Thursday, 28 November 2013


Religion has been used to serve political goals in all societies throughout history. Certainly the break between the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Christianity was a political break and it had far less to do with differences over dogma and rituals. The Protestant Reformation may have started in the classroom and churches, but it wound up serving the interests of King and nobility. Religion also played a role in US politics, no matter the honest efforts of the Founding Fathers to keep religion out of politics, perhaps because of the strong influence of the Enlightenment that today's right wing elements regard as 'evil humanism'.

In their quest to win the White House, some Republican candidates are embracing extreme right wing positions that they would most likely not implement as policy once in power. Beyond the Tea Party movement that is presented as grass roots and publicly-inspired, instead of to-down and funded by millionaires, there are other extreme right wing elements under the Republican Party political umbrella seeking legitimacy and trying to move into the mainstream.

One of the current religious movements that has appeal among the Christian right is the 'Dominionism' movement that former Republican presidential candidates Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry have embraced. Based on Calvinist  Reconstructionism that proposes replacing secular law with Biblical law, 'Dominionism' assumes that God mandated the land be ruled by Christians who must try to influence or control government.

Advocates of this movement call for the death penalty for abortion and homosexuality, among other 'sins' that would become crimes. Although it has been around for fifty years, 'Dominionism' is really based on 19th century influences that include Social Darwinism and Christian Nationalism. Christians shall have dominion over the earth, starting of course with their own nation that lives in sin of humanist/secular laws and institutions, and consequently suffers calamities ranging from economic recession to crime. If only God's law were put into practice, society would be heaven on earth.

Politicizing faith is as old as religion, especially once it goes from movement to an integral part of mainstream society and invariably manipulated by rulers and social elites to further their interests. The situation is no different today, with Perry and Bachmann looking to win public support by embracing a Dominionist variant of Pentecostalism that has been growing in the last ten years or so.

Transcending many Christian denominations,'Dominionism' is not much different than its nemesis, 'political Islamism'. It has been described as Christian fascism, and its founder R. J.  Rushdoony dismissed by some critics as a totalitarian. Author of Institutes of Biblical Law,  modeled after Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, Rushdoony defended American slavery has been described as a racist bigot, which is interesting given that his family was a victim of discrimination and fled Turkey to escape the first Armenian genocide.  He wrote that:  “The law here is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so.  Socialism, on the contrary, tries to give the slave all the advantages of his security together with the benefits of freedom, and in the process, destroys both the free and the enslaved.”

Naturally, no Republican candidate would go as far as defending slavery today, but some like Bachmann and Perry embrace 'Dominionism' because they want to capture the Republican 'popular base' mostly in the south/southwest and rural areas. The "Response Prayer Rally" organized in Houston on 6 August 2011 on behalf of Perry was a political stunt to capture popular support largely among the evangelicals in the south and southwestern states, but speakers included some of the most ultra-right wingers in the nation, individuals who argue that the First Amendment protects only Christians.

This does not mean that if Perry wins - Divine Providence would never visit such a catastrophe on the American people - that he would actually implement 'Dominionism' any more than he would follow through with his proposals  to: 
a) Abolish lifetime tenure for federal judges by amending Article III, Section I of the Constitution. 
b). Congress would have the power to override Supreme Court decisions with a two-thirds vote. 
c) Scrap the federal income tax by repealing the Sixteenth Amendment that gives Congress the "power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." 
d) End the direct election of senators by repealing the Seventeenth Amendment and give state legislators the power to appoint members of the Senate.
e) Require the federal government to balance its budget every year through a balanced budget amendment.
(Congress would be lucky to pass a measure that limits federal spending to a quarter of GDP, let alone an amendment that would have so many loopholes it would be meaningless.)
f). The federal Constitution should define marriage as between one man and one woman without exception in all states.
g) Abortion would be made illegal throughout the country.

 My guess is that neither Perry nor Bachmann will win the Republican nomination. Both are trying too hard and lack legitimacy with mainstream Republicans, until the mainstream moves farther to the right. Governor Perry and try to be all things 'Republican' and that means they will fail in the end. Minnesota congresswoman Bachman told an audience in South Carolina that: "Fiscal conservatives - I'm one of those. National Security conservatives - I'm one of those. Social conservatives - I'm one of those. And the Tea Party - I'm one of those." Because she and Perry try to be all things conservative to all Republicans, they will fail, but the 'Dominionist' movement has legs amid hard times in America and it will influence the Republican platform and the new congress in 2013. The dangers with the rising 'Dominionist' movement is not that it has broad popular support, but that it has influence far beyond its actual voting power.

