Anyone who identifies the self as an optimist,
a pessimist, a cynic, a realist, or as a strictly
rational person is deluded through over simplification.
To be lucid we must be all these things at the
appropriate time for each. General, reciprocal, mutual
compassion is the key.
A crowd gathered in the park as Victor was speaking to John Demosecon. Vic
had worked the conversation into a somewhat cynical and pessimistic tone. His
audience was prone to agree or at least be indulgent. Victor was talking about
the near hopelessness of ever inspiring autonomous, lucid thought among the
people bound by the patterns instilled by the Social Thought Templates.
"After a minimum of two thousand years of social conditioning and de-facto
selective breeding to enforce the economic class structure and almost a hundred
years of electronic media perfection and reinforcement of beliefs, we humans no
longer know what IS our true nature." Victor, noticing John seemed receptive,
continued less forcefully. Aside from the desire that people see the truth for
themselves, he didn't want John to grow defensive. Most people are prone to
bringing up conditioned, psuedo-intellectual responses to shade any small
illumination to which they have been subjected. Many call forth old ideas to
which they have been drilled in order to fend off notions they haven't thought
of first. Acutely conscious of the irony, Victor softened his voice but kept
the content hard. He didn't want to be guilty of hypnotizing or enthralling
anyone as much as he had no desire to bludgeon them with the truth. He wanted
liberate minds not bind them in his own self interest.
"We've been taught that we are hostile, aggressive and selfish. That
teaching has fulfilled its own prophecy. It is constantly reinforced in schools,
news, sitcoms, dramas and public statements of all sorts. The regular references
to competition and our competitive spirit is just a single example. The mention
of the word competition probably called forth an automatic response, from your
mind, in support of the "truth" we have been taught. So what is the reality of
thought control? Are there unthinkable thoughts in any day or age? But those
are the tools of policy not the human nature I speak of today.
"Even a superficial examination of the culture we have invented shows that
all of our accomplishments are group works. Without cooperation few of our
material comforts and aids to survival would exist. Ideas may come from
individuals but their realization depends on the assistance and cooperation of
others. Think of all the steps that went into making the shirt you're wearing. A
farmer grew the cotton, with the aid of a baknker, chemical companies, tractor
and tool manufacturers, energy suppliers etc. ad infinitum. A gin crew seperated
the seeds. The bales were shipped to a textile manufacturer where the cotton
was spun and woven into cloth, which was shipped to a sweat shop where slaves
made the shirt. Then it was transported to a wholesaler and a retailer and
finally sold to you by a clerk. Thousands of people needed to cooperate so you
could wear that shirt today."
Victor had deliberatly belabored the shirt example. In part he had wanted to
prove beyond doubt that human accomplishments require enormous cooperation. He
also wanted to paint over the inadvertant reinforcement of our negative
characteristics which had occured by his mention of our supposed aggressive etc.
nature. It is a tribute to John's intelligence not to Victor's semi-articulate
speal that John wasn't retaken by the template. Victor's unfortunate phrasing
caused John to ask, conscious of the effect it would have on the growing crowd
(that Victor, too absorbed in his own rhetoric, hadn't noticed yet), "What
difference does it make that our original nature is not selfish? When I
interract with someone who is, I must respond or be consumed. But I do see that
joining in the aggressive spirit perpetuates the social and economic ills of
the culture. How can we deal with this."
Victor was nearly at a loss. This was the issue that troubles most people
and he was no exception. He was saved by remembering something he had read that
was attributed to the Dalai Lama. Victor paraphrased, "we can't always avoid
responding negatively to negative input. We can try to set the tone of the
interaction at the outset. We can be warm, friendly and non-aggressive. Most
people, in my experience, respond positively to positive input. The Lama, in
the excerpt I read, stresses compassion. He didn't exclude angry emotions but
said they had no great hold on himself. They wer transient and superficial. I
don't want to exaggerate or misinterpret his thought. I'll speak for myself
and say that a sharp remark, founded in shallow anger or pique, may be just the
thing to pull some asshole out of the mental morass of a Social Thought Template.
