January 13th, 2010

Sri Yantra


Just some thoughts in reaction to the China Google release.

One of the defining characteristics of any society is its particular balance between freedom and order. It's an interesting axis.

At the one end, there is complete order, where the needs and desires of the individual are completely subjugated to the needs of the group. Despite many attempts, no-one's managed to do this, at least not yet. The various fascist dictatorships have come close, but even they have allowed individuals, to, say, decide what they were going to have for dinner that day.

Essentially, the members of a completely ordered society would be mindless automatons, and the society in question would crack and dissolve when presented with even the slightest change in its environment.

At the other end, the needs of the individual are paramount. This is anarchy, which can actually be quite nice - I've been a member of various small groups that were, in all essential respects, anarchic. In fact, if the human race only consisted of nice people, and if we weren't frickin' primates, anarchy would be perfect.

But there's always some jerk that attempts to forcefully get more than his or her fair share, and more importantly, there's always some alpha trying to take control, and any large anarchic group crystallizes fairly rapidly into a bunch of little feudal groups in conflict. And feudal groups are just not that much into personal freedom.

So any semi-stable society is going to be somewhere in the middle. And for some reason, the members of each society tend to think that they're living near the "perfect" point.

Americans tell themselves (over and over and over. Desperately, sometimes, it seems...) that they're "free." This is BS, and has always been BS. The best that can be said is that when the country was formed, we were more free than the monarchies we came from. In most ways.

Granted, many of the pioneers of the old west were pretty free. But then, that's because they were so far from anywhere that they were largely living in anarchy...

A few general observations...

  • People observing individuals more on the freedom/chaos side of the axis than themselves tend to think of them as "immoral."

  • People observing individuals more on the order side of the axis as "oppressive."

  • Both tend to think of the other as "evil."

There was more, but it's all been driven out of my head, so I'm gonna stop here.
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