Ordinary people, good Christian folk suffering calamities do not understand the complex nuances of economics and politics, but they do understand that if they can only bring down to earth God's heaven all problems would be solved. Politicians know that people want things explained in simple terms, in terms they can appreciate and connect emotionally, and they want simple and honest to God solutions. That is what Perry and Bachmann are promising these innocent Christian folk who have already suffered much through no fault of their own. And if it were not Perry and Bachmann, it would other opportunists seeking political power by manipulating the faithful using faith that is the 'Achilles heel' for the masses.

As it permeates all segments of society on the right, 'Domonionism' provides ammunition for the more extreme elements that may resort to violence. Finally, it is another source of sociopolitical polarization, a phenomenon that we also see in Europe where the extreme right has roots in the 'established' conservative political movement, but branches farther to the right pulling with it more voters from the 'democratic consensus' on which bourgeois democracy rests.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Whether in politics, news media, entertainment, advertising, even in education and religion, populism is the way to connect with the masses. Sophistry of populism works because it anesthetizes the veins
of the heart and befuddles the mind. A narrow definition of populism dates back to the early 20th century,
when Antonio Gramsci and other intellectuals equated populism with 'Bonapartism' in reference to Napoleon III. To a certain degree populism has always been present in politics and in fields where communication is essential to sell products, services, ideas.

Today populism is a science taught in schools in marketing and communications courses, it is the key to think tanks, newsrooms and corporate boardrooms. It is manifested in marketing and selling of everything from soap to soap operas, from electing congressmen to choosing university presidents.

Populism allows people to feel good for accepting products, services, or ideas that come attached to leaders as the panacea to all that ails humanity. Covered by layers of labels that businesses, media, politics and religions have slapped on people, human beings are in danger of becoming extinct as individuals with a distinct identity and creative potential. So overwhelming is the triumph of populism that self-discovery is on hold and people wait for external entities to define them and guide them how to live. The human propensity to be liked and be popular constitutes a threat to civilization.

Talk shows whether it is the queen of them all globally like Oprah, or the gossip type that are prevalent in many western countries, appeal to the passive-irrational in people that makes them feel good, rather than the active-creative. Similarly, politicians and news organizations try to hit an emotional note with the mass audience, endeavoring to leave them outraged, strongly sympathetic, or crying despondently about an issue instead of thinking about it rationally. In short, the 'Oprah-ization' of the masses in many of the advanced and semi-advanced countries in last two decades accounts, to a certain degree in so far as it serves to distract and internalize external institutional problems, for the continued triumph of capitalism in its globalization phase.

Insurgent groups, whose dogma is rooted in religion and nationalism (a secular religion of European origin) rather than a secular ideology like liberalism, social-democracy, socialism, etc., advocate violence as a response to populism from their leaders, for this is a means of combating populism from a status quo power or rival insurgent group. This is the case in Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Israel, Afghanistan, Sudan, etc. This is not to say that populism is limited to varieties of right-wing groups and that we must accept the narrow definition of
'Bonapartism,' or that populism has become popular with the corporate world and media who are out to sell something. The left and liberal politicians, media, NGOs, and other groups have also found it very difficult to resist the global trend of populism and use it to win popularity.

Ironically, however, centrist and leftist populism serves the agenda of the right, as we can clearly see by the Oprah-ization of popular culture which is liberal marketing serving a billionaire businesswoman. In a world where liberal and left populism invariably become co-opted by the larger marketplace in which they operate, what can progressives do to advance an agenda in each neighborhood of each city and village of each country to best serve humanity and not run the danger of serving a handful of genuine local, national and
international Bonapartists, or even worse, the camouflaged type caught up in the illusory Oprah-ization trend? Can the environmental movement be far behind co-optation, or is it already there wearing a
green mask signifying nature and money?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


From the Commercial Revolution to the present, global economic integration has exacerbated geographic and social polarization. The rich-poor chasm would have been greater if it were not for revolutions
of the bourgeois revolutions in the 18th and 19th centuries, and worker/peasant revolutions in the 20th century. Despite the recent rise of the small middle class in China, India, and former East Bloc countries, World Bank, OECD and UN studies confirm that in the past forty years poverty has been rising. Similarly, there has been a widening gap between rich and poor nations. Nor is the solution the dissemination of the consumerism doctrine in underdeveloped regions and among lower social classes in the advanced capitalist countries.

