You know, out of all the many and magnificent beautiful linguistic structures that adorn the world, why did you pick this one? Because, I mean, English is hard. Its grammar is weird, its rules inconsistent, and as for the spelling... still nobody knows why tough, though, and through don't only not rhyme, but in fact sound absolutely nothing like each other (there's a good poem about that, by the way, which - like all proper poetry - does rhyme).
At this point, all but the EASLs (English as a second language-ers) amongst you may be scratching your heads in bafflement and wondering if I've been hitting the Christmas shandies a bit too hard (and cheers to that, by the way). After all, you - and I - didn't "decide" to speak English, we just learned it, because it was the language spoken to us as babies. There was absolutely no element of choice or discernment involved, and we certainly did not sit there - even the most intellectual infants amongst us - critically assessing the structure of our native dialect, comparing it to all other global alternatives, and making the informed choice this was the one for us. We just started speaking it because it was what everyone around us was doing, and that is the simplest - and most effective - way human beings learn. Through mimicking what they see around them.
It's impossible for us native speakers to imagine not being able to speak English. It feels as much a part of us as our eye colour or height - an absolute and immutable feature, something fundamental to who we are. English is weaved into the deepest levels of our unconscious - it's the language we dream in, and we even understand it beyond the levels we are easily able to explain (I once did a ESL course - learning how to teach English as a second language - and I was paired up with a non-native speaker to help with her grammar. "Miri will always get the answer right," the tutor advised my new friend. "But she won't always know why.").
It was always a source of consternation and some frustration to my teachers at school that, while I appeared to be "good" at English, I wasn't at all adept at languages in general. I was dismally poor at French and crashed out of Spanish after a single year. In my opinion (this is how I justified all the dreadful school reports, anyway...), I was too passionately attached to English. Trying to think and speak and write in other languages just felt too contrary and unnatural. I couldn't do it (I did, however, make one final valiant attempt to learn a second language in lockdown, when I started watching Jane The Virgin on Netflix - it's brilliant, by the way - and wanted to better understand the Hispanic grandmother's explosive rants... pero me rendí una vez que terminó la serie y no pude encontrar abuelas españolas enojadas alternativas en la localidad inmediata).
Nevertheless, the fact remains: no matter how much I or you like English, no matter how integral it may feel to our identities, the fact that we speak it is really quite arbitrary and has nothing to do with the merits or disadvantages of the dialect. It's just what we were immersed in from birth, so we picked it up and started repeating it.
So the point I am making here (which I imagine you might have guessed) is that this applies to other things, too.
As soon as we are born, we are saturated in the cultural norms and expectations of the society we have entered into, and so we - it's what children do - absorb them, identify with them, and repeat them. We then arrive at adulthood with a whole set of beliefs and expectations that have been inculcated into us as "normal", and the strong social onus on us is simply to repeat these orthodoxies and dogmas, and hand them on to the next generation. Such orthodoxies include:
*Go to university
*Hold liberal, "progressive" social values
*Trust your doctor
There are many more, but you get the point. For about the last half-century, society at large has promoted these messages ever more vociferously, through its schools; through television and newspapers; and, in the last two decades, through the internet. Even if a child's specific parents don't agree with all of the above, the cultural cacophony is so deafening, the parents will often be drowned out (I know a devout Christian couple with socially conservative beliefs, and every one of their 7 children has grown up to become a socially "progressive" left-wing liberal).
What I want to emphasise here is that people who hold the above-listed beliefs in 21st century Western cultures, no more chose them through a careful and selective thoughtful intellectual journey, than they chose to speak English. The same mechanism that allows us to learn language - that allows us to go, in really an extraordinarily short space of time, from being completely nonverbal and illiterate, to being totally fluent in a complex dialect which contains tens of thousands of words - allows us to pick up and identify with other complex systems as well, without ever having thought them through.
