Warring World(s) Part 5a. On Becoming a Formidable Foe

Previous Part 4b here

On Becoming a Formidable Foe

There's a war going on and it's been going on ever since so-called “civilisation” i.e. specialised and hierarchical society, began. It's a psychological war and it's being waged constantly against we the “common people” by those who would dominate us in order that we serve them.

I have called those that would dominate us “psychopaths”. While I have resisted defining them for a number of reasons preferring, instead, to simply describe them, I will say this, again; that these people exist is beyond question and that a “psychopath” is someone who has effectively no conscience. Consequently, they feel no shame, no remorse and no guilt at exploiting others. They have nothing inside them mentally to which we can appeal to in an effort to have them change their ways, to co-operate with the rest of humanity. (Further description is to be found here.) This makes negotiation with them effectively impossible and worse than a waste of time (See this article and comments from the Forum on Camp David for an example), given that while ever they have an opportunity to exploit others, they will. So the focus should be on taking away that opportunity. Ultimately, that means physically containing them; isolating them from the rest of the community in as humanitarian a way as possible. After all, we don't want to emulate their behaviour in our efforts to stop this very same behaviour. This is one of the follies of employing violence and retribution in fighting them. In the end, of course, we wish to identify and remove the causes for this anti-social condition. However, before we can change the causative circumstances, we have the more immediate problem of how to wrest control of ourselves and our society out of their hands.

There are many among us who function in a way that may be seen as psychopathic but who are not in fact psychopaths but are simply unthinking or opportunists and people of weak character who enjoy power but ultimately just “go with the flow”, “change with the wind” and “do what they're told”. For the purposes of these essays, I will call them “enablers”. Though we are all enablers to some extent, I will generally mean those that follow orders and who either never think there is anything wrong with doing so or will not look at it for fear of losing their position in life and whatever that entails. These people believe in “authority”. But these people can be appealed to to change. It is best done through example. These people can change and they will because they “change with the wind”. The “wind” being our collective example. When a critical mass of revolutionaries is reached it suddenly overwhelms the old order. The reason is that these enablers “flop over”, as it were. I need to talk more at length about the intoxication of power and the making of psychopaths and will do so in a subsequent essay.

On the other hand, the psychopaths, as said before, cannot be changed by us or by themselves. Picking the difference between these two groups is difficult. Fortunately for us, we don't need to differentiate in terms of strategy or tactics to use against both groups. At least, not until we as a society are in a position to permanently isolate them as individuals. We have this tragedy in our midst, lets us use the urgent need to repair it to better ourselves and succeeding generations rather than making it worse. The end, dignity, freedom and respect for all (who would likewise respect others), has to be the means as well. Where to start? We start by undoing the conditioning that has filled us with fear. We treat it as a phobia against disobedience and as a mental agoraphobia, a fear of stepping outside our now self imposed mental prison. We do this by mentally challenging the erroneous thoughts that govern our behaviour and then we start to physically challenging these same erroneous thoughts through acting differently. Pretty soon the power evaporates out of the conditioning, we see the lie behind it and we are free! Well, freer at least. It's a process.

Violence and the threat of violence are the methods, or weapons of choice of our would be dominators. Alice Miller has detailed the way we are parented, which she calls “poisonous pedagogy” using violence and the threats of violence together with messages of unacceptability. The effect of this process is to leave us all with a very stunted sense of our own autonomy. In other words, our sense of our own freewill which lies at the heart of our creativity and our “image in the likeness of God”. This loss of our ability to understand and use the full extent of our freewill stunts our ability to perceive and experience life; in short, it stunts our nature as human beings, our humanness. This same method of inculcating “desirable” behaviour and thinking is repeated by our society's institutions. We fall victim to these messages because we have been programmed to throughout our childhood. We are like battery hens who maintain their own cages through the mental constructs placed there by others and by believing the story that they were created thus, it has always been this way and this is their destiny. If we are to change our society and its destructive behaviour and goals, we will have to first undo this crippling conditioning. We can do this in our everyday life, and starting today.

We have seen that the 5% or so of our population that are psychopaths have had inordinate influence over the rest of us simply because we have been largely unaware of their existence. If we have been aware of them, we have been blind to their methods and ironically, to their methods of blinding us. We have been lied to from birth by our culture. This has effectively brainwashed us into seeing ourselves and our society upside down; into seeing reality as the controllers in our society would have us see it i.e. that they are in control and we are helpless; that they know what's best for us and we do not. Without this faulty worldview in place in all of us, the psychopaths would be helpless. This psychopathic culture can only function through our co-operation and we outnumber them 20 to 1! We don't need violence and violent weapons. We simply need to change our thinking and subsequent behaviour. The answer is simple, the doing of it less so because the transition process can be a little uncomfortable for everybody! It calls for courage and persistence.

