The Lucifer Principle
By Howard Bloom
The five main concepts-
Concept number one:
The principle of self-organizing systems - replicators – bits of structure that function as minifactories, assembling raw materials, then churning out intricate products. These natural assembly units (genes are one example) crank out their goods so cheaply that the end results are appallingly expendable. Among those expendable products are you and me.
Concept number two:
We are not the rugged individuals we would like to be. We are, instead, disposable parts of a being much larger than ourselves.
Concept number three:
The meme, a self-replicating cluster of ideas. Thanks to a handful of biological tricks, these visions become the glue that holds together civilizations, giving each culture its distinctive shape, making some intolerant of dissent and others open to diversity. They are the tools with which we unlock the forces of nature. Our visions bestow the dream of peace, but they also turn us into killers.
Concept number four:
The neural net. The group mind whose eccentric mode of operation manipulates our emotions and turns us into components of a massive learning machine.
Concept number five:
The pecking order. The naturalist who discovered this dominance hierarchy in a Norwegian farmyard called it the key to despotism. Pecking orders exist among men, monkeys, wasps, and even nations. They help explain why the danger of barbarians is real and why the assumptions of our foreign policies are often wrong.
The five main parts of the social learning machine
More diversity generators kick in when the colony’s glut runs out. As famine approaches, individuals send out a “body odor” that says “spread out, flee, explore.”
THE THEORY OF INDIVIDUAL SELECTION AND ITS FLAWS
Previously he looked at the Cultural Revolution
Someone concluded that these red grouse birds sometimes sacrificed their reproductive privileges to keep their flock from starving.
Some genes, he concluded, seem to be “invisible to selective pressures.” Competition between groups could account for the conundrum, since the group preserves a wide variety of individuals incapable of surviving on their own.
The civil war was people destroying their own genes.
Women in murderous fram e of mind usually do away with their own children.
Animals make warning gestures, the mobs of birds that migrate seem to not be closely related.
There are intropunitive behavior:
When you feel like kicking yourself around the block , you are in the grip of intropunitive forces.
Harry Harlow found that simians raised without social contract frequently sat in the corner of their cage, curled into a ball, their eyes staring emptily into space, and chewed at their own skin, gouging themselves until they bled. That is intropunitive behavior.
In the body, each cell comes equipped with a mechanism for “APOPTOSIS,” programmed cell death. When a hospital patient is forced to spend months in bed, seldom using his legs, many of the legs constituent cells , sensing that they are no longer needed, shrink or disappear.
Each cell has an individual existence and that the life of an organism comes from the way in which the cells work together.
Ant colongies work like independent creatures, feeding themselves expelling its wastes, defending itself and working out for its future.
Slime mold is another example. If put through a sieve, the microbeasts, search for their old companions then labor to reconstruct the social system that bound them. Within a few hours, the water in your bucket grows clear, and sitting at the bottom is a complete sponge.
ISOLATION – THE ULTIMATE POISON
If the sponge cells from above cannot get back to their brethren they die.
In the 1940s Rene Spitz studied human babies. Thirty four out of ninety died. In some foundling homes the death rate went to 90%.
In humans, feeling you’re unwanted stunts growth. Rabbits who are petted live 60% longer.
Alone, people talk to themselves (so social are we), In an empty universe we address ourselves skyward to gods, and angels.
EVEN HEROES ARE INSECURE
Monkies put on a great show of bravery and then break down when out of sight.
LOVING THE CHILD WITHIN IS NOT ENOUGH
ONE MAN”S GOD IS ANOTHER MAN”S DEVIL
US VERSUS THEM
The immune system avoids strangers.
Uniforms are necessary on the cellular level. They also prove indispensable to human society. All groups have a golden rule: Don’t kill members of our gang. Everyone else is fair game.
Sea anemones engage in cold war. Like white blood cells, they know “us” versus them.
The battles between groups in a society at peace may be far less blood, y but they are no less persistent. Welfare families want to raise their payments, middle-class folks would avoid higher taxes.
Bertha Krupp was so kind to germans hurt in WWII.
THE VALUE OF HAVING AN ENEMY
Faubus galvanized Arkansas behind him, turning a cloud of disorganized citizens into a social mass.
He fabricated the potential violence in little rock to get national attention.
Fidel Castro found the existence of enemies equally indispensable.
THE PERCEPTUAL TRICK THAT MANUFACTURES DEVILS
People remember themselves as much harder workers than office attendance record whow they actually have been. They recall past salaries as being much higher than their old paycheck stubs indicate. They recollect buying fewer alcoholic drinks than they actually did and are certain they gave more to charity. They exaggerate their glory.
HOW HATRED BUILDS THE WALLS OF SOCIETY’S BUNGALOW
Jesus gave permission to frown upon the rich.
Medieval Christianity permission to hate heathens.
Islam the infidels.
Marxist give have-nots permission to hat haves.
Peace groups militants, conservatives liberals.
A rat frustrated at the end of a maze in trying to get its food goes into a fury.
