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ShaPolPar: A Brief History of Politics

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This is the first in a series of articles under the rubric of Shattering The Political Paradigm (ShaPolPar).

A paradigm is a model or blueprint used for construction. The political paradigm is the model used for ordering social life in what we call civilization. The political paradigm allows for variations in construction, as history demonstrates, but history also reveals this paradigm as invariably hierarchical.

Politics is and always has been the activity of people consolidating power over other people in the form of an established hierarchy. The direct antecedent to all established politics is warfare. From the earliest known history to the present day there is not a single example of politics that did not arise out of warfare resulting in the establishment of hierarchical power.

Politics is not simply about the creation and maintenance of order. It is about the creation and maintenance of order through hierarchical power. And hierarchical power means some people have more power and rights than others. And those with more power and rights always presumably have the sanction of reality itself. I don't just mean that their power is real; I mean once the power is established it is always given a justification that is a mythological description of reality itself. We have power because reality is on our side.

The origin of hierarchical political structure lies in the belief that reality itself necessarily has a hierarchical structure. This belief emerges early as the idea of the Divine Right of Kings and Priests. The earliest civilizations we know of are already completely under the control of this view of reality. The gods and goddesses rule the universe and they select certain humans to rule over the rest of humans. These selected humans represent the rule of the divine in the world. So to question this rule of kings and priests is the most heinous of all taboo violations. This results in the fact that even those who occupy the slave levels of the hierarchy tend to defend the hierarchy because even slave life is preferable to facing the unspeakable mystery and terror of the wrath of the divine.

Where did this prevalent belief come from?

We know that all primitive people and all early civilizations have an intense belief in the immediate involvement of the Divine in their life. And part of that belief is that the Divine is above and it rules. And you appease it or you pay in the extreme. The specific roots of this reality are revealed in the etymological history of the now generalized word hierarchy:

The Greek root arkh means 'rule'. The first person verb declension arkho literally means 'I rule.' The root hier means 'sacred'. A hierarch is a 'sacred ruler' - a priest or king or queen. The sacred priest/king/queen, looking down and around, says, "Arkho!" The sacred priest/king/queen claims that his/her right to rule is divinely given, it is 'sacred'. The priest/king/queen's rule is a reflection of divine rule, the rule of God. In medieval Europe, the Latin form of the word hierarchy referred primarily to the graded order of angels that stood between God and humanity. At the absolute top of the hierarchy is God with His angels rising in progressive order (culminating in the arch angels) as intermediaries who stand above the human priest/king/queen whose sacred earthly rule is sanctioned ultimately by God and is protected by the hierarchical order of angels.

Again, all of this arises from the human conviction that reality itself has an immutable hierarchical nature. Even with the great historical diminishment of the power of the Church and the practical elimination of Royalty this belief in a reality-superstructure of hierarchical ordering has remained intact in humanity to the present day. It is taken for granted that all 'democratic' societies must actually have a non-democratic hierarchical order of rule. This hierarchical order is protected by the political system itself even when the system is termed 'democratic'. In reality the order is hierarchical with a mere window-dressing of democracy. The manikins pose for 'democracy' and the real people live in the hierarchical order that protects them from the dragon of dreaded chaos (non-hierarchy) that lives in the dark forest outside of 'civilization'.

Let's go into this question of where this view reality comes from more deeply.

I would say that there are two primary sources of this view: The first, which I have already referred to, is the belief in a supernatural domain of gods and goddesses and other types of beings; the second is the fact of human awareness of human desires and needs. I will probe this second source further:

Humans naturally want their desires and needs gratified. The desires are anything a human might want as part of its existence and the needs are anything that is actually required for this existence to continue.

Humans find two primary obstacles to the gratification of desires and needs: Other people and mortality. All humans have an initial infantile desire for all of its desires, as well as its needs, to be gratified. Before the human discovers that it is mortal, it discovers that there are other people whose desires can conflict with its own. This discovery becomes a burning question of how to approach this challenging problem. The possibility of having to forestall or even forego gratification of desire is extremely disagreeable because it means one has to re-adapt to reality. This is painful because it means one's immediate sense of the absolute validity of one's own identity is thrown into doubt. Who dares to question the absolute validity of ME? One discovers that there is a mysterious sort of gap between oneself and larger reality and this includes the gap between oneself and other people. Harmony does not reign. There are others who have their own agenda in which I have a low rank if any at all. And I don't like it. Someone is trying to get power over me, so I must get power over them first. Thus begins the desire for controlling others.

This is prevalent immature human fact. And it rarely ends with infancy and childhood. It remains a central part of human attitude and behavior that is covered-up by the adoption of certain cultural norms under the heading of 'becoming an adult'. There are hordes of people who pass and function as adults who are extremely self-centered and driven by the desire to control other people. There are so many, in fact, that they are 'normal'. Then 'civilized' life becomes a game of how do I get other people to do what I want them to do? Anyone who doubts this need only reflect on the life of any capitalist owner or CEO - or any politician.

Civilization is demonstrably very puerile. I don't know how anyone could rationally deny this looking at the civilized world today.

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