This essay is continued from "Shame Theory" Part I which is available here.

    Now let's return to our opening ideas, “The Message.” and “The Phenomenon.” How is it that, in particular, Western Culture wants us to “be ashamed of ourselves,” now, more than ever? How is this different than having “the Message” be one of guilt? What is the likely result of such a manipulation? The manifestations of “The Message” actually need little explanation, we need only accept them as realities to see their relevance. They are as obvious as the info-mercial. “You flip... and they flop.” (You must be some kind of moron not to flip that pancake! Look, we have the solution for you.”) They can also be as subtle as the things we get used to, the things we start to let slide and not bother us anymore. The final two messages utilize a rather complicated observation about complexity that is necessary to appreciate the overall effect of “The Phenomenon.” Consider the following movements, remembering at this point, we are not judging their worth,  We are only determining that they exist and that the clear message they send, with increasing levels of complexity, is that of, “Humans should be ashamed of themselves.”

    Global Warming (or Climate Change, if you prefer.)
    Here, the message is, “Humans have damaged the planet by their actions. Perhaps irreparably, perhaps not. At any rate, not only are we responsible, but we acted stupidly and selfishly, without foresight and for frivolous purposes. It's not enough that you feel collective guilt about this, we have to make it a fight between people who believe it and people who don't. That way, you'll either be ashamed of the people protesting your point of view or you'll be ashamed of your Past Ingroup, perhaps even yourself.” Consequence: “Act or suffer.”

    Population Control.
    This message is not being sold to the Western Cultures as much as to the Eastern, (except in reference to the East,) but the problem of population control is no small part of any ecological sustainability. The message is, “There are too many humans for the planet to sustain the current rate of resource consumption.” (I have, most likely, worded this more correctly than any organization that touts this philosophy, but this message suggests more than one solution to the problem.) This one is easy for westerners to pass the buck on, “I only have one kid. I use birth control. It's an Eastern problem.” Then “they” are ashamed by you. You put it upon them to feel shamed, and if they don't then you think they should be ashamed for not doing so. You might even feel ashamed of yourself for being so judgmental, but that's probably wishful thinking. This, again, is another “fight.”It's much easier to establish and maintain social norms if there is an alternative to compare it to. So compare, if you dare, the fact that, for the most part, we only had all these babies so that we could outnumber those “other” babies, for evolutionary reasons. That is our job. (Notice how elegantly I leave race, politic and religion out of it? You don't need them to make an argument about guilt anymore.) We are biologically competitive. Consequence: “Act of suffer.”  

    Tales of guilt-worthy or shame-worthy human actions must be older than the written word. Surely, parables told around the fire were the first form of social engineering. Many of those same morals are probably being learned today. The difference being that now we sit around high definition screens with surround sound systems. The list of books, plays, shows, songs and movies that carry the message, “Be ashamed, dirty Human!” is seemingly endless, so let's look at one of the most recent. “Avatar” is a film by James Cameron that tells the story of a young, space-traveling species (humans) that find it's first “other intelligent life-force” on a not-too-distant planet. The two species get along swimmingly until, for some reason or other, the business arrangement they had falls through. The humans decide to take what they want anyway, destroying anything that gets in their way. (I think you see the point.)

    Shame themed movies seem to be all the rage. The things that pushe these films past guilt into shame are twofold products of our time: One, as already mentioned, we are now a global community, our ingroup is species wide, and two, the films themselves implicate more shameworthy attributes. So while if one feels guilt by self or ingroup it is essentially an admission that you or your group is culpable because you had, have or will have some control over the situation, shame is an admission that you share a perceived flaw. The entertainment could be exemplifying counterproductive behavior, cruelty, arrogance, stupidity, madness, selfishness, fear, the list goes  on, but it only takes one to get through to you. If you would like to have this theory demonstrated to you (and you aren't already familiar with them,) go rent “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “Schindler's List.” They are both very fine movies that are excellent case studies in Guilt and Shame. Both are about men who empathize with people who, society says, should be their “enemy,” both men are subject to shame and guilt. The differences help us understand as well: Schindler is in a guilt culture and Lawrence is in a shame culture, Lawrence, as a British Officer in Arabia,  is actually working in the interests of his superiors while Schindler, as a military Industrialist protecting Jews in Germany, is working against those interests. Finally, please don't fail to notice the stylistic differences that speak to our needs as a modern audience. “Lawrence of Arabia” is a subtle, beautiful film that was made in the 1960's, “Schindler's List” is ugly, blunt and pulls no punches in revealing your naked truths.
    While your at the video store, consider these other guilty pleasures: 2012, Zombieland, (any zombie movie, for that matter,) District 9, 9, Planet 51 (shame for kids,) Knowing, the Matrix trilogy, the Day the Earth Stood Still, Amistad, Dances with Wolves, the Wizard of Oz, Bill Cosby, “Himself,” etc... The message is, “Humans are dysfunctional, selfish jerks.” Consequence: “Act or suffer.”

