Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Four Forces that Shape a Society

For an airplane in flight to be steady and stable, these four forces need to be in equilibrium. What are the four forces that need to be in balance for a society to be stable and steady?

I was watching an excellent Hindi movie: Rann.
The movie is basically about the interplay of different forces in society and how they seek dominance. 

In any society, these four forces are at play. And depending on which of these forces have the most power, different dynamics will manifest. There is a fourth force also, but I will leave that for a later discussion.
I give names like ‘Magician’ or ‘Journalist’ to these forces. Don’t think of them as individuals. Think of them as a vector force that acts and influences and affects the equilibrium of a society.
Don't think of the below forces as good or bad. They are simply forces like drag, lift, thrust and weight. All four forces are needed for an airplane to fly properly. Similarly, all of the below forces are necessary for society to function smoothly. The important thing is the recognition of the sources of these forces in a society and understanding how they are contributing to the dynamic equilibrium in a society.

There are benevolent dictators and there are malevolent dictators. A benevolent dictator wearing the hat of all four forces below can do a lot of good. A malevolent dictator with the power of all four forces can cause chaos.

The Magician comes in many forms but in the end he is the convincing power of media. The Magician is an artist. He has many tricks in his bag. The power of the Magician is that he can connect with the language of the common man. His tricks are such that it is never clear to the common man where his power ends and where the true culture of a society begins. That is magic. His magic is that the overtness of his powers are undetected.
You think it is you, but it is actually him. You think it is him, but it is actually you. That is the power of media and advertising. Advertisements make you think its ideas are actually yours. That is why you adopt them. The Magician is expert at speaking the language of the common man and seamlessly catering and pandering to his needs. The Magician benefits greatly by his powers of persuasion. The Magician is a master politician and speaks the language of your heart very well. 


The Journalist shapes the morality of a society.

The Journalist claims to be guided by truth and justice. He, through the course of shaping the news, defines how society should interpret truth. It is peering through the carvings of the diligent Journalist's handiwork that society traces the light of justice.
The Journalist is that dogged individual who actually believes in the ideals he espouses. He preaches and seeks to convert common men to believers of truth and justice. He believes that truth and justice is possible and can be tangibly attained.
And he, through his medium of communication, seeks to penetrate the myriad colors of society through his grasp on ‘the truth.’ And using the sword of truth, the Journalist seeks justice for the common man.

The Journalist believes that the salvation and hope of society is through the the inherent righteousness of his path.
Unfortunately, the nature of 'truth' is such that, as righteous as it might be, it generally goes right over the head of most of the common men.
In a democracy, that becomes quite a problem since the chain of a democratic society is as strong as it's weakest link. That means that the more the common men tune the Journalist out because the nature of his product is not smacking tasty, the more the quality of a democracy takes a hit.  This is the subject that this movie: Rann, explores in depth.

Common man:
The common man is the general population in society consuming both what the Journalists and the Magicians cater.
The common man is torn between the Magician and the Journalist.

The fact is, if the common man were to only listen to the Journalist, he would definitely be confident of having a grasp of the world around him. But to some degree the common man would be somewhat bitter and negative as well. Sure he would be educated on the latest happenings. But, since the Journalist only focuses on all the wrongs and injustices of society, the common man who is only influenced by the Journalist, tends to have somewhat of a cynical perspective of anyone that holds power.The pure Journalist is very rigid and intellectual in how he communicates his truth. The pure Journalist communicates in a conceptual and clean intellectual language that is unpalatable for the masses.

On the other hand, the Magician is an entertainer. The Magician knows exactly the chord to strike with the common man. But, if the common man were to only be influenced by the Magician, he would get seduced and sedated by the promises of corporate advertising and politicians. Without the Journalist, there is no force to explain away the wiles of the Magician. The Magician is a panderer of tastes. He has no other religion other than marketing and viewership numbers. He will dole out whatever form of entertainment that you want to swallow. The Magician at his worst is a politician par excellence out to profit through feeding your every whim as long as you are willing to give him your dollars and your votes.
The Magician has no qualms in selling his wares with whatever form of advertisement that he can get away with. The Magician’s morality is: “Does it sell?” If the answer is “Yes,” then it is good enough for the him. The magician does not necessarily care for the long run health of society.

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