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June 22, 2024
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The mob

The mob is a very interesting word. When people use this word, they often put themselves outside the “mob” and directly call the groups that disagree with them “mob”. But do we really know what a mob is? Can we say that we are not a member of the mob? How can we avoid becoming a mob?

First of all, we should understand what a mob is. I suggest you read The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind by Gustav Le Pen, a French social psychologist. This book analyzes the existence of “group” from the perspective of group psychology, group opinions and beliefs, and group classification and characteristics, which can help us better jump out of the identity of “group” to think about problems.

The mob is derogatory in Chinese. If we read this book, we will find that Le Pen did not write this book to disparage the group, but just as a very calm observer studying the group. The author believes that the original translation of Le Pen’s book, “Study of Mass Psychology”, is actually more objective, but it is not as eye-catching as “mob”.

Secondly, we should make clear what the “group” mentioned in Le Pen’s book is.

Le Pen was born in 1841. In his 90-year life, he has experienced the 1848 Revolution, the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the First World War, and the October Revolution. It can be said that he witnessed many terrible and bloody events. At the time of writing this book, Le Pen was in a new era, in which the only supreme power of his era – the power of groups rose. Here is his prediction of group power:

“Many of the once stable ideas have died out today, and many of the once authoritative forces have been destroyed by the revolution one after another. On their ruins, only the power of the group is rising, and shows the potential to devour the others. When our long-standing beliefs are crumbling and crumbling, when the ancient pillars of society collapse one by one, the power of the group is the only force that is invincible and rising. We will The era we entered is really a group era. ”

In an era of conflict between old and new ideas, Le Pen showed great interest in and made in-depth observation on the concept of “group”, which was previously ignored but now has to be talked about. Le Pen was born in the Department of Biology, and then turned to psychology. Therefore, when analyzing groups, he used more psychological perspectives, but we can easily see the shadow of biology.

Here, to borrow Le Pen’s words, we may call the “group” mentioned in his book “psychological group”, which refers to a group of people who tend to the same direction and have the same goal in their thoughts and emotions.

In Le Pen’s eyes, this psychological group is undoubtedly limited. Understanding the characteristics of groups helps us to think in reverse, so as to avoid being led by the “mob”. Le Pen summarized the characteristics of three groups:

First, when individuals are in groups, they will get an overwhelming psychological feeling just because of the number of people, and thus dare to indulge their instincts. This instinct is suppressed when you are alone. The group is anonymous and therefore exempt from liability. Individual sense of responsibility is completely absent here.

The “Room N” incident, which has attracted many people’s attention before, well reflects the bad consequences of self-indulgence of human nature in the group. 260000 people watched these videos insulting women, and the most irritating thing is “I just watch, I don’t commit a crime, I just pay to watch adult content normally. Is it wrong”.

Most of the audience of these videos are ordinary people in reality, and they dare not commit crimes alone. However, in the anonymous group, they are unbridled in contributing to the crime. They completely lost their moral bottom line and legal consciousness in the group, and even felt that they were completely right.

Le Pen revealed some characteristics of people in the state of clustering, such as impatience, irrationality, impulse and lack of judgment. Therefore, we should pay more attention to think twice before expressing our opinions or actions, and never do anything beyond the moral bottom line by virtue of the anonymity of the group. What this society lacks is the voice of independent thinking and reason.

The purpose of this article is to hope that readers can think rationally. We can’t beat the group to death, because in terms of emotions and the behaviors triggered by these emotions, the group can perform better or worse than the individual, which depends on the situation at that time. We can also say that groups have characteristics that individuals do not have.

Le Pen wrote in his book that groups may often have criminal characteristics, but they are also often heroic. It is often the group that is driven to sacrifice for the victory of a belief or idea, and to boil for glory and reputation.

Imagine that if there were no group emotional drive, there would not be many major events in history.

Groups can also sacrifice, contribute, and be selfless, and their actions are far more noble than those of isolated individuals. Especially for individuals in groups, they can often arouse the feelings of honor, reputation, religion and the motherland and make them dedicate their lives. Le Pen mentioned in his book such examples as the Crusade and the French volunteers in 1793, which are everywhere in history. Only the collective can show great selflessness and dedication.

The mob is undoubtedly an excellent psychological work, but the author Le Pen can not get rid of the limitations of his time in a few of his views.

The unconscious and conscious discourse he mentioned in the chapter of group psychology exposed his racism. He believed that the unconscious factor constituted the nature of a race, that is, human beings are different in nature.

When he discusses the different characteristics of different ethnic groups, he always attributed to the inheritance of race. Le Pen failed to get rid of the limitations of the times. His era was dominated by Eurocentrism, and talking about racism was socially inclusive at that time.

In a later discussion, he also called women, savages and children as low-level evolutionary forms of life, and regarded emotion as female characteristics.

So should we give up this book because of Le Pen’s limitations? I don’t think so.

Any book has its creation background and limitations. Some reasonable ideas at that time may not be accepted today. Some theories applicable at that time may no longer be applicable today.

As a reader, it is not advisable to blindly follow all the ideas in the book. What we should do is to think about the views in the book from different angles based on the times and in combination with the specific reality.

As Le Pen wrote in his book, from the point of view of absolute truth, a cube and a circle are immutable geometric shapes defined by strict formulas. But from our eyes, these geometric shapes can have a variety of shapes. Perspective can see a cube as a cone or a square, and a circle as an ellipse or a straight line; And these imaginary shapes are far more important than the real ones, because they are what we see and what photographers or painters reproduce.


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