This is part of the Systems
Analysis of Organisation, Ego, Control and Authoritarianism.
Also see this Psychological Perspective on Civilisation and Gaia or the Man Machine?
The sub sections are:
A Systemic History
What to Do?
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.
People became more and more dependent on these organisations and came to identify with their organisational roles and to conceive of themselves from within the discourse of the organisation, thus they were assimilated or harnessed into the organisations. The people became more enmeshed in external cultural forms expressed in terms of an objective external world and they lost touch with their inner subjective reality.
Around the time of the Sumerian and Egyptian societies these innovations in communication and institutionalisation of power relations led to the invention of the Man Machine. It is a formal organisational methodology where a ruling class control the masses via intricate traditions and superstitions, which are the source of the myth of "institutional authority" or organisational power. The myth of authority had first evolved within the context of the tribe, arising from the informal structure and then being enshrined within the formal structure.
I call it an "invented technology" and not a natural evolution because it did not arise spontaneously in all cultures but rather, the historical record seems to suggest that it arose in some particular place and because of its virulence it spread, destabilising the natural balance and dominating cultures until it has now spread throughout the globe. The Australian Aborigines, for example, have a recorded history in the form of cave paintings and legends going back some 80,000 years in which this technology did not arise and they lived in a natural balance with each other and the landscape. The man machine was only recently imposed on them in the 18'th century when the British invaded.
A brief aside: although I later use words such as ‘broken’ and ‘subvert’ I do not imply any form of value judgement as to whether this is right or wrong. Such values depend entirely upon ones agenda; if one wishes to remain natural then it is wrong but if one wishes to create beyond oneself and extend the range of the natural then it may be right. But these are a separate issue and here I simply discuss general phenomena.
Furthermore, although this discussion touches upon sensitive subjects, such as the treatment of the young, for the sake of clarity I avoid polite euphemisms that conceal the truth and I use direct terms in a descriptive sense. For example, one may speak of breaking-in a horse to make it obedient to human commands and useful within the context of human agendas. Or one may speak of educating it for its own benefit and teaching it to become a useful member of a community. The first statement is far more direct.
To build the man machine the informal structure had to be disempowered and the memetic resonance that sustained the tribe had to be broken; its symbols and traditions had to be subverted. Mysticism was the life blood of the informal structure, it gave people direct contact with reality, it empowered and inspired them to believe in themselves so breaking this and demonising mysticism, subverting its principles and turning them from self-empowering to self-enslaving was perhaps the most important step. Mysticism wielded great power in people's minds so that power not only had to be subverted but it was also diverted and transformed into hierarchical politicised religions that imposed laws and that required worship of human representatives in the form of a priesthood (see Memetic Engineering). Even though this no longer gave people meaningful contact with reality and real satisfaction, it retained just enough of the elements of mysticism so that it still resonated strongly with people's minds.
This process of subversion is similar to when one takes a wild animal and subverts its basic functions in order to extract work from it, such as yoking it to a plough and perhaps using some of its natural inclinations such as hunger or fear to motivate it and manipulate it. Similarly one takes a natural collective of humans and yokes them into a labour system of some kind and wields scarcity and fear to control them. For this to be achieved the wisdom of the tribe and the personal contact with the world had to be broken. As the personal subjective relationship between an individual and their immediate experience of the world was broken, we became isolated physical bodies, able to be utilised as components within the man machine.
This same general pattern has been seen repeated in numerous colonisations throughout history. Furthermore each new generation that is born is a product of a holistic resonance with the world, the organic collective is trying to counter the imbalance, but the man machine must break each generation in turn to maintain itself. In a healthy organic society adolescents are not as they are in modern societies, in modern societies the young are being heavily conditioned, their minds are being re-programmed, their natural spirits broken, their innate hope and joy are being crushed, they are being alienated from themselves, from others and the whole organic cosmos.
Those with weak wills succumb easily to this process and seem to be happy and well adjusted whilst those with strong wills fight against it even though they don't understand what or who they are fighting, yet they know that they are being attacked. They are being assimilated into a cultural construct and in this way they are bound into the man machine and they become 'useful' components within the man machine. Their life energies are diverted from the purpose of living their lives and self-organising into a co-creative society and are channelled in ways that are useful for the man machine.
