The Endless Flow of Society: On the Topic of Government
The Endless Flow of Society is a piece I wrote throughout October of 2015. On the topics of society, religion, mental health, and government, I put my own “personal philosophy” down for people to read. I debated what to do with this piece. I considered publishing it as an e-book, putting it online as a PDF for everyone to read, perhaps getting my local newspaper to put it up bit by bit. I’ve been debating this with myself since I finished it, but I’ve decided to post it as a series on my personal website. So, I give to you the “manifesto” of my mind, a collection of unedited thoughts of mine.
ON THE TOPIC OF GOVERNMENT
Now we reach the closest thing we can see relating to the physical body of the Old and the New. When thinking of a nation – of a culture, a society, the river itself, even – we oftentimes see the government as the most dominant figure relating to the concept. We start wars ignoring the principles of civilian and the individual and continue tragedy against institution in the form of government, or in the form of patriotic pride. We oftentimes blame the collapse of society – the transitional period and the very beginning stages of each New – on the government. It’s a scapegoat, honestly.
One oftentimes imagines a pyramid, one that has evolved alongside ourselves over time, with the proletariat working classes (using imagery from the Marxist perspective) at the bottom and the bourgeoisie, the government, at the top. A sort of trickle-down political waterfall, if you will. I disagree with this notion, the mere thought of having the government – no matter what the ideology may be – at the top of the chain.
Society has but two levels of this imaginary pyramid: that of the individual and that of the institution. There are many institutions; from churches of the religious faiths to the members of government. To place one above the rest is a way of ignoring the coexisting and relative behavior stemming from and igniting relationships between each of the institutions. Each of these institutions are on equal playing fields, just certain ones gifted more by the majority rule of the individuals and their psychological sovereignty depending on how modern their morals are. We tend to consider government as the leading enterprise amongst enterprises due to the sheer power executed by such. So, instead of having a pyramid with no value divided by two subcommittees, one could create a better analogy for the institution and the individual – such as those of the river and house mentioned time and time again here.
What is government? An idea. An institution. An elitist opinionated group – whether it be through royal blood-reigned monarchy or iron fisted tyranny or elected democracy. How the power is exhumed is unimportant when it comes to the advantages perceived by those of status. This idea, one that has banded our society together since the very first settlements in our society, is a remnant of the original Old. Along with fetishism, the worship of trees and water and such, came the primitive thought of social status. Of social rank. We see early chieftains and village elders, ones who led simply though respect, and eventually early kings and emperors, ones who led oftentimes through pulling the strings of the early versions of theology or through power. In short, an institution which connects the string of other institutions.
And this idea? Very successful, and even more important to our growth – as well as our cycle. Without some form of this concept, our society would be nothing more than loosely defined individuals and poorly executed institutions which do not understand the value of power. Even before such governments as those which exist in the present era formulated, an institution inherited the abilities and responsibilities of protecting the people and continuing the river’s flow peacefully. Consider back when our society revolved completely around faith, when the church served as the sole tax collector and initiator of any people.
Consider back when, in revolution, the institution of rebellion forcefully grabbed dominate majority throughout the area to distill total control – in example, the French Revolution in which Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety rose to power in an era of confusion. Without a government, another institution – thriving on the success of prominent and even unheard of individuals – will take control.
Marx proclaims government as the institution which attempts to father the others. One that evolved sophistically, mature enough to alter the beliefs of other prominent institutions that desire nothing more than power in such war-mongering states of mind. One that the other institutions look to in fear of law, in fear of economics, in fear of themselves. Institutions rely upon each other. We don’t see a hierarchy similar to that of a pyramid format; we see the institutions leaning against each other in attempts to further influence the individuals around them. One can simply relate this concept to that of monopolies and trusts that companies – institutions – formulate. In order to execute the most psychological sovereignty and create a dependence on the influence resulting in power, we see corporations band together to limit conflict and competition between them. This allows the institutions to gain as much influence with as little rivalry as possible. The creation of this creates a stronger, more unified institution. That is what most governments attempt: to band together institutions and father them all as one reigning institution. Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails. It is what the Old depends upon, and what the transitional desires for.
Unless, of course, that government submerses itself in the sticky tar pool of debt and bribery, bringing forth corruption in its earliest merits. Such a government alters itself for the institutions among it: whether they be of faith and tradition, of commerce and corporation, of expedition and exploration, or of any other power-hungry nature. Once that stage is reached, the weak chain in the so-called abhorrent pyramid of power amongst the river of life is directed completely towards it. It will quickly become the Old, and the New will dominate over it.
But sometimes, the New does not improve over the Old. Sometimes, what we wish for is not always exactly what we desire. A desire for change has the chance to only pull us down deeper into the abyss, and farther away from what we truly need to progress in the cycle of society.
