Chaos, confusion, disorder and a problem to big for a single individual to deal with breeds apathy, a sense of learned helplessness. With this comes the passing of the buck, of giving power over to someone else, to allow them to resolve it relieving you of both the stress and the obligation. Nowhere is this more visible in the US than the world of politics; a place where most Americans feel their lone voice is unheard.
Time to get off you fat cheeto eating ass and do something about it. But just before you go wobbling off to battle, its best to understand a few things first.
Agents Of Chaos
On the surface, American politics may seem like a simple choice between Republican or Democrat. For those a little more astute, you will know that choice has limited tangible effects. A bagel is a bagel, the flavoring doesn't change the fact that it will only put on the pounds. An almost insurmountable problem for you and most will quit even before they begin. Motivation dies, it is easier to go bowling or watch the game.
What many do not realize is that this intentional; a system of control that has coalesced over the last 240 years. It wasn't a system invented by Americans, the earliest settlers imported it from Europe, who in turn, had it brought to them by various invasions and interactions from the Empires of the Mediterranean. This passing of the torch of control stretches all the way back to pre-history, before Egypt, before Sumeria. Intent, in this scenario, does not denote the will of an individual or group but rather a consequence of nature itself. This is our social behavior and it is what keeps us alive as a species.
It is the way of things, but there are times in life when your failure to address an issue will only lead to a situation where you are ultimately worse off. Thus, the motivation is drawn from necessity, rather than naked desire. This is a good place to be mentally, let's understand why.
In the upper right-hand side of this article is a symbol, this is the symbol of Chaos. If you think of yourself as being at the center, the arrows pointing away are the various forces in life that pull at us both intellectually and emotionally, often in entirely different directions. In your mind, let's scale that up a little to about 4 or 5 people. Think about the influences in your life that impose upon you, then think about what you do to impose your will on others. Now apply that to this small scale model, each person with different wants and needs and you will rapidly observe the complexity of obtaining unity in thought among a group of peers. Depending on the differences of wants and needs, this group of 4 or 5 people may or may not be able to work together.
Taking this a step further, try to imagine 300 million people. It hard, you won't be able to visualize it but you will get a sense of the scale of the problem and its complexity. Let's now add some tangible forces to this, we will start with the basics such as the need for food, security, shelter, sanitation, etc. I'm sure you will have a range of other basic needs that you can add. When we now consider that each person has their own idea of an ideal in each of these area, we can observe that the only way to bring unity of thought is through compromising of our personal position. This won't satisfy everyone, but it will satisfy enough people to bring about a workable solution.
I want you think of this as a flow of energy that connects people, a shared idea. Give each of these shared ideas a color and you will observe what we like to call 'society'; a collection of shared ideas, some of which are broadly accepted, others not. We call the act of compromising 'politics'. This can be loosely compared to water company, where the shared ideas (society) are the water and the decision making (politics) is the opening/closing of valves to route those flows.
Now that we have this notion of energy flows, or shared ideas, we can look at major or minor flows. In the 20th century, the two major flows that dominated the planet where 'capitalism' and 'communism'. Think of these as really wide pipes that connect a lot of people and carry a lot of energy. An example of a minor flow, or narrow pipe that carries lesser energy, may be something like getting together to start a local community group for disadvantaged youth.
When viewed like this, we can see how major flows direct large scale opinion and minor flows direct small scale opinion. Now and again, minor flows converge to become a major flow. The development and adoption of Communism in the 20th century is a perfect example of this. From this, we also observe that flows can break apart over time, just as Communism did. Thus, the model you should now have in your head is a dynamic one, with flows converging and separating at different rates.
From here, it should not be difficult to see that what is defined as 'interests' by governments and corporations form the backbone of the major flows and that these dominate the physics of the system. Whilst not what we would define as control as such, this 'bias' of shared ideas is protected by two mechanisms. The first is the nature of a Republic, in that there is a physical disconnect between the will of the people and that of government. The second is the physical requirement of flows to merge to transition between minor and major.
'Populism', or the shared idea that a group is being mistreated by its governing class, is a classic example of aligning minor flows to converge in a major flow. Similar to breaking down the will of an individual, 'Populism' aims to break down the will of a governing class and achieve control. It is a hack, a form of complex brainwashing. Sometimes the grievances are legitimate, but often they are fabricated through repeated slanting of information. In this sense, 'Populism' when artificially generated is a collective form of a 'Victim Mentality', or the brainwashed being leveraged to brainwash a governing class; manipulating policy through controlled social unrest and decay. The methodology is simple, slant media to a particular restricted view, repeat and install a sense of standing up against the perceived brutality and oppression.
