LATELY I have been listening to interviews with Mattias Desmet, the Belgian psychologist who has popularised, if not invented, the term ‘mass formation’, a sort of mass hypnosis, a condition which he says often leads to tyranny. If I understand him correctly mass formation occurs when people feel estranged from each other and the world around them, they lack purpose and feel out of control. Fear is an important factor in this and frightened people are amongst the easiest to hypnotise since they will unquestionably follow an ‘authoritative’ voice. The door is open for someone to come along and offer them a place to belong, make them feel safe and give them a purpose. Thus the tyrant is born. Desmet contends that although this has happened throughout history it has become more common in modern times because we have become increasingly estranged from nature, and he attributes this to the invention of the clock.
As soon as reliable clocks were available, people in their everyday lives were less influenced by the sun and the seasons. Reliable clocks are a symbol of industrialisation, and this has led to movement of people into cities and consequently less in touch with nature. The mechanisation of agriculture gave us the ability to feed large numbers using very little labour. Cheap energy from oil and coal accelerated this industrialisation. Cities and towns have benefits: it’s easier to provide services including education and health, clean water, power and transport, and as someone who lives in a rural area I am well aware of the difference. This has happened in a very short space of time to a species which has evolved over millennia as part of the natural world. In truth we are as much a part of nature as trees, earthworms, bacteria and viruses (although it’s debatable whether or not the current coronavirus is natural).
There’s a wonderful grounding reality about the natural world. Gravity is all too real if you fall out of a window, and rain, wind and sunshine can make you feel wonderful or damage your health. Childbirth is both joyous and potentially fatal. Relationships can be enriching or toxic.
All this may sound obvious, but doesn’t seem to be for many of our fellow citizens who think that bad things shouldn’t and wouldn’t happen if the State took proper care of us which, of course, it promises to do: that voice of authority again.
This detachment from the real leads to living too much in the head. Your ideas, arguments, your emotions become the greater part of your reality. The constantly chattering voice in your brain becomes louder unless you can ground yourself. This is the default position for many and it can be dangerous. The signs are everywhere.
Climate change is one such situation. As we know all too well, this is the idea that a small increase in the atmosphere of a trace gas which is essential to life is responsible for rising global temperatures, storms, mass extinctions, diseases, and I could go on but you’ve heard it all before. Some say that this is proven to be true and the science is settled and isn’t science a really good way of connecting with the real world? Yes, when it isn’t manipulated for political purposes or carried out by people who think that computer models are the real world.
Talking of modelling takes us to Covid. Policy to deal with the virus was largely driven by models which chimed with certain political aims and gave rise to disastrous consequences. For many years the UK had a pandemic policy based on accumulated data and real-world results of public health interventions, yet this policy was thrown out and its proponents, people at the top of their field, were ignored, smeared or insulted and often all three. Vilification of ‘outsiders’ is another aspect of mass formation. The fact of natural immunity was debunked by people who could not admit to the existence of this wonderful example of the interrelationship between us and the rest of nature.
Now we come to woke, perhaps the most glaring example of living in your head instead of the real world. The hallmark of this is a belief in something that defies logic, history and science (the real thing, not the made-up stuff). No amount of education or reasoning permeates the world that is firmly embedded in the head. The transgender issue is an astonishing example. It wouldn’t be so bad if these ideas stayed inside the head but they escape into the real world where they can have serious consequences: men in female prisons and hospital wards, and male athletes competing in women’s sports events for example. I have heard of midwives saying that a man can have a cervix. I suppose the beings in your head can have any anatomy you want. I’m just waiting for the day when gravity is seen as a Western construct and people start walking off cliffs.
When challenged, those who live in their heads can react aggressively because you have challenged their very being. Perhaps the most frightening consequence of this detachment from reality and its subsequent mass formation is illustrated by the thoughts of Dr Yuval Noah Harari, adviser to everyone’s favourite human being, globalist Klaus Schwab. Harari believes that ‘science is replacing evolution by natural selection with evolution by intelligent design’. Not sure how the word ‘intelligent’ belongs in that sentence, but he seems to show a complete lack of understanding of the real world and the way everything in it is connected. Harari suggests that it will be possible to tweak human DNA in the way that we can alter computer coding. Very few processes in the body are controlled by one gene; physiological activity results from the interaction of many genes which may be on different chromosomes. Tinkering with a few genes is likely to have unforeseen consequences. Our DNA is intimately connected to the outside world. We express genes in response to outside stimuli, viruses incorporate themselves into our DNA and our body’s immune history is written in our genes. In short, our DNA is finely tuned to nature and to suggest that manipulating the various molecules in its strands will improve our lot is hubris beyond belief. Perhaps in Harari’s head we are all machines. Maybe he finds that comforting.