World

Emotionalism > Rationalism

In my previous post about the information wasteland, I have made it clear that signalling is the most important character that attracts people’s attention. The medium of current information technology, which is the fragmented information overload itself, craves for drama and people who create drama. No gimmick, no fame. I for one have always followed this rule in my 6 years membership of the Toastmasters International, a public club that aims to improve participants’ public speaking and presentation skills. During my time with the Toastmasters International, one thing I would always do is to speak in a dramatic tone with wide range of body language and eye contacts. Over the time I have found out that no matter how irrelevant and non-sense my speech was about, people would always pay attention to me and recognize my performance even months after. They most likely couldn’t recall what I was talking about, but always remember some catchphrases I blurred and those laughs I brought to them with my sense of humor (dramatic performance). So in the end of the day, I easily got famous and favored by the crowd. Whenever I stand in front of the stage, people would pay extra attention to me with the expression to get ready for some nice entertainment once more.

Those gimmicks, as far as I can see, are not some novel invention of mine. It existed since the mankind learned how to communicate with each other even way before the maturity of our linguistic skills. It is natural that people dig the emotional signals and resonates with them. I am not saying it is a bad thing. We are driven to a decision by our emotions subconsciously, and that is a fact. Nonetheless, we have another intrinsic character that could help us for the decision-making independent of emotions: the ability to reason. Rationality is a discernible trait especially among high intelligent people, who are the real driving force for technological breakthrough and the societal governance. The widespread of printing press in the medieval era injected a strong boost for the growth of rational thinking among the populace all through Europe, with the help of books, a perfect medium detached with all forms of emotion in favor of emotionless logic thinking. That was truly an era of enlightenment. Both life science and social science experienced a rapid leap forward: universal education, modern democracy, industrial revolution, modern economics etc. Rational thinking for the first time supplanted emotions as the cornerstone of our decision-making principles.

When Neil Postman was talking about such things in his enlightening book “Amusing ourselves to death”, he overlooked one critical point, a point that could well explain the “proliferation of the show business via new information technology”. That is: we naturally prefer visual representation, emotional signalling over detached rational thinking and objective contextualization. Plenty of theories why we behave in this way (I have written an article to explain our visual representation), which I won’t probe further here. The point is the blossom of printing press era was the only meteor-alike exception in the long path of our human civilization history. It is not natural for most people to stick to some static objective paragraphs as our ultimate guidance. Once the technology advanced to a stage where we could develop a better information medium, we would just simply dash to that one almost instantaneously. Over 500 years of printing press dominance and its glory were easily overwritten by the introduction of mass media in less than 100 years.

Thanks to television, personal computer, internet, google, youtube, we have quickly reverted back to the most primitive stage of philosophy: emotionalism. Beg to differ? Turn on your television and see one image that isn’t intended to hypnotize you with emotional resonance: news coverage, advertising, TV opera etc. Even the most sacred and serious domain of human civilization, politics and religion, are no longer sacred and serious. “Democracy” is merely a fig leaf for the popularity contest based on emotional barometer – polls (Some are “bad” because they are “bad”, others “good” because they are “good”). Everyone is all of sudden a specialized theologist that see religion either as a superstitious gimmick or the supernatural power (Even the Islamic theology is a joke nowadays thanks to the rise of Jihad martyrs). Thanks to the dominance of some smart minority in this show business, minority in all social domains are now portrayed as simply the victims of the majority, regardless of what happens. Hence, minorities are always right and should be protected and worshiped as the blessed ones (we are not). This perfectly fits our emotional demand. Whenever a man defies a massive order. The first reaction from the public is always sympathy, followed by consequential supports. It doesn’t matter what and why the man was doing it. The theory part, the pseudo-rational thinking part, is largely marginalized and simplified with a few lines of a so-called expert on the TV or a pissed-off protester showing off his V-for-victory sign. We’d amplify the emotion and strongly abide the hunch, thanks to the information era. There are countless examples here, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, JFK, Che Guevara, Greenpeace, Arab Spring etc. … This is also the case of Ai Weiwei, an edgy post-modern artist in our home country that deems “politically active and heretic”. When people flock to pity him with great compassion against the old-evil CCP, few could calm their over-heated brain and contemplate: “what on earth is this fella doing for?” To me he tries to act like a hero but without any solid ideas or concrete dogmas. His “arts” are vulgar and explicit, and his “politic views” are immature and ambiguous.

