Are we the failures, or is it?
To be alive is to wonder about your universe, including your time. More important, however, is that survival in any age demands awareness of what's going on around you; if the King hates Christians and you show up to the dinner party with a "Gays For Christ" t-shirt, he'll have you killed. That's of course an inverse example - in this day and age, if you show up with any indicator that Gays For Christ is not OK by you, they'll put your name on an unofficial blacklist and ensure you never get hired for more than $7/hour again.
Survival in the current age demands we either face certain facts, or go about blithely in ignorance for the sole purpose of being able to function without being burdened by things too big for us to tackle directly. One day during casual conversation, my comrade g0sp-hell was expounding on what brings us alienated types together: "You know, there's gotta be something wrong with us, or we wouldn't be as outsider as we are." That's a paraphrase - the original was more elegant. But he brings up a good point. When one is a fringe dweller on a society that one cannot articulate in a sentence a clear reason for destroying, what's the breakdown?
To avoid the kind of narrow-minded thinking that can handle absolute or, but not a partial AND/OR combination, I'll say this: most people are at least part dysfunctional, but there is no equality among levels of dysfunction. Some are wholly dysfunctional - true-blue sociopaths (not just those labelled as such for unconventional beliefs/views), pedophiles, priests - but most have areas of dysfunction, such as the abused child who grows up to be a woman who has commitment-phobia, or the kid who got picked on at Catholic school who when he grows up finds himself unable to form lasting friendships. These dysfunctions don't invalidate the individual, nor is it necessary for every individual to be functional in all areas: specialization, while destructive if taken in an absolute sense, is a beautiful thing in that it allows people to function in their area of talent and power without being fettered by other, unassociated things. In a society that one could label dysfunctional, many people could also be dysfunctional in part, but perfectly good members of the community.
What would define a dysfunctional society? Clearly, since societies define their own function, either (a) a society with a paradoxical, insane or destructive function or (b) a society which can't achieve its own stated goals. Our current civilization - modern, industrial, moral "Western" civilizations circa AD 2004 - fits both of these criteria.
Work: in theory, our goal is to use technology to work less. But where hunter-gatherers worked four hours a day, and early farmers roughly six, we work eight hour days and, to avoid living in the rotted and polluted and crime-ridden areas of our cities, commute for up to two hours in many cases. Not only that, but our work doesn't actually produce anything viable for the most part; we're spending our time convincing other people of things, selling them things, and taking care of people-related concerns, leaving the task undone until the last minute. Thus our overhead is insane, we work long hours on tedious tasks, and we get little chance to show our actual skills and talent. Even those in the professions, such as doctor or lawyer, give most of their days to "associated" tasks and not the main task itself. Further, because of the one-size-fits-all nature of our bureaucracies, most of what we do is tedious as all hell and thus we're not only spending all of our time, but we're doing on it on trivial things, while being bored. If our goal was to spend less time doing the disagreeable tasks of providing for ourselves, we have failed it in a big way.
Justice: according to our highest thinkers (high on what, I might ask) our goal is to achieve justice for all individuals, and "freedom," a word which like most open-ended absolutes I distrust; you can apply it to anything, such as "We're killing all these people for freedom" and the paradox isn't evident because "freedom" is a broad, undefinable term in the first place. Despite our lofty statements, these people still must have jobs, thus cannot have opinions that are contrary to the mainstream, or someone will call up their jobs and complain and they'll be fired. Somehow, this ability is viewed as a check and balance type of mechanism, and thus a good thing, probably by the same people smoking plastic who came up with an open-ended term like "justice" for our society. We hope to someday make the process so bureaucratic that it's equal for all, but this will merely increase the strength of bureaucracy, which is known for its blundering tendency to crush anyone who stands out in a crowd, thus dooming society to groupthink and eventual failure.
Compassion: in our highly slick official propaganda, we talk about compassion for others and how important that is to us. But what's the compassion in taking a starving independent nation and making it part of our political system, with the same malls, fast foods, soft drinks and mixture of people that you can find in America? "Compassion" is our excuse for assimilation. We had to destroy the village to save it, sir - Indeed.
Animals: Oh, we love cuddly animals. Mainly we love to eat them; nothing wrong there, if the animal actually has a chance at life, but instead, we put them in giant warehouse factories and confine them to the minimum space required. They defecate and urinate, and all of this is pooled nearby where it creates a great stench, so we think to ourselves how dirty and gross animals are. But what's grosser - the creature that by nature wouldn't put itself in a situation, or the creature that forces it to do so? Money dictates what we do, and people will always buy meat as they associate it with a complete and satisfying meal, so instead of producing better meat we produce more of it. Cows swimming in hormones, foods awash in preservatives and flavor additives, and when you get to the restaurant, there's MSG on the table for you. This is "progress."
Equality: it's important to us moderns that everyone be equal, and have the same opportunity. But they're not equal in ability, so we dumb everything down to the level of the lowest person, so that it's "fair" to "everyone." This creates an incentive against getting good at anything, so we all (equally) suffer under a mediocre society, mediocre products, mediocre ideas. Those who might rise above will disagree with this, so we'll fucking kill them, in the name of equality.