If something stable suddenly collapses, and a power-hungry divide erupts through the society in order to climb to the invisible peak, the so-called New that is created – or allowed to be created – by society will surely only bring a chaotic transition of morals and injustice until the rivers finally calm. We see this with the conquest belonging to the Mongol Empire, the mighty Huns, or the collapse of the Roman Empire. Once stable governments fell to barbarians, now they merely fall to the own wants and desires of the majority.
Which leads me to one of my favorite poems:
WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS by C.P. Cavafy
What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?
Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?
Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.
And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.
(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)
On the verge of one government’s collapse, we oftentimes see one of two things responsible for the change in the majority: 1) the government has changed so radically, whether it be through the open bribery of oligarchy or through the election cycle, if present, falls apart or 2) it is caught within one of the horrendous –gate scandals. Either way, the result is usually the same: the government’s – the institution’s – opinion falls short due to the decrease in the influence dependent upon the individuals within the majority. The aspects of change become promising, despite the minorities which make up the majority having no clue what exact change would come.
In essence, a government on its own is just another institution. One that administers power through influence, much as religion attempts to, and clings to a sense of said power in fear of transitional periods. In any civilization that may connect dearly between political parties – encouraging a divide – we see problems arising every debate. In any civilization that refuses to acknowledge more than one divine thought, or idea, we see the majority dwindle to nothing in fear of oppression. Regardless, the Old and New cycle continues. No individual will forever be happy in the same channel of the river’s institutions. Just as religious influence falls, so does government. Just as the community’s influence falls, so does government. Just as any other institution has an Achilles’ heel in the form of losing interdependence to the rebirth of individuality and autonomy, so does government.
How does a government remain an institution, then? Usually through the ignorance and arrogance of the average civilian – the average individual – that allows access to the influence. Those who ignore the world, dismiss the politics, remain uninspired by the powers above – those who only notice the godforsaken scandals but go back to blissful ignorance once their minds fixate upon something more intriguing to their attention spans (nowadays sports, celebrity gossip, and capitalistic sales for the everyday consumer) – they are the reason the cycle is elongated.
The reason why the river flows for as long as it does. These people, surviving in the abyss and living their entire lives in either complete fear or sheer disinterest of the institution while still contributing to its influence, are the true length of time between each Old and each New. They are, in sense, the true human majority. No matter what happens, for the most part, the majority is uninterested or afraid of the situation. The philosophical majority – those who create the change and those who the institution relies upon for true influence – is oftentimes a very loud minority. And sound – compassion, even – matters when comparative to a very silent, very ignorant, very confused group of arrogance. They, the individuals who matter most, are the ones who always desire change on the brink.
Oh, but of course, nothing actually ever changes. The institution remains, the individuals come and go. A new law here and there introduces the new modern morality that we desire. However, the cycle renews itself on a continuous basis. Sometimes the cycle can produce an incredible high-point: such as that of the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, the American Revolution, and etcetera. Other times, the cycle can produce a low deep in the abyss: such as that of the Middle Ages, the Theological Epochs, the French Revolution, and etcetera.
The transitional period, especially when it involves an overthrow or coup d’état of the governmental institution, does not necessarily introduce a new era of enlightenment. It does not always introduce progress. Sometimes, it can collectively sling a society back generations. Morals can devolve, intelligence can devolve, society itself…
So if society can reinstate itself, and the cycle can turn backwards instead of going forwards, we could easily see our progress shatter and return back to a dark age. We could see government influence fall and a new institution take the command of the majority. This could create a similar second coming of faith-controlled autocracy. This could create a strong antidemocratic or anti-liberal retreat in morals. Human rights could be lost, leaving all previous manifestos in shambles.
But, why would the cycle need to degenerate itself and revert back to a previous state? As stated before, the Old and the New forever coexist in the form of one soul and body. The opinions and statements and theories and facts belonging to each are oftentimes recorded and remembered, whether it be through culture, through faith, through writing, through progress. The attributes of each stage are there, but where is the objective?
Perhaps society is on a constant urge to be a Utopian. Individuals, maybe even the institutions themselves, wish to find themselves in a perfect balance. Perhaps this means a proper merging of individuality and interdependence, something I personally believe is improbable once the addition of influence is thrown in, oftentimes carelessly. Perhaps this means a proper set of morals. The abolishment of the abyss of arrogance. A step backwards could definitely imply a second chance for that set of standards to showcase improvement. We could be attempting to reinstate values that we miss, forget, or didn’t quite understand.
Or, it could just mean humans are the most pathetic errors to ever inhabit our own society – our own river, our own house, and our own bodies. We could be blind to literally everything we do, whether it be past or present.