Back to where I started in this article, the wisdom of intelligence has been downplayed in favor of emotional heroism today. All abstract thoughts are pushed back in the bottom of the library, a place that people barely visit. All leftism, rightism, communism, and even environmentalism, are merely a form of simple pictorial representation of different emotions nowadays, at least in the mainstream. True intelligentsia, the last remaining fraction of the printing press era (leftovers), are all labelled “reactionary” and squeezed in the margin of the society where nobody really cares. As long as the modern mass media sticks to the concept of the show business, there will never be a sober day for all of us. It’s not that we got retarded (we probably are thanks to the infusion of dumb people in the social welfare era), it is just we got hypnotized in this Brave New World – the prophesy of Huxley.

Sophomoric perplexity

Many people are desperately looking for jobs in such economic downturn, including some acquaintances of mine. I have heard a lot of stories recently. Those fine young men, living in constant fear, anxiety, and depression, are struggling for months without a decent job. It is disheartening for me to see those great potentials to be lost in this transition, for I firmly believe they absolutely deserve way more than this.

Meanwhile, I am also aware that the destination they fiercely long for is unfortunately the starting point of banality, at least to most of people. I for one have well witnessed the mediocre nature of most desktop work myself. The state of inundating wholly into something grammatical or mechanical tranquilizes our intellectual curiosity. Sooner or later whatever “extra” ordinary ideas that pop out of your mind would be brutally pinched off one by one and you will be gradually sliding into the confined hourglass as a weightless granule of sand.

Of course, most people beg to differ about the definition of “job”. I have observed smart people rejoiced on their success in stepping into this middle class trap in rapture. Their fear of being the outcast from the expected social structure easily overruns their intelligent audacity. As much as they are dubious about the new journey they are about to take, a sense of grave relief submerges their minds, for social recognition and social security are guaranteed on board.

We humans have to live under the boundary of various definitions. If looking for a job brings recognition and security to us, we would feel like going after that as an inevitable part of the life. It is as if  a man in a lonely raft finally gaze afar the land from the horizon. However, only a handful would think ahead about the discovery of the land and the land after the land. Everyone wants to discover a continent rather than a deceiving island. It is rather the irrational nature of us, the courage, the willingness for risk, that could ignite those with a flair for the magnum explosion to go on with further expedition.

But the question is, if not A, then what is B? Perfect abstraction scales down to everyday life and then becomes the origin of this sophomoric perplexity that confounds the few pitiful mortal souls. Invalidating the definition of your social being means the choice of a drastic unknown destiny. The world is too wondrous to be comprehended by its humble organic creations, yet our drive to discover every little detail of the significance of everything is simply inexplicable with rationality. I do feel sorry for those who is suffocating in the purgatory of joblessness; and I also do share the joy with those who were immersed in the excitement for finding a contracted employment. Maybe it’s a folly not to stay in the social ouroboros after all; but I want out, emotionally.