If you place a bottle brush next to the barrier, the enraged rat will tear the object to pieces.
Frustration is an experience we cannot dodge.
During his lifetime, each man produces enough sperm to inseminate every woman on the planet many times.
The dominant chimp in a group hoards all the ladies for himself.
An ant is born with all the genetic material it needs to take on any role in society.
If the colonies ruler is killed a worker will become a reproducer.
As we grow older many of us will carry an increasing burden of resentment for trhe fates we failed to have.
Lazy ant and hard working ants, when a colony is split take their places and behaviors as needed.
Embryonic cells will become anything.
A cabin of “leaders” at summer camp, break into the familiar pattern with nerds etc.
Clever cellular communities evolved a clever way to get rid of the toxic calcium by making cylinders that lived off of it. These became bones.
MAN – INVENTOR OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD
FROM GENES TO MEMES
Every form of replicator is nestled in a team. Genes that fail to work effectively with their partners on chromosomal string are doomed.
A melody wells up in the reveries of a solitary songwriter. It seizes the brain of a singer. Then it infects the consciousness of millions.
From 1852, to 1864, Karl Marx sat alone nearly every day in a corner of the library of the British Museum.
At its birth the new ideological meme was vulnerable and powerless.
Marx was a bad container. He was so cantankerous, so subject to turning even the tiniest discussion into a fight that he had few friends and almost no followers.
Lenin also spent seventeen years sitting in libraries.
Old genes take up to ten thousand years to make improvements. But memes can rearrange sprawling networks of outrageously intricate creatures in only a few centuries or less.
THE NOSE OF A RAT AND THE HUMAN MIND – A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE RISE OF MEMES
Rats are obsessed with those who share their genes.
But the kindness of rats only extends to families.
Rats know eachother through the smell of their households. A scientist scrubbed a loved one clean, gave him the smell of a stranger and put him back. The loving family bared teeth and lunged.
The children of Israel were a genetic tribe. Their gods, mannerisms and ideas were the outward labels of genetic contents. Memes were the equivalent to a rat’s smell.
Jesus preached to other jews. The figure who would transform it outside was Saul (later called paul) that was a city sophisticate. In the process, he created transferable religion.
500 years earlier Buddha had done the same.
William James said St. Paul was a biological “failure because he was beheaded.” Paul had no children. His genes simply ceased to be. “Yet,” said James, St. Paul “was magnificently adapted to the larger environment of history.” For history is no longer the sole province of the gene. History is the environment of the meme.
HOW WRONG IDEAS CAN BE RIGHT
Why did the failure of an apocalyptic prediction trigger a spasm of new activity? Because the measure of the success of a web memes – a myth, a hypothesis, or a dogma – is not its truth but how well it serves as a social glue.
THE VILLAGE OF THE SORCERERS AND THE RIDDLE OF CONTROL
The Kurumba were sorcerers. They did magical healing.
When it fails, those who paid, the protector is offered sympathy for having had to grapple with so powerful an advesary.
They clung to the belief in their “medical” protectors with a passion that went far beyond the border of reason.
Why?: the illusion of control.
In 1927 Freud went a step further and declared that man will cling to religion’s fantasy of control as long as a science fails to give him actual power over his destiny.
Lab animals who are given control live longer, and have higher antibody counts.
The lack of control disables the ability for long-term potentiation of neurons.
THE MODERN MEDICAL SHAMAN
Doctors conclude that of our six hundred millions of doctors offices a year, half have no cause.
But the doctor may just not recognize the cause. He is selling omnipotence and will proscribe you something to shut you up.
CONTROL AND THE URGE TO PRAY
During the eleventh century, Europe faught over whether the pope or the holy roman empire would hold supreme authority.
Both had wealth, but the pope had the illusion of control.
It came to pass that the emperor gave the pope his symbols of authority.
Hildebrand (later known as Pope Gregory VII) refused and crowned himself pope. He also declared that he would appoint all bishops.
Henry IV said “No”! He created his own churchmen and fired Hildebrand. Hildebrand excommunicated the population of Germany. The citizens got so nervous they forced Henry to stand barefoot in a snowy courtyard for 3 days begging.
The plague and war and famine meant that the serf had no sense of control. But hope and control are biologically necessary to both the immune system and the brain.
The excommunication deprived them from the fantasy of control that made life tolerable.
POWER AND THE INVISIBLE WORLD
Newton established the absolute authority of science in the minds of Western men by implying that he could see into the very forces of the cosmos.
Babylonian astronomers, became power brokers by predicting the seasons and producing a viable calendar. Aztecs would cut open 5000 humans in a single day.
Many of us moderns are convinced that we are above believing in unseen forces that quietly shape our destiny. Hav e you ever seen a germ?. You probably avoid cholesterol, but have you seen it? We accept most child rearing theories with no evidence.
Watson said treat kids harshly and was believed.
EINSTEIN AND THE ESKIMOS
Some indigineous technologies are very smart. Igloos and Hindu cow avoidance.
Building pictures of the invisible world is the human way of trying to deal with the world we see. Each cosmology – making meme is a problem-solving device.
