Class Warfare Blog

August 14, 2018

More on Social Control of Society

Filed under: Culture — Steve Ruis @ 9:36 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I commented recently that “Societies that do not control their own member’s behavior do not survive.” Obviously I am no expert but it is clear that certain memes are fed to us with our mother’s milk that are used as levers later to control what ether happens or can happen.

One of these is tradition. We do things traditionally or because of a tradition. This is basically a brake upon change. A tradition is simply a different way to say “the way we have always done this.” In a culture, this is a way to not forget important things, but how are these traditions created? They are created by people creating them … out of any sort of motivation they want. This is how an annual golf tournament is first staged. How a memorial service is begun (just do it and talk about doing it again next year). Many things are just done in the course of events and become “the way we have always done it.” Coming to my mind are things like harvest festivals and mid-winter fests. As a tradition Christmas, which seems so entrenched now, had a very tough row to hoe (look up the history of Christmas and you will see how many ups and downs it has had).

Another such cultural construct is “honor.” The concept probably stemmed from less experienced hunters being trained by more experienced hunters. It morphed into a code of conduct (actually many such codes) that we applied in militaries, secret societies, etc. In some cultures, honor is prized above many things more real. In a number of countries now there are still honor killings (India?). A young woman gets raped and thus brings dishonor to her family (WTF?) and so her family kills her. Presumably her “reward” will be in whatever afterlife is made available to her.

A third concept is pride. This has both positive and negative connotations. “Have you no pride?” is an admonishment of an underachiever. “You need to take pride in what you have accomplished!” is a compliment. “Pride goeth before a fall” is a warning to not become too prideful. It seems as if there is a pride economy out there in which you can accumulate credits. Could we live without this concept? I suggest, yes, very well.

We are social animals. We have controls on individual behavior to benefit the whole group. Gossip is one such … yes, gossip. By “telling” on everyone, no one in the tribe will be unaware of a miscreant’s misdeeds. Of course, too much of a good thing is always possible and always a mistake. Think of the opinion we have of gossips and scolds. The list above shows others.

So, why do we not educate our people as to these controls and how to function well under them? Is great puzzlement.

Postscript I had a student I was mentoring about what he could get from college. He shared some of his poetry with me. It was not even sophomoric (he was as yet a freshman) but was characterized by lacking any capital letters. I asked about this and he told me it was because of E.E. Cummings (or e.e. cummings as many like to award him) a poet who often used no capitalization. Obviously what was being copied was form and not substance. This is a common mistake of the young (I sure did it a lot). So, since copying is a major source of learning, maybe we need to educate all as to how we control anti-social behavior in our culture. We already teach about the rule of law and law enforcement as a societal control, maybe we need to look into the other founts of such control, including religion.

 

 

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3 Comments »

  1. We do get educated by our parents, adults in our communities and our peer groups. Problem is the U S is composed of many different cultures . That is the reason for our current split and debate. It has been that way since the first Europeans started coming over. Puritans in New England, Dutch to New York, Germans to Eastern Pennsylvania, English aristocrats to Virginia and the Carolinas, Spanish to Florida and the Southwest, Scots, Irish and poor English to Appalachia. All those had their own cultures and traditions and still do. They don’t mix together well. Their D NA had been changed through natural selection over generations do their DNA is different.

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    Comment by Old Guy — August 14, 2018 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

    • And the prevalence of these “memes” seems still to be linked to the geographic regions in which the foreigners came to. The South had a robust honor culture because of the Scots-Irish immigrants to that region. The Yankees up north were less honor focused but more responsibility focused based upon their cultural heritages.

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 14, 2018 @ 1:27 pm | Reply

      • Yes. Like the people on New England wanted to have schools, town meeting and government and the Scots Irish in Appalachia and the English in the Deep South did not. For different reasons

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        Comment by Old Guy — August 14, 2018 @ 2:04 pm | Reply


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