Contemporary Issues

QM, Unenlightened Power Elites & Mindless Oppressed Masses

Quadrune mind is a brain-based model of spiritual consciousness that says the human brain can produce four different kinds of minds, or levels of consciousness. Each mind is identified by our behaviors. The three types of minds we have inherited from our evolutionary past are a behavioral reptilian-like mind, an emotional old mammalian-like mind, and an intellectual new mammalian-like (primate) mind. There is only one mind, though, that can be said to be a Human mind and represent true Human nature. The Human mind is identified by unique behaviors unseen in any other creature known on earth, and too rarely seen among the people of the world. 

In the quadrune mind model, the only authentic Human nature is a state of spiritual consciousness based on wisdom, equanimity, and universal compassion. However, there are multiple afflictions of the human brain that may prevent us from acquiring the conscious way of life that a healthy brain would produce.1 Consequently, damaged human beings inflict further damage upon each other. The result is a humanity struggling to become Human. We see this in the destructive social class-based behaviors of the unenlightened power elites and the mindless oppressed masses. The result is people acting against each other’s inherent drive to become Human: “antihumanization.” In contrast, successfully awakened people have mastered powerful skills that provide resilience in the face of afflictions, including the practice of equanimity.

Unenlightened Power Elites.2 One of the first jobs I had in my mental health career was as an alcohol counselor in an early intervention program within a general hospital setting. Referrals were made to my office when a patient was admitted under a possibly euphemistic diagnosis of an alcohol-related condition, such as gastritis or gastroenteritis. Unfortunately, I failed to help the wealthiest patient I ever saw. One of the ideas of intervention in those days was helping the alcoholic reach “rock bottom.” For this wealthy client who was drinking himself to death, there was no rock bottom. The consequences of drunk driving weren’t a problem for him because he had a chauffeur. Losing a job wasn’t a problem for him because he owned the company. At least up until then divorce wasn’t a threat to him because his wife still loved him—worried about him—enough to stay. In my limited time with him and his wife, we did not come up with any way to gain leverage over his behavior. Barely trying, he could escape, with little inconvenience, all of the negative consequences—to him—of his lethal alcoholism.

From their own selfish desire for privilege, a very small elite class opposes the humanization of the masses. The elites are powerful and wealthy enough to escape any personally painful consequences of their rapacious treatment toward everything that exists—other people, animals, the earth. Even if they are not the cause of devastating suffering, they are not likely to join the sufferers in efforts to reduce suffering and increase healing.3

Power and wealth, after all, are given to the worthy so that they can flee suffering (so their thinking goes). This conviction of privilege has been noted as far back as 1348 in Giovanni Boccaccio’s discussion of the Black Plague. The Decameron is Boccaccio’s famous documentation of “the plague’s dehumanizing effects on Florentine society….He does not speak of a return to barbarism in the Tuscan city nor does he suggest this, even if the Florentines’ systematic flight from the infirm qualifies as somewhat barbarous.”4 New York elites during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic provide a contemporary example of those with power using their wealth to flee suffering.5 I have no doubt that the New York elites who fled the city would be in complete agreement with the rationales of Boccaccio’s privileged Florentines of the 14th century, who convinced themselves that their abandonment of the city was reasonable and did no additional harm to the abandoned residents.6 The elites’ successful escape from the general population’s suffering is taken as God’s justification of their character and lifestyles. There is almost never any reason for them to question the way things are, as anything but the way things are. The poor are poor because of the reasons that the power elites believe they are poor: the people’s own deficiencies, which set them in their “proper” place in the world. The place of the masses is to serve the needs, and fancies, of the very few. The awareness, if any, of the elites that they have to use some small part of their power in order to crush occasional rebellions by the masses is taken as an inconvenience, caused by the ignorant, uncouth natures of the people.

However, this is not the thinking of a Human being. As always, the Human mind leads toward actions that help reduce suffering and increase healing at every opportunity. A plague is such an opportunity. In addition, the Human mind sees reality as it is, not through a pre-Human lens of instinct, emotion, or belief. In the quadrune mind model, nothing is ordained by God. The elites are not special by divine right. The elites’ desire to make reality fit their justifications that they deserve to be rich and the poor deserve to be poor is not only untrue and un-Human, but it causes, rather than alleviates, a great deal of suffering. Not only do the poor obviously suffer from the unwillingness of the elite to help, but the elite themselves suffer by cutting themselves off from connection to the world as it is and from the ability to grow into their fully Human mind. 

These elites would probably disagree with Mr. Spock that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” (or one).7 Nevertheless, Mr. Spock would appear to be an exemplar of Ayn Rand’s celebratory “ideal man”.8  

Mindless Oppressed Masses. Of course, “mindless” here does not mean without any mind at all. In the quadrune mind model there are four minds, any one of which might be the dominant mind at a given time. “Mindless masses” means that most people (including the elites) do not function with their Human mind as the dominant level of consciousness. 