Nationhood and their borders

In the beginning, people speak different and act different for they live in distance. For instance in Europe nobles wouldn’t really bother teaching the peasants the same language they speak; and peasants wouldn’t really mind if the government post something that they could not understand on the city wall. After some successful political marriage it was pretty common in Medieval Europe that different regions (some don’t even share geographical borders) with different local languages and people share the same lord. Think about the Habsburg Dynasty. They had half Europe at the time. They even used different court languages to govern their vast dominion. It was the political norm for the feudal system in Europe, way before the emergence of modern nationalism. People were much more relaxed at the definition of border and nationality (though religion was a pretty serious matter for the identity). The definition of modern nationhood, one nation one people on language, came with the drastic French Revolution at the end of 18th century. As increasingly centralized polity imposed deliberate assimilation policy upon different local groups (i.e. like the spread of French in France or Belgium), local groups would also be awakened to resist the alien influence. In most cases the big power won. That’s why you got Germans are Germans, French are French, Italians are Italian nowadays. Occasionally locals managed to resist the imposition. That’s how those small nationalism movement emerged, such as the Flemish, the Baltic countries, the Basque, etc. After this what I call dramatic shuffling, the modern international political structure came to the stasis. People would move even for the sake of switching to different ethnic regime in between some artificial boundaries (like the Turk/Greek swap deal, or the expulsion of the Germans in Eastern Europe). In those wild days, borders change all the time, people come and go, some becomes prominent, some disappears, few stays the same. Nationhood and the border were not as sacred and eternal as we take for granted nowadays.

Habsburg Empire, 1547AD

After years of struggle with the rise of modern nationalism, in today’s politics, most countries have one predominant majority of identity and language. A nation, defined by its geographical border is sacred and inviolable. This is the first thing that would cross over people’s mind when thinking of their country. What’s more, the few surviving local groups want to be out of their masters after the failed attempt of assimilation. Then big countries split into a number of small countries, like the case of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and even Georgia. As extreme as they appear, those peanuts size national movements are merely the extending tail of the whole modern nationalism movement starting 200 years ago.

But what’s the real trend now? As mentioned above, modern nationalism is coming to a dead end. Only small groups of laggards are still whining about the pie they didn’t taste, like Basque, Kosovo, or even Catalonia. The rest majority of people in the modern civilization are, on the contrary, a bit bored and tired of such modern tradition, especially after two biggest national wars. So people started to eye on the next step to find something to associate with… This is when things get out of control…

Pilot Project

Out of control how? Out of control when people start to think that all humans should be treated equally and multiculturalism in a post-nationalism era is beautiful. So nationhood becomes less and less important now and borders are the symbols of old rigid outdated system. Intellectuals plan to break down the old ethnocentrism and build up something way larger to stimulate another rapid development just like nationalism did to us back then, as larger scale in polity brings larger potential of scientific advancement (people stay more focused). The first thing that needs to be gone is the nationhood and then the borders. But so far only the integration of European Union makes sense to me as the potential 1+1>2 game to reinvigorate Europe. The rest of those movements? There are simple too much discrepancy among the groups of people involved. Clustering the nationhood and borders only makes sense when the groups involved are somewhat in common at culture, IQ, economy etc. The whole ethnocentrism still remains strong despite being at the downward spiral, and we need to take that into consideration. The concept of nationhood would remain, but the entity of an independent polity would be upgraded. But then again, if it could not even be enforced effectively in Europe, then we certainly should forget about unconditional multiculturalism and think of other options to sustain our modern civilization.

Hourglass society

That means, enough with the middle class myth.

Look at what is happening nowadays, it’d be lying to say the good old middle class is still going to sustain the materialistic modern civilization as well. No more mediocre blue-collar jobs for the college graduates. As we are trapped in the money ouroboros, there’s going to be more and more smart fellas diving into the virtual business like finance, software etc. This transforms the western society into a hourglass-shaped structure. While lots of people are drifting upwards to become ferociously rich, more people simply could not adapt to the transition and get squeezed down to the bottom.

The worst part is, the group in the lower part of the hourglass thinks they should be in charge of hourglass, just as much as the upper part group thinks. But in reality they would never do. So here comes the social conflicts. Not to forget the third world countries are still non-stop supplying new babies to the lower part group (most of them). Maybe they will occasionally win the battles and some of them would have the chance to be upgraded into the upper group. But the transformation trend persists.

How do I see the future? Human masters in an electronic robotic automation. Of course the pre-assumption is that current modern civilization would be undisturbed by any drastic social turmoil that put an end to scientific advancement. Well, what ends up in the Occident I see the chance for the Orient to continue at least. Of course I hope all smart fellas end up well in the end. Need a piece of inspiration? Check out the creepy robots.

