by Roland Watson
October 2001

Note: this is an excerpt from the Society chapter of Freedom From Form.

1. Life conditions: The fundamental forms or conditions of the life experience are that it is in many ways unknown; uncertain; regularly a difficult struggle and full of pain; unfair; and, ultimately, in one way at least, everyone loses. Every living thing dies.

2. Personal selfishness: These conditions lead to personal selfishness. The evolutionary form of our genetically-programmed instincts is to seek to minimize our struggle and to ensure survival, both for ourselves and our family. Hence we view everything in the context of this, our own self-interest. Further, personal selfishness leads to group selfishness, all the way to species selfishness.

3. Competition: Self-interest generates competition, since our self-interest is often in, or it seems to be in, conflict with the self-interest of other people and species.

4. Conflict: Competing self-interests are regularly resolved through conflict, either because there appears to be no other option, or because one individual perceives an advantage and initiates a conflict to promote his or her self-interest and to defeat the others.

5. Social structure: Individuals form groups, since there is strength in numbers, to gain the aforementioned advantage. (This is natural law: the strong dominating the weak.) Through this interpersonal competition and conflict rise to all levels of society and forms of social organization, including between all manner of groups.

6. Social values: Society glorifies this competition and conflict, and its winners (but not the losers), and through this reinforces personal selfishness.

7. Inequality: In competitions and conflicts there are winners, a few, and losers, often many. The sum is regularly not even zero; it is negative. Because of this, inequality is created.

8. Winners and losers: Winning a competition or conflict may be due to merit, but in many cases it is due to other factors, foremost among them chance or that the competition is rigged in some way. Further, winning in one competition increases the chances that you will win in the next. You learn how to win - you carry forward technical advantages (and rewards) derived from the prior competition; and you take pride in being a winner - you feel a strong compulsion to defend this. Likewise, if you lose this increases the chances that you will lose in the next competition. Indeed, losing itself can be addictive.

9. Dictatorship: The advantages that winners of prior competitions carry into new ones can reach the point or take the form where they - the winners - are able to dictate the terms - the rules - of such new competitions. They are in a position to guarantee that they will win. In other words, it is not even a competition anymore. The inequality created by the initial competitions is perpetuated, and leads to structurally-ingrained dictatorship.

10. Determinism: A final life condition is that we are born with free will. We have the ability to shape the circumstances of our lives. (This is the source of merit.) However, when our lives are reconfigured by society such that we become the subjects of structurally-ingrained dictatorship, with no possibility of winning or even of just opting out of the game, we effectively lose this will. It is taken away from us. We become determined. Also, we are led by the dictators to believe that such determinism is itself a basic, immutable condition of life.

This is unacceptable, and it must be fought. We therefore need to attack the weak points in the chain. Also, we must understand that the clarity which derives from the above discussion will not be present when we actually confront society and attempt to get it to change.

Society is rarely clear. Rather, it is vague and ambiguous. And much of this is purposeful: it is the intentional outcome of the tactics which are used by the leaders of our social institutions. On the other hand, ambiguity also arises as an unintentional consequence of this “hidden” competition, between free will and determinism.

One of the best ways to see this is to consider the “hidden biases” of society, which can also be termed “modern doublethink.”

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them... This process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision. But it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt.

- 1984, George Orwell

In the regular public debate over values, these are the values with which we should be most concerned.

- We believe we can control things, but we can’t.
- We believe perfection is possible, but it isn’t.
- We say we are interested in substance, but we revere appearance.
- We say we care about other people, but we don’t.
- We say we want to cooperate, but we actively compete.
- We say we are patient and tolerant, but we are not.
- We say we value diversity, but we seek subjugation and conformity.
- We say we want peace, but we glorify war.
- We believe in equality, but we want to be better than other people.
- We believe we are equal, but we require leaders.
- We want everyone to be free, but other people should do what we tell them to do.
- We say we are not sheep, but we live in fear.
- We say we want to conserve nature, but we consume more.
- We think we are better than animals, but we are animal.
- We say we have absolute ethics, but we change them to suit the situation.
- We say we seek the truth, but we sacrifice it for convenience.
- We say we want a life (get a life!), but we really want a career.
- We say we strive for knowledge and wisdom, but we really desire success.


© Roland O. Watson 2001-3