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 The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind

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PostSubject: The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind    Tue 03 Aug 2010, 3:02 pm

The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1896)
Gustave Le Bon
http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/BonCrow.html

"Organised crowds have always played an important part in the life of
peoples, but this part has never been of such moment as at present. The
substitution of the unconscious action of crowds for the conscious
activity of individuals
is one of the principal characteristics of the
present age."


How many Internet business models are attempting to engender organized ad hoc crowds (i.e. swarming) where the crowd merely responds to Skinner-like behavioral inputs? There's a reason for this direction, for it breaks down the strength of our social bonds and our individuality. It's designed to push us into a collective, where we experience the same things together without forming long lasting and worthwhile social bonds.

Perhaps all those Zombie movies we've been seeing are trying to tell us something, namely, that we're going to see flash-mobs (mini-collectives or mini-swarms) as one mechanism of social control.

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PostSubject: Re: The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind    Tue 03 Aug 2010, 3:30 pm

Swarming PODS and clusters is part of military strategy, see Ch 2, Evolution of Military Doctrine.

Swarming and the Future of Conflict
By: John Arquilla, David Ronfeldt
The RAND Corporation
http://www.rand.org/pubs/documented_briefings/DB311/index.html

"Swarming is a seemingly amorphous, but deliberately structured, coordinated, strategic way to perform military strikes from all directions. It employs a sustainable pulsing of force and/or fire that is directed from both close-in and stand-off positions. It will work best — perhaps it will only work — if it is designed mainly around the deployment of myriad, small, dispersed, networked maneuver units. This calls for an organizational redesign — involving the creation of platoon-like pods joined in company-like clusters — that would keep but retool the most basic military unit structures. It is similar to the corporate redesign principle of flattening, which often removes or redesigns middle layers of management. This has proven successful in the ongoing revolution in business affairs and may prove equally useful in the military realm. From command and control off line units to logistics, profound shifts will have to occur to nurture this new way of war. This study examines the benefits — and also the costs and risks — of engaging in such serious doctrinal change. The emergence of a military doctrine based on swarming pods and clusters requires that defense policymakers develop new approaches to connectivity and control and achieve a new balance between the two. Far more than traditional approachesto battle, swarming clearly depends upon robust information flows. Securing these flows, therefore, can be seen as a necessary condition for successful swarming."

Download the Report (PDF)
http://www.rand.org/pubs/documented_briefings/2005/RAND_DB311.pdf

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PostSubject: Re: The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind    Wed 04 Aug 2010, 1:52 am

I suggest you consult the folowing book collection: http://www.scribd.com/document_collections/2510793
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PostSubject: Re: The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind    Tue 10 Apr 2012, 1:36 am

"Banality of evil is a phrase coined by Hannah Arendt in the title of her 1963 work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Her thesis is that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.

Explaining this phenomenon, Edward S. Herman has emphasized the importance of "normalizing the unthinkable." According to him, "doing terrible things in an organized and systematic way rests on 'normalization.' This is the process whereby ugly, degrading, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and are accepted as 'the way things are done.'"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banality_of_evil



"Little Eichmanns is a phrase used to describe persons who participate in society in a way that, while on an individual scale may seem relatively innocuous even to themselves, taken collectively create destructive and immoral systems in which they are actually complicit — comparable to how Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi bureaucrat, unfeelingly helped to orchestrate The Holocaust. Anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan used the phrase in his essay Whose Unabomber? in 1995. The phrase gained prominence in American political culture four years after the September 11th attacks, when an essay written by Ward Churchill shortly after the attacks received renewed media scrutiny. In the essay, "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens", Churchill reiterated the phrase to describe technocrats working at the World Trade Center. The Ward Churchill September 11 attacks essay controversy ensued.

Lewis Mumford collectively refers to people willing to placidly carry out the extreme goals of megamachines as "Eichmanns". "

Quote :
The concept of justice should not be overlooked in considering the Unabomber phenomenon. In fact, except for his targets, when have the many little Eichmanns who are preparing the Brave New World ever been called to account? ”

—John Zerzan, Whose Unabomber?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Eichmanns


Diffusion of responsibility
"Diffusion of responsibility is a sociopsychological phenomenon whereby a person is less likely to take responsibility for an action or inaction when others are present. Considered a form of attribution, the individual assumes that either others are responsible for taking action or have already done so. The phenomenon tends to occur in groups of people above a certain critical size and when responsibility is not explicitly assigned. It rarely occurs when the person is alone and diffusion increases with groups of three or more

Diffusion of responsibility occurs in large group settings and under both prosocial and antisocial conditions. In prosocial situations, individuals' willingness to intervene or assist someone in need is inhibited by the presence of other people. The individual is under the belief that other people present will or should intervene. Thus, the individual does not perceive it as his or her responsibility to take action. It has been demonstrated that the likelihood of a person offering help decreases as the number of observers present increases. This is known as the bystander effect. In addition, diffusion of responsibility is more likely to occur under conditions of anonymity. In prosocial situations, individuals are less likely to intervene when they do not know the victim personally. Instead, they believe that someone who has a relationship with the victim will assist. In antisocial situations, negative behaviors are more likely to be carried out when the person is in a group of similarly motivated individuals. The behavior is driven by the deindividuating effects of group membership and the diffusion of feelings of personal responsibility for the consequences.

