"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves,..."—Shakespeare
My approach to the task of understanding why communities gain, then lose, intelligence is guided by a citizen of ancient Greece. Witnessing the growing friction between Athens and Sparta, Thucydides decided to monitor the events. He believed his record would allow people to decide just how the looming hostilities started, what events triggered them, and who was responsible; an invaluable unbiased history for people to read and therefore learn.
His survival of the subsequent war allowed him to publish "The Peloponnesian War", but only after a mayor review. The young enthusiastic author had become older and wiser. He no longer felt that his careful narration revealed why the war started. The decisions by particular people and the sequence of events were incidental to the whole process. He was now convinced that as long as there were competing groups like Athens and Sparta, human nature would make the outbreak of hostilities inevitable. The reason lay not in events but in our psyche.
It is my belief that the same view can be taken with civilization. The secret of understanding this phenomenon lies not just in the study of ancient events, but primarily in understanding ourselves and our community. As every person carries the reason for war within themselves, so we must carry the reason for the rise and fall of societies. The search for understanding must start with observing the people I knew best.
My relative's success in obtaining promotion within the public service appalled me. Her ambition reflected only her desire for importance and wealth. She cared naught about anything but herself. Achieving the ostensible aims of the job, benefiting the department, improving the community and being worthy of her success were irrelevant. Every effort and resource was poured into advancing her career; white-anting rivals while winning the affections of her bosses and gaining general acclaim.
Irene's attitude is the very opposite of what is required in a position wielding authority; she is unconcerned with any matter other than self aggrandisement, and displays all the attributes of a parasite. Her decisions can only reflect what is best for Irene, regardless of the cost to the community. (see also A Modern Mother)
An attitude in direct contradiction to that of Col Churchill. While working for Logan City council this gentleman revealed a love of his work. Nothing was more important than resolving the problems that dogged the corporate computer system. He spent many long unpaid hours doing his duty, solely for the reward of achievement. Success went unheralded, but failure was immediately claimed so that the problems could quickly be resolved; a stance that could only reduce his public reputation. Nevertheless, his workmates were well aware that if a job needed doing, Col was the best man for the job. He was not only dedicated, but clever, enterprising and capable. Whatever task this individual was given received his sincere attention. No interest was ever shown in feathering his own nest, only doing his job to the best of his ability. Needless to say Mr Churchill could never compete with the Irene's of our community for any promotion.
Irene could be persuaded to behave in an unselfish manner, but only by appealing to her self-interest, that is, by threat or promise. While Col will never attain real happiness unless he feels his efforts are profiting others. And in neither case will their selfishness, or lack of it, be a conscious decision, but an unconscious motive that controls their behaviour.
Suggesting that people exist in one of the two states depicted by Irene and Col is supported by Gordon Rattray Taylor in his book "Sex In History". Using the approach that individuals exist in one of two modes, with the majority condition determining the nature of the community, Mr Taylor successfully foretold the undeniable changes that occurred in our community after his book was published in 1954. These, the work claimed, would be the swing from patrism — people who identified with their fathers, to matrism — people who identified with their mothers. And he tabulated these general conditions as:
|Rule||Patrist — Father-Identifiers||Matrist— Mother-Identifiers|
|1||Restrictive attitude to sex||Permissive attitude to sex|
|2||Limitation of freedom for women||Freedom for women|
|3||Women seen as inferior, sinful||Women accorded high status|
|4||Chastity more valued than welfare||Welfare more valued than chastity|
|5||Politically authoritarian||Politically Democratic|
|6||Conservative: against innovation||Progressive: revolutionary|
|7||Distrust of research, enquiry||No distrust of research|
|8||Inhibition, fear of spontaneity||Spontaneity: exhibition|
|9||Deep fear of homosexuality||Deep fear of incest|
|10||Sex differences maximised(dress)||Sex differences minimised|
|11||Asceticism, fear of pleasure||Hedonism, pleasure welcomed|
|12||Father religion — "Thou shall not break the Ten Commandments or you will burn in hell"||Mother religion — "God is all loving, all forgiving and all understanding"|
And as the author predicted in 1954 there has been a definite trend from the attitudes listed under patrism to those listed under matrism, up to the present day (2000).