Saturday, March 26, 2011
The Dominator Reality
Let’s begin with a definition of a reality. When I refer to a “reality” I'm referring to a consensual reality or human culture. It is not hyperbole to talk about culture as reality, since human beings can't experience anything at all without the filters and meanings that culture provides. Culture is traditionally considered the expression of human lifeways, our dress, art, and cuisine, our ways and means, but culture also determines what is possible and true, what exists or does not exist, who we humans are and what the meaning of our lives may be. In a practical way, cultures are the realities in which we live, and if there is a reality that exists without culture, humanity will never know.
A dominator culture is any form of reality that is defined by its subjection of humans and nonhumans by a small ruling elite. Humans have created a plurality of cultures, but for the past 5000 years, variations of dominator cultures have steadily increased their hold on human life and now claim hegemony on a global scale.
The ruling elite of dominator cultures are the people I call the dominators. They constitute a wealthy and powerful criminal class that has taken many forms and names over time, assuming such roles as warrior kings, priests, emperors and royal families, corporations, nation-states, churches, and political parties. They use whatever facade is effective in establishing mastery, and also employ a variety of weapons to control human people and plunder the earth’s resources, including terror and threat, weapons of physical violence, and weapons of mental and spiritual control. Some examples of these weapons of mental and spiritual control include church doctrines, threats of hell and damnation, marginalization, assimilation, ridicule, pathologizing, and demeaning, as well as the control of social institutions, mythologies, the sciences, and ultimately, what is acceptable as possible and real.
Dominator cultures are characterized by paradigms of materialism, that is, the disensoulment of matter, and by absolutism and linearity. Hierarchies are maintained by violence and power-over methods rather than by authority, and the values and institutions of culture support the goals of the ruling elite over and above the welfare of people and land. Personal gain and self-interest, for example, have been established as virtues in all dominator cultures, and individualism, an extreme form of humanism, is encouraged. It may be surprising at first to think of humanism as a dominator philosophy, but humanism, after all, is dominator hubris writ large, setting up humanity as the ultimate intelligence and the only ensouled expression of an otherwise mechanical universe.
The origin of dominator cultures is not easy to unearth. For reasons that remain speculative, many cooperative cultures gave way to dominator cultures as far back as 5000 B.C.E. The rise of the dominators may have been a byproduct of times of scarcity or of the tension created by competition between nomadic groups. It may have evolved from expressions of a dominating impulse in human nature. One thing we do know is that the artifacts of civilization, such as cities, writing, and institutionalized religion, seem to have arisen hand-in-hand with dominator hierarchies, although we can show no causal link. We also know that the actions of dominator individuals and groups are unconstrained by concern for the welfare of others. This selfish willingness to hurt has given them the power to control and command throughout the centuries, and to establish their vast wealth, their states and nations, and their churches and corporations.
As the 21st century opens, dominators control the institutions of almost every society on earth. They achieved this hegemony by managing science, religion, politics, technology, economics, medicine, education, food production, and every other human institution to empower themselves and meet their own selfish ends. Today’s dominators have claimed a monopoly on justified violence through a corporate trust of churches, states, and other powerful entities that claim loyalty to and garner ultimate justification from a variety of monotheistic gods.