But those who forget the past cycles of our society will never be able to foresee the future trends in the present. Those who forget or are simply disinterested are a part of the silent majority. They are the weak, and they will be steamrolled by the loud personal philosophies of psychological sovereignty that will secede from the institution’s influence and mindset. They will usually be remembered as an enemy of the New, or a neutral statistic in the form of historical blunder. They, in essence, are blinded by the propaganda-styled influence dictated by those of the institution. But those of the institution, mind you, are individuals similar to the silent majority.
For government itself, a rapidly developing community of oftentimes elitist individuals who banded together in the mere essence of influence and power, there is a vast amount of classifications and, furthermore, subcategories of in-groups and out-groups. While other institutions attempt to break up these in-groups or classify their own in-groups, the institution of government is heavily constricted and confined to the in-groups that have created it. We see Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, mudsling and argue over anything in attempts to sway the majority. We see political rivalries, candidates, and scandals formulate over the next man or woman in charge. While other institutions, such as the corporation or the religious unions, avoid this melodramatic impulse of creating rivalries from within (for rivalries harm the majority, creating opposing dams in the river), we can see that the modern idea of government – or at least that of freedom – has set itself on the crutches of such.
But why? These opposing viewpoints are childlike in manner, and instead of creating compromising idealism that could perhaps forever strengthen the Old of this institution, we see complete and sheer mortality within their prepositions. We see left and right against each other as subdivisions of government, and then dozens of sub-subdivisions within the left and right trying to overtake the majority in their respected party.
In modern day, we can separate the American Republican Party, a subdivision of its own, into five sub-subdivisions, all of which are trying to radically take over the ideology and concept of the party itself. The Moderates, the Establishments, the Tea Party Lobbyists, the Libertarians, and the far-right radical Christian Conservatives (who cling tightly on the aspects of religion, one of the Columns that are falling quickly in our society). These five divisions are at constant political war with each other, weakening their own statuses through aspects of confusion. They have successfully confused, contradicted, and eradicated the intelligence of their foundation.
Modern politics already has one major flaw: the nonstop bashing between two sides in essence of creating a “left” or “right” society instead of compromising and listening to everyone. We have those who are so biased, so ignorant and lost within the abyss, that they ignore any aspect of compromise or intellectual debate. Watch any campaign belonging to the 2015-2016 GOP Primaries, and you’ll see exactly what is meant here. Politicians within the government, as individuals, have the same error that any individual not in the government has: a personal philosophy. These personal philosophies are what disbanded the idea of singular government and created the original two divisions: of left and of right. Overtime, that wasn’t enough. Two central platforms were not enough for them. Thus, we see the major terrain splits between the two.
Instead of individuals clinging to influence within the institutional dominion of government, we see individuals needing to rise through the influence of their own party first. One cannot control the government – that of being President or whatever the top job may be – without the support of their own party. Now, however, it is much more difficult than that. Now these individuals must gain the influence of a majority throughout not one party, but several subdivisions of one party and the silent majority which doesn’t seem to ever care about “petty” politics.
Regardless of whatever amount of influence is controlled by the institutions – in this case government – the first reaction after the realization of last power is shielded by corruption or hidden data. The amount of information circulating through the institution on individuals is astounding, almost horrifying, when it comes to our brand new age of global enterprise and the age of information. I fully believe that one days historians will look back upon this time and consider the early 21st century to be a dark age of censorship despite the global conventions of informational gains. The internet, created by the US Department of Defense – that’s right, a government institution – has made its way into the households of nearly every individual.
Thus the institutions, of government itself, is further advanced in the degree of keeping the influence within the individuals. While others, like corporations, rely on marketing and strategic advertisement plans, the government institution manages to grab the attention of everyone at almost any time – including the silent majority. While others, like religion, are collapsing under the weight of a transitional period, the government institution manages to keep its influence despite corruption and the falling programs of the Old.
Of course we accept this, whether it be consciously or subconsciously. As long as the social contracts between the individual citizens and the institutions above (in the form of government) remain intact, we won’t see a governmental transition. We, at this point, allow the Old and the New to coexist by bringing standards of the Old into the social construct of the New. Government will always continue itself, as it has since the beginning of society itself with the most primitive institutions imaginable. The social contract allows the individuals to feel safe within and around the institution, making it a dire importance of the higher statuses to influence the people they govern.
But how, if the government is only an institution amongst other institutions, does it manage to gain its influence? The answer is very simple: by fathering, owning, the others.
For example, the demise of our education. Of course, The School is one of The Four Columns, where people learn morals and values. We already know of the hidden curriculum, but where did it all start to go wrong?
