Status as a fetish

Fetish can be defined as “a part standing for the whole” or “one thing being made bigger than it is by having become a psychological fixation.”

A good example of what I mean is pornography. Insofar as a mere image can stand for or replace instinctual sexual objectives, it is a fetish.

A sign (pornographic image) is as strong or stronger than the animal instinct. Or a sign can direct or redirect the animal instinct. That is a fetish.

Secondary sex characteristics do the same thing. You could call them nature’s fetishes but that would be stretching the concept. Human utilizations of makeup, clothing, and grooming could be said to stand “halfway” between the basic sexual instinct and the fetishized porno image.

Let’s apply that reasoning to status.

Two social psychologist I respect—Jordan Peterson and Kevin MacDonald—have both claimed many times that status is a fundamental human instinct and that it drives human behavior in many ways.

In posts on this site, I have disagreed with these ideas several times. I just don’t see it that way. Here are two of those posts: Status and hierarchy are as fundamental to human life as murder and Jordan Peterson on the gender pay gap, campus protests and the patriarchy.

In the second link just above, I said:

…I do not believe that social status is any more fundamental to human nature than murder is. Humans also possess reason and spiritual inclinations both of which can guide us away from status competition if we decide to do that and/or our conditions allow.

I still think that but over the past day or two a new understanding of the importance of status and human hierarchy has dawned on me. In essence, I think I have come to see that status really is a huge deal for many people; a much bigger deal than I had ever realized.

My explanation for that is people like me (and there are many of us) during childhood and adolescence see the “status game” as a choice. And we decide not to play it.

My SO made that choice. When we talked about this subject this morning, she said people like us are more open to art (in a broad sense) and less concerned with social hierarchies. I think that’s true. One good friend years ago used to call me a “now person,” meaning I am always living in the here and now and not doing a lot of planning for the future. I think she also meant or implied that I am not doing any thinking about my social status or the human hierarchies that surround me.

A Buddhist nun who is a close friend has often described mundane human behaviors as being motivated by jealousy. I have often disagreed with her, believing that her emphasis on jealousy was influenced too much by her culture (Chinese) or by the innocence of her monastic lifestyle.

Today, I think she was influenced by the status-conscious world she had grown up in and as a young adult renounced for Buddhism. But I also think she was able to see something I have been almost completely blind to. For me status has always been a very small cloud on the edge of the sky, not a major thunderstorm in human motivation. For her it is, or was, a storm in the human mind.

Status is a fetish. And fetishization does explain a lot about it. But if lots of people have that fetish or have that strong understanding of status, that’s how it is. As a social construct the status fetish can be even bigger and more imposing than the basic instinct it rests upon.

I hope this post helps people who see status as important understand people like me and my SO, and vice versa.

From a Buddhist point of view, I think it is important to fully understand the entire status spectrum—from instinct to fetishized sign—and to understand where you are on that spectrum and where the people you deal with are on that spectrum.

My guess is that most people reading this blog do not think of status as being very important. People like us need to appreciate that status is probably largely what motivates good people like Jordan Peterson as well as bad people like Bernie Madoff.

Might also be good if status-conscious people would understand that people like us are not all slackers or losers, nor are we seething with envy over your status. We mostly do not even see the game you are playing.

Is there a universal morality or basis for morality?

Anthropologists from the University of Oxford believe there are seven components or rules of human morality that can be found in all societies.

…help you family, help your group, return favours, be brave, defer to superiors, divide resources fairly, and respect others’ property, were found in a survey of 60 cultures from all around the world.

An article about this study can be found here: Seven moral rules found all around the world.

The study itself can be found here: Is It Good to Cooperate? Testing the Theory of Morality-as-Cooperation in 60 Societies.

The study concludes that the universal basis of human morality is cooperation.

Among the seven rules, bravery is defined as a moral virtue in defense of one’s group, an ultimate form of cooperation that may result in death.

Deference to superiors seems to be a virtue that supports group hierarchy.

Both bravery and deference to superiors indicate that fighting within and between groups is common.

In today’s world, obviously, many people and most Americans do not live in tribes or stable neighborhoods, so our groups have become nebulous, abstract, bound more by belief and imagination than tribal and clan and familial bonds.

In this respect, the study shows why politics—and other subjects touching on group identity—can become so polarized and so difficult to discuss rationally.

Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theory & The Scapegoat

Rene Girard, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, began developing his theories over 40 years ago, while researching the great stories in literature. He wanted to know what made these stories great and he discovered that they had some similarities. He further began to research the rituals and mythologies of primitive people. He noted the same common structural properties in those stories. These similarities in the world’s mythologies and rituals led to the development of his theories of mimesis and the scapegoat mechanism.

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Imaginary communication

Normal socially-defined communication—business, school, professional, etc.—operates within known limits and terminologies. Skill is largely defined as understanding how to use the system without exceeding its limits, how to play the game.

Many other forms of communication must be imagined. That is, I have to imagine what you mean and you have to imagine what I mean. This is so because many general rules of  communication are not sufficient to encompass broad psychological realities or account for individual idiosyncrasies.

