First, earthlings developed the capacity for language. Only after the formation of certain physical foundations (including in the brain, the ears, and the vocal chords), then humans actually developed language. A variety of dialects and accents formed, then distinct languages.
Eventually, some humans developed special perceptiveness in regard to how language works. They developed special skills in regard to using language efficiently to produce predictable results.
We can recognize language as a type of signaling mechanism. Other creatures besides humans have signaling mechanisms, such as how a male peacock will extend its feathers and then dance around in a certain way. Certain deers will in special circumstances raise their tail to expose the bright white fur that is otherwise hidden. Those visual signals are generally similar to what a police officer might do when guiding traffic at an intersection, using hand signals to direct passing drivers to stop or proceed.
In addition to the officer waving one hand, a loud whistle or siren may be used to help in the signaling of drivers. We can recognize the value of those simple signals that are easy to see or hear. However, we can also recognize that visual signals could be more complex, such as a sports referee identifying different kinds of penalties by moving their arms in to distinct positions. Or, if a coach if signaling to a player on the field using secret hand signals, those can also be quite complex.
Signal gestures may be encoded, which means that there may be no obvious connection between a particular gesture and what that gesture signals (unlike the very obvious signals of a police officer guiding traffic). With codes, the sequence of the individual signals also can matter. Each individual signal can even alter the meaning of the others.
Here are some examples of how sequence can change the meaning:
“The boy kissed the girl.”
“The girl kissed the boy.”
“The boy and the girl kissed.”
Here is an example of how the meaning of earlier words is altered by later words:
“The boy and the girl kissed their grandmother.”
“The boy and the girl kissed their grandmother on the forehead one last time and then the funeral director closed the casket.”
Individual words can be used as simple signals, such as the sounds “go” or “stop.” A red octagon with the word “stop” written in the center in big white letters is also one signal (one sign).
In systems of visual signaling, we could use a side view of a person walking as a sign to walk across a street. That is just a signal. However, if we use that same shape in a sequence of shapes, then we may be using a written language like hieroglyphics.
Icons or ideograms are also shapes that represent ideas. In contrast to shapes that represent concepts, there are also shapes that represent sounds (or even represent the way that a mouth looks when making that sound, such as in the case of the letter O).
So how did humans go from using very simple signals to using complex sequences of sounds? Obviously, that requires a very refined form of intelligence.
In contrast, the brains of parrots may allow them to be able to repeat complex sequences of sounds with their throats, but repetition does not establish comprehension. Parrots do not generate original sequences of sounds in order to influence reality in specific ways. Even gorillas that are taught hand gestures of “sign language” show much more intelligence than parrots. They can make very specific requests. Parrots cannot.
Why did complex language develop? How was it adaptive? How did it benefit the human species such that written language has helped to balloon the total population of humans on this planet in just a few thousand years?
Language is a technology. It is a tool for producing predictable results. Further, it is an incredibly flexible tool.
Some researchers suggest that a big part of how language developed was through hunting parties. Of course, simple hand signals could be used to organize a group of hunters. However, hand signals only work when people can see each other. In darkness or when otherwise invisible to the other humans, vocal signals work better than hand signals.
Further, if there is a long sequence planned, can that be effectively communicated just by drawing in the dirt? That might work okay for planning pass routes for a football play, but that is very different from hunting a herd of elephants.
Imagine a plan for various people to get in to various specific positions, then each one will do a specific action within a complex sequence that is all precisely timed. To create an organized plan like that, they need to prepare weapons, then to train to use them well, and then scout the terrain and study how elephants respond when ambushed. Then, after all of that, they can make specific plans for an attack.
Further, there could be a situation in which the plan gets modified suddenly like this: “okay, you two swing left and you three swing right, then converge back toward that big pine tree. Do you see the one I mean? Okay, go!”
At certain points in human development, there was nothing so dangerous or so valuable as hunting large prey. Before herding and the domestication of livestock for food, successful hunting would be a major factor in which individuals and groups survived and thrived.
After the development of herding, a new issue arose: defending the herd from other humans. Not only were fences made to keep animals in (and, to a lesser extent, to keep predatory animals out), but also to protect the herds from theft.
Security officers (such as shepherds) were trained to keep the herd secure and safe for later shearing, breeding, and slaughter. The larger a herd of sheep, the more attractive it might be to competing humans who individually or in groups might attempt to steal one or more sheep.