For example: if you polled the adults of the UK today and asked them, "is sex before marriage wrong?", you'd get an almost unanimous 'no' (accompanied by lots of eye-rolling and scoffing and wondering if you are some sort of religious cult recruiter). Likewise, if you'd polled the adult population of the UK about seventy years ago, you'd have got a majority 'yes'.
But how much genuine critical thought did any of those responding actually invest in their answers? In most cases, almost none, they are just repeating the prevailing cultural orthodoxies of their time. It was just as "obvious" to many people of the recent past that sex before marriage was wrong, as it is "obvious" to the people of today that it isn't. The reality is that very few people bother to think anything through when it is seen as so socially self-evident in this way.
Generally speaking, these kind of widespread social beliefs are only properly thought through by the social engineers who create and enforce them. When said social architects desired a high birth rate, they created a stigma and a taboo against premarital sex, because confining sex to marriage correlates with more babies being born (it may sound like a paradox - that putting curtailments on potentially reproductive activity results in more reproduction taking place - but actually it does, by manipulating people's expectations of what sex is for. When it is confined to marriage, it is seen as having a primarily - if not exclusively - reproductive function, and when it isn't, it is seen as having a primarily - and often exclusively - recreational purpose, hence, liberating sex from marriage results in less babies being born. I wrote more on that here).
As soon as the requirements of social engineers changed, and they wanted to ensure dramatically less babies, they changed the social messaging on sex, and so within a single generation (from the Silent Generation to the Baby Boomers) the taboo on sex before marriage collapsed. This was nothing to do with millions of ordinary people suddenly having epiphanies and deciding to reject decades of social conditioning around personal relationships - real grassroots social changes takes much longer to gather real momentum and take effect than one generation - it was simply the social engineers changing the rules because their own social goals had changed.
I have been thinking about this issue recently, because I have been (this may sound a bit morbid, but just bear with me) reading obituaries. I like to check the local newspapers of localities I have resided in in the past, and I lived for a year (2013-2014) in upstate New York, whilst I attended the university there. This part of the country is known as 'the North Country' and hence, their local paper is North Country Now. A few weeks ago, when I couldn't sleep, I was skimming the pages, and came across the obituaries, and - not having much else to do at three in the morning in a bl**dy freezing cold house (old Yorkshire stone, aye - the Four Yorkshiremen would love it here), I started reading them.
I was particularly interested in reading those of people who had had very long lives - who were over 90 when they died - and I was quite, well, moved (and I'm an Aquarian, usually colder than my chilly stone house, so this was quite momentous). The first thing that struck me about these very long-lived people was that the vast majority of them had remained in the same small locality for all of their lives. Perhaps they were born in Massena and moved to Brasher Falls, or between other nearby townships, but they rarely went far, and, not infrequently, stayed in the same small town all their lives, with one particular lady (who died aged 96) having stayed in the same house all her life. She was born there, grew up there, got married and raised her family there, and eventually died there. I tried to imagine what the world would have been like when she was born in that house in 1926, and all the changes she would have seen, from exactly the same place, and quite simply couldn't get my head around it.
I think it's fair to say the world has changed more in the last hundred years than any other century in history, so to have lived through all those immense social changes is almost inconceivable in itself, let alone doing it in the exact same location, which is something I'm fairly confident zero modern people will reach age 96 having done.
Our lives are so mobile now, and I personally have lived in more than 20 different houses over multiple different areas - Stoke, Liverpool, London; Yorkshire, Lancashire, America - and this is in no way unusual or remarkable by modern standards. Yet the 96-year-old lady who died in Potsdam, NY, this month, only ever lived in one - and can we honestly say that my life, or any modern lives, are definitively richer, better, more fulfilling as a result of all this mobility and travel?
It's a modern sacred shibboleth that they are: that the "olden days" (really very recent history in the greater scheme of things) were terrible, limiting, and oppressive, and strangled people's full potential by "forcing" them to stay in their staid old hometowns for their entire lives.
