticated engineers as its essential, core quality.

Serpent wrote: Being deliberately shut out of and misinformed about governance is nothing like indifference.

Is lacking the attention span or emotional resources to be able to wade through the dry information in school being "shut out and misinformed"? And anyway, the internet has probably been the greatest source of education for myself in my lifetime. It's all there for anyone who wants it, isn't it? There's no secret here that people are being shut out of as far as I am aware... and in any case, you seem to think that governance is easy - "everyone knows how to live in a community", etc.

I have not been very convinced by your arguments here, Serpent. I still see a governing body that subsumes engineers, and a relatively intellectually disinterested majority mass population that receives the benefits of those engineers' sophistication, but which has no interest in the culture of the geeky bookish world that those engineers enjoy living within.

Those ignorant masses are quite happy to use the tech made by those engineers, though, of course. Perhaps they can see it as some sort of victory over those engineers, even - like when factory workers overthrow their bosses to get hold of the means of production. If you know how to maintain and work the machines, then the culture that created those machines is expendable - for now...

Thanks again,

Mossling.
User avatar
Mossling
Active Member
 
Posts: 1340
Joined: 02 Jul 2009


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Serpent on December 2nd, 2019, 10:52 am 

Mossling » December 2nd, 2019, 4:07 am wrote:[military strategy]
It is not a "branch", as you suggest, but there is engineering involved.

No: that is a metaphorical application of a word.

[generals - but did any of them personally design the siege engines]
Some of them have, of course.

Name three and then show me their record as rulers in peacetime.

Let's keep the idea of "governing body" as broad as possible - to include civil servants, as you seem to have inferred later on. When the engineer is working on behalf of the politicians/tyrant in charge, then they are performing a civil service that effectively subsumes them into that governing body. I'm working from these premises here.

And the maid who sweeps the drawing-room is counted among the elite? I don't think so.

[ Everybody knows how to live.]
I recognize that that is true for a small technologically undeveloped community, but does everyone really know about, say, the construction of strategies for securing national interest in the international arena - where complex constellations of competing ideas (diverse groups and psychologies) and their discourses flow and intermingle, as well as, internally, individual wellbeing, group interests, national interests, regional concerns, cultural interests, and moral interests all flow together and interact?

You're right - nobody knows how to do that. Not Kim Jung Un, not Boris Johnson, not Jair Bolsonaro or Vladimir Putin - and for damn sure, not DJT! A quick glance at history will show that hardly anybody has ever been very good at it, and a great manyrulers and leaders have made an enormous mess of it. Maybe an international conference of randomly chosen blue and pink-collared workers would do a better job - simply because they have more common experience at living.

Not to mention the details of how social media and security procedures are monitored, rolled out and regulated in amongst all of that. Sorry, I don't see it, Serpent. A sophisticated society's governing body appears to need to be aware of and able to competently master such a complex 'beast', which requires a sophisticated education.

Except, it's not. The governing bodies are as ignorant as ... well, ignorant.

For example, it seems well known that if Trump didn't have sophisticated, educated people around him, his "knowledge of how to live in a community" would get him and his nation into deeper trouble.


Why are there no ROTFM smilies on this site?

For a large, complex, sophisticated society, you can have a competent governing body composed entirely of well educated engineers and social disaster may be avoided, but not with a governing body consisting entirely of everyday ignorant but good hearted people.

Either of those, preferably a mix of both, would be a very positive change.
In fact, plain old functional democracy might work just as well.
Without sophisticated advice from cleverer people, they'd bring the nation backwards.

Good idea! Breakneck "progress" has brought to a quadruple brink: mega-death by weather, war, pandemic, or system-failure.
Therefore, a competent governing body for a sophisticated nation requires sophisticated engineers as its essential, core quality.

Engineers don't govern. They build bridges, solar panels, rockets and torture racks.

Is lacking the attention span or emotional resources to be able to wade through the dry information in school being "shut out and misinformed"?

Who is that? Why should civics be dessicated? How accurate and comprehensive is the information offered to school-children? How accurate and informative are the news broadcasts? Who monitors the truth-value of political speeches?
And anyway, the internet has probably been the greatest source of education for myself in my lifetime.

Oh yeah! Comprehensive... if you can sort out the kernels of fact from all the other .... material.

I have not been very convinced by your arguments here, Serpent.

I didn't expect to convince you.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3745
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Mossling on December 2nd, 2019, 8:24 pm 

Thanks again, Serpent.

