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How do we break social conditioning?

+1 vote
By 'social conditioning' i mean all the lies and myths we are fed from childhood to explain away the misery we live with every day; the empty justifications for our continual self-governance, self-censorship, self-imprisonment; the impressed fears that (try to) force us to accept a creeping mass-surveillance police state.  (If you want to broaden that -- feel free.)

Breaking our own conditioning is something we struggle with every day, and is expressed in writings.  But breaking the conditioning of those around us, either friends and family, or complete strangers, is something i'm struggling with.  I'm not talking about indoctrination here, simply piercing the veil so that people can see the lies for what they are.  (Some would say to let them find their own way,  while i might agree in principle, ecological limits may force our hand - there will be no revolution after Earth is dead.)

- normalization of conflict?
- alternative institutions?  (institutions?  :P)
- group hugs?

[editted to add tags  - careful what you wish for.  :)  could also have added " enlightenment counter-info seduction ignorance conformity non-anarchist behavior" -  just be grateful i didn't add "u" "vs" "s" "as" and "i"...]
asked May 9, 2014 by clodbuster (1,950 points)
edited May 19, 2014 by clodbuster
i just want to point out that there is a... logical fallacy (or something?) in your question. whether or not it's too late for revolution -- or major social change -- is a different question than how anarchists deal with other people.
i am interested in how to deal with other people anarchistically (partly) because every other attitude about how to deal with other people seems to me to have failed in really ugly ways.
this is true independently of whether the world is "saved" or not, and either can happen without the other... so...
while i agree with the understanding that the world-as-it-can-support-human-life (and many other kinds of beauty) is in desperate straits, i don't agree that that means that freaking out will make a difference (it reminds me of "well bush is really bad so we should vote').
Ok, leave out the 'sky is falling' part then.  (I initially questioned that, now i think that it would remove the question from one of anarchic philosophy to one of organic survival - a different type of question altogether.)

i am (sort of) aware of the cliff-edge of imposing anything on another person; where does solidarity end and eugenics begin?  
I would use the metaphor of pulling the blinding hoods off people stumbling toward that cliff - we could wait for them to pull their own hoods off, or we could pull the hoods off and then let them decide if they want to walk over the cliff.
yea, i have really mixed feelings about this (and i have stated before that i think this is a crucial quandary for anarchists), who are we to pull hoods off? or to define it as a hood?

and yet, i *do* think that i know things, that my way is better (or, in this case, that our way is better). and (obviously) i will argue passionately for the things/ways i believe in.

so maybe i'm arguing against a mass approach (ie, we can fight for/with the people around us who we know but not in any global or regional way), or maybe i'm just saying that we have to stay humble (and i will leave open what that might mean).

your work around with the other question was smart. ;)
i love this question. but as usual i have no answer, just some thoughts.

"piercing the veil" is often far more difficult than cb's cliff-walkers analogy (though i do like the analogy). i think logic and reason - combined with supporting historical information (which of course can only be accessed through the writings etc of people with biases and agendas, though they are often seen as "objective") - are often good methods for helping others see a perspective they may have been missing. [leaving aside the fact that logic and reason and history can always be used to support opposing perspectives, due to the different biases/agendas] i think one problem is that far too often we are talking about "belief" here, not so much a reasoned and critical approach to forming one's worldview. too many folks have *faith* in this system of democrapitalism. and we all know, when faith is involved, reason/logic - much less critical thought - are cast to the wind.

i agree strongly with dot's first paragraph. (not that i disagree with the rest, but...)  it is maybe the most important issue/quandary this anarchist deals with, on a fairly constant basis.

one thing this makes me think of is the discrepancy between ideas and behavior. sometimes (often?) we don't (or can't) act fully in accordance with our ideas. understanding that and having the flexibility to act according to what makes sense in the moment - keeping our ideas in mind but not treating them as rigid structures - is one of the things that separates having ideas with having an ideology. in that sense ideology is akin to faith.

i think i lost my train of thought....

1 Answer

–2 votes
Who says it's your responsibility to or right to decide what's social conditioning and what's not? Did you stop to think that if "social conditioning" doesn't exist for you personally then it simply doesn't exist? Perception is reality so your question should be how do you alter perception?
answered Jul 1, 2014 by anonymous
Thanks for taking the time to answer.
(Two downvotes without comment is perhaps a little excessive?)

You are right that i am really asking about altering perceptions.  Do you have any thoughts on possible tactics here?

<safety off>
Ok, "who says it's my responsibility"?  I do.  If i don't do it, then who the fuck will !!  I've seen too much shit get passed over because it's "someone elses job".  No, you or i can't save the world, but that doesn't give us a free pass for doing nothing - Just my worldviewpoint, most people here might disagree.

"...if 'social conditioning' doesn't exist for you personally then it simply doesn't exist"  ---  one, two, three, ....
The whole fucking point of conditioning is that you, and i, never quite escape its effects.  Ever!  If we recognize it, we can fight its influence, but we will never be free of its influence.  For those that don't recognize their conditioning, they allow themselves to be blindly herded (toward a cliff, of their own making, ...)

Other than that,  a reasonably thoughtful answer.  
Welcome to the shallow end of the internecine.  :)  We tend to gum more than we bite.
eh, two downvotes isn't that much. especially for the simplistically-minded "perception is reality" comment, which was why i gave thumbs down.
it was nice of you to start a conversation though.

note: it seems like those of us who vote on this site are harsher on questions than we are on answers, and i think it should be the other way around.