The root of all problems: the horizontal versus the vertical.

The root of all problems: the horizontal versus the vertical.

by Dale West

It is clear the root of all problems is the horizontal versus the vertical.  Some might think my premise is quite abstract, but follow me here. The idea was first expressed clearly at the dawn of the Renaissance when the vertical Church blamed the horizontal Enlightenment for the woes of humanity and the enlightenment philosophers blamed the Church.  The issue was one of the cross expressed vertically as God and horizontally as Man, and the vertical hierarchy of the Church structuring the universe in it’s own image stating that it was best to leave things to God, meaning the Church, to resolve. The newborn scientific method saw a free exchange of information based on observation of the physical world solving the problems of humanity through a network of people and ideas. Unfortunately, the ideas of the dawn of science have not been seen through to fruition, when today Science often expresses itself as the Church did in the past.

The more modern versions of this issue is reflected in the business models that organize along hierarchical chains of command versus interdependent networks or even in different models of computer architecture.  The more sociobiological among us might look at the difference between how the brain of a man is wired versus that of a woman, and the more psychohistorical among us might reflect on the rise, fall and resurrection of the Goddess in our spiritual lives. It all reduces to the horizontal versus the vertical throughout history.  The implications of this are psychological, social, political, economic, biological and spiritual.

The psychological implications are as numerous as the systems of psychology.  So I will just contrast two, the psychodynamic and the phenomenological. The psychodynamic implications of all this is clear. The Freudians will see the sexual implications of the vertical male and horizontal females meaning that the solution is for everyone to get laid, in contrast to the Jungians suggesting more of an archetypal cosmic orgasm, and the Adlerians looking more to an androgynous assertiveness training. Analogous ideas could be expressed from the existential choices of men versus woman creating meaning in the world, or the point could be expanded to all phenomenological schools of thought and experience consisting of vertical-being-in-the-world versus horizontal-being-in-the-world. I will not go there. To do so would not only be boring, but quite beyond the scope of my experience. Boredom, although being a high state, would not be a choice that creates meaning for me without moving vertically off it onto a more horizontal network of other ideas.

The social implications are also numerous, but revolve around kinship, breeding and resources. I have often argued that civilization has consistently run counter to our natural sociobiological tendencies to form groupings that are maximally healthy for the growth of society. The seminal thought here is that we would choose spouses in proportion to the resources needed to raise the optimal number of healthy happy children, but civilization has made sure that this is only true for the elite.  This again brings us to the horizontal versus the vertical. 

When woman are in charge of such things, as the biology of selection suggests they should be, then I suspect that the family truly comes first.  This has not been the case since the vertical rise of the City reinforced by the rise of the Army, the Government, the Church, the University and the finally the Corporation mastering all that preceded it. Women with a horizontal glance toward their children could not possibly see the merciless struggle to the top of any of these teetering citadels as necessary for their children to be happy and healthy unless they saw they did not have that far to climb. Small, local, raw and organic is as true for children as it is for food. The good thing here as that eventually all such teetering towers are destined to make it from  the vertical to the horizontal as natural as gravity. Hopefully enough pieces and people can survive intact to move to a more sustainable social system.

The political systems can be thought of in a like manner. Political systems emerged from social systems as science emerged from philosophy, and as each of the systems broke semantically and actually from their roots, they evolved a fatal flaw and you are correct that flaw is the vertical versus the horizontal.  Politics and Science did not evolve from the systems that nutured them, but rather they were alienated from them because their respective goals were different. Social systems naturally evolving are concerned with families; politic systems are all about power.  Science is all about results and philosophy is all about the love of wisdom. This product versus process runs deep in this argument across all implications, including the yet to be mentioned axiological ones which also runs across all implications and shows the flaw, at any point you want to mention, involving ethics and beauty.

To belabor this thesis with examples from any institution would bring us back to boredom. I don’t want to go there.  Suffice it to say that any political system expressed horizontally helps to remove the greed and avarice which dooms any such vertical system to failure. All the scare tactics from the right and the left boil down to “ I want mine” and such an attitude ensures another vertical system replacing the existing one with the majority of us  getting the shaft.  The distribution of wealth has been stable across all systems and recorded time, and no, that does not mean it is inevitable.   It just means we lack insight into what ails us. To maintain this status quo is why any astute politician or corporate public relation specialist will be quick to deny any claim that they have any other aim than to work for the betterment of humanity.  Are you buying it? You say no with your words, but where do you live, work, eat, and vote?

The economic systems follow the political and social, and like them should emphasis small, local and organic, thereby allowing it to freely evolve horizontally. Vertical hierarchies only favor the in-crowd at the top and revolutions have only changed the names at the top.  No amount of shake-ups, regulations or any change at all will work unless the primary rule of sustained value for the society as a whole for which it exists is followed.

Biologically we are a disaster as a species because we have been vertically challenged for so long.  It is small mindedness and short sightedness that have written the history of civilization and you can argue all you want about the nature of evolution being punctuated equilibrium, or any other even more abstract model suggesting moving from catastrophe to catastrophe, but the simple fact of the matter is that progress as expressed by science today is no more than a ‘just so’ story designed to suffice as a justification of what is happening rather than exploring the subtext and finding out how to change it.  We are not doomed to place ourselves on the brink causing mass die offs that ensure better lives for the few that survive. We did not evolve consciousness to put ourselves at the mercy of evolution, but to overcome it, but I ramble on.

Spiritually we are the most messed up. The piece of God, however you conceive it, expressed in you tells you that you are a piece of every other. The belief in God is the greatest barrier to the experience of God.  The atheist that sees the highest principle as the search for truth, is closer to God than any fundamentalist of any faith. So we are again back at the vertical as opposed to the horizontal. Truth is one, wherever it is experienced. Truth shared, not explained, is experienced as a holonomic burst of synchronicity that fundamentally alters the nature of the universe. Hmmmm. I guess we are back to that cosmic orgasm, but anyway, someone needed to lay down the law.

3 responses to this post.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by greg walsh and others. greg walsh said: RT @ishtarmuz: The root of all problems: the horizontal versus the vertical. […]


  2. By the way…I also posted this article here:

    They are a lot more talkative there.


  3. […] with the birth of civilization and as I said elsewhere, it always boils down to the problem of the horizontal versus the vertical, and it does.  Yet, we could only wish that it were so simple that such singular categories as in […]


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