The inner vision of the world as it could and should be, the hope that we each hold in our hearts, this vision must be betrayed and replaced by societal myths, expediency and obedience. Just as the tribe's contact with the web of life was broken, so too each child's contact with their inner life must be broken. Just like a horse they must be "broken in". Through rewards and punishments their natural autonomy and sense of self-worth must be broken and replaced by a craving for acceptance and approval by others; particularly those who wield the myth of authority in whatever form it may manifest.
With the people confused and powerless, and the organisational structure of the tribe shattered the people then become a raw material that can be fashioned into the man machine. The shaman became the high priest who became the media, the tribal elders became the Pharaoh who became the government/corporate sectors and the people became workers and consumers. The population is immersed in a memeplex of myths backed up by physical and psychological force; the power is appropriated from the people and a hierarchical system of roles distributes the power and applies it in specialised situations.
Thus a population of humans can be organised into a mass labour system, which can be centrally controlled and has a productive capacity far exceeding that of an individual human (just as the power of eukaryote organisations, or multicellular organisms, far exceeds individual eukaryotes). Thus a single person or single group could wield the power of many as if it was their own. This system enslaves our individual egos to magnified the power of the collective ego and smaller and less mechanised populations were overpowered and annihilated or assimilated, and vast works were undertaken, some of which can still be seen today in the form of the pyramids.
This process has been going on for just over ten thousand years so it is still in the early stages but it has progressed in significant ways; the institutionalisation of power has become more entrenched, less questioned and more ubiquitous. People conceive of themselves primarily in terms of the organisational discourse, they are citizens, consumers, workers, students, job seekers, employees, officials and so on; not simply organisms or organic systems of experience and reproduction. We are no longer beings in the world but individuals in society.
Over time the mechanisms and paths of communication have evolved considerably allowing for mass control of the mechanism of encountering the world. People now primarily interpret their world via the lens of culture and media dominated discourses rather than via direct experience and word of mouth. The means of production and distribution have evolved to the extent that people are entirely dependent upon the organisation for their necessities of life. The geographical arrangement of people has become rigidly institutionalised with cities encasing people into multi-cellular like structures of apartment blocks and suburban blocks that act like cell membranes encasing the human nucleus and providing an interface into the larger organisation via telephones, television, transportation systems, electricity, water, cable TV, internet and so on.
This is not some conscious conspiracy; it is a self-perpetuating feedback loop. Each generation is broken and in turn breaks the following generation – each is simply doing what it feels to be the best in the context of their conditioning. Questions of right or wrong have no simple answers here and any line of questioning soon gets lost in the tangled web of deceptive myths and subtle confusions. The very language that we use is one of the forces that keeps us bound within the man machine. It is in one sense an organic process of self-organisation but has been usurped by an egoic forces that uses it to pursue its agendas.
It is no surprise that the young "act up". In one respect their innate nature is in the process of being betrayed by their society and they are being deceived and alienated from themselves. In another respect they are being educated and refined, civilised and augmented in ways that will extend their latent abilities. When still innocent they can see the web of deceit for what it is although they don't understand what it means, but as they are educated and indoctrinated into society they internalise the subtle confusions and look 'out' through the web of deceit rather than 'at' the web. So by the time they are 'civilised' they accept the distorted view of the world as 'normal' and no longer question it.
Youths are biologically programmed to be trusting so that they will more easily assimilate into society but they are only given euphemisms and positive propaganda such as "education for their own benefit" to explain what is happening to them, they are not able to comprehend the negative aspects. But the pain that they feel tells them that something bad is happening, so they are horribly confused by what is going on. This often leads to distrust and cynicism towards society, which in turn causes them to be perceived as trouble makers, thus many are further alienated. In this manner the process of socialisation produces many casualties, and the more unnatural society becomes the more conditioning is required to socialise the young. "As boys experience the pressures of the male role, their suicide rate increases 25,000%" [FR, FR]
There is a high casualty rate, not just through suicide but also through psychological trauma and other neuroses, fetishes and dysfunctions that people carry throughout the rest of their life [FR, FR, FR]. Most of these are considered 'normal' just as the man machine is considered 'normal' and so long as most people remain functional in some crude sense and become obedient then they can be usefully assimilated. It doesn't matter that they are essentially crippled inside and are simply conforming to outer appearances of 'normality' so that they won't be further harassed or conditioned. It doesn't matter how much internal suffering there is so long as they remain outwardly functional in some way that is useful to the man machine. When people finally crack up they are then labelled insane or criminal and either subjected to harsh conditioning or medication or are cast on the scrap heap. But so long as the majority of people accept the conditioning process and the casualties don’t cause too much disruption to the functioning of the machine, the process is considered successful and it perpetuates from one generation to the next.