Our natural human state is to have a dominant spiritually conscious mind in our adulthood. If this condition does not exist, then there have been afflictions to us that prevent our becoming what the God of the human brain “intended” for us to be. It doesn’t mean that we can use our “victimized” state as an excuse not to strive to become better people, that is, spiritual Human beings. It does mean that none of us can become spiritually conscious on our own. We all, including the elites, require humanizing relationships to become Human. Anything that obstructs our opportunity to have humanizing relationships with each other is, in effect, an obstacle to the force that brought the human brain into existence. 

For the masses, a major source of obstructions to their Humanhood are the pointedly aggressive actions taken against them by the unenlightened elites. From before birth to after death, the masses face a never-ceasing series of socially contrived obstacles to their spiritual (Human) growth: medical care, including obstetric services, are limited or denied because of financial cost or geographical accessibility; educational resources are diverted from education of the masses to the students of the privileged few; disenfranchisement and suppression of their political voices; contemptuous and insulting behaviors directed toward them in their everyday interactions with other people; cheap subsidized toxic diets for the masses, while healthy diets for the elites are expensive; the defunding and blocking of affordable mass transit systems, necessary for going to work, for example. All of these and more obstructions remain in place for the children and grandchildren of the masses, and so it goes. These afflictions to the spirit occur across all demographics of the masses, whether they personally recognize them or not. It is often an insidiously invisible influence because many people of the masses have accepted most of the elites’ dominant mythic narratives; for example, that autonomous individuality (i.e., the American Dream) is the highest good.9

Antihumanization and Equanimity. Dehumanization, as this model would use the term, probably happens infrequently. To be dehumanized in the quadrune mind model means that a person had full Human consciousness but regressed to a pre-Human consciousness because of some life experience. However, Human-minded people have developed effective skills to retain their humanity in the face of severe provocation. These skills allow the spiritually conscious person to maintain equanimity—equal-mindedness—in the midst of life’s turmoil and chaos.10 A more likely cause of the ubiquitous presence of pre-Human consciousness in the world is antihumanization, which I believe results in “subhuman” behavior much more of the time than “dehumanization” does. Antihumanization occurs when someone takes some action “against” another person’s opportunity to become more Human.11 There are two great antihumanizing forces in the world that obstruct most people’s progression toward acquiring their full Human consciousness: the unenlightened power elites and the mindless oppressed masses. The elite can successfully resist humanization of themselves and other people because of their vast power and wealth. They use their wealth and power to insulate them from the discomfort that is a necessary part of growing into a Human-minded individual, allowing them to overcome humanizing challenges to their behavior without any spiritual lessons learned. The masses miss opportunities for humanization because of the power classes’ elitist oppression of them and because of the mass’s general anonymity.

Conclusion. It seems inescapable that for humanity to survive, more of us, elites and masses alike, must burst our bubbles and expose our skin directly to all of the elements of life. 

Postscript, March 15, 2023: Additional Resource

Desmond, M. (2023, March 9). Why Poverty Persists in America: A Pulitzer Prize-winning Sociologist Offers a New Explanation for an Intractable Problem. The New York Times Magazine. “In Tommy Orange’s novel, ‘There There,’ a man trying to describe the problem     of suicides on Native American reservations says: ‘Kids are jumping out the windows of burning buildings, falling to their deaths. And we think the problem is that they’re jumping.’ The poverty debate has suffered from a similar kind of myopia. For the past half-century, we’ve approached the poverty question by pointing to poor people themselves — posing questions about their work ethic, say, or their welfare benefits — when we should have been focusing on the fire. The question that should serve as a looping incantation, the one we should ask every time we drive past a tent encampment, those tarped American slums smelling of asphalt and bodies, or every time we see someone asleep on the bus, slumped over in work clothes, is simply: Who benefits? Not: Why don’t you find a better job? Or: Why don’t you move? Or: Why don’t you stop taking out payday loans? But: Who is feeding off this?” [Emphases in the original. A reminder that the masses are “mindless” (resourceless, helpless) especially to the degree that the elites successfully, universally, and unceasingly, oppress and exploit them].

Postscript, April 12, 2023: Additional Resource

Mahdawi, A. (2023, April 11). How can you comfort a sad, scared billionaire? Call them a ‘person of wealth’: The filthy rich are fighting back against wealthism. They are assisted by media allies, who urge more neutral language to describe their gold-plated plight. The Guardian. “You’ve heard of racism and sexism, but there’s a horrifying new -ism we all need to be aware of: wealthism. The obscenely rich, you see, are an increasingly persecuted minority, vilified in modern society. Wealthism is so deeply entrenched, that without even knowing it, you’re probably using anti-wealth language and making billionaires feel very sad indeed….