    Information Age Modernity.
    Modernity is a word generally used to describe what we, in this age, would consider “Modern Times.” There is some debate about how far back “these times” should go, or conversely that we are already into “Post Modernity,” mostly because of high technology. Others contend that Modernity stretches back only to our ability to be cross cultural, moving trade, organizing society into specialized segments, basically “creating the system” with which we now live. (This takes us back to about the seventeenth century, just before the industrial revolution.) I'm somewhere in the middle on the “when” of modernity but I think the important deliberations centre around the inherent dangers of programming dynamic social systems.
    Since the advent of telecommunications, radio, television, computer, internet, satellite and the peripherals they bring with them, we are constantly inundated with information. So it is that we too, despite being free of any bureaucracy insisted upon us, find our own, I call this age of auto-bureaucracy, Information Age Modernity. So without even blinking, we have ourselves, like our ancestors, broken free into the Universe of choice only to reassemble in our own governments and religions. Just as an example, consider “the News.” It wasn't that long ago that one could sit down at 6:00 and watch “the News.” If one wanted to hear opinion, speculation or “infotainment,” one would have to watch a “Magazine” show, like 20/20 or 60 minutes. Now all News is a “Magazine” show. With 24 hours to fill, it's not surprising that News Anchors must blather on with “Experts” in an attempt to fill up time until something new happens, or the story “develops.” Where “The Message” comes into play is directly proportional to the amount of fodder needed to fill a news day and the agenda the news agency subscribes to. I'm not suggesting that “the News” was ever influence free, or ever not susceptible to any particular agenda. (They seem to have the same capitalist models that advertisers use.) I'm saying that now, in the technological post-modern era, “the News” must be filled up with fodder and that fodder has to come from somewhere. If you like, you can think of it as a Quality vs. Quantity problem. Further to this line of thinking, we must consider the fact that due to the speed with which information travels and the limits of who it can reach near infinite, the news is nothing if it's not susceptible to influence or agenda, or in absence of either, conjecture. Perhaps you do your own investigating and you find on the internet a series of stories about a particular event described very differently, only because you don't happen to live where that news agency does. Is that a question of opinion or of fact? How do you know? Our modernity problems don't end here. We are all responsible for our own bovex filters, we must use them. (Bovex = bovine excrement, from Linguist, Patrick Lockerby.)
    Unfortunately protecting ourselves from undue influence is getting more difficult as it gets easier to communicate with each other. How are we to know which opinions to believe when we are presented with so many different versions? The message is, “You are a fickle contradictarian, convoluted by greed and addicted to infotainment,” or perhaps, “You don't what to believe or care about and you change your mind too readily,” or perhaps, “You're full of shit and don't know it!” Consequence: “You don't know what to think and that is interfering with  how you think.” Act or suffer.”

