The Social Network

My latest idea for creative exploration is the understanding that society and civilisation is built from the bottom up. Leaders exist because of the collective actions of the individuals at the bottom. Even in a dictatorship the leaders exist with the consent of the people. Leadership is created by the led.

This has many political implications. A leader will reflect the personality of those led. The will of the led is more significant than the will of the leadership, although most of the time both will reflect each other. Those that criticise their leaders either dislike themselves or lack understanding of their leaders. The power of an individual increases with the number of connections. Success in a society is measured by the quantity of connections and it's better to connect with people who have large numbers of connections.

The collective actions and interactions of individuals form a sort of higher intelligence, built from the bottom up. The state of a typical household or typical street will reflect the state of the nation. That happens because the nation is a network of typical households and typical streets, and those things are networks of typical people.

Like the individuals within it, this higher intelligence has thoughts, dreams, aspirations, a will, an intellect, an unconscious, and a self image. Nations can have a personality, be aggressive or passive, friendly or unfriendly, rich or poor or any other aspect that the individuals that constitute a nation can possess.

The news output of a nation reflects its views, but like a person's thoughts can guide views by an equal amount. Negative people have negative dreams and positive people have positive dreams. Dreams both reflect and contribute towards and personality. A persons thoughts and attitude can change by changing their dreams, and in the same way the attitude of a nation can change by changing its news and artistic output.

Gossip, news and art achieve the same functions in society; they are the communication media. Gossip is normally restricted to a small quantity of friends, news to a larger network, and artworks and philosophies to yet larger networks, often across centuries. An artist doesn't have to be living to have connections and affect the network.

The self image of a nation is as important as the self image of an individual. A nation that considers itself aspirational and righteous becomes so. As with individuals, nations with goals and vision will attain goals and realise that vision. Nations without goals or aspirations lack vitality and become unhappy.

It is the responsibility of individuals to create their nation, and it is the responsibility of writers and artists to reflect but also guide society. Those who portray society as negative encourage negativity, and as such the role of censorship is important and all artists and communicators have a responsibility towards society.

Mark Sheeky, 28 January 2010