On the way to achieving a critical mass in our society, there will be hardship but there will also be rewards along the way. You will inevitably grow into a more alive and more formidable person. We have a tendency as human beings to want different outputs without changing the inputs. We want a better life without having to make changes in this same life. This is magical thinking. It can't be done. To improve our lives, we have to change and to do that we have to commit to it. We have to “get real” and seek the truth, reality. Change is coming, anyway, so why not take control of what you can, now?

Societal change must start within you as an individual. Without this change you will not be able to contribute to the change in others. So if you look to others first, you will just be a follower and that is not going to advance yourself and it is not going to help advance others. Besides if you have been following the wrong people up till now, how are you going to discern the right ones without changing your worldview first? You would still be looking for essentially the same sort of leader. This is what elections in “two-party states” are all about. Still looking for someone to obey and that is what has led us to this sorry impasse. The “right sort of leader” is one you want to emulate not one you have to, or even want to, obey.

Once you start to change you will be attracted to people who are attempting to do likewise. It now becomes a “chicken and egg thing”, encouraging each other and following each other's example. When this spreads far enough, or goes viral as they say, we have societal change. So the changes I propose are divided into individual and community for clarity of presentation but, as I said, once started on an individual level, it will become a dynamic interaction.

First the individual. This is you, dear reader! The initial focus will be on all the bullshit in your life and getting rid of it (pardon the bluntness. I include myself in all this, BTW). We have been taught bullshit and we repeat it to ourselves every day. Replacing it with truth will simplify your life with yourself and with others. It will reduce the stress and conflict and lead to more happiness. It has to because you will be seeing reality more clearly and will be able to make much better choices. If the reality is that you are afraid of your own shadow, don't bullshit yourself about it. Admit it. Now you can do something about it. The first thing you need to do to fix a broken leg is to face the fact that it is broken. Nothing is going to get better until this first step is taken. Reality cannot be in conflict with itself as there can only be one reality. But you can be in conflict with it and if you are you will pay for it. Alice Miller in her book, "The Body Never Lies", goes to great lengths to show how not facing the reality of our childhood, for instance, will hobble us throughout life and cause ill health and even early death. Nothing can change until we face the truth, whatever that may be. Through truth we undo lies and through undoing lies we gain freedom; freedom from the mental shackles put there by those that would oppress us.

Through knowing truth, you make better choices that will help you rather than some controller that you have been pleasing. That's not to say there won't be some friction with those you work with or live with and love (especially if you live with a controller). It's a sad thing to watch, as an addict is going through the process of fighting his addiction, those around him become threatened and start undermining his efforts. Few welcome change. Forewarned is forearmed!

Buckling under to someone because you love them is not helping you, or them either. Someone is manipulating your immediate controller (they always are, it's part of the territory) and so is manipulating you in turn. By pushing back at who ever it is you love and who is doing this to you, you stop them from relieving their pressure by passing on the bullshit to you and so put pressure on them to pass it back to where it came from. That is helping someone you love.

The first thing to do now is to stop watching TeeVee. It really is demeaning. You are being treated as an idiot and all the psychological messages that go along with that. Not only that, but it reinforces all the programming you received as a child; all the notions this destructive society runs on: competition (one winner, lotsa losers); righteous violence (an oxymoron if ever there was one); authority's right to dominate and wealth equals wisdom (but don't get me started!). The moving light show induces a state of dissociation and thus allows free passage to all sorts of messages, overt and covert. It's brainwashing, pure and simple, and there is no point in fighting your past conditioning if you are also routinely reinforcing it. It's like fighting alcoholism and taking a break every now and then to refresh with a double bourbon. Nuts! So throw that damned box out. If you can't throw it on the municipal garbage tip, stuff it in the garage. If the family politics wont allow that, at least negotiate for it to be put in a room at the end of the house and away from the hub where it dominates thinking and behaviour and you can avoid it. This may seem extreme but if you can live without TV completely for a month and then sit down for a night to watch it you will see why I'm adamant.

