Saturday, September 25, 2010

1. Internal Dialogues & Delusions of Grandeur.

Taken from my forthcoming book, Anti-Social Engineering the Hyper-Manipulated Self.

Q: What's this book about?

A: We used to rely on our wits. Now our problems are solved for us. This is a pleasant state of affairs, but it does not speak to our essence, nor even allow us to practise it. In a way, the system is living our lives for us. I'm not suggesting we return to some wilder version of ourselves, but rather that we, by living this way, lose some of what it is that makes us free. By being dependent we are proven needy and by maintaining that dependency, we change our ability to think about some things we must. 
Q: What is Social Engineering?

A: To do Social Engineering is to manipulate the intentions of a group of people. 
Q: To what end?

A: It varies, you might want to sell a car or a hamburger, you might want to elect a politician or start a war. Mostly, you just want to change minds.

Q: So then, I imagine there are various parties doing various engineering to different ends?

A: Yes, there are various classes of social engineering. Traditionally this phenomenon has been examined by looking at groups, but I maintain a more granular approach. Groups are just collections of individuals. When a person matures they are expected to be responsible and accountable, I can't imagine why we should expect society to be any different. 
Q: Social Engineering must be a very common and old phenomenon.

A: It is. A soon as humans clumped together into groups, perhaps even just families, we've had to engineer social ideas that we adhere to. It is a natural process of a social being. 
Q: So why write a book, now?

A: There are certain types of social engineering that represent possible dangers. For example, you may not be aware that your ideas are being intentionally manipulated and, on another level, the manipulation itself could be dangerous. Sometimes these manipulations are secret malignancies. 
Q: How do these dangers apply to me?

A: They could have a great impact on your life. Ideas are what we are talking about being manipulated. Ideas represent a great deal of living, particularly in our hyper-modern, western society. One doesn't have any choice but to be bombarded with other people's intentionality, pick up a paper, turn on the news, go to work...

Q: I work for the newspaper. I don't feel endangered...

A: Well, what is your intention for this piece?

Q: I'm here to understand your overall theory. I want to be able to encapsulate it for my readers. 
A: Why?

Q: What do you mean, why? 
A: Suppose you get it wrong. Suppose I get it wrong. What happens if we fail to make it clear?

Q: People would get the wrong idea.

A: What happens if my idea was the greatest idea ever?

Q: The people wouldn't benefit... Okay, I get it, but you still haven't answered my question. Give me a concrete modern example of dangerous, secret Social Engineering. 
A: The so-called war on terror. Even if we ignore all of the more conspiratorial aspects of the war on terror, even if we only speak in widely accepted truths, we still must take certain things for granted. Some of these things that we hand over freely are very powerful motivators, they are the sorts of things people are willing to kill and die for. These motivators are explicitly engineered with a very distinct and direct goal. This danger to life and limb, however, is not what concerns us. Nor do we care about the reasons for your succumbing to the engineering. We want to know the true motivations of the engineers. We seek transparency for individual understanding and authenticity. 
Q: Now you're into conspiracy theory.

A: I think that there are times when crazy stories are more believable than sane ones, but as I said, we don't need these alternative investigations, we can learn all we need to know by pursuing the ultimate ends of the things we humans do. Ask yourself the key questions, who, what, where, when and especially why. When you're considering the why, remember our society's primary motivator, to grow. 
Q: What's the matter with growth?

A: Remember earlier, you asked me to give you an example of a dangerous, secret social engineering? (I nod.) The idea that growth equals progress is a great example. The danger of this belief is illustrated by the fact that nature tells us all things end. This is one of the fundamental laws of the universe. Only a human would come to the conclusion that ideas such as institutions, corporations, religions or any other alike thinking group could indefinitely become more than what it already is. This planning toward perpetual growth is even more dangerous when it leads to actions such as stripping the Earth of natural resources. These are the places where ideas effect the world. 
Q: I can see your point. What are we supposed to do about it?

A: To start with, become aware of it. Awareness is key, every intention starts there and if we are going to change things, we need to fight fire with fire. There seems to be this attitude that to change things is too difficult or even impossible, so we don't even try. We say “well, what are ya gonna do?” like that's some kind of answer. So, although awareness is key, we must also do something and changing our mind counts. This is the goal of Anti-Social Engineering. 
Q: What is Antisocial Engineering?

A: Well, it means two things. Firstly, if it is Antisocial, all one word, Engineering, then we are talking about the de-socialization of a particular group. This occurs via things like the anonymity of the internet and the segregation of the self. If it is Anti-Social Engineering, with the hyphen, then it indicates an intentional stance of awareness toward social engineering. One uses anti-social engineering to achieve a truer personal authenticity through examining one's intentions.

