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Society

The Plague Of Social Isolation

There is very little to recommend my old gym, other than the low monthly fee, where I worked out nearly every day from 2007 until the pandemic shut it down. The locker rooms were grimy with moldering carpets. There were brown rings around the basins and a thin blackish layer of slime, composed, I suspect, of dead skin, urine, hair, dust, dirt and assorted bacteria on the floor of the shower stalls. To step into the slime without flip flops was to take home athlete’s foot and toenail fungus, at the very least. The sauna in the locker room was reportedly listed on a gay pick-up app and attracted pairs of men looking for anonymous sexual encounters in clouds of steam. The gym management first tried to combat these liaisons by posting a sign on the door that read: “IT IS FORBIDDEN TO HAVE SEX IN THE SAUNA.”

Conflict As A Tension To Steer By

The unwritten rules in many groups are clear: Be nice, avoid conflict at all costs and, if a conflict arises, see it as a “personal problem” of one perhaps problematic individual. In sociocracy, we have the opportunity to see things differently. A conflict or individual’s strong feelings can point out something the rest of us aren’t seeing, which could be important to the organization as a whole. Perhaps an activity of the group is conflicting with the group’s values or aims. Perhaps a policy is not clear, and the lack of clarity is creating a conflict. Listening to this tension and identifying the underlying needs can lead to a more effective organization that functions better. We can actually use the tension inherent in conflict as a way to steer governance.

The End Of Western Civilization

The greatest challenge facing societies has always been how to conduct trade and credit without letting merchants and creditors make money by exploiting their customers and debtors. All antiquity recognized that the drive to acquire money is addictive and indeed tends to be exploitative and hence socially injurious. The moral values of most societies opposed selfishness, above all in the form of avarice and wealth addiction, which the Greeks called philarguria– love of money, silver-mania. Individuals and families indulging in conspicuous consumption tended to be ostracized, because it was recognized that wealth often was obtained at the expense of others, especially the weak. The Greek concept of hubris involved egotistic behavior causing injury to others. Avarice and greed were to be punished by the justice goddess Nemesis, who had many Near Eastern antecedents, such as Nanshe of Lagash in Sumer, protecting the weak against the powerful, the debtor against the creditor.

The Right-Wing Story About Human Nature Is False

One common view of human beings is that we are “by nature” selfish, violent, cruel, and untrustworthy, and that, to the extent we manage to restrain these base instincts, it is because we are taught to be generous, and punished if we go around hurting others. Sometimes this view is accompanied by a story about human development: once upon a time, life was nasty, brutish, and short, a war of all against all. Prehistoric human beings were violent barbarians. Fortunately, civilization has gradually brought out the better angels of our nature. Free markets can actually direct humans’ natural selfishness toward socially beneficial ends, and laws backed by the threat of violence are able to ensure that a semblance of order is maintained.

Our 18th Century Bill Of Rights Needs Revising

By Judith Blau in Truthout - There is no denying that the Bill of Rights was progressive at the time it was written - in 1791 - advancing civil and political (and property) rights. Along with theDeclaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen (Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789), it promised to safeguard citizens against arbitrary power; to protect freedom of speech and freedom of religion; and assured citizens that their property could not be taken for public use without compensation. Both the Bill of Rights and the Declaration provided protections to ensure that anyone accused of a crime had the right to a fair trial. Thomas Jefferson played some role in influencing the drafting of both.

The Lonely American

By Chris Hedges in Truthdig - Totalitarian societies, including our own, inundate the public with a steady stream of propaganda accompanied by mindless entertainment. They seek to destroy independent organizations. In Nazi Germany the state provided millions of cheap, state-subsidized radios and then dominated the airwaves with its propaganda. Radio receivers were mounted in public locations in Stalin’s Soviet Union; and citizens, especially illiterate peasants, were required to gather to listen to the state-controlled news and the dictator’s speeches. These totalitarian states also banned civic organizations that were not under the iron control of the party. The corporate state is no different, although unlike past totalitarian systems it permits dissent in the form of print and does not ban fading civic and community groups. It has won the battle against literacy.

Breaking The Spell Of The Corporate State

What does the illusory world of psychopaths look like from the inside? Within this state devoid of empathy, individuality comes to be defined as opposition to the underlying communal self. In this environment, the development of individuality often necessitates pitting one against another. It is a hostile and competitive, dog-eat-dog world. Governed by reptilian impulses like fight or flight, one is driven by interests of simple self-preservation and advancement. In this, relationship becomes a battleground, or in the words of the psychopath, a game—or just doing business. In the eyes of these ruthless and careless sections of humanity, the earth itself is no longer alive, but only a resource to be exploited. Their dry intellect tears apart the web of life, with its intricate threads of interdependence. The existing extreme form of capitalism has become the ultimate social expression of the psychopaths’ internal reality of survival of the fittest.
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