Archive for July, 2011

The Dangerous Idea of Self-actualization

July 25, 2011

Mass murderer Anders Breivik, Oslo, wanted to reach the top of Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. The pyramid shape creates the impression that the top is most worth pursuing, because it is hardest to get there. Top step of the pyramid is self-actualization.

Self-actualization is a vague idea that leads people to become self-centered. The idea tells us to aspire to something we already have. Like other mammals, we slowly becomes self-actualized during pregnancy. You, who can read this, are as actual as one can be. You are alive, that’s all.

Maslow_Hierarchy

The idea of ​​self-actualization is based on a confusion between people and ideas. Ideas can be potential or actual. The only thing we can actualize is a idea – by realizing it – but we are no ideas. Ideas can be communicated, but people cannot. We have symbols that represent us – name and PIN – but we are not these symbols. We are living matter, flesh and blood.

Anders Breivik wanted to become a politician because media elevates our politicians into ideological stars. They let the political leader’s personify the ideas, thereby creating a confusion of person and ideas that leads to emotional polarization – love, hate and populism. Social media increases this tension even more.

Breivik was inspired on the Internet. He wanted to be a modern Templar fighting Islam. On YouTube, he learned to make explosives. The target was the immigrant-friendly Norwegian Labour Party, which he believed had betrayed the country. Anders Breivik killed 93 persons and his name will be spread across the world. But it doesn’t mean he has reached a higher self-actualization.

Self-actualization is a dangerous idea, making us focus on agents instead of their actions. Anders Breivik believed that self-actualization was to have his name rewritten a million times. But a terrorist who creates political history at the same moment as he carries out his mass murder has not actualized himself, he has just realized a massacre.

The concept of democratic GDP

July 3, 2011

Three hundred years after the scientific revolution we have not yet agreed on standardized definitions and measurements for one of society’s most central concepts: democracy. The word’s original meaning is that the society is controlled by the people. Over time the concept of democracy has become more general and imprecise, in the style of the concept economics.

But in contrast to economic science, the democratic research has not developed standardized mathematical concepts and theories. Possibly because the requirement that science should be kept objective and free of value. The concept of democracy is overloaded and the battle that has occurred has made it difficult to develop a neutral conceptual theory.

The economy has thus come to dominate the social sciences, with quantitative concepts supposed objectivity. Money does not smell, a dollar is a dollar. Every purchase expresses a valuation, but the financial transactions can be handled without concern of the underlying values because mathematics is regarded as objective.

Growth is an economic concept that has acquired great importance. World countries seeks steady and sound economic growth. The popular revolutions in the Arab spring seems to have democratic growth as target, but without a mathematical standard we cannot estimate the degree of democratic change. As the economy theories and key indicators have been used successfully, we should develop analogue concepts for democracy.

The equivalent to money in the democratic system are the votes. A vote is a vote, regardless of what it used to. The starting point of democracy is that all voices – like money – is worth the same. We think that everyone should have the right to buy basically whatever they want. However, there is a struggle about what issues you should have the right to vote on and who should have the right to vote.

The economics are based on the concept of Gross Domestic Product, GDP. Similarly, democratic GDP is calculated by adding the sum of all votes in society at national, regional and municipal levels – both in the general elections and in parliament, county and municipal assemblies.

General elections are not held every year. The calculation must be done over the term of office where all votes counts, both from voters and elected representatives. The more people take part in democratic voting and the more questions we decide on together, the higher the country’s democratic GDP.