Groupthink

“The larger the group, the more toxic, the more of your beauty as an individual you have to surrender for the sake of group thought. And when you suspend your individual beauty you also give up a lot of your humanity. You will do things in the name of a group that you would never do on your own. Injuring, hurting, killing, drinking are all part of it, because you’ve lost your identity, because you now owe your allegiance to this thing that’s bigger than you are and that controls you.”
~George Carlin~

“A “collective” mind does not exist. It is merely the sum of endless numbers of individual minds. If we have an endless number of individual minds who are weak, meek, submissive and impotent – who renounce their creative supremacy for the sake of the “whole” and accept humbly that the “whole’s” verdict – we don’t get a collective super-brain. We get only the weak, meek, submissive and impotent collective mind.”
~Ayn Rand~

When I was in high school I took and English class entitled Film and TV drama. I had completed all my English requirements for graduation but needed a class to fill in a blank spot in my class schedule for my senior year, so I signed up for the class. Besides, the teacher, Miss Jones, was hot and she always wore short skirts and seductive blouses; what teenage boy wouldn’t want to attend a class like that?

Anyways, one of the things we would do in that class was to watch TV shows or movies and then discuss them; how they reflected current social values or made statements about certain issues. One of the films we watched was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, based upon the novel of the same name by Ken Kesey, and starring Jack Nicholson as Randle Patrick McMurphy.

I’m not a neurologist, so I can’t tell you how the human brain functions, but I would be very interested in learning how powerful the human subconscious is. I say that because there have been numerous times that I’ve read something before going to bed that has perplexed me, but when I awoke the following morning my mind had figured it all out. I think, and I could be wrong, that when one is awake, or actively thinking about something, previously held prejudices and biases often interfere with the critical analysis of complex thoughts and ideas, and when one goes to sleep and the subconscious mind takes over, all that clutter and outside noise vanishes and some of your best ‘thinking’ takes place.

The reason I mention that is because when I first watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and all the subsequent times thereafter, I never really thought much about the social implications of the movie; I just watched it to be entertained. But somewhere in the recesses of my mind that film had found a little niche to hide away in, and when I awoke this morning there was this big flashing light in my mind which said, “That movie is about society’s attempts to enforce conformity, and Jack Nicholson’s character was one who refused to conform.”

Once my subconscious mind came to that conclusion, and I awoke with it firmly fixed in my mind, the active part of my brain began examining that idea and it began snowballing into the crux of an article.

In the study of psychology there is something known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is a five tiered expression of the things that people want/need from life. The bottom tier is comprised of the most basic of things people need; such as food and water, and it ends with the top tier of self-actualization; which is the fulfillment of one’s potential or desire for success.

However, it is the third tier that I would like to take a few moments discussing; the need for belonging. Again, I’m no neurologist, or psychiatrist for that matter, but I’d be interested in hearing from one of them how they would describe a person who doesn’t have that overwhelming desire to be part of a group. Now by group I’m not speaking about a family unit, I’m talking more like friends, or more generally, just people to hang around with, or talk to; how would psychologists describe someone who does not have that want/need? Would they say that person suffers from a mental illness – would they seek to treat it through the use of mind altering drugs so that a person could ‘fit in’ to society? (See, this is how all this seemingly endless chatter applies to the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

If you’ve never seen the film, or read the book, I’m wondering if, now that I’ve mentioned it, the film would take on a whole new perspective for you, or if your minds have become so dull by the indoctrination you are bombarded with from the moment you take your first breath that you are incapable of watching that film for anything other than entertainment purposes.

You see, from my new found outlook on the movie the ending takes on an entirely new meaning for me; when the Chief smothers McMurphy with a pillow after discovering that he’d been lobotomized. Now I see McMurphy’s lobotomy as the final act of ‘society’ stripping him of his individuality, his LIBERTY, and I see the Chief’s act of smothering him as an act of mercy; for in my opinion it is better to die than to live without either.

