Monday, 3 October 2011

Conspiracy - it's in the model

The model

This model isn't any kind of theory or intended representation of the real world. Instead it's a very basic and stripped-down view of human behaviour. Something like it has been around since the ancient Greek pleasure/pain principle - we see it in the writings of Spinoza, George Eliot and Proust who knew about these things long before psychologists erected their barriers to entry. Why use a model? To keep an eye on the words - as a reminder of cause and effect.

The model only shows the easy stuff, our repertoire of behaviour, the pressures it has to respond to, the massively dominant power of the real world and the subtle, self-steering effect of thinking out of the box. It doesn't do the infinite varieties of human behaviour, but it can serve as a reminder to avoid complexity when trying to untangle these things.

Firstly we have our basic survival rules, our repertoire of habitual behaviour which for all the subtlety and complexity of real life, does come down to personal welfare and the welfare of our clan.

Good for me - excellent.
Good for us  - not quite so excellent.
Bad for them - often okay.
Bad for me    - avoid.
Bad for us     - avoid.
Good for them - often not okay.

How broadminded we are, how we define "us" and "them" isn't covered by the model. We moderate the rules and our responses via "what if?" - by analysing alternatives. Three things run the model, the real world, our genetic/survival constraints and our "what if?" analysis - assuming we analyse - which isn't compulsory.

The implications

The model shows why conspiracy is a basic fact of human life. Elites must treat we non-elites as "them" because that's who we are from their perspective, just as they are "them" from ours.

In general, everyone acts on what is good for "me" and "us". What is good or bad for "them" is ambiguous at best. So elites do their networking and cement their notions of "us" while we outsiders are forever condemned to be "them" - the voters, the masses, the little people. It is virtually a given that elites will conspire against our interests as far as they dare - it's in the model.

Elites reject our feedback, because from their point of view it comes from "them". In their case, "us" is their party, their cabal, advisers, sexual partner, friends, social milieu, elite culture and all those vested interests so keen to buy them lunch - and much, much more. Their "us" is never us.

The last UK government was particularly notorious for it. It's a human thing - the way we are, but not the way we have to be. We have "what if?" to stretch our notions of "us", to make common cause with "them", but that kind of moral generosity isn't mandated by the model. It rarely impinges on the elites apart from popping up in their rhetoric.

As one would expect from the model, elites find "what if?" difficult because of the enormous, swamping  pressures of vested interests and the elite status they have worked so hard to achieve. It's why they so often make stupid decisions - because "what if?" has already been settled - neatly packaged by their elite culture and those ubiquitous vested interests that sorted things out before they arrived.

Strong and persistent feedback from those in power, from "them" comes across as excessive regulation and government interference. The difficulty we have is getting "them" to take account our interests as well as their own and those of their stakeholders. We need to find ways of dealing with those stakeholders - those who have a vested interest in the stupidity of our elites.

Because they are stupid - they can't help it - it's in the model.

And they do conspire - they can't help it - it's in the model.


rogerh said...

Homeostasis. Was ever thus. Add in some parasitism - especially of the symbiotic kind and the organism can go on forever - or at least until the "food" runs out. I think the piano wire will have to stay in storage for now.

rogerh said...

I forgot to add. Outsiders will get the benefit of a slimy noxious broth of leucocites and be dissolved away.

Sam Vega said...

"This model isn't any kind of theory or intended representation of the real world. Instead it's a very basic and stripped-down view of human behaviour."

Does this mean that human behaviour is not part of the real world? I'm lost already...

A K Haart said...

roherh - piano wire is a good persuader.

SV - I wasn't satisfied with that sentence, but the model is too simple and incomplete for me to make any stronger claim. A rough sketch map which isn't to scale perhaps.