To survive, a human has to deal with an even more complex invisible world. Most things that concern us are out of our sight. In a car we are aware of our job, purpose, the paycheck that won’t arrive till later, the debate he and his wife will have later.
More complex animals, than frogs, build parts of their models on experience. Lock the hound in a room it’s never visited, and the beast will immediately check out all the details, building up an image of the place and searching for an exit it’s never even glimpsed. The curious canine is able to predict the existence of an escape route.
Our brains are picture-making machines. Every culture has a worldview.
THE CONNECTIONIST EXPLANATION OF THE MASS MIND’S DREAM
“The traveling salesman problem”: You’ve decided to visit ten different cities. Which town should come first? Second? There are 181,440 options.
Looking at a problem only one part at a time, computers can’t see the big picture.
Here’s how you’d solve the problem using a neural net. You’d adjust the conductivity of the lines between them in a manner proportional to the distance between them. If two cities are one hundred miles apart, for example, you’d set the resistance to one ohn; two hundred miles apart, two ohms, etc. Turn on the current
Neural nets can infer an invisible world.
Give the word bat and then the word diamond and it can give you baseball.
The world you build from childhood is carried in your neural net.
If we think the world is full of satan’s temptation or that the sky is full of messages of fate we see verifications.
Early Christians preffered dying riddled with arrows to forsaking their worldview.
SOCIETY AS A NEURAL NET
Minsky thinks of brain as a society and society as a brain.
The bees are given sugar water further and further from the hive in a series. The bees would go to where they expected it and should have been.
Working as a mass brain, the bees solve the problems of a mathematical series.
The brain of a bee is an insubstantial thing—a slender thread of neural fiber scarcely capable of anything we would call intelligence.
If a burdened bee arrives at the hive entrance and workers rush over immediately to unpack her nectar, the incoming flier knows that there is a considerable hunger for more deliveries.
The idea no one cares for is likely to wither away as its adherents grow discouraged and morose. Those who feel their contribution is unwanted will do more than simply wilt for a few hours. Those whom history has forgotten fall apart. They look old. Those who are on top grow in size! Their chests puff.
The brains who decided individually in the cultural revolution or decide for bush or gore, or go to the white or red Russians are networks that make decisions.
The struggle is not a battle of men, but a battle of networks, learning machines bound together by memes.
THE EXPENDABILITY OF MALES
In many primitive societies there are two very separate worlds – the world of women and children and the world of adult men.
When leaving the women the boy must carry a weapon and demonstrate his fierceness or get ridicule
In every known society, men alone are cannon fodder, laying down their lives to defend the tribe . When times get tough for the Karamojong, they save their scraps of food for their girls and allow the boys to die.
Males expendability starts in the womb. The egg of the female inches in solitary splendor. It has no competition. The sperm…
Male fetuses are the primary victims of natural abortions, miscarriages, and stillbirths. Male babies have a higher death rate than theit sisters, to be victims of lung cancer, suicide, pulmonary disease, cirrhosis and heart disease.
Men are four times more likely to lose their lives to homicide than females. They are twice as likely to be accident victims. Their own aggression and bravado do them in.
How can you encourage the male immune apparatus to function at a higher level? Castration.
In industrial countries, women live four to ten years longer than men.
If you did away with the vast majority of men on the planet, but preserved the women, you would scarcely even dent our species reproductive capabilities.
We send our men to war, but keep women safe at home. When ships are sinking, it’s the women and children to the lifeboats first.
561 social groups are studied. They found that societies constantly engaged in war are very selective about the babies they allow to live. They want boys. The result is that they have 128 to 100 boy to girl ratio.
Men fling themselves against each other in a constant competition to amass the greatest number of wives. The competition reduces the number of men. Polygamy is the privilege of societies where men are ultimately expendable.
Male birds wear the gaudiest of all possible plumage: long tails with iridescent feathers, curled plumes bobbing on their heads.
HOW MEN ARE SOCIETY’S DICE
The waste of life that created the kingdom of Saudi Arabia the triumphs of the Vikings, and the conquests of the Mongols is appalling. But behind it lie the same primordial principles that drive the annual swarming of the ants—the superorganism’s urge to expand. And Nature’s addiction to playing dice with the bones of animals and men.
Victorious sons get lots of babies and land.
IS PITCHING A GENETICALLY ACQUIRED SKILL?
There is one hormone-cholecystokinin- designed to carry a message from the full stomach to the brain, quieting the appetite. The digestive system refuses to send that hormone on its way until fats and proteins move from the stomach into the intestines.
Chimps occasionally slam a stick or hurl a stone. But they can only make it go a few yards and have no aim.
The fast-moving length of wood can knock out an antelope. Then he gets fame and women and deference. He becomes a leader and has many descendants.
Social animals imitate their leaders behaviors.
Among chimps , males are the only ones who kill for meat. But women want the food badly.
A tribe of these wins a war and gets another tribes women and the meme goes.