There is another fiction novel, which was also made into a movie, that deals a lot with the idea that society seeks to restrict individuality as well; that being Orwell’s classic novel 1984. In that book Orwell introduces us to the word Groupthink; the concept that people all think the same through a constant process of indoctrination and attacks upon those who exhibit any signs of individuality. As with the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, in the end of 1984 the primary character, Winston, has his individuality stripped away through the use of torture; reducing him to an obedient citizen who does not question the authority of Big Brother.

All of this ties into that third tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs; belonging. How many people have such an overwhelming need to belong to something, be it a society or a group of friends, that they would sacrifice their individuality to do so? How many people choose conformity to whatever standards society has established, rather than simply being who and what they are? Just look at political correctness, isn’t that an attempt by society to dictate what is, and what isn’t acceptable speech; an attempt to restrict individuality and impose conformity?

Look at the first Rambo movie when John Rambo finds himself in a small town run by a sheriff who doesn’t like the way he looks. When Rambo refuses to leave town, the sheriff locks him up, and his deputies abuse him; leading to his all out war against those who sought to infringe upon his right to exist; his individuality AND his liberty.

You see, it all boils down to this; liberty and individuality are inseparable; two sides of the same coin. People think they are individuals because they are not someone else. By that I mean, I’m not John Smith, I’m Neal Ross, therefore I am an individual. However, if I belong to a group, and that group holds certain ideas and beliefs, and if I sacrifice my own beliefs just to remain a part of that group, can it truly be said that I am an individual; or am I simply a member of a hive; someone who has replaced individuality with Groupthink?

Look at a swarm of bees or a colony of ants; each of them are separate and distinct from one another, yet they do not act as individuals; they act in concert for the benefit of the hive, or colony; or in terms that might help you understand where I’m going with this, the general welfare of the group.

I think individuality is tolerated, to a certain extent, but I also think that society, or those who seek to control and rule over society, impose certain boundaries as to what is considered acceptable behavior, and that American politics is focused more on two opposing ideologies seeking to gain control of that system so that they can impose their vision, their views, upon society as a whole. I think American politics today has absolutely nothing to do with individuality, or liberty.

The minute I hear someone say, “There ought to be a law…” I know that the person saying it does not know the first thing about liberty or individuality. What are laws if they are not rules that dictate what you can and cannot do? Therefore, is a law is passed that says you cannot chew gum in public, or say things that others find offensive, that law restricts the liberty of those who wish to do those things; it restricts and denies their ability to be free thinking and free acting individuals.

But Neal, I’m an individual, I can vote for either a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent. Yes, that’s very true, but have you ever stopped to consider that regardless of who you vote for, they become part of a system, a system that uses the lawmaking process to restrict your liberty – your individuality?

Let’s use football as an analogy. One person may be a fan of the Oakland Raiders; another is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and yet another is a fan of the Pittsburg Steelers. They are all individuals in that they support different teams. Yet tell any of them that football sucks, or that it is a stupid waste of time, then they all become angry. It’s the same with politics, one can be a fan of any of the teams, (political parties), but tell them that the game, (our system of government) sucks and they all become angry.

I think people bandy about the word liberty without really knowing what it means. If people really knew what liberty meant they wouldn’t seek to impose their views upon others, or restrict people’s rights to do things they personally disagreed with or didn’t like. If people truly understood what liberty was they would take great offense at the concept that it is okay for a system, (government), to confiscate the income of some, to be then handed out to others who were less fortunate, or in need.

Oh but Neal, you’re a cold hearted bastard. Am I? I never said that people should not contribute to charity to help those who may be less fortunate; I’m only saying that when government mandates it by law, and imposes it through the use of coercion and force it becomes a violation of our right to fully enjoy the fruits of our labor, (our income).

Let me ask you something. Let’s say some guy goes out and buys the biggest SUV on the market, a real tank of a vehicle with all the bells and whistles. Let’s say this guy goes out and gets drunk, or just has an accident due to reckless driving, and in so doing kills a bunch of innocent people. Do you think it is acceptable to punish all those who also own that same vehicle; impose restrictions upon their right to buy or operate them on the public streets?

If your answer is No, then why do you support any kind of gun control measure simply because ONE INDIVIDUAL abused their right and used a firearm to commit murder?

