Saturday, November 18, 2023

Resistance is NOT Futile: Defeating Social and Political Conformity

Conformity is the byword of any system whose intent is control of the masses. Your opinion or enthusiasm is of no particular interest to them, so long as they have your compliance and cooperation. In fact, no matter how powerful a system tries to project itself, ultimately it's power rests on your willingness to go along with the objectives of the system.

Of course, your compliance can be free given or it can be coerced as was the case under Chile's Augusto Pinochet or Spain's Franco on the Right or Mao in China and Kim Jung Un in North Korea on the Left. Conformity can encompass everything from similar thoughts to mirroring the "great leader" or dominant group, which can be a simple majority or an assertive minority.  In most instances, however, it is conformity of thought and obedience which counts the most.

We humans are hardwired to follow the herd, at least to a certain point. By working together, we are able to achieve a great deal. Our earliest ancestors tended to conform to functioning in a certain pattern of behavior when it came to planting crops, hunting in groups, building communities, and organizing armies, systems of government, and religion. Privately, they may have thought the chief or high priest was nuts, but they weren't about to say that out loud! Such sentiment could get you ostracized (which could be a virtual death sentence) to imprisoned.

Today, we tend to follow the herd, be it in a work environment or publically. Schools teach us not just how to get along, but also how to go along.  Adopting a "school spirit" teaches us to embrace a sense of loyalty for our "tribe". Non-conformists tend to get called out and/or punished.  We can still stand out and express our freedom of expression, but only within certain guidelines and venues.

In the military, individuality is frowned on. You're taught to act in a regulated and well ordered fashion. You are conditioned to accept orders without question. Obviously in the heat and fog of war, second guessing decisions can...and will...get people killed or maimed. You speak in a particular manner, which includes its own unique phrases and uses its own symbols to establish a well defined hierarchy.

A not dissimilar type of social grooming carries through to the business world as well. You follow the instructions of your boss, obviously within specific guidelines which have been established in part by the federal government, which also applies to your employer. Society too has its guidelines known as laws which are enforced by our legal system and is enforced by specially designated public employees. Those who fail to obey those guidelines can face punishment ranging from verbal reprimands to fines to being denied their freedom.

Our society runs on conformity. From our birth to our death we are conditioned to think and act a certain way. In politics, a Status Quo tends to rise to the top and jell over time.  Paradoxically, that creates a certain comfort and chaos. The comfort arises from the knowledge of knowing what to expect. The chaos results from the staleness as change or improvements become harder and more difficult to create. Society fails to remain current with technology and science.

What is now possible, thanks to advances in technology for instance may not make allowances morally. Just because we can to something doesn't mean we should do it, especially on a wide scale.  For example, in most cases we can keep a human being alive practically indefinitely thanks to advances in technology and chemistry, but morally should we? What about their quality of life or cognitive functions short term and long term?

But let's reverse that. Just because some ancient script deemed sacred by our ancestors centuries ago instructs one gender to dress or act in a certain way be adhered to in the present where it's a hindrance or doesn't reflect the norms of the current time? Maybe eating certain foods 2000 years ago were rightly prohibited because without proper refrigeration, preservatives and processing, it could make you extremely sick or  possibly kill you. Today we that's all changed. We can preserve food for days, weeks or longer thanks to changes in technology, including  the ability to safely transport them over long distances before they spoil, which required someone to challenge the prevailing mindset.

Once upon a time it was believed that there was no need to educate females. Education took time and was expensive. Besides, a woman's sole role was pretty much limited to a few general tasks, of which none require much more than a very basic level of education, or so it was thought. Males, on the other hand were seen as the principal breadwinners. Their level of knowledge extended over much broader areas than that of women. Therefore, not only should their education be capped, but so too should other functions like driving, voting, signing legal documents, or even owning property.

But for most of global society, time didn't stand still thanks to challenges to conformity. People have access to a much wider selection of food. Education is open to all, as well as life choices. Governments recognize that they must serve all members of society, not just a portion and that includes the right to drive, to vote, to hold political office, serve in the military, or be the president of a corporation.

A few repressive societies and religions still exist for which questioning the Status Quo or thinking for yourself is forbidden or an affront to God. Conformity must be maintained, not because it has proven itself better, more effective or because the Divine has certain dietary and dress preferences, but because questioning conformity threatens their power and control. It always comes down to that. Power and control. Assign to us your free will, do as you're told, and everything will be just peachy. 

It reminds me of that famous photograph of August Landmesser, a German dockworker at the Blohm+Voss Shipyards in Nazi Germany. The photo, taken in 1936, shows a sea of German workers giving the nazi salute at the launch of the ship, "Horst Wessel" with Hitler in attendance. Landmesser was polite and respectful, but decided not to join in. 

The reason was that Herr Landmesser had a girlfriend who just so happened to be part Jewish. Under the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, their relationship were prohibited. Landmesser chose love over conformity. 

Landmesser was charged with "dishonoring the race" and sentenced to two and a half years in prison and was then assigned to a military penal unit.  Sometimes resistance to conformity comes at a steep price.  But only we can decide if that price is to high. For our Founding Fathers, just as with Herr Landmesser, it was worth it. 

In U.S. politics (and I suspect politics around the world) we are given the illusion of choice while preserving conformity. We are told that we have choices to pick from, but only two. Should you ask "why?", you're told that no other choices are possible because they fall outside of the guidelines the Status Quo established for itself---not you---to protect its power. Thus you must conform with the "legal choices" presented to you.

Those two "choices" have already been selected and vetted while others who offer us new ideas have been sidelined. The districts have been drawn up by the Status Quo to virtually ensure at least which of the two parties will likely win. The Status Quo knows they'll protect the existing power structure in spite of their rallying cries of "change" or "reform". And should you still have any doubts, the news media will have taken the drudgery of thinking out of the equation for you and selected which candidates you should vote for. All you have to do is follow their recommendations.

Everyone, regardless of age, gender or race, economic class, knows at a certain psychological level that it's all phony. No one is actually going to "stand up" to anyone or anything.  The political apparatus has been engineered to prevent any real change from taking place.   Like the "Borg", your resistance to their conformity is futile, at least that's what they want you to believe.

I recently came across a really interesting video by Academy of Ideas entitled "Why are People so Obedient? - Compliance and Tyranny". I've provided a link below. The video runs just 12:32 and it covers the nature of conformity and includes some simple suggestions on how defeat it at the grassroots level.

I encourage you to take some time to watch it. With the Presidential Election for 2024 starting to gear up, now would be a good time to learn about some of the things you can do.


Video: Why are People so Obedient? -Compliance and Tyranny (12:32)

Academy of Ideas

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