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Friday, August 29 2014 @ 05:09 PM CDT

Class struggle or Stimulus Struggle?

Anarchist Opinion

In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx defined civilization or "the history of all hitherto existing society" as the history of class struggles. With the rapid advance of modern technology, Luddites and neo-Luddites defined their main struggle as a struggle against the dehumanizing effects of technology.

Class struggle or Stimulus Struggle?

In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx defined civilization or "the history of all hitherto existing society" as the history of class struggles. With the rapid advance of modern technology, Luddites and neo-Luddites defined their main struggle as a struggle against the dehumanizing effects of technology.

However both technology and class struggle occurred only as a result of a more central struggle that we could call "the stimulus struggle"-- or more concretely the "artificial stimulus struggle", as it started when many humans left behind the natural "survival struggle" of hunter-gatherer times. This "survival struggle" occurred not in a city environment, but in a small tribal hunter gatherer society, where humans learned and met their stimulus needs through the social and wilderness interactions in which their brains evolved. Similarly, when you put animals in an unnatural environment, like a zoo, they switch from a "survival struggle" to a "stimulus struggle". In the following paragraphs I will illustrate this by comparing some human and zoo animal behaviors.

In fact, we can define civilization by simply tweaking the definition of "environmental enrichment" in zoos, which is defined as "the provision of artificial stimuli to promote species-appropriate behaviors in an understimulating environment".

We could thus define civilization as the unequal provision of artificial stimuli to promote or sublimate evolutionary behaviors in an understimulating environment.

This results in 6 (often intertwined) possible reactions:

1- Damping down responsiveness to incoming sensations, like positive-thinking ideologies, intoxicating substances, meditation, isolation, even tics (e.g. zoo animals in hypnotic states, or over-sleeping, crouching, shutting their eyes in a corner, developing self-soothing "familiar pattern-creating" tics and repetitive behaviors)

2- Creating unnecessary problems which you can then solve, like games, sports, malicious gossip (e.g. zoo animals pretending to kill a piece of meat or intentionally losing it and the searching for it)

3- Over-reacting to a normal stimulus such as overeating and overconsuming (e.g. zoo animals overeating, eating/regurgitating food, self-cleaning, scratching and licking excessively)

4- Inventing or engaging in novel activities like fine arts, philosophy, sciences or even social change-related activities (e.g. zoo animals painting, playing with digital devices or performing a variety of gymnastic patterns, threading string through the cage roof and performing acrobatics, eliciting visitor reactions by spitting, posturing,etc)

5- Performing normal responses to sub-normal stimuli, like masturbation, zoophilia "better-than nothing" homosexuality (e.g. zoo animals chewing on feces in the absence of food, having sex with same sex animals or objects in the absence of reproductively viable partners, patrolling the cage instead of wild territory)

6- Artificially magnifying selected stimuli, like cosmetics, TV, junk food, or even God figures (e.g. birds choosing bigger fake eggs over their own, or pecking more at redder objects than their parent's bill )

These are just examples. You can look at the literature and find many more on your own. Now' lets get back to technological progress and the formation of elite class. Both have occurred as a result of historical stimulus struggles and now in many ways have become defining forces. For example, inventing or engaging in novel activities, sometimes by creating unnecessary problems, has contributed to the advancement of technology. The desire to overconsume or artificially magnify status, together with solving the "problem" of how to maintain or increase power and wealth, or how to "damp down" feelings of guilt, contributed to the creation of elite classes; while the desire to artificially magnify egalitarian stimuli, engage in novel activities, or solve problems that don't necessarily affect one personally, have contributed to more egalitarian novel social structures.

So while I think that our stimulus struggle should more preferably lead toward egalitarianism and helpful technologies rather than destructiveness, alienation and inequality, we must acknowledge that to a large extent, we conduct this stimulus struggle with the purpose of preserving our own mental sanity or contentment--even if we do so unconsciously or we backwards rationalize something moral to ourselves--as we see with all political ideologies.

Thus no matter how good our intentions, as long as humans so desperately struggle to match their inherited primitive qualities with their artificial new situation, we should view the project of civilization, and our own actions in it, with great skepticism. Hunter gatherer life achieved remarkable stability, spanning hundreds of thousands of years. Civilization as we know it may succumb in less than a thousand years from now. Only the prospect of stability could give humans a more reasonable view of their own predicament.

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Class struggle or Stimulus Struggle? | 1 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Class struggle or Stimulus Struggle?
Authored by: mr1001nights on Thursday, December 06 2012 @ 02:20 PM CST

I wrote this piece--mr1001nights on youtube. I didn't want it to be anonymous