In many cases of this type I will imagine that you are normal to the extent that I am able to imagine what normal is. And I will imagine that you imagine me to be normal. As I imagine you I will probably assume that your sense of what is normal is more or less the same as mine. This is probably what the central part of the bell curve of imagined communication looks like. People in this group are capable of imagining and cleaving to normal communication standards. If you reciprocate, we will probably get along fine.

If my imagination is better than normal, I will be able to imagine more than the normal person or given to imagining more. If this is the case, I will tend to want to find a way to communicate more than the norm to you. If you reciprocate, we might do well communicating. If you don’t, I might appear eccentric to you or distracted.

If my imagination is worse than normal, I will have trouble imagining or understanding normal communication. I won’t have a good sense of the cartoons we are required to make of each other and will probably appear awkward or scatterbrained to most people. If you reciprocate, we might do well communicating and find comfort in each other.

Normal communication, even when imagined, is based on something like cartoons. I see myself as a cartoon acting in relation to the cartoon I imagine for you. If my cartoon fits you well enough that you like it and if your cartoon of me fits well enough that I like it, we have a good chance of becoming friends.

A great deal of normal imagined communication is cartoon-like, and being normal, will take the bulk of its cartoons from mass media—movies, TV, radio, and, to a lesser extent today, books and other art forms.

People still read and learn from books and art, but normal communication has come to rely heavily on the powerful cartoons of mass media.

The big problem with our systems of imagined communication is they are highly idiosyncratic, messy, and ambiguous. We have to spend a lot of time fixing problems and explaining what we really mean.

It’s good to have idiosyncratic communication, but we have to find ways to understand each other on those terms.

_______________________

First posted May 25, 2014; slightly edited

American Pravda: The ADL in American Society

In our modern era, there are surely few organizations that so terrify powerful Americans as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith, a central organ of the organized Jewish community.

Mel Gibson had long been one of the most popular stars in Hollywood and his 2004 film The Passion of the Christ became among the most profitable in world history, yet the ADL and its allies destroyed his career, and he eventually donated millions of dollars to Jewish groups in desperate hopes of regaining some of his public standing. When the ADL criticized a cartoon that had appeared in one of his newspapers, media titan Rupert Murdoch provided his personal apology to that organization, and the editors of The Economist quickly retracted a different cartoon once it came under ADL fire. Billionaire Tom Perkins, a famed Silicon Valley venture capitalist, was forced to issue a heartfelt apology after coming under ADL criticism for his choice of words in a Wall Street Journal column. These were all proud, powerful individuals, and they must have deeply resented being forced to seek such abject public forgiveness, but they did so nonetheless. The total list of ADL supplicants over the years is a very long one. (Source)

Ron Unz’s American Pravda series is essential reading. His choice of subjects is fascinating, his tone measured and personable, and his arguments devastating. Buddhist readers in particular will benefit from Ron’s work because he clearly shows that public “reality” has many faces and that the most prominent one is often false.

A Reply to Jordan Peterson

…I conclude that Peterson’s analysis is inadequate to account for important aspects of Jewish achievement and involvement in the cultures of the West. I have often said that it would not matter that Jews are an elite if they had the same interests as the traditional peoples and cultures of the societies they live in. Given their high IQ and other traits and proclivities (including ethnic networking), they are bound to be successful in Western-type societies. The problem is that the Jewish elite have not adopted positions that are in the interest of the traditional European-derived peoples of the West and their cultures, particularly with respect to immigration and multiculturalism — an effort that continues into the present and characterizes the entire organized Jewish community. Peterson’s analysis is inadequate fundamentally because it ignores Jewish perceptions of their identity and how these perceptions intersect with Jewish involvement with the left in diaspora societies. (Source)

Peterson surely know that MacDonald is right. But he also knows he will lose fame and fortune and probably his job if he tells the full truth. He’s a half-way speaker of truth likely justifying himself by reasoning that if he tells the whole truth, he will immediately begin telling it to a vastly smaller audience, proving through his life that MacDonald is right. ABN

Recommended further reading: The Throne and the Altar and almost anything else by Israel Shamir.

American Pravda: Jews and Nazis

Around 35 years ago, I was sitting in my college dorm-room closely reading the New York Times as I did each and every morning when I noticed an astonishing article about the controversial new Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir.

Back in those long-gone days, the Gray Lady was strictly a black-and-white print publication, lacking the large color photographs of rap stars and long stories about dieting techniques that fill so much of today’s news coverage, and it also seemed to have a far harder edge in its Middle East reporting. A year or so earlier, Shamir’s predecessor Menacham Begin had allowed his Defense Minister Ariel Sharon to talk him into invading Lebanon and besieging Beirut, and the subsequent massacre of Palestinian women and children in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps had outraged the world and angered America’s government. This eventually led to Begin’s resignation, with Shamir, his Foreign Minister, taking his place.

