Monday, June 24, 2013

A Sociology of Olympianity

Olympianity is the world's oldest, most popular, yet least recognized religion. Examining it from a sociological point of view will help us to understand, more clearly, how Olympian societies, cultures, and personalities function in everyday life.

Olympianity: the religion
There are six gods that rule our world. They are (1) Jupiter, god of politics; (2) Mars, god of war; (3) Vulcan, god of technology; (4) Venus, goddess of sex; (5) Pluto, god of money; and (6) Bacchus, god of consumption.

Long ago people believed that these gods lived on Mount Olympus. They called them Olympian gods. We may call the worship of them Olympianity.

Olympianity is the religion of power. We worship the Olympian gods to gain and maintain political, military, technological, sexual, economic, and consumer power.

If we properly devote ourselves to them, they promise to reward us with power. If we improperly devote ourselves to them, or devote ourselves to some other strange god, they most certainly punish us by withdrawing power from us.

They promise to reward us with power and its blessings: security, happiness, importance, justification, and meaning. They threaten and punish us with weakness and its curses: insecurity, misery, insignificance, guilt, and meaninglessness.

Olympian culture: meanings and means
Olympianity provides all of the societies and cultures of Olympia with their worldview. This Olympian worldview, organized around the six gods and dedicated to power, shapes every aspect of Olympia’s culture. This culture defines the basic structure of every society, every group within each society, and the Olympian personality of every individual within each group.

Our Olympian culture ranks every society in Olympia, every group within each society, and every individual within each group in terms of power. Our culture enables and encourages each one of us to rank every society, group, and individual along a spectrum from highest to lowest or from most central to most marginal. We all do this habitually; that is, without even thinking about it.

To secure the blessings of power we need to move, as societies, groups, and individuals, higher in rank. To do this, we have to push someone else down in rank. If we do, the gods will reward us with greater privileges and will punish them with greater burdens.

Societies, groups, and individuals who are highest and most central are the winners and those who are the lowest and most marginal are the losers. Winners are more virtuous and deserve their greater privileges. Losers are more vicious and deserve their greater burdens.

We, as Olympian individuals, groups, and societies, celebrate winners in the struggle for power with speeches, stories, movies, and monuments. We condemn losers in the struggle for power by casting them as villains in our speeches, stories, and movies and by otherwise ignoring their existence.

Olympian society: competition between groups
Dynamics between groups
Societies within Olympia are always competing with one another for greater power.

Groups within society are always competing with one another for greater power. These groups include political parties, corporations, schools, families, and even Christian denominations and churches.

Sometimes competition between groups requires some individuals within a group to risk injury or death in order to kill the members of a rival group or to steal or destroy means controlled by it.

Sometimes competition between groups requires some individuals within a group to lose rank, or even to be expelled from the group, to increase the group’s competitive advantage.

Dynamics within groups
Competition between groups requires cooperation within a group. This makes thinking in terms of “us vs. them” important.

The need to know who belongs to us makes proper identification necessary. Members of one group must be able to identify, quickly and accurately, members of a competing group. This is especially important when competition enters a more lethal phase.

Competition always exists within a group. Lower members want to move up and knock higher members down. Higher members want to enjoy even greater privileges at the expense of lower members.

Individuals moving up in rank grow stronger and attract more allies. Those moving down grow weaker and lose allies.

One way leaders limit competition within a group, to protect their own rank and to improve internal cohesion, is to create a weak but threatening external enemy. That way anger that might be focused on them can be projected outward to their advantage. They likewise encourage us to project all that is bad in ourselves onto our external enemies.

To do this, they must tell a good story. To tell a good story, they must remember, exaggerate, and invent what is good in ourselves and remember, exaggerate, and invent what is bad in others.

These stories give us permission to hate enemies internal and external. Hatred is an extremely satisfying emotion to experience. Pure unbridled hatred is thrilling.

Olympian personalities: self-esteem based on rank
Our self-esteem depends on our rank as individuals within the various groups to which we belong. It also depends on the ranks of our groups within our society and of our society within Olympia.

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.