Furthest Right

Social Status and Anxiety

Life has what we might call the mountain paradox: if there are no quests, life is flat; if there is a quest, one can only climb the mountain once, and then experiences anticlimax when the quest is achieved. Stillness does not exist, only constant strife and striving.

Bourgeois people prefer not to climb the mountain. For them, a nice flat respectable middle class existence of buying things, advancing careers/education, and saying things that others find trendy and novelty-oriented will suffice. It is constant change on the surface with none beneath.

More sensible people see that life itself is a mountain. We start out with nothing as kids, set challenges for ourselves, achieve them, and then slowly wander back down to the other side of where we were in childhood, hoping to find a lush green valley instead of an infinite abyss out of time.

When we view life as destiny or challenge, like a Romantic or Yamnaya would, we yearn for the mountain and, even more, plan to find other mountains. We create our own when none exist and in doing so invent whole worlds out of nothingspace. But this clashes with the bourgeois vision.

Like all things humanist, the bourgeois vision consists of rejecting nature, including time and challenges. It wants to end the struggle to climb the mountain that worse still, ends, and leaves us with a need for a new quest. Instead it wants only social things to be important.

Peer pressure forms the basis of the bourgeois. They like novelty, yes, but only surface level. They like to be able to constantly invent new products that are variations on the old. They delight in absurd pineapple cakes that outside of the fruit are pretty much the same old thing.

This creates a society based upon status. You are known not by your quest to fulfill your destiny and do something of significance, but by how well you act your job role, social role, and political role in order to be popular and wealthy. This replaces natural hierarchy.

However, this system also creates uncertainty. If you are at the foot of the mountain, you fear the top; if you are on top, you fear the other side. We see this anxiety appear even in status-conscious mice:

She discovered that mice with lower social status were more susceptible to social instability, which is akin to ever-changing or inconsistent social groups. Those with higher rank were more susceptible to social isolation, or loneliness.

There were also differences in the parts of the brain that became activated by social encounters, based upon the social status of the animal responding to it and whether they had experienced psychosocial stress.

“Some areas of a dominant animal’s brain would react differently to social isolation than to social uncertainty, for example,” Smith-Osborne said. “And this was also true for subordinates. Rank gave the animals a unique neurobiological ‘fingerprint’ for how they responded to chronic stress.”

The lower mice fear social instability which will cause them to lose what little they have; the higher mice fear isolation and loneliness, being cut off from what makes their status important. This reflects correspondingly in human groups.

Those with perceived low social status fear instability, so are more willing to throw money at problems to make them go away. Even if they become wealthy, these mice always (like Boomers) identify with being outsiders who are victims of society, therefore tend toward worker solidarity and other unity symbols.

On the other hand, those who are naturally of higher status find themselves locked away by their wealth and power and fear being out-of-touch or simply irrelevant outside of their role. On top of the mountain, all one sees is the areas below, unless one finds a new mountain to which to aspire.

In a classic human solipsism, instead of focusing on climbing the mountain, egotistic humanoids believe that the mountain should lower itself to them, and because it has not, they blame those on top of the mountain in perpetual grievance by have-nots against haves in resentment of the difficulty of mountain climbing:

Moreover, as predicted, celebrity culture hate was significantly associated with a variety of psychological variables including humility, personal relative deprivation, and perceived victimhood and threat. The correlates of celebrity culture hate showed many similarities and few differences in American and Iranian samples. Hatred toward celebrities predicted celebrity bashing in both cultures. These results contribute to the understanding of celebrity hate as a global phenomenon.

While there are plenty of reasons to hate celebrities, here we see the scale simplified to “humility, personal relative deprivation, and perceived victimhood and threat.”

We can discard humility as a similar impulse to altruism, mainly those higher on the mountain pretending to have solidarity with the workers by trying to appear to be regular people. This leaves perceived deprivation and perceived victimhood.

In other words, low social status conveys to those at that level a sense of having less and being victims of those who have more. They sense a threat in the higher: it has the power, so it can do whatever it wants to the lower.

