INTRODUCTION TO THE CHALLENGE OF FIGHTING FORM
By Roland Watson
In the final article in the last series, I had a few comments about how to ward off negative social influences. Specifically, I gave some guidelines for how you can decide if a form is a positive or a negative influence, with the idea being that you should of course oppose - meaning not accept or follow - negative influences.
Unfortunately, most of the influences to which we are exposed are negative, so you will have to do this a lot: at least if you want to actually have free will, and be able to use it to control your life. This fight will in fact be a major part of your life, something that you face every single day.
The objective of this series, therefore, is to give you a really good understanding of how to recognize and reject negative social influences, to make it as easy for you as possible. What I want is for you to develop defense mechanisms that are both effective and ingrained, which become a reflex.
What is at stake
Nothing is more important than this. Your personal future, the future of our society, and even our future as a species, are what is at stake. Also, the fight will often be difficult. For example, you will have to deal with any addictions that you may have developed, which challenge I examine directly in the End Your Additions article, in Part 2 of the website in the Social Breakdown series.
I want to begin with two quotes, from my mentor on the subject of behavioral form, the illustrious Witold Gombrowicz.
"Oh, the power of form! It causes nations to perish, and it leads to wars. It is the reason why things arise among us which do not come from us. Without it you will never succeed in understanding stupidity, or evil, or crime. It governs our smallest reflexes, and lies at the foundation of our whole collective life."
And ... "Well, then, this is it. The time has come, the hour has struck on the clock of the ages. Try to set yourself against form, try to shake free of it. Cease to identify yourself with that which defines you. Try to escape from all expressions of yourself. Mistrust your opinions. Mistrust your beliefs, and defend yourself against your feelings. Withdraw from what you seem to be on the outside, and flee from all externalizations just as the bird flees from the snake."
What we can see from this is that Gombrowicz thought that form, the confusion caused by other people influencing us and our consequent difficulties in finding our free will and establishing mature and unique identities, was the most powerful force on the planet - the underlying reason for most of humanity's problems.
Personally, I believe that fighting form is the most important task an individual faces in life. As the second quote suggests, Gombrowicz thought this also, and his belief has added poignancy, if not a little prophecy, coming as it did - being written - on the eve of World War II, when the world was forced to fight the form of Germany and Japan.
As I have discussed, form is exceedingly complex and powerful. It can also be very difficult to recognize, and sometimes it is impossible to deflect. Indeed, our exposure to form begins in the earliest stages of our existence, as young children reacting to our parents.
Nonetheless, and even with these hurdles, the only way you can become a unique individual is to confront, and reduce the impact of, the sources of form in your life.
The significance of being a social animal
Unfortunately, there is another, critical problem that we need to consider as well. We have an inherent disadvantage. In the human nature series, I noted that human beings are social animals. We are not like other species, where the parents come together to mate, and then the father leaves and the mother raises the child on her own, and also without the benefit of a family group or pack. Of course, with the rise in single mothers, we may in fact be moving this way.
But, in any case, what this means is that we are not comfortable completely on our own. Hermits are rare exceptions.
Being social animals means that we have an innate - I wouldn't be surprised if it is genetically programmed - desire to fit in. We are therefore more than happy, especially as children, to conform: to unquestionably follow individuals, such as our parents, who are in positions of authority. We are also, and not only as children, often more than willing to blindly follow those who seek to influence us.
The neural consequence
Another basic factor, and which I also talked about in the human nature series, is that when we accept influences as children, they are actually programmed into our brains. Our brain - as a child - is developing rapidly, creating new neural circuits, to help us adapt to our environment and influences, including how we are taught - or forced - to react to them. But, it is not only children who have been abused whose brains have been shaped with lifelong consequences. We all undergo this process.
Additionally, and as this implies, much form is addictive, and hence difficult to defeat. This is particularly the case with behavioral addictions that you are taught to have, or permitted to have, as children.
A common problem now is childhood obesity. Parents don't control their children's eating habits, with the result that they grow obese. This leads not only to early health issues. It can create a diet problem that can easily last their entire lifetime.
Another critical factor is that sources of form are protective of their power - over us. And, they aggressively defend this power. For example, for many people it takes extraordinary courage and sacrifice to combat the forms to which they are exposed. At an extreme, you only need to imagine being in Hitler's Germany, and knowing that he was wrong. You would have had to risk everything, your life and family, to confront this form. This clearly shows the depth of commitment that is required in the fight to achieve freedom.
But, make no mistake about it, form can be beaten. World War II is one example. Another is the women's suffrage movement in Europe and America, followed by the much broader women's liberation movement, which demonstrated that the the most severe forms in human society, entrenched for thousands of years, can be overcome.
The question is, how are you going to do it? In a physical fight, one where there are no weapons, the most important factors are power, speed and technique. For instance, the second factor, speed, is why mongooses can kill cobras.
In the fight against form, there are also three critical factors: Education, self-knowledge and rebellion.
As I wrote in an earlier article, education is essential. The reason for this is that the more education you have, the less susceptible you should be to social influences. When you receive messages that attempt to persuade you about the world and life, you should be better able to judge them, and you should also know what the subtext, the real but hidden message, is: that you should give up your independence and submit to the views of others.
Secondly, self-knowledge is essential. You are formed. People have been forming you for your entire life. You have to analyze yourself and understand your influences, as the first step in fighting them. You have to know your enemy, to give them a good battle.
Self-examination is a critical part of life, and the earlier you start it, the better. Ideally as a young adult, you should begin to confront the influences to which you were exposed as a child.
Thirdly, rebellion is essential. There has to be a battle. You have to break the cycle of domination, of yourself by others, and also of others by yourself. You are also the enemy!
Wittingly or unwittingly, you have almost certainly been seeking to form other people, and you have to stop doing this. You have to let people be themselves.
For rebellion, you might look at it like this. They've stolen your free will. You have to fight to get it back. One can argue that to be brainwashed means to be brain dead. When you are behaviorally manipulated, you lose your flexibility and your free choice. This, for all intents and purposes, is death, at least as a self-conscious individual rationally driven by your own needs and desires. You have to fight to get your life back!
In the next article, I will review the first steps that you need to take to successfully confront behavioral form.