    Rampant Ineptitude of Modernity.
    The RIM, as I call it, is something that I've been noticing all my life. One could think that this observation has nothing to do with modernity and regardless of what age I considered modern I would still consider the mass bulk of people inept. However, this interpretation of my observation derives from a question of either accepting or denying blame (and a slight misinterpretation.) Through my own work defining Assignee's Prerogative and Anti-Social Engineering, I've come to understand that if ineptitude is blameworthy of being directing at anything, the best thing could only be the idea of Systemic Complexity.  My apparent arrogance is even more revealed by my candor, for RIM, before I had dared to ask the question, “Why are most people idiots?” used to be called the Rampant Ineptitude of Humanity. Thankfully, I'm not in the habit of publishing every thought I have. I'm only addressing the defense of the RIM theory so that you understand: When I point my finger at you and say, “You're inept!” it is because you are inept. “Who me?” you say. “Yes, you,” I say, “but it's not your fault.” (Or perhaps, more correctly, it isn't your fault until you are made aware of your ineptitude, yet do nothing about it.) As Al Pacino says in “And Justice for All,” “You're out of order. This whole trial is out of order!” Ultimately, the whole system is out of order due to systemic complexity being susceptible to counterproductive influence, and like all things, to entropy.
    As fascinating a topic as RIM is, (to me,) for our discussion today I'd like to draw your attention to what I call the blame game. This is not a shame game, but a guilt game as it is determined by culpability, not how the culpable feel about it. This is exemplified whenever someone needs to, for whatever reason, point a finger accusingly. This need stems from the psychological desire to understand causation from the point of view of the blameworthy enterprise. The blame game doesn't determine how the accused feels about what they did, or even if the accused is actually deserving of blame at all. It doesn't matter if you have no target to direct your blame at. The blame game is remarkably simple to play, there is only one rule: “When you need to blame, blame.” It doesn't matter who or what it is you're talking about. It seems to not even matter if you know what your talking about. Things like ideas, careers, movements, philosophies, governments, cultures and whole individual lives are, if not created and/or destroyed based on accepted speculations, at least manipulated to similar ends.
    The blame game is just one facet of the Rampant Ineptitude of Modernity that becomes relevant to this discussion through its employment of “passing the buck.” There are a great many examples but let us again take the most recent example and simultaneously reveal the impetus for this essay: The case of the alleged “terrorist attack” in Detroit, Michigan USA, Christmas day, 2009.
    Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, apparently with an explosive ball between his legs meant to explode by utilizing a syringe, failed to accomplish his “mission,” upon landing. Three months of training in Yemen, how he got on the plane in Amsterdam, who his “well dressed Indian chaperone” was, were all topics that were learned of quite quickly, having caught the young man. Yet all of these issues came second to CNN (and every other news agency,) speculating on who, what, where, when and why. Within the first hour of the event the focus became, “Even after 'all we have done' to improve “Homeland Security” how is it that this could have happened?” (They are getting ready to play the blame game.) All that could be heard by December 27 was, “How could the CIA let this happen?” because it became known that young Mr. Abdulmutallab was on someone's list A: Form A and B for this side of the Atlantic while on the other he was recorded as being on list A: Form A only. The words “Systemic Failure” began being bandied about.  By January 7, 2010 it was announced by President Obama that in terms of responsibility, “the buck stops here,” and, of course, that the US will take action to improve communication between organizations, to deter “alQaeda” in Yemen, or elsewhere, while tightening security or restrictions to ensure safety. Ultimately, regardless of how dizzy you are from spinning as you point your finger, you will come to rest only on our old friend, systemic complexity, due to the Rampant Ineptitude of Modernity. The message is, “Your flawed designs are unnecessarily complicated and ineffectual. You are ill-equipped to deal with your responsibilities.” Consequence: “Act or Suffer.”
    The likely results of such social manipulations are, at their core, the same effects as one would expect on an individual level. If one can be more easily “excused” from one's guilt through some absolvancy, desensitization or distancing from the causation, than is possible with shame; And if one is more likely to address the causation in some form of action when shame, a perceived flaw, is exposed, then it is much easier to spur social change through shame than by guilt.
    In the 1998 Myers-Briggs Type Indicator survey of  psychological preferences, a robust 38% of Americans functionally gathered their information objectively and experientially, as one would expect in a guilt culture. Only 5 % exhibited opposite tendencies to absorb paradigm via intuition, subjectively, socially, or as one would expect in a shame based culture. How Americans judge the info they gather is not as cut and dried but there does seem to be a noticeable preference to feeling over thinking. This observation leads one to believe that while Americans don't trust ideas that aren't proven to them they do trust their own abilities to suss out, via their feelings, the “truth” of any matter.  
    If modernity is the cause of complexity and systemic complexity is the cause of the rampant ineptitude that keeps rearing it's ugly head, and we, in our infinite confusion, attempt only to counter this problem by adding further complexity, are we not just denying there is even a problem? If “they” are the purveyors of the message and “I” no longer exist, I am only my ingroup, am I not a puppet to their whims? Ask yourself, what culture promotes modernity more than any other? Answer at your own peril, for it is at this point it I begin to take the accusations personally and I feel ashamed of my heritage, nationality, race, sex and species. I am however, not guilty of doing nothing about it. You are here and you have read these words, you have seen the tip of the mammoth iceberg that you are about to crash into. Are you ready?

    -”Collective Guilt – International Perspectives,” edited by Nyla R. Branscombe and             Berjan Doosje, Cambridge University Press.
    -”The Chrysanthemum and the Sword,” by Ruth Benedict, Meridian Books.