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I highly recommend Ron Unz’s American Pravda series of essays, the latest installment of which is linked above. They don’t need to be read in any special order. In today’s world when so much news media has been exposed as the partisan drivel it is, wise readers understand that history as told by “the academy” is also filled with drivel and misdirection. Unz’s voice is honest and straightforward. In clear language he takes us through his own awakening to the depths of American propaganda and the distortions it has created in American society. I have no doubt that Ron is doing his level best to speak the truth about difficult subjects. I respect him greatly for that. ABN

Ron Unz: The Nature of Anti-Semitism

I recently published a couple of long essays, and although they primarily focused on other matters, the subject of anti-Semitism was a strong secondary theme. In that regard, I mentioned my shock at discovering a dozen or more years ago that several of the most self-evidently absurd elements of anti-Semitic lunacy, which I had always dismissed without consideration, were probably correct. It does seem likely that a significant number of traditionally-religious Jews did indeed occasionally commit the ritual murder of Christian children in order to use their blood in certain religious ceremonies, and also that powerful Jewish international bankers did play a large role in financing the establishment of Bolshevik Russia.

When one discovers that matters of such enormous moment not only apparently occurred but that they had been successfully excluded from nearly all of our histories and media coverage for most of the last one hundred years, the implications take some time to properly digest. If the most extreme “anti-Semitic canards” were probably true, then surely the whole notion of anti-Semitism warrants a careful reexamination. (Source)

Ron Unz’s American Pravda series of essays highlights information that has been consciously hidden from mainstream American books, news, and media. The information provided in this series is essential for fully understanding American history and culture. His recent essays on Jews, including the one linked above, go a long way toward correcting a typically skewed understanding of Jewish history and Jewish impact on the modern world. I deeply hope that Unz will cover Jewish vigilantism and terror in the United States and elsewhere soon. ABN

Ron Unz lays it all out

About a decade ago, I happened to be talking with an eminent academic scholar who had become known for his sharp criticism of Israeli policies in the Middle East and America’s strong support for them. I mentioned that I myself had come to very similar conclusions some time before, and he asked when that had happened. I told him it had been in 1982, and I think he found my answer quite surprising. I got the sense that date was decades earlier than would have been given by almost anyone else he knew. (American Pravda: Oddities of the Jewish Religion)

This piece from Ron Unz is a must-read for serious thinkers. ABN

Suggested further reading:

Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years

Mountebank’s Monster and His Mom: a peculiar resurrection

Allowing children to become a means of entry will cause kids to be scooped up by traffickers

Here is an insightful comment I saw today:

I wish people would understand this simple fact: If people with children are allowed entry in the US simply because they have children, then it furthers the risks for children! Drug traffickers already kill and mutilate adults. They have no compassion for others. Allowing children to become a means of entry will cause kids to be scooped up by traffickers. Children will become a shield and more vulnerable if we continue down this path we are on. (Source)

Eighty percent of kids in custody at the border today were not accompanied by a family member during their illegal entry into the US.

Real asylum seekers can legally and without any danger to their children make their case at a port of entry or a US consulate.

It’s obvious the hysteria over “family separations,” which also happened under Bush and Obama, is a concerted effort to attack Trump.

Rather than follow that crowd, take the red pill and enjoy the most talented president we have ever had.

Social parasitism in ants and humans

Parasitic ants parasitize other ants using aggression and deception. (Source)

Ant parasitism is an evolved social behavior, a “game” that has arisen within large social communities. We have a great deal of evidence that human communities can also be parasitic or harbor parasitic human subgroups.

It makes sense that social parasitism as a “game” of signal exchanging would evolve in large social groups. Social signal system have an inherent capacity to diverge; and from there to fight, compete, exploit.

There are many large examples of human social parasitism, the Manchurian elite of the Qing Dynasty being one. Social parasitism can also be seen among humans in small groups of gaslighters, gangs, or cults.

Every summer, blood-red ants of the species Formica sanguinea go on a mission to capture slaves. They infiltrate the nest of another ant species, like the peaceful F. fusca, assassinate the queen, and kidnap the pupae to raise as the next generation of slaves. Once the slaves hatch in their new nest, they appear none the wiser to their abduction, dutifully gathering food and defending the colony as if it were their own. (How blood-red ants became slave snatchers)

A maverick Jewish voice on how to treat Europeans is good for all of us to hear

I am not Jewish but I am from a very small European minority and I have been thinking like this for as long as I was conscious of these issues. Why would any small group want to undermine the larger group that surrounds it? Why not be helpful, friendly, and gracious? Without harmful hidden motives.

It’s the same for all other groups. You can support aggressive resource grabbing (which benefits greedy people at the top) or you can do your best to get along. It’s hard to get along. Believe me, I know all about that from all the angles, including trying to get along with Jews. In the end, it’s best to get along.

Here is the maverick voice with a link:

In my view, in 2018 what’s good for the Jews is for us to stop thinking about what’s good for the Jews and start thinking about the right to self-determination and survival for the people we live amongst: the people who have facilitated the most stunning successes of our tribe’s history in diaspora to date, Americans, Europeans, and people of European descent. (Source)

The same reasoning applies to all groups everywhere for both practical and spiritual reasons. I follow Asian American news fairly closely. So many complaints about YT (whitey). Why teach yourselves to be like that? It makes you blind to the many people who care about you.