Eventually, branding of animals was developed as a method for marking which ranch owned which creature. In other words, the brands were signal markings of ownership.
So, when groups of humans got together to abduct sheep from a neighboring rancher, they could call themselves a squad or an army. If they went around from ranch to ranch and demanded a continuous flow of wealth from each ranch, they could call themselves the local governing extortion racket. They could exchange “military services to protect your property rights” in exchange for a constant flow of wool or other valuables.
Who did they protect the ranchers from? From the other groups of extortionists (and other thieves) in the area.
Further, humans could be organized in to herds as well. They could be trained and employed in herding and in extortion and so on. They could be physically branded or tattooed (as in the case of slaves or concentration camp inmates) or they could be individually numbered and named (as with the Social Security Administration).
As for the issue of language, humans can also be ritually trained in regard to the meaning of various special terms. For example, military units not only use complex secret codes for planning attacks, but also use abbreviations and acronyms for everyday efficiency. They are trained to know what a variety of commands mean. They are trained to use certain equipment in certain ways. They are trained to communicate with each other in certain specific ways (typically, with special attention to the rank of the person or people who are involved).
People may not be aware of this fact, but military groups are the basic foundation of modern civilization. The famous Hebrew warlord Moses, just prior to ordering the invasion and slaughter of the Midianites, created a few distinct ranks of officer (which were known as distinct priesthoods, called “the captains of thousands” and “captains of hundreds,” as in deacons and bishops). Phinehas was awarded a special priesthood rank for sneaking up on an Israelite who was having sex with a Midianite woman and then killing them both with a single thrust of a spear through both of their bodies. Within his military system, there were also court officers (who conducted very formal rituals for managing the military in general) as well as chaplains (for managing the morale of the soldiers and the extended community).
See Numbers chapter 25, especially verses 6-17, which ends with the two verses below:
16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them….”
Ideas of hell and heaven were very useful for motivating soldiers to risk their lives for the interests of the military group. These ideas were also very reassuring for the families of the conscripted soldiers-to-be.
(Note that the idea of voluntary participation in the invasion of neighboring tribes was a distinct issue from the command to assemble and attack. “Draft-dodgers” would be punished just as would soldiers who were too far below average in their enthusiasm and performance.)
In the later case of the Norse tribes, the military aspect of promises of an afterlife were even more extreme: the only way to get to heaven (Asgard) was to die honorably in battle. From among the fallen soldiers, the beautiful virgin angels (called Valkyrie) would come and select those who had been most courageous and obedient. Then, the privileges and pleasures that allegedly awaited the selected soldiers became famous among the soldiers. Those stories are generally similar to the stories used in ancient Hinduism in regard to obedient people reincarnating as a prince with a royal harem (or similar stories of paradise in Islam).
In the temples of many ancient groups, would it surprise you if the captured women of the enemy tribes would be imprisoned and kept for the pleasure of the victorious soldiers who survived a full term of duty in military service to the empire? In some cases, the returning soldiers could be given the right to choose a wife from among the captured women (as part of his compensation). In the case of certain convents, similar claims have been made in regard to the high-ranking members of the priesthood having “special access to the nuns.”
From the Book of Numbers (in the Hebrew Torah and Christian Old Testament):
31:25 And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying,
31:26 Take the sum of the prey that was taken, of man and of cattle, thou, and Eleazar the priest, and the chief fathers of the assembly;
31:27 and divide the prey into halves, between them that conducted the war, who went out to the battle, and the whole assembly.
[I believe that this means that the soldiers got half and the war-planners got half]
31:32 And the prey, the rest of the spoil, which the men of war had taken, was six hundred and seventy-five thousand sheep,
31:33 and seventy-two thousand oxen,
31:34 and sixty-one thousand asses,
31:35 and of human persons, of the women that had not known sleeping with a man, all the persons were thirty-two thousand.
[Among the conquered Midianites, all males and all women who were not unwed girls were slaughtered by the Israelites/ Hebrews.]
31:40 [one half of that total of the spared] human persons numbered sixteen thousand, of whom the tribute for Jehovah was thirty-two persons.
