In societies, in which people are increasingly distancing themselves from the lower tiers of the needs according to Maslow, we can observe that people increasingly move questions about their personality and themselves as beings into the focus of their cognitive world. Surely, material wants are still dominant factors, but thoughts about identity and self-perception become more important the lesser we need to take care of access to and quality of water, food and shelter. Another aspect, of course, is security, which is not given in many parts of the world. When well-equipped with all of the above, we tend to direct our attention to our passions, world views and our position within society. In simplistic terms, it could be argued that people try to make use of the time that they have won by not needing to search for water, food, shelter and security. With the unusually extensive period of domestic peace in white industrial nations, already a couple of generations grew up without experiencing war atrocities, famine or other prolonged humanitarian disasters – at least not within their territorial borders. As an amplifying effect, the rapid expansion of the internet did not only enable these generations to access valuable cultural information, but also provided a platform for all to share their information with the world, fostering an exchange that led to an ongoing reproduction of cultural norms, values and habits. Today, we see all sorts of movements, streams of thought and the respective people around whom these ideological camps are centred. It seems like ideology became decentralised – a democratic dream. But how much of that is organic and how much of it is guided?
A Sweet Dream
Obviously, the final question of the past paragraph is highly suggestive and hints to a provocative approach to the socio-cultural developments of our time. Without delaying the revelation of the premise of this work, it can be said that next to seemingly uncritical aspects of social life, such as music and fashion, the individualistic idea is purposely supported by politics through public diplomacy. The reason for this has an economic, but also a power political dimension to it. Economically, guiding masses into a more individualistic lifestyle heavily increases spending habits, as people strongly utilise material things to express their way of living. This can be applied to the consumption of music and fashion, as mentioned earlier, but also to expensive hobbies, traveling to exotic places or visiting certain restaurants, bars and other public places. A biker strongly expresses his lifestyle through wearing a leather jacket and going to certain pubs, while basketball fanatics most certainly will have a weakness for expensive sneakers. As people start to need less, politics, if done wrongly, is turning their attention to guide people’s wants. Thus, the goal becomes to establish a societal landscape that keeps people busy with themselves. However, unguided development is a liability for any state. Just as unguided education of a child would significantly reduce the chances of a development into the desired direction and just as a company would likely not develop into the desired direction, if left unsupervised, societies will most certainly not move into the direction that aligns with the leadership’s interests. This can be for the better or the worse. People, thus, should be individualistic, but not original. Through medial agenda-setting the options remain limited and the individualistic cultural conduct preserves its heavy consumption-oriented connotation, while people are left to belief that these are essential parts of expressing immaterial norms and values.
From the power political perspective, the matter reaches far deeper than just fostering economic expansion. As mentioned earlier, this heavy emphasis on promoting individualism is mainly confined to the white nations. Other industrial nations, like Brazil and Korea definitely show signs of moving into the direction of more individualism, but are still rather collectivistic. Clear examples of developed collectivistic nations are Japan, Singapore and Russia. Now, with a very similar set of core values, beliefs and habits, neither do the white nations consider each other as economic nor as political rivals. It does not follow that they do not have any differences, but in general there is a common sense around many aspects. Much of the success of those white nations is rooted in this common understanding of basic things on this planet, which enables effective cooperation – even in times, when Europe was riddled by many wars. With the establishment of the internet, cultures, world views, philosophies, scientific advances and even whole societies started exchanging information on a large scale. This started to endanger territorial boundaries, which shielded the zone of effective cooperative growth of the white nations from the competitors for a long time. For example, much of Europe’s power in the Middle Ages came from excluding the Russian and Ottoman Empires from economic conduct, while the European Great Powers were actively trading among themselves – even during times of war. As the internet decentralised the exchange between the white and non-white worlds, the mechanisms of separation needed to be more sophisticated. What if people, by themselves and out of free will, behaved fundamentally different from the rest of the world? And what if this different behaviour was centred around the notion of freedom and self-determination? And what if this became a universal moral standard? A perpetuum mobile of socio-cultural divide is created that strengthens the white world’s power political position vis-à-vis the rest of the world. Simply genius.
The Technical Aspect
It is astonishing how little value how little weight logically connected observations carry, when not paired with empirical data that adhere to standards of inference that are grounded in a Western scientific culture. Yet, are the teachings of Plato, Epictetus, Aristotle, Seneca, Smith, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau and many other great minds universally accepted as scientific foundations, though not being more than mere observations and logical connections to normative ideals. Nonetheless, the above-mentioned observations should not be left unsupported.
