Storming the Bastille? Or a Fascist Coup?
On Oversocialization and "Truth"
I had not planned this post but alas, the events of yesterday made this unavoidable. I will keep this short. Piece on Blue Empire and socialization tomorrow. Socialization series intro here.
Nobody really knows what happened yesterday. All we have are narratives. This isn’t new.
Inside of our heads, we assimilate (or reject) information into our mental model of the world. Each one of us does this. We construct a mental map of how the World truly is, and we then judge further experiences based on that mental map.
The map is obviously a distortion, but we can’t directly conceptualize the territory. We can only conceptualize the territory, the World, through a map. Our respective personal biases mean my map is not the same as your map, etc.
One might say that our map of the World interfaces with our map of moral space. We understand the world through narrative, motivation, values, and norms. But it would be unfair to say that our map of moral space is “superimposed” onto our map of the World. They are an irreducible union.
“To know who I am is to know where I stand. My identity is defined by the commitments and identifications which provide the frame or horizon within which I can try to determine from case to case what is good, or valuable, or what ought to be done, or what I endorse or oppose.”
(Taylor, Sources of the Self)
And so, I already have my Truth before I encounter a new event. I may not be consciously aware of this, but there is information that can be assimilated and information that must be rejected. If I fail to properly curate my experience to fit my preexisting map, I will fall into existential crisis.
Perhaps falling into existential crisis is a good thing. Many of us have experienced this at least once. Perhaps we are experiencing one right now. They can help us grow, shed our previous boundaries, and explore entire new vantages.
But these experiences are not called “crises” for no reason. They are painful, even traumatic. To have your map proven demonstrably wrong is to lose one’s bearings in the world. Where do you go? What do you do? Who do you trust? Your map is useless. You are Lost.
And so we see the psychological appeal of having a trusted source of information beyond our immediate senses. How can one possibly function without this? Could one only trust what one’s experiences have shown them? That no scientific study at all can be trusted until you have performed the study yourself? Nothing beyond that which you can confirm with your 5 senses can be verifiable? Is this even psychologically tenable?
The oversocialized, with their moral map determined by elevating the internalized goods of the socialization process to be their highest goods (or perhaps having no other goods at all on their map), are the least capable of changing their map of the World. For these two maps are irreducible in the psyche of a human. We can discuss them as distinct entities, but we experience them together.
Perhaps this is the greatest danger of oversocialization. That one forgets to look around. There is no imagination or creativity. How can there be when my entire concept of the World, or reality in its totality, is defined by the dominant institutions of the day? How can I possibly escape to uncharted territory if I’m not even aware the uncharted territory exists, or when I reject the existence of the territory for fear of an existential crisis?
What we see today is a crystallization of culture. A “hollowing out”. We are a spiritually exhausted society. Yes, the cogs still move and the Line still goes up, but there is no Spirit any longer. Nothing to give us awe. No collective frontier to strive for. Just disaffected men in a disenchanted wasteland.