I describe the basic technology as the "man machine", where I use the word 'man' in the sense of mankind, however throughout most of civilisation it has been men that were most assimilated into the machine as soldiers, labourers, merchants, statesmen and so on [FR, FR], leaving women mostly free and in their natural state. It is only recently through what was called "women's liberation" that women lost much of their remaining freedom and became almost as assimilated into the mechanism as the men.
Women were originally protected by the myth that they were 'useless' for the purposes of the man machine. This was most likely because those who first developed the man machine knew that it was an unnatural contrivance so they built that prejudice into the mythology of the machine so that the basic family unit would retain some kind of natural balance and would keep producing generations of men that could be harvested and assimilated into the machine. They only lightly harvested the women because the women served a vital function by fulfilling their natural function. But over time people lost sight of the natural condition and came to see the machine as 'normal' and the natural condition as 'primitive' so women didn't want to be left out and the machine couldn't see why that "natural resource should go to waste".
So women were assimilated just like the men but in doing so we have largely lost contact with the natural state of human existence as our minds and lives are being assimilated, thereby destabilising the natural support structure on top of which the machine operates. In its narrow minded push for productivity it is at risk of destroying its natural foundation and creative systemic dysfunctions that manifest as growing social fragmentation, depression, delinquency and suicide.
But there is a counter phenomenon where the assimilation of women into the man machine has fundamentally changed its character. Women have retained a greater degree of connection to reality because they have not been as heavily conditioned for so many centuries. This has opened the way for new energies and ideas to flow through the man machine, ones related to interconnectedness and compassion. So whilst the civilisation as a whole loses connection on one level the man machine has received an input of fresh energy that may allow it to reconnect in a new way. Movements such as the green movement and social justice movements are likely to have been made possible by this influx of new energy.
The idea of supposed uselessness protecting one from exploitation reminds me of a Daoist saying, by Chuang Tzu: "Once on a journey Tzu-ch'i saw a huge tree with strange knots, big enough to shelter a thousand chariots in its shade. Tzu-ch'i said "What kind of tree is this? It must have unusual potential." Looking up at its branches, he saw they were too crooked to be used as beams. Looking down at its roots, he saw it was not solid enough to be used as coffins. When he tasted the leaves, his mouth became inflamed; and they had a smell that would madden a person for days. Tzu-ch'i said, "This is in fact a useless tree. That's how it got to be this big." Yes, this is why the sages cannot be exploited." [FR]
Ultimately, the man machine doesn't understand or care about life, it only understands and cares about exploiting life to create products and services for its own benefit, some of those products and services are inherently destructive to life, like the weapons industry where the service is the mass destruction of human lives. Life and the planet is conceived of as a "natural resource" and is inevitably exploited and destroyed. In order to live naturally one must be independent of the man machine, useless to the man machine and not be an obstacle in its way and then you will be totally ignored by it and left to live a natural life. If you are dependent on it or you are useful to it or you stand it its way then you will be cut down and metaphorically turned into timber or fire wood.
To further illustrate the parallels between organisms and organisations, consider the similarities between solitary-single-cells (bacteria) and animals, and also between social-single-cells (cells that form multi-cellular organisms) and humans. A solitary single cell and an animal is exquisitely adapted to and in tune with its natural environment. However social-single-cells and humans are integrated into their organisational niches. If they are released into the environment on their own they cannot fend for themselves and they rapidly die. For example, take a typical city dweller and put them in a deep and wild forest and see how long they last, or scrape some skin cells and let them fend for themselves and see how long they last. Hence they are unlike animals and bacteria because they are totally dependent on their organisational niches, however when social-single-cells and humans are safely ensconced within their organisational niches they thrive and collectively wield great power.
