Saturday, August 20, 2005

There are two scales on which we can understand humans. There is The Person, and there is The People.
The Person is that amazing thing we all know and love. The seat of consciousness and conscience. The thing that can love and be loved. It is The Person that can appreciate beauty and understand difficult concepts.
The People however, is something else entirely. It is an emergent property of our groups and communities.
From chat groups and corporations, to religions and nations.
The lowest common denominator is the overarching influence in the personality of The People. It is strongly sway to primal urges. It has enormous momentum. Its tendency is to be petty and selfish in it’s interactions with others, be they Persons or other People. It is unstoppably assimilative and brutally territorial. Its priorities are coldly biological. It invests the vast majority of its efforts in trying to assimilate resources and breed more successfully, live longer, defend and conquer more surely. All to the terminal detriment to anything that gets in its way.
The People cannot easily understand anything. It is not in its nature to understand things. It merely responds to things. The intelligence of the group relates to the intelligence of the constituents with influence. In democracies that’s almost everyone. Changing its mind can take decades in spite of the irrefutability of the evidence that it needs to. If most Persons don’t understand a concept, then the People has little chance of responding to it appropriately.
The People has a character that can be known. The Peoples belligerence, charity, trust, anxiety, resilience and pride are all aspects of character that are extended towards others by the group. The groups output in this sense is the voice that a Person can recognize as belonging to the People. The volume of that voice is a function of many factors. The size of the group will affect its voice. The wealth of the group is a prime determinant of volume as well. Sometimes the wisdom of the group will give it a voice, but rarely. Some of the strong contributors are so because of the great quality of their contributions. Others, because they address ubiquitous fears and questions. Most do it with bombast and brute expenditure of energy.
The ability to drown out the background noise of subtleties, and thus dominate the nature of the emergent personality of a group, is a function of the attention span of Persons and the resources available to the competing contributors. Great words and answers go a long way towards molding a mass mind. But as there appears to be no upper end to the great volume knob of the bombastic, their only limitation becomes the money and power available to drive their megaphone.
He who drives the loudest megaphone, often has biggest guns.


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