Inflection Points

When does a gathering become a crowd?  When does a crowd become a mob?  When, and how, do mobs self-organize into societies?

Social thinkers used to be fascinated with questions like these.  Gustave Le Bon, a brilliant SOB* with wide influence on guys like Freud, Sorel, Lenin, and Hitler, spent a lot of his life working on the psychology of crowds and revolution.  The great British anthropologists, like E.B. Tylor, theorized about the stages of human socio-cultural development.  Even nutters like Bakunin thought hard about how an anarchist “society” would operate.  The late 19th century was the great age of social anthropology.

We’d do well to reacquaint ourselves with these guys.  Modern anthropology — now the various “Studies” — is useless, because they’ve gone all-in on relativism.  Everything is a “social construction” to these folks, which makes not just anthropology, but the humanities in general, worthless.  What could, say, the Ancient Greeks have to teach us, other than the self-evident fact that it’s possible to “construct” a society in the way they did?

Which is to say, racist, sexist, homophobic, blah blah blah, just like every other society in the history of humanity (those scoundrels).  Why study the Greeks’ art or literature, except to see the specific ways in which they “reified” Greek prejudices, or served as “technologies” of oppression?  Le Bon and Sorel could make something out of that — a really killer “how-to” manual for a high-Victorian police state — but the ivory tower is all about talking, never doing.  We need to go back to the sources.

What’s the inflection point?  Our Thing is strictly an Internet thing right now, and maybe it always will be.  It surely will be if we don’t figure out some way to take it to the streets.  Sorel was a dirty commie, but Sorelianism has much to teach us.  Le Bon, Lenin, Hitler, Bernays, Maurras, Mao, even Bakunin and E.B. Tylor (if only because carrying around a book called Primitive Cultures would be so deliciously triggering).  Relativism is false; human nature was, is, and always shall be.  These guys actually went out and did something with it.

At what point does a mob become a tribe?  Find the inflection point, before the Left finds it for you.



*It sounds like I’m indulging in a version of the genetic fallacy here — because Le Bon’s ideas were used by awful people, Le Bon himself must’ve been a bad guy.  From what I know of him (very little), he seems to have been no worse than your average belle epoque Frenchman.  But it would’ve been much better for the world if all his insights hadn’t been collected so cogently, and with such energy.  They marched Western Culture off the cliff, that generation, but you sure can’t fault their work ethic.

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5 thoughts on “Inflection Points

  1. Jay Carter

    A scary thought. The  National Socialist German Workers’ Party morphed into the Nazi party in the time it took you to read this sentence.

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  4. Tim of the North

    The Wikipedia entry on Le Bon is interesting. Read its summary of his thoughts on crowds and then apply it to Twitter. We have created in our midst an unconscious crowd, suggestible and irrational. Tim

    1. Severian Post author

      Le Bon was a brilliant man. Hitler studied his work, and we all know how that worked out. Pretty much everything that needs to be said about the Modern world was said between 1860 and 1910; we just need to go back and read it.

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