My last ten blogs or so have one focus: can a psychoanalyst contribute to understanding the deep structure of The Krugman Problem?
“The modern American Right seems to have abandoned the idea that there is an objective reality out there.”
After I finish presenting the relevant blogs, including this one, I’ll gather them together and link them to the the deep structure.
Consider tribalism. 200 nations have joined the Olympics. Some countries send one or two athletes, some hundreds. All share one emotion: the thrill of parochialism. “My country!”
Or consider the Super Bowl. “My city!” Or March Madness. “My school!”
Every group across the globe, whether in sports or the arcane esoterica of Nobel prizes, competes fiercely. The sublime
invention of the Olympics sublimated the madness of “Winners Take All, Losers Lose Everything” to “We learned a lot. We’ll get ’em next time.” Charles Sanders Peirce called this a shift from Secondness – gladiatorial mano-a-mano – to Thirdness, “Let the games begin!”
When there’s a behavior universally shared by every race, by every human group, it evolved through natural selection. It offered the fittest adaptation for survival under the conditions at the time of its selection. As hunter-gatherers, we were “fanatic” defenders of our territory. How do we know? Jared Diamond reports a thousand languages are spoken in New Guinea. “They show what the world used to be like, each isolated tribe having its own language.” He also reports, “Isolated tribes were able to live out social experiments that others would find utterly unacceptable” Tribes in adjoining valleys, next-door neighbors for uncounted millenia, spoke their own language, not an etymological hint of any contact with “those dangerous foreigners over the hill.” The over-riding issue for survival was the limited carrying capacity of a tribe’s territory. We know the physics hasn’t changed.
Today we’re sports FAN-atics. How is it that a team of millionairs, not one athlete from the area, half the squad newly purchased, loses a World Series or a Super Bowl and sends millions into the “agony of defeat?” Our behavior today provides us a window on history, as reliable as any document, long before there were any documents to do so.
We don’t know when we transitioned to top banana among the hominids. For example, at Chauvet, evidence presented in this week’s issue of Science is that around 40,000 years ago, Homo sapiens sapiens drove the Neandertals living there to extinction. The cave paintings go back 32,000 years, at most, 35,000. That’s 50 centuries! obviously creations by our direct ancestors, so plenty of time to finish the Neandertal genocide and develop paleolithic art.
What do we kmow beyond doubt? We always lived in groups. We didn’t have speed, canines, camouflage, Paul Bunyan size.
We know beyond doubt that we lived in SMALL groups, numbering no more than 500 members, probably half that many. Without agriculture and animal husbandry, wholly dependent on indifferent Nature, walking the only means of transportation, every group had to “Follow the energy.”
We know beyond doubt that no individual emerged until the middle Holocene. And we know that Paleolithic art was remarkably the same the world over through thousands of years. Beyond a doubt, cave paintings were not the vision of a Michaelangelo, an individual with a name. Only when agriculture and animal husbandry boosted Energy, ultimately by several magnitudes, could the individual begin the 10,000 year journey to his/her glorious emancipation,
“I celebrate myself.”