I’ve reached a point with this blog where I’ve laid out a lot of the things that concern me –and I’ll recap some of that– and for the time being I need to ‘go deep’ and get familiar with the guiding authorities that are shaping this New World into which we’re being delivered. People who generally are not concerned with controlling others have a tendency in common –they don’t explore the mechanisms of control or the literature that supports it, at least not until it becomes a problem. I have this tendency.
I’m in the process now of rereading a book that was initially loathsome, B.F. Skinner’s “Beyond Freedom and Dignity” –I highly recommend it. Skinner worked for Army Intel and trained a generation of Harvard behaviorists to create a science of social control. It’s been exceptionally thought-provoking to give Skinner’s book another go ’round and carry his ideas, published in 1971, forward to the state-of-the-art contributions in control made by science and technology. Behaviorism was Skinner’s technology.
“Man’s struggle for freedom is not due to a will to be free, but to certain behavioral processes characteristic of the human organism, the chief effect of which is the avoidance of or escape from so-called “aversive” features of the environment. Physical and biological technologies have been mainly concerned with natural aversive stimuli; the struggle for freedom is concerned with stimuli arranged by other people. The literature of freedom has identified the other people and has proposed ways of escaping from them or weakening or destroying their power. It has been successful in reducing the aversive stimuli used in intentional control, but it has made the mistake of defining freedom in terms of states of mind or feelings, and it has therefore not been able to deal effectively with techniques of control which do not breed escape or revolt but nevertheless have aversive consequences. It has been forced to brand all control as wrong and to misrepresent many of the advantages to be gained from a social environment. It is unprepared for the next step, which is not to free men from control but to analyze and change the kinds of control to which they are exposed.”
I’m nearly bubbling-over to use Skinner’s book as a touchstone and apply what I’ve learned about the ‘state’ we’re in to his exposition of behavior. That will take some time, but doing so can only be helpful to know where to look and how to strengthen and extend the concepts of the “literature of freedom and dignity” to cover the areas implied by Skinner but not addressed; namely tools of control such as biological/pharmaceutical and electronic means which have slipped into “legal” development –like the article just below endeavors to point out. Freedom and dignity are concepts that Skinner believed to be artifacts from an earlier time when humans “aggrandized the individual” –they could be fatal, he believed, for a culture wishing to preserve itself. What culture, exactly, does Skinner hope to preserve? He answers only ‘our’ culture. His allegiance is to the controller-designers who esteemed him to develop a methodology; and so man is not the autonomous being of his thought and spirit. He is an automaton in motion, subject to the contingencies of the environment and the ‘reinforcers’ that condition him. That’s all.
If governments can manipulate our DNA, and program entirely novel organisms into existence (they can and they do!), nothing prevents them from using it to solve the “Human Question” once and for all. In fact, every aspect of this scientific pursuit has been accelerated. It’s not a moral question in behaviorism, but a contigency.