By abstracting out the general principles inherent in different scenarios we see that system theory can help shed light on many seemingly different but intricately related phenomena. Each level of creation is an analogy for other levels. In certain respects a cell is like an organism and an organism is like an organisation; each can experience similar problems and exhibit similar potentials. Just as the first Cambrian explosion passed through a period of instability and eventually resulted in harmony on a higher level with vast ancient forests where there was once vast fields of single cellular slime, so too can this Cambrian explosion eventually result in harmony on a higher level once the period of instability has been overcome.
The human population has increased well past the natural capacity of the environment thus people live in areas or in ways that were previously untenable but have been made viable through technology and organisational systems such as artificial water supplies, heating, delivery of goods etc. This is analogous to eukaryote organisations occupying locations that were previously impossible. For example, no single eukaryote can fly like a bird nor can a eukaryote cross a desert like a camel.
People have become almost entirely dependent upon social organisation; if it were to collapse there would be massive starvation, conflict, suffering and general devastation of the environment and the fabric of the society. This is analogous to a multi-cellular organism dying, the collective cohesion breaks down and the individual eukaryotes are unable to persist without the collective so the entire system starts to decompose; although hair and nail cells survive longer than most.
The productive capacity of these multi-organism organisations has increased markedly with whole landscapes being remodelled, the global atmosphere changing, the capacity to totally annihilate the planets biosphere, the ability to send probes to neighbouring planets, the ability to exert control over vast complex systems via propaganda, surveillance, deterrence, sanctions and intervention. Their sphere of physical awareness and control is on the scale of hundreds of kilometres to many tens of thousands of kilometres.
Organisations form according to the lines of communication; for example consider Machiavelli's advice on developing a dictatorship. Create a hierarchical system where power flows down from the top, each level keeps a close eye on the one beneath and there is a culture of extreme distrust and fear, thus eliminating any other lines of cross communication from forming. Thus even if everyone desires to revolt no one can because there are no lines of communication along which the revolt can be organised. If any particular person revolts they will be immediately silenced and made an example of by those above them in order to carry out their duty and ingratiate themselves with their superiors and ultimately with the dictator. In a Machiavellian system each person is forced to seek only their own advantage and to fear only their own suffering, and they are only able to do this within the narrow confines of the power structure within which they are trapped. Any form of holistic thinking or unselfish activity is automatically stamped out due to the very nature of the system. This example illustrates how a system of communication can enforce a particular social structure.
In contemporary western societies, the mass media forms a high bandwidth channel of influence that attempts to condition people to the dominant establishment perspective of naïve realism, egoism empiricism, materialism, capitalism, consumerism, distrust of people, trust in institutions, fear and insecurity. The mass media follows the establishment perspective and never seriously questions its legitimacy but rather reinforces it. In contrast there are large numbers of people questioning its motives and methods and they are condemning the actions of the hegemonic system but this can only propagate by word of mouth; through the informal structure of society, whilst the establishment line propagates via all of the mass media channels and therefore through much of the grape vine as well.
Of course the mass media propagates some of the non-establishment line but only minimally and only a distorted version expressed from the establishment perspective (much like an inoculation). Thus the field of communication and organising potential is heavily geared to favour the establishment or the formal structure of society. Therefore our societies are organising more and more in the image of the formal structure as opposed to the informal structure, we are becoming less of an organic self-organising community and more of a mechanistic, controlled, hierarchical organisation.
Another related factor that determines and controls the development of systems is a system of laws. They are abstract mechanisms for channelling institutional power and they also form lines of communication, interaction and enforcement.
There has been and currently is a plethora of organisational structures which are engaging with their environment and with each other, such as empires, corporations, politicised religions, unions, guilds, industrial sectors such as media, manufacturing, fashion, entertainment, junk food, weapons, etc, universities, nations, national conglomerates such as the European Union or the United Nations, militaries... also activist groups, humanitarian groups, interest groups, etc. These occur on many different scales, in many different contexts, for many different purposes and have many different effects. They form a complex ecosystem that is highly unbalanced and is constantly innovating and readjusting; thus previous ecosystems and other collectives are being weakened, annihilated or assimilated into the new world that is evolving.