"I wouldn't want to get drawn into competing with some fool without hope of
a profitable interaction, for both of us. But I'm not above giving him
instruction concerning his own self interest. Competition simply assures that
we remain devided; united only in perpetually losing to the economic elite. I
won't argue with a fool. If he doesn't respond to friendliness and common
interest and can't be shaken out of stupidity", Victor finished with mild
sarcasm, "I'll ignore him or avoid him until I can think of a better way to
reach his 'compassionate nature'."
A few of the homeless close by had pricked up their ears as soon as Victor had
mentioned Two thousand years of social conditioning. As he had continued a few
more had trickled in along with some curious bangers. One crack dealer had even
suspended sales to listen. To him it was mildly revolutionary dialogue. To
his customers it was an onerous and intolerable delay. An under cover cop drifted
over with the drug server. The narc was dressed in homelessly worn but much too
clean clothes. His cared for and well tended teeth were another givaway. The
small gathering attracted two uniformed bicycle patrolmen who stood hiding their
anxiety behind and air of amused knowledgeability.
John's smile was a little knowing but more impish as he asked teasingly and appropriately, "how much of your avoidance of competition is due to a lack of
abilty to compete."
Victor laughed and said, "Well, it's true that I never developed that skill
with grim determination. It probably remains somewhat of an unrealized
potential. I think I sensed, when quite young, certainly long before I could
articulate the idea, that competition among members of servile classes is
futile. Taken as a whole, those subgroupings include ninety-five percent of
the population. Even top paid CEOs and politicians are wannabes compared to the
five percent who own ninety-five percent of all the land, stocks, bonds and
everything else. When the rest of us compete among ourselves for their leavings,
the really wealthy are put at ease in their occupation of preying on us. While
at each others throats we are distracted from the observation of their predatory
and parasitic selves. So whether or not I'm competant I won't compete with my
fellow humans. (That is a group in which I will not include the elite, by the
way.) It is not in my 'enlightened self interest' to do so. That is not to say
that I won't respond, possibly very negatively, to the hostile aggressiveness
and selfishness of others: especially if it is meaningfully directed at me."
"What do you mean by 'meaningfully'?"
"Much of the aggresiveness and hostility that people exhibit is gratuitous. It
has no real purpose. The aggressor has nothing to gain because the victim has
nothing material to surrender. It is done to boost the ego of the predator at
the expense of the psychological suffering, the humiliation of the prey. We
consider such behavior normal. We are desensitized to it and it rarely draws
comment. Oh, we acknowledge its existence in employment situations; between
boss and worker. But when the workers, most of us and including white collar,
do it among ourselves we seperate it in our minds from what we believe a good,
sensitive person should do. Very few aside from myself see this as evidence of
It is not so much that the nature of such interaction is intrinsically
psychotic but because it not in our long term self interest and is therefore
irrational behaviour that I see it as demented. It keeps us at odds and unlikely
to do anything about our real problems. We only cooperate and work together, and
that mostly unconsciously, to server the rich.
"That's the way it's been for thousands of years, since the founding of this
economic culture. Our free and original nature has been replaced by a thralldom
which encourages the 'normal' behaviors mentioned. Most of us believe that our
natural state is the contemporary mind set. We have been convinced that this
society is the only viable society. This way of life is the only way to live
even though it results in more suffering than happiness for most of us. We have
been de facto slaves for so many generations we are no longer aware of our
servitude. We are a deluded pack of fools!"
I had to intrude on Victors thoughts. "Watch it Vic, you have probably
crossed the line of 'respectability. You are treading on your audience's self
esteem and may have gone too far already. If you more clearly expose your views
on religion or nationalism you'll lose what little respect they still have for
Victor thought back. "That's one of your rare, good observations! I need
to step back a little. Maybe then I can recoup by restating in a low key. I'd
hate to lose all the little headway I'd made,"
But he suspected it would still be an uphill struggle. Some of the listeners
were alreadygrimacing and looking away to reflect on their unhappiness with
Victor or even glaring at him with open hostility. One of the latter insisted
in an antagonistic tone, "I'm an American! I'm free and you better shut your
commie mouth if you wantta live!" The cops had gaurded smiles.
