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No human baby is born a conformist

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you google for quotable words on conformism, thousands of search results will come up. But it won't take long until you realize it's a waste of time to click on them because most of these advocacies of nonconformity are fake from the diversity cults of the 1960s. It's evident from the way they advocated nonconformity that self-styled gurus such as John F. Kennedy and self-righteous rebels such as John Lennon were conformists, themselves, just disguised as something else.

Perhaps, Rita Mae Brown is one of the few exceptions. She is quoted as saying, "I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” She has a good point; she convinces us with a short sentence that self-hatred always underlies conformism, or vice versa.

On the other hand I do not necessarily agree with Emerson. It's a long time ago I read his essay about the principle of self-reliance. So I am not very sure, but to me the words quoted above sound a little too dogmatic or narcissistic. Actually to remain "yourself" is not that important when you have to change yourself constantly as Henri Bergson suggested.

According to my mother's diary, I was born at 7:30 AM on December 25, 1935. But my birth certificate says I was born one week later - January 1, 1936. In those days the Japanese people were even more group-oriented than they are today. The birthday of each individual did not count at all because everyone was supposed to grow one year older on January 1. That's why my parents decided to cheat the municipal office so I wouldn't be treated as a 1-year-old when I was actually 1-week-old. From the very beginning of my life, therefore, I was made something else than what I actually was. I think the gap kept widening, rather than narrowing, toward my early adulthood.

Since I don't have a good memory, I don't remember what happened to me in this one-week period when I was officially nonexistent. Not only that, I can't recall how life treated me throughout the rest of my infancy except what I learned in later years from family members. And yet, I can still recollect the elusive sense of angst which was left behind long after everything sunk into oblivion. It's hard to explain exactly what it was, but I seemed to be feeling extremely uncomfortable with my own existence throughout these years - and well beyond. Deep inside I felt I had been born to a wrong place where I didn't really belong. This sensation continued until I could overcome it almost two decades later. I think my intransigent trait of nonconformism has its origin in the early days of my development.

Aside from the early experience of my own, one question lingers on over the human behavior: Why does a human baby cry at birth unlike a new-born cub of other species? He may stop crying as soon as he is breast-fed. But that does not mean his problem is finally solved by lactation. I hypothesize that the reason he cries at birth is because being forcibly given birth is as hard to tolerate as facing death, or even harder than that. Like a dying person, he doesn't have the slightest idea about what situation he is going to face, let alone how to cope with it. The only premonition he's got is that in all likelihood, it's a hostile world. It makes little difference whether or not his parent has a pathological bent for child abuse.

Very few people have really understood the ethics of Jean-Paul Sartre, my lifetime philosophy teacher. He based it on his ontological observation that "existence precedes essence." In plainer words, that means you are nothing until you choose to be someone or something. But it's important to note he never meant to say you can become anything you want to be. You are always conditioned beforehand by things and people surrounding you. Sartre just wanted to say you should try to "make something out of what you've been made into." A character in his play "No Exit" says, "L'enfer, c'est les autres," or "Hell is other people."

When one attempts to overcome constraints imposed on him, what he needs first and foremost are knowledge and skills with which to effectively deal with the given situation. This brings us to the issue with education. So many disguised conformists have disseminated a myth that something is fundamentally wrong with the current education systems because they are tainted with indoctrination everywhere. It's as though there could be such a thing as education that is not aimed at helping the young grow into "the fittest" by closing the inherent gap between individuals and society.

Doris Lessing is quoted as saying:

Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: 'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.'”

As the sober-minded British writer observes here, what's really at issue is the very fact that there are so many self-proclaimed nonconformists who have been brainwashed to believe indoctrination is an issue. The fact of the matter remains that those who don't have an extraordinary talent to educate themselves have no choice but to accept the ordinary indoctrination system. And that's what I did.

I don't want to repeat the same story about the abnormally Spartan way my father educated me. I later called it a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he taught me never to go with the flow because that was the surest way to mediocrity. But on the other, he forced me to get on the fast track to the exempt status from sacrificing my life for the Divine Emperor in the unwinnable war. Torn between the two contradictory principles, the helplessly dim-witted kid, that I was, finally collapsed when I was in my late-teens. Now I know what exactly made it possible for me to pull myself together. It was none other than my innate trait of nonconformity.

There's very little in common between Thomas J. Watson, Jr., who is dubbed "the greatest capitalist in history," and me. Yet I think, there is a certain similarity between his feud with Thomas J. Watson, Sr., de facto founder of International Business Machines, and mine with my father.

Time and again Watson, Jr. stressed that the single most important founding principle of his company was that it would never try to tame the "wild ducks." As to conformism, he is quoted as saying:

If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good.