Assuming that the capitalist world system's legitimacy and broader acceptance is predicated on the promise of growth and better prospects for upward socioeconomic mobility, it is difficult to see convergence between growth and upward socioeconomic growth in the system as currently constituted. On the contrary, empircal evidence shows a widening gap rather than convergence between growth and upward socioeconomic mobilization for the masses. Therefore, it is the multifarious and ceaseless ubiquitous marketing of the illusion imbedded in the 'consumption equals growth' dogma that is far more significant than the reality of material progress and human happiness. Despite economic growth figures based on GDP, uneven social
and geographic development and rising poverty are among the reasons that the legitimacy of capitalism and the illusion that it engenders happiness comes to question.

Besides the planet's rapid environmental degradation, the decline in the idyllic bourgeois lifestyle, now characterized by consumption and abuse of legal and illegal substances, entails that the broader middle
classes are governed more by fear and anxiety than comfort that capitalism promises in the marketing of the 'growth and happiness' dogma. Though there are many complex variables, among them objective conditions of the evolving capitalist system, for asymmetrical geographic development and unequal socioeconomic conditions, progressives throughout the world have an undeniable responsibility either for surrendering to the status quo or surrendering to fatalism. While co-optation of leftists is hardly a new phenomenon, it has accelerated since China's economic integration into the global market system, and since the disintegration of the Soviet Bloc.

Co-optation of progressives, their causes, factions, and political parties is not inevitable, despite the fact that we live in an unhistorical epoch as Carl Jung noted in *Modern Man in Search of Soul*. "To be unhistorical is the Promethean sin, and in this sense modern man lives in sin." The rise in co-optation corresponds with the rise of corruption in the public sector. That World Bank studies estimate 10% of the entire world's GDP is rooted in illegal activities is indicative of a very serious problem, one that will become much worse as geographic and social polarization increases and will contribute to the existing social order's eventual demise.

Sunday, 24 November 2013


Is Lassez-Faire Still Dead, or Temporarily Ill?

In addition to several trillion euro injected into the banking system to revive the extremely anemic capitalist system from 2009 until 2013, the EU has also spent several trillion in fiscal measures intended to sustain the private sector at the expense of the welfare state. Most countries injected massive capital to sustain capitalism until markets stabilized and those under austerity measures continue along such path. This is all in the name of global competition and based on the argument that there is no choice other than the neoliberal model of economics. From 2008 to 2013, the advanced capitalist countries have devoted about one-fourth of their GDP to sustain the "free market economy," if that term is even appropriate these days, while semi-developed and "developing" countries went into austerity mode that has been a blatant manner of redistributing income from the middle class and workers toward the upper quarter of the income earners, and especially the top ten percent.

How much public capital must be spent to "save" ailing finance capitalism before apologists of the system insist that Adam Smith's laissez-faire theory remains alive; was it ever alive, even in the 18th century? Depending on how deep and how long the current crisis lasts, the percentage of public capital to save finance capitalism may rise above 30% of GDP. But regardless of the percentage, which can be deceiving owing to the fact that the state is constantly enriching private capital through tax laws, lucrative government contracts to corporations, lids on wages, etc., the capitalist system is entering a new phase after globalization and neo-liberalism have destabilized the world economy.

Imperialism Enters a New Phase

The economic crisis that started in the US in 2008 and it is continuing in a number of counties through 2013 is a catalyst for the speedy transition of state-directed capitalism entering a more concentrated phase under
which greater government participation will be buttressing finance capital and under which there will be a more thorough exploitation of labor. In one of its many significant statements about the current
crisis, the IMF announced that the Third World will have to share in the sacrifice for the structural dysfunction of the marketplace in the developed countries. This will indeed be inevitable given that the IMF
expects growth rates in the advanced countries to be around zero for 2009.

Naturally, given that the crisis was deeper than originally estimated, growth rates fell below zero with double-digit unemployment in many countries, including the entire European Union. The value of labor in the world, but especially in the Third World, has been diminishing and it will continue to  decline as lower consumer demand will follow. Moreover, many developing and semi-developed nations have been unable and will be unable to service public debt, while household and commercial debt to private banks has seen new highs. Together with the drop of labor values, higher indirect taxes that hit the mass consumer and loan rescheduling will entail mass transfer of capital from the Third World to the advanced countries. This will be one way to help pay for the current crisis, but in conjunction with a massive income transfer from labor and the middle classes in the all countries to support finance capital. As a result of the current crisis which will linger for the balance of the decade in weaker economies, trans-national corporations--everything from banks to communications--will enjoy an even greater role in society and they will have a stronghold on the captive state whose interests are intertwined with finance capital.

