In the Duality and Multiplicity in Nature piece on the NATURE page, I have tried to indicate how the principle of duality and multiplicity works in Nature – and why the crest and trough of a wave are interlinked in a process to transport energy. We have tried to see it through the duality principle of Nagarjuna (150 – 250 CE). Also we have tried to establish in that piece that multiplicity is the building block of duality – that it is impossible for a Natural phenomenon to remain monochromatic.
Why understanding the social duality and multiplicity is important? For one, a proper understanding of things enlightens people to minimize uncertainty and risk in the management of social affairs. The Uncertainty and Risk piece in the SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY page discusses how the darkness of ignorance can affect decision making adversely.
We will try to see in this piece how the same principle applies to a society – but perhaps in a complex manner. To keep things simple and for convenience, let us try to describe the social duality in the context of two social energy flows in separate ways, but must complement each other for progressive transformation (in absence of an appropriate one, I have selected an image from a web source, credit: anon). The first is the financial standing on which the duality of rich and poor is visible. The second visible duality is good and evil that stands on the ethics or morality ground.
Of these two sets of dualities, rich and poor duality is a measurable reality. The measure of good and evil, on the other hand is based on human perception and is relative or subjective. We have discussed this in the Duality and Multiplicity piece on the NATURE page. But while some attributes of the duality of good and evil could be interpreted differently in different societies, some core values and expectations are common to all humanity. We have touched upon that in the Social Order blog on this page.
It is also important to realize from the outset that financial standing has the power, and does trump over the ethics ground – for that matter any other ground. It is not difficult to understand why so. Let us try to see it more through three fictitious examples representing some combinations at the extreme end of the spectrum.
The first is the case where an individual or an organization stands on the crest of the financial standing, but happens to lie at the bottom on the ethics ground. On the opposite end, the second is the case of an individual or an organization standing on the crest of ethics but lies at the trough on financial standing. The third is the case where an individual or an organization stands on the crests of both financial standing, and ethics ground. This is the most desirable combination but most often the rarest, partly because the power associated with money has the ability to make people arrogant, inhibiting their capacity to see things from the perspectives of other people’s interests, humanity and ethics. We often hear people saying, money and power do not go hand in hand with honesty and ethics. It is neither a theory nor a desirable social behavior, but rather reflects people’s perception and realization.
What is the rationale behind such a perception by people? Let us try to see it through the eyes of the power circles – how they would react to the first two cases. If the individual or the organization in the first case does not break any law, the power circle would likely ignore the failure on the ethics ground. In the second case, the power circle would probably empathize or sympathize with the poor individual or organization standing on the high ethics ground – at least they would do so publicly. In private conversations and decision making, it may be a different story however – most likely they would not hesitate to express anger, and dehumanize the participant as a useless nuisance. Well, how about that? In Charles Darwin’s (1809 – 1882) words: If the misery of the poor be caused not by the law of nature, but by our own institutions, great is our sin.
The three cases are only simple examples – in reality social interactions are much more complex to have straight answers. We have talked about the positive and negative social energies in the Social Fluidity blog on this page. Negative energies tend to increase the duality gap – often leading a society to the breaking point and instability when the gap is too wide. Positive energy, on the other hand has the power to decrease inequality and the duality gap by minimizing mistrusts and promoting understanding and tolerance among the multiples.
What does the minimization of gaps mean? Let us try to clarify this. For the duality on financial standing, it means moving both the crest and trough close together. On the other hand, minimizing the duality gap on the ethics ground means that the evil at the trough needs to move up in an attempt to reach the level of the good at the crest.
Should the duality gap vanish eventually? The reality is that the gap has always existed and will continue to exist to the future. This is how the social energy propagates to transmit and dissipate in the transformation process. Only thing to watch is that there are more positive energies to overwhelm the negatives, and that the inequality is minimized to keep the gap within a manageable level.
Does this mean that a uniform society – all belonging to the same level of financial standing, like the communist founder (Karl Marx, 1818 – 1883) has envisioned is not naturally possible? Many wise people engaged their hearts and minds delving into it in the past, because they wanted to see a society of equality with all the people having a meaningful happy life. They thought that communism had the answer, in reality however the practicing communist countries ended up being very inefficient and unproductive state controlled enterprises.
While the communist ideology was rather sophisticatedly argued, it seemed to be mired with some flaws. We can think at least four of them. The first is the fact that an authoritarian one party rule is in denial of multiplicity. The social multiplicity should be understood not only in terms of color and creed, but also in differences that define people – in their mental and physical capabilities – in their judgments and opinions – in their customs and lifestyles, and so on. Multiplicity represents converging elements required to sustain a society’s energy to a healthy level.
The second is the arrogance and corrupt practices that creep in within the party ranks. This deplorable cancer infuses negative energy into a society. The third is the fact that the concept of a homogeneous society standing on an equal financial standing, has the elements of inhibiting social motivation and inspiration by discouraging competitiveness, and putting a cap on people’s aspirations. The last but not the least is that people’s freedom is curtailed greatly by giving the party bureaucrats the responsibility to control and decide on people’s fates. When people lose freedom of thoughts and expressions, and equitable opportunities, a society loses its spirit.
Therefore the ideology was doomed to failure. In most cultures elders used to teach their young children that all fingers in a hand are not of the same length. Therefore an expectation of complete uniformity is unreal, and there must be a reason why the fingers are not of equal length. However what is possible and necessary, is to promote a pluralistic society with attempts to minimize inequalities. Because if the gap is too wide, negative social energy creeps in to destabilize a social system.
This does not mean however that a pluralistic society is faultless. The reason is that in such a social framework, unscrupulous and ruthless elements often take advantage of the freedom to infuse negative energy into, and drag a society to instability.
Doesn’t modern education help in this regard? Education does help, but perhaps the problem does not lie with education. It is rather the social framework of aggressiveness that drives some people to the extent of unethical and ruthless behaviors. If immediate gains in whatever means, are considered as the sole criteria or as the overriding one, to promote and upgrade a person’s position in an organization, then it is only natural that the person would tend to behave according to the ways expected. One could blame the person, but it is rather the system as a whole that is responsible, and to blame.
Where do all these lead us to? Do they indicate that there is no hope? Hopelessness by itself is negative energy, therefore not desirable. Duality and multiplicity must exist to transport energy – it only requires that a society creates enough positive energy to reduce the duality gap for it to be stable and prosperous on its ways to transformation.
Ancient religious leaders and philosophers just did that, and we discussed about some other past leaders in the Social Fluidity blog on this page.
Here is an anecdote to ponder:
The disciple turned to his master and asked, “Sir, how do the dualities look like in time?”
The master replied, “Good point! Nothing escapes the arbitration of time. In time, nothing is constant – the natures of the dualities change hand as the social transformation moves from upstream to downstream – power changes hands, money changes hands, and so on – this is the judgment of Nature.”
“But unscrupulous and ruthless people may argue that they would ride the crest on a financial standing all the way in their lifetime, therefore why care.”
The master looked at his disciple and smiled, “No wonder! What can you expect?”
. . . . .
- by Dr. Dilip K. Barua, 18 August 2016