The Disadvantages of Being Superhuman

The advantages are obvious, and emphasized for us all the time – you will become more valuable for the corporations, or other organizations. You can easily get a job.

This opens up a whole new subject – the advantages and disadvantages of having jobs. But I will not go into that. I will stay with the subject I have chosen – the disadvantages of being superhuman. Which are considerable.

First, what do I mean by being superhuman? A short historical overview is in order. Going back to the 18th Century, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution – and the invention of the mechanical machine.

The machine itself is nothing new – a machine build the pyramids, that we still admire today. But this was a machine made of people – each doing its own part in the process.  Much later, in our time – we still speak of political machines, also composed entirely of people.

But the mechanical machine was something different – it was composed of mechanical parts, made of steel, that all worked together. You can still see one of these in a Steam Museum, just outside London – it has a huge walking beam, a hundred feet long, that once pumped water for the City of London. You can look at this – and feel its power.

People back then were no different – they could feel its power – and easily see how to use this power for themselves. They became superhuman. With unlimited supplies of coal (and then oil) behind them.

This took some time – because Agriculture had been the basis for the economy, and it tried to stay in control. In America, this was exemplified by Thomas Jefferson, and his party – who fought Industrialization with all their strength. Unsuccessfully.

By the middle of the century, a Railroad lawyer, Abraham Lincoln – was president. In the Civil War, when he was President, the Industrial North triumphed over the Agrarian South. The Industrial Machine (imperfect as it was) had more power than thousands of Black slaves.

Industrialists, and the people like them – became superhuman! And triumphed over the humans.

The disadvantages of the arrangement soon became apparent – in WWI, the Depression, WWII, and the Holocaust.

I was born into this, in 1936, and became an Electronic Engineer. And helped usher in a new era with Television and the Computer – and their Networks.

Now I am faced with a problem – do want to become part of this latest machine (and the Computer is a machine) – by becoming involved in Software Development? I worked in this industry from 1980 to 2000 – and for me, it was a horrible experience. Do I want to get in bed with these guys again?

Maybe – but I will be very careful whose bed I get into, and who my bedmates are. This will not be too hard – all I have to do is feel if they are good for me.

This will eliminate most paths through this minefield.

How Dishonesty can Wreck the World

People can look around them, and say “Things can’t be that bad, because everything is still working!”

They may still be working in a superficial sense – but in a deeper, more fundamental sense – they are not.

I will illustrate this with an simple example – a marriage. Involving only two people, and their offspring. When one partner cheats on another, the marriage breaks down. This cheating can happen in a number of ways – not just sexual. Whenever one partner takes advantage of the other – without their consent.

On a larger scale, whole classes of society are involved. With some classes exploiting others. This can last for awhile, but the seeds of its own destruction are built into it. This is what causes empires to rise and fall. Eventually the exploited realize their situation – and they rebel. This is what caused the USA.

We are now involved in a much larger class conflict – that can be characterized as the system against the people. This is a very complex situation – that pits many systems against many people. But the overall result is the same – the present situation cannot last!

America’s New ‘Anxiety’ Disorder

NY Times Magazine

An excellent description of our situation now. I would only expand on it by noting that many people are not anxious themselves – but are busy helping themselves, by making things worse. And these people are important people, at all levels of the organizational hierarchy.

This is the ultimate bad situation (Armageddon, in religious terms) – and it has happened already!

The Chosen People

I got this idea from reading The Open Society and Its Enemies on page 8.

The theory of the Chosen People assumes that God has chosen one people to function as the selected instrument of His will, and that this people will inherit the earth.

The little church that my family belonged to, the RLDS church – believed they were these Chosen People. I used to hear the Elders of the church say, with complete confidence “Zion is coming!’ And they meant coming soon – in their children’s lifetime, at the latest.

This is what the early Christians believed – they were all going to join Christ, in heaven! In the RLDS case – it was heaven on earth.

But didn’t happen. And the church membership since then, has developed a number of approaches to help them cope with this.

The Conscious Self

I am dealing with a fairly abstract subject here – and what I am saying should not be taken as the gospel truth, but the thoughts of one person – who has messed up much of his own life.

I can’t help but notice that people’s conscious attitudes are often overridden by their unconscious motivations – that are often less than desirable. This has been known for thousands of years – but has been carefully overlooked in our time.

Our own time – what a strange time it is! We have to start from our situation, in our time – and acknowledge our own deficiencies. But for the most part – we do not! And we have to start from there – with our refusal to see what we are doing, and what we are like.

Americans will say they are not so bad off – and economically they are right. They can still go to their supermarket (like I did yesterday) and buy almost anything they want. But ethically (and mentally) – they are in bad shape!

The link between ethics and sanity is a close one. If people cannot think right, they cannot act right. This is so obvious, it hardly needs to be said. But more can be said anyway:

When people grow up in a world, whose basic institutions (such as the family) are defective – they become defective themselves – and they create a defective society.

If You can Control the Computer – You can Also Control People

It is beginning to dawn on me – that this strange idea may be occurring in people’s minds. Now that the Computer has taken over the Economy, and, I fear – people’s minds also. To put this another way – people now think of themselves as computers – and assume that whatever controls them controls people also. Not may control them – but something much stronger – will control them. This plays into the hands of the Psychopaths that run much of the economy.

The milder proposition, that the computer (or any technology, for that matter) will affect people’s behavior – is certainly true. And the many inventions in the last couple of hundred years – have stressed people severely – sometimes too severely.

People know practically nothing about computers – and seem to think computer programming is some kind of magic. And indeed, some programmers encourage this misconception. But the slightest exposure to computer programming should make this clear. A program is just a series of instructions – do this, and then do this …

There some high-level programing tools – I must confess, that do seem like magic, because they do so much. You do a little of this, and a little of that – and you have a Web site, or whatever! Social sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, encourage this. You can easily become superhuman – without understanding what you are doing, in the least.

As any expert programmer can tell you – this is foolish, but all too common. Startups hype their product or service to the high skies – and sometimes people cannot tell the difference. And huge amounts of money change hands.

There is a middle way – I am using NetBeans and Java to do some fairly fancy stuff. I can recommend this sensible approach.

What Kind of Person, Has to Have More Power?

This kind of person will automatically rise in an organization – because there is more power at the top. But he may be satisfied with serving the organization, to the expense of those outside of it – confident that he will be well-rewarded for his efforts.

The person who comes to my mind, from my hometown of Ft. Madison, Iowa – was regarded as a company man in the Santa Fe Railroad – in stark contrast to my my father’s father, who was a union man. In the Railroad Strike of 1922, the railroads reduced the pay of their union employees – in a deliberate attempt to break the unions – and they succeeded. This person was regarded as an evil man by my father’s family – and they never forgave him.

This was strictly a power play – of the Company against everyone else. And it set the pattern that followed – the Corporation (any kind of corporation) became all-powerful. In Ft. Madison, this included the Sheaffer Pen Company. Today, both companies are no longer. And Ft. Madison barely exists.

This man had a son, who was my age, we grew up together, in Ft. Madison. He never went to college – but he took after his father, and became successful in the Pentagon. He became richer that his father ever had. As a person, he was nothing – but as an insider in the Pentagon, he was everything!

Here is the ultimate irony – if an organization decides to destroy itself – and this happens frequently in today’s messed-up world – it will employ the services of this kind of person. He (or she) will become powerful, by making the organization less powerful!