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Just a normal blogpost

14/09/2013

This post is for all the normal people who read my blog.

What?
None of you?

Hmm, looks like I’ll have to start before the beginning then.

OK, this post will be for normal people once you’re normal enough for it to be for you. And once you’re normal enough for me.

You see I’ve never spoken to normal people before and I’ve got a few things to say to them.

I’m over half a century old and I’ve run across a lot of different people in a lot of different contexts and so far I’ve only met freaks, rebels, crazies, mavericks, non-conformists, weirdos, subversives, outcasts and deviants. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what sort of an oddball I’m dealing with because they’re so abnormal they have to act as normally as possible to try to hide the truth. People like that creep me out. They’re just not normal.

As a bipolar long-haired punk rocking IT contractor specialising in mainframe computer systems I found myself in a lot of conservative workplaces surrounded by people in suits and ties with mortgages and families, all desperately trying to climb the corporate or bureaucratic ladder or just hang onto the rung they had. The whole conventional catastrophe.

Sometimes I could barely get my work done for all my colleagues pulling me aside to confide how radical or crazy they really are and how they wanted to be like me and dress as they liked and say what they thought but for now they just had to keep their heads down and work within The System to change it.

Working within The System to change it. Yeah, I’ve tried that.

I done a bit of anti-authoritarian activist work and for a few years that meant hanging around in NSW parliament spending time with politicians. I wasn’t silly enough to try to lobby them – if you want to know what’s going on and make things happen you talk to parliamentary staff, not the MPs – but I still had enough spare time to chat with them, eat with them, drink with them and exchange abuse with them in committee hearings.

The first surprising thing I discovered was that politicians are actually human. Except for Bob Carr. He pretends to be a human with normal human interests like the American Civil War, stoic philosophers, the corrupt exercise of unaccountable power for the enrichment of himself and his Macquarie Bank cronies, etc. But really he’s a shape-shifting extraterrestrial reptile whose sole desire is to drag you into a dark corner where he can rip your head off with a single bite and suck your still kicking corpse dry, dropping the dessicated remains for his ensorcelled minions to dispose of in the mistaken belief they’re clearing away fast food containers.

But other than Bob Carr, politicians are just regular, abnormal folk, all working within The System in order to change it.

That’s what The System is. All the people working within it to change it.

The funny thing that’s not funny at all is that The System doesn’t get changed. It gradually wears the people trying to change it down into cogs that fit seamlessly into it.

So Revolutionary Joe puts on his suit and tie and goes off to work to act like all the other salaryman sheeple, secure in the knowledge that deep in his heart he’s not like the rest and he’s only pretending to be because of the reactionaries who run the show. Really he’s going to overthrow the status quo from within his mild mannered secret identity.

After a few years The System has rewarded Joe with status and authority for pretending to conform and his comfort zone has shifted somewhat. He still sees himself as Reformist Joe who will eventually get around to fixing things, but best not upset the apple cart for now. After all, he’s got a family and mortgage to think about and he wouldn’t want to traumatise his more conformist colleagues who probably can’t deal with rapid change.

By the time Relaxed and Comfortable Joe is thinking of retirement from his senior management position so he can finally be free to be himself Fred the Radical has started with the company and he is really going to shake things up. But not right away. After all he is just a cadet with a brief employment history who’ll need to establish himself more securely before he’s ready to challenge the likes of Reactionary Joe and the other arch-conservatives who’ve got a lock on power.

And so it goes on. The System feeds itself, slowly digesting all those movers and shakers who are in there to change it.

I’m not like that of course. I’m truly different. Uniquely unique.

I don’t cut my hair and I don’t wear deodorant and I don’t watch TV. I’ve never worn a suit and I’ve never been married and I’ve never taken out a mortgage. I talk back to cops and listen to loud music and write ‘fuck’ on my blog sometimes (See! I just did it again!).

I’ve got attitude. Look out System, here I come!

So I’m going to rise up and overthrow the state – except Centrelink and Medicare and stuff. A bloke’s got to live you know.

And I’m going to smash oppressive corporate tyranny – as long as I can still get my preferred brands at the major supermarket I shop in.

I’m going to end the chauvinist patriarchy – but not the bits we need to keep all those crazy women under control.

I’ll be yelling “Give me liberty or give me hemorrhoids!” in public places, just as soon as the appropriate agency provides me with a comfortable, disability access soapbox to sit on.

Once a fortnight I gather up all the packaging from the huge amounts of goods I consume and put in in the yellow bin for council contractors to take away. That’s right, I recycle! ! ¡Climate change no pasarán! Not while I’m standing here staring it down from under my eco-friendly, low wattage bulb.

I say really nasty things about the authorities too. Quietly of course. And nowhere they might hear me and get angry or upset or something. There’s no need to stir up trouble, is there?

I even criticise WordPress. Moderately of course. I don’t want them to think I’m ungrateful for Freshly Pressing one of my posts. They might shut down my blog then how could I spread insurrection in cyberspace? I’d be sitting at home, isolated and alone, shouting rebel slogans into the ears of my two pet rabbits. (Hey, I know. I’ll rename them Buenaventura Durruti and Emma Goldman! That’ll show the world where I stand. If anyone notices.)

Single handedly I’ll continue the struggle to liberate the parent land from the hands of the Roman Imperialist aggressors, excluding those concerned with drainage, medicine, roads, housing, education, viniculture, and any other Romans contributing to the welfare of Jews of both sexes and hermaphrodites.

What? They’ve gone already?

See, I told you The Man would never be able to stand up to a determined revolutionary like me.

So I bet you’re all feeling pretty normal now, right?

Good!

Because I’ve got something to say to all you normal people who are supporting the very System that oppresses you. Who are The System.

