Monday, January 28, 2019
Books - The Square and The Tower by Niall Ferguson
Two organizing ideas about how society is organized can be described as hierarchies and networks. Both have existed throughout human history.
Understanding social organization is important because the structures and dynamics of the ways of organizing social life at a marcosystemic level influence behavior at the microsystemic level.
Most of the macrosystemic organizing structures and dynamics are unconscious and as such, people don't understand why they think what they think, why they feel what they feel, and why they do what they do. The individual and the micro systems the individual is partipating in are influenced by higher level forces and dynamics. Knowing what they are is the source of social power.
Niall Ferguson does a good job tracing the operation of hierarchies and networks over the human history. Significant changes in human society were advanced with the printing press, transportation systems, and especially the internet in the last 25 years.
Ferguson points out that the democratization of society which the internet promises has been replaced by the manipulation of huge oligapolies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google. As we have seen in our last election in the U.S. in 2016, and with the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the manipulation of these communication mediums for the purpose of propogandizing populations is undermining the ability of citizens to rationally decide policy options for their governance.
The use of these communication systems to advance special interests which may run counter to the welfare of societies is a huge new threat in our modern age.
It is easy to manipulate people who don't know they are being manipulated. Raising the consciousnesses of the targets of these propoganda efforts is important to restore integrity to democratic processes.
Understanding the structure of the society within which one participants is a major contributor to healthy functioning.
The Square and The Tower is a book with important ideas. It earns a 5 out of 5 on the MBH book rating scale.