We seem to be suffering from a case of semantic dissonance, however.

Here is the definition of 'engineer' that I am using here on this thread:
engineer (noun)

: a member of a military group devoted to engineering work
2 obsolete : a crafty schemer : plotter
3a : a designer or builder of engines
b : a person who is trained in or follows as a profession a branch of engineering
c : a person who carries through an enterprise by skillful or artful contrivance
4 : a person who runs or supervises an engine or an apparatus


That seems to tackle most of your counter-points above.

Meanwhile, a maid is never more sophisticated than her employer, whilst an engineer (of any sort) can often be more sophisticated than any populist airhead that has been crowned or promoted into a leadership position and has requested their advice.

A quick glance at history will show that hardly anybody has ever been very good at it, and a great many rulers and leaders have made an enormous mess of it.

Alexander of Macedon was educated by Aristotle (sophisticated!) and had a pretty good governance model it seems.... until he apparently left his empire "to the strongest" on his deathbed...
User avatar
Mossling
Active Member
 
Posts: 1340
Joined: 02 Jul 2009


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Serpent on December 2nd, 2019, 8:49 pm 

Mossling » December 2nd, 2019, 7:24 pm wrote:
Here is the definition of 'engineer' that I am using here on this thread:

c : a person who carries through an enterprise by skillful or artful contrivance

I see. You don't mean engineer, as in engineer; you mean a manipulator and schemer. And you believe that such manipulative schemers are the only people fit to run large societies.
I imagine they agree with you.

Meanwhile, a maid is never more sophisticated than her employer,

I'm not taking that for granted. It's a lot easier to survive in the upper classes than below stairs. However, the butler doesn't rule, either, nor the Latin tutor, nor the architect rebuilding the ancestral manse - all of whom are likely more clever than the scion, and none of whom are consulted in how the master votes in the house of Lords.
whilst an engineer (of any sort) can often be more sophisticated than any populist airhead that has been crowned or promoted into a leadership position and has requested their advice.

Here again, you don't mean a builder of engines but a intriguer. That may put him in a position to influence the ruler, but rarely if ever puts him in a position to rule. It very often puts his head on a chopping-block.

Alexander of Macedon was educated by Aristotle (sophisticated!) and had a pretty good governance model it seems.... until he apparently left his empire "to the strongest" on his deathbed...

He got an awful lot of people killed, starting with the "engineers" who plotted against his regime. He conquered a lot of territory, enslaved and injured a lot of foreigners, burned down some cities and got into all the history books.
I don't see where he was responsible for
...the construction of strategies for securing national interest in the international arena - where complex constellations of competing ideas (diverse groups and psychologies) and their discourses flow and intermingle, as well as, internally, individual wellbeing, group interests, national interests, regional concerns, cultural interests, and moral interests all flow together and interact.

And the other two?
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3745
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Mossling on December 2nd, 2019, 9:51 pm 

Serpent, you still seem to have a problem with the idea of an engineer, who, in contriving solutions, is not a corrupt actor.

contrive: b. to form or create in an artistic or ingenious manner.


Secondly, I have been speaking about governing bodies which, when they seek and act upon advice from sophisticated people, subsume those people's service into their own bodies, since those people's sophisticated world view has been translated into a governing strategy that is directly felt by the masses.

When Trump follows and implements the advice of an engineer external to his administration, he effectively tenporarily defers his governing authority to that engineer.
User avatar
Mossling
Active Member
 
Posts: 1340
Joined: 02 Jul 2009


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Serpent on December 2nd, 2019, 11:48 pm 

When Trump follows and implements the advice of an engineer external to his administration, he effectively tenporarily defers his governing authority to that engineer.

Rudy Giulinai? Dick Cheney? Alphonse Richelieu?
Sure -- nothing corrupt there. Subsumed right into the body.
Yes, all right, keep you innocence.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3745
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Mossling on December 3rd, 2019, 12:22 am 

Serpent » December 3rd, 2019, 12:48 pm wrote:
When Trump follows and implements the advice of an engineer external to his administration, he effectively tenporarily defers his governing authority to that engineer.

Rudy Giulinai? Dick Cheney? Alphonse Richelieu?
Sure -- nothing corrupt there. Subsumed right into the body.
Yes, all right, keep you innocence.

So your logic here is just because Trump uses some corrupt accomplices to engineer his strategies, then all engineers that help a governing body anywhere in history or on the planet are corrupt? Sorry, that doesn't make sense.