OLIVER CROMWELL – THE RODENT INSTINCTS DON A DISGUISE
For the last 2,500 years or so, when superorganisms have developed a craving for each other's flesh, their attempts at cannibalism have usually begun with battles of words.
Wrestling matches over which picture of the invisible world is the “truth”.
Once given a “righteous” cause, men all too frequently thrill to the call of battle. General Robert E. Lee said, “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow to fond of it”.
In the 1940s, the German researcher F. Steiniger put fifteen brown rats who had never met each other into a cage. At first, the creatures cowered in the corners, frightened and apprehensive. If they accidentally bumped into each other, they bared their teeth and snapped. Gradually, it dawned on some of the males that among this batch of strangers were attractive young females. The gentlemen rodents became Don Juans and went a-courting.
Once a man had an ally they terrorized their cage-mates. The female was a particularly quick killer. Infection and exhaustion leave the happy couple the only survivors.
The rats had cleared the new territory of competitors.
The commands of the Hebrew God were the same as those that primal instincts had delivered to the rats. What sounded like the voice of the Most High was actually the whispering of the animal brain.
As a child, Oliver Cromwell killed and ate pigeons. He was obsessed with violence, sex gambling and substance abuse. He delighted in attacking decent women in the streets.
Cromwell and the rats have a similar brain. He cleared the cage. He became possessed by a new idea. Why not cleanse Ireland of the Catholic Irish altogether.
Among the rats, the notion of “replanting” their cage had been dictated by a gene. But genes were not what united the Puritans.
Cromwell realized that he was a tool in a struggle between concepts of truly massive scope.
IDEOLOGY IS THEFT
THE INVISIBLE WORLD AS A WEAPON
But webs of ideas also do more: as hungry replicators eager to remold the world, they often turn their ultimate weapon – the superorganism – into a killing machine.
Mohammed was no man of peace. He killed all of Khaibar’s nine hundred men, and carried off the women and children as slaves.
THE TRUE ROUTE TO UTOPIA
The appeal of prophets often lies in their ability to paint a picture of an irresistible utopia and put it near your grasp.
In Constatine’s eyes, Christ was a god of war. The nearly illiterate emperor had the cross emblazoned on his soldiers shields and banners, and attributed his 312 victory to it.
WHY MEN EMBRACE IDEAS – AND WHY IDEAS EMBRACE MEN
Humans grab at ideas because ideas knit them together in groups of people who agree with them. They provide the comfort of companionship and mutual aid. That’s one way memes seduce humans into their power. What are some of the others?
Memes ride the human mind by offering men and women who spearhead their cause aa richer life. Fidel and Marx did this.
Memes also seduce us with the illusion of control, thus tweaking our hormones into higher gear and turning up the vigor of our immune system.
Memes have an ultimate ambition: taking vast chunks of the world into their possession and restructuring it according to their form.
It may seem strange to call a meme ambitious, but the mere shape of a successful meme dictates its acquisitive behavior. A notion of hell and heaven work.
The successful meme, like any parasite, has barbs with which to prevent the would-be rationalist from shaking it out of his system. Only those with FAITH will be saved.
Spit me out says the meme and you will tempt a fate worse than death.
RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION = GREED FOR REAL ESTATE
There is no nation, it seems, which has not been promised the whole earth.
Bureaucracies mindlessly and inexorably attempt to increase their power, their budget and their size.
Superorganisms are hungry creatures, attempting to break down the boundaries of their competitors, chew off chunks of their opponents substance, and digest and redistribute it as part of themselves.
The human advantage is two henchmen: the meme and the animal brain.
For any evolving system, innovations and strategies that focus resources into the system, while at the same time stabilizing the web of energetic interconnections of that system, will be selected for.
The voice of the superorganism calls out for sacrifice to the lower rungs of society. The converts have a sublime perception of truth and feel caught up in a oneness with some superior being (the superorganism).
American imperialist’s words were designed to justify swallowing foreign societies and reassembling them as pieces of he American organism
Our enemies are never as bad as we make them out to be, and we are never as good as we think. But the distortions whet the appetite and moves for power.
Hidden` by the positive attributes of political and religious movements.
Marxists hate imperialists, but they both expropriate others property by violent means.
“Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.” HG WELLS
The Germans were smart to send in the meme machine Lenin to Russia.
Islam and Christianity and Marxism appealed first to the poor masses.
On one level the conflict between the Shiites and the Umayyads (whose successors are today’s Sunni Moslems and were merchants running the New Moslem empire) is over religion. Its two fighting superorganisms. The Umayyad followers were city dwellers sustained by trade. The adherents of Ali, (Mohammed’s younger cousin and right-hand man)Shiites, were uneducated, living at the subsistence level and dedicated to the notion that bloodshed was the only source of man’s nobility.
POETRY AND THE LUST FOR POWER
As Rome turned into a power struggle, Horace wrote loftily that it was vain and meaningless. True beauty lay in quite moments of the private country life.
It made folks ashamed of their worldly ambition, cause all honor should go to Horace’s type.
