Culture and Religion

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This collection of topics, a brief view of life, could be used to teach an adolescent the basics about life.


The size of social structures is directly related to the level of accountability for those in charge at the top. As the social structure gets larger in size, it becomes more difficult for those at the bottom to keep those at the top accountable for their actions.

A small social structure can be very efficient, but as it grows in size that efficiency can become more difficult to manage, as those in charge seek more control over those at the bottom. Small companies, work groups, and many sports teams are easy examples of efficient small social structures. A team of workers with differing skills and backgrounds can address and solve a manufacturing problem or an inefficient process more effectively than a manager not directly involved in the problem.

Most people are aware of modern professional sports teams, such as soccer, baseball, hockey, basketball, American football. All are characterized by a group of athletes who have certain specialties and the combination of those diverse skills brings success to the team when properly coordinated by the athletes. The coaches can direct certain plays be executed in an attempt for his/her team of athletes to better apply their skills to eventually win the match over the opponents, but it is the execution by the athletes of those plays that determines success or failure.

As social structures become larger, there are more managerial positions created in an attempt to maintain control of the lower levels, with the supposed purpose of keeping the group efficient in meeting the larger organization's goals. In a socialist economic framework, the bottom level of the economic structure (like a business) would remain in control since they select and control the upper levels of management for the enterprise that are brought in (or promoted from lower ranks) for this oversight; in this context, any increases in efficiency developed by the bottom levels result in a shared benefit. In a capitalist economic framework, those with the capital maintain control, so the bottom levels are managed for the purpose of maintaining the wealth for the upper levels; in this context, any increases in efficiency developed by the bottom levels results in increased wealth to the upper levels, where the bottom levels benefit only when any wealth is allowed to trickle down from the top to the bottom. Corporate mergers and buyouts often result in the elimination of jobs and subsidiaries that, even though they might be profitable, are considered unnecessary to the managers of the combined enterprise, or might not be profitable enough to suit the financial goals of those managers.

As political structures become larger, those at the top of the various levels of managers become more isolated from the bottom levels. In a true democracy, the electorate would have control over those at the top, either with frequent elections or with easy mechanisms to remove/replace those at the top. In a representative democracy like found in the United States, the electorate has minimal effect on those at the top. When the United States were formed after the rebellion from England, it was just a confederation of independent states, so local accountability was still possible. The new Constitution defined a central government whose three main branches (executive, judicial, legislative) would provide theoretical checks and balances on the inherent power in each branch. In practice, political parties quickly formed to compete for favor with those people and businesses affecting the elections. Over time, the parties changed the political process to prevent those not part of the two main parties from participating and then the people became less important compared to corporate interests, who brought substantial funding to the parties and their candidates and were rewarded with favors from the government. The size of the entire political structure makes it nearly impossible for the American electorate to have much effect on the political class, plus the recent Citizens United case before the Supreme Court solidified the folly of elections when political candidates are purchased by corporate interests.

The European Union was an attempt to create a larger political entity, to encompass the countries of Europe. This is apparently failing now with the world's financial crisis, since the individual countries lost control over their own internal finances. The UN's IPCC has provided the world's political leaders with a context for creating worldwide enforcement mechanism with the stated aim of controlling carbon dioxide emissions but the framework replaces local political control with that of an unelected 'world' government body - so far removed as to be completely unaccountable to the lower economic classes of the affected countries.

In small communities, the local law enforcement entity serves and protects the locals from simple crime, like burglars, speeders, or drunks. As communities get larger, the law enforcement teams become more dedicated to protecting the political class. White collar or corporate crime (like fraud, price fixing, pollution) affects more people with more financial impact than blue collar crime, but corporate crimes are rarely pursued since that prosecution affects those in the ruling class. The war on terrorism has brought advanced technology and advanced armaments into local police forces, to harass and prosecute those attempting to demonstrate against the unaccountable political upper class. The bloodshed of the 19th Century, like police violence against union demonstrators seeking an 8-hour day, or in the early 20th Century like the Ludlow massacre in 1914, or in the mid-20th Century against civil rights demonstrators seeking equal political rights regardless of race, is being repeated in the 21st Century, like the Oakland police attack on a peaceful OWS demonstrators expressing their displeasure with Wall Street being rewarded for its corruption.

This evolution of the American political framework is unfortunately being mirrored in the third world. When the Western world, namely the military and political forces of the USA and the UN, are able to overthrow opposing governments in the third world (like Libya) or when a subservient (to the West) dictatorship is no longer tolerable to the populace, the current public policy is 'bring democracy' to the people. Unfortunately, this is always some form of a representative democracy, where the people have an election from a set of candidates (so the control of the media is critical)and the government must follow the rules of some 'approved' constitution. For many years, the USA has been the largest or one of the largest arms dealers so the local military leaders will remain loyal to their providers, the USA and the West. The world's major financial entities like the WTO or IMF make sure that the local economy remains open to control by the large international companies.

The resulting political environment in these countries with a new democracy (like Iraq) is not accountable to the electorate, with the military beholden to their arms dealers, the government beholden to their backers in the West, and the economy beholden to multinational companies. A world controlled by the political elites is definitely on the immediate horizon.

For there to be social and economic justice in the world, this tendency toward larger social structures must be reversed. Unaccountable leaders will behave with minimal empathy for those at the bottom of the economic scale, inevitably leading to actions that are unjust both socially and economically.

created - January 2012
last change - 01/22/2012
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