Financially, my life has never been really successful, but nevertheless I am proud of myself because I have never been flattened by conformity. That's exactly why I didn't stay down for too long. I could overcome all the adversity in part because of my respect for professionalism and discipline, and sense of commitment I could develop during the 16 years of being indoctrinated.

More importantly, I have owed these charming and intelligent young ladies more than I could possibly repay. They not only taught me something I couldn't have learned in school, but also made my life really worth living. I am not exaggerating when I say my life must have been "much ado about nothing" without them. To me they were comrades before anything else.

Perhaps I was a little less ugly than I am today, but I have never been a handsome and sexy guy. So the question is why on earth I could have so many unforgettably fruitful relationships with these ladies. My own answer is that it's because I always took them seriously and never attempted to have them subordinated to me like slaves. You may not be aware, but some of these young ladies still retain their innate resistance against being assimilated into the society perpetually dominated by male macaques. You may ask me how I could tell them from those who had already been incorporated. Actually, there is no secret. To anyone who isn't a conformist himself, a female who still retains the biological, psychological, and even ontological instinct against conformity always looks to shine unlike others. And on your part, the most important thing to note is that in a civilized world, it doesn't really count how much pheromone you secrete.

The only mistake I have ever made in my lifetime is when I married the woman with whom I fathered two SOBs. I don't think they were wearing a wide grin from ear to ear at birth. But in a matter of years, they became fully assimilated through something to be likened to bacterial infection, rather than a deliberate indoctrination.

When I started what I call a zoology museum on the web nine years ago, I thought it was necessary to collect a wide variety of specimens to exhibit in the showcase or the cage. But I was wrong. Soon I realized that the country named the USA is a monolith even to a greater extent than Japan is. There are only a couple of types of people among whom conformists, either avowed or disguised, are the overwhelming majority.

Conformism is not an ism. It's a disease. Even worse, unlike cretinism or moronism, it's highly infectious. American conformists are getting used so quickly to the Twitteresque way of discussing matters that they no longer understand it's necessary to give a logical reason to support or refute an argument. They think, "Why the hell do we have to explain the reason every time we speak for or against someone's opinion? Most of us think more or less in the same way."

For example, an American specimen, who flip-flops his position every second day, responded to my previous post about narcissism of the Hottentots like this: "I'm [favorably] impressed by everything and everyone Japanese." I was anxious to know the reason because he was now brushing aside, with a single short sentence, my observation of the terminally-ill people living in this cultural wasteland, which I explained to my audience with 400-plus posts I've written in the last nine years. But he replied, matter-of-factly: "There are no reasons for this. It is custom to adore the Japanese. Your people do the same. As an example, you are the one who revealed the Japanese oddity of venerating our President without knowing him. ('I rub Obama.')"

Obviously this particular specimen is one of those who were "flattened by conformity and stay down for good," or at least until the inevitable collapse of the worst rogue country in history. I will refrain from chasing him too far in part because it would run counter to Bushido (chivalry) to step on a person already flattened on the floor. But more importantly, it's one of my responsibilities as the curator of this museum to keep him alive in the showcase, or the cage, which carries a signboard that now reads: un salaud americain.

Recently I've found the French words very useful as well as usable because an uneducated person never understands the real connotation of the ontological pejorative. Thanks to these words, I can prevent my sympathetic nervous system from sending my blood pressure soaring to 200mmHG or even higher.

At the same time the French expression helps me effectively convey my friendly message to American conformists. It goes: "I rub you guys exactly in the same way you do my fellow countrymen. There's no specific reason for my adoration." ·

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No human baby is born a conformist
Authored by: samwidge on Tuesday, August 27 2013 @ 07:36 AM JST

A thing that I like about you is that you work so very hard at being different. Genuine difference is terribly difficult to achieve because so very many people work to achieve difference without hope of creating value. We all remember the "angry young men" of our high school ages. These generally then run off the rails to become dangerous Left-Wing or Right-Wing Extremists.

You seem to build your sense of success from a productive sort of nonconformity. You try to build something of value from your difference. That's rare. That's genuinely different. If the world could understand your difference and differentiate the difference with the people of destructive difference, the world would do well.

Conundrum. That's the key issue in difference. The majority of our different people work terribly hard to achieve odd lives that just don't matter. They question and attack life pointlessly, You will remember the little tokens marked on either side with, "The statement on the other side of this coin is true/The statement on the other side of this coin is false." The coin has no value. The conundrum with most of the different people is that they never succeed at being of value.

