Saturday, 5 August 2017

Of Sheep Dogs, Shepherds and Sheep

I've expressed in past posts my persuasion that it is critical thought abilities that divide humanity, but since then I've tried to refine and revise that somewhat, and attempt to apply it to the social workings of modern society. Definition of terms: by 'modern', I mean 'now'.

Through that I came up with the title's three behaviour patterns: critical thinking (or absence of the same) does indeed create two distinct behaviour-thought patterns, but attempting to achieve 'survival success' with these in modern society creates behaviour subdivisions.

One who thinks critically can seek 'autonomous success' (perhaps in mutual exchanges with other like-minded humans), or they can choose to use their critical-thought abilities as an advantage over non-critical thinkers (without any attempt to educate them): it is this latter type, the one I call 'the shepherd', that I'd like to talk about here.

Then we have the non-critical-thinkers ('survive-through-imitation-ers'): I used to (rather pejoratively) refer to them as 'the sheep', but that would mean that anyone in a 'management' position would be a critical thinker; this is hardly the case. It would also require that every indoctrinating religious leader be aware that what they are spreading is bunk, but this is hardly true, as many are genuine 'believers'.

This latter case puzzled me until realising that there is a fine line, almost a behaviour 'switch', between those who seek to imitate a survival model and those who enforce it. All that changes there is a reference to, and exercise, of authority, but the 'survive through imitation' behaviour remains the same. Thus the 'sheep dog' ('survival-model authority') and 'sheep' ('survival-model-imitator') classifications.

So, if the sheep depend on the sheep dogs (and 'in-group' comparison) for their survival model, where do the sheep-dogs get theirs from? The shepherds, of course.

The genius of this system is that, to 'enact' a behaviour change, all the (often behind-the-scenes) shepherds have to do is give orders to their sheep-dogs (with a healthy share of scraps as 'reward'), and they will introduce that to whatever in-group behaviour pattern of whatever in-group they lead... not only will the sheep dogs 'police' that behaviour, but the sheep will police themselves; in the surive-by-imitation thought-behaviour mindset, imitation is the only known survival method, and everything outside of it is a 'threat' (to be 'defended against' through various levels of denial/dismissal/ostracisation/violence), and simple observation shows that this is how many people behave today.

The religious example led me to that realisation, but the pattern extends well beyond it: in your local supermarket, for example, consumers may think they have the 'freedom' to choose whatever product they like, but few think to why those products are there (and not others) and to who decides this 'for' them: the store manager stocks the shelves, but they take the choice of products from (often central) management, and when it comes to chain stores, this is pretty high up in the hierarchy.

In this pattern I've observed that the shepherds will often put forward a 'believer' sheep-dog as a 'patsy-authority' while they themselves remain anonymous: we see this both in politics (many of the presidents of the United States since Eisenhower have been this (and the present one is an uncontrollable, failed attempt at this)) and religion (it's the cardinals that pull the strings, not the Pope). But yet other shepherds don't 'require' this as an accountability-deflecting distraction, and content themselves with controlling what products appear on the shelves: the Koch brothers and Exxon mobil (we've had the technology for electric highways and electric most everything since the 1970s, for goodness' sake) are good examples of this.

And this behaviour pattern is echoed in modern class-divisions and our economy: the top 1% are people we rarely see in public, and the more-visible shepherd-connected 'rewarded sheep-dog' levels fill the tiers below that; as this system saps the lower levels, there is a sharp drop-off (at the former 'middle class') when we get to the 'sheep'.

And in this system, autonomous thinkers who don't seek to exploit their advantage have difficulty fitting in: we have seen rare examples of honest, autonomous success (such as Tesla and Elon Musk), but many, to survive, must rely on shepherds (grants, research financing) for their existence, making them almost... well rewarded slaves (anything they produce will earn their 'benefactors' much more than they will ever see), condemned to all the social ills that being an 'out-group' entails, because, in a survive-by-imitation society, even though those 'not-sheep or sheep-dogs' do the demonstrable, overly-obvious 'right' of producing all the comforts sheep enjoy, since they don't 'behave the same way', the sheep will always (instinctively) think them 'wrong' in some way... that they themselves can't even describe.