WHEN MEMES COLLIDE – THE PECKING ORDER OF NATIONS
Bodies are memes racing machines.
Schjelderup-Ebbe discovered “pecking-order” Position in the pecking order determines far more than just how many feathers you lose. It readjusts you life-style your chance of survival, you sex life , and your physiology.
Three males and three females were left alone in a cage. After 21 runs of the experiment the dominant male ends up fathering a walloping 92% of the young!
A dominant male monkey has a higher sperm count, more, visible testicles, and a far more regal posture.
In monkeys and humans, when groups fight , the winners snags a hormonal prize: Their testosterone level rises. For losers it’s the opposite.
A creature who has won a fight is more likely to win the next one.
Biochemical resignation explains why barnyards are not a perpetual battlefield.
There is also a pecking order of superorganisms.
Begging Langur monkeys want the middle of town. Others live in the hill just outside of town.
When a car sideswiped and killed the leader of the bazaar troop. The hill languor leader donned the upright posture and swaggered straight to the queen of the bazaar clan and mounted her.
In the superorganism pecking order the USSR and the US fought. The third world is the bottom rung.
Ant colonies go to war over territory. Peak memes spread ala Samuel Huntington Roman architecture and words and alphabet are still dominant.
SUPERIOR CHICKENS MAKE FRIENDS
In 260 bc the upstart Romans found the wreck of a Carthaginian war ship. They took it apart and built 220 copies in three months.
Hannibal reduced his roman prisoners to slavery and let the non-romans go back to let others know there was a new pecking order. People flock to the top chicken. Tribes defected to Hannibal in droves.
He trounced around Rome for 13 years. But the supplies to make an attack never came because Scipio Africanus beat Hannibal’s brother back in Spain.
In the 50s our friends in the UN were so numerous that we got all the votes. By the mid-sixties, almost every nation voted against us.
Every one takes advantage of a defeated tribe’s helplessness.
WORLDVIEWS AS THE WELDING TORCH OF THE HIERARCHICAL CHAIN
Poetry, science, ideology, and religion – the blind men’s canes with which we feel out the invisible world, the glue that binds us as a collective.
The Aryan’s said that when they took over India they were the twice born.
If a lower order touched the Brahman with his foot, t he foot was surgically removed. If he sat in a Brahman’s chair, he had a ten-inch rod shoved up his nether parts. If he complained a smoking piece of metal went down his throat. Nazis would be proud.
Brahmans could make whatever accusation he wanted against a person of lower caste, and the accused would be punished. But the lower caste citizen could make no complaint against the Brahman.
Seeming to serve no purpose, the Brahmans kept the meme.
THE BARBARIAN PRINCIPLE
The Athenians battled the Persians. Who are the Athenians Xerxes asked?
The lesson: Never forget the pecking order’s suprises. Yesterday’s overlooked mob is often the ruler of tomorrow. Never underestimate the 3rd world. Never be complacent about barbarians.
ARE THERE KILLER CULTURES?
The ayatollah said “Islam does not allow peace between Moslem and in infidel. Every part of the body of a non-Moslem individual is impure, even the hair on his head and his body hair, his nails and all the secretions of his body. Any man or woman who denies the existence of God, or believes in His partners [the holy trinity], or else does not believe in His Prophet Mohammed, is impure (in the same way as are excrement, urine, dog, and wine).
The US African American community is only a beachhead. Islamic forces have been trying to get a hold of US media outlets. The Saudi’s bought UPI in the early 90s.
There are now fifty Islamic countries. Pgs 232-3 have more outrageous Khomeini rants.
VIOLENCE IN SOUTH AMERICA AND AFRICA
Bolivar said, “After fighting for 20 years, I have reached a few definite conclusions.” Chief among them was that Latin America’s addiction to butchery would inevitably cause the Central and South American states to “fall into the hands of an unruly multitude and then into the rule of petty tyrants”.
Many African societies make the perpetual civil war of Latin America seem calm.
Idi Amin was a Moslem, he killed 100-300,000. Heads were beaten in with hammers, legs chopped off. People (from the acholi and Langi tribes) were forced to eat each other’s flesh before being killed.
Previously friends. At the University, the presidents armed forces andyouth squads showed up in classrooms, read off the names of Hutu students, and took them away to their deaths.
After two world wars, Moslems see us as blood stained. They see only their better side, as do we.
There are cultures that idealize carnage. Others we hope put a premium on human life.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HUGGING
Societies that hugged their kids were relatively peaceful. The cultures that treated their children coldly produced brutal adults.
In beduins a display of caring is despicable. Anger is what wins respect.
“Spare the rod, spoil the child”.
THE PUZZLE OF COMPLACENCY
The Chinese were massive and the Huns attacked them in 309. In the 11th they did it again. They reduced their army cause they thought they were so big. It hurt them both times.
Superorganisms itch to go up the ladder.
The Byzantines attacked each other in the streets over fine points of theology, a horde of Bedouins and backwater merchants trashed em.
