[Paleopsych] reinforcement

Michael Christopher anonymous_animus at yahoo.com
Tue Dec 7 19:44:39 UTC 2004

>>What kind of behavior do we want to support? What 
reward system will promote those behaviors? I think it
is to society's advantage that everyone capable of
productive work be contributing to society.<<

--And, the oft-unasked question, "What are the
consequences of treating people as if they are to be
rewarded and punished in order to engineer their
behavior to conform to an authority's vision of
optimum productivity?" Or, put simply, "Who is bossing
whom around". 

Taxpayers feel bossed around by the IRS, which treats
them like a cold, calculating parent. Taxpayers get
some relief from removing impersonal safety nets from
the social ladder. There is an undertone of "daddy is
putting his foot down." This forces people to get
personal. If the government does not give the poor a
way to eat and pay rent, someone will have to minister
to them. A boon for churches, at first. More needy
people to convert, who will gladly accept a little
dogma in exchange for a warm safety net of smiling
faces and hot food. Later, in influx. More unstable
people ("demonically possessed?") and more conflicts
of dogma and faith. More violent clashes, boundary
violations and fear among people torn between obeying
Christ's commandment to love enemies, and insulating
themselves in a secure gated community. More religious
fundamentalism, cults who abuse the human need for
affiliation and protection, more racial conflict and a
pervasive feeling of being on the verge of being
"voted off the island". 

We can look at various scenarios that may unfold if
impersonal safety nets are removed and personal ones
forced to take up the slack. Some options are:

A: Conformity and dramatic increase in productivity. A
happy, efficient economic machine like China.
Government "nanny state" replaced with nurturing,
womblike interest groups, faith groups and corporate
neighborhoods with their own means of staying afloat

B: Regression to childhood humiliation and punishment,
commonly triggered by rejection scenarios and double
binds. Paralysis or outbursts of paranoid rage.
Spiritual conflict requiring sacrifice and
propitiation ritual, carried out in the form of
pogroms against groups who do not adapt well.

C: The "Scrooge Effect". Groups with many options for
controlling their environment begin to shut out
awareness of groups for whom options feel like or are
a balance of evils. Scrooges appear heartless and cold
to lower classes, with the middle class torn between
persuit of economic security and the need for social
inclusion (do we approach the homeless as potential
parasites or assailants, or do we invite human
contact?). Corporations scramble to use marketing
psychology to secure consumer trust, while issues of
trust are re-evaluated across the community. Who
trusts whom? Ultimately, scrooges trigger instability
by trying to reap security at the expense of others
and crossing the line from investment into
embezzlement and hoarding. Pyramid schemes and massive
cynicism break out. Inflation, scapegoating and
symbolic or real lynchings. Populism develops either a
redemptive faith or a brutal payback attitude.

D: The Rapture. Jesus saves the day.

I'm going with D. Just kidding. I'm hoping people find
very creative and surprising ways to create community
and keep people afloat. If someone is to be
sacrificed, let it be the ones who threaten the
security of the global organism, not those accused of
being lazy, unuseful, inefficient, insane or immoral.
We will not be forgiven easily by our children if our
collective form becomes that of a funnel, economically
and psychologically aborting some segment of the
future as the mad scramble to security becomes
paramount to the mass.


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