Victor thought he saw a way to turn the remark. "That's just the point! If
we want to survive we have to play their game. We can't even speak openly about
what is really going on. What kind of freedom is that?"...
And it worked ... sort of?? The heckler and most of the crowd nodded in
assent. Victor was so pleased he didn't notice the alert and wary look that
infiltrated the features of the three well trained police officers. He was
unaware that one had consulted his radio. Even the secret slueth was willing to
blow his cover in response to what all cops are taught to recognize as an
emerging riot. If Vic had noticed he would have wondered anew at the ability
of the "powers that be" to turn the majority, which all cops are part of,
against their own, each other, in the employ of the elite. But luck seemed to
be with him as he blythly continued.
..."But I'm just trying to get people to think about how life might be
better. I'm not trying to make anyone angry even though these things sometimes
make me very angry. He had been speaking to the entire crowd, not just John,
for some time now. THE transition had gone unnoticed by most. But John and the
cops were alert. Victor was vaguely aware but he was very focused on what he
was saying. He caught John's eye just then. John glanced at the patrolmen and
Victor immediately appreciated the danger. He continued even more pacifically.
"There is not really much we can do right now. Not enough people are aware
of what is going on. Most people know in their hearts but hardly admit to
themselves what a raw deal we are getting. We need to gently remind them of the
truth that is always around us. The homeless sisters and brothers are close to
that truth every day of our lives. We have our faces shoved in it. But we have
no power to bring about positive change. YET!
"Many others still need to be convinced. We can't win them over to the
truth by force. We must talk to them. We must bide our time and build our power
until we can sweep away the suffering that besets us all. I hope and believe we
can do this peacefully."
Sensing that the situation had eased and the official observers were assuaged,
Victor decided to wind up with a little push to maintain a moderate momentum. "I
was once asked that if I thought everything was so bad why didn't I commit
suicide? Bullshit! I'll sooner starve in the desert with a curse for the
system in my mouth...but a free human being!"
He turned his back on the excitement he had just aroused and walked off with
John alongside. THe cops, after a moments indecisiveness, stayed with the
crowd, just in case.
Victor's attitude is grown of a lifetime of challenging authority. Compassion
with the common problems of people has displaced adolescent self assertion as
his primary motivation. He believes in lucidity. Anyone who identifies as an
optimist, a pessimist, a realist or a strictly rational person is deluded by
over simplification. To be lucid we must be all these things at the apropriate
time. General, reciprocal compassion is the key. Compassion implies
sincerity. John and Vic are skeptical concerning the good will and even the
competance of most leaders. John asks playfully, "do you think your rousing
rhetoric inpired the rabble with the courage to rebel or was it just a creative
Victor thought for a second then replied, "It's true this humble spirit
dwelling has focused on opposition to authority of all kinds. No doubt I'm still
enmeshed in Oediple rebellion, though my father has been dead for twenty-five
years. Now don't suspect me of stooping to sarcasm."
"OK, Vic, I'll lay off the psychology, I think most of the practitioners have
their heads up their asses too. But it is the year two thousand and they have a
lot of power. They must be reckoned with! What do you plan to do about them?"
"Victor had given this some thought and answered immediately, "supplant their
bullshit with the truth! Not that it will be as easy as it is to say. A lot
of their knowledge is empirical. It is based on observable behaviors and thought
patterns. THey use it (and often distort it) in the employ of propaganda for
the status quo in controlling the majority of the population. The elite have
always feared the mob. The delusions the create are often subtle dissemblings
designed to distract or misdirect. It wouldn't serve the purpose of installing
Social Thought Templates to be cought in an aoutright falsehood.
"For example: you just suggested, since I would rather die than submit to
authority, that I am suicidal. The assumption implicit in our quip carries the
lie. Authority is presumed to be benign. It's legitimacy is based on the consent
of those ruled. But the consent is based on the presumption that the system is
good and in our best interest. In fact, it is in the service of of a greedy
minority. The implicit lie is reinforced by the psychologist's interpretation
of my motivation, which is designed to discredit me. (I'm speaking of a general
pattern here. I'm not so paranoid as to believe I have been singled out for
attention.) I am thereby nuetralized. I am no longer a threat to the elite
and their power and money is preserved.
