Thursday, 16 November 2006

Civilisation as control and conforming

I've been reading a lot on different web sites and blogs about the impending collapse of the modern, western civilisation. Accepting this, I've also been trying to do some thinking of my own to understand what is different about this current civilisation, which has grown to what it is now only over the past 10,000 years, and the previous civilisations which existed potentially for many tens or hundreds of thousands of years. I want to point out a few things I've read recently that agree with and reinforce my point of view about the many failings of this modern, western civilisation.

Each of these articles touches on similar points about how negative modern civilisation is in its mode of operation, how it relies on controlling individuals to keep itself going in the same way, and how this control is establised at a very early age.
My main point is about how modern civilisation sets out to systematically break children's individuality and turn them into controlled slaves of the civilisation itself.

Accepting that the current civilisation is bound to fail, for one of many reasons, but at least the fact that nothing can continue to grow in size forever and consume more and more of a finite set of natural resources, I am trying hard to understand what life will be like after this collapse. I am more interested in how the quality of life will be changed as a result of the changes in lifestyle, rather than the physical details of that life. What type of life will we choose to life when there are no artificial barriers imposed on us?

So I keep thinking more about what would be the 'best' way to live for people, that was most positive and enjoyable for them, regardless of how they actually lived i.e. whether they were nomadic or not, foraged, hunted or farmed crops or animals. And that is where I see a great many failings in modern civilisation and its society.

Previous civilisations are often referred to as 'primitive' or 'tribal', which can be quite demeaning terms. The reality is that these were highly successful ways of living, that worked wonderfully well for many thousands if not millions of years. They have simply been conquered, quashed and eradicated by the all spreading newer 'agricultural' civilisation.

The conclusion I am coming to is that the original, historical way of living before the current civilisation, was based around respect for the individual as an individual. Around reasonably sized well integrated family like units or groups (whether you call this a tribe or something else). A sense of positive engagement with the whole of the world itself. Of a two way relationship with everything else in the world (take and give back). Of total support to the group and total support from the group. If I had to summarise this in a word, I would use the word freedom. Freedom to be your own self, as an individual. Freedom of movement, and choice of exactly how you live your life. Freedom to progress as fast as you want to. Freedom to specialise or generalise your skills. And total support from your social group to be the individual that you are.

Modern civilisation is the opposite of all of this (see next paragraph). But one of the the key points of this to me is that one of the groups most affected by this change in lifestyle is children. In this more traditional lifestyle they grow up in a positive, reinforcing environment, becoming both true individuals, and valuable, contributing members of the group as everyone else is. They have a true self identity.

Modern civilisation is almost the opposite of this. There is no support group for you. You have to justify yourself to society constantly, to prove that you are worth the position you hold within it. You must conform to the way civilisation wants you to be. Which also means that civilisation essentially controls what you do, and dictates things like your working days and hours. It also controls you by removing your ability to do direct work, and instead forcing you to be enslaved to an employer in exchange for money which in turn you can exchange for the goods and services you need to live on. You are constantly reminded that you must stay in line, otherwise you will be rejected and be a powerless outcast, on the outside of society. If I had to summarise this civilisation I would use words like control, regimented, exploiting. None of which are positive words at all.

Having come this far in my understanding of current civilisation and some of the alternatives, I am astounded at the negative impact our civilisation has on our children. From an early age they are probably removed from their mother, who is pressured into conforming to society's expectations of materialism by either taking a paying job or socialising in a certain way such as shopping. Often they do not have constant contact with other family members such as grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, as they have all moved away from each other across the country.

When about 4 or 5 years old they are then handed over to public education institutions, whose sole purpose is to crush any individuality the child has. To make them stop having free thought and accept what they are told. To impose the unnatural hierarchies of civilisation and control channels and authority figures. To learn (if you can call it that) at a fixed rate for all of them at the same time. To suppress any natural curiosity they might have. To establish boundaries. And so on.

Schools use negative reinforcement constantly. You must not do bad things. You must only do what the teacher says. And you are continually tested to show whether you are conforming or not. The non-conformers are then highlighted and demoted within the school system, either by being moved to a class of 'less able' pupils, or via peer pressure by sharing the test results with the rest of the class and parents. "You must do better, Johnny".

Schools are really factories for producing totally conforming adults, who have lost any individuality and enthusiasm or ambition. Rather than being people who believe they can do what they truly want to do, they come out in pre-shaped cookie cutter types who only know how to conform to the possibilities put forward to them by modern civilisation.

I sometimes wonder how I ever came through my education in the United Kingdom with any kind of desire to learn and expand my horizons intact. Maybe I was just too immune from what was going on to be affected by it. It seems my lack of social skills has actually proved to be a benefit to me, in terms of my personal education and knowledge. But again, it has taken me almost 20 years to work out that the truth put forward by modern civilisation is not the only one out there, and that these alternatives can be much more viable and positive.

For anyone with children, you really cannot let them get their viewpoint of the world from a single establishment (a publicly funded school) which is itself directly controlled by the ruling governments in order to perpetuate themselves. Teachers are not measured by how well the children have been educated, but whether the children can repeat a set of fixed information taught at fixed intervals. Teachers will not get any recognition for anything they do outside of the formal, government imposed curriculum. So why should they bother doing it? And they don't. It is actually to the teachers advantage in the long term to repress any natural enthusiasm and curiosity a child has, and make them conform to the fixed schedule of learning imposed on them. It just makes it simpler for them.

If you have children, engage with them directly. Let them be free and express themselves. Do not pass judgement on them, until you have fully heard what they have to say. Value them as individuals. Let them know this. Give them space outside of the school system to be themselves and do what they want to. To explore what interests them, in the way they want to. Do not restrict the possibilities open to them. Lead by example. That's all I can suggest for the moment.