If you really want to go deep with all of this and learn about, in microcosm, just how to push a society to the edge then I would strongly recommend watching the following TV show by the Mentalist Derren Brown called 'Pushed To The Edge'. Its about hour long and is one of the best examples of Social Compliance as a weapon on the web today. Its also really entertaining. If you don't have time for it now, please do come back and watch it in full later.
Derren Brown - Pushed to the Edge
What Derren's TV show is demonstrating is that we can all make poor decisions as the result of peer pressure. The one thing that will prevent this is a strong sense of ethical behavior that serves to block Social Compliance. That doesn't mean that you need to take it to the level of Monk, or shy away from the hard choices in life such as going to war, but it does mean that you must exhaust every alternative strategy in dealing with a problem. This is especially true as we get into the major flows. Sometimes the alternative strategies are not clear, thus it is critical to take time to reflect upon the options and not be railroaded into making a decision.
For those who want to go deeper with this, I would recommend studying 'Game Theory', as this defines at a statistical level what choices will be made in group scenarios.
Connecting all this new knowledge back to the original premise of this article, it is important to understand that in the modern world politics is not just politics. Much of it is weaponized forms of Social Compliance. This is a defense strategy employed by the Federal government and, indeed, much of the rest of the world. Thus, it is critical to understand that as much as democracy exists, trying to up-end existing social constructs (effect major flows) will result in ever increasing manipulation by 'Agents of Chaos'.
In times of economic peril, which has the capability to bring down the entire state, manipulation of government policy to drive alterations in Social Compliance is the norm. A classic example is the 'enemy at the gates' to forge unity within a nation, or at least take the wind out of those who oppose the government. In this scenario, foreign policy and hidden military actions are used to astroturf an enemy. Sometimes it just outright fake news and any plot line from a movie that can be found. The United States government does this too, not just nations like North Korea, etc. If the enemy at the gates is insufficient (i.e. low-intensity terrorism) or to dangerous (i.e. Russia), then the manipulation of domestic politics is used. This can be things like abortion, race, gender, sexuality, etc. Anything in the universe that will distract from pinning the tail on the government and corporate donkey.
That said, there are those who will want that to happen. Sitting quietly in the wings waiting to emerge as the shift in mental attitude and political attitude can be leveraged to bring about their political goals. This could be Communism, Ultra-Nationalism, Fascism, Neo-Liberalism, Neo-Conservatism, etc, etc. Thus, there methodology is to support these minor flow, but slowly shift the consensus towards their agenda as they merge through periodic adjustments, often leveraging social catalysts. This isn't something that could be happening, this is something that happens 24/7 and from a variety of sources. It ends up in our media, Youtube, Facebook, etc etc. At the more complex end of the spectrum is long term social engineering, by manipulating federal and state policy it is possible to instigate particular forms of social unrest to serve as a distract or to mold public opinion. This latter process operates over decades to drive complex agendas, such as opening markets, securing political power, changing the political view of a nation, etc.
As this grows in density, from all sources, so to does the general decay of society from the street level to halls of power. It is just a question of time before collapse occurs and being vigilant of the source of these major flows is an important task.
Along side ethics, a little humility and honesty goes a long way. Your personal views, on a range of political topics, may be nothing short of sheer madness. Take as an example any political position you feel strongly about. Now, I want you to think of that model of 300 million people and the various major and minor flows you created earlier. Have you ever tried to map your political position onto this and evolve the system over time to study its effects and consequences? Of course not. It seems good in your head; a head that can only hold around 7 objects in its short term memory at any one time. In reality, it may not work or have consequences that appear mild in the beginning but spark a chain off events that could lead to deaths far in the future.
Given all of this, knee-jerk reactions to news, regardless of the content, is ill advised. The problem must be studied in detail, in its full complexity, or else the wrong conclusions will be drawn, poor decisions will be made and the problem will only get worse. This is reflected in the symbol of Chaos, if the forces are pulling at you, then centering yourself becomes the critical first objective.
Let's do a worked example of this using recent events.
On So Many Levels
On the 6th July, Philando Castile was killed by a Police Officer whilst reaching for his license and registration after informing the officer he was armed. This was preceded by the killing of another black man, Alton Sterling, by Police the day before that was also captured on video. July 7th saw a decorated Army reservist, Micah Xavier Johnson, ambush Dallas Police killing 5 Officers. A wide range of reprisal attacks on officers throughout the country have also occurred as a result of these events.