Previous to that, you've shown that you think an engineer can only be someone who creates machines with cogs and handles and whatnot. Then, after being educated on the topic, you think a person who engineers ingenious strategies or artistic creations is by default corrupt. It's all in the above conversation, my friend.

Yes, I am innocent - of committing the 'crime' of false logic! Haha. Unlike you.
User avatar
Mossling
Active Member
 
Posts: 1340
Joined: 02 Jul 2009


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Serpent on December 3rd, 2019, 2:03 am 

Mossling » December 2nd, 2019, 11:22 pm wrote:So your logic here is just because Trump uses some corrupt accomplices to engineer his strategies, then all engineers that help a governing body anywhere in history or on the planet are corrupt?

Nothing is "just because Trump" - Trump is remarkable only for the degree of incompetence of his corrupt retinue. But even that, even the frequency with which he discards them, is not unique. He is what's left in the bottom of an exhausted civilization. It's all happened before - with predictable and yet unforeseen regularity.
All, or very nearly all rules have had duplicitous "engineers" on their payrolls. And yes, pretty much every governing body in the history of complex civilizations has been more or less corrupt and in more or less the same ways.

Sorry, that doesn't make sense.

It will, once you realize that the H. sapiens went insane about 10,000 years ago.

Previous to that, you've shown that you think an engineer can only be someone who creates machines with cogs and handles and whatnot.

No: I accepted the fact that you use the word, not according to its literal definition but according to a metaphorical application.

you think a person who engineers ingenious strategies or artistic creations is by default corrupt.

I don't think corruption happens by default. The schemers and manipulators who "engineer" coups d'etat, assassinations and punitive treaty terms are not doing it because they can't build machines with cogs and handles and whatnot; they do it for fun and profit and power - especially the power.

I notice you haven't submitted a long list of benign, honest machinators who brought about ingenious sophisticated solutions to promote the welfare of their masses. Not a lot of artistic creations by rulers - though I can't see quite what's that got to do with statecraft.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3745
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Positor on December 3rd, 2019, 2:09 am 

Would it be helpful to use the term 'expert' rather than 'engineer'? It lacks the connotation of scheming and manipulation.
Positor
Active Member
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: 05 Feb 2010


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Serpent on December 3rd, 2019, 11:15 am 

Positor » December 3rd, 2019, 1:09 am wrote:Would it be helpful to use the term 'expert' rather than 'engineer'? It lacks the connotation of scheming and manipulation.

It might work better semantically - but not historically.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3745
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby TheVat on December 3rd, 2019, 1:11 pm 

If we posit an expert-ocracy as ideal, then we would need to address ways to ensure that the expert's only loyalty is to a code of law that clearly states some public good, e.g. public power, where the mandate is to deliver electricity as efficiently and cheaply and reliably as possible, with the least harm to the air and water and soil that sustains us. Experts cannot be partisan and, if elected (like a Board of Commissioners, which is how public power is done in a couple heartland states in the U.S.), there can be no private money involved in their seeking office, i.e. no donor base, an accessible free public airing of their policy positions, etc. Since we presume that experts have more fealty to facts and evidence than do ordinary politicians, we must structure their appointment in the way that least tempts them away from facts and evidence and being accountable to same. In the present system, where experts are easily bought, easily pressured into adopting a partisan twist (go with the Party or we show you the door), and survive at the whim of sometimes demented oligarchical leaders, this potential for a more results-based system is mostly suppressed.
User avatar
TheVat
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 7336
Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Black Hills


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Serpent on December 3rd, 2019, 4:58 pm 

All true and valid, but my biggest obstacle is the polity as 'cargo cult' - passive recipients of the artful statecrafters' engine-nuity.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3745
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Mossling on December 5th, 2019, 4:43 am 

Positor » December 3rd, 2019, 3:09 pm wrote:Would it be helpful to use the term 'expert' rather than 'engineer'? It lacks the connotation of scheming and manipulation.

Yes, we could use experts instead of engineers, thank you for that, positor.

The word expert infers expertise gained through some sort of experience, but it seems that it can merely be experience gained through absorbing second hand information. I prefer the word engineer because it infers planning of practical applications, rather than mere 'practical' posturing, which is what some so-called experts appear to often do. Experts can be resources - like fact databases, or traditional artisans, but not necessarily problem solvers.

