Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Psychology Of Totalitarianism, Mattias Desmet

 It was hard to find someone elses review of this important book for our times. This one is pretty good

If you just can't stomach reading and you need the "spoon it to me via video, baby", this will give you a bit of "surface sample". 

One of themes of my reading and blogging the past few years has been the increasing replacement of "science" with "scientism".  Science is never "settled", it is an inductive process of hypothesis, testing, if testing appears to be successful, a theory (model) is developed, and testing continues forever at various levels of granularity and conditions. Science is ALWAYS falsifiable ... meaning it can't be "settled". 

According to Google AI;

Scientism believes that most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims should be done away with. This is because the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method.

Scientism can be seen as a faith that science has no boundaries.

Scientism is a religion that denies that it is a religion. It converts our universe into a "machine" that asserts that what can't be measured doesn't exist. 

Man may not realize it, but his humanity does not really matter, it is nothing essential. His whole existence, his longing and his lust, his romantic lamentations and his most superficial needs, his joy and his sorrow, his doubt and his choices, his anger and unreasonableness, his pleasure and his suffering, his deepest aversion and his most lofty aesthetic appreciations, in short, the entire drama of existence, can ultimately be reduced to elementary particles that interact according to the laws of mechanics.

This appears on page 17 as a quote, but the source is not listed (guessing Hannah Arendt). The section is describing how science became an ideology (scientism).  

Strangely, as this book laments, even though post Quantum Physics, deeper understanding of time, biology, genetics, etc with more precise measurements and greater computing power, more "true scientists" (the ones not blinded by the ideology/religion of Scientism) and realizing the universe is not a machine, but rather a left brain generated illusion of a machine. 

"The Matter With Things" gives a lot of insight into how the post Enlightenment West veered to being a "disenchanted" left brained existence devoid of meaning. 

On page 51, Desmet gives an obvious "proof" of how "objectify" really doesn't exist. 

If you measure the coastline of Great Britain based on a unit of measurement of 200 kilometers, it is 2,400 kilometers long. If you measure it with a unit of 50 kilometers, it is 3,400 kilometers long. As you decrease the unit of measurement, the length of the coastline of Great Britan increases to infinity. 

How do you select the proper unit of measure? You use some sort of "intuition". 

As you think about the mechanical universe you run into a lot of "Zeno's paradoxes".  Most resemble the form: 

Any moving object must reach halfway on a course before it reaches the end; and because there are an infinite number of halfway points, a moving object never reaches the end in a finite time.

A mechanical view of the universe sees it as made up of discrete particles. At one time "atoms", then electrons, neutrons, protons, gluons, quarks, etc, etc ...  like good old Zeno, they never got "there". The current model is described in a number of books, you could start with "The Matter With Things" .... which asserts "it's waves all the way down" (there aren't any "elementary particles" as asserted in the "why we don't matter" statement above. For entertainment,  take a look at the "It's Turtles All the Way Down" to put a smile on your face even though the subject book is scary and sad. 

Why is this important? Mass Formation ... the deeply disturbing mass psychological phenomenon described in the book. 

Mass formation arises from the meeting of four psychological conditions at the population level, Desmet explains: feelings of social isolation, the absence of meaning in life, free-floating anxiety (lacking a clear object) and free-floating anger and frustration.
For those of us probably born to be iconoclasts, the following paragraph was obvious from the earliest days of the pandemic ... and people hated us for it. 
The Psychology of Totalitarianism raises profound questions about the uses, abuses and limitations of rationality, science and technology in our fraught times and their role in creating a deeply disturbing mass psychological phenomenon. Desmet’s analysis of the response to Covid-19 seeks to fill the gap left by the exclusion of psychological factors from the existing scholarship on totalitarianism. In so doing, he shows how whole populations, atomized by but collectively caught in a technological mindset that sees science as the answer to everything, can be overtaken by totalitarianism. Desmet believes this was occurring in the pandemic’s earliest days and continues today.

If you are a Covid narrative, Climate Change, Trust the Science, Materialist, Progressive, ... in short "Dominant Narrative" believer, who sees anyone not on "your side" as likely evil, brain damaged, deplorable, neanderthal, naive, etc, you will either throw this book down in disgust, or suffer an epiphany. 

For those in The Narrative, this is a definite "Red Pill". 


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