The Sunday Times
My current research [which initially entailed attempts to unravel the meaning of certain curious ancient texts] started in the wake of a long letter I'd sent the English Sunday Times, in 1981, when the cold war was entering what I thought was an exceedingly dangerous phase. In an unplanned, hastily written article, I tried to show that when the Soviet leaders appeared to be adhering blindly to the outdated ideologies of Marx and Lenin they were merely giving expression to a pattern of behaviour that is engrained in the human psyche, and I likened it to the social subservience exhibited by individual members of a bee or ant colony. I concluded that this propensity we have to behave like mindless robots only becomes a problem when a society's current intelligentsia are excluded from positions of power and leadership … as was the case in the Soviet Union.
When a sub-editor of the newspaper wrote to say that they would have liked to publish the letter but couldn't because there was only limited space available, I sent it to a wide range of people, including certain famous individuals whose judgement I valued, and the enthusiastic feedback I received encouraged me. Almost twenty years later I published my first book.
The letter to the Editor, dated 26-08-81
Please accept my apologies for this late contribution to the universal debate which has been stimulated by your bold exposition of the article entitled 'Can Europe halt the next world war?' by E. P. Thompson. I am currently engrossed in research work on an unrelated topic, which, despite being of considerable interest to me, is almost dwarfed into insignificance by the momentous argument presented in Mr. Thompson's synopsis. He is propounding a point of view which I passionately agree with and I would be most indebted to you if you permitted me this opportunity of making a small contribution to the argument.
Human beings are social animals who gain strength and security by coexisting with each other in large groups. A precondition for the successful perpetuation of this mode of behaviour is that an innate mechanism exists whereby social order can be achieved and maintained in each group. This observation is equally true for other species of animals which have evolved in similarly large congregations. The bee and the ant, with their tiny brains, are able to achieve feats of miraculous wonder with apparent ease. Their superlative organisational abilities are made possible because there are subgroups of individuals, within the main matrix, which each have clearly demarcated functions. The constituent members of these subgroups have no option but to play blind obedience to their genetic inheritance. Their genes predict with precise detail the role that each class of insect has to play in the organisation of its society. This regimented system of inherited rule following is ideally suited to their permanently fixed mode of existence, which has not altered for millions of years.
Human social and cultural aspirations, however, have almost limitless horizons. The method therefore bequeathed by their genes, at resolving the 'organisation problem', is infinitely more sophisticated and flexible than any lower form of animal life can muster.
The first prerequisite for social order within a group of human beings has always been that the mass of individuals so conglomerated is able to invoke a small nucleus of leaders from within its midst. These leaders endowed with special attributes by the random nature of genetic inheritance, enhanced by experience gained of life's complexities, will be the thinkers, innovators and perceivers of social danger and injustice within that group. I shall refer to this group as the 'intelligentsia'.
The second prerequisite, but of equal importance, is that the remaining individuals within the group [who numerically will form the great majority] are able and prepared to acquiesce to the ideas and directions of the intelligentsia. I shall refer to this group as the 'followers'. This title has no derogatory connotations but merely reflects the followers' vitally important function of following their chosen leader - as Jesus of Nazareth's disciples followed him, and Martin Luther King's did similarly. The followers by taking directions and example from their intelligentsia [who are respected because they are genuinely chosen by the followers] are able to perform, with the minimum of conflict, the multiplicity of tasks and roles necessary for the perpetuation of a colony of human beings, with its intricate demands and lofty aspirations.
The underlying strength in this ostensibly simple solution to the 'organisation problem' lies in the mutual respect and constant lines of communication and exchange that prevails between these two interdependent subgroups of individuals. Each subgroup will have no rigid, clearly demarcated identity because, for example, if one of the intelligentsia's ideas ceases to work he will have to move over for someone else. Similarly, a follower may be a late graduate to the intelligentsia when his wealth of experience proves to be invaluable to his society's aspirations. Thus all individuals in this flourishing, cohesive community will be fully accountable to each other. Pretentious individuals will not be able to pose as one of the intelligentsia because they will only be recognised by their proven abilities. I contend that this phenomenon, which I call 'public accountability', is of immeasurable importance in the establishment of stable human social order.
As society develops from small primitive tribes to larger and more complex groupings, the rate of social progress eventually reaches saturation point. This happens when the lines of communication between the intelligentsia and followers are fully engaged, and further innovations can only proceed at this fixed, limited pace. This formidable problem has been universally resolved by the same ingenious method. The intelligentsia formulate their current thoughts regarding the criteria they consider to be relevant concerning social advance, and the societal action they believe to be right for effecting such advance. These thoughts are then written down so as to form a permanent reference for the followers. A set of rules and procedures is then abstracted from these writings [by the intelligentsia and/or the followers] to form the basis of what I call a 'bureaucratic organisation'. These incredible servants of the people have been responsible, throughout the ages, for gigantic leaps forward in social development. Their strength lies in the fact that the followers, who exclusively permeate their fold, are able to follow diligently their respected intelligentsias' instructions, without having to refer constantly back to them in person. This, in turn, frees the intelligentsia to direct their precious time and energy to other social problems, and to act as catalysts in the creation of even more bureaucracies. Thus social revolutions can occur in a comparatively short space of time.
