Want Sane Politics? Address The Inner Monkeys!
Our collective behavior is viral, corrupt and warped. Lets start addressing this through the bio-psychological perspective.
“You can’t solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it.” ~after Alfred Einstein.
Wondering why some will never vote for Bernie? Because their brains are addicted to the ‘everyone for himself’ paradigm. Wondering why school teaches you to aspire a good job in a major corporation that pollutes the planet? Because our mass convictions push us to fit into the dominant culture, rather than question it. Wondering why politicians don’t take essential action on Global Pollution? Why billionaires keep destroying the planet, while digging bunkers for themselves? And why don’t they make the difference they can? Because they are being overruled by their bio-psychology. Are you already questioning my short answers, because your convictions stored other answers? That’s your bio-psychology tugging at you. So, want to learn more?
What bio~psychology* helps to address.
How to get action towards the pollution & 6th extinction crisis going? How to bridge and solve the issues between socialism, capitalism and liberalism, while avoiding sloppy compromises? How to stop misuse of power, whether it is military, corporate or done by little bullies on our block? What are we missing in our lists of solutions?
I thought I found a new approach to fill a gap in our solutions landscape. This concept hoovers in between what I thought to call Bio-Psychology and or Psycho-Biology. Then an early reader found the word already existed, very much overlapping my own version of it. hahaha. So I stuck to my own approach of it. :) Bio-Psychology is the field of our human (collective) behavior as shaped by our natural instincts, where and how our biology and psychology interact. To this I add collective, read swarming & viral, behavior.
My own research in this field is mostly based on practical experiences with group work from large management games to dance improvisations for groups, to helping set cultures in festivals, supported by some books on the matter.
I’m convinced that none of our Global problems can’t be solved, as long as we don’t acknowledge what this field adds to how we deal with big issues.
Three Consequences This Field Can Make for Us All.
There’s a few huge essential implications to this.
Firstly: No big issue can be solved pure on political, social or structural levels. Bio~psychological aspects need to be included. Most people just try to solve problems with solutions within their lane of expertise. Like politicians share political solutions. But racism can’t be solved just with anti-racist laws. What if we would allow in politics and business addressing the bio~psychological behavioral patterns of stakeholders as well? What if we could address the irrational primal fear of people looking very different honestly? What drives it, and how can it be overcome? What is different with those that have many friends of different races, religions, etc?
Secondly: We all have different roles and talents that are essential. All clusters of people need a diversity of talents to create a natural healthy balance within! And everywhere our social groups lack such balance. And when the balance is gone, some ideas and roles become too dominant, and others discarded. This sets the winners into spirals of self deception, like: “If you don’t win, you’re a loser!” No, you’re not. You just have a different role in this world. And all roles matter! Sadly this imbalance makes many suffer feelings of inadequacy. What if we’d value differences more, and thus rewarded them more too?
Thirdly: All enrichment of society is a collective endeavor. Thus we need to reward everyones contribution more fair. Capitalism seems to say, “Winner deserves to take all.” Socialism seems to say, “All be and get the same.” Both fail. Can’t we see that all of society contributes towards a few being able to execute an idea. Then why do these few get to own everything? Our collective result is because our collective effort, but not by being all equal. We should keep our diversity healthy, and share rewards. How to move beyond celebrating ‘the winners’ or ‘sharing everything in exact equal part’ as social conflict? How to activate everyones talents and potential in ways that is rewarding for all those who contribute or want to? Can we let go of pushing people to be more of the same? Can we stop rating them with standardized tests, that are often plain normative? Can we make people proud of how they are different and seek the value and contribution within that?
Integrating Bio~Psychological Systems Thinking in our Society.
Just consider a prehistoric tribe where the hunters take all the food for themselves, because they killed it. Or just give a few scraps to the rest. Tribes that tried this have gone extinct. Balanced tribes would have all roles in the organization organically filled and kept them all fed. That’s how the mothers could raise the children and the shaman heal the sick, and nobody feared getting old and discarded. That’s the beauty of it. The impact of negligence of this is huge. We only hold a few gifts in high esteem and the merit of the rest are compared to these few. And we collectively suffer the consequences.
