The modern world will allow you to join any of a thousand collectives, but it will punish you for standing on your own, as a self-willed entity. People who commit this crime understand that they are outlaws in the present world. And if at first they don’t understand that, the world makes sure they know.
The world as it is, then, is the enemy of will. This is nothing new, of course, governments have been at war against will since they began: How else can you get people to blindly obey you, to hand over half their income, and to thank you for it? People who possess a full and active will must be convinced to do things, and governments couldn’t function if they had to do that.
The present world is built around the restraint of will, and not just on the government level. Advertising, for example, is more or less devoted to implanting subconscious desires and subverting the will with them. In dysfunctional families, manipulating one another – whether by guilt, ridicule, being left out of Papa’s will or whatever – is the currency of the realm.
And so obedience, consumption and acquiescence have become cardinal virtues, and the avoidance of immediate pain the prime directive. As we might paraphrase an old apostle, this world’s God is the belly.
The Willful, For Whom Heaven And Earth Were Created
All human creativity functions on individual will. Everyone interested in creativity knows this, and here are just a couple of passages to make the point:
Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.
— Albert Einstein
This I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.
— John Steinbeck
It is the active will of individuals that has created everything good in this world. Really, life comes down to a choice between creativity and entropy:
- The world (the realm of officialdom, acquiescence and so on) is an incarnation of entropy, winding down and collapsing once the fuel left to it by creative men and women of the past is burned out.
- The creatives, who are willing to take blows in defense of their willfulness, and who bless the world in myriad ways
The willful, then, are creativity incarnate; the universe is and ought to be dedicated to beings of their type. It should also be populated by beings of their type, and I think someday shall be.
This is not to say that entropic people can’t make their way out of entropy and join the creatives; in fact they can, and do, on a daily basis. Still, it is a gulf that must be crossed, and the only way across is to act on one’s own will, alone, and for purely self-generated reasons. That is the price.
The Automated War On Will
The great threat of the modern world is a system I call Descartes’ Demon, the Big Data/AI personalized manipulation system that is already in daily use. I held back talking about this for years, seeing that it was too much for people to bear, but the beast has progressed so far that I can’t see holding back any further.
The Matrix, as it turns out, was all too true, and its world is now the world of Facebook, Twitter and especially Google. The real-life version of The Matrix is functional, right now. (See here for explanation, or here for illustration.)
What personalized manipulation is really all about is the subversion of individual will. And if you don’t think it’s happening, pull up YouTube on your smart phone, then ask your friend to pull it up on his or hers: You’re already receiving personalized pages.
The world is deeply committed to passing this off as trivial and ridiculing those that don’t. But it isn’t trivial; it’s a present and actual war against free will.
We Are Inherently Creative
Humans are inherently creative beings. We cannot create matter out of nothing, but we can mold it to an infinite number and variety of uses. We are the fountains of new and beneficial action in the universe. And we ought to function that way.
I’ll leave you with a few words from Albert Schweitzer:
Civilization can only revive when there shall come into being in a number of individuals a new tone of mind independent of the one prevalent among the crowd and in opposition to it… It is only an ethical movement which can rescue us from the slough of barbarism, and the ethical comes into existence only in individuals.
This is what we need… and we need it now.