However, new social environments bring in their wake new problems and aspirations which were not encountered in the previous era when the bureaucracies were established. Even the intelligentsia, endowed as they are with great insight of the human condition are unable to perceive the nature of future social problems in unknown environments. Thus the bureaucratic machinery, so effective under the old order, now becomes outdated and incapable of maintaining the momentum of social advance. The intelligentsia soon perceive the root cause of the problem and they appeal to the bureaucratic hierarchy [as outsiders] to reconstruct their antiquated infrastructure. These appeals are repelled with vigour by the bureaucratic followers because they passionately believe they are serving mankind's best interests by following the rules laid down by their respected [but now intangible] intelligentsia. They see the 'new intelligentsia' as 'impostors' who are trying to destroy the social order which they, the followers, have created by diligently following the sacred rules of their dead leaders. Such impostors have to be crushed with all the force that the bureaucratic machinery can invoke - to fail to do so would be to invite anarchy!
Thus the vital cohesion and mutual respect between the two subgroups of human culture has been destroyed - with disastrous consequences! The flexibility and immense potential of our inherited unique solution to the 'organisation problem' is tragically wasted in a fruitless battle of self-destruction.
It is of paramount importance to the human race to understand precisely why we are in this extremely dangerous situation!
The bureaucratic followers, right from the inception of their organisations, have been true to the fundamental rule, absolutely essential for social order, of following their respected intelligentsias' wishes. The damage was done when these bureaucratic followers were left to their own devices and became denied of their vital contact and interchange with those intelligentsia. As I have already stated, the intelligentsia subgroup of individuals in a society is never a permanent unchanging entity. They are recognised and respected for their common sense and the power of their arguments over others. When those arguments become weak or irrelevant [as, for example, when the environment changes] they have to make way for others of their fold whose arguments are strong. They must at all times be publicly accountable to the followers in society and to their peers in the intelligentsia. Likewise, the followers in society must at all times be publicly accountable for their actions. This public accountability can only be achieved in society by keeping the lines of communication between the current intelligentsia and the bureaucrats open at all times. The bureaucracies are always founded on the current arguments of that era, as pronounced by the current intelligentsia. However, by enshrining those arguments into printed rules and regulations, they are being endowed with an immortality which they were never intended for. The all important disposition of the bureaucratic 'follower' to follow his respected intelligentsia, becomes misdirected into his following a mystical entity from another age, whose immortal [and outdated] writings provide a vice-like spiritual grip on him. The arguments of that spiritual entity cannot be shown to be inept by the mortal, current intelligentsia because no dialogue can take place between mortals and spirits. The bureaucrat therefore continues to plod his old outdated path until a major catastrophe blows the cobwebs from his encapsulated mind. His enslavement to the old ideals and regulations is almost as complete as the worker bee's is to her perpetually recurring life cycle of blind obedience.
The antagonism between the followers and the intelligentsia has been the cause of traumatic eruptions of violence and chaos ever since man sought to accelerate social advance by organising bureaucratic institutions. ... The intelligentsia throughout the world, many thousands of years ago, grappled with the mysteries of the Universe and the Earth. They sought explanations for the Sun, the Stars, and Planets, and Man's relationship to these. They observed social deprivation and they feared the proliferation of diseases which swept this Planet. They incorporated knowledge of all these mysterious and frightening phenomena into one philosophy [i.e. in any particular colony of human beings]. This philosophy, in turn, formed the basis for the establishment of a religious bureaucracy, which sought the enhancement of the social conditions of its members, by providing them with a refuge from the present and hope for the future. Even if disease did decimate them, they were promised a better life in another place, at another time. These bureaucracies, however, rapidly became saturated with ardent followers who soon lost sight of the philanthropic objectives of their organisations' creators. They believed that they were serving mankind by paying blind obedience to these writings, which, after the first generation, became 'spiritual' or 'holy'. The subsequent intelligentsia who questioned the rationale of these writings, as social advances led to greater understanding, were hounded and mercilessly eliminated by the religious bureaucrats. Social advance was thus no longer accelerated but was, in fact, arrested by the intransigent and indoctrinated bureaucrats, who had completely lost sight of the current intelligentsia in their midst.
This curse of inflexible bureaucratic constraints, which permeates not only religious bodies but most kinds of established organisations, has only been broken throughout the ages by violence or by people of exceptional understanding and charisma. When such people are recognised by certain bureaucratic followers as being genuine members of the current intelligentsia the scene is set for a social eruption. Examples include Jesus the Nazarene, Mohammed, Newton, Darwin, Freud, Marx, Linus Pauling [currently not recognised by the medical profession who 'know better' but cannot coherently answer his formidable arguments relating to the role of ascorbic acid as a nutrient] - to mention but a few.
