Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Seeking origins of the notion of human 'success', and upmanship values

Seeking origin of the notion of human 'success' and up-man-ship values in the modern-world 

The existence of a realm other than the physical where the conceptual 'self' of man reside, is an irrefutable reality. If the 'body-man' reside at the pure physical realm of the world, the social-entity ( the ego) of man reside in the conceptual realm. Besides the food, sex and safe-stay needs of the physical man, human-being also needs an 'exaltation' of his person-hood.This exaltation need was usually met by being at-par with the signs,symbols and habits of the high-class men and groups that already existing in any society.

Besides his physical body and face, he also sees in the mirror a parallel self, his face and expression as he is seen and accepted in the society. He is the real entity that lives his life, unlike our counter-parts in the animal kingdom, who live only their physical lives.

The mirror image is his 'objective' identity that others see in the world ! World here is a market-place where all these multitudes of 'objective' human-beings dwell. Others not only see his physical body and features, but also his personality,ie. what he is in society. Though this 'spirit' ( in the sense that, this aspect of the self is an intangible energy )does not need food,water etc for its survival, it can not survive without its conceptual, or say, psychological needs, that is, constant reiteration from others in the form of acceptance, approval, or some or other kind of behavior in responses to its own behavior ! Such responses are the vital evidence and reiteration that, he is real and socially alive !

 'Success' is a 'halo' that every-human-being desires to wear around him in society. Society judge him on the existing criteria of 'success' prevalent in each society.

Modern man, unfortunately, due to strongly prevailing myths and norms around  'success' and up-man-ship in the world, always want to become someone-else; he always feel incomplete about himself as he is !He always tend to feel that, what is more real about life is somewhere upward in the success-ladder of society !

This was a very peculiar out-come of a particular development in Western-Society after the Enlightenment era.Science hugely aided industry to expand it's hold over world. They traveled across the seas in search of new markets. It resulted in colonization, and abundant supply of raw-material and even labor-force(African slaves to toil in the large agricultural-fields to produce abundant supply of raw-materials)

When riches of men mounted,the only one area they could show-off it was in the class-distinction! No one can consume more food and drinks to celebrate the riches.So, the only area to 'express' the wealth was to ascend the ladder to success; to have everything in possession of the traditional-men of wealth and power in society ! The practical-expression of the idea of FREE-MAN,or the 'man of total liberty' of the age, thanks to that unprecedented ideal that the great Enlightenment-era produced,thus got exemplified the way these newly rich industrialists behaved and moved in the society of that time !

Freedom got irrefutably linked with the degree of effort and labor one put. Those who failed to reach the top had to accept that, they were not as good as the best in the area of hard-work,business acumen and entrepreneurship, and hence,naturally accept the hegemony of the best in the field. Less successful, especially those who were fated to work in the factories of the rich-entrepreneurs,considered as less 'evolved' in the natural-selection theory brought-out by dear Charles Darwin !

Criteria of success in different ages 

 Criteria of assessing this 'success' differed from age to age. Remember, success is after all the ' halo' with which man desires 'others', or the world that constitutes this others, remember him with, during and after his life ! In the older days of frequent physical confrontations, smart warrior-ship' was one of those conceptual halo with which every one wanted to survive with in the present and future conceptual world. When Kings replaced the super-warriors in history, he himself wore the halo of the most-successful, the most feared and revered.The most exalted dream of each child of those ages was his/her becoming a King or Queen one day! As only one could become a King or Queen at any given time, the rest defined their success by becoming someone close to the King and Queen.

The way King walked, talked, dressed and behaved had become the ultimate reference point of quality behaviour and quality life. Though, no one might have dared to emulate him openly, at least in the dreams of all men, that was the pinnacle of everyone's imaginable success !

The ones who were in the King's  list of favorites had become Feudal Lords, or huge-estate owners. If not like Kings, these Lords also had developed their-own styles of dress, food-habits, behaviour and values of  their-own as days passed. Though the basic food stuff they ate and the base-raw material for the dress they wore too were same, the stuff they made with those raw-materials were quite different from that of common human-beings. They were eager to mark their different class,  by differentiating their style from that of the ordinary class of people. The actual difference in the degree or power and freedom ( both are always interwoven in every society, at every age !) they enjoyed in society was thus established by displaying such difference in the way of life and style.

These higher class of men spent large amount of resources/money to ensure this distinction of their class up and above from that of ordinary folks, thus making it impossible for the latter class to emulate their ways, or prohibit them by way of the restrictive cost-factor ! The real pleasure these fortunate men and women enjoyed was not the higher taste-value of the food they ate,or the value of the dress and other bodily accessories they wore, but the actual higher class distinction they had in society. Their men and women always attempted to emulate the style and tastes of the King himself, as they were the highest model for emulating !