The only connection between these two events that triggered this backlash against Police was social media and time. As such, there are underlying factors in these communities that have festered for a very long period. A general perception exists that white officers are racist and heavy handed. The simple facts that in Philando Castile's case the officer was a Mexican American, or that in Alton Sterling's case they were wrestling an armed individual did not matter. Nor did it matter that it is easy to sit in the safety of your own home, free to consider the options when the reality for the officers involved is that these are blink-of-an-eye judgment calls, under duress, in situations where they perceive their own lives to be in danger. I'm not saying that the Police were correct, I'm just saying without the full facts what sort of conclusion can anyone really come to?
So, what is going on here?
Memetic Velocity is a term I would like everyone to come to know, along with the term Memetic Mass. For those who don't know what a Meme is, it is a piece of information that transfers between people, like cat pictures, or YOLO. There is extended science on this, but it is enough to know for now. In any transmission of information, the more complex or dense the information content, the slower it will travel. Simple concepts travel very quickly. The simplest concepts in these events are white vs black, police vs. people. This information spreads quick, whilst it may come in the form of a video or news reports, it takes longer for the brain to process the extended information that may contradict the simple Meme, if it processes it at all. In this context, processing is defined as complete integration of facts into your worldview. Thus, simple concepts have a higher Memetic Velocity because their Memetic Mass is lower. Further, information with a higher Memetic Mass will take more time to change the perception of an event. Thus, it is possible for some Memes to take months or years to be fully realized by an individual or group. More complex information requires physical biological changes that happen on the time frame of natural growth rates in the human brain. That is, information is not just processed, it is also grown.
Micah Xavier Johnson, the Dallas Sniper, made statements about wanting to kill Police and he had a preference for white Officers. What we know from this is that he may have been triggered by the sudden rush of information, however, the real reason behind the attack went a lot deeper in time and was more to do with his own personal experiences, than the events over the last number of days. The density of the events, their nature in combination with this underlying belief structure (either perceived or real) set him off.
That said, this set off a debate and protests against racism in the Police forces of the US. We will call this event the 'first level of thinking'. Many people only use this 'first level' of thinking when analyzing situations. They grab the least complex explanation and integrate it into their world view. Some may go a little deeper and attempt to understand the roots of Racism in the Police forces, but it is still a very shallow form of thinking. If we look at the guiding principles of Black Lives Matter we note that this a form of Populism or Victim Mentality that was described earlier in this article. As it 'first level' thinking, we know that Black Lives Matter evolved out of social compliance system geared towards the suppression of the Black community. Whilst that statement may appear obvious, what is less obvious is that Black Lives Matter is a form of suppression, rather than a valid solution. This is one of the traps of 'first level' thinking, the solution is the just as bad as the problem, effectively compounding the problem. It is a psychological state where the oppressor gets the oppressed to self-reinforce their oppression. I like to think of it as oppression on the cheap.
Before we move this up a notch to 'Second Level' thinking, let's discuss what we mean by 'levels of thinking'. This is a rather simple concept, in any event there are an array of factors that conspire to bring about said event. Each level of thinking expands upon the previous one to identify each layer, or set of factors, that were involved in any event. Thus, the true picture is always a combination of simultaneously true layers. The more layers you can extract, express, the greater your intelligence. How deep do you think? Do you see all situations with the same depth? This is very much like the model of 300 million people that I asked readers to think about earlier, all those different flows of ideas, layered on top of wants and needs. Being able to tease apart any given scenario is the hallmark of true intelligence, not identifying what number is missing in a sequence.
'First Layer' thinking is all about empathy within a group, a form of collective egocentrism. 'Second Layer' thinking expands upon this empathy to begin thinking about others outside our immediate group. For this example, let's take a walk in the shoes of Officer Jeronimo Yanez who shot and killed Philando Castile on the 6th July (see above video). I want you to focus on the time frame 0:29-0:42 which covers the period Officer Jeronimo Yanez first speaks. Paying attention to his vocal patterns, what do you notice? Clear signs of extreme stress, emotion (sadness/despair), fear and anger. These vocal patterns cannot be faked as they are the product of a chemical explosion in the brain followed a rapid sense of relief that a danger has passed. Its basically the come-down from a fight-or-flight response. This tells us one thing, his motivation for firing was exactly what he claims in the video. There is no sense of glee at killing a black man, there is no disregard for the action he just took, he is simply freaked out.