We'll come back to the TeeVee later. But, in the meantime, start the experiment. Same goes for newspapers. Save yourself the money. I don't listen to radio either but there's not much of a selection where I live and besides I have issues with it that are peculiar to me. Be discerning. Certainly don't listen to talkback or the news. It's best if you can do without it altogether for a month (rather than having to turn it on and off all the time) just to give yourself a point of comparison. Tape some music and listen to that instead and get your news from the internet.
Next, we all talk bullshit to ourselves and to others. Start challenging obvious bullshit from others. There's no need to get aggressive or moralistic about it. Be respectful because that's what we want more of in the world. Plus, you might have made a mistake in your assessment. Lead by example. Just ask people to explain themselves further. “I don't understand. How does that work?” for instance. These are reasonable questions in any case. Most people are happy to answer them but liars don't like being questioned. Pretty soon people start thinking about what they say to you first before opening their mouths. And pretty soon, too, you start hearing less bullshit (and perhaps better explanations). Your quality of life has already gone up one notch if not two!

Start listening to what you say to others. Think,”is that strictly correct?” Think about whether or not you are leaving people with an incorrect idea of what is going on i.e. misleading them. It's not the straight out lie that's so harmful, it's the deception. Deception is about what is not real. Living in “not real land” is akin to living in delusion which is insanity coming on. You don't want to go there. You're into reality now and the autonomy that it gives you. The more you practise spotting the bullshit in your own talk, the easier it is to spot in others. Authority figures rely on bullshitting you and not being challenged. You now have your first weapon against the next would be Hitler.

By being respectful of others and yourself (i.e. talking adult to adult) you upset the would be controller's playbook. Power junkies worship the hierarchical thinking of the “pecking order”because the hierarchy grants them power. It allows them to “kick down”. But it also demands that they “kiss up” and they're conditioned to it. So your would be controller's first objective is to establish if you are inferior or superior to him. If you do not give him clues that indicate you are an inferior, otherwise known as a victim, from your response, he will likely become confused and is more likely to treat you as if you are a superior, just in case.

Body language is crucial. No shuffling of shoes here! And certainly no looking down, either. Maintain eye contact. If you find that difficult, look at the bridge of their nose, the point right between their eyes. They can't tell that you are not looking into their eyes plus you can see much more of their body with your peripheral vision. Look for indications of doubt and fear in their behaviour. It's a martial arts technique. Practise it at non threatening times. It is also a handy technique to use when some bozo decides he's going to stare you down. Just look at the bridge of his nose, relax your body but pay close attention to his and tell yourself you've got all day to play this game.

If you stop accepting being jerked around you magically stop getting jerked around. It's quite amazing. It's like you have taken down that big neon sign over you head. You know the one, the one that says, "Victim"!

I have the good fortune to know a number of women who have knowingly risked their lives at different times, individually, to speak out truth against serious, organised and well-connected criminals; some of these criminals were/are in the police and government. I figure if they can do that then we can, at least, look the next intimidating punk in a uniform in the eye and ask him calmly and evenly, “Would you mind repeating that?” People who like to dominate others are by definition cowards. They have the need because they lack courage and self esteem. They made a different decision to the one we made to the same programming (I'm assuming I'm amongst friends here!). But more on this later, too.

If you are serious about wanting change, you have some homework to do. Changing will be hard only because it will rub up against your conditioning of learned obedience and learned helplessness. All the more reason to press on! Pressing on is the behaviour, indeed the hallmark, of a formidable person. It will likely displease others around you at first and this might surprise you. But this is also good because you will get to see your own conditioning concerning being an acceptable person! A formidable person is one who does not dance to other's tunes. She or he hears and follows their own piper. (that's for you, McJ!)

I have some additional homework for you, folks; some reading to fill in all that time you now have since throwing out the TeeeVeee.

Anything from Alice Miller (here's a free download of an early book, "For Your Own Good")

"Escape From Freedom" by Erich Fromm (I have to re-read this myself. So if I have to, everybody has to!)

"On Liberty" by John Stuart Mill (he makes an extremely good point, amongst others, about the making of laws to protect people from themselves) Look in the reference section of your local library.

This essay (link courtesy of Littlehorn), “Punishment Vs Restitution” by Roderick T. Long, paying particular attention to the author's notion of what is your domain or sphere of authority and what is not. I fully endorse his views on violence as well.

“The Tao of Pooh” (believe it or not!) by Benjamin Hoff. He has a lot to say about the reality of people in a very engaging way.

Read what you can find on assertiveness and on body language.

And as a parting thought, a piece of wisdom from my part of the woods,

“Never take your eye off the bully”!

As always, questions and comments sought.