More poor and stupid

Yes, that’s right. I am sure you have read the news: the world population is going to reach 7 billion this month.

 

A round of applause everyone! Our messed up mortal realm just couldn’t keep getting any worse than continuously absorbing more in-bred, low IQ, and mostly impoverished  babies in an accelerating manner. Why do I say so? Because most of the new babies are born in places where those three criteria greatly intertwine with each other? Without the generous humanitarianism from the western leftists, the populations in those regions would never break the Malthusian line. I, for one always think every people and every country deserve the things that they belong to. For example, the consequence of giving endless oil money to the Arabs was one of those major blames for the nuclear explosion-alike population burst in the Middle East. Look at what a skyrocketing population full of excessive babies have done to that region at the moment.

In most of the regions which result in the rapid world population growth, the local society simply could not handle the unprecedented population explosion. The polity, the social structure, the mind-set, even the IQ are not even remotely ready for such drastic change yet. With the western intervention, mother nature is no longer a determinant in restraining these local populations. Two things will and are already happening: 1. even larger waves of illegal immigration from the third world to the West, and 2. more social chaos that would not only severely affect those third world societies but also ones in the West. Remember the change of French history textbook?

Rational leftists might blame me for being ignoring the importance of those young population in world’s economy (endless cheap labor) and even offsetting the ageing issues of developed countries. Here is what I would say: remember 200 years ago when we started to use machines instead of intensive labors in the factory? Cheap labor would only function this far. Besides, we will never run out of cheap labor. The point is they would be even less cheap labor jobs for those newly born ones in the slums and townships in the future. I wouldn’t call that a benefit at all. Absorbing those young population in the developed countries? That’s a total fallacy. Not to even mention the level of adverse cultural and social impact of their arrival would impose on the local advanced but deteriorating civilizations, I just stress on one point: productivity. The productivity of 100 new-born inbred babies from the slum in the future will not be even nearly as high as one kid with high IQ and born in an well-educated family and well-organized society. Remember why Israel a few days ago wanted to swap 1000 Arab prisoners for just one Jew kid? Simple, one Jewish kid outperforms 1000 Arabs; and that is just one of the million pieces of inconvenient fact hard to sallow for the egalitarians and emotionalists.

Muslims, Blacks, and probably a bit Indians … They will make the biggest part of the new generation, in their own homeland and yours in the future. statistically speaking this is a very disheartening trend. Doubling from the lower and lower birth rate from the smart and well-educated population, there will relatively even more poor and stupid in the future. When we have the whole assembly line controlled by only two Master Degree kids and thousand robotics and computers, we surely need lots of them.

IQ by Country

This reminds me of public’s attitude towards climate change: there’s mitigation measures and adaptation measures. When there’s really no promising adaptation measures, nobody takes a serious look into the mitigation idea. Cold truth as it is, we have to face it some way or another.

Those newcomers in the global community

It is really no exciting news to hear the birth of another new country. Do you know? There are simply 31 widely-recognized plus 5 controversially-recognized and 1 unrecognized new-born countries  that are no more than 21 years old (that is born no earlier than 1990, the legal age to do anything in most of US states), prior to 9th July, 2011 (Hong Kong, Macau being unique cases back to China, anything would be unique regarding China anyhow nowadays).  Assuming most of the readers live in relatively politically stable regimes and have little sense of how dynamic and volatile global political equilibrium could be, it must be a shock to see there are so many split break-up of old countries and formation of new countries in the past two decades. I say it’s purely amazing. Here is some collective information of those countries:

  • 23 widely recognized countries in Eurasia were created mainly due to historical ethnic dispute:

15 countries born out of the dissolution of the former Soviet Union in 1991; they are: ArmeniaAzerbaijan, Belarus, EstoniaGeorgiaKazakhstanKyrgyzstanLatvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, TajikistanTurkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

6 countries born out of dissolution of the former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2006; they are: Slovenia (1991), Croatia (1991), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992), Serbia (1992 as Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, then 2006 as Serbia after split with Montenegro), Macedonia (1991), Montenegro (2006).