“[S]ome aggrieved billionaires have already stepped in to offer suggestions on how to be more compassionate towards rapacious capitalists. In 2019, ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told a New York Times columnist that ‘the moniker “billionaire” now has become the catchphrase’ and suggested it may be better to use expressions like ‘people of means’ or ‘people of wealth….’ 

“Take the word ‘elite’ for example. The ‘elite’, you’ve probably noticed, now means anyone with an education who leans vaguely left. An impecunious academic? An elite! A billionaire? A humble person of means!”

[See my Comment (August 25, 2022) for the Gautama Buddha or Friedrich Nietzsche: Contented Serenity or Agitated Courage? regarding “elites” of Human consciousness. Also, see the hyperlink to C. Cockrell’s wealth-apologetic article, “I’m a therapist to the super-rich: They are as miserable as Succession makes out” in the Additional Resources of the Stampede Greed and Desperate Need blog post].

  1. See page 8 of the Study Guide for examples of such afflictions
  2. Greider, W. (1992). Who will tell the people: The betrayal of American Democracy. New York: Simon & Schuster. [Greider cites sociologist C. Wright Mills’ five generic subcategories of the “power elites” class: “the upper classes and wealthy; corporate executives and owners; the political directorate at the top of government, including lawyer-statesmen; the military managers and their industrial partners; and that vague status symbol known as celebrity.” From The power elite, Oxford University Press, 1956. See also “Mills’s The Power Elite, 50 Years Later” and “50 Years of Who Rules America” for updates by G. William Domhoff as well as other authors regarding ongoing antihumanizing activities by the power elites].
  3. You may say, “But many billionaires are activists who work to reduce suffering around the world.” The problem is, imposing their desired solution from the top down is a very different type of activism than humanizing communal action that is challenging and uncomfortable but also leads to wisdom and Human-mindedness. In many cases, billionaire activism is more about maintaining their own interests than promoting healing for others, and it is almost never Humanizing. For a discussion about the many problems with “billionaire activism,” view the “Why Billionaires Won’t Save Us” episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. The Brookings Institution article, “The Science of Power: Billionaires, Elites, and Social Mobility,” also provides a bite-sized look at the problems with the power elite.
  4. See “The Representation of Collective Death in the Decameron
  5. See “The Richest Neighborhoods Emptied Out Most as Coronavirus Hit New York City
  6. For their rationale, see “The Decameron, First Day, Introduction
  7. Armstrong, A. (2013, September 12). Spock’s illogic: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” The Objective Standard. [Essay from an Objectivist perspective].
  8. In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand described Objectivism as “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute“. (Emphases added.) Mr. Spock fills the bill if we accept that for Mr. Spock reason = happiness. Rand’s “ideal man” is guided exclusively by reason. In the quadrune mind model, this man would be classified as a new mammalian manAyn Rand’s “rational man” has been associated with free market economics by some economists. The quadrune mind does not hold reason as the highest good for the spiritually awake Human being. See our blog “QM and the Scary New Mammalian Mind of the 21st Century.” In that blog, we noted that two of the mental traits of the new mammalian mind are “individualistic thinking” and “business thinking.” Rand’s ideal man combines a competitive mind in business with an individualist mind in society. We end up with strivers who believe all of their success is due solely to their individual efforts and character, and they owe nothing of their wealth and power to anyone. Rand’s suffering under Soviet collectivism seems to have led her to a dissident individualistically-oriented philosophy, as discussed in this interview.
  9. See page 9 of the Study Guide for descriptors of the four minds of the human brain. Each of the pre-Human mind’s “highest good” can be used as an antihumanizing force against the masses.
  10. Modern definition: “Equanimity is an even-minded mental state or dispositional tendency toward all experiences or objects, regardless of their affective valence (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral) or source.” Common definition: “A state of being calm, stable and composed.” The article makes an important distinction, for Westerners, between the commonly used word “detachment” to characterize equanimity with its implication of “indifference,” and the word “craving.” Indifference connotes “apathy” or “lethargy”. Detachment is better understood as “elimination of craving or the clinging to the objects of desire or discontent,” [emphasis added] rather than connoting indifference. Buddhist literature makes the distinction between equanimity and indifference clear. Indifference is considered to be an “unwholesome mental state.” See “Equanimity: A Practice for Troubled Times” for an example of an equanimity exercise; and “Moving beyond Mindfulness: Defining Equanimity as an Outcome Measure in Meditation and Contemplative Research” for an excellent and thorough explanation of equanimity and general Buddhist thought, from  psychological and neuroscientific perspectives.
  11. See pages 6, 7, and 9 of the Study Guide for descriptors of the Human brain and mind.