I was privileged to read your book, "Unviable Japan." In it you talk about things that nobody else dares discuss. In America's southern states we have an expression, "Bring 'em up smartly behind the back of the head." It is a swat to force them to pay attention. You take an abrupt, firm, and different position to wake people up to new views of the world, views that could correct many of our ills. You work hard to, "bring 'em up smartly."

It looks to me like your father showed you the ropes of life and gave you the tools to rise above the ropes.

Conformists. I believe that the Jewish people have a word that describes these. It is, "goyim." It means cattle. Goyim is all that they are and all that they might hope to be. When fate harvests one of these, fate casually replaces that one and the next and then the next.

Difference; It's not a bad thing. My grandfather used to say, "Tell 'em who you are, Sweetie." If a person will work to be different in a positive way, that person will be worth the difference. That person has difference of value.

You speak of being, "extremely uncomfortable with my own existence." That's the cost of hard work, the sweat. We get value from your existence. Because of you, more of us may succeed at difference.

Honor your, "intransigent trait of nonconformism."
No human baby is born a conformist
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Tuesday, August 27 2013 @ 11:34 AM JST

I appreciate your kind words about this post and my aborted book.

Let me say something about the subtle but fundamental differences between us over the interpretations of the words, "difference" and "correct." Bear in mind, however, I have never intended to correct anyone, let alone the whole world, to narrow the gap lying between us.

1. "Difference"

There is no such thing as safe difference or dangerous difference, benign difference or malign difference, productive difference or counterproductive difference, conservative difference or liberal difference, etc. Difference is difference. And I have never pursued any difference in my lifetime because it's a fundamental fact I have faced since Day 1 of my life.

As I observe, these advocates of differences are all remnants from the diversity cults of the '60s. They certainly know differences can carry great commercial values. That's why they keep saying differences should be valued.

2. "Correct":

I have never tried to correct anyone because when I wanted to correct someone, I always had to learn he was uncorrectable.

When I fell in love with someone, I knew there was no reason to correct her as if she were part of me. I just committed myself wholeheartedly to that woman. And when I was fighting against someone, I never thought about correcting my enemy. It's ridiculous and suicidal to point out his weak spot because by doing so I would be telling him how to win the war against myself.

I don't know why I was brought into existence and why I have to exit this place sooner or later. The only thing I know for sure is that I'm not in the reformatory business here when everyone I want to reform is irreformable.

No human baby is born a conformist
Authored by: Diogenes on Wednesday, August 28 2013 @ 06:30 PM JST
The classic American example of conformism was in the '60s--the fake hippie era that began in some residences in Laurel Canyon, California. While claiming to be the "counter" culture, these "hippies" actually all looked alike. They grew long hair, both men and women; they smoked pot and took all sorts of other drugs, originally brought in by whom?; and they followed the direct order of CIA operative Timothy Leary, professor and LSD advocate, that preached: Turn on, tune in, and drop out. It was the perfect way to kill the anti-war movement from within. Sort of the Chinese Opium War brought up to the modern age. Most old Americans probably still believe that they really lived in a ground breaking age. They didn't. They were cleverly and deviously manipulated. Nowadays, we have entered the created age of the Transhuman Era. Look around at the young and even some old that are tethered to their "smart" phones--the next step being to instill a micro version of this technology inside the skull to eliminate the burden of carrying your second brain in your hand. Some researchers are working on powering these things on human body chemicals, so there would be no need for an external power source. It's coming. It's coming.

Dorris Lessing's quote seems to have nailed it, but she doesn't provide any clues for us to use to recognize such a creature.

In the coming days ahead, the Western world will likely be witness to the coming theatrical production called: Attack A Muslim Country with Impunity. I listened to an interview with an Arab American that wrote an essay titled: No, thanks: Stop saying “support the troops”

As to be expected, he took a thrashing in the "correct, conformist" media. Based on the photograph of the author of this particular attack piece, he's a fat slob that makes a living being a cheerleader for the ghouls of the modern world.

(That's fatty's picture just below the person's picture he's attacking.) Oh, how I wish we had the draft and it was active. Fatty would be screaming bloody hell! "Why me, mamma? Whyyyyyyy?"

The board of directors at Microsoft need to read this article with special attention paid to your quote by Watson Jr. Under Steve Ballmer's leaderhip, Microsoft is going down for the count. If nothing else, this is killing innovation and forcing conformity on those that want to keep their jobs.

It's worth noting this lengthy quote, and also worth noting that in spite of the destruction of the company, Ballmer is as unmoved as a fresh corpse in the rigor mortis stage.

