Discover more from Panocracy
The Tribal Institution
“Since the mathematicians have invaded the theory of relativity, I do not understand it myself any more.” - Albert Einstein (Quoted in P A Schilpp, Albert Einstein, Philosopher-Scientist, Evanston 1949).
Even in science, a body of knowledge can be infiltrated by a different tribe. Of course, Einstein himself was finally persuaded to a mathematical description of his General Theory of Relativity. He joined the tribe of mathematicians.
Bourbakiis not a name I expect you've heard before but it is the name of a tribe of French mathematicians. I say tribe because it has many of the features of a traditional tribe. In the case of Bourbaki (named for a 19th century French general) the tribal fetish is rigorous mathematics. In fact Bourbaki is the most prominent example of what I like to call 'mathismo'. Its publications are as pure (and incomprehensibly axiomatic) as they can make them. No wonder Einstein was intimidated.
For those of you who are new to this substack series, the basics of the panocracy we're describing here are outlined in the earliest articles 1 to 5 which I encourage you to read. Subsequent posts focus more on clarification and griping.
There's an index at panocracy.net
In traditional tribes, societal practices like religion and politics, are typically incorporated into the activities of everyday life. (The same is essentially true in modern tribal life with lunchtime Pilates classes and an obsession with catching the latest news).
In a tribe authority is conferred upon specific individuals on the basis of personal and social connections, special skill, or rarely, the ability to lead.
Our tribes – our social, cultural and political institutions and agencies were created or evolved with noble intentions. The US Constitution for example was drafted by men of the highest integrity. Clever men, who foresaw many of the problems their putative republic would face, and made specific provisions for them. Their paradigm was representative democracy – as an antidote to what they perceived to be absolute monarchy - and it served their republic well for two centuries or so until it too succumbed to the degeneration that seems to come to afflict all grand tribal projects.
On a smaller scale, many institutions and agencies have been created to serve and mollify hoi polloi: Public utilities; metalled roads and highways; free health care; free comprehensive education; guardians of their nation's tribal relics; public broadcasters, ...
In all groups of people a sense of group identity – a brand or a mantra – is consciously created or develops naturally. When it's mature, much of the effort of the group is spent defending the mantra rather than carrying out the group's manifest function. So the tribal – sorry, institutional – rulers come to be mainly the champions of their institution's unique selling point (USP). If your USP happens to be the sole route to stop the earth from frying, or to eliminate disease, or to obtain eternal life - then many will eventually sign up, persuaded by rhetoric rather than reason.
The offer you make needn't be supported by evidence or even be rational but you've got to keep making it so that a critical mass of the uncritical will accept it. Net Zero really will save the planet (by 2040!)
Now the world is the proud owner of a huge surfeit of unevidenced and indefensible claims made by salvationist cults. Whether it's Net Zero, Zero Covid, Zero Poverty, Zero Tolerance, … . (You may notice that the word zero appears a lot).
Perfection is a characteristic of a religious ideology.
Like forever wars, ‘zero’ is really there to ensure that blood and treasure are continuously spent in pursuit of unattainable goals in order to perpetuate the tribes behind them.
And because the goals are unreachable, the tribes come to play politics and to spend their time deflecting rational criticism, eventually by nefarious means - like cancellation or obfuscation.
The National Trust in the UK is a public body that's “incorporated for the purposes of promoting the permanent preservation for the benefit of the nation of lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest and as regards lands for the preservation (so far as practicable) of their natural aspect features and animal and plant life”
No mention of rewriting history in any of that. And yet the National Trust recently commissioned a study into links between its properties and slavery. National Trust volunteers were apparently also told they'd have to undergo ‘unconscious-bias training’.
The underlying message is that even the most conservative institutions have felt the need to politicise their activities to 'stay in the game'.
“In good King Charles's golden days,
When loyalty no harm meant,
A zealous high-churchman was I,
And so I got preferment.
To teach my flock I never missed:
Kings were by God appointed,
And lost are those who dare resist
Or touch the Lord's anointed.
The illustrious house of Hanover,
And Protestant succession,
To these I do allegiance swear,
While they can keep possession:
For in my faith and loyalty,
I never more will falter;
And George my lawful king shall be
Until the times do alter
And this is the law that I'll maintain
Until my dying day, sir.
That whatsoever king shall reign,
Still I'll be the Vicar of Bray, sir.” - The Vicar of Bray, Anon.
Prescient, indeed, in so many ways.
What the above story tells us is that tribes have a burning desire to feel safe and secure, just like the individuals who lead them.
Tribal insecurity is sometimes allayed by alliances with a larger tribe. Just as warring Kings used to marry their sons and daughters, the National Trust has perceived the Woke agenda as being significant and has been persuaded to believe that being outside it would pose a threat. It’s a marriage of convenience.
Even though an analysis of the National Trust's demographic – politically and culturally conservative - would almost certainly show far more negatives than positives, the leaders of the National Trust tribe decided to pursue the Woke agenda. Such is their level of insecurity in these times.
It is this insecurity that I believe is the root of many of our institutional problems. They are, after all, led by individuals. When insecurity increases in a society, so does that of the institutions that serve it. It really would be better if it were the other way round.
The Safe Bet
How can we make the institutions and agencies in our panocracy and their leaders feel safe and secure in their own futures so that they don't feel the need to act ultra vires and waste their time and money?
Firstly, in panocracy we have removed the control of political cabals. A panocratic institution is not subject to the whim of every new political administration because the administration is the entire population. As we saw in the recent thing, people will go along with what they think is non-confrontational (allowing themselves to be locked up, wearing face coverings, taking an unproven medicinal compound), but they almost all revert to their core beliefs and behaviour when the possibility of confrontation and social exclusion is reduced.
Secondly, they have no political mandate whatsoever – indeed their mandate includes the prohibition of acting in a political, religious or ideological way. The institutional or agency chiefs are bound by the rules laid down for them by the biggest tribe – the entire population. That tribe changes its mind but only very slowly.
Thirdly, the openness of their activities means that illegal or questionable behaviour by one or more individuals can be nipped in the bud.
I should add my apologies for the late publication of this. It’s amazing how much time you can spend getting the formatting of a single paragraph the way you want it!