Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Sun Jul 8 11:52:51 2001
Dissolution of identity

This is a work in progress that represents essay ideas I've had for awhile, haven't (as far as I can remember) written down, and still mean to write an essay on sometime. Still haven't found the right way to phrase it.

Racism and nationalism are two elements of mass psychology that cause a lot of problems in the world today. They revolve around an 'us versus them' mentality. The traditional solution (western, anyhow) seems to be to expose people to all sorts of cultures in their youth with an emphasis that all of these are (equally?) valuable, and that our current culture is just one of the pack, no better/worse than the others. This sort of works, but not terribly well, as later on people still can easily drift into mild racism based on representational psychological effects. It also has some extremely negative side effects, from our point of view, in that although much of western culture is suboptimal, there are some areas, or at least some subcultures (scientific) that we would like to mark as being superior to superstition and ignorance. Advocating a value of truth is not consistant with advocating an egalitarianism of values. Other ideas which are incompatible with our society are often also herded into the 'accept all of this' fence (e.g. racism, sexism, honor, etc) something not particularly wise.

There is another way to address these kinds of issues -- to keep back the psychological effect of representationality, we can instead dissolve ideas of identity. By providing the base categories and stressing them, our society unwittingly provides the framework for these effects that we want to minimize. If we can make it so that people care no more about their racial heritage or nation of origin than the color of their hair, then we essentially will have the problem solved. It would be a hard remedy for some, but generally such people are the people causing problems anyhow.