Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On Hierarchy

I have been much involved in commenting on other's sites in the last months, and it is among those comments that I find the seeds of a new train of thought. Very often, among the discussion of Progressive and Conservative viewpoints, many innocent bits and bytes are sacrificed on the front lines of Right vs Left, of Constrained vs Unconstrained, of Nature vs Nurture. Here, I offer another explanation.

It has been my observation that there are many in world who put a higher than average faith in hierarchy. In comments at 'A girl and her Gun' and additionally at Barron Barnett's 'The Minuteman' I put forth the following.

As a group, those people who are most prone to becoming gun-nuts are a collection of individualists. We interact with each other as equals, offering each other mutual support, exchanged between equals. This is evident in exchanges such as the frequent Blogmeets, Blogshoots, and similar events. These are organized not as top-down events, but in a style most similar to a summit, of sorts, between like minds. In most public forums I have been involved with, additional weight is given to skill, or to experience, or to eloquence, but it is not given to titles nor rank. In many ways, we operate as sovereign entities, exchanging stories and experience among each other. In this way we create a society of egalitarianism and freedom. Because we thrive on personal freedom and responsibility, we are not particularly prone to subjecting others to our will. We thrive on our ability to control our own actions, therefore the idea of depriving others of that same control is anathema. We don't understand it, we resist it it when we see it, and we do not accept that such behavior would apply to us. In accepting the control of our own actions as a consequence of our very existence, we recuse ourselves of a place in a social hierarchy. External attempts to assign us a place in that hierarchy are viewed as attacks on our sovereignty, and well they should, for that is their essence.

In contrast, there is another dominant viewpoint that is diametrically opposed to ours. Historically dominant and self-supporting, a rigid hierarchy has shaped our fundamental existence for the majority of written history. No matter the figurehead, from Caesar to CEO, the mechanism is similar. A single entity, the head of the hierarchy, sits as supreme ruler. Beneath that ruler are multiple layers of bureaucracy, each more numerous, but with less individual power than the one before. There is a certain type of person that accepts the hierarchy as a given. Indeed, there are a great plenty of people that accept the existence of such a natural hierarchy, to the point that it becomes an invisible structure. It is much akin to the old saw of a fish that cannot see the ocean. These people have an observed tendency to measure their power by the level at which they operate. While they may not perceive the whole of the hierarchical structure, they can certainly ascertain the number of people in their charge, as it were, and are no doubt aware of how far they have to rise. When your position in the hierarchy is assured by the number of vassals at your command, it is hardly surprising that, in order to better one's position, it is most easily accomplished by subjugating others to your will. Indeed, were anyone to contest one's position by denying them the honor due to them, it may well be considered an attack on their position! Therefore, the actions of those persons not interested in gaming the hierarchy are a credible threat to their worldview.

In the light of this observation, it can be construed that we are in a class struggle between in-system and non-system ideals. We encourage others to think and act for themselves, which decreases the influence of in-system players. They strive to better their position, by arraying others as under their influence and applying social control over others, including ourselves, which decreases our own, non-system, numbers.

The biggest difference, as I see it, is that we value the individual, and they value the whole. We win, at present, because it is much nicer and more fulfilling to be an individual, and we have the means to show people that fact. Lets face it, there is no 'new vassal' grin as infectious as the 'New Shooter' grin!

No comments:

Post a Comment