An honest attempt of self-analysis quickly brings one to a point, where it is obvious that it is insufficient to view oneself only as an individual, it is important to expand the view and include the society and various interactions of oneself with various social groups. Conversely, any responsible analysis of the society has to bring in consideration individuals and various interactions between the society and individuals.
Consistent separate analysis of an individual and a society is at best misleading and at worst aimed at manipulation of individuals and societies according to some goals harmful to the individuals and the society.
Essentially, there are two Sides of a Human being, two inseparable views at a Human being: Individual and Social. These views are not always logically compatible. However, one has to grow accustomed to manipulation of these logically incompatible views to achieve understanding of oneself and of the society.
The phenomenon of Loneliness is about perception of the world and own place in it.
Through painful life experiences one learns to build internal walls, barriers between oneself and other individuals, between oneself and various social groups. These barriers are only temporarily lowered for loved ones and for friends.
These barriers limit degree of compassion one feels for another person, degree of trust, degree of respect, etc.
Even an entire group of ideas is built up to protect these barriers: we demand a stranger to deserve, to work for our love, our trust, our respect. People, who do not develop such defense system, are perceived as “losers” and often for a good reason.
Accepting these barriers as something natural, brings loneliness, longing for a mystical “sole-mate”, difficulties of establishment of new relationships (new relationships have to overcome existing barriers, which grow only stronger with age).
Sexual relationships suffer. Having sex without connecting to a partner, sex with barriers in the stream of emotional interactions, is a highly artificial activity, which goes against human nature. One learns it, but one does not get needed satisfaction from it.
However, try to drop these barriers and a swarm of con artists descends on you. They are after your money, after sexual favors, after your submission, which provides them with favorable social position, after your enslavement, which delivers a whole range of “benefits” starting with cheap labor and ending with enjoyment of power.
The problem is not in barriers themselves, but in perception of them as something initial, basic. Such perception brings a coherent logical world view and with it comes Loneliness as an indication that something is wrong with this view.
One should find strength to see these barriers as something secondary, temporary, erected only to manage imbalance, imbalance in the society, in the own nature and in their interaction.
Through generations, the society developed methods of reconciling of two logically incompatible views – Individual and Social.
From an Individual point of view it is inconceivable to risk own life for interests of the Society as a whole or to condemn to death another Individual for transgressions, which are not related directly to one, who has to make a decision. In the same time, these decisions are easy ones from the Social point of view.
Learning the Individual and the Social points of view is relatively easy; gaining the ability to use both of them is not trivial. Bridging these views manifests in Moral Values of the Society.
Moral Values belong to both views Individual and Social, but they have no logical justification in either one. They are accepted in both views because these views are only different views of the same reality – a Human as a social being.
Different societies have different Moral Values.
Well articulated Moral Values attest that a society has a model of a stable society. Adherence to Moral Values in a society attests that the society is stable.
Moral Values reflect only characteristics of society’s stability. It is impossible to evaluate Moral Values from inside the society.
However, there is a universal point of view – the Humanity as a whole. From this point of view, one could judge stable societies and their Moral Values.
An acceptable stable society, and hence an acceptable system of Moral Values, is one, which has a model of acceptable stable global society and knows the path from the society in question into that global society.
Societies, which do not have these two components, should be treated as transient and possibly dangerous.
A developed self-conscious society protects its stability and hence safe-guards it’s Moral Values. Often, it dedicates a group of specialists to this task.
The Moral Values of the society have no logical justification; hence religious leaders are most suited to take on such task. Usually, leaders of a dominant religion get assigned a task of protecting Moral Values of the society. The job comes with perks of social recognition.
When integrity of the society is challenged, the authority of guardians of Moral Values is reinforced, or even a new form of religion is brought to guard Moral Values.
Thus, specific functions of religion are neglected for the sake of protection of the integrity of society. Even when tough times pass away, they continue to be neglected and the dominant form of religion focuses more on protection of stability of the society and less on religion.
Any form of religion is a dominant form of religion for some society or at least a social group. Hence, any useful religion has to have built-in safe-guards against such development undermining its usefulness as a religion. Such safe-guards hardly could prevent overloading of religion with care for Moral Values. However, a religious form could specify Moral Values, which it guards and could prevent expansion of the set of guarded Moral Values. This way, it actually would specify its understanding of a desirable stable state of the human society as a whole.
