It was the Roman poet Juvenal who who coined the phrasepanem et circenses” (bread and circuses/games) to represent the superficial appeasement of a population by procurement of foundational corporeal needs and entertainment. Providing food, shelter, basic security and a periodic cultural effervescence of various forms of spectacle and novelty seems for the most part to tick the boxes of a “happy and healthy” social system. The “happy” part of this equation is generally happy in regards to not dwelling on some of the bitter and intractable, material facts of life that the “healthy” axiom represents a partial and necessarily incomplete solution to.

If I was so inclined as to serially misdirect a population into docile entrainment and passively vivacious moments of cyclical festivity and symbolic conflict (so as to depressurise the aggregation of systemic entropy which might threaten political stability), a procurement of basic welfare and narratives of self-identity would prove of great utility. The problem here is, of course, that the emergence of a method of notional “bread and circuses”, of superficial narrative or filtering of a predominant cultural lexicon and conceptual vocabulary and its associated features of distributed cognitive control, is an autonomous feature of social systems which occurs anyway and without centralised guidance.

Attempting to shape the form and flow of complex systems to meet ideological or otherwise selfish needs is a little like attempting to modify or restrain the natural course of a river: a river will autonomously (and as a consequence of the material logic of complex systems) seek a path that is the most efficient and economical in regards to the use of energy. The emergence of, and potential for, political biases and their associated narratives and methods of cultural continuity are themselves in many ways autonomous and only superficially under any individual or group’s control.

Attempts to work against the natural tendency of information and energy-processing systems to resolve themselves to the most efficient form and flow is a method of generating entropy and turbulence. People and political parties often (unwittingly) generate such turbulence as a technique of self-validation; notice how bureaucracies and entrenched organisational hierarchies (on all scales of magnitude) have an uncanny tendency to produce precisely the kinds of disorder that self-validate their own continuing existence. In this way – political, ideological and social systems which have long ago outlived their use-by date succeed in providing precisely the forms of entropy, confusion and disorder that can be used to validate their continued existence. I leave derivation of specific examples for your own intelligence and intuition to decrypt from the various and diverse geopolitical facts of the world as they current exist.

The central concern of politics (and politicians) should be on seeking methods to allow social and cultural systems to quite literally find their own, best, autonomously emergent and self-propagating solutions. Unfortunately, as we have all been entrained to expect the spectacle of belligerent personalities and partisan interests engaged in intransigently wasteful bickering and argument, we tend to believe that this is “the way it has always been” and that this messy human world of ours is necessarily so. Only by opening up information, borders, minds, economies and political systems to change and the emergent optimal information and energy-processing solutions endemic to natural complex systems will we ever be able to successfully, sustainably and continuously ensure the individual, collective and collaborative navigation of that entropy with which our own minds have, in seeking to define themselves, shrouded the world in darkness and death.

We endlessly redefine ourselves through the catastrophes that we ourselves create and to such an extent that we fail to acknowledge that this distressed, insecure and anxious state of being and existence in the world is by no means necessary or inevitable. The same kinds of problems and patterns reoccur across this beautiful, troubled world of ours but we seem to learn little from the commonalities and regularities shared between them all. When systems of governance and control continuously and self-evidently seek little more than the continuity of their own patterned mechanisms through the creation of a dissonance and entropy that they are already well-suited (by ideological and psychological orientation) to manage, it becomes clear that these systems no longer serve the best interests of the people, the nations or the aggregate humanity they might profess to benefit. It is really not all that difficult to understand.

Ultimately – there is no best way, there are only ever better ways and a constant open-ended seeking of the iterative, procedural refinement of mature intelligence and compassionate wisdom. Less ego, more cogito.

2 thoughts on “Bread Crumbs

  1. Your last several posts have been excellent but, unfortunately, sharing on FB is impossible due to some unreasonable boycott (someone reported one or all of your posts as abusive, maybe a Trump Base supporter regarding your post on climate change). I would recommend writing the posts you’d like to be shared on FB under your SelfAware Patterns nom de plume. Illegitimi non carborundum.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing my humble reflections. Being censored is more of an achievement than it is any great catastrophe – in a world that inhibits intelligence in this way, being censored implies conceptual success by inversion. The Great Filter of median intellect as expressed through information censorship is just another reason to feel sad about where we are all heading. Thanks again for the support. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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