in the examination of world trends, both economic and gubernatorial, historian niall ferguson has suggested that racial/ethnic distinctions, rather than hierarchies of class, are the principal engine of discord, taken together as they need must with market instabilities, hegemonies in collapse, and the old east-west polarity play.
well, even within racial and ethnic groupings, we still find hierarchies that posit some underling class and some favoured elite. the question is why and the answer to this is rarely couched in humanistic terms. this seems in keeping with the surficial analysis (ie. description of surface appearances) so trendy in academe. the notion that objective, quasi-scientific assessments of fact are somehow more telling than holistic surveys which seek to provide as much depth as latitudinal coverage. science likes the flatland of two-dimensional assessment, free of the human stain carried via psyche and soul. this accounts for the denigration of psychological inquiry and its devolution into mere behaviorist dogma, and the quarantine of the spiritual life in the mere rule/role tautologies of religion.
what appeals more to my inquiring mind is the quest to understand what is evidently a constant in human affairs since earliest times, this need for hierarchical experience. the need to segregate an elite from the common in what i would term a displaced spiritual neurosis which plays out in a dramaturgy we have self-created but long since disowned so as to experience it as something imposed on us from without, and beyond our control, and therefore, quasi-divine.
even today, in the manufactured world of celebrity, we are gifted the service, scarcely recognized for truth, to see this function at its most base and obvious. it's one of the last outposts of our considerable unconsciousness, this need we have to imagine ourselves in the midst of an elite, a royal, appointed-for-distinction class which possesses qualities more akin the gods than mere mortals. thusly we can project the processes once satisfied by integrated spiritual experience known to the shamanic ancestors into an artificial hierarchy play that satisfies our need for the numinous on earth about as well as a shit chocolate bar satisfies our need for gastronomic heavenliness.
as usual, i'm short on time and can only offer this quick precis, but if and when time permits i'd like to write more on the subject. for only by understanding the needs which inform the behaviour of our species can we really begin to unravel why we create the structures and divisions and turmoils we do, and how to better harness our god-like creativity, inherent-but-little-used trans-temporal faculties, not to mention the irrational technologies of instinct and intuitiveness, and our inbred need of worship and wonder.
more soon. i hope.