Resisting Conformity

Posted on January 12, 2016 by Robert Ringer


Scientists tell us that human intelligence is the most powerful force in the universe. That’s right — not gamma-ray bursts, not black holes, not gravity, but human intelligence. To the best of our knowledge, man is the only compilation of atoms that is both aware of itself and gifted with the power to reason.

His awareness, coupled with his reasoning powers, are what give him the ability to plot, plan, conceptualize, and even will things to happen. Among other things:

  • He is aware of his fellow man, of his past, and of his ability to play an active role in helping to determine his own future.
  • He is aware of his own short life span.
  • He is aware that even though he is born without any say-so in the matter, it is against his will that he will die.
  • He is aware that he will die either before his loved ones and not know how their lives turn out, or that they will die before him and he will have to live without them.
  • He is aware of how helpless he is against the forces of nature.
  • Above all, he is aware of his separateness, i.e., that he is separate from everything and everybody around him.

Man’s awareness of his separateness causes him a great deal of anxiety, and it is this anxiety that is the source of his desire to reach out and unite with other human beings — to become part of something bigger than himself. It is, in fact, the source of his conformity to the herd’s mentality.

Arguably, then, man’s deepest need is his need to overcome his separateness, and the most common way that he accomplishes this is by conforming to the herd’s customs, practices, and beliefs. Though it’s true that in a totalitarian state individuals are forced to conform, the reality is that people nonetheless want to conform, as evidenced by the conformity in Western democratic societies.

The irony is that most people are not even aware of their desire to conform. They delude themselves into believing they are guided by their own thoughts, and that it’s merely a coincidence that their ideas happen to be the same as a majority of the herd’s ideas. In addition, the herd’s consensus serves as “proof” to the conformist that his ideas are sound, rational, and moral.

What’s at play here is the modern concept of worldwide equality, particularly in advanced countries. Equality in a religious context has always meant that we are all God’s children, that the differences between individuals should be respected, and that no man should be the means to another man’s ends.

In recent times, however, socialists thinkers have redefined the term equality to mean equality of results, “social justice,” and the abolition of “exploitation.” These themes run not only throughout the fabric of socialist societies, but so-called capitalistic societies as well. As a result, their moral validity goes virtually unchallenged.

All this is by the design of those who hunger for power over others. Just as modern mass production requires the standardization of materials and machines, so, too, does the top-down social process require the standardization of people. Toward that end, statists — and the radical left, in particular — now erroneously refer to standardization as equality.

As one would expect, however, converting human beings into automatons has serious consequences. For example, the biggest problem China’s bustling factories are groping with today is rampant suicide among its workers, with eighteen workers jumping to their deaths in just one Apple factory alone in the city of Shenzhen.

The situation has gotten so bad that Apple has put up suicide nets to prevent workers — many of whom make less than $2.00 an hour for performing such monotonous tasks as cleaning screens and smoothing out the edges of the Apple logo for ten hours at a time —from leaping to their deaths.

Unfortunately, conformity is a permanent, lifetime phenomenon. The individual is introduced to conformity when he’s a small child, and, if necessary, shamed, derided, and intimidated into submission. Anyone who has put children through twelve years of schooling — public or private — knows just how destructive this kind of harassment can be to a child’s self-esteem. Even worse, such conformity continues throughout his work career, into retirement, and, finally, even at his own funeral.

It is conformity that keeps the clan, the human race, and society together. That’s why both totalitarian regimes and so-called democratic governments preach conformity — always, of course, in the name of freedom and patriotism. And it is man’s awareness of his separateness that makes him vulnerable to calls (or demands) for him to conform.

I believe that man’s natural state is anarchy, and in a perfect world it would be the optimum system (or non-system) for people to interact with each other on a peaceful and voluntary basis. But life isn’t perfect, and in an anarchistic society, the same kind of criminals who hold the reins of power in today’s governments would prey upon their unprotected neighbors.

Even so, with the end of the American Empire on the horizon, you should refuse to allow yourself to be swallowed up by patriotic slogans calling for you to sacrifice your life and the lives of your loved ones for “the good of society.”

Whether the stock market collapses to 2,000 or hyper-inflates to 100,000 (both very real possibilities) … whether China’s economy rebounds or collapses like a house of cards … whether the United States is increasingly overrun by homicidal maniacs or an iron-fisted leader eliminates almost all traces of such people … the surest way for you to not only survive but prosper is to be vigilant about refusing to conform.

While it’s a fact that you are separate, the challenge is to not be so fearful of your separateness that you allow it to turn you into an automaton. With fundamental changes in America continuing at an accelerating pace, it’s a good idea to start rising to the challenge today, before chaotic events have an opportunity to overwhelm your reasoning powers.

Remember, you do have free will, which, along with your awareness and ability to reason, makes you the most powerful force in the universe. That said, it’s your job to use that power in constructive ways.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.