Note that, according to these passages, the LORD Jehovah had promised to attack the Israelites with a plague and then did so, killing 24,000 of them before withdrawing the plague after Phinehas plunged his spear through the two lovers. The killings by Phinehas were rewarded by the LORD such that the LORD ended the plague.
See Numbers 25:9
Note that the Bible is known as the most published book in the world. When considered in combination with the Torah (which also contains the Book of Numbers that was cited repeatedly above), it is hard to say that these stories are in any way secret. However, through focusing on other curriculum, modern institutions for influencing humans tend to promote certain predictable responses in people if ever exposed to these stories.
Many people will say “that is horrible” or even “that cannot be true.” Their emotional maturity may not be developed to the point of simply recognizing the long history of organized violence by humans.
Notably, they may argue about what they desperately *hope* that a passage means rather than read even one of the many commentaries written in the last few thousand years by scholars who were competent to understand the original Hebrew passages. As for stories that are not clearly documented in the most published book in the world, many people today might be too deep in distress and paranoia already to be able to even entertain the possibility that the kinds of activities reported in the Holy Inquisition really took place. Of course, it is possible that some stories were exaggerated to promote terror with added efficiency. However, the basic idea that governments use terror to intimidate their subjects seems so hard to deny with logic, yet also so hard for so many people to admit.
The popularity of speculating or even arguing about how governments “should” conduct their operations varies from place to place. It is one thing to have preferences and take actions to promote those preferences. It is very different that so many have such deep attachment to certain expectations about how governments WILL operate and then, when faced with a clear observation of a government operating beyond their expectations, some people cling to their expectations and hysterically attempt to reform governments to match their expectation, rather than calmly reform their expectations to match their observations (and then promote whatever new or old policies that they prefer). Many people also say things like this: “this one exception is the only case like this that I know of and I presume that this kind of thing never happened before- not with this government at least- so now I will look for who to condemn as the one who recently betrayed my ideals about how I presume that this government had previously operated… up until this one exceptional case that I am still struggling emotionally to accept.”
Language is a type of complex signaling which is used to direct human attention (so that certain things are observed and not others). By directing attention, language also directs interpretation and perception (because if only certain things are noticed and not others, then which patterns are noticed can be predictably influenced). By directing interpretation and perception, language also directs the behavioral responses that people have toward their interpreted perceptions about whatever they notice as happening (or imagine to be happening).
Is it possible that governing systems train people (through the use of language) to relate to governments in very specific and predictable ways? Could governing systems intentionally create specific expectations and presumptions about how governments will operate? Could governing systems reward youth for loyally repeating slogans and ideals back on academic tests… even though some of those slogans and ideals might not be entirely accurate?
Could governing systems deceive their targets with stories about a beneficent authority figure who rewards those who are obedient with gifts every Christmas morning? What if the stories that are publicized to the targets are not entirely accurate?
What if one of the most universal concerns in a herd of human resources is the idea that an individual may be naive? What if there is a programmed paranoia about others perceiving you to have ever been naive? What if the masses react with rage at suggestions that they may still be naive not just when they were striving to please Santa Claus?
Governments regulate. They regulate deception, oppression, fraud, crime, extortion, violence, and even language. They define, criminalize, monopolize, license, and subsidize each of these kinds of activity.
Ultimately, they regulate the attention of humans, the subjective perceptions of humans, and the behavioral responses of humans to their own programmed perceptions. In other words, they regulate the behavior of their human resources.
What do all governments seek to prevent? People who self-regulate attentively could be perceived as the worst threat to any government. For governments to thrive, they form herds and then regulate, regiment, and tax those herds.
However, governments may cultivate anti-government activities by sponsoring anti-government anti-propaganda propaganda. Why would governments do that? They may want to create a steady, manageable stream of dissent, which also can occasionally be incited to criminal rebellion to justify the advance of anti-gun laws (or fake rebellions can be staged and then publicized as real in order to advance the same kinds of laws).
In one of the most popular books of the 20th century, titled 1984, the author details an anti-government campaign led by the government to attract “bleeding heart intellectuals” so that the intellectuals will identify themselves to government. Note that the author of the book was a British government propaganda agent. Note also that in 1954, the book was made in to a TV show for the BBC (a public TV station) and then aired. What happened when the controversial show was aired? Floods of phone calls came in from viewers to protest the first airing of that programming.