As part of this process, individuals become less self-aware and feel an increased sense of anonymity. As a result, they are less likely to feel responsible for any antisocial behavior performed by their group. Diffusion of responsibility is also a causal factor governing much crowd behavior, as well as risk-taking in groups.

Diffusion of responsibility can manifest itself:

In a group of people who, through action or inaction, allow events to occur which they would never allow if they were alone. This is referred to as groupthink and groupshift.
In a group of people working on a task who lose motivation, feel less responsibility for achievement of group goals, and hide their lack of effort in the group (social loafing).
In hierarchical organizations, when subordinates claim to simply be following orders and supervisors claim that they merely issue directives and do not perform the actions under question. The difficulty of identifying the culpable party is often seen in trials regarding crimes against humanity."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_responsibility

Moral disengagement
"Moral disengagement is a term from social psychology for the process of convincing the self that ethical standards do not apply to oneself in a particular context, by separating moral reactions from inhumane conduct by disabling the mechanism of self-condemnation.

Generally, moral standards are adopted to serve as guides and deterrents for conduct. Once internalized control has developed, people regulate their actions by the standards they apply to themselves. They do things that give them self-satisfaction and a sense of self-worth and refrain from behaving in ways that violate their moral standards. Self-sanctions keep conduct in line with these internal standards. However, moral standards only function as fixed internal regulators of conduct when self-regulatory mechanisms have been activated, and there are many psychological processes to prevent this activation. These processes are forms of moral disengagement of which there are four categories.

One method of disengagement is portraying inhumane behavior as though it has a moral purpose in order to make it socially acceptable. For example, torture, in order to obtain information necessary to protect the nation’s citizens, may be seen as acceptable. Voltaire is quoted as saying, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”.

Another disengagement technique is advantageous comparison. Moral judgments of conduct can be influenced by structuring what the conduct is compared against. In social comparison the “morality” of acts depends more on the ideological allegiances of the labelers than on the acts themselves.

Another dissociative practice, known as displacement of responsibility, operates by distorting the relationship between actions and the effects they cause. People behave in ways they would normally oppose if a legitimate authority accepts responsibility for the consequences of that behavior. Under conditions of displaced responsibility, people view their actions as the dictates of authorities rather than their own actions.

Additionally, there is the practice of diffusion of responsibility. This is when the services of many people, where each performs a task that seems harmless in itself, can enable people to behave inhumanely collectively, because no single person feels responsible. An example of this is in executions where multiple persons have distinct roles in the execution process so no individual is responsible.

A similar technique is collective action. Any harm done by a group can be blamed on the other members so people act more harshly when responsibility is collective than when individualized. For example, a juror sentencing a person to death can blame the “jury” rather than him or herself as a juror.

Another method of disengagement is through disregard or misrepresentation of the consequences of action. When someone pursues an activity harmful to others for personal gain they generally either minimize the harm they have caused or attempt to avoid facing it. Instead, they will recall prior information given to them about the potential benefits of the behavior. People are especially prone to minimize harmful effects when they act alone. It is relatively easy to hurt others when the detrimental results of one's conduct are ignored.


A final disengagement practice, dehumanization, is applied to the targets of violent acts and depends on how the perpetrator views the people toward whom the harmful behavior is directed. Once dehumanized, divested of human qualities, people are no longer viewed as persons with feelings, hopes, and concerns but as subhuman objects which do not evoke feelings of empathy from the perpetrator and can be subjected to horrendous treatment."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_disengagement
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PostSubject: Re: The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind    Wed 11 Apr 2012, 12:01 am

mike lewis wrote:
"Banality of evil is a phrase coined by Hannah Arendt in the title of her 1963 work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Her thesis is that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.