Yet I got no sense from reading this lady's obituary that she had been in any way stifled or oppressed. She had what seemed an exceptionally full and rich life. She'd had an education, had various jobs, had a family, been involved in many and various community activities, and had many friends, hobbies, and interests.
Staying in the same location for a century would have enabled her to develop deep and enduring communal bonds, and so it's unlikely she ever suffered the kind of loneliness and isolation that is now epidemic in society, including for much younger people.
Of course, she probably never thought this through much at the time. When she left school and got married, in the mid 1940s, staying in your home community was just "what you did" - the norm and the expectation. Equally, now, it's not.
It's not now because we have adopted the cultural dogma that mobility and travel equals happiness and that staying in the same place equals oppression. Why does this dogma exist? For the same reason all our cultural dogmas exist - because it's what the social engineers want.
In the beginning of the 20th century, they continued to incentivise "old-fashioned" values, such as staying local to your hometown, because stable families and communities were useful to their social goals. As soon as their social goals changed, so did the social messaging. The ruling classes have had three primary goals since the second world war, and these are: reduce the birth rate; break up families; break up communities.
Obviously they're aware that if they overtly told the young "you need to leave your hometown immediately when you turn 18 and don't even think about having children until you're much, much older, because we need to fracture families and communities and reduce the birth rate", then the young wouldn't obey. So, instead, they tell them "you need to leave your boring old hometown where you are oppressed, to seek exciting new adventures. Only small-minded failures stay in the town where they were born [just think just how many movies there are along that theme - where the successful big city slicker returns back to their boring old backwater hometown, and all their old schoolmates who stayed there are always portrayed as stupid, unambitious - and usually very fat - failures.] Don't even think about ruining all the fun and opportunity that awaits you by having millstone-round-your-neck kids. There's a whole world out there, you know!"
Have people who accept this messaging properly thought it through, compared it to alternatives, scrutinised it against the evidence, and made an informed choice? Only very rarely. Although modern orthodoxies have excellent - really unprecedentedly excellent - marketing, the ever-mounting evidence doesn't support their founding promises at all. Societal-wide happiness and fulfilment have been on a steadily downward trajectory since the 1970s, and modern people are currently the most unhappy they have been since records began. Many modern values sound great on the surface (as I said, good marketing), but ultimately, have little enduring substance, and often leave people disappointed, unhappy, and unfulfilled. The UK, with all it's modern values and expectations, currently has the unhappiest teenagers in Europe.
So why do so many continue to make life choices - whether taking six experimental injections in two years or obeying other irrational and unevidenced modern commandments - that fail to improve their lives?
It's because most people don't think: they mimic. Just as we did as children, when we didn't "think" about whether we wanted to learn English, we just saw everyone else around us doing it and so copied them, this is how most people make other life choices, too.
The primary difference, then, between 'normies' and 'conspiracy theorists' is that the latter category of people do actually think: they ask difficult questions and challenge social dogmas. If you look back again at the list of examples I made at the beginning of the piece regarding social "of-course-isms" that nearly all of us believed at one point (of course vaccines are safe and effective; of course you trust your doctor; of course our liberal progressive values are superior to the bad old days), it's the challenging of these perspectives that begins the spiralling down the rabbit hole into the fully-fledged tin-foil-hatter-quackery that is "conspiracy theorism" - because all that term really means is, someone who challenges social norms.
Which is something the vast majority of people - whatever society they happen to be born into - don't do. Most people uncritically absorb and repeat what they are taught, in exactly the same way they absorb and repeat their native language. And, in a healthy, sane society, that's fine - it's how you create a robust and cohesive cultural group with shared values and traditions. Human beings are not solitary creatures, we are deeply social and tribal, so we're wired to seek group identity with like-minded people.
The problem is that our lives have become global now, rather than tribal, and so the global social engineers have hijacked our minds. This means our cultural values and life choices are no longer coming from the time-honoured traditions of a healthy society and benevolent wise elders, they're coming from rapacious psychopaths who have learned how to 'hack' human psychology and manipulate our behaviour to their will.