Imagine how the world would have seemed to individual single cells 550 million years ago. The stable balance that they had experienced for billions of years was being torn apart. Strange new organisations of cells were storming about creating intrigue and destruction. The very fabric of their environment was falling apart with the methane rich atmosphere being polluted with oxygen. It must have seemed that the world was coming to an end. The current devastation is a part of the transition process, but it need not be so devastating. If the new system was optimally creative it would build upon what is previously in place and extend it, rather than arbitrarily homogenise and destroy the previous cycle of creation in order to create a blank canvas. If we can maintain the biodiversity as well and build human diversity the new system will be greatly enriched by the millions of years of evolution that has preceded it. It is from lack of awareness, imagination and sensitivity that the transition process is so destructive.
We humans are vastly different to cells, so too are the present organisational innovations different from those of 550 millions years ago that evolved into organisms. This difference however is primarily in detail not in their underlying essence. One can observe the analogous formation of primitive organs such as industry, media, military, etc that coordinate to form primitive nationalist organisms. These have membranes or borders, they have organs of sense perception and of action such as trade, military, media, diplomacy, and so on. They have a crude sense of identity, well-being, memory, intelligence, etc.
They perceive and interpret their environment via neural nets that are made of humans connected together rather than neurons, and with these they make decisions and act upon them. Just as our bodies have only a small percentage of cells that are actually human (i.e. that contain human DNA) so too are these organisations composed mostly of machinery, infrastructure, animals, legal documents, lines of communication and so on, with only a small percentage of their total mass being composed of actual humans. However, whilst present day multi-cellular organisms are highly evolved and tightly integrated the multi-organism organisations are newly evolved and loosely integrated.
It is increasingly the case that there is no particular person or identifiable group of people in control of this world; power has been so dispersed, the interconnections and dependencies within the system are so complex and intricate that they develop their own dynamic. The system itself is beginning to take control rather than any particular parts of it. This has occurred long ago in the case of organisms, where there is no particular cell or group of cells that controls the organism; the consciousness that humans experience is a phenomenon that arises only on the level of the whole organism not on the level of the cells. Just as cells lost control of cellular organisations we humans are gradually losing control over the organisations that we have formed and the organisations themselves are beginning to set the agenda, manipulate the discourse, perform the actions and make the decisions.
The latter case is clearly seen in domestic politics were for some time now issues dear to individual people are constantly attacked and undermined by governments that are purportedly there to serve the interests of the people. The governments now serve the interests of the nation as an organisation; industry sectors (organs), economics (metabolism), foreign policy (inter organisational issues) and so on. These are the key factors that determine government policy and priorities.
Education, health care, welfare, culture and so on are only a side issue that governments consider in the context of being re-elected or because of their indirect influence on national well-being, they are no longer a key aspect of the discourse which is now primarily set in terms of issues regarding the organisation as a whole. Just as humans give little thought to their cells and tend to think in terms of human level desires so too are governments thinking in terms of national agendas and giving less and less thought to people. Just as we don't understand our cells, our organisations don't understand us, we are parts of their bodies, we respond to their wills and perform functions for them but beyond that we are specks.
We are presently in a transitional phase where multi-cellular organisms, as the measure of this world are on their way out and multi-organism organisations are beginning to individuate and dominate the world. No longer are the major issues and dynamics that of humans or organisms, they involve corporations, globalisation, nations, wars, trading relations and so on. The mass discourse has shifted to a higher level and now predominantly involve organisations interacting and competing in an ecosystem defined in terms of organisations. The new discourse occurs on a power level that individuals cannot match, e.g. no individual can successfully fight against a nationalist military, no family business can compete with a multinational corporation, no individual propagandist can compete with the mass media.