History says, the concept of Gentlemen was thus born in Europe by cementing such traditions of dressing, foot-wear, facial-hair style, behaviour and language style etc. by these class of King's secondary line of Knightly and Lordly men and their families.

The story after the Industrial revolution 

The concept of 'success' and up-man-ship had acquired a firm institutional form since the industrial revolution. European Liberalism's most conspicuous outcome was the origin of capitalistic tradition in the world. Capitalism celebrated whatever was most prized about liberalism, the unfettered human-spirit of freedom and creativity. The new class of entrepreneurs were left free to do whatever they want to improve their lives !Men and nations fiercely competed each other for up-man-ship in industry and trade.

Industry had thrown-open a world of unnamed Royalty and Knight-hood before the new entrepreneur-class. They were able to possess everything that the then Feudal-Lords used to have in the society; big mansions, servants and even bigger capital-reserves.  It is heard that many a Knights of the day in Europe were willing to exchange their Knight-hood in exchange of  the exotic items these new industrial class had brought from strange foreign-lands !

Rule of Kings had ended, and the power and relevance of the old Feudal Lords also has subsided considerably. Industry sector has side-lined the old agriculture-centered growth and economy. The new world had bestowed  nations in the hands of the new entrepreneur class, in a dramatic shift of power and glory from the old Royals and Feudal Lords!

These new class of entrepreneurs had taken-away the mandatory blue-blood requirement to become a Lord or Noble of material success.These new men of vast-richness might-have taken all the care to  adopt the ways of the Lords and Nobles with regard to their dressing style, foot-wear standards, food habits, language and behavior norms, in-order NOT to look different from them in any degree or manner ! The class of 'Gentlemen' had arisen in Europe during this period; David Cody, Associate Professor of English, Hartwick College, in his paper 'Gentlemen' says: 

"Members of the British aristocracy were gentlemen by right of birth (although it was also emphasized, paradoxically enough, that birth alone could not make a man a gentleman), while the new industrial and mercantile elites, in the face of opposition from the aristocracy, inevitably attempted to have themselves designated as gentlemen as a natural consequence of their growing wealth and influence"

Was the ideal of 'success' merely going one-up in social-status and relevance ?

Here we directly encounter the delicate theme of this paper; ie. the concept of 'success' had been always one class' attempt to migrate into the fold of the next upper-class ! More than amassing adequate wealth for his family and his future generations to come, the chief goal attained by the neo-rich of the industrial revolution era was the uplift-ment of their class to an already existing, well recognized higher class in the society. While his actual quantitative value of wealth was confined to his own personal knowledge, his occupying a palace equal in size and pomp as that of the Nobles of the time, and his dressing like him and eating, behaving and speaking like them had transformed him and his generations to the Noble class in letter and spirit ! His kin had also internalized the ways of such upper class. Therefor, 'success' was in reality, a migration into a higher- plane of life, exemplified by clear,tangible symbols.

The economic development that followed the industrialization era was remarkable in creating different levels, or planes of social-relevance hierarchy in the world, each such level was marked or symbolized by the use or possession of certain degree of luxury dwelling units, passenger vehicles, the total value of properties and assets owned, the value and style of apparels and foot-wear they have worn, the way each class spoke, and kind of their food-style,and the quality and expensiveness of house-hold articles at their homes !

Restricting one's ambition to any certain degree or level has started to be considered a draw-back or short-coming of the values these new Lords were expected to keep. Success was a limitless going-up on the ladder. There were enough and more ready-made planes or class-distinctions in the new-world, for every such ambitious men to reach and roost. Each such higher class clearly distinguished the class-difference instantly, by the above symbols and signs each member exhibited.

An exclusive political system was built-around such economic difference in the modern society that, it measured and defined the 'progress' of their respective nations on the basis of the 'success' of these entrepreneurs. The base model of States and nations that shined in Europe and USA had become empirical example of the success of such model of growth and progress, for the entire world.

Progress of nations has started being measured on the basis of the 'success' of their entrepreneur class, though no remnant of the old 'gentleman' class distinction remained any  more. Any one acquiring the material symbols of prosperity and affluence got accepted into the fold of successful and rich men.The libertarian ideology stood for encouraging full-fledged expression the creative-human-spirit of man !

The new democratic ruler class replaced the ancient Royal class, and the new-rich replaced the class of old Feudal and Noble classes ! New class-divisions, but unchanged energy-system and norms around the base class-gulfs.  The more the things changed, the more the basics remained unchanged !

'Success' had become the new universal mantra,which was exclusively confined to the field of industrial and economic growth. Every other sector of human-activity naturally got side-lined. Fields like education and knowledge-creation etc. have become depended on the whims of the industrial and the newly emerged political class, who had clandestinely aligned with the industrial class for the above narrated one and only known model of country progress.

