William A Gardner
Culture and Societies
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Trust and Betrayal
Our humanity is dulled by fear. Fear grows in the cracks and crannies at the back of our primitive brain where shadows and nightmare images of deformed evil creatures crouch and whisper. Here at the edge of light there is a boundary marked by trust and defined by courage and truth. On one side lies an open sunlit field of opportunity, yet fear often pushes us to choose the other side where crooked paths wind through shadowed woods. Trust can be dangerous but is a necessary part of social cohesion. Without trust there is no society, no business, and no happiness. A productive and happy society requires trust among people, and between citizens and their institutions. But what if we can no longer trust those institutions?
What happens when we can longer trust the major public institutions, organized and approved by we the people, whose task it is to lead us, inform us, heal us, and protect our freedoms?1, 2 What should one think when it is increasingly clear that the people running these institutions are protecting their own interests and following the dictates of an ideology that is only superficially connected to logic. Indeed, it is an ideology that is proving antithetical to the best interests of the people! Consider the effect on the people when the judicial system is no longer perceived as fairly following the law and constitution?
When trust is lost within a society the pattern of decreasing wealth is set. Some time ago a few clever academics created an iterative wealth game used to determine the best winning strategy when many business players interact with each other to acquire goods, or points. They were not informed of the rules but had to learn them as the game progressed. The goal was to acquire as many points as possible. Success was to have the most points when the game ended. It was a variation on the standard "Prisoners' Dilemma" from mathematical game theory.
In this wealth game, two players interacted at each iteration of the game and each could choose to either trust or distrust the other. If both trusted each other, the result was that each received a small and equal number of points. If both distrusted the other, they both received zero points. If one chose trust and the other chose distrust then the player that distrusted (treachery) received all the available points leaving the trusting player with zero. Thus a player that consistently distrusted could quickly acquire many points. The players that consistently trusted gained points but slowly as they could only gain points by interacting with another trusting player.
As the game proceeded the players would learn who could not be trusted and would then always choose distrust when interacting with those players. Thus the player who gained many points early by frequently choosing distrust would find that other players gradually always chose distrust in any interaction with them. This created a limit beyond which they could no longer acquire any points as the number of players was limited. Meanwhile the trusting people who interacted with each other continued to gain points indefinitely, thus ultimately surpassing those who typically distrusted. It demonstrated that trust is essential to long-term success in a social and business environment.3
A similar situation occurs within a society. For a society to be productive and successful the people must trust that their institutions and the people who run them are reasonably honest, generally competent, and have the best interests of the people at heart. Clearly this trust is being lost. Global data suggests strongly that it has been waning for some time, and that trust in our public institutions in particular is now on a steep downward curve. In fact, according to Edelman, "Distrust is now society's default emotion."4 Their studies show a decreasing trust in government and the media, and also that no people in the developed countries "believe their families and self will be better off in five years time." What is the source of this trend and do our leaders understand what is happening and why?
After observing the strange illogical actions of the majority of western democratic institutional leaders, one can argue that they either have little concept of the damage their policies are doing to their own people - due perhaps to some form of mass formation psychosis5,6 - or they well understand the damage being caused but believe these harmful policies are necessary to save the world from some sort of future apocalyptic event. We will leave out utter incompetence and psychotic behaviour for the moment. Now, what sort of possible world-ending event, or events, might cause them to collectively harm their own people on such a massive scale? What desperately ominous future apocalyptic events do they expect to arrive on lathered horses? The daily news can hardly get through a day without a depressing story, or at least a scary comment, on the latest event that portends a crisis. Run the possibilities through a little Reductionism and you come up with a short list of these natural (or manufactured) crises. They are:
- Environmental destruction and extinctions,
- Global warming – now morphed conveniently into Climate Change,
- Food shortages and famine,
- Wars, revolution and civil unrest, including nuclear holocaust, and
- Financial collapse.
A generation or two ago such possible events were seen as challenges to be met with effective planning and determined actions. The people at the time and their institutions had the confidence to know that a free people, when given proper accurate information and good leadership, will rise to the challenge. It was a matter of trust and confidence. Today the people are fed a diet of fear and controlled through diktats and mandates that lack logical sense. Our institutions demonstrate no trust in the people and, as a result, the people are losing trust in their institutions.7 The world of our parents no longer exists. Leaders in the global forest have morphed into axes and the world is splintering. Many people sense this unfortunate trend. We are reminded of what W. B. Yeats wrote: "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold." We are entering into a New Global Disorder.
We need to focus our efforts on rebuilding trust and recognizing that most of the current fear in society is unfounded. Fearful people can and will be manipulated by those who have a particular agenda. This is especially true for children. It is important that we develop our own vision of a trusting, productive and happy society, and then work to bring it into existence. Find leaders who understand what is happening and who are determined to represent and improve the life of the people who elected them, and then support those leaders. If not, our future may more likely reflect the dark vision of Aldous Huxley or George Orwell. To paraphrase Dylan Thomas: Do not go gentle into that dark night.
Relax. Take time. Find trust. Think.
In future writing I will pose questions regarding the five crises and the potential motivations behind the related social manipulation that is occurring. I hope it will be an interesting Socratic adventure.
Notes and References
- As one interesting example related to drug and vaccine review and approvals, most people believe that Health Canada is government funded to avoid conflict of interest with regard to the products they are tasked to review. In fact, they are 90% funded by these companies through fees. See the article from Data.ca. This type of arrangement is similar in other countries as shown in the November 8, 2022 John Campbell podcast.
- Internal research by the Privy Council of Canada that studied 1,872 Canadians to determine trust in 'Authoritative Sources' of information such as government agencies (see Epoch Times, January 25, 2023) showed that only 42.9 percent of them reported having a high trust in official sources such as government health agencies, public news sources and scientists. Of course the report claimed that the most 'non-trusting' group, representing 22.5 percent of those surveyed, also exhibited "relatively high conspiratorial thinking and psychological reactance, and low openness to evidence." In other words, they displayed skepticism toward government edicts. Perhaps this is why Health Canada has created a "behavioural" division that seeks to find ways to manipulate the attitudes of Canadians using psychological methods.
- When lawyer Sam Untermyer questioned financier J.P. Morgan during a US Congressional hearing in 1912, he asked, "Is not commercial credit primarily based on money or property?" J.P. Morgan replied, "No sir. The first thing is character... before money or anything else. Money cannot buy it... a man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom."
- Neil Oliver of GBNews has a terrific podcast on trust and control from October, 2022. He explains how and why his trust in government and related institutions has been lost, echoing my own thoughts. Watch his podcast on Youtube. He explains how the fraud and lies of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine coercion were what brought him to this point of distrust, and how the internet today is similar to the Reformation in that the average person now has the ability to connect directly with the truth.
- The term Mass Formation Psychosis is from a book titled The Psychology of Totalitarianism by Mattias Desmet, a Professor in Clinical Psychology at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at Ghent University, Belgium. In the book he describes the conditions under which a large cohort adopts a common belief in something and maintains that belief even in the face of contradictory evidence.
- Another excellent book on this phenomenon is Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay. Although first published in 1841, it is equally valid today and a very entertaining read.
- Even the New York Times, that bastion of the woke standard narrative, in an October 13, 2022 news email stated with respect to disease outbreaks, "Another factor worth emphasizing: public health communication. During Covid, officials have sometimes given unclear or misleading guidance because they did not trust the public with the truth." (emphasis added)