Twilight of Hyperpuissance and a New Bretton Woods

Capitalism is constantly evolving. It entered the phase of Keynesianism during the 1930s and remained at that phase with structural modifications at Bretton Woods that reigned supreme for decades. During the Reagan-Thatcher era, the state reduced the social safety net, engaged in deficit spending to strengthen corporate capital and defense. As hyperpuissance (former French foreign minister Hubert Verdine coined the term to explain the simultaneous military, economic, technological and cultural hegemony), the US has been
gatekeeper of world capitalism under the umbrella of Pax Americana.

Molding institutions around the world to preserve an international order under its hegemony for the past sixty years, the US had help from its European and Japanese junior partners that have evolved into more equal partners as US relative power has been declining while East Asia power will continue rising. The catalyst to American hyperpuissance was its unmatched economic, military, and scientific/technological power against the background of the Cold War--now against Muslim Terrorism, because empires must always have an enemy to distract public opinion from domestic problems.

Superpower status in the past sixty years has allowed the US to remove obstacles that hindered the international order of the American-based imperial network. Though US hyperpuisance is hardly finished no matter what V. Putin and others want to believe for their own political reasons, it is obvious that China, EU and to a lesser extent Japan have evolved into nearly equal partners with the US and have greater flexibility in moving more swiftly and freely in molding the new phase of state-directed capitalism, especially now that there is no Cold War.

The Europeans have been calling for a new "Bretton Woods" type of conference, given that the global economic power structure has been changing and the EU led by Germany has had a greater voice in IMF policy. This was an inevitable move given that the new phase of state-directed capitalism that has been evolving since Reagan-Thatcher will necessitate a new model for the international order with a
multi-polar (EU, Japan, China, Russia, India, and Brazil) power structure; a recognition that the old international economic order has outlived its usefulness and a new order must be built to take into
account the realities of today instead of operating under rules of the 1940s when the US was at its zenith.

New Social Contract

What social class benefits and what social class shortchanged under the new phase of state-directed capitalism? The answer to this question will determine the level of rising resistance from labor and the middle class that will feel increasingly pressured under an unjust international order, where the state in the advanced capitalist countries is the guardian of even more powerful monopoly capitalism than we have seen thus far. Small businesses will be placated, though many of them will be not saved amid inevitable capital concentration. Small businesses, which generate most job growth, are essential to provide a laissez-faire cover for finance capitalism, and they are the catalyst in cloaking the system as "fair" and "democratic." Because economic growth in the near future is coming from capital-intensive rather than labor-intensive enterprises, unemployment, especially among the young, will remain in the double-digit area, thus causing social and political instability.

But to prevent political and social instability under the new phase of state-directed capitalism, a new social contract will be needed that goes far beyond the largely symbolic gestures of throwing a few crumbs
to small businesses, the middle classes and workers. Minor tax breaks and selective incentives for small businesses and rebates for low-to-middle income families as Obama and EU leaders have pledged,
are band aid solutions. Regardless of the multi-faceted PR campaigns by the state, media, professional establishment apologists-for-hire, and businesses to placate the masses, governments will have to either
promulgate a new social welfare state or confront the threat of instability by resorting to police measures or creating foreign policy and/or military crises to unite the masses behind the flag.

Friday, 22 November 2013


"Never has anyone ruled on this earth by passing his rule essentially
on any other thing than public opinion," wrote Jose Ortega y Gasset in
*Revolt of the Masses*. While modern secular man presumably ought
to base her/his view of leaders on the prospect of a brighter future
for society's welfare, the politicians, their image-makers, and the
media formulate the candidates' public image on personal 'character
traits,' as though the politician is a marriage candidate for the

The age of mass media has created what mass politics requires
and voters have been duped to believing must be the criteria. Whether
U.S. and European presidents, or leaders of less advanced countries,
the leader must be a 'man or woman of the people' with a 'personal
touch,' regardless of whether the policies only strengthen established
interests to the detriment of society's welfare and social justice. To
distract from essential issues related to the widening rich-poor gap,
the corporate-owned mass media throughout the world constantly molds
public opinion and shapes the image of leaders for the masses,
focusing not on policies affecting the interests of disparate social
classes, but on sensationalized stories and personal lives. Because
human beings yield to irrational impulses, because the mass means of
communication cultivate peoples' voyeuristic proclivities, and because
most voters accept image as a substitute for substance, politicians
have a free reign to serve elite interests while trying to present
themselves as personable leaders with 'good' character traits that the
average person can feel good about.