Balancing two incompatible views of a Human being – the Individual Side and the Social Side is not easy. It is not easy for an individual inside own mind, and it is not easy to maintain in a social discourse.
Maintaining such balance requires perpetual checking against Human nature, which manifestation one could see in oneself and in one’s society. This nature cannot be grasped by one logical system, but it is something close and understandable for anyone.
Those, who are seduced by a coherent logical system, which provides peace of mind, put themselves in a collision course with reality. This is not a form of peace, which a human being could afford.
Internal barriers between individuals and between an individual and a society brought to their logical conclusion produce a sociopath. They cause extreme destructive and self-destructive behavior, because they create breaks in the mind of such individual, who dared to go against own human nature.
Internal barriers carefully managed based on understanding of reality are useful tools.
An individual must erect barriers between oneself and another individual, who is destructive, whose mind is rigid or who aims to enslave the individual.
Similarly, a society should erect barriers to protect itself from bad influences or enslaving attempts made by another society.
These barriers prevent propagation of insanity in the human society. Individuals and societies are losing their mind pretty often; hence skillful manipulation of barriers is a must for a sane individual or a sane society.
In a sick society, Moral Values reflect chronic illness of the society. Not too many choices for a sane individual in such society.
One is to immerse oneself into a social group, which functions in a quiet detachment from the main society. This has its own dangers – this group could be insane on its own, being detached from the main society is dangerous for sanity of the group.
The other is to stay attached to the main society in a position of a vocal dissident. This is a sad position, because one feels perpetually the pain of insanity of the main society, one has to keep reevaluating Moral Values of the main society. In this case, one has no normal interactions between own Individual and Social sides.
There is no third way of being a part of a sick society – a social creature cannot detach oneself from the society and keep sanity and an individual cannot escape insanity of Moral Values of the sick society being a normal part of it.
Following are a few distinctive cases of pathological development caused by imbalance between Individual and Social Sides.
Every artist wants social recognition, which usually arrive ether late or not at all. As compensation, artists often put excessive emphasis on the Individual Side and develop rigid barriers between themselves and the society. This leads to paranoid behavior, where they are busy defending their individuality, while no one cares to affect it. Further, they develop a narrow “world of art”, where they live in an obvious detachment from other people. This leads to loneliness, shrinking circle of friends, use of alcohol and drugs to reduce psychological pain, poverty, etc. This approach never improves artistic creativity, because it causes detachment from those for whom art is created.
Communism, Nazism and at some degree socialism explicitly declare the preference of the society over individuality. They know that such arrangement is against human nature, they are after forceful changing of the human nature just to organize this new form of balance between Individual and Social Sides. Because human nature does not support such arrangement, they have to implement a special perpetually working mechanism of oppression and indoctrination. A few elements of such mechanism have to be present to achieve such result:
Naturally, in such societies needs of individuals are neglected, poverty is rampant, and massive loss of life is usual, but such society can quickly reallocate resources and mobilize its members in case of war or some public project.
These characteristics are present in all societies forcing this kind of balance between Individual and Social Sides; it is not a variant of implementation, it is in the root of the method.
Lack of variability of individual thought in such society leads to diminished ability to recognize changes and eventual demise of this society. Unfortunately, this kind of societies manages to cause a lot of damage before their demise.
This is a chronic disease of the society, recovery from which is prolonged even after such social organization is demolished.
A society, which entrusted maintenance of its Moral Values to religious Authorities, is in real danger of particular pathological development.
It is easy to develop an illusion that there is a coherent logical system, which allows making of right decisions. After all, there is an Authority, which successfully straddles two Sides – Individual and Social through Moral Values. Such logical system would greatly simplify decision-making and it is easy to mistake “desirable” for “existing”. Only one little step is needed, one needs to assume that Authorities have some super-human properties, that they can sense “the right thing”, that they can derive “the right conclusion” from ancient books, that they have a line to supernatural or something like that.
From that point, one could have a comfort of “knowing” what is right and what is wrong, one have an exhilaration of “knowing” god’s will.
An external view shows how insane such development is, but who wants to bother with an external point of view, when a pleasant point of view is accepted in the society and brings so much enjoyment.
Such artificial collapse of logically contradicting views into one logically coherent view is a basis of religious fanaticism. It is attractive, as narcotics are attractive. It is dangerous, because any information attesting to insanity of such view is explained out inside a coherent logical system.
[ Alexander Liss 2006-03-20 ]