Today, the ambition of man goes much beyond having enough to eat, enough to dress, enough roof over the head to dwell-in, and a mate-for- life to live with.There are multiple layers of material success and style synthetically created in modern the living-system, that each person builds-up his particular desires and targets of growth and success in advance. It do not have anything to do with eat-more, dress-more, dwell in a house with more security,or marring super-woman for life etc. It is all about touching different, socially made myths of conceptual levels of SUCCESS ! Such levels of life and existence run parallel to the raw-needs and reality of life, in its existential relevance and meaning.

Every person who has attained some 'success' always looked-up to the next level,or class, as his next destination to reach. Every such class-distinction was marked by their special standard of luxury, by the kind of residential colonies they stay, the class of school they send their children, the company in which they and their families mix-up among many other such marks of their economic and social class. To enter the one-up class, what was essential was to internalize their values; the new language, the new facial expressions and body language, and possessing the new tangible objects around life.

Even the very bottom classes in every society also kept the above obsession, ie. of moving to the next economic and social ladder of success ! But, the speed-in which the top most classes proceeded to the next and next realms was unmatched for the bottom classes, chiefly because of the simple un-affordability of the kind of luxury items and symbols the former class was able to possess ! The very excessive supply of money in the market helped the top classes to reach such unattainable( for those who follow them) economic and class levels, that according to every authentic recent economic survey, more than 55% of world's wealth got landed in the hands of less than 1% elites of world population !

As the profit margins are exceedingly high while dealing in products and services for these rich class, few industries take interest in catering to the needs of the lower class. The exceedingly high-prices in the Housing market is the best example. Options for low-economic classed are almost Nil in the Housing market. Every best product and services go searching for the affluent profit-margin of the rich class, thus, pushing the inflation naturally, making even routine life needs of the bottom classes un-affordable to them !. ( Please see blog on inflation caused due to this reason,at link: http://understandinginflationinanewlight.blogspot.in/2013/07/thecauses-inflation-simplified-or.html)

New standards of Success altered the paradigm of social-equality !

Mankind's arriving, or landing-up at such a state of, or standards of weird notions of SUCCESS has played havoc with the naturalness of human-life. It has distorted the original planes of human-activity, sense of equality and thought patterns. It has created grave issues around social-equality, as levels and criteria of equality has drastically altered. To reach such synthetic levels of success in society, men and women strive to become intentionally UNEQUAL, as at basic levels of eating, dressing, dwelling and mating, there are very limited or zero levels of showing-up one's up-man-ship, or living standards.

This is not to stand-against the paradigm of human-success and progress, but just to expose its evil and silly sides.Creativity is not limited into one or other chosen fields of human-activity. Institutionalizing human-creativity and its exalted-status in one or two chosen fields would kill the unique and universal natural gift of every person, and its overall utility towards human-progress! In other words, encouraging and propagating HUMAN-EQUALITY will not kill the creative-human spirit in any manner. It would only bring-out the sacred-gift in every human-being in the long-run ! ( Please share our blogs that depicts what kind of EQUALITY we mean for universally sustainable peace and happiness, at link: http://whatequalityshouldmeanindemocracy.blogspot.in/)

 In animal kingdom also we observe the inherent drive for exalting and DISPLAYING one's physical prowess...male-birds spreading their feathers and dancing to impress the other sex is common. Man had overcome many of our animal traits in the course of civilization, like the perennial fear of the other, and the resultant jungle like hostility to strangers. By realizing the folly that is in discuss here, we might be able to free ourselves from this also one day ! One's excessively exhibited superiority and social-heights will stun and incapacitate those who are below-par, and unnecessarily create social tension. It alienates and separate those who below-par, into unhealthy social divides. 

Modern industry's very existence is depended upon manufacturing and catering to such different SUCCESS standards of modern citizens. Huge percentage of the total capital spending of each nation goes into meeting such higher living-standards of these elite-class, leaving bare minimum reserve for meeting the bare-life-needs of common-citizens.  The latter class still live at the basic need level of existence !

No wonder, in case world is struck by large-scale natural, or man-made catastrophe, many of its elites will find it extremely difficult to come-down to the basic-need level life, due to their dependency on artificially learned and habituated needs. Modern world has turned human-life into an altogether different ball-game !

Authored by : Abraham J. Palakudy
Author is a seeker,researcher and writer in fields of philosophy,mind,Reason,spirituality and polity
contact e-mail: ajoseph1@rediffmail.com
Blogger page: https://www.blogger.com/profile/14249415589712707293
Twitter: Voice of philosophy@jopan1


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