We have yet to adjust our basic biological psychology that’s still set for the prehistoric plains. We’re made for groups of 20 to 150, but live in huge cities. We’re still learning how to operate global organizations. And within these, men act as monkeys on an ape rock. They can’t help themselves. And very few seem to think addressing this openly is a key towards many problems of our world. Just talking about the contents and politics of a situation, without an eye for the role of our primitive urges is why so many issues get stuck. We keep self justifying ourselves with our clever brains and denying this aspect. “Nooo, I’m the president and not a gorilla thumping his chest.”
All our diverse traits need to be in balance. Each healthy group in prehistoric times had a combination of such natural traits. A mediating matriarch kept the peace. A group clown deflated arrogance or vanity. A psychopath might be a great hunter, and the rest of the group could prevent him becoming a bully. A modern millionaire almost always build his capacity with others or over their backs. From the cleaner to his accountant, from his wife to his marketeers, all played essential roles. That he did the all work on his own is a ridiculous idea. Yet we tend to think mr. Numero Uno deserves all credit and ownership.
And Then Things Went Sideways..
And now the natural gifted mediating matriarch has become the coffee lady. Though everyone in the office loves her warmth, her 16 hours workday (she needed a cleaning job on the side to make do) doesn’t even feed all her children. The depressed artist reflecting the pains in society is seen as an outcast. And we blind ourselves to the fact that his art showcases the dangers in and for our society as a whole. Meanwhile the psychopath has become the sales director. That is awesome for the sales of the company, but everyone else has to pay for the damages to our planet. Be real: we can’t have thousands of business sharks in top positions, yet we have. Their collective insanity drive us to the cliffs; and this madness even gets yearly applauded in the Fortune 500. This hollows out our society as a whole, to the benefit of a tiny few.
Our whole Ape Rock driven society celebrates the superrich. All education, most management books, most LinkedIn articles, they all push us: “Climb towards them!”, “Be like them!” or best of all, “Become one of them!” Everyone who doesn’t race in this game is considered weak, inadequate, a loser, sheeple. Millions get depressed because their core gift is NOT about this race; theirs is to give, feel, share, listen, create, experiment, play, etc. And no billionaire could exist without them. But the millionaires economical mindset says: “Well any of you is replaceable and under contract, so I’m the achiever who deserves it all.” And now only a handful of individuals(!) own more than the bottom half of the world population. If we don’t question the normalcy of these huge discrepancies millions will be doomed. The very rich use their immense influence and money only to get richer and more power. People like Bloomberg and Trump are not even blasé about it. They only keep pretending we’ll be the real benefactors of their victories. Yeah, right.
Major Issues Through the Lens of Bio-Psychology
So we cannot solve the shark mentality among companies with reorganizations, nor with coaching, nor with firing the worst of them nor with political programs. We cannot solve the corrupting role of Billionaires just with higher taxes. That is, because the problem is bio~psychological too. The urge to grow and keep growing is just too overwhelming. They need therapy and face their slaves in dead landscapes, not just more money and admiration.
In our language we too often fixate on language around the implied content. Hence we ignore too many Ape-signals. But once you see how animalistic urges determine our behavioral patterns, you see it everywhere. People like Epstein, Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, and many others, did get away too long with their rabid urges (however clever they played them out). And we respected them, read their power, too much and didn’t have language enough to confront them. When bonobo males go to far, the females immediately gang up and punish the culprit. We should create apps for that. And keep our intuition awake about undercurrents in every conversation. It should be socially that every time you feel the Monkey side of people, that it is okay to point it out (without fear of being fired). “Look Boss, I understand your urge to breath in my neck, but keep the monkey down please.” If this could be expressed at the first signs, a lot of hurt would be prevented.
This animal inside brings also many gifts, like our intuition. We can choose to side with the underdog from there, have awesome dances, play with excitement, feel what choice gives most energy and heart. Psychologists found we choose based on emotion or impulse and then rationalize our reasons for that choice. We thus commit continuously self deception. And as long as we deny the monkey inside, the animal can go on a rampage, with us thinking we make sense. Haha. Just observe any approach between a man and woman from the outside and the whole animal side is blatantly obvious.
Thus we can understand why 20 psychopathic CEO’s in one board room go on a self enrichment spree. We can understand how a group of White gun activists, all with similar mindsets may steer one of them into a mass shooting. We can follow certain types of people distancing themselves from other social groups that radiate a very different stance in life. And due to the gaps in between very different groups, the crazy within each group grows. Mind you, roles and functions stay fluid and can shift. In a group of sweet people my harder personality may arise. And in hard groups I may start to calm people down.