Serpent wrote:once you realize that the H. sapiens went insane about 10,000 years ago.

I see. Well, I did get the feeling that you were from an older generation than me, Serpent, but not that old. haha.

Serpent wrote:you haven't submitted a long list of benign, honest machinators who brought about ingenious sophisticated solutions to promote the welfare of their masses. Not a lot of artistic creations by rulers

My concern isn't individuals here, it is governing bodies that hand over strategic authority to sophisticated engineers/experts/advisers of various sorts and thus subsume them into that governing body in the process - albeit temporarily in many cases.

When Churchill secretly allowed Alan Turing's work to influence his war strategy, for example, Turing and his genius became part of the body that governed the successful manoeuvres that won Churchill his acclaim. It was a team effort, though, and Turing was seemingly more the hero than Churchill.

TheVat wrote:If we posit an expert-ocracy as ideal, then we would need to address ways to ensure that the expert's only loyalty is to a code of law that clearly states some public good, e.g. public power,

I think we are getting close to evaluating Plato's positing of the wise philosopher king situation here, which could be a topic for another thread.

I am not necessarily championing any particular model on this thread, it's just that when it comes to larger societies, and the apparent cohesive, relatively sophisticated infrastructure that they require (regular communal rituals/masses, emphasised and sustained organizational hierarchies, efficient mass communication technologies, and so on), it seems that some ingenuity beyond the average Joe's capacity is required - no matter whether via subtle religious coercion/hypnotism, or otherwise, and it seems that due to a society having safer, more civil areas (government offices, univeristies, libraries, temples, and other such spaces), whilst at he same time having frontiers where raw, chaotic forces enter, those living closer to and within the safer, more civil spaces will be shielded from chaotic forces enough to be able to cultivate the fineness of mind and body to master the more subtle areas of engineering.

Those 'on the front lines', meanwhile - psychiatric nurses, infantrymen, prison guards, and so forth, will need to be the buffer layer that inevitably becomes physically and mentally numb and calloused through enduring the tempests of chaos on the wild frontiers that they have been assigned to.

It seems impossible for every person in a society to be able to simultaneously acquire the fine understanding of a sophisticated engineer/expert/advisor whilst being blasted by the chaos of the 'wilderness' - whether be it in a ghetto, in a household where domestic abuse is the norm, neglected by legal guardians, bullied at school to the point of contemplating suicide, and so on - every society must have frontiers at the borders of chaos, and that is the apparent source of the inevitable less sophisticated masses - the number, more traumatised, less 'fine' people.

No matter the ingenuity of the engineered mental and physical care systems, it appears there can and will never be a suitable catch-all solution to this numbing and 'dumbing' effect within such large societies - or will there?

Serpent wrote:my biggest obstacle is the polity as 'cargo cult' - passive recipients of the artful statecrafters' engine-nuity.

How else can such a populace - numbed by the chaos of 'wild frontiers' - relate to the benefits that they gain as if by magic from the society that they are embedded within?

They are not necessarily passive - as I've said, they constitute the seemingly necessary buffer between the civil centers and the wilderness, and they can be respected and rewarded for that sacrifice, even if they are not educated to the level whereby they know exactly why they are being appreciated.

The Vanuatu cargo cults attribute the sophisticated engineering that they seek to benefit from to magic - perhaps a bit like the belief system behind prosperity prayer that is so popular in the developed West.

The point here is not really about religious interpretations of economic benefits over more scientific ones, however, as the two can easily overlap harmlessly it seems - especially when the ethics of virtuous tit-for-tat win-win strategies come into play, but rather that there seems to be an idea of the 'masses that matter' being able to make sophisticated choices for themselves when it comes to dictating the condition of their larger, technologically developed societies.

It seems that many politicians or political interests are aware of the education level of the 'masses that matter,' and devise - engineer - their political strategies accordingly. I think Trump's team, for example, have been and are working from such a premise, for example, and getting better-than-expected results due to that apparently quite practical and realistic stance.

In the United Kingdom, it seems Boris Johnson's team are doing likewise. Here is a hint:

Boris Johnson's father says UK public 'couldn't spell Pinocchio'
The Guardian, Fri 29 Nov 2019
In an appearance on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show, the 79-year-old was told that one viewer had called his son “Pinocchio”. Johnson replied: “Pinocchio? That requires a degree of literacy which I think the Great British public doesn’t necessarily have.”