[At the center of the cultural problems was a management system called “stack ranking.” Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees. The system—also referred to as “the performance model,” “the bell curve,” or just “the employee review”—has, with certain variations over the years, worked like this: every unit was forced to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, then good performers, then average, then below average, then poor. …

For that reason, executives said, a lot of Microsoft superstars did everything they could to avoid working alongside other top-notch developers, out of fear that they would be hurt in the rankings. And the reviews had real-world consequences: those at the top received bonuses and promotions; those at the bottom usually received no cash or were shown the door. …

“The behavior this engenders, people do everything they can to stay out of the bottom bucket,” one Microsoft engineer said. “People responsible for features will openly sabotage other people’s efforts. One of the most valuable things I learned was to give the appearance of being courteous while withholding just enough information from colleagues to ensure they didn’t get ahead of me on the rankings.” Worse, because the reviews came every six months, employees and their supervisors—who were also ranked—focused on their short-term performance, rather than on longer efforts to innovate. …]

There is a car dealer in Vancouver, B.C., CANADA that used this model. On a monthly basis, he would fire the salesman with the lowest sales numbers. When the public heard of this practice, it definitely turned them off of buying cars from this guy's company. The creatures in the study: Snakes in Suits comes to mind. When you become, in your own mind, a living corporation--a thing that has no soul and has one teleological purpose--profits, then you have lost all sense of humanity. This, too, is a sick kind of conformity.

I live in a small American community of maybe 150 people. There are two Christian churches here. It took me a while to convince the locals that I wasn't going to join either one of these phony group homes. My neighbor had a friend from out of state stay for a few weeks, and when she asked me if I was going to go to the Sunday service, my neighbor quickly pipped up, "Oh, he doesn't go to church." You'd think she had just said that "He confessed to being an un-captured serial killer!," from the look that woman gave me. "Wha....wha...what? Not go to"

I don't suppose any of this behavior is going to change, even with the passage of time. Either one exerts their maximum strength, if so moved to be real, or one gets used to the couch potato life of ease and conformity. In the end, we'll both end up under the grass. I can't even say which one will have lived the better life. I suppose it's the one that made a voluntary decision to live a certain way that will get the last laugh, but that will likely go with him/her to his/her grave.
No human baby is born a conformist
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Thursday, August 29 2013 @ 01:59 AM JST

Your post is another confirmation that although we are essentially on the same page, our ways of viewing things remain quite different, i.e. we never conform to each other. That is why your feedback always brings a new perspective to the issue at hand.

For better or for worse, I focus primarily on the practical aspects of the issue whereas you seem to stress its other aspects. Particularly when it comes to the issue with conformity or nonconformity, talking about it is one thing, and practicing it is quite another. I think this is why you do not really agree with Doris Lessing..

I appreciate the very intriguing story about Steve Ballmer’s stack ranking system. Who can disagree with this blogger named Will Oremus? I, too, agree that this explains Microsoft’s decline. But I don’t quite agree with Omerus because he perhaps turns the causal relationship upside down: the stack ranking system is not the cause of the decline, but the result – the inevitable consequence of his predecessors’ way of steering the company, and more importantly, the way the entire industry (IT companies and their customers which include the two of us) has developed in the last couple of decades. I think Omerus is also wrong when he says the Google management is doing the right thing in that respect.

The same can be said of the car dealer in Vancouver. There’s no denying his way of doing business stinks. But I don’t believe these guys who are practically boycotting the dealer are nonconformists. Moreover, the dealer himself may be something else than just a conformist. If he is yet another money worshiper, as he actually looks, he will soon realize he should stop his hire-and-fire practice in order to cajole people into coming back to his shop.

Actually there is a fine line between conformity and nonconformity in these carrot-and-stick approaches. Thomas Watson, Sr. and Jr., are considered one of the first employers to have placed more emphasis on the carrot. (Actually, not once I was given monetary and nonmonetary awards from Japan’s subsidiary of their company.) But they might have used the stick more often in a different situation.

In the real world, one can’t be 100% conformist or 100% nonconformist. There can't be one without the other. For instance if and when the rotten system of indoctrination is toppled, now it's nonconformists' turn to play the role of conformists.

These are why I always mention the double-edged sword, almost from ontological angle. I don’t know how other people are coping with the complex situation, but I think it all hinges on whether/how each individual overcomes the inner disintegration by leveraging both his innate nonconformity and the self-perpetuating system which capitalizes on inertia of our daily life to make things a little better.

In this context I think it will be nice if you someday feel like telling us, or me, the secret behind your mental attitude which looks very un-American. It may be asking for too much from you, but I opine that the more American individuals think, and more importantly, act, like you do, the more likely it becomes that America's decline is stemmed or even reversed. As you point out it all started at Laurel Canyon as recently as half-a-century ago. But the Japanese conformism dates back to the early-8th century.