There are many who rebel against governments and institutions.
But the edifices they seek to bring down are but natural outgrowths of the people and culture they were born into, like stalactites trickling down over eons from subterranean ceilings.
You know a person not by their rhetoric, but by what they choose at the grocery store. Yet, seldom does the person who rebels against a government think of seceding from the birth culture that brought about the system they hate. Governments and tyrants may come and go, yet the foundational customs of a people endure.
We fear the monopolistic aims of businesses and governments, yet not of culture and custom. We are simply born into a place and adopt its arbitrary trappings for the sake of unthinking expediency. If we think, though, who do we find more strange, the man who dislikes a mere government or the man who proclaims pizza an unclean food to your face and refuses to celebrate christmas? Which man’s beliefs register just in your mind and which triggers a primal instinct deep in your gut?
Which is just another activist and which has thrown a bloody gauntlet of challenge at your feet?
Imagine asking for a neon pink plastic tombstone at a local graveyard or forget to mow the lawn for a few months. What begets harsher prohibition and reprisals? Mundane infractions of custom or the criticism of remote political assemblies?
If one is displeased with their birth culture, what is the point of deriding an abstraction of government when they still adhere religiously to the ways of those who cheated and oppressed them?
In this post-nuclear age with a world-wide economy, conventional wars have become cost prohibitive, but great wars rage on under a placid surface.
Where it has become impractical to wage war over lines on a map, the new conquerors will struggle to hoard wealth rather than land, to occupy wombs rather than cities, and to carve out empires of belief from the ailing bulk of mass consensus.
I, for one, was never really socialized into my society, living on the fringes through my youth. I endured the last years before internet became widespread, feeling alone against the crushing weight of the world, a formative experience that has shaped me ever after. I often wonder that without the dawn of such electronic expression, I would have spent the rest of my life feeling I’d been buried alive thumping in the pitch black against a coffin lid weighed down by a ton of earth.
As soon as I was on my own in the adult world, I found myself rapidly drifting from the customs of my youth rather than transmitting them into my daily life. What for others were symbols of comfort were for me reminders of torment.
I found myself letting holidays pass unnoticed, sought out new foods and new recipes so I might eat differently. I often observed fasts early in the day to distance myself from the indulgent and mechanical “3 squares” of the peoples among whom I lived.
I played with nonsense syllables, a practice if done enough begins to yield coherent meanings, and which inflected my speech at times with the hint of an unplaceable accent. Having learned more of the English language from books than from people, I had already always spoken in a foreign dialect. I had been strangely impervious to the understandings that passed easily between people without a spoken word.
As years went by I became apathetic towards politics and civic institutions; that was a game that did not concern me.
As a child I had seen myself as an outcast, as an adult as an outsider.
I floated through cities as a foreigner viewing people’s behavior from a distance. I had long since ceased to think of them as “my” people. I was merely a savage benefiting from their society as best I could so long as I must. Over time I’ve learned their ways well enough to function normally and begin to understand how they think, but at heart I remain alien. In due time another order will replace the present one and I will adapt to that one too like a ship that rides successive swells.
It seemed obvious watching from afar that besides ethnicity, peoples are defined by the aesthetics of their language, food, costume, architecture, traditions, and ceremonies. These aesthetics of culture surround members of a people all their lives gaining emotional purchase on their hearts from infancy. Aesthetic unity in a society is an everyday symbol of cooperation, a ritual dance with practical function. To cause discords in the aesthetics of culture is much more powerful than to harry a few patricians running governments.
People understand this on a deep instinctual level. Until I learned how to properly defuse people, I was regarded with something close to hostility wherever I went, no matter if I tried to be polite as I could or to remain beneath notice. I could not hide for long that I was discordant with their master aesthetic. It drilled into my head again and again the importance of culture. It dawned on me that nearly every traditional culture has some version of the crime of witchcraft, a convenient mechanism which allows discords to be eliminated from the collective music. If someone becomes unpopular enough, they are fair game to be hunted down. Such is the intense pressure for group selection under which humans have always lived which makes us as we are today. We have a visceral fear of social deviance as we have of snakes and spiders. Thus the powers that flout custom are the powers of Hell.
For one who is displeased with their society, becoming an activist or turning to violence rarely accomplishes much. Simply seceding from the culture and beginning to build a new one is the most dangerous and damaging thing one can do. Merely by doing so one sets a disastrous precedent for others to do the same.
If we consider culture as a market, we see people all over the world tend to live under monopolies. Monopolies deliver poor service because they have no fear of competitors. Merely creating a competitor, however tiny, is a force that opposes the enemy directly and proposes to solve the problem one perceives rather than merely reacting with incoherent discontent. Unlike a self-destructive rebel, the cultural dissenter becomes an entrepreneur.