Sensationalized scandals, including 'human interest,' sex and crime,
celebrity, and 'reality-show' programs along with organized religion
that is more political than political parties, befuddle the average
voter's mind to the degree that internalization of societal problems
means the absence of grasping complex problems regarding social
justice. When I was a graduate student in Chicago during the late
1970s, my neighbor and good friend Miriam, a Holocaust survivor, told
me that people are generally satisfied as voyeurs, rather than act to
help those in need. We have failed to realize that we live in Fritz
Lang's Metropolis, where we need to look beyond image and take action
to foster social justice.

Thanks to bourgeois institutions and the mass media that foster
individualistic value systems as the pillar of capitalism, we are
deluded into believing that we live in Hitchcock's Rear Window that
offers the psychological satisfaction the individual thinks he/she

Thursday, 21 November 2013


How many times must man create and then kill God? First Nietzsche declares God dead, and now Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant minds in theoretical physics, is arguing that the laws of the universe are responsible for the creation of the universe. In my view, it is indeed great that he changed his mind from his earlier position. The larger question of God's existence, however, is whether it makes any difference in the way today's scientists, unlike social scientists, theologians and philosophers, will conduct their studies knowing that a prominent physicist denies God's existence in his forthcoming book The Grand Design.

Does this mean man must now accept that the self-creating universe gave birth to irrational beings who disagree about creation and must accept responsibility for their actions individually and collectively? And what about the fact that most of the people on the planet are rooted in religion and theism and without this they are floating in deep space like burnt-out asteroids? And what of mainstream institutions that superficially or substantively accept theism and count on man's acceptance of belief in the absolute and on the masses' acceptance of the illusion of a Supreme Being? How dreadfully irresponsible of Professor Hawking to deprive humankind of precious illusions that predate civilization!

Naturally, his revelation would have meant something entirely different for society in the age of the Holy Inquisition, even in the Age of Reason. But other than Oprah-style media designed to sell a bourgeois lifestyle along with products for today's "smart consumer," does it mean anything either for theists or atheists? Ontological arguments for God's existence--everything from the teleological and causation arguments to motion and design arguments on which there is no shortage of scholarly philosophical and theological literature, will not be impacted no matter what any theoretical physicist proclaims. As for the believers, the things that matter include but are not limited to a religious experience and/or revelation, religious ethics, free will vs. determinism, and above all, the eternal question of life after death. Although throughout history scientific discoveries gave philosophy foundation and direction, it is guaranteed that Hawking will not have any impact today.

As man's greatest, most necessary creation used for both good and evil, religion and theism have little to do with science and much more with human nature--both human biology and psychology--as well as with institutions, especially politics and business which have always managed to co-opt religion and use it for amassing power, profit and glory. From ancient times to the present man exploits, subjugates and kills in the the name of a personal deity universalized. No human invention comes close to religion and theism for fostering order and at times chaos and mass destruction in society. Religious faith may actually help patients recover quicker when they are ill and they may live longer--at least this is what some studies indicate. And for my personal taste, priests may serve a more useful role than psychologists, or least as equally good and bad. Because religion and theism reflect human nature, because they are the ultimate tools of control and exploitation of the masses by elites, their existence is guaranteed until the end of the species, no matter the theoretical physics arguments or empirical studies suggesting the absence of God behind The Grand Design

Monday, 11 November 2013


Has human nature undergone a radical transformation in the past 10,000 years? Have people in "civilized society" created institutions that reflect an egalitarian/hierarchic dichotomy in their nature? Watching a documentary, I was amazed at one of the 9/11 survivors who claimed that when families came together to form a support network, hierarchies developed naturally because some believed "their suffering" was greater than the others. What accounts for the propensity to reject a communitarian/egalitarian spirit and to act accordingly in social groups, especially in the Western World?