When it comes to the aspect of the economic agenda of promoting individualism, there are a few things to consider here. First of all, the idea of equality within the economic system is strongly promoted, even though more often than not this does not nearly reflect a portion of the reality. The ideas centre around thoughts that “everything” is possible with hard work. This creates a feeling of a linear causality that is achieved through individual action. There is no notion of “together with a strong network you can reach any position you desire to be in” in the Western world. No, it is: “If YOU work hard, YOU can achieve anything”. But is that so? A look around the truly powerful people shows that friendships, family ties and dependencies exist among them, often reaching back to their early childhood days. Among those who worked hard and came up with groundbreaking innovations, only those that align with political interests came through. What about someone who invents a more effective politic or economic system? What about those who invented clean transportation and energy production options decades ago? The individualism is highly limited to our existing boundaries and upheld by strategic agenda-setting. Accordingly, motivational speakers tell you endless ways to become rich through business and encourage you to start you business and work harder than the next one to afford a materially burdening lifestyle. Live your dream. Even quitting tertiary education to pursue a business idea has become a plausible route for many people who then also believe in having achieved a certain degree of individuality. Media elites purposely direct the attention to people who embody the liberal ideal of individualism, people who express themselves through their clothes and lifestyles that lay far away from genuine knowledge production. It does not mean that critics of the system are muted, but even they are selectively highlighted to evoke the feeling of a decentralised media landscape. Genuine knowledge production does not find its way into the spotlight. Imagine the Catholic Church would have allowed Galileo Galilei to publish his ideas, but created an atmosphere around those thoughts by just commenting it with: “oh, interesting”. This is what happens to truly original people in this society, while all the attention is directed to the many versions of the same person.
Politically, the whole thing becomes awkwardly dangerous. From the above, we can understand that there is a mass of people who believe that they are somebody special, because they are able to chose how they want to live from a predefined set of available lifestyle options. This is rounded up with a certain set of available ideological options. To be precise, there are two main streams of ideological orientation left in white nations. They centre around the concept of liberalism and conservatism, but in reality they only moderately differ in some aspects. On the liberal side, people believe in strictly enforced individualism on the basis of a broad common understanding of societal norms. People, under this school of thought, are viewed as individual entities that should be under little to no influence of others. Accordingly, many ways of living are tolerated under this view, while restrictive lifestyles (including collectivist lifestyles) are often punished with social exclusion. On the conservative side, norms and values are defined more clearly and social exclusion is voiced openly. As an example, liberals would tolerate a homosexual person and socially exclude a person who does not have a fully favourable view of homosexuals without proclaim the act of exclusion. Conservatives would predefine that they categorically socially exclude homosexuals. Although the schools would have often different stances on questions related to nationalism, stronger racism and sexual orientation, they would both tend towards socially excluding people from strongly collectivist societies, such as Muslim or Black societies.
Now, although white conservatives and white liberals would disagree, they are closer together than they would like to be. A great example is the North American foreign policy of the last century. In the two-party system, which is divided along the lines of the aforementioned ideological streams, the foreign policy did not display significant changes when power changed from one party to the other. Even the bilateral relations between Canada and the United States of America, while both being considered to be ideological opposites in terms of liberalism and conservatism, do not show any significant differences during times of supposedly closer and farther alignment of ideologies in their respective leadership. What repeatedly happened, however, was that the white nations brought about major shifts in ideological direction at crucial times in history. For a long time, the setting of the Cold War enabled the white nations to create a divide between capitalism and communism to set itself apart from the rest of the world; hence, we still say first, second and third world country. Certainly, the white world tried to gain followers in their cause, but after the Cold War things took a dramatic turn. For decades, the white world tried to pull the Muslim world towards the capitalist camp. Major funding campaigns were launched. While during the Afghan-Russo war the North Americans delivered school books to the Afghans, in which they openly connected core Muslim ideals with violent uprising against atheists, after the Cold War the foreign policy in the Muslim world by the North Americans was centred around the move away from religion, ending in institution-building in favour of liberal democratic change that turned into what we today call the Arab Spring. In other words, the white world always tries to pull foreign nations into their ideological direction, but when they come too close, they turn around and find a new route.
Today, the states are not doing this too much, but leave it to their citizens. With the guidance of the media – especially on the internet – the agenda-setting powers are directed towards promoting a world view that does not move beyond the individualistic Western setting of the liberal-conservative divide. As such, the society develops into one of people who believe that they are original in their ideas and ideological beliefs, which creates a perceived moral superiority. Although this white society is not homogenous in their thoughts, the rifts between the liberal and conservative camps are not severe enough to cause an outright divide in the society – a sensitive balance. However, the ideological discrepancy towards other societies is big enough to maintain a socio-cultural wall that shields the white world from merging with other cultures. Rather other cultures adapt to the white culture. All this is based on the actions of people who believe that they are free in their actions and their thoughts. They are defending this sensitive balance. Imagine a fish in a river who thinks that it has endless possibilities of movement and it chose the best possible path.