• D. K. Blaire

Conformity in an Age of Tyranny

It must be acknowledged that conformity is a powerful thing. I have always observed the tendency towards it in others and pondered over it. Never has it occurred to me why anyone would want to follow anyone else, or be like anyone else, or act like anyone else. To me, being true to the self is indeed a more serious consideration than most other things in life.

Although I have railed against imitating the masses with unconcealed revulsion, I have discovered that the only reward in towing a different line tends to be the pride of individuality; the meagre satisfaction one attains from a kind of uniqueness that ensures nothing, in the end, but eternal loneliness and damnation.

Society has various means of isolating those that refuse to follow. If you don’t obey the plethora of conventions and expectations set upon you, you get whacked, and whacked mercilessly. From the early days of school to the late nights of college, one is moulded and ground and whipped into shape with an endless barrage of guilt-trips and scoldings and admonishments. The idea, I suppose, is to make you into a productive peer; a competent and obedient worker in the great capitalist system, yet clearly there are those who slip through the cracks.

In my case, I must admit, it has been both my unwillingness and my inability to commit to something I do not believe in that has resulted in my resolute failure to function appropriately within this regime. The working-world simply seems, at least in my mind, too unjust and unfair to harbour any real logic and thus, it makes more sense to me to abstain from the widely-expected lethargic involvement.

It is beyond my comprehension, for example, why people continue to work day after day at jobs they despise; jobs that make them miserable, and make their time on earth a living hell. The 9–5 type situation that most people find themselves trapped in; working for major banks, corporations and businesses, performing soulless, dehumanizing tasks, watching their wages shrink and their benefits disappear and their hours double, just does not make any sense. Life is too short to sell your soul for a barely liveable wage; wasting away behind a screen, waiting until you are too old to do much of anything so that you can retire and finally be at peace (or until a computer program or algorithm replaces you).

Living on the fringes of society as I do makes me somewhat of an easy target and means I get whacked frequently and by almost everybody — worried parents, gloating siblings, nosy neighbours and, on the odd occasion , fickle friends. Sometimes I think I have gotten used to it; grown a thick skin and a hard hide, yet I fear that as the years wane on, the continuous comments and suggestions and criticisms are beginning to finally take their toll and it is becoming harder and harder to defend myself and, this, my humble position in the world.

How can I explain to them that the reason I feel no inclination to become a worker-bee is because I disagree with the very principles our global economic system is based upon? How can I describe the sensation of total hopelessness I experience every time I try to participate in a regime that perpetuates the suffering of billions across the planet, never mind the planet itself? How can I make them understand that I feel, as I have always felt, that it is not my nature to go along with the herd, that my purpose on this earth lies in a different direction, that I believe in living according to my values and will die doing so if I have to.

Whether a person works or not, we still all reside within an oppressive regime whereby any sense of liberty is illusory and justice is whatever the oppressors say it is. When you become employed, you are unwittingly joining a club of immiserated workers whose only compensation for their short, wretched lives is a clap on the back from their miserable peers and the facade of being an acceptable member of society. The unemployed, however, are castigated and despised for their laziness and spinelessness and unwillingness to conform, to get on with the daily grind like everyone else and to face “reality”. The worker envies them their idle time as much as the unemployed envies the worker their financial stability, with neither group ever stopping to regard the fact that we are all victims of this system; that whether we run in the rat-race or stand on the sidelines, we are all oppressed by those up on high.

Of course, conformity extends into other areas of life where it likewise has an insidious effect. Questioning the War on Terror, the demonization of Islam or the atrocities perpetuated around the world in the name of democracy and freedom are bound to evoke some raised eyebrows at the company dinner. Nobody wants to stand out or appear different, in spite of the fact that deep-down they might strongly disagree with U.S. foreign policy or the utter tyranny of the global banking system. It does not pay to be different. It is does not make you popular to be different. It does not feel good to be different.

Until we relinquish the pleasures of conformity, however, and realize that we contribute to the continuation of an immoral, corrupt and outrageously violent system by our very silence, millions around the world will continue to be slaughtered and we will continue to be oppressed. If we do not stop demonizing those who do not fit into the capitalist paradigm, we will never see the fact that the outsiders are not merely idle vagabonds, but genuine victims of a system that is failing us all.

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