What did the British government do when all of those phone calls came in? We can presume that they asked everyone who called in for their name and address, then took whatever other action the government deemed relevant to take in regard to monitoring and regulating those who called in to protest.
Next, after a huge wave of scandal and publicity, the BBC re-broadcast the show a few days later and it was then viewed by one of the largest audiences in the history of the BBC as of that time. Then, in 1956, it was first made in to a movie. I was assigned to read that book in a class of a public high school. The book was a massive success in terms of reaching a big audience and influencing culture.
See “Reaction” in:
I am aware of many people who speak with contempt and shame about the specific branch of government that rules where they live. “I do not want to be associated with that institution,” they may say. They may renounce wealth (because wealth is protected by the government). They may join an idealistic reform movement to make a government more heroic in their opinion, and to discontinue practices that cause them shame, guilt or horror.
Again, it is one thing to have preferences and pursue them. Sometimes, the general population is strong enough in the practical sense that governments do not interfere with most popular preferences. In other cases, certain programs are subsidized or even made mandatory in order to assert the preference of lobbyists and the special interests that hire them. In some cases, certain popular preferences are criminalized, such as the prohibition on the possession of alcoholic liquids in the early 20th century in the US.
Governments have existed for a long time and in general seem quite stable to me as systems that keep working. Governments systematically redistribute wealth from one group (such as the Midianites) to another (such as the Levites). Through colonial conquests and a steady flow of tax proceeds from occupied territories, thousands of sheep, oxen, steeds, and virgin maidens have been taken from the care of some people and transferred to others.
The total benefits to soldiers, weapons manufacturers, and private mercenaries are immense… even shocking. Governments can efficiently provide massive concentrations of privilege to certain special interests. That is what they do and they do it well.
To promote public morale and compliance in relation to their operations of conquest, intimidation, and extortion, governments can regulate and license broadcast media, churches, and schools. Governments can even subsidize “loyal” institutions of indoctrination. In the extreme, governments can directly operate schools and public media so as to better program and train their target audience.
Do I recommend that people reject all governments for some reason? For what possible benefit would I do that? As a joke, perhaps I could direct someone to reject exactly 62% of reality (or exactly 144% of reality).
Could I recommend that someone rebel in a specific way from a certain government for some reason? That is certainly possible. If I ever did so, that might be more an indication of my interest in a particular person than in a particular government.
I could make a sweeping condemnation of specific uses of language, such as a specific word or phrase. I could glorify some contrasting word or phrase. “Reverse psychology should not exist because it does not exist.”
In general, I am interested in whether or not people habitually use language (without being attentive) plus how exactly they are attentive and inventive. When people use “awakened language,” that can include the same patterns of language they have always used… or maybe some new and inventive ones, but it is the user that is operating metaphorically “awake,” not the language, right? They “die” to the old habitual momentums and are “reborn.”
There are just some people who are unusually alert to the activity of the use of language. They may be relaxed in certain ways that correspond to them using language in ways that other people do not think to do or do not dare to do. There are also many people who are confused about or ashamed of how language works. Moment to moment, attention and alertness shift in whatever ways that they shift.
I am interested in those who are self-regulating in general and also in particular in their use of language. It may be silly to discard the value of regularity and regulation. Every governing system uses a different combination of methods of regulating humans and the methods all have some possible value / appeal.
It may be naive to expect anyone to suddenly be competent at self-regulating through some ritual declaration. However, that could also be valuable.
Plus, it may be interesting to note who respects the field of human endeavour known as government and who habitually condemns certain things while ritually worshiping and glorifying others. I respect language, including relevant, precise language. I notice that many government officers seem to do so as well. Their various rituals in the use of language may be deemed relevant to study on occasion. One could also study how language works in terms of neurology.
How do medical doctors (who are all licensed agents of a government) program their patients to notice certain things, to interpret them in certain ways, and respond to those interpretations? How do police officers and judges and soldiers and politicians use language to program attention, interpretation, and reaction? How do humans use language to govern and regulate other humans?
What works well consistently? What is usually disappointing or even frustrating? What works very well at least occasionally?
“The boy and the girl kissed their grandmother on the forehead one last time and then the funeral director closed the casket containing the body of their grandfather. Next, the funeral director invited the three survivors to come in to the hallway for some refreshments.”