The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Celebrating The Crowd At CPAC, iii
The Sentiments and Morality of Crowds

Posted on | February 10, 2012 | Comments Off on Celebrating The Crowd At CPAC, iii
The Sentiments and Morality of Crowds

by Smitty

Writing in the late 1800’s, and looking back to the French Revolution, Le Bon sees a spontaneous crowd as a truly dumb beast:

The creation of the legends which so easily obtain circulation in crowds is not solely the consequence of their extreme credulity. It is also the result of the prodigious perversions that events undergo in the imagination of a throng. The simplest event that comes under the observation of a crowd is soon totally transformed. A crowd thinks in images, and the image itself calls up a series of other images, having no logical connection with the first. We can easily conceive this state by thinking of the fantastic succession of ideas to which we are sometimes led by callup up in our minds any fact. Our reason thus us the incoherence there is in these images, but a crowd is almost blind to this truth, and confuses with the real event what the deforming action of its imagination has superimposed thereon. A crowd scarcely distinguishes between the subjective and the objective. It accepts as real the images evoked in its mind, though they most often have only a very distant relation with the observed fact. (Le Bon 60-61)

I would contend that what Le Bon is saying is that information disperses poorly in a crowd. A piece of information is not a drop of india ink in a glass of water. Signals are attenuated in a brutal way. This is why politicians communicate via bumper stickers written in crayon. Only the briefest monosyllables can get through.

Technology has improved matters to a degree. PA systems mean a speech can be heard at some distance. When cellular networks can take the load, they permit people to traded text messages, or even pull information from the internet.

Also deserving credit for keeping things calm: the Second Amendment. ‘An armed society is a polite society’ as Heinlein noted. The notion that individuals need not be defenseless, even in a crowd, adds calm to any situation, and maturity to actions.

Unfortunately, the Progressive mob that seems to be in charge also seems to take Le Bon too literally, projecting its own fear onto the mob. Believe me, Princess Pelosi: the only threat to you and your ilk is your own evil, not the Tea Partiers.

Previously. . .

  1. Celebrating The Crowd At CPAC, i
  2. Celebrating The Crowd At CPAC, ii


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