After the allied victory of World War II, we – as Americans – began seeing dramatic changes to the institution of Education, the Column of School. I believe that all problems with our modern day kerfuffle with the public school system can be rooted back to the National Defense Education Act. Signed into national law on September 2nd, 1958 by 34th President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the act provided the education institutions funding on any and all levels. There we have it: the institution of government making changes to other organizations, in this example the Column of Education. That is a major blow to the influence of the states and their schools, where we see the government expanding their control into the daily lives of those they wish to influence.
This act had meaning back in the late 1950s, in a time of paranoia and academic frustration. The end of the Second World War clashed into the foundations seen in the Cold War, creating a heavy blanket of paranoia across the entire world. The two largest and most powerful institutions, those seen in physical form as the United States of America and the Soviet Union, felt an incredible amount of threat coming from the other side. These two countries, worried about the influence the other might have over their own people, sided with their institutional ideologies in order to stand against each other. Americans, of course, choosing that of capitalism (and in the revisionist view of imperialism) and the Russians choosing that of communism.
I, personally, hold a more post-revisionist interpretation on the entire issue of the Cold War. Conflict in all forms – in social and in threats – became part of the institutional regime in fear of the other side. No single country is at fault for the half century of propaganda against the other side (which we still see to this day). It was not one sided institutions which created the conflict, and the problems that erupted through our society can be placed on the shoulders of both. America and Russia, controlled by institutions and their respected ideologies, both continued the half century of paranoia which led to prejudice of thought.
Regardless, the National Defense Education Act was a method of expanding influence farther than the original guidelines which rested between the institutions of our society. After the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite (that did nothing but float around, beep, and then fall back down after 98 minutes), into space, the citizens (the individuals) across America began feeling a stressful paranoia towards education. The belief that education in the Soviet Union was superior to what they were receiving and witnessing within their own territories caused Dwight D. Eisenhower and the 85th United States Congress to react severely.
Instead of simply encouraging educational growth through other methods, the government began providing heaps of funding to every educational institution on all levels, successfully chaining the idea of school to the knee of the government. One of the biggest institutions, labeled as one of the Four Columns, that most if not everyone went through, was now severely limited and controlled by – dominated by – the working of one of the other institutions. In sheer essence of fear, the American government decided to encourage advancements in science by forcing the education systems to have an emphasis of sciences, technologies, engineering, and mathematics. To beat the Soviets in this so-called Scientific Victory that the Americans desperately wanted, the ten titles of the National Defense Education Act eliminated all need of humanities.
Not interested in the intellectual languages of Greek and Latin (as these served no purpose in the aligned goals of science), the funding went directly to foreign languages that did serve a purpose to them: that of German, Russian, Italian, etc. These European languages were stressed due to the importance of the region. For they were the enemies: they could perhaps beat America to sending something bigger and better than Sputnik into space.
Not at all interested in philosophy, of history, of culture, of arts – all federal budgeting went into science, math, programming, and any other course that showed progress in creating a brand new and scientific movement to defeat the enemies. Instead of domination, something history is full of, all eyes went to defeat through science.
And once the Americans had its eyes set on a scientific victory, there was nothing that could really stop them. The people were encouraged, the sociological impacts of science slammed into individuals hard. The creation of guidance counselors allowed tracks to be followed until eventually the subjects were beaten into all curriculum. To this day we see sciences and mathematics in better shape than humanities. The government, as an institution, cares very little about said humanities – of the arts and of history. Scientific progress is needed in order to create the next great minds that could invent a major product or create a new work of art in the form of weaponry.
I severely blame the National Defense Education Act, with its ten titles and little effort towards keeping education a balanced and well-rounded institution of knowledge, for the destruction of our education system and the beginnings of the de-evolution of our very own intelligence. Even though such stress and emphasis is placed on sciences and mathematics, our country is continuing to fall in both subjects. Internationally, the United States stands in the middle of all polling for math and sciences. We rest somewhere between Slovakia and Lithuania in terms of Mathematics and Denmark and Spain in terms of Science. While we are moderately improving in terms of the last decade or so, we still see no reason to denounce the importance of humanities.
But it’s what the institution of government thought was best. In return, the federal institution laid its claim to the educational facilities. Standardized tests, the classifications of Title schools (Title I being the poorest), and the slow demise of mental health statuses in terms of stress and student suicide in terms of grades. The devolving status of our intelligence isn’t actually a process in where we forget knowledge. It is more or less an ignorant stage where not only do we forget about humanities, but we encourage sciences to the point where it is no longer effective whatsoever.
Schools are drastically important, as the aspect of knowledge remains one of the most necessary attributes to the creation of our existence. But what good is education when it is nothing more than standardized tests that serve no purpose, a decrease in international intelligence, stressful environments, and nothing more than a foundation for institutional influence and a monotonous way of producing money?
It is the institutions that are in fault here, and the individuals are idly sitting by and ignoring every aspect of contribution.