Democracy can only thrive when those of intellect dominate politics, education and especially the media, as was especially the case in the latter half of the 20thCentury in America. This is (according to me personally) so because the average citizen when left to his own faculties is not well versed in history, politics, psychology, geography and science. He is thus mostly at the mercy of his primitive ego’s biased tribal impulses for evaluating people, ideas and events.
The tribal impulse is all part of the prevailing universal law of probability balance, which simply means that at some point in time all that is creative and positive will be offset by that which is destructive and negative — balance. But rather than get deep into the weeds of probability balance let’s stay with nature’s tribal impulse vs. democracy.
This is a subject talked and written about by Rick Shenkman, founder of George Washing University History News Network and author of Political Animals: How Our Stone-age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics(Basic books) as mentioned today (9–8–19) in Politico Magazine.
I have spent many monthsmyself writing in Medium about what I call the primitive ego’s tribal impulse, a mind construct of nature designed to help individuals survive but harboring a very violent and dangerous offset, especially as it relates to multicultural democracies.
In other words it is normal and quite advantageous for individuals to ban together for their common good base on such things as race, language, regional and national origins, levels of educational and other social communalities. (The often racially exploited phrase, “birds of a feather flock together,” comes to mind here.)
The destructive and dangerous offset of the tribal impulse involves that of the “other,”those opposite types often looked upon by groups of peoples with fear, score and hate — the fundamental basis for humanity’s general violence and outright war, as stirred up by demagogues.
The current factors upsetting the applecart of democracy according to Shawn Rosenberg, professor at U C Irvine, are “social media and new technologies, anyone with access to the Internet can publish a blog and garner attention for their cause — even if it’s rooted in conspiracy and is based on a false claim, like the lie that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring from the basement of a Washington D.C. pizza parlor, which ended in a shooting.”
“In sum,” according to Professor Rosenberg, “the majority of Americans are generally unable to understand or value democratic culture, institutions, practices or citizenship in the manner required.” Rosenberg further states, “To the degree to which they are required to do so, they will interpret what is demanded of them in distorting and inadequate ways. As a result they will interact and communicate in ways that undermine the functioning of democratic institutions and the meaning of democratic practices and values.” The bottom line is that the good professor fears a worldwide total collapse of democracy.
In other words there exists, again my words, the irony that as the human knowledge base rapidly expands its misuse by leaders like Trump and Fox News for personal gain mushrooms along with its expansion in terms of undermining our democratic institutions, these institutions being overridden by our very own primitive tribal impulses and thus keeping us, alas, within the bounds of the universal law of probability balance.