1/ THE BLIGHT OF HUMAN KINDNESS
Most of the nations we call 'civilized' are in fact more savage than most 'savages.' I argue that the process we call 'civilization' is actually the take-over of humanity by a metaphysical life form that I call 'The System.'
The blight of human kindness
2/ SYSTEMS AND METASYSTEMS
Most of us think we are rational but in fact we live largely by instinct and habit. I look at the phenomenon that psychologist Irving Janis called 'groupthink,' and humans' apparently inherent obedience to authority. I outline some of the mechanisms of evolution, and note that the social systems also evolve. I discuss self-organizing systems, the concept of metasystems, and the nature of systems and metasystems.
Systems and metasystems
3/ HOW IT HAPPENED
Victorian anthropologists believed that man's 'natural' hunting and gathering life style was marginal at best, but most hunters and gatherers have lived better than most of the farmers of history. In fact the 'agricultural revolution' that early Victorians saw as the 'beginning of civilization' was actually the beginning of slavery and repression. Working from modern research reports, I speculate on the origin of villages, of trade and of the army; and I show how many of the features of modern 'civilization' developed after the conquest of a craft village by a marauding army.
How it happened
The first army's conquest and enslavement of a craft village led to the establishment of farms, social stratification and eventually to government. We like to think that democracies are ruled by laws but 'Barnum's law,' named for American showman P.T. Barnum, explains how many government initiatives produce unintended side effects. I argue that the War on Terror promotes terrorism, the War on Drugs supports the drug trade and civil law and religion support systems and metasystems at the expense of individuals.
The System depends on education to fit people to its needs. I explore the origin of schools and of state schools, and their service to The System. I look at the concept of 'conventional wisdom' and look at how The System benefits from school sports. I argue that in fact a typical hunter/gatherer is much better educated than a typical modern person.
6/ THE MIND BENDERS
Some people believe advertisers and propagandists rule the world but I argue that advertising and propaganda control the people who produce them. Together with the press, celebrities, professional sports and other institutions they form an autonomous and malignant metasystem that may be the most powerful single component of The System.
The mind benders
7/ THE NEW TAKERS
In prehistoric times society was divided into two groups. Makers make or grow or gather, the things we need to live, and takers take what they want from makers. Our modern society needs some takers, but we have more of them than we need. I argue that the Global Economy is producing global poverty.
The new takers
8/ DANGEROUS TIMES
The System has no foresight, and I argue that it is leading us into a dead end that could destroy humanity. I argue that the future promised by servants of The System is not sustainable, and that the rule of The System demeans humanity and debases our life style.
9/ REALITY CHECK
If you drop a frog into boiling water it will hop out. If you drop the same frog into temperate water and then heat the water gently, it will stay there while it is boiled alive. I argue that because changes are gradual, we do not notice how The System demeans us and debases our life styles. I include a recap of all the arguments in the book.
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