The show’s presenter, Joanna Gosling, standing in for Derbyshire, asked what he meant by that, to which Johnson replied that he didn’t want to go into it.

“That’s quite a pejorative thing to say about the Great British public,” Gosling suggested.

Johnson said: “They couldn’t spell Pinocchio if they tried, I shouldn’t have thought.” He then challenged Gosling to spell it.

Johnson said he had been trying to make the point humorously...

On social media, Johnson was accused of outrageous snobbery and arrogance.



The main issue here seems to be, however, that these agencies are seeking to benefit from the more reflexively bigoted dimension to the more ferally-conditioned populace in order to gain political power, and are, in the process, bringing the wilder frontiers ever closer to their homesteads, and even closer to those of anyone caught in between - it is lazy and highly reckless statecraft and governance; appealing to the lowest common denominator for popularity ratings. It can only end in escalasting social disaster it seems.

My prediction is that as the cargo cult magical theories gain more and more traction - as the ignorant masses are increasingly rewarded for their visceral and superstitious cultural orientation, their non-empirical perspective will lead to conspiracy theory echo chambers that explode via real life violence - as has been already going on in the US - devices being sent to CNN offices, and so forth.
User avatar
Mossling
Active Member
 
Posts: 1340
Joined: 02 Jul 2009


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Serpent on December 5th, 2019, 10:36 am 

My concern isn't individuals here, it is governing bodies that hand over strategic authority to sophisticated engineers/experts/advisers of various sorts and thus subsume them into that governing body in the process - albeit temporarily in many cases.

Okay. I'll settle for a list of governments - I'll even accept all those regimes that later jailed their expert advisors for made-up crimes - that succeeded in meeting your criteria
the construction of strategies for securing national interest in the international arena - where complex constellations of competing ideas (diverse groups and psychologies) and their discourses flow and intermingle, as well as, internally, individual wellbeing, group interests, national interests, regional concerns, cultural interests, and moral interests all flow together and interact

(OTH, I do not believe any governing bodies 'hand over' strategic authority to their expert consultants; I do believe that the expert employees are subsumed, without ever wielding more than tactical authority. When you include phrases like 'albeit' and 'not necessarily', it sounds as if you're arguing two or more sides of an issue, and it becomes rather confusing.)

Here's a thing:
Those 'on the front lines', meanwhile - psychiatric nurses, infantrymen, prison guards, and so forth, will need to be the buffer layer that inevitably becomes physically and mentally numb and calloused through enduring the tempests of chaos on the wild frontiers that they have been assigned to.

That 'wild frontier' is created by the dynamics of a large and complex society. You're throwing people at the problems of your own making and then despising them for being less 'subtle' than the elite they protect from its victims.
Nature doesn't drive people mad; doesn't require prisons and armies. Civilizations do. The crimes and psychoses and massed enemies are all products of large societies.

You have a fine, poetic notion there. An interesting, perhaps novel, perspective. I'm quite sure it will resonate with many readers.
Serpent
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3745
Joined: 24 Dec 2011


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby TheVat on December 5th, 2019, 2:12 pm 

Moss,

I am not necessarily championing any particular model on this thread, it's just that when it comes to larger societies, and the apparent cohesive, relatively sophisticated infrastructure that they require (regular communal rituals/masses, emphasised and sustained organizational hierarchies, efficient mass communication technologies, and so on), it seems that some ingenuity beyond the average Joe's capacity is required - no matter whether via subtle religious coercion/hypnotism, or otherwise, and it seems that due to a society having safer, more civil areas (government offices, univeristies, libraries, temples, and other such spaces), whilst at he same time having frontiers where raw, chaotic forces enter, those living closer to and within the safer, more civil spaces will be shielded from chaotic forces enough to be able to cultivate the fineness of mind and body to master the more subtle areas of engineering.


