Jack’s Anti-Book Book Review

In his weekly guest blog post, the normally mild-mannered Jack gets a bit exercised – –

When I started reading The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom I was fascinated. The book sets out the theory that human cultural groupings act as ‘super-organisms’ that transcend the notion of the individual need. My mind went back to long-ago classes in economics and educational motivation – maximizing utility and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs etc.

Bloom’s theories seem to go against all the accepted rules, but he argues that there is plenty of evidence throughout history that human groups will gather around what he describes as a ‘meme’ that will drive a particular group to dominance. The need to dominate is, in turn, driven by a desire that the group should have the greatest access to the ‘fruits of the earth’. He draws parallels with behavior in ant colonies, bee hives and families of apes and baboons, then introduces many instances of human activity to back his argument, such as the need for recognizable uniforms to distinguish ‘us and them’ as well as the value of having an enemy and the power of hatred.

When I started this book I was drawn into it by his many references to there being ‘a better way’ forward that could somehow avoid wars and the violent overthrow of existing hierarchies. As a Quaker I’m always keen to investigate anything that promotes a more peaceful world and this book seemed to be offering possibilities. However as I read on all I seemed to be reading about was the inevitability of this continual cyclical overthrow of existing dominant groups by the next kid on the block: Christians/Muslims, Capitalists/Communists, Democrats/Fascists, and so on.

Finally I reached his answer (drum roll, please)…..

America had to stay on top and learn how to remain there indefinitely.

Yes – really. Never mind anyone else; get on top and stay there, and that’s good enough.

Maybe Douglas Adams had a better answer – – – 42 makes more sense than “stay on top of the pyramid by keeping ‘lesser people’ on the bottom, and life will be grand– at least, for you.”

As Dorothy Parker says, “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

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