Let me give you a personal anecdote. Once upon a time, I was in the military. During one afternoon lunch period in boot camp, I remember having a small epiphany as I was standing in line waiting to reach the counter. I looked around and saw groups of my fellow inmates… I mean, recruits… sitting at their tables, following the rules handed down to us by our “superiors”. No talking, no horse play, eat quickly. I saw the recruits sneakily having whispered conversations, quietly disobeying those rules. I saw the officers in charge sitting at their table, talking loudly and raucously, enjoying themselves and seeming to revel in their “elevated” position in the hierarchy. I saw the differences in uniform. One group’s uniforms signifying their roles are superiors, the other group’s signifying their roles as inferiors, people who could and would be yelled at, disrespected and ordered about by the superiors. I saw that we all, officer and recruit alike, volunteered to put on these costumes and play these roles. And it hit me that it was all a joke. We were all playing a very elaborate game of make believe for adults. What’s more, I saw that this is how it is everywhere. It wasn’t just boot camp. It was Congress. It was corporate America. It was church. It was family. We are all playing these roles, and what’s more, I saw that we did not have to. It is our fear, among other, less potent motivations, that keeps us locked into the mass absurdity. We believe in rules that have no basis in any other space outside of the human brain. It’s like the rules of Monopoly, the board game. We agree to play by them, but once the game is done, we fold up the board, put the pieces and the cash away, and forget all about the rules that make the game possible. (Obviously I’m not original. This was long before I’d even heard of game theory.) But human society is one game that never, EVER ends. How would you feel if one morning you awoke, walked out of your home to face the day only to discover that everyone appears to be living and dying and killing by the rules of what you were raised to believe was only a board game? For me, the rules, the roles and the beliefs are all part of a game, one that is not real and is not important. But it appears that for most other people, the game is real. It’s all real to them and it all matters, including and especially who they believe themselves to be. Everything appears to hinge of their sense of identity (their roles). It’s so important in fact that they are willing to kill in the name of their rules and roles and make believe society. None of it has to cohere. It does not have to make sense even. It just has to be what they believe is true and right. It is the function of beliefs, not their veracity, that matters most.
That is my subjective experience of society around me. Again, I believe that most people are not being consciously disingenuous. To reiterate, I understand all too well that many people mean it from the depths of their being when they think, feel and believe certain things. All of the above is the very meaning of most people’s lives. But for me, these people I am referring to are like straw dogs, empty suits who confuse emotional depth with reality. They believe that what they think and what they feel is the be all to end all. They do not see the blind biology that makes their beliefs about themselves and their society possible. They most certainly refrain from any kind of sustained introspection. So naturally, they mistake their beliefs and feelings with fact and they surround themselves with others who will agree with them as a means of shoring up those beliefs, their yay-sayers. Why else would the average human ego be so fragile and so in need of constant validation if it were not comprised of mostly opinion, wish fulfillment and patterns of behavior acquired in childhood and repeated in what passes for adulthood? (In other words, hot air.) The smarter ones may see some of this in others but they can never see it in themselves because they believe that they and theirs, among all other groups, have somehow won the belief lottery: their beliefs are of course right and true and honorable! Their families, their religion, their country is what’s right and true and honorable. Their version of love is the real version, the right and true and honorable version. And what threatens a belief, a feeling, a sense of self in constant need of propping up? Other people, with their conflicting beliefs and feelings and senses of self of course, which explains the ubiquitous conflict of all types, found at all levels of society, from the nuclear family all the way up to the captains of industry and heads of state. In the name of love (of “soul mate”, family, country, god, capitalism, communism, etc) they have waged all kinds of war and invented the means with which to destroy every human being on this lovely but insignificant little planet of ours.
Then they have the nerve, the gall to label people who, for one reason or the other find themselves emotionally disconnected from all the above, as pathological. They say they are “chilled” when someone can kill without remorse, even as they support killing in the name of ~fill in the blank with a preposterous reason~. It is truly laughable. Why should I play by their rules when those rules are so often mind numbingly stupid and pointless? Why should I beat myself up or lose sleep at night because I fail to take what I see as one great big walloping delusion seriously?
The above may sound as if I am angry with society. That would be misleading. Right now, at this moment, the most I feel is slightly annoyed at the ludicrousness of it all and at the fact that I am forced to navigate through this miasma of BS just to survive. Otherwise, it is what it is. There is nothing to do but accept it, deal with it, and even from time to time, take advantage of it for my own gain.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Sociopaths = moral nihilists
Our friend Mr. Birdick on another site: