A subject which has eternally piqued our interest, is the underlying dynamics of human choice, inclusive of its origins, motivation and nuance. We are particularly curious concerning, the interplay of the general influence of society on the individual, and his, ultimate selection of referential models, for acceptable lifestyle, belief and deportment. The ascertainment, and dynamic features, of these referential models, has been the impetus for this tripartite series, “CALIBRATING MIMESIS.’’
The first, of our three- part series, concerned the interface of style and conformity, with nuanced individuality, in the context of dress; the second, with the wide extent of public conformity, to populist jargon, in lieu of traditionally styled, language. This final installment, on the subject of conformity (“mimesis”), is a general examination of the impact of society’s influence, on individual, personal opinion.
We would, in this mini-essay, exclude, the ripe subject of religion. The acquisition of one’s specific religion, as we have observed in past writings, is simply a product of the random or accidental, event, of birth. Thus, little Hindu or Christian babies, are born, without exception, to Hindu or Christian mothers, and so on. Well intentioned early childhood teaching, insuring the identity of the young child, and his sense of secure membership in the particular ethnos of his birth, as we have previously stated, unfortunately, also implants in him, the seeds of a “we” and “they” dynamic. The latter, we have, sadly observed, often matures to be a responsible factor, in much of history’s conflict. This, however, is an entirely separate subject; but as to the sole, relevant point, the assignment of religion was never a matter of choice.
Family, empirically, appears to be the first, and most enduring, influence on young people’s developing opinions. As children grow older, however, other influences are experienced, which may amend those early learned teachings. We, in slightly less than 500 mini-essays, have consistently stressed, the continuance of education and efforts generally, tending to individual self- advancement, as the best route, to the acquisition of a mature and objective perspective, and, as well, a satisfying life.
Political belief, relates to an assertion of idealized principles, or doctrines, concerning the manner in which a society should work. Virtually, it is the assertion of a desired, governmental and cultural blueprint. We have often referred to the declaration of President Thomas Jefferson, that, for a Democracy to be successful, it requires an informed and educated population. This blogspace has been primarily dedicated to that goal, with the understanding that an informed and educated citizenry is an ideal, yet to be realized.
History relates that the Founders of our Republic, optimistically, envisioned a regular practice of amical, dutiful debates, between informed citizens, of contemporary issues. The results of such debates, would serve as a useful guide in governance, thus resulting, as intended, in a government, by and for, the people. Such idealized vision, of a nation of informed citizens, in friendship and respect, mutually, striving, towards a successful Republican Democracy, never materialized. Instead, there developed sharp and divisive differences, which, has tragically, polarized the Nation, into insular “tribes” of like-thinking people, at odds, with other tribes of citizens, espousing disparate views. In an early blog post, “THE DEATH OF CIVIC AMITY,” we unhappily, decried the complete absence of citizen good will toward others of disparate opinions, and the consequent, non-realization of these Founders’ dreams.
In today’s culture, the descriptive term, “tribalism,” refers to a mode of thinking or believing, which places loyalty to the views of an insular social group, above all else, and furthers discrimination, against like groups with disparate views. Such loyalty appears, to us, to be a major factor, in the neurotic need, of many people, for acceptance. To be clear, outside the scope of our criticism, is the formation of groups of right thinking people, espousing a common cause, like equal rights for minorities, or people concerned with global climate change, or loyal supporters of a sports team. These are organic groups of people, possessing a fixed and common goal, or purpose, and not at all comparable, to the insular, cohorts, where views and sympathies, publically, and regularly, change in tandem and conformity, to that of their tribal group.
We are affirmatively concerned, with the threat to the organic and systemic functioning of our Republican Democracy, by certain people who will predictably and reliably, vote, in sync with the “groupthink” (mimesis) of their tribe. These are people who place loyalty to, and cohesion with, their chosen group, in its unitary political stance, above their own individual and spontaneous judgment, and, conceivably, contrary to the best interests of the Nation. It is our view, that they do so based upon a perceived, need, for acceptance and social inclusion, which perceived needs, will, often, apparently, override their own personal decisional and judgmental capability.
Based upon such assumption, the critical presenting issue, is the lack of self-esteem or confidence; specifically, a felt inadequacy or an inability, to think independently, inclusive of political choices of candidate, or political platform. The Jeffersonian, foundational requirement, for the success of a democratic republic, being a population of informed, literate and capable citizenry. The solution, accordingly, (as we have emphasized in past writings) resides, in the restoration, of self-esteem, and mature perception of the citizen, as needed. This can be accomplished, through continued education, and participation in the arts and sciences. These qualities, of course, have universal application, inclusive of the totality of life, as well as political choices.
We have been, stubbornly, consistent, in our affirmative encouragement of the individual’s development of mature confidence, self-image and esteem, by way, of the continued pursuit of learning. An individual with a healthy, mature, sense of esteem and stable personhood, would shrink at the thought, of ceding his personal choices to others. As a concomitant of his sense of confident individuality, and faith in his own independent judgment, he has no need, and certainly, no desire, to surrender his unique personhood, to any social celebration of, possibly, flawed populist memes.