We often fight ourselves and forget there are others outside who would like to destroy us. Many Americans protest against American meddling in El Salvador or Nicaragua but didn’t raise a stink in Cambodia, Syria or Africa.
POVERTY WITH PRESTIGE IS BETTER THAN AFFLUENT DISGRACE
The spadefoot toad of Arizona during dry spells the toad nursed the stores of moisture and food packed away in its cellular structure by crawling under the sand, shutting down its metabolic systems, and slipping into slumber. Lethargy let is last months without a sip of water.
We give out much “foreign aid”.
In many cultures, however, giving things to people is a way of humiliating them.
In New Guinea, the man who could not give as much as he received earned only one reward – disgrace.
The Kwakiutl people of the Pacific Northwest were famed for their potlatches. Lord literally means “loaf giver”.
The fathers of our foreign policy feel that by alleviating hunger, poverty, and disease, we can pull the pins out from under the urge to shed blood and make the third world love us. This philosophy hasn’t worked.
Our relief agencies ship food and medicine to the poor of South America, but when allowed to buy what they prefer, they spend their precious funds on lipstick.
In Harlem, prestige frequently means more than food, shelter, and clothing. Far More.
At Masada, Jews preferred death to humiliation. Iran did very well under American tutelage: educationally, economically. But both our State Department and the shah had forgotten that pride, dignity, and dominance – the needs of the pecking order impulse – can be far more pressing than the demands of the body.
The ayatollah pulled off a pecking order trick of astonishing proportions. He preached a view in which Iran was suddenly at the very peak of a new kind of hierarchy. He said he was top and we were dogs.
WHY PROSPERITY WILL NOT BRING PEACE
When the economy goes up, murders do not go down; they rise! War and the dreams of conquest are fueled, it seems, less by poverty than by the heady whiff of new riches.
Murder rates rise after a war. They increase the most in the country that won. Why?
Testosterone. It makes winners restless, confident, and aggressive.
Inject a young rooster with this remarkable hormone and the bird struts away to look for a fight. What’s more he usually wins the battle and moves up in social stature.
Nature shuts down the expenditure of energy when resources disappear, But she unleashes energy when fresh resources arrive. She makes those who are deprived sit still and endure their fate, but when good fortune lifts the curtain of hopelessness, biology gives the lucky souls who’ve landed on an upward track a burst of manic zeal.
Helping the poor is a moral necessity, but it won’t bring stability. And it won’t bring gratitude or peace.
THE SECRET MEANING OF “FREEDOM,””PEACE,” AND “JUSTICE”
“And let us bathe our hands in…blood up to the elbows, and besmear our swords. Then we walk forth, even to the market place, And waving our red weapons over our heads, Let’s all cry “Peace, freedom and liberty!” ------Shakespeare
Justice is the term used by those on the bottom of the heap who are itching to move up. That’s what is meant by “the struggle for justice”. “Lets fight until we come up on top.” Once the devotees of justice have seated themselves on the uppermost rung of the ladder, they too almost invariable become staunch defenders of “peace”.
The Khomeini hated the killings by the Shah. Once in power he executed a total of ten thousand. He said that open trials, defense lawyers and proper procedures was a reflection of the western sickness among us.
Iranian revolutionaries had lectured constantly about the evils of foreign dominations.
Iran has ridiculed the idea of self-determination for other countries.
They are chipping away at us through financing our enemies.
THE VICTORIAN DECLINE AND THE FALL OF AMERICA
The Red Queen of Alice says “you have to run very, very hard, and to get anywhere, you have to run even harder. Stalin said “Those who lag behind are beaten”.
The foundations of Victorian power were laid over a generation before round-faced Queen Victoria was born. From 1790 to 1815 British exports skyrocketed.
Napoleon won but where he won he did little for innovation in industry. There wasn’t an economic basis to pay for his armies. Overtaxed populations eventually grew resentful. Napoleon said the British were a “Nation of shopkeepers” They beat him.
As they beat him mechanization was growing and steam was being used. They invented railroad. By 1860 the English were turning out a full quarter of the world’s wares and a mind-boggling 40 percent of the items that came tumbling from modern industrial plants.
British ships were one third of the world’s. All world transactions were financed and insured by British.
But the British grew fat with prosperity. All technology grows old. The country that dominates new technologies often rules the world.
But British industrialists did not buzz around Faraday and Maxwell’s labs. Those who did plunge into the electricity business with everything they had were Americans (Edison) and Germans (Siemens).
Faraday found A/C but Westinghouse (via Tesla) propogated it. In 1902 Carnegie produced more steel than all the factories of England combined.
Floundering British industrial titans dreamed of holding on to their old position by force. From 1880 to 1900 Britain raised her warship tonnage by 64 percent and she nearly doubled the number of men she kept in arms.
Germany maintained the best school system in the world. By the 1890s she had 2.5 times as many university students per unit of population as England.
The Germans lost two wars, but wins economical. In 1945, the US produced 40 percent of the world’s goods. By the mid-eighties, our share was half of that. Until the early seventies, we were the biggest exporter in the world. Today, we are the biggest importer. We are the biggest debtors since the loan was invented.
