Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The Slave Mentality

Every decent man of our time is and must be a coward and a slave. That is his normal condition. I am deeply convinced of it. He's made that way and arranged for it. And not in the present time owing to some chance circumstances, but generally in all times a decent man must be a coward and a slave. That is the natural law of all decent people on earth. If one of them does happen to get a bit of pluck in something, let him not be eased or pleased with that: he's still quail before something else.
Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground.

There have, as long as recorded history, been masters & slaves with varying degees between the two extremities; masters here in the sense of the ruling elites of the societies. It is in the interests of the masters that the slaves' lot not be too traumatic lest, like Spartacus they revolt, and also in the slaves' interests that they be content with their lot as the odds tend to be stacked radically against them if they ever do feel like risking a revolt; Spartacus not ending particularly well after all. And so it is natural that a slave philosophy to have subconsciously developed to justify to oneself the social order so as not to be forever reminded of one's abjectness before the masters of this order. Such a slave-mentality would broadly advocate an obsequious attitute to one's masters and in the absence of especial misery the rightness of the social order. Since slavery & mankind go back such a long way, this philosophy becomes like a computer programme hard-wired into the mind's mechanism, and such a mental hardwiring of the mind will not simply disappear overnight. Over long stretches of our history, the lot of the what we may broadly term the slave populations have improved though the same broad master-slave relationship is being enacted.

To the subject of the slave mentality in his purest form, the notion that he is a slave is an impossible one to comprehend since his very mind mechanism has come to be identical with this very slave mentality. The modern archetypal slave would have pious faith in the entire order of things as ordained by the political leaders of his state, and the economic leaders whose interests are represented by the political system. He believes essentially all that is told him by the truth revealing mechanisms of the rulers, ie the media, believing his opinion to be formed by his own objective analysis of objective facts, unaware that his gaze is merely being pointed in desired directions by the means of propaganda of the ruling masters.
The slave equates his own desires with those of the masters & we can see this in the form of patriotism, where the slaves achieve a personal satisfaction of their will to power through sublimation of their desires into the achievements of the State, and this identification of the individual ego with the projected national ego is an immense tool of manipulation for the masters of the social-political system.

In the pure form, because of the absolute alignment of the person with the slave mentality, a truth revealing attack on the social order of things is experienced as an attack on his personal being, and despite the power of the evidence presented to awaken him to reality, the structure of self which he believes himself to be acts as an impenetrable force-field exactly like in those sci-fi films where incoming misssiles are annihilated by this defence mechanism. This shield is doubly effective in that it actually tends to re-direct the attack back on the person trying to wake him up- this typically rendered where the messenger of the uncomfortable truth is mocked as a conspiracy theorist or madman, and the slave strucure left intact & even reinforced. As in the films, however, in all but the purest slaves this defence-shield can be weakened if enough outside force generated, or ideally from an enlightenment experience within where this hallucinated self vanishes of its own non-real accord.


elberry said...

are you sure the masters usually outnumber the slaves? Theodore Zeldin writes a chapter about slavery in his An Intimate History of Humanity, which is very good.

Andrew said...

I'm admittedly allowing myself a fair amount of looseness with the idea of the slave & master compared to the usual notion. I'm not referring to the masters of the system simply being a slave-owner, but the relative leaders of that system. So, an obvious example would be that the workers of the factories in the Industrial Revolution were basically slaves even if comparatively their free time was their own. And the masters being much more the factory owners than, say, a landlord owning a couple of houses.

Andrew said...

And to add, the masters of the modern world's economic/political systems are a tiny minority compared to the countless millions who work the systems of mass-production.

elberry said...

oh yes, i'm with you there - as a friend put it, slavery continued after it was abolished, they just gave it different names. In many ways slaves were freer back in the day, they had a certain dignity (sometimes), whereas the Victorian worker, or someone in a modern call centre, has very little freedom. One of my friends used to be a slave and i gather had much more freedom than a mill-worker would have had 100 years ago.

i have this strange feeling you use 'outnumber' to mean exactly the opposite of what i think it means...

Andrew said...

I see what you mean- I'll edit that opening sentence.
And just to explain the origin of this thinking in me head...Basically from matters such as that Controlled Demolition thread where, somewhat to my surprise, seemingly intelligent people will refuse to accept the most damning & obvious evidence if this means that certain implications are inevitable. Especially the collapse of WTC7 is clearly a controlled demo but because this means 911 was essentialy an inside-job as opposed to the bullshit peddled by the authorities & their propaganda machines, lots of people will do anything to avoid this, even if it means believing the most ludicrous nonsense imaginable. Though WTC7 just one particularly damning element amongst an endless other pieces of the puzzle.
So it took me a while to understand why this was so till the slave mentality idea/reality suggested itself. Also a line by Victor Pelevin about myths being shell programs for the mind to understand life, but this programming being in the very distant past was a very interesting pointer.

elberry said...

as Morpheus puts it: "you see, Neo, most of these people don't want to be freed from the Matrix."

it's a strange but undeniable fact that many intelligent people use their huge brains to lie to themselves very inventively. C.S. Lewis is a case in point, a very skilled propagandist whose Xian apologetics are out & out bullshit, but who still convinces Xians today, and convinced himself.