If only I could remember what it was …

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12 Comments
  1. Freshly pressed! Which one?

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  2. Just read your whole post. Hmmmm, normal is just the most prevalent. If a lot of people turn into punkers or goths, that will after a while become a prevalent group and you can ask yourself if this is really abnormal if it became a thing which is such wide-known. I think normal is actually a very relative concept and it’s dependent on your own position and experience what is considered normal. What you write about the system, I think that the most prevalent and damaging system is just capitalism and I doubt if the leaders within capitalism really want to change the system. I don’t know if Rockefeller just wants to change the system, I think that he just tries to make himself as happy as people, ironically money doesn’t really make you happy I think, it just gives you a temporarily feeling of joy, but it won’t last long.

    In my opinion, people who claim to want to change the system are just using that as an excuse to influence the system themselves, but because their opinion isn’t shared by all people, they would turn in dictators if they could really change the system, that’s maybe why the Greek philosophers had the best ideas about the system.

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    • Yep, I agree that normal is relative. It also depends on what part of your identity you’re currently inhabiting. I feel like a pretty normal Australian of my generation when I’m thinking about sex, surfing or rock music but I feel on the outside when there’s talk about politics, sport or race.

      One of the points I was trying to make is that no-one really thinks of themselves as normal in terms of their most cherished public identity. They either see themselves as mavericks secretly (or openly) seeking to undermine or avoid the mainstream or as deviants who have to hide their differences to gain acceptance. When people claim to be normal it’s either to hide the fact they think they’re not or it’s a rhetorical device aimed at delegitimising the position of someone who can be portrayed as a member of an out group.

      Regarding Rockefeller et al, another point I was trying to make is that we all have some sort of a stake in the system as it is. If anything it’s those who are most struggling and marginalised who are least prepared for change because they’ll almost certainly bear the brunt of any fallout.

      I think it’s important for activists to recognise they have been co-opted by the system and do their best to free themselves from the parts they actually can be free of rather than pointing at others and calling them sell-outs.

      If you think Greek philosophers were really above the wish for dictatorial power you should read Plato’s Republic.

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      • The Greek society was the first society to have a democracy and that was based on the ideas of Plato and the people who came after him. Not everyone agreed though with his ideas and indeed there were Greek philosophers who propagated a system of dictators. Even Plato had the idea of a dictature led by philosophers, but he had to admit that a democracy seemed to be the best system though.

        As with all other things you say, I agree with most of them. I think that a way of changing the system might be done by people who are outside the system, with that I mean children for example, which are outside of the system but still have a certain kind of influence.

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  3. Yeah, Plato, Confucius, Hobbes, Voltaire, Hegel …

    It’s funny how many philosophers thought the ideal system of government was one in which absolute power resided in the hands of a philosopher.

    And I’d agree that you can only really change a system from the outside, but that we need to keep in mind that in one way or another we’re all on the inside. Sometimes you’ve got to try to step back and let those on the outside change what you can’t.

    That’s why I’m not a feminist.
    Women liberating themselves is feminism.
    Men liberating women is paternalism.

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  4. I think the writers control the play…and I think that technology is proving the opportunity for more actors to write the play…

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  5. A short comment for me huh?heh!

    Like

  6. Another quality post. The most interesting part was how people start out in the corporate world or in some position of power, intending to do some sort of good or make improvements, but then become a seamless cog in the machine even oppressing those under them. I’ve witnessed this happen to coworkers who were given promotions, with only a couple exceptions.

    So, to clarify a bit, you are saying everyone thinks they are different or unique and not the norm, but are you saying they are right or wrong? Are you saying that if you scratch a “normal” person there’s an eccentric or iconoclast or whatever inside, or that if you scratch a revolutionary there’s an average Joe under there?

    By the way, in your “widgets” you’ll now find a “Freshly Pressed” widget you can stuff in your sidebar to lend you credibility. Also note that once your 15 minutes of fame are over, attention dwindles fast, and very few people look at anything other than the single post that was featured. Kinda’ makes me wonder why, if people actively like a post, they are not very interested at all in looking at the author’s other posts.

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    • So, to clarify a bit, you are saying everyone thinks they are different or unique and not the norm, but are you saying they are right or wrong?

      More wrong than right.
      Everyone is unique of course but I think if we were all perfectly frank with each other we’d discover we were less different than we believed in many important respects. Especially in our attitudes to the major forces shaping our lives.

      Are you saying that if you scratch a “normal” person there’s an eccentric or iconoclast or whatever inside, or that if you scratch a revolutionary there’s an average Joe under there?

      Both really.
      Mostly I’m dealing with what I imagine people’s self perceptions to be.

      It seems to me that everyone considers themselves maverick or deviant in some very important (to themselves) respects, but few fully recognise the compromises they have made and what the implications are for their non-conformism.

      An exception may be people in closets of one sort or another who are painfully aware of the facade they are living behind (by ‘in closets’ I’m being broad enough to incorporate, say, 1950s style ‘stepford wives’ but not your average working stiff, who probably considers himself more ‘undercover’ than closeted).

      I’ve been getting about one in three people who hit the pressed post also hitting the main page, but I’m getting very few likes other than the pressed page. The WordPress editor who chose me (with the wonderful job title ‘Chief Semicolon Advocate’) told me about the widget but I think I’ll pass. I prefer to keep the sidebar functional rather than decorative. Takes me long enough to load my blog as it is.

      Like

  7. For Fox Sake permalink

    I’ll be yelling “Give me liberty or give me hemorrhoids!” in public places, just as soon as the appropriate agency provides me with a comfortable, disability access soapbox to sit on.

    That blood on the dunny-paper isn’t from haemorrhoids: it’s colorectal cancer.

    Like

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