Explaining this phenomenon, Edward S. Herman has emphasized the importance of "normalizing the unthinkable." According to him, "doing terrible things in an organized and systematic way rests on 'normalization.' This is the process whereby ugly, degrading, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and are accepted as 'the way things are done.'"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banality_of_evil
On followup to this thought, I once asked the CEO of a major Cloud Computer company in Silicon Valley (in front of quite a large audience), why he was developing systems that oppressed humanity. He initially tried to side-step the questioning, but when I pressed further, he said something like.... well, this is the path that society is taking and there isn't much I can do to stop it. It was obvious that he had rationalized his decision to go-along. Unfortunately, far too many are doing the same.

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PostSubject: Re: The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind    Wed 11 Apr 2012, 3:55 am

C1 wrote:
he said something like.... well, this is the path that society is taking and there isn't much I can do to stop it.

The question then becomes: Why is this the path that society is taking? Is society developing along this path at random or is it being guided by some form of deliberate intelligence?


It seems that most people are very reluctant to ask themselves these kinds of questions and they are infinitely more reluctant to attempt to answer them honestly.
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PostSubject: Re: The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind    Sun 15 Apr 2012, 4:11 pm

mike lewis wrote:
C1 wrote:
he said something like.... well, this is the path that society is taking and there isn't much I can do to stop it.

The question then becomes: Why is this the path that society is taking? Is society developing along this path at random or is it being guided by some form of deliberate intelligence?
Yes, I should have followed-up, but instead slumped down in my seat and just exhaled in disgust.

And yes, there is most clearly a guiding force, or at least a system of thought that many subscribe to which creates this guiding force.


mike lewis wrote:
It seems that most people are very reluctant to ask themselves these kinds of questions and they are infinitely more reluctant to attempt to answer them honestly.
Well, I see many trying to ask themselves questions that are not being asked, but they they fall into the entire COINTEL conspiracy vector and get run into mindless dead ends. What I continue to see are people unwilling to unhinge themselves from 'containers of thought that are served up to them' by vector-leaders. This leaves them open to entrapment by thought-vectors created by think tanks and distributed through controlled means. Breaking away and thinking alone, by oneself, takes real courage and is the only way I can see that people can break from this system. But we honestly don't know how to think any more, or incorrectly label other skills as thinking skills. Regurgitating crap one has learned in school is not thinking, even if the school was Harvard.

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PostSubject: Re: The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind    Sun 15 Apr 2012, 8:16 pm

C1 wrote:


And yes, there is most clearly a guiding force, or at least a system of thought that many subscribe to which creates this guiding force.

And, as I see it, this system of thought is rooted in an obsession with a very specific idea regarding a teleological imperative.

Whatever concept one may hold, from a metaphysical point of view, concerning the freedom of the will, certainly its appearances, which are human actions, like every other natural event are determined by universal laws….The means employed by nature to bring about the development of all the capacities of men is their antagonism in society, so far as this is, in the end, the cause of lawful order among men….After many reformative revolutions, a universal cosmopolitan condition, which nature has as her ultimate purpose, will come into being as the womb wherein all the original capacities of the human race can develop.

Source: Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View (1784). Translation by Lewis White Beck. From Immanuel Kant, “On History,” The Bobbs-Merrill Co.,(1963: 11, 15; 23)

http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/kant/universal-history.htm

FIRST THESIS

All natural capacities of a creature are destined to evolve completely to their natural end.

SECOND THESIS

In man (as the only rational creature on earth) those natural capacities which are directed to the use of his reason are to be fully developed only in the race, not in the individual.

THIRD THESIS

Nature has willed that man should, by himself, produce everything that goes beyond the mechanical ordering of his animal existence, and that he should partake of no other happiness or perfection than that which he himself, independently of instinct, has created by his own reason.

FOURTH THESIS

The means employed by Nature to bring about the development of all the capacities of men is their antagonism in society, so far as this is, in the end, the cause of a lawful order among men.

FIFTH THESIS

The greatest problem for the human race, to the solution of which Nature drives man, is the achievement of a universal civic society which administers law among men.

SIXTH THESIS

This problem is the most difficult and the last to be solved by mankind.

The difficulty which the mere thought of this problem puts before our eyes is this. Man is an animal which, if it lives among others of its kind, requires a master. For he certainly abuses his freedom with respect to other men, and although as, a reasonable being he wishes to have a law which limits the freedom of all, his selfish animal impulses tempt him, where possible, to exempt himself from them. He thus requires a master, who will break his will and force him to obey a will that is universally valid

SEVENTH THESIS

The problem of establishing a perfect civic constitution is dependent upon the problem of a lawful external relation among states and cannot be solved without a solution of the latter problem.

EIGHTH THESIS

The history of mankind can be seen, in the large, as the realization of Nature’s secret plan to bring forth a perfectly constituted state as the only condition in which the capacities of mankind can be fully developed, and also bring forth that external relation among states which is perfectly adequate to this end.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View
http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/kant/universal-history.htm
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