The ‘My Function = My Opinion’ Fallacy
In the prehistoric groups we were being rewarded for being the only mediator. This was our role, our function. Native American tribes developed the Vision Quest to help individuals find this very personal role in the tribe. This was framed as a quality. But what happens when, in our modern society, a 1000 people who tend to be mediators get together? They’ll speak about how they desire to feel appreciated for what they bring. They’ll probably start to complain how hard society is. They’ll discuss the overlap in what they see. And then the fallacy happens. Their gift becomes an opinion about society as a whole. Everything should be more like them.
In our society our brains start to think our role or function is also a valid opinion. A thousand artists together believe they aren’t part of the managers, and the other way around. The ‘me-first’ mindsets mock the ‘let’s be good for others’ mindsets. They seem blind that their self care can only happen because of all those people taking care of others. One fearful paranoid person in a group is an awesome guardian. Get a thousand of them together and an anti-immigrant party is born. Our gifts and talents were made to balance small groups. By clustering ourselves en masse in likeminded groups our brain transforms our complementary gift into opinions that need to be heard.
The Wound of Separation in Large Societies.
Ever since the psychopathic mindset rules, without enough balancing, most talents don’t feel validated, rewarded enough. Thus we suffer en masse an individual sense of separation. We don’t dance with differences in small tribes any more; we fight over them in large separate groups, that consider only their own answer valid and the other gifts as flawed convictions. I think we urgently need to realize these convictions are gifts that help balance little family tribes. This could help start heal our sense of separation.
Likewise the scientific discovery that political Left and Right are a matter of bio~psychology is easy to understand. The Right mostly being people with more fear (guardianship), more strict values and more focussed on individualism. The Left being those that want to experiment more, want more cultural push, more collective awareness (systems thinking). These imagined political differences are actually a natural balance. Groups need both, as collaborators in a dance to be healthy. Perhaps with bio~psychology we could finally transcend the whole Left vs Right fallacy and develop new kind of politics. Would Eco-Systems be a good name?
The Growth of Far Right, Flat Earth and Cults Explained
I think, this fallacy is actually a driving force for fascism, separatism, cults, flat earth theories, etc. Because people feel their quality isn’t valued, they start fight the dominant system in order to get validation again. Yet rather than contribute, or as dogs hunker for some caressing, we phrase this urge in words that sound as opinions. And the louder we blast our opinion (barking) the more other people tend to pull away from us. This explains all these patterns of fragmented subcultures angry at many others. We need to see the valued role within each human, to help them feel valued part of society. Yet, we tend to rank other groups and push the worst, according to ourselves farther away from us. “You are wrong, we are right!” To win arguments against very different groups is very very tempting. I fell for it.
Solving Those Issues the Bio~Psychological Way
Just consider the difference when major board decisions in big businesses would include wise women, and a few bright kids worried about our collective future. The fact they aren’t there, is a big part of the problem.
We personally must consider what and how we can best contribute and the collective must invite and integrate the diversity of talents as partners. We have to accept we are part of a field, and our different talents are needed in and for that field. Hence the importance of dialogue across boundaries. It’s the modern form of coming together around the camp fire.
You are not a winner, because you played the field the best. You are the one focussed on scoring, because that’s your gift to the group: being a hunter. And the one bandaging you, every time you fail is part of that group dynamic. Though in your ‘winners’ eyes she may look like an immigrant nurse who is horribly underpaid, as she rather cares, than fight over money. You both are members of your country, your bigger tribe, or of human kind.
We all just are playing out our role in the collective patterns, or more precise, they actually play us. We can only be free, really change things for real when we accept we are part of the field driving us. Rather than our opinion being the winning one, we have to accept that other roles (we tend to see as different opinions) are part of our collective strength.
Just imagine if in debates it was allowed to address the aspect of the power hungry tigers within politicians? I bet we’d prefer more motherly types on stage softening the tigers among us.
Imagine the press feeling free to ask about or reflect on ape rock attitudes during press conferences? I bet we’d demand more diverse politics to balance such behavior. Sadly our media celebrate the tigers and wonder if the mothers among us are ‘strong’ enough to take decisions. Too often the tigers show a psychotic lack of care for implications and just a love for the numbers, whether those are good for the tiger, or the economy.
