Furthest Right

How Individualism Erases Social Unity

Humanity struggles with the question of individual sanity, since most people seem to be suspended in a fragile balance kept in place by repetition of similar surroundings and events, and how to extend that to civilization, since most of our societies appear unstable and only kept in line by the need to have functional economies.

People blame all sorts of things: technology, capitalism, religion. However, most likely with permanent civilization that problem is universal inclusion and therefore, the need to socialize with people who may not be sane, forcing us to adjust our thinking to include that which is not real.

To counter this, societies create a sense of trust in the mission, usually through culture, which is self-evident and seems paradoxical to a degree in that its goal is the furtherance of itself. However, all life follows the rule of aiming to enhance and propagate itself, so this is consistent with biology.

Over time, this goal becomes confused with the methods used to reach it, and people forget the why behind the mission, seeing symbolic obedience to the mission instead as a method that they can use to advance themselves because the goal of the mission has been muddled.

This rebellion, called individualism, involves the individual acting toward himself and justifying — or backward-arguing and rationalizing — what he wants as what the culture wants. In response to this, societies crack down with more rigorous obedience to method, which creates a system of conformity and control

That delights the individualist, because now he has something to rebel against and can lure others into his rebellion, deceiving them as he deceives himself into thinking that he is doing the “right” thing. In order to make his goal seem legitimate, he must re-interpret the mission to exclude its original goals.

Some resist this because they either appreciate or trust in the goal, even if they can now barely understand it, and these norm-internalizers create a functional social order:

The research uses agent-based modeling to provide an evolutionary mechanism that helps explain what keeps people cooperating even when no one is looking. It also points to new ways that humanity’s norm-internalizing tendencies could be harnessed to benefit societies, businesses, and other organizations.

The results of their analysis show that norm internalizers almost always survive at relatively low levels compared to the rest of the population. Nevertheless, this select group of norm internalizers creates a dynamic that leads to increased and sustained cooperation among other agents. This effect results in a small number of highly cooperative groups outcompeting other less cooperative groups for resources, enabling them to grow and spread.

“All you need is one group that has a lot of cooperators and suddenly that group is going to start outcompeting all the others,” Odouard said. “In effect, norm internalization creates an environment that polarizes groups, so that the very cooperative groups can outcompete the uncooperative groups more decisively. This allows the cooperative groups, and the norms they possess, to multiply in number.”

The society that has more of these succeeds more than other societies. When people can cooperate toward a goal, they reject compromise and individualism, and are willing to violate the conventions of socializing — casual social interaction with others, where the least offensive and most odd/interesting win out — to achieve that goal.

Almost all hero stories involve some individuals who were willing to forsake the calcified, rule-bound methods for the abstract and transcendent goal. These are the people who make a society succeed, and they are the natural enemies of those who pursue individualism at the expense of society, culture, nature, and the divine.

In doing so, they must live in a dual world where what they say and do in public does not match what they know in private and do secretly in order to advance the mission. This is why complex societies include two forms of deception: the deception of the individualism, and the camouflage-deception of the hero hiding among the sheep:

Lead author, Dr. Alan Rincon, said, “We were able to predict whether an animal was being aggressive, submissive or affiliative from their facial behavior MaqFACS better than chance in all three species.

“However, prediction accuracy was lowest for the more tolerant and socially complex species, the crested macaques, indicating that they have a more complex facial communication system.

“Overall these results support the predicted link between social and communicative complexity and therefore help us better understand the evolution of communication.”

More complexity means more ambiguity, and ambiguity is required when one must deceive in order to either manipulate or escape manipulation. It turns out that the more social the people are, the more likely they are to deceive instead of working toward the mission.

We know this because they have chosen tangible goals in the present instead of abstract or transcendental goals in the future. The individualist wants what he wants right now, wants other people to absorb the externalities, and wants someone to manage society so that individualism can continue.

“Anarchy with grocery stores,” in other words, motivates the bourgeois extrovert who sees his job as his identity and his only method of achieving what he wants. To do this, he rejects everything else since he has done his part, in his view, and consequently slights what makes civilization work.

It turns out that extroverts cannot share experience because they are too busy using socializing and peer pressure to manipulate others:

As one might expect, people whose personality types indicated “openness to new experiences” and “agreeableness” were more disposed towards synchronizing with others.

Those who rated highly for neuroticism, “a person who tends towards fearful behavior, warding off things, being more depressed,” in Tschacher’s words, were less likely to synchronize—but so too were extroverts, which might seem counterintuitive.

“Extroverted people are very social, they tend to intermingle with people, they want to be in power, and they want to have a certain self-value,” he said, adding he had seen this result in previous research too. While extroverts are outgoing, they focus less on the music.

Experiencing a work of art serves as a parallel to the realism of the norm-internalizer who wants his own goals to coincide with those of society, nature, or culture. The abstract and transcendental goal is appreciating the art, like life, as an experience of value in itself, much like in biology the meaning of life is to live.

To do this, one must set aside individualism and focus on the why of life, which leads to a balance between norms and abstract or transcendental goals. However, for much of our society, such thinking is impossible and therefore, they will always be distracted from anything larger than themselves.

Tags: , , ,

Share on FacebookShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn