Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Binary structure of the slave mentality – Analysis of a vlog comment string

Look at this video of the arrest of a student on a campus.

Now go to YouTube and look at the viewer comments to this video.

Look at any similar situation where someone or a group of people are being targeted by cops, by the enforcers of imposed rules of conduct.

And you often see the same binary distribution of reactions.

In one camp you have those who are outraged or sensitive to individual rights being curtailed or disregarded. They see an abuse of power and conclude that the authority being exercised is not being legitimately exercised. They have an impulse to rebel against the master, or at least to train the master to be fair.

In the other camp you have those who see the victim as the menace, a menace to peace and order. Often, they don’t even see the victim (the one being subjected to power’s treatment) as a victim, only as someone who is getting what he/she deserves by virtue of some personal defect and/or not being sufficiently subservient.

There you have it; in the microcosm of a string of vlog comments. All admit that there is a master, a ruling authority, but some react to the incident of punishment with an eye to just and equal treatment (they insist on being oppressed fairly or they may rebel) while the others instinctively side with authority and find fault in the transgressor.

Both sides are quite transparent about their interpretations:

“That was a stupid thing to do to insult the cop” = “Rebel against authority and expect to received deserved punishment”

“I can’t believe cops can so disregard the law” = “If it’s not going to be fair then I can’t go along”

Both camps and their predominance reflect our true condition - our condition of slavery. The entire dynamic is a slave dynamic. The only question is “Will we rebel or will we mob and neutralize the belligerent individual?” The entire exchange is a battle to decide between these two alternatives. Is it time to fight the master or can we continue to obey?

If we fight there is a significant risk, so the conditions need to be sufficiently bad – an investigation is in order. If we continue to obey then we must rationalize away the punishment of the victim.

This shows that we are social beings; that our judgements are largely tied to communal decision making rather than individual evaluations based on outside circumstances. The mobbing instinct is always with us, as is the instinct to repair and maintain an established hierarchy. Among individuals reared in a hierarchy these reactions appear to dominate. It gives rise to a binary tension: Either the system is as good as possible and delinquent elements need to be expelled or the system needs fixing towards more control and counter checks to prevent abuses. The right-left divide at its root? “Hippy activists” versus “careerist reactionaries”?

This all leaves out the minority; the anarchist/libertarians: Those who don’t want hierarchy or government or police but only direct and horizontal (town hall) democracy and who see anything else (such as rigged representation) as a form of control and slavery. Where do these independent thinkers come from? What makes a Kropotkin, a Bakunin, or a Malatesta? These characters rebel against all authority all the time.

I don’t see any in the vlog posts? When they appear you know you are living in a vibrant time. When they are absent you know you are flirting with fascism.

Watch this video about Ottawa cops breaking the law and see how you react:

Canadian education as an impetus towards fascism
Independent thinking in education - quotations
Video evidence of emergent fascism at a Canadian university
The Activist Wars
On the need to embrace hatred
The student as nigger

Activism and risk


Frederic Beauchamp said...

Even if the reactions do a show an explicit alignment to either following or opposing the authority, I believe there are many other interesting things to observe when looking at comments of vlogs such as these.

Although far from an expert I think there are a few more things one can analyse from these comments.

Some comments will be about revealing ones feelings about the video, either supporting or opposing these acts of authority. These are often posted without any justifications or argumentation. They could be because they simply lack interest in the issue or aren't affected by it as much. Either way, they don't make a big deal out of it.

Other comments will in fact be presented as arguments to support the side they believe in and tend to be much more dedicated to proving their point. These people are the ones that you will see go from calm argumentation to all out war in a few posts and will do anything to disprove the opinions of others that do not match their own.

With this, we can see four different categories:

Observers who passively oppose authority seem to do it in fear of acting aggressively against it. Probably because they don't have a strong argumentation or simply don't need/want to get too involved. They could be perceived as the "unhappy slave". They don't like authority, but probably don't believe they can do much about it.

Those who oppose authority openly are more like the "rebels" who would probably do more that just talk when it comes to issues with the police. Often times videos like these are made by this type of people.

Those who passively support the authority could be considered "happy slaves" which just acknowledge their actions as righteous. These people tend to support the rules and follow them without complaint. I personally would "albeit being blunt" think these people to be the ass-kissers of society.

And finally those who aggressively support the authority are basically the "zealots" who believe the authorities to be the supreme justice. That they have been given a power and they have a right to use it. These people probably tend to be authoritarian themselves, even in their everyday lives.

I think we can relate these four categories of posters to any other controversy videos, like a bad episode of Maury or something. Then you'll see the same patterns arise, but about a different issue.

Anonymous said...

Concerning this video, here is some insight on the reactions…

The comments feature is disabled for a good reason! In the comments (when it was available) and in personal messages, there are two distinct positions and, virtually no middle ground. Both are emotive and simplistic.

On one hand, you have the ones that thought it ‘’funny’’, applauding me for my testicular fortitude, down with the establishment, and so on… These find the crassest, immature ways to express this! For the most part, their comments need censoring on account of good taste, not to infringe on their right to speak!

On the other hand, the camp is just as eloquent! Except, their sentiments are of disgust and disdain… How dare I reproach these two. I am likely one who ‘’couldn’t cut it as a cop’’ or am a criminal, these two are heroes and I would undoubtedly call them (and they would come) if I were being robbed, etc… Of course, none of these comments use quite those words but the sentiment is the same, these cops did nothing wrong (in their eyes).

*** It should be noted that, most of the ‘’supportive’’ comments can be traced back to young people (maybe 16-22) by looking at their own page/profile. I have traced couple of the other camp’s users as police - one particularly threatening one and another, whom I‘m almost sure is one of the two officers.

I still get the usual messages but have ceased to respond to them, just not worth my time really…

To be clear, I am not a criminal and have never been subject to anything remotely close to arrest and such, nor have I ever had any interest in becoming a police officer!!! Although I notice certain police violations routinely, this particularly one seemed overly vulgar. This is why I recorded and approached. This wasn’t a cop idling at an unpaid meter spot or something of the likes… It was two cars sealing off an exclusive left turning lane, in an already narrow road, to lean back and have a coffee (and ogle young ladies - directly in front of them, heard giggling in the video). Although they followed it up with arrogance, I could not have known that when I approached. It was simply a ridiculous bit of unprofessionalism that I decided to capture.

I guess, a fundamental difference between my video and the other one in your article is that, if the person featured in the other video (being arrested for swearing) is truthful (with the info he provides in the video), it would appear his (and the first arrested person) have had rights violated and then compounded with exaggerated charges. In my video, I lack that human component. If anything, there are more comments supportive of the two police officers because of that human component - they are the ones being embarrassed.

If it interests you, I can certainly send a collection of those messages to you for your enjoyment! Although, I suspect you can quote them without ever having read them!