Jesus and Mohammed wanted to update the religious beliefs and practices of their contemporaries. Newton and Darwin transformed the antiquated face of the scientific fraternity. Freud showed the prostituted Victorian medical profession that seminal fluid, discharged during masturbation, could not be the grey matter of the brain, as they claimed, because, if it was so, all of the learned gentlemen would have evacuated every drop of this vital substance from their heads by the tender age of fifteen years. Marx exposed the hideous exploitation and subjugation of the working masses by the bureaucratic capitalist henchmen. Pauling has made brilliant contributions to our understanding of biochemistry. He now claims there is overwhelming statistically significant evidence that Vitamin C is far more important to us than being just a preventative of scurvy and, as such, we may need up to 500 times the amount they claim we need [the medical profession]. Wake up medical profession! ... Where are your arguments? ... Remember, the intelligentsia are rarely found in your bureaucratic corridors!
The hallmark of all these people is that they were attacked with phenomenal venom by the established institutions of the day. Their names are recorded in the history books purely because of the overpowering strength of their arguments. These arguments could not be suppressed even by a super efficient bureaucratic dinosaur which sought to devour them.
Predictably, however the writings [ideologies] of some of these people have, in turn, given birth to new bureaucracies with the same weakness and inflexibility as the old they replaced. The followers of Marx refuse to see the hideous spectacle of Soviet central socialism. This evil is the most threatening and oppressive of all bureaucracies [along with fascist states like Nazi Germany]. In a capitalist state the bureaucracies are not universally cohesive and it is therefore occasionally possible by clandestine operations and momentous argument to expose their facade. The Soviet bureaucratic machine, however, controls all activities in that country. Furthermore, they have shown, beyond any doubt, that they are determined to eliminate their current intelligentsia, who question their outdated ideologies. They therefore pose a daunting threat to humanity.
I share Mr. Thompson's hopes that events in Poland may be a shining light in a long dark tunnel - but there is no room for complacency. I fear that the ideological robots [followers] in the Soviet Union may soon unleash their pent up venom against their defenceless neighbours, who have dared to stray from the 'holy' path.
There is only one way to combat the Soviet threat! It is not by making countless missiles and bombs [hydrogen or neutron], or by chemical or germ warfare, or [in the U.K.] by encapsulating ourselves in the bureaucratic straight jacket of Brussels. We in the West must urgently completely overhaul all of our 'sacred' bureaucracies. These include, our political parties, trade union organisations [remember Donovan?] the military, the police force, the medical profession, the teaching profession, the engineering profession and countless other professions and institutions which have forgotten that their function is to serve the people. We must revert back to the long forgotten principle that all individuals must be accountable to the public for their actions. They must not be allowed to hide behind a bureaucratic and ideological smokescreen as most people in public life do today. The intelligentsia within our midst must once again be brought back into the decision making process. Bureaucracies must never again be allowed to be self perpetuating monsters, answerable to no-one but themselves. Unlimited power must never again be given to followers who are incapable of perceiving when the terms of reference of their activities are no longer the correct ones for serving the people. We must solve the evil of inequitable distribution of land and wealth, which has been bequeathed us by bureaucratic excesses of the past. We must rid ourselves once and for all of the insufferable evil and disgrace of unemployment. All people [followers and intelligentsia] yearn to contribute to their beloved society and to prevent them from so doing is a crime of great magnitude against them. We must question the rationale of our consumer society, where products, often of no real value in enhancing the quality of human life, are produced, discarded and produced again. Our precious human and material resources must be used only for the advancement of the human social condition.
Let people with blinkers on their eyes step aside for those who can see. It is tragic how governments consistently refuse to observe the undercurrents of social deprivation and unrest which result in 'inner city riots' [which the U.K. is now experiencing]. These things provide desperately needed fuel for the Soviet propaganda furnace. I would like leading politicians of all political parties to listen to the track 'Living for the City' [from the album 'Innervisions'] by that formidable member of the American intelligentsia, 'Stevie Wonder'. Stevie has no perception of vision, having had the misfortune of being blind from birth, but even his hollow eyes see more than those which are hypnotised and enslaved by the narrow minded ideological skeletons they embrace.
When our own house is put in order and our followers and intelligentsia are again in harmony and working for the good of all humanity - all races, colours and creeds - only then will we stand a chance of exposing the Soviet facade. I believe our modern microchip technology and space age telecommunications at last provide us with the method whereby the vital links between the followers and the intelligentsia can be maintained. There is no longer a need for writings of our intelligentsia to be immortalised into bureaucratic straight jackets, new, better arguments can be presented at the flick of a switch. An argument will remain relevant only for as long as it is seen to be the most powerful one. The true intelligentsia do not wish to be turned into gods; they wish only to serve humanity!
Just as Marx's powerful arguments altered the course of World politics, so our equitable and just society would be an overpowering testimony to the validity and relevance of our political style. If, by a near miracle, a World holocaust can be avoided, then, with time, the followers ruling the Soviet Union may be tempted to ditch their false gods [Marx and Lenin] for the modern arguments of our liberated intelligentsia - the Soviets put theirs in mental hospitals, Siberia, or both.
I believe that time is not on our side and I appeal to enlightened politicians, intellectuals and all those of informed opinion to SPEAK UP BEFORE WE PERMANENTLY OBLITERATE OUR BELOVED CIVILISATION.
Neil Hudson Newman
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