The average Taiwanese first grader spends over 8 hours a week doing homework; the average American first grader one hour and 19 minutes.
We invented the transitor, superconductors, VCRs and flatscreens. The Japanese industrialized and mass marketed them. Meanwhile throughout the 80s our military budget climbed dramatically.
SCAPEGOATS AND SEXUAL HYSTERIA
When the pecking order status of a national superorganism slides a frustrated populace looks for someone to blame. A declining Victorian England seized on Oscar Wilde.
A mere 36 months after his release from Reading Gaol, Oscar Wilde died. He was 46 years old. For decades, our exports exceeded our imports. That began to change in 1971. In 1973, we were victimized by an oil embargo that left normally confident America feeling helpless.
Alan Bloom attacked rock and roll’s celebration of sexuality. In history of our species, the interlocked phenomena of sexual hysteria and the search for scapegoats allow the social beast moving down the pecking order to ignore the forces shoving it toward the bottom.
LABORATORY RATS AND THE OIL CRISIS
If a laboratory rat is confronted by an artificial beast bigger than himself, he cowers. The mechanical bully can abuse the rat all it wants and the bludgeoned creature will not raise a paw to counterattack.
But offer the victimized rodent a smaller rat as a companion and a strange thing happens, he will not turn to the smaller rodent for comfort. He will turn on the beast and viscously assault it.
Put 7 or 8 of the rodents on an electrified floor, turn on the juice, and what happens? The gang will single out one of its members for punishment and attack him mercilessly.
Whenever cotton prices plummeted, lynchings shot up.
Humiliated by Russia and China we had McCarthyism.
This can really hurt us. We, going down in status, attack the entertainment industry. Its one of our few profitable ones.
WHY NATIONS PRETEND TO BE BLIND
Frans de Waal saw Alpha males are really wild in showing their ability to be wreckless and humiliate others. When they get weak, they ignore their rivals hoping that they will go away. For a while, allies can help a sagging alpha male. But this less aggressive stance just forestalls the inevitable. But one day the youngster will have a coalition and take over.
Human superorganisms go through similar things. We make theatrical shows of strength and power. When we sense that we may lose, we undergo perceptual shutdown.
The 1937 rape of nanking may involved hurting Americans in front of us. This was a way of seeing how willing we were to resist the Japanese in their struggle for hierarchical dominance. The US responded like an intimidated chimp. We pretended we did not see.
We tried to get footage of the Panay assault banned.
As 1860s Germany got wealthy its testosterone went up and it saw how much it could get away with. Bismark got into and won duels 25 times as a boy.
We lost the Vietnam war, our economic troubles made us less protesting of Cambodia than Vietnam. It wasn’t in headlines. Our leaders didn’t make moral headline speeches.
We call Islamic nations that want to kill us friends.
HOW THE PECKING ORDER RESHAPES THE MIND
When birds are hungry they sample a smaller variety of foods. Birds with tons of food will try anything. Rich birds can survive a day or two of food poisoning.
Allan Bloom says we should return to our past. Jeremy Rifkin wants to go back technologically. The rich John Lennon and their generation wanted to try everything. Now we want to go back. We go to the family man Michael Jackson.
A 1986 survey showed college students heroes were their parents. They didn’t want anthropology and sociology and studies of far flung cultures, they wanted to study business. Conservatives got more powerful.
PERCEPTUAL SHUTDOWN AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA
Two rodents are in separate cages. One can turn off the electric shock for both of them. So they get the same amount of electric shock. Both, at first, scramble for a way out of the cage.
The rat with the switch in his cage remains alert, doing well on tests of his ability to solve problems and learn.
The rat without will not even try to escape when you open the cage door. He has trouble learning mazes. He secretes endorphins which lessen the pain. It is like it’s cousin morphine, it blindfolds as it soothes.
Our collective eyes and ears, our media, still make us think we are number one. But in cutting edge technology, we aren’t. Japan has overtaken us as the nation that files the greatest number of break through patents. The citizens of 11 other nations can expect to live longer lives than us. Nine other countries have a higher per capita income.
Our desire to go back into the past and stop new research may make us feel better, but it doesn’t help (like endorphins).
When we challenged the Chinese in the 15th century they closed up on themselves and went back to the classics. They even cut off their exploratory fleets. What if they had rather, beat us to America?
THE MYTH OF STRESS
Stress we are told, is one of man’s most implacable enemies. To protect ourselves from it, we must relax. We shield our children from it in schools by minimizing competitiveness.
Very few of the studies on so-called stress have dealt with achievement or work. They center on social loss; men who’ve recently lost their wives or jobs or divorced.
Without striving to achieve, we cannot control our lives.
The brutal fact is that the more we opt out of competition , the lower our position is likely to be. The greatest cause of high blood pressure in humans is low position on a social order.
Rober Sapolsky noted that bottom-ranking baboons in Kenya had bedraggled fur, showed signs of emotional misery, and were in abysmal health.