Do you think it's possible that a strong education system, so that people in less technical jobs and situated along "wilder" margins may still be able to understand experts, get the gist of their facts and logic, and have a meaningful voice in the process? I guess I question the notion that someone working on a roof, or guarding a prison, or patrolling a border, is somehow decisively blocked from cultivating some "fineness of mind" when they leave school and enter the job market. I knew a taxi driver who was an avid reader and cultivated some expertise on social reform novels of the 20th century. His job didn't require it. But he went to a decent school growing up, and was able to attend college, and this kindled lifelong intellectual interests that he nurtured when he was not at work. I also used to know a railroad worker who had gotten himself the equivalent of a graduate degree in political science through continuing education, and often contributed learned articles to a local paper. Seems like nudging society in this direction, and away from "cargo cult" mentality, would be a worthwhile goal. Perhaps "chaotic spaces" could be used to energize intelligence and problem-solving, rather than suppress them.
User avatar
TheVat
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 7336
Joined: 21 Jan 2014
Location: Black Hills


Re: Large societies: Rulers=Engineers, The Masses='Cargo Cul

Postby Mossling on December 5th, 2019, 10:45 pm 

TheVat » December 6th, 2019, 3:12 am wrote: I question the notion that someone working on a roof, or guarding a prison, or patrolling a border, is somehow decisively blocked from cultivating some "fineness of mind" when they leave school and enter the job market. I knew a taxi driver who was an avid reader and cultivated some expertise on social reform novels of the 20th century. His job didn't require it. But he went to a decent school growing up, and was able to attend college, and this kindled lifelong intellectual interests that he nurtured when he was not at work. I also used to know a railroad worker who had gotten himself the equivalent of a graduate degree in political science through continuing education, and often contributed learned articles to a local paper.

Yes, I know people like that too - unfortunately they are apparently in a significant minority - in other words, relatively insignificant with respect to the 'tidal wave' of numbness that is embodied by their peers. I know an English teacher who was in the infantry as a regular grunt prior to his career change. He liked to read books and was constantly teased and called 'Shakespeare' by his fellow soldiers. It seems they saw his intelligence as a threat. Luckily he was good at boxing though.

There have been inroads into improving education in ghettos, where 1) the kids are more concerned with the guy in the next seat along who is trying to bed them or else plotting to kill/terrorise them, and 2) have such little emotional resilience that they get triggered so easily within the classroom that they cannot focus on their work for more than a minute or two at a time. Still, it seems that any help is only really enabling a very small percentage to break free from the chaotic 'wilderness' that they have been born into.

Seems like nudging society in this direction, and away from "cargo cult" mentality, would be a worthwhile goal. Perhaps "chaotic spaces" could be used to energize intelligence and problem-solving, rather than suppress them.

Sure, I totally agree, and yet again in those chaotic space communities it's the same old problems of cycles of neglect and abuse perpetuating further cycles down the generations - dog eat dog world, and so on.

How do you stop gangbanger beatdowns and stop witnesses, or those on the receiving end, from being impressed by such power? It's the old case of the invaded being impressed by the invader - impressed by their raw power, and seeking to obtain and wield that power themselves.

In this respect, the issue isn't necessarily the chaos of the wilderness at the various frontiers of any society, but rather how that wilderness affects the human life at those frontiers - where there is very little effective policing and sophisticated innovation.

Look at the situation James Brown was born into, for example - depicted in his biographical movie (which could of course have been exaggerated for cinematic effect), and yet look how he ends up - yes, a gifted performer inspired by the theatrics of his spiritual teachers, but still a pretty rough and troubled guy all the way to the end. He was definitely not 'fine,' no matter his considerable achievements.

Thus there is an apparent general gradient of fineness/sophistication that permeates any large, and especially developed, society, and which becomes most concentrated at the centers - the CBD, and so forth. This seems to be the case in every large society today, no matter the country or culture.

It seems the more virtuous and astute politicians can seek to manage and reduce the suffering at the frontiers as much as possible - especially during peacetime and economic abundance (the result of which is probably what we call 'Liberalism'), and then the less virtuous opportunistic politicians will seek to gain from the chaos in order to take power from the Liberals - which is especially made possible during times of social chaos and economic decline. Thus, the rise of the likes of Trump and Johnson in the West seem perfectly understandable at this point in time. Perhaps it's even necessary - in the same way that forest fires are?

It still doesn't help or stop the numbing and dumbing that occurs at the frontier/chaotic spaces though.... can it ever be stopped? Or do those who sacrifice themselves at the chaotic boundaries in order to protect the more sophisticated engineers need to just be constantly appreciated and recognised - like on war memorial days?

As regards the cargo cult magical/superstitious beliefs - what else is there to explain the impenetrable complexity and sophistication of the cargo being received by the civilians? They cannot fathom the rather 'mundane' intelligence and intellectual powers that created the cargo - it is miraculous, not the product of any logic that they are familiar with.
User avatar
Mossling
Active Member
 
Posts: 1340
Joined: 02 Jul 2009



Return to Political Theory

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests