Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fame and Blame are the Names of the Game.

“Street Creds”, awards and decoration, the golden resume, net value, trophy spouse, exalted position, all are symbols of fame. Symbols of success to attract attention, for good or bad, to add to the cut and thrust of survival of kith and kin.. And symbols of blame, of infamy, to divert, and displace anger, or expiate fault.

Fame for challenges overcome, enemies defeated, and feats of daring-do are the great social motivators to get things that need to be done in order for a society to survive, thrive and grow. History all too often turns on the acts of one person, just as often unaware of the consequences, only of the challenge or of the dangers. Horatio at the bridge held off Rome’s enemies, when running away would have been the safer play.

Society needs to know who can be counted on to stand in front, and expects that heroes from playing fields are those who can be trusted when the time in near when danger this way comes. And, it is not as odd a choice as it might be, for many who excel in games, excel on the battlefield. Jimmie Doolittle raced air planes, and led thousands in battle after his courageous attack named after him. He also was an aeronautical engineer.

Seeking out fame is a dangerous game, for some think it is a zero sum game, those whose excuses for existence themselves somewhat lame. For many, the reflected glow of a true hero acts as the light around which cowards and jackals tend to gather. Or, from the envious, arrows, come out from the dark and collect on the backs of the brave and creative.

Fame is also a warning, a cry for help, be it from a calf or colt in danger, or a toddler with a diaper full. At its roots, fame is a survival and enhancement tool without which life withers and falls. If help doesn’t come, generations and whole nations wind up with the toddler’s dump, over and over again. Sometimes it is a shitty world.

Hitler, Stalin, Shaka Zulu, Mao, MacArthur, Richard the Lion Hearted and Winston Churchill had abusive fathers and indulgent mothers. The dysfunctional family created highly motivated leaders, some good, some bad, depending on where one was when the fit hit the shan.

The Warrior’s Guide to the Other Guy’s Culture is the decoder that unravels who is dumping on who and why and for what. Cultural Centers of gravity are revealed, and depending on mission, can be turned on it’s head, or sent on it’s way. Do we want to cause them to get together to work better or to make them a better target? Do we want them to break it up, to weaken their will, or to strengthen their capacity?

Psychological Operation isn’t all about subornation and subversion, and surrendering of those who switch sides. It can be elevating their worst to the top of the pile. This was done in WW 2 by the British in fake radio broadcasts of a super hard line German officer criticizing the Nazi best and best practices, and lauding their worst. Many a fine field officer was sent to the desk pile, and idiots sent to command.

So much of the Fame Game is tied to, the rotation of the Heroic roles (Hero, Heroine, and Helpless) with the Villainous roles (Bastard, Bitch, and Brat) to produce an outcome, a result, or a payoff, such as a title and a feifdom. The Fame Game is rarely static, as hero becomes villain, and villain plays hero, with each flip flop gets something.

The Blame Game is the flip side of the Fame Game. The Heroic is the flip side of the Villainous. Both sound the same, speaking of rescue, rehabilitation, and revenge. It is easier to spot the game being played by the payoff, outcome or result in terms of warm fuzzy feelings or of cold prickly, of raging anger, or pompous posturing, as these outcomes are more the motive than any ideological one uppance.

The End State is the emotional buzz, the feelings, more than physical or ideological. These end states, sometime called payoffs, can be described a stamp collecting. Some collect anger stamps, some collect tragedy stamps, some collect failures, and as in trading stamp collecting, they can be turned for a big prize: a free murder, a free burglary, or, in some cases, finally getting around to do what needs to be done. In political lore, the propagandist stacks real or imagined injuries and insults to justify a free revolution, a free lynching, or stopping the barbarians at the gate. Sometimes it is hard to tell the good from the bad, right from wrong.

Such is the case of the current Jihadi terrorist. In the original sense, those who wage Jihad are doing what it takes to defeat the evil in and around us. At the hands of the devious, the Jihadi warrior serves evil, deemed justifiable by the unjustifiable. And that is the Warrior’s job when analyzing a culture, to pull apart the virtuous from the villainous.

The Seven Deadly Sins, and their opposite number, are found as the true motivators in disorder, chaos, and repression. The Seven Virtues are the alleged opposite, but these to excess are often better seen in their sinful array.

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