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01/22/2014

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Ryan Brooks

A very insightful essay Mr. cohen. Thank you for the time and patience it took in writing it.

Your posts as of late (since you almost gave up posting completely) have been critical and more helpful in understanding.

It seems a lot of your anger about our situation has subsided. I wonder if this is right or wrong?....Who knows.

Surely, "it is what it is."

Thanks again

Oliver

It's nigh on impossible to do justice to your work with any comment I can make here. Let me just say that with this remarkable piece of writing, you have unleashed a murder of crows in my head. Just when I had been telling myself to stop thinking so much about "everything"...

Does the truth set us free? Not sure 'bout that. I'm finding it painful getting to the truth about human nature - because as I learn more (thanks in great measure to your writings), I increasingly don't want to belong to a group that operates by this nature, and yet here I am, stuck in this human existence and mildly addicted to keep on keeping on. May as well enjoy the ride, eh?

Bud Wood

What you say does make sense. However, I need to really study the context as there's a lot there which will take a lot to better understand what you're saying.

In my opinion, we don't just not need the super-sized collectives in which we live, but will be much better off when our communities (social groups) are sized to that with we can comprehend (and even relate). And maybe it will come to that.

Mike Roberts

This is on my "to read" list, but it may take a while to get to and through it, though I look forward to it. Thanks.

Glenn

Thanks for your post on Hedges.

James

So if Wal-Mart sources most of its products in China, it's not about reaping a fantastic profit using slave wages and the Walton family amassing wealth equal to the bottom 42% of American families, it's about “everyday low prices” with a bonus smiley face thrown in, right? It's a win-win situation. I really want to be part of the Davos tribe or CFR tribe, their morality pays better. Damn, too late to go to Harvard or Yale for the proper introductions.

Internally, the Maori were kind and loving, but if two tribes were at war, eating the other tribe's children for dinner was not morally unconscionable. Morality is for those within the tribe, everyone else is fair game. The “average” American is fair game. Thanks for the great essay.

Brian

Social groups are incredibly fascinating because they are so malleable and fluid, always forming and reforming, and because they are not exclusive. We all belong to almost innumerable social groups, but are probably only consciously aware of a handful. However, as you say, virtually every position we take or judgement we make is supported by this social group instinct. We always belong to, and take comfort in the fact that we do, the ephemeral group defined by People Who Agree With Me.

Our need to be included in a group, but to also make that group somehow exclusive is seemingly part of our nature, our natural yin and yang. We cannot generally be comfortable outside of a group, but we are also not comfortable in a group that includes too many (or certain) others. What was it Groucho Marx said, "I don't want to belong to any club that would accept ME as a member." Indeed.

Dave, a really nice piece of writing. Thanks.

Diogenes

"It is what it is"...and then some.

Recent TED talk by social psychologist Paul Piff that I found fascinating & insightful; and relevant to your post. "Does money make you mean?"...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ8Kq1wucsk

If interested, here's his paper - also recent - "Wealth and the Inflated Self"...

http://media.wix.com/ugd/80ea24_5147244eff46919e9d911ec3e6f4958a.pdf

As always...many thanks

Ben

There is a lot for me to learn here (I gotta read this essay 2 or 3 more times). TY for the time and effort you put into this essay Dave.

IvoZ

A very interesting essay. The crucial point to me seems to be whether there is this thing human nature. You seem to be convinced that it is pre-programmed and on the surface you seem right. It is a relatively new topic to me or at least the distillation to the question: Is there such a thing as human nature? Which also seems to be your major disagreement with Hedges. I remember that Zeitgeist 3 spent a lot of time arguing that there is no such thing as human nature, it is all social conditioning. This gives me some hope, but maybe only temporary and small. The problem with Zeitgeist and Hedges is that they sound too far left to me and too utopian. Still what do you think of Zeitgeist's arguments that there is no "human nature"?

Oliver

@IvoZ - Speaking only for myself, for Peter Joseph (Zeitgeist) to contend that there is no such thing as human nature is tantamount to saying that apples turn red by harvest time because of conditioning, not by dint of their nature.

And where the h**k does social conditioning come from, if there is no human nature in the first place? A few seconds' quiet thinking is enough to blow large holes in that Zeitgeist prognostication.

Jack

I really enjoy reading your blog and generally find myself agreeing with your take on economic practice, but this piece is just too limited. Most of the material you are writing about has been well documented in sociological and political economy cannons, particularly the work of Max Weber, C. Wright Mills. I would have liked to have seen more about inner group stratification and hierarchies.

I was also troubled with the three hidden groups idea, as it seems to be a complete rip off of Saul Alinsky's org action theory,
an elite = haves
the beneficiaries of the status quo = have a little want some more
the disenfranchised - have nots
That's not exactly super bad, but it does seem very similar, and given your previous posts, I'm surprised it wasn't already reviewed.

One glaring problem is your concept of human nature as applied to social groups in the United States. I think if you looked into black feminist theory and indigenous theory you may have a different take. The intersections of race, sex, and class create structural problems enabling a false construct of what seems to be natural human interactions. To think that westernized social groups and governance is the pinnacle of human capacity is rather dated.

Mike Roberts

Thanks, Dave. you continue to reinforce earlier writings. A great piece.

But I'm still left wondering what to do with this information, this truth. It's depressing and enlightening, at the same time.

IvoZ

@ Oliver (and Dave)
My impression is that most people are honest and well meaning, but unfotunately also somewhat akin to sheep - they really want to be part of the herd and find acknowledgement among their fellow men, which unfortunately makes them vulnerable to fraud and manipulation of the 2% psychopaths in the population. So the masses do not so much enjoy the current form of the matrix, but rather they enjoy to be part of the bee hive whatever form it has. This makes them exploitable slaves of the wolves in shepherd's clothes. A very interesting series of articles on mass psychological manipulation in the case of capital markets can be read at the Epsilon Theory blog. He also mentions and ties to Haidt. In the case of Zeitgeist, I think the answer is that exploitation and oppression create circumstances that dictate the never ending vicious cycle of social conditioning creating the current manifestation of "human nature". Basically corrupt psychopaths are winning and corrupting everything like agent Smith in the Matrix 3 risking the end of civilization as they have nothing to lose but their empty black-hole selfs.

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