"The truth about the nature of our system, our economy, our culture and the
interests they really serve can inspire the majority to act in our own
behalf. But, though I don't fear death, I can do little good if I'm killed or
even nuetralized by a notion of pop-psychology. No, I'm not suicidal. I need to
live in order to spread the truth. I know there will be oppostion and I'll have
to face it. I hope I can do my part. I think it's possible to succeed. Be that
as it may I'm not deluded by thinking I can do it all myself. This is a tak taken
for the common good. It needs to be a common undertaking. I hope it's not just
John rolled his eyes at Victor's morbid pun but decide not to exploit the
weakness it exposed. Instead he chose to be supportive of Vic's sedition. "I
think your analysis of the function of competition in our society is astute and
maybe profound. You are right! Our aggressive, hostile, selfish attitudes
don't serve us. They serve the rich very well! Individually we have no power
to compete with our rulers. Only collectively does the potential to really win
You said a lot when you said there would be opposition. How will you
oppose what most people have come to believe is basic human nature?"
Vic answered slowly and carefully but without hesitation. "I've thought a
lot about that. I believe most people develop two sides to their
personalities. A good side and a bad side is how many would describe it but I
don't think those words serve the truth very well. Altruism versus selfishness
has weaknesses too. Social instinct blended with individual self preservation
may be the best I can do at the moment. But that is obvious and provides little
guidance for action. What needs to be done is to call forth the combined force
those instincts. Then we can really...".
Victor's view of world of humanity was born of his refusal to accept ordinary
rationalizations for our economy and society. He won't believe this is the best
culture we can devise. I need him to clarify. "Victor, I agree that an
aggressive, selfish and hostile nature no longer serves the best interests of
the majority. How do you deal with the belief that such negative traits are part
of human nature? That we all try to assert ourselves at the expense of our
neighbor? That this is the natural order?"
"That smacks of Social Darwinism, which was debuncked in the nineteenth
century. Though it enjoyed a resurgance in the twentieth , mostly near the end
and as a reaction to egalitarian movements such as socialism, it is still psuedo-science. Books like "The Territorial Imperative" in the 1960's reverse
anthropomorphised in an attempt to reduce us to trainable, controllable animals.
I don't think you need to be an anthropoligist or a zooligist to see the fallacy
in such comparisons. But for the sake of considering an alternative hypothesis
of our nature imagine a secure group of food gathering apes.
"The economy of a band of gorillas is simple. Perhaps each larger ape will
push each smaller away from what is perceived to be the sweeter fruit. But the
largest won't hoard all the food and deprive the majority. He won't gather the
food then redistribute a small portion of it only to his supporters. He won't
force non-supporters into starvation name them disloyal and blame their
suffering on their own weakness. Even a dumb gorilla would woould know it is
who is disloyal to the group in such a situation. Of course it is doubtful a
dumb ape would be so stupid as to hoard food at the expense of the group in the
"It takes a prverted intellect to create such evil as systematic
exploitation. No matter how subtle or well hidden behind masks of delusion,
slavery is a product of diseased minds. Such abominations of the ability to
think can not help but be traced to greed, lust or other failure to self
regulate some desire. If you challenge that assertion, I won't argue with
you. I won't waste time in a discussion with a fool!
"Complex systematic exploitation is slavery, whether de-juro or de-facto.
Where the freedom of choice is the choice betwwen servitude and death, there
is no liberty. Outright slavery is one extreme. The simple, vaguely existant
adnd maximally mobile kierrchy of a family of apes is the other. Most human
systems fall somewhere between. Ours is dangerously close and growing closer
to the extreme of slavery."
What brought Victor to this view of life? A couple of years ago he faced
life without even the gaurded optimism he has today. It is, no doubt, not
apparent to you that the perception of one hundred generations of oppression and a
willingness to die opposing it is the basis for a positive outlook. But he did
say he thinks there is some chance for success. I think we need some more
background on Victor Panover, before we will be able to understand him...
return to V's chapter index