Exploring the Social Imagination

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Rights - Cultural Confusion, Cultural Collapse and Possible Reboot in the Social Imagination!

Previously, it was discussed that cultural confusion is the loss of identity - who you are and are not as an individual in a group. That loss of identity is both a loss for or about the one inasmuch as it is a loss for the many to which the one belongs. Its the loss of knowing who one is and is not that is both the cause of no longer knowing what is right and what is not right and result of cultural confusion regarding - Rights.

Identity comes from being in a place over time, experiencing social interaction in the framework of a social imagination that was born from being in a place over time with others. In that place over time, one and the many come to know themselves from social interaction in place over time and that crystallizes into what works for them, what is right for them and this creates a frame for who they are and are not and what is right and is not right in their social imagination in the place where they are.

From an outsider's view, such social imagination is both sustaining and limiting. Anyone on the outside of any group's social imagination other than their own will likely see limitations for that 'other' social imagination as a the lack of being able to go outside of that particular 'social imagination' to explore something 'new' or other kind of social imagination.

For the group itself which lives within its social imagination confines, limitations can be used as safety nets and comfort zones as borders for identity.  Limitations are after all, part of existing as one among many and in that there is both safety and comfort - sustainability. Even in the Lockean sense, I can only do so much as another person in my group as I exist within a social contract. I am not free to do whatever I want whenever I want. Most people learn this from parents and teachers.

Rights (what is right as in what is fair for one and many comes from ones ability to maintain right conduct within the social contract that one agrees with) are the result of social agreement reality. Rights in this sense are tied intimately to the culture - a group of people in a place who identity with each other in that place. Doing what is right in and for the group keeps you 'in the group'.

Cultural collapse begins as social decay in a place firstly, by the lack of new people being generated... a decrease in the local population; including diaspora to another place whereby other cultural aspects are embraced. Secondly, by influences being imposed from outside by another group and thirdly, by the group itself as it loses faith in who and or what it is and about as the world around it seems to be changing quicker than it is.  The later stems from doubt and questioning what is 'right' and who is 'right' and who deserves to be 'right'.

Let's look at the concept of 'right'. What is right and who is right largely depends on who is in control of the group, who is at the head of the social hierarchy. Who seems to know what to do that provides and or sustains the group. Whether we are talking about kings, religious leaders, political leaders, and even elders/parents this is how it all comes together for the group in the place where they are.

You may argue that what we think of as 'rights' today is not like the described above. But, they are. The description above is the foundation for the next idea to come along... 'right conduct'. You see, if you adopt the 'right conduct' you will get ahead and or recognition in the group and from the one or those that are at the top and have instructed what the right conduct is for the group. This keeps them in power and all others trying to be like them; which, works for and against the group. It works against the group when the adoption of 'right conduct' doesn't seem to pay off for those adopting it. Thus, they rebel. Which usually does not pay off but sometimes it does; i.e. the American colonies revolting against the Kind of England.

Revolt happens when the right conduct no longer pays off for either a few or the masses. For example, when a king or a government tells everyone that suddenly he/they needs more money to fight battles abroad or to support him/them. Or when the people in their past comfort zone fall out of favor with the king or the ruling elite who have a new passion/lust for things which the previous one/elites did not. If you fall out of what the top calls down, you can either lose your rights or gain rights to things you never dreamed of before. That does not mean 'fairness' for all. Only that you were willing to take on the new right.

In the Roman Empire, the strategy was to administer through set rules and regulations who was who and right conduct was expected. Strangers as in those who were not Roman citizens received different treatment compared to those who were not. You had 'rights' as a Roman citizen. This was a lure for many groups/cultures the Roman Empire conquered, to gain obedience ... right conduct got you in.

Rights exist only within social practice... in the social imagination. There are no 'rights' existing outside of that. There is an absolute truth but even in that truth there does not exist what we think of as 'rights' as in deserving of something just because 'I' exist. The only one with such right is the Creator.

So, you see... in the fallen world, when there is cultural confusion its due to a lack of identity tied to what is right conduct in a place by a group of people in that place. As this continues, there is likely cultural collapse on the horizon. Is there a reboot possibility in the social imagination? Yes, when someone establishes what is right conduct. In that, there is loss and gain and not by all in the same way at the same level.

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