I actually heard someone say that people should not be allowed to own guns unless they have undergone extensive training in the use of them; an idea I’m not entirely against if that training is given to all of us so that we can freely own the weapons of our choice without limitations imposed upon us by government.

Nevertheless there are two things about that statement that upset me. The first is, do you recall the recent shooting in Miami where the police gunned down a UPS driver who had been hijacked by jewel thieves? Didn’t those law enforcement officers undergo ‘extensive’ training? If so, how is it possible that they could have killed the innocent driver? If training is such an effective means of preventing unwarranted death, it would have been impossible for that even to have taken place.

Secondly, and this is where people get confused, the 2nd Amendment does not grant or protect our right to keep and bear arms; that right already existed before the Constitution was written, and all it does is tell the government, (as our servant), that it cannot enact any law that restricts or limits that right – it is up to each of us as INDIVIDUALS to defend that right.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the person who said that is right, that people should not be allowed to own guns unless they’ve undergone extensive training on their use and the safe handling of them. Okay, one of the rights found in the 1st Amendment is the freedom of speech. Using the logic of those who believe people shouldn’t own guns without ‘extensive’ training, I don’t think that YOU should be able to discuss politics unless you have undergone extensive training on our system of government; including the intricacies of how our Constitution was written and the arguments given both for and against its ratification.

Fair is fair right; if you want to require that gun owners undergo ‘extensive’ training then the same principle should apply to a person’s ability to speak freely about subjects they know absolutely nothing about. The same could very well be said about voting; a person should not be allowed to vote until they have undergone extensive training on how our government was supposed to work.

You see, our country has become a battleground for people who seek to limit and restrict the individuality and liberty of those they disagree with; and our government is the tool they use to enforce their views upon others. What is truly sad is that, whatever socio-political views they seek to impose upon other by their choice of candidates, those candidates are all political whores who serve the elite; banking, corporate and the military industrial complex interests. No matter which side wins an election, Big Pharma, the Defense Industry, Banking interests, and the Oil Companies, (just to name a few), win; while our rights and liberty continue to diminish.

If there really was any difference between the two political parties our elections would be like games of tug of war, with our rights increasing and decreasing depending upon which side gained a majority control in government. As it stands now, one side has dropped the rope and has joined with the other side; leaving no one but ourselves to defend our rights and our liberty; which is actually the way it should have been all along.

But since people do not understand what liberty is; since people have sacrificed their individuality, and even supported the attacks upon those who sought to exercise it, (See Ruby Ridge and Waco), then the defense of liberty and individuality has fallen to a few who refuse to conform to the standards that society has sought to impose upon them.

Which is why people such as myself are condemned, and our opinions attacked with such vehemence; it is because we threaten the status quo, the people’s dependency upon a system that denies them their liberty. We are not your enemy, we are the spiritual descendants of those who fought for America’s independence, the spiritual kin of those who placed the preservation of their liberty above all else; above life itself.

You attack us, and our beliefs, all while you support and participate in electing people to a system that is, in fact, your enemy. Just take this quote from the film The Matrix and replace Matrix with Government, and you’ll get a better idea of what I’m saying, “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

Were you born with this dependency upon a system that enslaves you? You may have been born into a world where that system exists, but your dependency upon it has been hammered into your head from the day you were born into this world. Obey the law; follow orders; pay your taxes; vote; support the government; oppose those who do not ‘fit in’; it’s all part of the constant process of indoctrination that has stripped away your individuality, eliminated your ability to think critically and make you dependent upon a system that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about preserving your liberty.

The only pathway to freedom is by breaking your dependency upon government; in becoming an individual who does not require the acceptance of a group, (be it a political party or a group of like minded friends) that demands you must think like they do to fit in. Liberty is all about live and let live, and as long as you, through whom you vote for, seek to impose your views upon others, liberty will not prevail; rather we will ALL be slaves under a system that denies the very thing our country was founded upon – the right of all men to be free; to be individuals bestowed with God’s gift of liberty for all.

About Br'er Rabbit

I'm just one person out of millions of others. The only thing different about me is that I don't walk around with my head up my ass.
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