So, let's place this in a broader context. Officer Jeronimo Yanez is part of the St. Anthony Police Department, a very small Police department with only 23 officers. It hasn't had an officer involved shooting in 30 years and Jeronimo Yanez worked there for 4 years without incident. So, not exactly your trigger happy officers from TV. The closest these guys got to a shoot out was the local movie theater and that possibly played a role here. Officer Jeronimo Yanez stopped the vehicle because the car and its occupants were flagged as potentially being part of a robbery. So, imagine yourself as a 28 year old cop walking up to a car which you suspect has robbers in it. Take one quick look at the car, now remember what the occupants look like and what they are wearing. In the comfort of our own home or office, we have the luxury of both hindsight and time, whereas Officer Jeronimo Yanez has the distance between his vehicle and Philando Castile's vehicle with every subjective bias coloring his perceptions as his fight-or-flight responses kick in. To me at least the color of the skin is irrelevent in this scenario, they could be blue with gold stripes, the entire scene screams criminal activity. So, he is already on edge before he makes contact with Philando Castile. From the passenger, Diamond Reynolds, we are told that Philando Castile was asked for his license and registration, as he was reaching for this Philando Castile informs the officer he is armed and Diamond Reynolds screamed that it was a registered fire arm. With no way to confirm this, Officer Jeronimo Yanez, suspecting this guy is a robber, knowing he is armed, Diamond Reynolds screaming and Philando Castile still moving, opens fire.
Most of the above information was not available until the 12th July, 5 days after Micah Xavier Johnson murdered 5 officers in Dallas. Its not hard to understand that potential scenario. What we find here is that our 'Second Level' thinking, contradicts our 'First level' thinking. They are not simulatanously true. What changes our perception is context, when placed in context the 'Second Layer' reasoning seems more plausible.
But is it the true reason?
We can take this analysis further and we will. Let's ramp up to 'Third Level' thinking. We will continue with this scenario Officer Jeronimo Yanez found himself in but we will consider the training and field experience of Police Officers. Despite what the movies , or conspiracy theory videos on Youtube, have us believe the majority of officers never draw their weapons in the line of duty throughout their entire career. The most dangerous job in the United States, believe it or not, is being President. It has a murder rate of 18%. When we add to this the fact that Police training in firearms is all 'very safe', is it any wonder when someone even mentions a gun in real-world scenario that Police freak out and people get killed?
With this 'Third Level' thinking we are now shifting the blame up the chain. Obviously, we shouldn't be thinking of this as a blame game, that's just stupid as it prevents people from dealing with identified issues. Once again, with this slight change in context, we can observe how we can't really blame Officer Jeronimo Yanez for freaking out. The training provided to Officers cannot simulate the necessary conditions to desensitize them as it would involve placing their life at genuine risk. This carries with it the potential for long term mental health issues which would preclude officers from carrying firearms. Further, would you want a Police Officer desensitized to killing Americans? Hell no.
So, is this now the true reason?
What we do know is that both our 'Second Level' and 'Third Level' reasoning/thinking are simultaneously true. It should also becoming clearer why I said Black Live Matter is a form of 'oppression on the cheap', the 'First level' thinking prevents them from observing the real issue that is getting black people killed, thus they are not helping but ensuring that Black people die unnecessarily.
Now we move towards 'Fourth level' thinking, gun control. Here our local incident is moving from a minor flow, to a major flow. Surely the real problem here is that people have guns. If there were no guns, then there would be no cops freaking out and no dead black people. Probably accurate, that said, there are valid reasons for having guns.
It is here that we enter mainstream politics. At this 'Forth Level' we must begin considering a whole new set of levels, those of the debate for and against having guns. Both sides have strong arguments, from personal protection to defense of the nation, the pro-gun debate is very strong. The anti-gun lobby tends to disregard threats to nation from within, which given human nature and the history of this planet borders on insanity. That said, the scale of difference in capability between the state and something like a militia is not exactly small. A militia in the US would have a survivability in the order of minutes. With modern weaponry, even a 2 million strong force dispersed in a nation couldn't survive longer than 20 minutes.
That said, the state must first secure exclusive control of such resources.
Have we found the true reason?
To be honest, no. We could keep adding layer upon layer to this, finally including the constraints of social behaviors in general, the role chemistry plays in that, genetics and even physics. The only truly objective picture will be that of physics, which will alter your perception of all these events right down to this one single officer involved shooting. If you want to deep on that, well, just read my column.
This universe is complex, life is complex and the ultimate reason behind any event is complex. Thus expect to do a lot of reading if you are going to form an educated opinion on any matter. Both sides of the argument must be weighed and effects projected far into the future to completely understand repercussions of decisions.
If you think the world's problems are going to be solved by a political party, or there campaign nonsense, then you are an idiot. It is really that simple. The only way to resolve issues to quantify them completely, down to the level of physics and that takes an army of scientists and some of the most complex computing in the world.
If your politicians are not walking you through computer simulations backed by open data, then you are played. In such a world, you can expect more wars, your kids to get useless health care, small pensions, a poor economy, more unnecessary deaths, etc, etc.
Ultimately, you are to blame, you voted them in.
If you want a quick Meme to capture this, then it is 'Show Me The Data'.