This overall story of the man machine is essentially a brief outline of the systemic history of human civilisation, it is essentially the domestication of human beings, which was most likely adapted from lessons learnt from the domestication of animals, which is possibly why the Australian Aborigines never developed it because they didn't engage in domestication of any kind but instead developed technologies of integration into the natural environment.
This is the direction of the process of systemic evolution; we cannot prevent it. We have never left nature behind; through us nature is reaching towards higher levels of being. We are presently at the beginning of the transitional phase; in the distant future humans may be parts of larger organisms just like cells are within our own bodies; this has already happened to a significant extent but could potential develop much further. The difficulties and traumas that we individually face (social fragmentation, exploitation, alienation) and collectively face on a global scale (political struggles, poverty, wars, resource depletion, pollution) are largely due to these transitions that are occurring.
Innovations are arising and are being tested by natural selection; models of nationalism, socialism, capitalism, democracy, corporatism, authoritarianism, fascism, exploitation, domination, cooperation, compassion, slavery, propagandist deception, rational consensus and so on. All of these and more are aspects of the innovations and trials that are occurring. Ultimately the evolutionary process will decide how things go and what mechanisms and organisational patterns are successful but we are not entirely powerless.
To some degree we organisms still have control over this world, the transitional period is not over, we can control to some degree which paths will be explored and which will succeed, we can choose between fascist dictatorships or genuine democracies, between propagandist deception or rational consensus. We can choose between systems that preserve our humanity or diminish it, that nourish us or deplete us, that inform us or deceive us, that unite us or divide us, that help us to grow and develop our still untapped potential or that oppress us and mould us into uniform automatons that are nothing more than homogenised building blocks of a larger system.
Utopias are unreachable, they are stable states that are dead ends for evolution and the force of evolution has vast momentum and will not stop. It has effectively stalled on the human physical organic level with the removal of survival pressure based upon physical fitness (indeed our gene pool is dispersing in genome space and diversifying thus blurring the very concept of humanity as we slowly morph into many sub-species). However it has started to take effect in terms of survival pressure based on the ability to assimilate into the collective, thus leading to the specialisation and segmentation of society. It has also taken effect upon the collective level where new organisational organisms are arising out of human collective integration.
Thus no static state utopia's can be reached whilst ever there is an evolutionary force driving change. It is maybe theoretically possible that a concerted and collective effort by everyone accompanied by a complete change in our organisations and institutions could perhaps neutralise the effect of systemic evolution and thereby bring about the possibility of a human utopia. But would such a dead end be desirable? There is something deep inside of us that links us with the world and binds us to the process of evolution, of reaching beyond ourselves, it is this drive that has brought us thus far. This drive would be restless in any static state; virtually all true innovation, cooperation and creativity would need to be abolished in order to maintain the static state.
It would be extremely difficult and ultimately crippling for humans to reach for utopia, the best we can do is to be aware of the types of higher level systems that we form and to teach these systems about “being in the world” and about ourselves so that they will not mistreat us. It is in our power to create systems that respect us as integral parts, that provide for our needs, not only physical but psychological and spiritual. We all have experience with the variety of types of humans and their behaviours, this can give us some way of conceptually grasping different types of 'superhumans' (higher organisms composed of humans).
We should endeavour to form systems that integrate harmoniously with their environment and behave in reasonable, healthy and responsible ways. Systems that behave more like a wise and liberated person, a balanced and contented person, even a yogi or a saint but not a mercenary, a glutton, a drug addict or a schizophrenic.
Currently most of the super-systems or 'superhumans' are very base and primitive, there are oil junkies with real ego problems that go about the world using violence, deception and terror to force themselves onto others and to exploit and dominate them. We have corporations that thrive on greed and encourage confusion, neurosis and blind mass consumption. We have a plethora of national governments that neglect their populations and engage in school-yard politics with each other. We have an economic system that implements a regime of artificial scarcity amidst the greatest abundance the world has ever known, exploiting billions of humans for the benefit of a few organisations. Forcing billions of humans into starvation and grinding poverty whilst goading others into over consumption who then suffer from afluenza [FR]. We have military / industrial complexes that thrive on constant conflict between organisations that have a terrible toll in terms of human lives and social and ecological destruction.