Strongly influenced by Marx whose dialectical materialism he rejected, Weber developed conflict theory, and social stratification theory on the basis of property, power, prestige, age and gender--all in a white European context of the 19th century. Besides class, status, gender, ethnicity, race, and prestige, the immediate and extended family structure, the ego and desire to affirm/validate the self by claiming separateness from the other may be contributing factors to the hierarchical mindset and practice. But the irony remains that in society and in hierarchies the ideal aspiration is egalitarianism.

Food gathering communities operated under egalitarian/communitarian conditions that reflected their needs and no doubt considered it "natural." Today such conditions appear antithetical to humans that respond to hierarchical models in daily life. If universally immersed in hierarchical models, why do human beings pay homage to egalitarianism (spiritual or humanist) and seek it as an ideal? Before Judaism, Christianity and Islam, paganism which was based on nature and female deity worship evolved toward patriarchal and hierarchical structures with the stratification of society owing to private property and military conquest.

Initially rooted in hierarchy of nature and then reflecting patriarchal social stratification, paganism reflects the convergence of the real and the ideal. By contrast, Christianity, once it separates people into "good and evil" dichotomy, judges all who are "good" (saved) as equal in the Kingdom of God, while the eschatological model of Hell certainly makes liberal use of hierarchies as Dante dramatized in his ingenious novel intended to criticize secular and spiritual hierarchies in the Italian city states. Of the Eastern religions, Confucianism of course is hierarchical. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism are closer to paganism in spirit and structure, while they embrace a holistic oneness de-emphasized in the hierarchical mindset.

The basic hierarchic model has remained in tact throughout history partly because it reflects the stratification of "civilized society." Today hierarchies are not only present in military, government, business, hospitals, academic institutions, NGOs, but even in community groups that begin with some kind of egalitarian structure but quickly abandon it. Communist countries never managed to put into practice an egalitarian structure as their followers hoped. After taking power, they tried to address the larger issue of social justice within the context of the regime's political perimeters.

By adopting a rigid hierarchical structure to enforce "social justice," Communist regimes lost the PR war to Liberal-bourgeois regimes that idealized the individual within the hierarchic social structure. Even to their own popular base, Communist regimes appeared to undercut Marxist ideology, thus allowing critics and their Cold War nemesis to claim moral superiority on the issue of "equality." All along, hierarchies at all levels of society East and West prevailed and the question was who is better off materially--Communist East or capitalist West? The thin layer of Communist regimes resting on top of a multi-layered hierarchical society was hardly sufficient to alter peoples' hierarchical values and envy of Western materialistic culture.

Since the French Revolution the proclaimed ideal of governments as often reflected in their written constitutions is egalitarianism in some form. Invariably this is translated into equality of opportunity in Western bourgeois regimes, a model exported to most of the world with globalization and the downfall of Communism. The (hierarchical) reality of course is far from the unreachable (egalitarian) ideal. While merit-based system is the aspired ideal of businesses, an ideal that business often projects as "equality of opportunity," the reality is one of rigid hierarchy often unrelated to merit-based models.

Given that educational and non-profit institutions have followed the business model, hierarchies prevail in those sectors despite the ideal of egalitarianism. Hierarchies may not only be the result of social conditioning, or inherent societal conflict where each individual struggles to maximize his benefit as Weber postulated, but they may have a psychosomatic basis as well. If we accept Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development and Carl Jung's "stages of life" theory, then hierarchies are a reflection of human nature. Shaped by society's institutions invariably dominated primarily by social and political elites, human nature is conditioned to accept hierarchies as "natural." In the Middle Ages the Divine Chain of Being (the ultimate hierarchy) was reality throughout Christendom. Human beings thirst for affirmation of self and the desire to transcend self, they struggle to maximize their individual benefits oblivious to the welfare of the community. Therefore, they live in hierarchical structures because hierarchies are an expression of neurosis to use a Freudian interpretation.

However, at the ethical and socio-political levels, the elites and most people in Western societies acknowledge that some basic rights--human rights--must be conceded because we live in communities, share a common fate, and aspire to harmony that yields safety and security. At the existential level, death as the great equalizer representing the inevitability of eternal oblivion, the realization that the individual is indeed an organic part of nature's whole forces human beings to feel empathy in order to feel human and overcome fear of death, as in Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyitch. Given that equality cannot exist in the absence of integration with the whole and given the individual resists integration into an amorphous mass where will and ambition are surrendered to the benefit of the "whole," hierarchies which are externally imposed will remain for eternity.