“Adjusting” to society is wrong.

One way to cope with military or cultural defeat is assimilation. One cannot fault people who do that. It’s a hard thing to do but it contains within itself the hope for a better future for oneself and one’s family, for those who believe in such things. Obviously it’s not the only solution, but it is one solution.

Likewise, people who know that the societies they live in are profoundly wrong also raise their children to adapt those wrong societies, so that they may experience material success. Once again we are faced with the same dilemma, but the dilemma is in all cases caused by procreation. Without the fear that one’s child will be unhappy, there would be no particular drive to assimilate.

This perfect adaptation to society’s norms–in other words, to what is called “healthy normality”–carries with it the danger that such a person can be used for practically any purpose. It is not a loss of autonomy that occurs here, because this autonomy never existed, but a switching of values, which in themselves are of no importance anyway for the person in question as long as his whole value system is dominated by the principle of obedience. He has never gone beyond the stage of idealizing his parents with their demands for unquestioning obedience; this idealization can easily be transferred to a Fuhrer or to an ideology.
Alice Miller

Beyond that, the issue is one of pragmatism. Even staunch opponents of our social institutions need money to live, and the most accessible way to make money is to submit to those institutions. It is humiliating, and it undermines our position, but we have little choice.

There is a tremendous pressure for rebels to conform to the ways in which people normally own and control things and each other, because they need to use the tools of the oppressors in order to have the means to be heard, to assemble, and so on. Even if we just take a simple example such as a protest, the protesters must use the streets and sidewalks owned by government, and therefore be subject to the means of enforcement of that ownership, cops. So protests are useless, because it’s virtually impossible to defend against cops unless you have a vast numerical advantage and a willingness to fight. But this is also true of buildings to operate in, which require rent and are controlled by local governments, computers which can be reported and seized by cops, and so on.

This may not necessarily be a problem for those of us who believe that the law is basically good, that cops are just doing their job, and that we live in a just society. As a pessimist, of course, I think that’s bullshit. Pessimists believe there is something profoundly wrong about human society, even though they may disagree on what that is. Wanting to change or reform society does not solve the fundamental problem and only serves to reinforce the unjust foundations of society. It is the very fact of living in society that makes people stupid and evil.

One obvious cause of this is games conditions. Games conditions make people stupid and evil because it provides a strong incentive for people to follow impersonal, non-human values (whether it be the sole pursuit of profit, the power to implement your preferences on the rest of society, the middle class ideal, racial domination, holiness, “saving the world,” or whatever else people play for). Everywhere in our society, and all over the news, we see example after example of games making people stupid and evil, and yet we keep saying it’s just a bad apple, over and over.

One thing people can say is, let’s build a society without games conditions, or at least a society where games conditions do not affect one’s livelihood. And I agree that this is an extremely, crucially worthy goal. But at the same time, I have to concede that a society without games conditions would clearly prove to us all that human lives are profoundly pointless. And while I can’t argue against the spread of truth, I doubt most people would like that. Eventually games conditions would re-emerge in some new dogmatic form, and we’d probably be back to killing each other.

So there are few things that annoy me more than the liberal insistence that we need to level the playing field and ensure that everyone has a chance to succeed. The success of one person in our societies means to ensure the failure of ten others, and the propagation of evil both on one’s fellow Westerners and on a global scale. Why are liberals cheering for gay people and women to join the US Army, when they know very well that the US Army is fighting for American elite and corporate interests, not for American citizens’ interests? Why are liberals cheering for more women to become CEOs of sociopathic corporations which rob, cheat and kill innocents? Because, like everyone else, they have been made stupid and evil by the game of gender interests or racial interests, just like capitalists have been made stupid and evil by the game of profits or control. There is no one stupider than one who honestly and wholeheartedly believes he is not playing any game. This is self-delusion at its most profound.

The solution is not to pretend to not be under any games conditions. The solution is to realize that we are subject to them, and to clearly differentiate our own interests from those of the games we are acting under. As a worker, I am interested in following corporate rules and serving corporate interests, even when they lead me to defraud people or lie to people. That’s how I play the game. But swallowing my own lies while believing I am a freethinker would just be pathetic, and becoming an activist for corporations would be braindead. And yet this is the kind of thing people do. It makes about as much sense as becoming an activist for putting Chess in the Olympics on the sole basis that you’ve once played a game of Chess and thus had to follow the rules (a better reason to become an activist for Chess would be honestly believing Chess is actually a great game, and sure there are people stupid enough to believe that corporatism or religion are great games).

It is possible to free one’s mind from the strictures of games conditions and penetrate to the truth of the human condition. It is also extremely difficult. I feel like I’ve only just started to really do this. And I understand why people don’t want to do this: having just started I am already labeled a crackpot by most people, even a lot of radicals, and I expect it’s only going to get worse. Such is life… if it bothered me, I wouldn’t be doing this blog.

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3 thoughts on ““Adjusting” to society is wrong.

  1. uriupinacom November 10 2012 at 17:01 Reply

    I’ll react to just a couple of your thoughts as I’m not sure I get the overall message right. I just see the adjustment to evil societies, the attachment to social games or ‘games conditions’ as you say and ‘the truth of a human condition’, not sure which was the major subject here.
    “the dilemma is in all cases caused by procreation. Without the fear that one’s child will be unhappy, there would be no particular drive to assimilate.”
    it sure is often worsened by it, but I don’t think people have a strong rebellion tendency. We’re overall pretty conformist: don’t go against your tribe or you risk to get ostracized and die in the wild. Might have some evolutionary value this tendency, people needed to cooperate and live in groups to survive.

    “But at the same time, I have to concede that a society without games conditions would clearly prove to us all that human lives are profoundly pointless. … Eventually games conditions would re-emerge in some new dogmatic form, and we’d probably be back to killing each other.”

    That’s something I find very agreeable. Unless we’d all become satisfied with playing video games and killing people in virtual reality))
    But truly, what would we do here if there were no problems to solve? As Schopenhauer pointed out:
    “…man is a compound of needs and necessities hard to satisfy; and that even when they are satisfied, all he obtains is a state of painlessness, where nothing remains to him but abandonment to boredom. This is direct proof that existence has no real value in itself; for what is boredom but the feeling of the emptiness of life? If life — the craving for which is the very essence of our being — were possessed of any positive intrinsic value, there would be no such thing as boredom at all: mere existence would satisfy us in itself, and we should want for nothing. But as it is, we take no delight in existence except when we are struggling for something…”

    • Francois Tremblay November 10 2012 at 18:16 Reply

      What’s my point? I guess my point is that we should strive for “freedom,” even if it’s ultimately futile. Without striving there is nothing… and that includes us, too!

  2. astronaut November 29 2012 at 13:32 Reply

    I think that if people want to play games, they should, but they should not force others to do it and they should make sure that other don’t get injured (as collateral damage).

    “But at the same time, I have to concede that a society without games conditions would clearly prove to us all that human lives are profoundly pointless.”

    Well… I don’t agree that human lives are profoundly pointless. To begin with there is the issue (“mystery”) of consciousness; we’re just beginning to grasp what it is, or might be. Then there are the unknowns of physics. There are many things to be explored and contemplated in this universe. Maybe after all that can be known is known, all that can be understood is understood, and there is no more space for exploration, evolution, advancement, etc… maybe then will human lives become pointless. But with our “micro” lifespans it’s going to take a lot of time to arrive at that stage, perhaps we will never get to that point.

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