Q: How does that happen?

A: It happens through contemplation, honesty and logic. In the book I discuss the value of maintaining the socially engineered idea that we “support our troops.” What does that actually mean? What do I have to do in order to comply with this request? Are there other intentions involved in maintaining the idea of supporting the troops? Are there variations on troop support? Is the message a case of persuasion or manipulation? This is where the nuts and bolts of doing philosophy come into play. 
Q: You mean the parts where you go on and on, defining definitions. (Taylor laughs.)

A: Yes, those parts. I think everyone should be thankful for the high number of times I say things like, “Here, we must ignore the unfathomable conundrum that such and such represents...” Seriously, my book doesn't really teach you how to do philosophy. Rather, it points to philosophy and says, “this is what you can do.” It's my hope that everyone who wants to think well would be turned on by philosophy, perhaps thinking of themselves as a philosopher, with a small P.

Q: But you, very explicitly, instruct us on how to think.

A; Not exactly. I talk about how thinking is done and give the reader a way to examine that thinking. I don't ever say, “think this about that,” because that is precisely what I'm trying to combat. But I do talk about my own thoughts and explore common questions.

Q: Are you trying to change the world?

A: Yes, but one mind at a time. This book may or may not tell you something you don't already know, this is not my goal. What I want is for the reader to think about what he already knows. There's not enough good thinking going on these days. I think social engineering has something to do with that. 
Q: Is this a textbook? It's pretty... deep. 
A: No, I've written this book, as I've researched it, over the last four years. I have a knack for reducing ideas to their lowest common denominators and I've attempted to keep the book conversational. There is some fancy college talk, but if you want to have a deep conversation you have to be able to comprehend deep thoughts. For instance, chapter seven, On the nature of Reality & our Perception of it, is basically a summary of John Searle's Philosophy of Mind lectures, but we need to understand intentionality if we're going to discuss intentions. 
Q: What is the ultimate goal? The ultimate message?

A: I'd like to see everyone thinking well and fully about everything that matters. I am happy to define the parameters of every term necessary to describe how to think without suggesting what to think.
Q: More than once in your book, you refer to the human species as idiots or sheep. You use the phrase “rampant ineptitude of modernity” as a catch-all for the phenomenon of the things in modern life you don't like. Are we really that bad off?

A: Yes. We may have jobs, air, water, money, comfort, even toys and other needless pleasures, but these things do not come without a price, nor are they a right of existence. We take these things, perhaps all things, for granted. We assume there will always be clean air, water, jobs, etc... This is the type of foolishness that warrants my use of the word “idiot.” I don't exclude myself from the idiocy, “Idiot” just reflects the expected levelling off that comfortable commonality demonstrates. An idiot is an ordinary guy, working his way through life by common design. As for the rampant ineptitude of modernity, I've been looking at that all my life. Anyone who let's things slide, lies, cheats or is generally lazy contributes greatly to this ineptitude. The ineptitude is exemplified whenever someone who should be accountable, isn't. It is a phenomenon that is particularly rampant in western societies. We skimp, we cut corners, we pass the buck. Here, I make an effort to not perpetuate this folly.

Q: Do you think you're better than everyone else?

A: No. Although your question is too general. Firstly, everyone would have to agree that there are better or worse people in the world, by some general consensus. So, if by that standard, I fall into the “better” category, could I fairly call myself “better” then? No, because secondly, your question essentially asks in its generality, “Do you think you're the best ever?” Which I do not. Finally, what do you mean by “are better?” Do you mean “doing better” or “being better?” Although I am who I am, I also can only be that on the inside, whatever that is. You and everyone else are concerned with what I send out into the world, this is how we are all judged, by what we do, not by what we say we are. So, if I am “better” than others, it is only because of what I do, not what constitutes the vehicle of my actions. The vehicle does not make the indelible marks, the acts do. I, at least, make my efforts knowing that this is true and understanding virtue.

Q: Is that some kind of intellectual elitism?

A: Elitism is a state of mind that is very real in the world today, but you can be an elitist cowboy pimp if you want. Elitism has gotten a bad reputation because it's become synonymous with the wealthy, who happen to exercise a great deal of control. In reality elitism is only an opinion that expertise has its place. I have no problem with experts sharing their expertise, or even leading our intentions, as long as they're forthcoming about it and I retain the option for veto. The problem with elitism isn't the elite part, it's how we define what we are to be elite about. For instance, Politicians often have no useful expertise. They are experts of nothing. Big Business is only interested in profit, they shouldn't be considered in policy matters because of this single minded bias. Yet these things become mashed together on a daily basis. Also, elitism is like a charge that is levelled at someone, it could easily be a product of your own insecurities. Elitism is easily a matter of opinion.
Q: More than once in your book you say that we are at the beginning of a “new enlightenment.” What does that mean?

