Those whose work is becoming aware of and manipulating society using the forces of legitimacy could be called legitimancers, I suppose. You could say most advertisers and political campaign planners are legitimancers. Their trade is to assess the currents of legitimacy and set a proper course for a corporate entity or a candidate. Anyone who walks into a house where there’s a party and immediately assesses how things are going based on the ‘vibes’ they get is a legitimancer. There’s certain infallible signs that tell what numbers can only convey indirectly.
Legitimacy is the social assessment of any person, idea, organization, product… by the group.
People instinctively watch for and react to these signs. Our reaction to these signs is visceral and mostly unconscious. We get vibes from our surroundings and act on them.
In 1990’s New York City, the crime rate drastically dropped after municipal authorities devoted huge amounts of energy to keeping public areas clean and cracking down on minor offenses. They were following the idea of a legitimancer: the idea that a broken window tells people more about the legitimacy of the state than the number of its enforcers or the size of its justice and penal system.
The numbers tell us the dimensions of the body of a social force or organization. But legitimacy, purpose, meaning, are like the presence of the breath of life in that body. Without legitimacy, the social body is but an inanimate corpse that must soon decay.
Strangely, legitimacy is not usually listed among the great forces that govern societies. A religion might have the largest number of followers or a nation might possess the greatest wealth but these are just numbers on paper that obscure the most important truths.
Legitimacy is not so easily quantified, and that is its importance. It goes beyond all the rows of statistics.
Roman Catholicism has a huge number of followers. But the statistics don’t immediately tell you that its legitimacy is in sharp decline.
While mosques around the world are thriving and evangelism constantly spreads, the great cathedrals of Europe are dark and quiet inside. They have few worshippers and charge admission fees to tourists. The few priests are old and frail. There is no new blood. Huge numbers of Europeans are now agnostic, atheist, or Muslim.
Instead of reading statistics, a legitimancer could learn everything they need to know from those abandoned cathedrals.
There’s no shortage of Catholics and there’s not likely to be, but a legitimancer can look at the growing popularity of evangelist congregations in Latin America.
You know a religion is losing its legitimacy
-When belief in the religion’s land of origin is weak.
-When regions(such as Latin America) that have kept out the competition for centuries are suddenly losing to competitors. If suddenly competitors succeed where they never have before, their success can be seen as opportunistic in nature.
The United States of America has spent over half a century now as the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world.
Until the present recession, most people did not realize anything was wrong. Suddenly from 2006-2009 everything starts going rapidly downhill. Suddenly the government of one of the most powerful nations in history is struggling just to keep itself afloat for another day.
If someone lived in the US in the 90s they might see now that all the symptoms of legitimacy decline were there. In spite of all the prosperity, the 90s were a period of social decay.
More than ever, neighbors did not know each other. All the money people earned went into endless stuff that got piled up in the garage and forgotten.
Fuel was cheap and real estate was a sure money maker, but I can’t remember it making people any happier. People just spent instead of saving in a perpetual quest to numb the yawning feeling of pointlessness. After all, only the perception of a meaningful future, purposeful direction in life, and duty to something higher than oneself can justify saving for tomorrow.
A legitimancer knows: Saving and having children is the sign of a legitimate society that will endure. Every person who saves for a next generation has cast a vote of confidence in their society. A ‘yea’ vote.
Profligacy and sterility reign where legitimacy has died. If people don’t see the point of perpetuating the present order, they will cast a ‘nay’ vote and flush the future of that society down the toilet. People don’t think these things through for the most part. Approval is subconscious, disapproval and resistance are passive-aggressive…
The US that declared itself the victor at “the end of history” lasted less than two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union. A complete surprise, right?
What do we think of when we think of the Soviet Union?: Gray, cheerless, monolithic, dreary, drab, dull, mechanical… lifeless.
Now let’s look at the present United States.
-Big box retailers and fast food franchises repeat over and over again through each identical lifeless community. Endless identical sprawl connected with endless miles of pavement.
-Stores stocked with dreary unappetizing fake food. Anything else hard to find.
-Hardly anyone actually makes anything or produces things people actually need. Few people can feel their work is really helping anyone. Whatever you do, it really doesn’t make a difference, even if you’re one of the few who get paid well.
-Social divisions widening: income, gender, race, class, age…you name it.
-Few people living in cohesive families and communities.
-Most educated and economically productive citizens neither saving money nor having children.
-Movies, music increasingly violent and homogenous. Lack of passion and creativity on the societal level. Entertainment handed down from above rather than originating in communities.
Both the US and USSR showed similar textbook symptoms of spiritual death.
Everyone seems to have been taken by surprise by both the USSR collapse and the US recession, but for any legitimancer these outcomes were obvious years in advance. In fact, things could not have happened otherwise.