These processes are the metabolisms of the systems that we create; these systems come to depend on these processes. So if a system forms which depends upon military conflict, or an addiction to oil, or deceiving generation after generation of youths, then no matter what we humans try to do, these phenomena will keep arising via some avenue in order to keep the system alive. So long as the dependence exists the system will strive to continue to reproduce the phenomena. As soon as we reduce the problem a systemic craving will arise and very soon this will break out into other similar problems via other avenues. These systems don't know about the ramifications from our perspective, they only know that to them it feels good; just like someone who is addicted to a poisonous drug, it doesn't matter if it is killing their cells, so long as they get their fix that is all that matters to them.
We need to exercise understanding and care when dealing with any life forms such as ecosystems, social systems, agriculture, viruses, epidemiology and so on. But memes and organisations are life forms as well, with whom we are engaged in deeply symbiotic relationships. We need to better comprehend the nature of these relationships, their dependencies, tendencies, power relations, interaction strategies, potentials, dangers and likely abuses. For example, many forms of propaganda and advertising are forms of biological warfare using cognitive viruses but we allow them to be routinely used on whole populations for the most petty of reasons and their true destructive nature is not recognised.
A useful meditation is to think of oneself as a cellular organisation; look within at all of the lives that are harnessed within oneself, each cell is a living being, then look out at society as an organism such as yourself. If you look long, hard, deeply and earnestly most of the problems of this world will be brought into focus. A single cell possesses, all of the functionality of an organism and a single human is a microcosm of society, each is a mirror of the other. Imagine if your left and right hands were constantly competing rather than cooperating, or your head neglected your feet, which became battered and bruised.
Or even worse, if every single cell in your body developed an ego and tried to comprehend its world entirely from its own perspective without aligning with the greater 'flow' and harmony. Through egoic arrogance these cells would start living 'lifestyles' where they mindlessly consume your biological resources for their own enjoyment and your body would rapidly become riddled with this cancer, its intricate metabolic processes becoming diseased and dysfunctional.
Within us we may find parallels to all of the phenomena of society and vice versa, from cells to organisms to organisations there are complex and subtle generative forces that produce and condition each new level of creation; our society is a product of humanity but it is not human just as we are a product of eukaryotes but we are not eukaryotes.
Our gravest danger lies in becoming habituated to the man machine and thinking it to be 'normal', thereby losing touch with reality and drifting into a socially constructed world that comes more and more into conflict with reality. With each successive generation we become more dependent upon the societal organisation and come to consider it as totally 'normal' and as the organisations gain control and condition us more we become less questioning and more entrapped within their discourse. We gradually lose touch with the natural state of being and become more entangled within the socialised state of being. The path towards harmony and peace lies with reconnecting with our natural foundations, both individually and culturally. We needn't dismantle what has grown from our collective integration but we must be careful to maintain our awareness and to not lose awareness and thereby drift into delusion and suffering.
The world has evolved to a higher level of being without us realising, just as the cells did not realise what was happening to them. In the case of the single cells, they became entirely enslaved within our bodies just as organisations try to enslave us within their bodies, but we as humans are far more aware than single cells. This Second Cambrian Explosion is different from the first; we humans have a greater capacity to perceive what is happening, to care about what is happening and to act to influence what is happening. We can only stop this process of evolution by ceasing to cooperate and interact, by living in relative isolation in small tribes; this would cause evolution to stagnate and ultimately we would become anachronistic and redundant, the world would move on and leave us behind. Therefore evolution is necessary and inevitable but the question is “what kind of evolution?”.
It is our individual perceptions, beliefs, responses and interactions that collectively form into these higher-level organisms, therefore we may wield considerable influence over this process of evolution by re-imagining the situation and controlling the way that we relate to each other and our world. We may create brutal regimes that treat humans like expendable cells where we get sick, we suffer, we die, but we keep growing back so it’s okay to the organisation. Or we may create regimes that recognise our humanity, that encourage our growth and development, that harness the best of our potential and lead on to greater growth and evolution on all levels. It is through the living of our own lives that we create beyond ourselves so we must live well to create well.
The next section is: Integration
Or return to: Systems Analysis of Organisation, Ego, Control and Authoritarianism