This shows that the lower fundamentally misunderstand power; this is a Dunning-Kruger Effect situation, since the workers never know how to run a company, the poor do not know how to make wealth, and the dumb mock intelligence because it seems random to them.

When we look at the difference between low and high intelligence, we see two groups that can barely understand each other. To the higher intelligence, the low are baffling, but the same is also true, and comes with a sense of outrage and victimhood at what is not understood:

In 1995, McArthur Wheeler walked into two Pittsburgh banks and robbed them in broad daylight, with no visible attempt at disguise. He was arrested later that night, less than an hour after videotapes of him taken from surveillance cameras were broadcast on the 11 o’clock news. When police later showed him the surveillance tapes, Mr. Wheeler stared in incredulity. “But I wore the juice,” he mumbled. Apparently, Mr. Wheeler was under the impression that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to videotape cameras (Fuocco, 1996)

What is beyond their understanding seems to them to be mysticism, superstition, or the work of some demonic authority trying to steal from them. They have trouble updating notions or even testing them, such as the idea that lemon juice blinds security cameras (spoiler: no).

A sensible view of power says that those who have it do not need the lower, contributing to those feelings of isolation and loneliness. When you are on top of the mountain, those below are only a threat if they want to directly take what you have, but they are rarely capable of this.

Someone with a high IQ looks out at a field of low-IQ people and recognizes that they can never do what he does, thus will always be peasants while he will always run the farm, business, government, theater, concert hall, museum, shop, or church.

This ties together the mental state of the low-status individual: they fear instability because they exist in a constant state of paranoia that they will lose what they have since they do not understand how to create more. They have a sense of helplessness against life itself.

Consequently, the lower generally conspire to replace the patterns of life with human patterns like equal treatment in an assembly-line style familiar to bureaucracies and managers everywhere. They fear and hate life for being unequal, and retaliate with radical humanism.

When we consider intelligence, it seems that the more intelligent value efficiency while the less intelligent emphasize repetition. They do not see change as a value added to their lives; they want to repeat the same actions that they have in the past through a static strategy:

It turned out that the majority of the pairs tested, whether human or monkey, learned to coordinate their behavior in order to increase their reward. Half of the human pairs achieved near-optimal coordination by dynamically taking turns to maintain a fair balance of rewards across all moves.

The rhesus monkeys, on the other hand, used simpler strategies. They did not coordinate their moves dynamically by creating a balance over time, but coordinated their actions statically, for example they converged on always the same of the two options, or on the same side of the display. Two monkeys trained to play the game with a human confederate showed the ability to coordinate their decision dynamically rather than statically, that is, to observe the human partner and to switch between options.

Remarkably, after this training macaques began to coordinate dynamically with each other, but in a competitive manner: a monkey who was faster to make a choice obtained a larger share of the reward.

The more intelligent succeed because they dynamically take turns, increasing efficiency, and therefore over time, achieving more rewards. The less intelligent use mostly unchanging strategies, focusing on competition, and therefore create turbulence and slow the process.

This shows us the worst-case scenario for the lower intelligence: they doom themselves by bad strategy, create constant conflict, try to replace reality, and blame the more intelligent for not having engaged in the same failing procedures.

In other words, the more intelligent climb the mountain by focusing on the goal, where the less intelligent focus on each other and through conflict and turbulence, slow their passage up the mountain, as if they were being held back until nature could gift them with greater intelligence.

This shows how the bourgeois attitude is simply a slightly more competent version of the low intelligence strategy which aims at repetition instead of accepting the cycles of life, and therefore retards any society which allows it to predominate.

With a collaborative strategy, things might turn out better: the intelligent would rise, therefore making them a non-threat to the lower, and the lower would benefit from the leadership of the more intelligent, reducing the anxiety of both groups through a mutual bond.

In traditional societies, social hierarchy produced leaders instead of relying on formalized systems like management, democracy, bureaucracy, and administration. This enabled all to enjoy the benefits of a collaborative system harnessing the nature variation in intelligence in a population.

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