A: In the first Enlightenment, Europe sort of hashed out the kinks of western modernity. It would still take a couple more hundred years to work out the bugs, but we sort of woke up from the Dark Ages and didn't like the way things were going. Some scientific advances and a few revolutions later, the Enlightenment gave the populace its freedom by realizing its power. The influence of church and state had been lessened. The working class became recognized. The powers that be still sought control, but their forced intentions could not always be transparent, now that the common folk had a voice. Social Engineering needed to go underground. So, where in the old Enlightenment we woke up to our conscious servitude, in this new enlightenment we realize our unconscious servitude.

Q: Is this your “hyper-manipulated self?”

A: Almost, before the hyper-manipulated self can be realized, it needs to be manipulated to be manipulated, this is what makes it “hyper.” Modernity, has been engineered to pre-programme us to be susceptible to manipulation, thereby making any subsequent engineering easier.

Q: Why do we need to be controlled?

A: We don't need it, yet we now seek it because we've come to expect it. Here's how it works, from within  the the socially engineered Freudian idea that we are all damaged goods. They tell us that “they” know better than “us.” Then they tell us that we are really monsters capable of horrible atrocities. Then they tell us they need us to go commit horrible atrocities. (Taylor pauses, taking a sip of his coffee.) We comply, which provides them with their proof. If you commit the same horrible atrocities off the battlefield, in your own name instead of the name of freedom, whatever that is, then you're a monster. So horrible atrocities “over here” is okay, but “over there” is wrong. This is total control. They only tell us what we do so we'll believe we do it. When, in actuality, we're only complying with the programming. They've made us this way. We need their control now, or we are nothing. This doesn't have to be as important a decision as whether or not we should support the troops, support the war, or fight in it. It could be something as simple as choosing to buy product A instead of product B. There's a great hyper-manipulative Subway commercial on TV right now that demonstrates a young man, in his apartment, filming himself pretending to do various things that demonstrate who he is. I presume he is doing so for some social media website. At any rate, after pointing out some of his belongings, he puts on sunglasses and a helmet, then rides his stationary bike. The tag line reads, “I choose therefore I am different.” This is the hyper-manipulation of hyper-reality. We need to attach meaning to our reality because so much of it is pointless.

Q: Isn't this going to make people angry? I mean, aren't you really saying that the whole system is wrong and needs to be changed?

A: God, I hope so. We need the same kind of revolution that was supposed to end totalitarianism. It didn't work the first time, it just pushed it underground. But it goes beyond politics, into the economy, culture, ethics, the personal and universal foundations of society, whatever they may be. It seems not to matter where you live in the world, you have somebody either in your face or behind your back, informing you what life is and isn't to be. These forced intentions are not always copacetic. Also, because we are hyper-manipulated, we ourselves perpetuate the phenomenon. That's why I say change starts one mind at a time.

Q: What is this? (See chart below.)

A: This is the Philosophy Generator. It is an organizational tree that helps to source, type and evaluate your ideas on any given subject. Paradigm, at the top, is broken into experiential norms or social norms. A paradigm is just an intentional stance, a way of thinking about things. Social norms are paradigms that you learn of via the influence of others. All social norms are engineered by either persuasion or manipulation. By working an intention through the Philosophy Generator we are able to dismantle it and do our best possible choosing. It is a contemplative pathway to assignee's prerogative. 

Q: What is Assignee's Prerogative?

A: AP is a recognition that each of us assigns our own value or weight to any particular paradigm. It is the opposite of hyper-manipulation.

Q: Don't people know that anyway?

A: No. Everybody does that anyway. Most people don't think about it, therein lies the danger. Almost everyone has paradigms that are personally valueless, they retain them only because others find them valuable.

Q: What if they're right?

A: They may be right and that is fine. The problem is that we are deciding on the rightness or wrongness of ideas without thinking about them, or perhaps thinking incorrectly or incompletely about them. The desire to believe any idea is innate, all I'm attempting to do is attach some virtue to the choosing, which is an idea as old as Philosophy itself. I've just tried to develop a way to recognize and clear away any confusion that intentionally clouds our minds. Along the way, we will be re-examining some key ideas and definitions. We have much to gain by turning convention on its head and shaking things up, in this day and age.

Q: Are you saying that by doing so, we can think better, which is going to make us better individuals, which is going to produce better societies and you're going to show us how?

A: I've already started. I realize steering folks away from tradition is going to make some uncomfortable but if change was easy, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

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