The difference between high-pressure executives who become sick and those who do not is that healthiness are strong in three areas: commitment, control and challenge.
Excessive relaxation is a slow form of suicide. If you fail to use your organs, your body begins to dispose of them. They shrink. Women who don’t exercise shrink. The brain is the organ par excellance example of this.
In 1921 G.K. Chesterton traveled in the US and found Americans were obsessed with discussing their work, while the English only talk of leisure. Today, due to misunderstanding of stress chatter about sports, leisure and meditation and are slipping economically.
To the Japanese work and challenge are part of a vigorous life. They out study and work us: 13 hour 6 day weeks. They spend 66% less on health care than we do and outlive us.
TENNIS TIME AND THE MENTAL CLOCK
Chapters ago we read of the spadefoot toad of Arizona during dry spells the toad nursed the stores of moisture and food packed away in its cellular structure by crawling under the sand, shutting down its metabolic systems, and slipping into slumber. Lethargy let is last months without a sip of water.
The habits of the toad show up in one form or another over and over again. Bears, squirrels etc hibernate.
On a work day we rush through one task, hurry on to the next. But on a day without work we struggle to get anything done at all.
Athletes see every eighteenth of a second of a tennis ball’s rotation. In a wink he calculates where it’ll be if hit where. For the athlete under high stimulation, there is more time. More data is processed by his brain.
One difference between a society on the rise and a society in decline may be the clock speed.
The british on the rise were fueled by a new import called coffee. The leading drug problem in Tokyo in the 80s was amphetamine.
Frederick Jackson turner’s invocation of the American frontier invigorated the American Mind.
Henry VIII’s failure to conquer the French and thus escape their little space led England to turn their attention towards the new world. The new economic horizons transformed England of the 1500s. In the 1400’s it produced nearly nothing. The age of Elizabeth created Shakespeare science art etc.
We have a host of challenges for ourselves (biotechnology, nanotechnology, the cybershpere. These are the frontiers that will now energize nations. Space could help because it allows international cooperation. It may also help us see ourselves as small.
Nuclear war should be able to do the same. But our itch for war is like that of a teenager in the sexual revolution. We have to outwit our own impulses the Lucifer Principle.
THE LUCIFER PRINCIPLE
Over 200 billion red blood cells a day die in the interest of keeping you alive. Do you anguish over their demise? We are cells in a social superorganism whose maintenance and growth sometimes requires our pain or elimination, suppresses our individuality and restricts our freedom. Why then is it of any value to us?
Because the superorganism nourishes every cell within it. Rome was an evil creature with a despicable lust for cruelty. Provincial Roman governors periodically lost their tolerance for non conformity.
Yet it brought many squabbling city states together in harmony. And when she got really big she introduced pluralism. Just how she had helped could be seen when she fell. During the next two hundred years, half of the Continent’s population would die. Plague, starvation (due to the collapse of transportation) bandits and warrior chiefs and pirates.
Those who survived were prisoners in fortress communities. Rome had been an oppressor, but also the source of nourishment and peace.
Despite the claims of individual selectionists, human evolution is propelled not only by competition between single souls, but by the forms of their cooperation. It is driven by the games superorganisms play.
The book started with the deadly meme running through China with Mao’s cultural revolution. Behind the writhing of evil is a competition between organizational devices, each trying to harness the universe to its own peculiar pattern. It does this with the molecular replicator the gene first, then with its successor the meme.
Superorganisms, ideas and the pecking order – these are the primary forces behind much of human creativity and earthly good. They are the holy trinity of the Lucifer Principle.
Adam and eve’s sin was said to have brought chaos to the world. 19th century scientists blame entropy. The universe has NOT been drifting from order to chaos. Its been marching in the opposite direction.
Nature creates by placing her inventions in competition with each other. In the world of humans, the bloodiest battles are between social groups. Violence is the most appalling thing, yet we cannot wish our way to peace.
Though snapping and snarling may be natural, holding caring and collaborating are in us too. In a Harvard study, showing students a film of Mother Theresa boosted immune system activity.
We desperately need each other. In that need is hope. We must invent a way in which memes and their superorganisms carriers – nations and subcultures – can compete without carnage. Perhaps science can lead the way. It competes without blood.
Since 1946, pairs of democratic states have been only one eighth as likely to threaten force against each other and only one tenth as likely to do so as others.
Data from 561 primitive tribes showed 21% of the males were killed off violently before they left adolescence. Even WWII had just one tenth of this blood letting. The reduction in violence is a blessing of the superorganism.
Ironically, the spreading of peace is a product of past battles between superbeasts. Harm is a fundamental tool nature hasused to refine her creations.
We are not individual Clint Eastwoods. We are parts of communities. Superorganisms, ideas, and the pecking order – the triad of human evil – are not recent inventions “programmed” into us by Western societies and TV. They are as old as man.
But we have hope to someday free ourselves with nature’s newest attribute, the imagination.
The average Taiwanese first grader spends over 8 hours a week doing homework; the average American first grader one hour and 19 minutes.