Next part - On Becoming a Formidable Foe (cont)



I think I suffer from premature publication! I was unhappy with the essay as written and have now revised it to make my point clearer (I hope!). My apologies to those that have already read it.

admin's picture

No Apology needed

I'd like to think I (& maybe most of we readers) already adhere to some of your advice here.
thanks for the recommended reading!

I would agree with you, NJT.

I would agree with you, NJT. Putting up this website tells me that you care enough to make an effort; you have considered the risk and you are building community. That covers all the bases as far as I'm concerned! I am not necessarily aiming my writing at the regular commenters and I didn't make that clear.

McJ's picture

My favorite so far...

"A formidable person is one who does not dance to other's tunes. She or he hears and follows their own piper. (that's for you, McJ!)"

Thanks James smiling

I really liked this essay - it's my favorite so far. You are really putting us to work here ....and then there are more books to read!

I added the John Stuart Mill book here (which I found on Scribd) to the forum. I put it under a new forum category 'Liberty' which I figure can be a catch all for a lot the subjects we have been discussing.
I have some other books I will add to it later when I get more computer time. I spilled coffee on my laptop sad and now I am getting it fixed (hopefully) so I have limited computer time for awhile.

"The most unpleasant truth in the long run is a far safer travelling companion than the most agreeable falsehood." Emerson


Very glad you liked the essay. Yeah, so much to read and so little coffee (and sleep!), McJ. smiling
Thanks for finding and post the link to "On Liberty". Great idea. And the liberty forum is a very good idea, too.

McJ's picture

about the coffee

Well, I think I have to give up the coffee and computers combo. Looks like I fried my laptop ;( (fingers crossed they is a 25% chance they can save it. ) So, I'm borrowing from my daughters' right now. I'm thinking maybe I'm going to have get reading some of those books you're suggesting so I keep away from the TeeVee. smiling

"The most unpleasant truth in the long run is a far safer travelling companion than the most agreeable falsehood." Emerson

This is a good one, James,

This is a good one, James, mainly because it offers good concrete guidance on how to start seeing reality and how to replace existing delusion/fantasy with the encountered reality. A lot of people will complain to folks like you, or me, or WP, or WP's readers... and the complaint will be, "all you do is criticize, you don't offer solutions."

This essay stifles such complaints.

How does one get the courage to start questioning the set of delusions and fantasies that make up the myths of empire?

I think that, as you outline here, it comes from being willing to stop watching TV and stop reading newspapers and news magazines, and stop listening to news radio. And especially, STOP listening to talk radio, which is nothing but pure spin from the broadcaster's perspective, and typically is ignorant uninformed fantasy-based commentary from the callers and guests.

It's also important for people to be willing to assess a Barack Obama or Dennis Kucinich on reality's terms, not on the terms of spin and puffery offered by loyal Democrat supporters. Cut through the vague language of a Barack Obama offering "optimism, hope and change" but giving no detail on what types of change will be offered. Cut through the bogus "token objector" status of a Kucinich, who merely goes through the motions while not being a statesman (i.e., compared to Mike Gravel ending the Draft or publishing the Pentagon Papers, Kucinich is just a stage prop). Dennis Kucinich's role is to keep Donkey-faithfuls voting Democrat on the hope that Kucinich will bring the party around to a "reasonable" position. People must realize, Kucinich doesn't have the will or courage to be such a person. He might as well be a hologram for all the things he doesn't do, while talking about doing them or while complaining about the need to do them.

Narrative Vs Behaviour

Thanks very much for your comment, Anon. Your point of not listening to the narrative but assessing people on their behaviour (and I would add, therefore the truth of any given situation) goes to the heart of the problem and the essential start of the solution - seeing truth through the fog (of war).

You wrote - "A lot of people will complain to folks like you, or me, or WP, or WP's readers... and the complaint will be, "all you do is criticize, you don't offer solutions."
This essay stifles such complaints."

It seems to have stiffled comments as well!

Well said.

"People must realize, Kucinich doesn't have the will or courage to be such a person. He might as well be a hologram for all the things he doesn't do, while talking about doing them or while complaining about the need to do them."
It was a tough thing for me to accept that the whole circus of "democracy" here was a put up job.
I deal with people that try to compromise with the killing machine by saying that we will never get it perfect, we must use the tools we have, we must hope for a drift to the "progressive" side, yadayadayada.
We must free ourselves, we can probably accomplish little else.

BTW most older texts (such

BTW most older texts (such as John Stuart Mill) can usually be found at the wonderful site of the Gutenberg Project!

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