We all complain about and feel dissatisfied with our schooling, our jobs, the government, the whole modern state of life.
Yet if it’s all so horrible, why don’t we just do something else or go somewhere else?
Maybe it’s because other options are scarce or non-existent. Maybe the bubbly optimism in all those self help books is as empty as it sounds. We just have to bear the slog day after day. If we don’t like it, we just have to suck it up, same as lots of previous generations.
Most of us are stuck where we’re at. The truth is, the society we’ve been born into is a monopoly. The fact that it’s a monopoly explains why it’s generally inefficient, cruel, boring, and lazy. There’s no reason for it to be otherwise. No matter what abuse might get poured down onto individuals there’s nothing anyone can really do about it. And nothing ever will change so long as the same agricultural top down type of society persists without challenge, without incentives.
Every state, I think, has need of a dark state. That is, a sort of negative image of itself. An opposite of the bright, orderly, repressive surface state. A shadowed, chaotic society that fills any vacuum the bright society might fail to fill.
In the bright society, commuters all try to get to work when everyone else is trying to get to work. Shoppers all try to shop when everyone else is shopping. Travelers book flights when everyone else is booking flights. The result is that everyone has to struggle to do the most basic things.
Clearly a person from another planet would ask within minutes of arriving on Earth: “Why doesn’t the society make staggered schedules?”
It’s stupid to have a roadway that fills to bursting 2 hours of the day and is almost empty late at night. Roads are a costly piece of infrastructure and most of the time they’re either under or overused.
Clearly the people in power have no great incentive to care that the uniform schedules they set have a negative impact on overall quality of life. Clearly, workers want to persist with what they’re used to and be on the same schedule as their friends and family.
A combination of employer indifference and workers’ force of habit keeps the mass society locked into the self-perpetuating, idiotic routine. For those who see and loathe this idiocy, there’s no alternative within their monopolistic birth culture.
The unthinking routine of the sunlit state leaves a huge vacuum to be inhabited by a shadow state.
All those roads are nearly empty for hours every night! They are an enormous resource just laying around waiting for someone to come and use them.
In the natural world such a phenomenon, such an enormous state of disequilibrium is unheard of.
In the complex environment of a coral reef or a rainforest, no possible niche goes uninhabited. No resource remains unused for long. In comparison to nearly any other natural system, human societies are wasteful on an epic scale. Amazingly, there are no other species competing for our niche!
We tell ourselves that all the frontiers have been conquered yet there is more space and more untapped resources lying around in our modern world than there was in ancient times. There are sparsely inhabited nighttime cities to colonize and thousands of miles of early morning roads to connect them all together. In depressed cities across a nation, there’s real estate that no one wants for any price, just waiting for a more resourceful group to take over.
The bright society needs only the barest fraction of its citizenry as skilled workers and thinkers. How many capable people lie fallow, their talents gone to waste? These valuable people are just laying about for the taking.
10%+ of the population is unemployed, many millions more labor for sub-subsistence wages. The mass society doesn’t need them. They’re just laying there for someone to pick them up and do something with them. Same goes for the 2-3 million who are incarcerated or the 5-600,000 homeless. There’s no use for criminals and homeless in a mass society. But they represent huge resources for the first entity that can come along and find uses for them.
Most people who perform skilled labor for decent wages realize at some point that they’re still just wage slaves. They keep doing what they’re doing because they’re in a less miserable situation than nearly anyone else. What if there was somewhere else to take their expertise if they got sick and tired of their birth society?
No matter where someone is in society, they could no doubt get a better deal if the mass society was no longer allowed to simply sink into complacency.
The less efficient, the more oppressive, the more directionless and brutal the society, the greater a shadow world would grow in population and power.
A shadow to haunt the light would help bring human societies closer to a natural point of equilibrium comparable to an actual ecosystem. No niche would remain unoccupied. The light society would have every reason to try and starve its shadow into submission.
Merely introducing a competitor that grows in proportion the inefficiency of the mass society could accomplish more than generations of eloquent idealists and reformers ever could.
It is important to dream, but no dream ever comes true for a mass of millions until the conditions and incentives are right.