Wait, what? Another war? We don’t need another war! This may be your first response to the title above. That title is however more the core of many of today’s cultural conflicts, and I will try to defend that view in a few paragraphs below..
Villages are small, by definition, people know each other, the pace is not very fast, there is a language everyone speaks, there are annual festivities everyone attends or is part of. You can go to France or Belgium or Holland and find many towns, villages which still have this tradition. The people often need each other to make the situation work. This creates a mentality and a culture that is usually more uniform, and you are expected to join in or be an outcast, which is an untenable situation in a small community. The principle is “We are all the same, we follow the same rules”. In the towns around Paris you find the same people in the cafe in the morning to get a cup of coffee, they then go do their farmer jobs. In other places community is sought in the evening. This is still happening all over the world. If you want to break down the mentality it is:
- We are all the same
- We follow one set of rules
- We don’t like people that deviate
- Together we make the village work
When life is very practical, when it just consists of work needing to be done, all very obvious, which is the farmers life mostly, then if you talk about anything else you must be confused or lazy or trying to take a break or something. This is a gross simplification, but this logic is also found in companies which cultivate the same mentality. It is also found in religions.
Cities are different. They are too big to create a stable community. You live in a place that is quite anonymous, its rented or bought but then the doors look much the same. If you go out into the street there are masses of people that you don’t know and you have no interest in. You compete for jobs, opportunities, you don’t care if others behave differently. In cities there are many that have created a community, but it is more vitual. So a religious group has a church, they come together there, that’s where they are the village, and there they find their equals and live by the rules. Others go to cafe’s or music venues to find their ‘kin’, and one person can be part of many ‘villages’ at the same time. Say a student that is part of a band and also plays basketbal is part of several disjoint groups, where each have completely different mentality and priorities.
Its not to say a person in a village can’t be part of different subgroups as well, but its all a bit more stale and he/she will be known in all groups.
My thought is that we constantly have wars between villagers and city dwellers. We constantly see a group of people that says “We are all the same” and then another group that says “Nope, I am different and like to stay that way”. You could say Putin likes his country to be a uniform village, but Ukraine is not interested, it likes to be part of the pluriform West.
The division occured to me when I contemplated religions. Some have come from a desire to be uniform, others from a desire to make a pluriform society work. If you want to have a uniform society you punish people for deviating. If you want to make a pluriform society work you don’t. Older religions are village religions, they developed before big cities existed. I would say the innovation of Christianity, to not be super judgemental all the time, but to forgive could be seen as an innovation, even though the cities where not big at the time.
Every time you hear a person say “we have to treat xyz this way and no other” and its about some issue in society, its a group that has created an internal village dynamic that has gone to war with the complexity of city life. The diversity of humanity and society in the world does not fit one size.
When protest broke out at Foxconn this week, I tweeted
“If China and Iran and Russia correct themselves and punish the abusers and allow the protesters to be heard they will evolve into better states. Nobody would have stolen from them, they would not be enslaved or servant of any other nation, they would simply be better.” (on Twitter)
Totalitarianism is the pinnacle of village mentality. One law, one behaviour, one leader, simplistic, unnecessary uniformity which evokes resistance that then needs to be suppressed. China is actively working on it with their social scoring, and I have written about how this will petrify China and make it incapable to come up with new ideas to deal with new challenges.
Luckily the Xi government relented somewhat. The way the Covid ‘police’ was charging in full protective gear with transparent shields like roman soldiers looked insane. The people where very honest and frankly sweet, saying they had born all the harsh measures. People burned in their homes because the Xi government sealed their doors with iron wire or by welding them shut. It is good the protest had effect.
As a city dweller I don’t care about much of what people do or say, but I do care about them if I can. I don’t expect anyone to tell me what is right or wrong or how I should behave, and I don’t tell anyone else (maybe my upstairs neighbor if he makes a lot of noise). It can go to the extreme, where people really don’t care for each other. I think that is a job for the local government to make a city work like a village just enough so people feel good, but not so much that they start telling others how to live.
Of course people like to be with like minded others, so that’s why they live in certain neighborhoods, suburbs, closed communities. The point I tried to make here is that its about one’s expectation of others. Some expect uniformity where its not necessary or logical out of mental habit. This drives resistance which is then seen as even a bigger problem. Of course a hard line villager knows that his/her way works and may not want to try anything else, or want others to try anything else. That is where the problem starts. There is more than one road to Rome.
If it comes to religion I think theres a benefit to the relatively mellow attitude of Christianity, but even that religion has been abused by totalitarian minds. In the US the intolerance towards female reproductive freedom is almost medieval. Where did it come from? From large uniform communities that do not care for people that deviate from their norm.
In the end there’s not much one can do about people so used to uniformity that they see it as the one right way to have a society. The only way to deal with it is get away from them or perhaps accept to change. With some religions accepting means giving up a lot. No religion has any fundamental right to determine how anyone lives, but sadly people will try to enforce indoctrination. The war will continue until there are either no more cities or only cities.