2 countries split out of the dissolution of the former Czechoslovakia in 1993; they are Czech Republic and Slovakia.

  • widely recognized  countries in Africa and Oceania emerged as a  consequence of historical colonial divisions:

6 countries obtained independence status that result from former colonial divisions; they are: Namibia (1990 from South Africa, as it used to a German colony rather than British), Eritrea (1993 from Ethiopia, as it used to Italian colony rather than part of Ethiopia, though the majority inhabitants  share same roots, culture and religion), Marshall Islands (1991 from US trusteeship, as it used to be German colony, controlled by Japan after WWI, and US after WWII), Palau (1994, from US trusteeship, as it used to be part of the Caroline Islands under first Spanish, then German, Japanese and later US rule), Micronesia (1990 from US trusteeship, as it used to be ruled by Spanish, German, Japanese, and US, chronologically), East Timor (2002 from Indonesia, as it used to Portuguese colony rather than Dutch East Indies).

  • widely recognized  countries in Eurasia founded as a result of ethnic unification:

Germany (1990) was founded based on the reunification of former West Germany and former East Germany after the fall of iron curtain. Yemen (1990), which is in deep political chaos at the moment, was established based on the unification of North Yemen and South Yemen, under the leadership the current unpopular president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

     

  • 5 controversially recognized political entities in Europe due to historical ethnic  dispute (in an ethno-geographic sense)

Kosovo (2008) declared independence unilaterally under heavy support of the US from Serbia, with its independence not widely recognized.

Transnistria (1990), declared independence after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, the de facto independence from  Moldova reinforced after the Transnistria war in 1992, recognized only by Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia.

Nagorno-Karabakh (1992) proclaimed its independence in the middle of the Nagorno-Karabakh war (1988-1994) between Armenian and Azerbaijani, currently only recgnized by  Transnistria, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia (both 2008), both announced their sovereignty soon after the collapse of Soviet Union, both soon engaged in warfare with Georgia shortly after (Abkhazia war and South Ossetia war) and controlled by Georgia after Georgia’s victory, and both gained de facto independence in 2008 with heavy military support from Russia. They are mutually recognized together with Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria. Besides, they are also recognized by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Nauru.

  • 1 totally unrecognized political entity in the Horn of Africa

The sad and lonely political regime that is totally forsaken by the global community (the other being Western Sahara and that was under de facto Moroccan control)  lies in the upper part of the Horn of Africa, it’s called Somaliland, self-proclaimed independence from the god-forsaken land Somalia after the initial stage of Somali civil war in 1991 (As Somaliland used to be Italian colony rather than British Africa). Interestingly, unlike its former ruling regime Somalia, which turns into a hell place of constant wars and killings and the latest haven of infamous Somali pirates as the forgotten zone/no-go land of human civilization, Somaliland has enjoyed quite nice relative political and social stability, albeit no one really gives a damn.

AND NOW, ONE MORE NEW KID CAME IN TOWN ON 9th July, 2011, what’s the name of that country again? South Sudan?!

Good for the South Sudanese (I guess this is the term, though it is not really a ethnic term), after being long repressed by the Sudanese (North Sudanese?), their arabized north brothers (only a very small of them probably have one or two real Arab paternal ancestor in the past thousand years anyway),  it’s time to start a new chapter for the sons and daughters of the ancient Nubians (or just some random tribes from the South). Interestingly, albeit its ambivalent and questionable excuses behind its independence (the endemic momentum for independence is from neither long-going ethnic disputes nor colonial divisions, but rather religious conflicts which are comparable to Nigerian situation in my opinion), South Sudan surely seems to enjoy more international applause than any other new born countries since Montenegro. Most of other countries act like simply can’t wait to greet the new nation with overwhelming “smile and rapture”.