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Sunday, 2017-10-22, 10:00 AM
The Idiotic Society
The Idiotic Society
Freud postulated that the personality consists of three components: the Id, the Ego and the Superego. The Id desires immediate gratification of primitive, pleasure-seeking impulses. It is purely instinctual and pursues the Pleasure Principle i.e. it seeks at all times to avoid pain and embrace pleasure regardless of external considerations.
The Superego is concerned with learned, non-instinctual behaviour. This is the part of the personality affected by the teachings of parents and society. It's the part of us that develops, via education, into our "conscience" - our internal moral compass.
The Ego mediates between the Superego and the Id, and tries to stop us being paralysed by over-zealous morality or overpowered by unbridled passion.
Capitalism has eroded the influence of the Superego since the quickest way to make money is to target people's basic instincts: their Id natures. This has undermined the Ego, leaving the Id utterly dominant. Drugs, alcohol, porn, advertising, Hollywood movies, junk TV and tabloid journalism - all the mainstays of our society - accentuate Id impulses.
Civilisation, culture, the ability of humans to live in harmony are dependent on the Superego. Schools and universities are the chief institutions that uphold Superego values. In the past, the Church played a critical role, but religion has become increasingly marginalized. So, the burden of protecting civilisation has passed to our education system. To cope with the loss of religious belief it should have been transformed into an all-encompassing system for providing us with Superego values. Intellectualism should have replaced religion. Instead, religion was replaced by capitalist commercialism. Our education system has become a dancing puppet, being pulled hither and thither by monetary factors. Intelligence employs a currency of ideas, not pounds sterling. To make money the controlling influence of the education system simply distorts and diminishes intelligence.
A Superego government would make our education system the standard bearer of the country, the yardstick by which our nation is judged. Nobel prize winners, professors, lecturers, schoolteachers, writers, artists, poets, would be the most highly esteemed members of society. Libraries, book shops, artgalleries, theatres, National Trust sites would be the most popular public venues. People would be idealists rather than consumerists. All the talk would be of philosophy, politics, art, science, literature. The nation would be buzzing with ideas, brimming over with creative excitement.
But what of an Id government? Such a government would be hostile to all Superego values. It would encourage people to buy fast cars, swimming pools, jacuzzis, gold watches, yachts, plasma TVs, and every other type of consumerist junk i.e. things that have instant appeal to the Id but are valueless in Superego terms. It would promote selfishness rather than community. It would promote a credit economy: "I want X and I want it now, even if I can't afford it - I would rather go into debt than go without." It would be motivated by greed, vanity, lust, jingoism and megalomania. Its most favoured newspapers would be full of sex, gossip, scandal, prurience, bingo, crime, astrology, sport, money and property, the cult of beauty and youth, the sanctification of celebrities. Its favoured TV programmes would be simplistic, puerile, emotionally addictive, and devoid of intellectual and cultural content. It would despise, and try to suppress, any programmes that challenged it, that attempted to raise a Superego discussion of important topics.
In a society ruled by an Id government, pubs, clubs, discos, sports stadia, racecourses, entertainment multiplexes and the like would take centre stage.The most celebrated people would be pop stars, TV and film stars, royalty, sportsmen, millionaires, "beautiful" people.
The western world is ruled today by overwhelmingly Id (iotic) governments, and we're being choked to death by their Id policies. We're being enveloped by barbarism and, in the same way that Id Vikings mercilessly butchered Superego monks in the Dark Ages, so are the current upholders of Superego values being devoured by the new forces of Id darkness. Nothing is more harmful to the Superego than capitalism: the Id turned into an economic theory.
Arguably, the Church pulled humankind out of the swamp of the Dark Ages. Now that God is dead, should we be sending a large wreath to his graveside to express our condolences? We need a Second Coming of Superego values, but this time through science, art and philosophy rather than religion. Where's the Messiah when you most need him?