Women: "have been oppressed for years, living in the kitchen and bedroom, with no money or power." OK, so we send them to the same tedious jobs everyone else works, and they thus have in addition to the same workload as the rest, the obligation to find some way of raising a family, all while not appearing to be an "old-fashioned" stay at home Mom, since everything that's not new sucks, as everyone knows. This means that women have dysfunctional, abusive relationships through their 20s and 30s, and finally settle on some shithead who they picked not because he's a heroic, good-looking, capable guy, but because he's so meek he's the least likely to hurt them, betray them, or in fact do anything without consulting them. Trust and faith between the sexes is thus dead, and these women - made neurotic by conflicting demands of motherhood, career and social obligation - are therefore in a confused state, married at forty, and if they manage to breed, it probably gives them cervical cancer, perhaps engendered by one of the precursor viral polyps they picked up while trying out different guys trying to find the right one. But they're "empowered."
Minorities: you better want to be "equal" or we'll call you a Black Panther and lock you up for being a terrorist. Your culture and way of life will be replaced with a one-size-fits-all bureaucratic existence, and you will be taught the ways of your conquerors. You will be sent to a job and forced to act like everyone else. Any attempts to assert to your culture mean that you're a terrorist, so only the meekest will breed, dwindling your once proud "minority" (even though worldwide, there's more of you than "whites") into a subservient lapdog of some wealthy shithead somewhere. But remember, it's not slavery.
Homosexuals: you have been ignored for so long, we're bringing you justice, which will allow you to discover that healthy heteros are indeed repulsed by the idea of sloppy, cum-dripping butt sex, and thus to discriminate against them by forming "gay mafias" at work which complain about, whine about and crush anyone who doesn't appear to be "gay positive" to the agenda. Not only that, but we'll make sure everyone knows AIDS isn't spread almost exclusively through homosexual intercourse, guaranteeing new generations of unsuspecting gay youth a slow death after spending years on expensive retrovirals. But hey, I own pharmaceutical stock, so they're ripped on for making my money and dying.
Freedom: a rare thing in history, so we're fixing that. You can't smoke pot. You can't take mushrooms. You can't say you're a National Socialist in public. You can't live someplace where you have the right to deny morons entrance. You're fucking free, do you understand? If you don't, you're probably some terrorist with al-Qaeda, but remember, Islam is not illegal, only acting on your Islamic belief is.
Choice: back in feudalism, no one had choice! You can move up in the world! Of course, unlike in feudal times, you're not guaranteed a job, so you'd better begin whoring yourself to others so that you can get one, and you'd better not fucking offend your bosses, or you'll get fired, be destitute and end up on crack selling your ass by the pound.
Waste: part of our goal is to make sure you don't drown in your own waste. For this reason, we pipe it far away from cities, where it eventually becomes an ambient factor in the air around us, so we're all exposed to it equally, thank god, except those rich enough to live in filtered environments.
Decisions, Decisions: Kings were terrible - one man to rule us all? Better we have Democracy, where everyone has a vote, and the vote of a crackhead is equal to that of a hero. Of course, because 51% of the population has to agree on any choice, and you vote for leaders who listen to popularity polls, instead of for issues themselves, only the simplest possible things - like free beer, wars and television - can be agreed on and decided issues, and everyone else had better like what the crowd decided or we'll fucking kill you when you take things into your own hands.
Peers: no more people from afar telling you what to do. Now, when it's time to buy pencils at work, they'll herd everyone - your "peers" - into a big room and force them to decide what must be done. Since no two people have the same opinions, it will become an endless debate until lunchtime, at which point you'll accept some silly compromise just to get out the door. Enjoy freedom!
Sex: wow, now we're sexually liberated! One-quarter of American women have herpes, so pick carefully; others have AIDS, chlamydia, genital warts, syphilis and so on. You can have sex with whoever you want, however you want, all the time if you can afford it. However, since sex has replaced love and long-term happiness including families as a life goal, you probably won't get that, and soon you'll be too old for anyone to want to have sex with, so you'll settle for some boring long term relationship with whatever neurotic slut of a partner offends you least. You can adopt.
Social life: we'll introduce you to billions of people, and you can pick the ones you like. Of course, they'll be trying to do the same, so they'll judge you in advance by your appearance, clothing, interests, and social behavior, because no one wants to get stuck with some slob who will offend anyone in a crowd. Thus, we guarantee you insipid and short-lived friendships, but look at all the choices! Wow! 50% off!
Sports: having any real interest will offend someone, because, for example, how dare you assert that classical music has any more value than Jay-Z and Britney? So we all watch sports, which consists of watching very dumb people play very simple games, and pretending we care about the outcome. But you get to have friends who also like sports, even though you have to think that anyone who really likes this stuff is dumb as a brick, and you get to buy beer. Yay.
Shopping: this wasn't in our stated goals, but it seems to be what we do, and do best, even if we're looking for an activity. Stuff is cheaper now than ever before. Granted, it breaks, or the software crashes, or it doesn't work as advertised except in the narrowest definition, but you were able to buy it, and now you can pay disposal fee, because we're building these great monuments to our time, called "landfills," and soon they'll be the biggest structures around, so whatever aliens in the future pick through the ruins of our civilization can see how cool we were...
This article is flippant; indeed, even I recognize that. However, it makes its points. Our society has no goals except these open-ended, mystical "good" things which no one can define, or agree how to define, thus we end up settling for something silly instead, and deny ourselves any chance of a great future in favor of what "most people" see as a comfortable one. Nature won't let this go on for long, so carve your name into a rock or something, because in ten thousand years all that will be left are the landfills.
December 30, 2004