Imagine if we could demand billionaires take addiction therapy when they hurt others through their earning more money. Imagine they had yearly to spend a week among the most miserable of their workers around the globe. I bet they’d start to help the planet, just to keep their money.
Imagine we could demand all corporate decisions should include health consequences for all wider circles impacted by that decision? And they get fired or halved in salary each time they’d break the rule. I bet they’d feel they’d need wise women on board to be able to see and consider ramifications.
Think of the big problems in your country through this lens. Wonder what bio~psychological urges people keeping playing out all the time, and what intervention might help.
We also need to discuss how convictions go viral and people tend to reinforce them onto each other. Like we see Maga people collectively shout, ‘Lock her up!’ and leftish people shout, ‘Trump is dump’. If we can’t address each other beyond our viral convictions, and see how we’re all connected, then we’re in trouble. To understand how easy this happens just ask any circle of people who come together to introduce themselves. When the first one chooses to mention: ‘name, age, profession & a hobby’, most likely all others tend to do the same. Except for a few who try to be original, or are really focussed the reasons of the meeting. They might state, ‘name, motivation to come, interesting fact of their background, desired outcome’ and, or a diet issue.
*) the name for it for now. Perhaps the short term should be Grounded. “You vote Left or Right. I vote Grounded (in reality).” ;) (me playing with possibility)
Swarm Learning: Collective Emergent Understanding and Action.
Swarm Learning would be a next level of Eco-systems awareness. It means we activate interaction among very different roles and people. We also see what insights emerge as collective, without being too conscious about it. And rather than learn together by bouncing opinions, we dance, play, feel together and formulate from there. I’am actually developing this with the Collective Wisdom Dance. While dancing we find personal answers, much like in Family Constellations, and collective insights emerge.
Swarm Learning however currently is severely hindered by the aforementioned separation of talents in subgroups. It’s made worse by think tanks and marketing agencies who actively promote certain convictions. In the USA this is currently a battle of interests. Corporate agents try to sell corporate Dem’s to the general public. Trump keeps spewing propaganda how great all his actions are. And when you listen to the many individual voices, compared to the organized ones, then Bernie Sanders is the choice of most people. Yet, those whose basic attitude seek a strong daddy dog, fear supporting Bernie. He feels too weak to them. Their inner monkey wants to feel he’s on top, before they can support him. Those whose talents embrace a sense of community, embrace Bernie. Yes, whether you vot Bernie is not only political, it’s also a sign of how you’re wired. It’s tough, when you agree with much of the ideas above, to see a country rip itself apart over lack of acknowledgement and validation of that which is other.
Really, currently the amount of propaganda in the USA is worse than in Soviet Russia, albeit available in a more flavors than the ‘one party’. We have Right winged, Left winged Democratic, Conservative, Christian Evangelical, Progressive, Fascist, etc. Whatever is paid for by big donors, enlarging the voice of a few to a multitude is confusing people. Some feel the urge to join. “Big means good.” Others are immediately averse. “It’s not my flavor of politics.” Most importantly smaller smarter and alternative voices aren’t heard; wise alternatives fall away and can’t grow enough. They can’t compete with paid for adverbs provided by singular mindsets focussed on selling, not on dialogue to grow. Lack of dialogue and diverse voices dumbs the masses down, just for the interest of a few very rich people protecting their interests.
The Blowback of Suppression of Certain Ideas
In a healthy society this massive manipulation of convictions shouldn’t happen. General convictions should be born out of and agreed by the diversity. Such agreed upon convictions are by far the strongest and most supported ones. We can see that enforced ideas, always end up slowly being dismantled and even birth grudges against those that spewed them. The people of Iraq want the US out. The majority of the US wants Trump out. Hell, the majority of the world wants him out. But a financial rich few defend their interests through playing Trump and opinions around him. The longer they build an alternative reality based on lies, against the general conviction, the harder the blowback will be, when people wake up. That’s how the CIA defending the Shah in Iran, actually pushed the country towards fanatical Islam. That’s why the election of Obama (however much he effed it up afterward) felt as a liberation from the Bush era.
Spinning reality for your interests harms society as a whole.
All TV programs, all Youtube channels that consciously frame how you should see things, lie, spin and disturb the real emergent learning of the people. The collective people vs corporate spin is a serious battle, beneath political sides. That’s why many of the masses voted Trump, because Hillary was the most spinned candidate. Now Bernie is winning, because almost all of the opposition are candidates plugged by corporate interests. Most people feel it when people like Buttigieg or Biden frame their views, towards what might make voters cast their vote for them. People feel they do it just for the votes, not because they really stand for something! Biden’s bio~psychology shouts: “I want your vote, don’t care about you.” This helps weaken democracy even more.
The collective bio~psychological wave beneath the public discussion runs on the under currents, intentions we feel behind messaging in the media. Very Swarm like patterns form around this battle of narratives. And the more people need to fight, plow through false narratives, or are won over by them, the less truth and real choices can be made. Because of that and the time lost with it, we collectively postpone real action towards the climate crisis. Thus the real issues, when they explode will be harder and harder, like the Iranian revolution against the Shah.
People doing propaganda for money are the worst. They betray themselves and their country spinning falsehoods. The bio~psychology of most people really makes them want to believe in the good of people. Thus when lied to over and over, they stop believing. All undercurrent falsehoods make them more apathetic towards their society. This impoverishes society. The few subgroups benefitting from this consider this a win; yet everyone loses. Spinning the truth is therefore theft of society. Oh irony: those that will repeat that line the most, are those using it to undermine political opponents.
Learning and Developing Together
If you understand this, you understand why personal websites feel more authentic and truthful than well organized channels. And because the spinners know this too, they have started to fund private channels to strengthen their interests. This affects trust. Hence money in politics, in political dialogue, is a disease.
We need public dialogue. We need to speak out truth and we need to listen. hence the huge popularity of Joe Rogan. He asks, he wonders, he listens and is willing to change his conviction based on that. Those that scream their convictions “Bernie needs to win!” or “Bernie is a Marxist” are losing to reason. We slowly learn that those that come across as the most convinced, might actually the biggest liars. To unfold our real talents we need to dance with very different ones and offer them validation for their contribution. Sadly some are so wounded that they fear doing so will be used against them.
This is the small hope we have: that being aware we are played by our urges, and by overcoming them, we can enter a real conversation. I invite all who can do that to enter the field of shared growth and action, for a planet, that benefits humans and nature in awesome beautiful ways for all.
EXTRA: The Roots of Humankind in Bio~Psychology
I find that all humans tend to be born with talents that focus on what small groups need. Just consider. For over 200.000 years we roamed plains, steppes and tundras. Thus, like with monkeys, we developed character traits that always are in service of the group. Frans de Waal, Jane Goodall and others did excellent work on this with primates. Others found very similar social patters in wolves, elephants, and other social species. And yes, we humans fit that pattern too. Harrari wrote beautifully about it in Sapiens.
How does it work with early man?
The depressed soloist becomes the watchdog at the edge of the group. Since he mostly sits alone at the edge, he’s the first to see danger coming. The warm mother becomes the mediator in conflicts. The gay person bridges the two (or more) sexes. The curious one becomes the scout. And the psychopath becomes the killer during the hunt, or the healer who is not afraid of pushing broken bones, sticking out, back into the body. This is backed by the fact that a huge amount of surgeons, it seems, have psychopathic tendencies, put into service for society. These are people who can disconnect from feelings of nausea at the sight of intestines and stay cool enough to operate. Thus yes, we are all different and no, your talent is not just yours. Your talents shines best as something needed for the group or society as a whole.
As we’ve seen, we’re build for little groups on plains, and there seems to be a natural ratio of these essential roles and traits. Like about 6% tends to have psychopathic inclinations. About 1 in 20 is homosexual. Etc. It seems these numbers are almost fixed in our biology. Yet, in our society we can get 20 psychopathic people in one boardroom taking all decisions. We see that only certain types run politics. And we see how the lack of other types of people in politics or boardrooms is sorely missed, most of all for the planet as a whole.
Suddenly the concept of astrology makes sense. To have natural variations of different types of person is normal; it is how nature developed us. Thus added to bio~psychology could be research into biological driven character traits. Next to gay or straight, I predict, we will find that aspects like being monogamous or promiscuous, being more a soloist or more a social person, and others, will show regular statistics in what percentages are born. In fact many management models do the same for teams; DISC, Briggs-Meyer, Belbin, 12 Archetypes and many more. So why not demand this diversity of approaches in politics and in board rooms?
Written at request of Peter Jones, who asked me what I thought Swarm Learning was. I wrote a lot on Swarming before. This adds to that series.