Ever since the ruling classes took the reins in terms of creating global culture, our minds ceased being fully our own and that means, whenever we hold a belief that reflects the majority view in our particular culture, that's almost always because the ruling classes have inculcated it into us because it is in their interests. This, by the way, is why the Amish (effectively the only cultural group in the West who have successfully resisted all aspects of modern cult-ure) are so careful to shield their young from the wider world (from us "English", as they call all non-Amish people). Amish adults and older children are permitted to talk to outsiders, but very young children are not - because the Amish know their minds are too malleable, and the forces of the outside world too powerful: that it would be so easy for a child to be "lost" to the dark forces of modernity.
Of course, the dark forces of modernity know this, too, which is precisely why the government provides free childcare from the age of three up to 18.
You can be abundantly and unequivocally sure that whenever the government provides anything for "free", it is because the benefit to them (and only to them) is so huge. Fifteen years of government schooling is not done for the benefit of the child (hands up who hated school and can't remember a thing they learned there?). It's certainly not done for the benefit of the family (who are "liberated" by free childcare to work away from their loved ones all day doing something they quite often hate).
The government provides this service because getting children when they are very young and impressionable, is the most effective way of moulding their thoughts and behaviours to the desired ends. Twenty-five year teaching veteran and multiple recipient of New York State Teacher of the Year awards, John Taylor Gatto, has repeatedly explained that the only real purpose of school is to grind people down into unthreatening and obedient order followers who can't think for themselves: people who can only absorb and repeat, just like we do when we learn our first language.
I bring attention to this issue now, as we are currently in the midst of a hugely significant social and cultural revolution, where what we all thought of as "normal" prior to 2020 is never coming back, and the years leading up to 2030 are going to see our society change profoundly (just as society has done on so many past occasions - just ask the remaining 90-somethings in upstate New York). That means we cannot thoughtlessly hold onto the same beliefs and convictions that served us then, because we are heading for a different world.
Modernity and hi-tech first-world innovations allow us to hold beliefs that, in other, less secure situations (that we may well be heading for), we wouldn't be able to hold. For instance: modern dating expectations and the rise of Tinder culture etc. puts a high premium on people having a wide variety of liaisons with multiple partners in uncommitted situations.
But would anyone be prepared to engage in this kind of thing if there was no access to modern contraception, including the pill, the morning after pill and abortion? No, at least, very few pre-menopausal women would, and as modern infrastructure continues to collapse, it's highly likely the availability of these things will become much more scarce and expensive (just like everything else).
Modern people may therefore find themselves being forced to revisit "ancient superstitions" such as reserving sex for committed relationships, because the alternative is too risky (of course, sex is always risky, and by its very nature, can only ever be made safeR, not "safe", if safe is taken to mean - as it is in modern culture - 100% consequence-free. The repercussions of sex can be and often are, monumentally huge - both physically and emotionally - and while this reality can be blunted to a certain extent with modern hormonal methods and interventions, if these become difficult to access, we'll all have to deal with unobscured reality again).
I use this as an example as it's probably the most profound cultural shift in the last 100 years - people's attitudes to personal relationships - and the modern belief is, in the days before modern contraception, people were unhappy and oppressed because they couldn't have all the consequence-free sex they wanted. Now modern innovations mean they can, they're happier.
As with many modern dogmas, the evidence doesn't support this conclusion, and shows that promiscuity increases the chances of unhappiness and sexual restraint (e.g., reserving sex for long-term committed relationships as opposed to casual liaisons) makes people happier - and this correlation is especially strong for women. Far from being "liberated" by the sexual revolution, women's happiness has torpedoed in the last 50 years.
Yet many women (and men) continue to participate in behaviours that don't optimally serve them, not just in the area of personal relationships, but in many other key life areas, too, such as deciding how to spend early adulthood. One thing many young people undertake after completing their education is extensive travel, because, so the cultural communiques go, this will "broaden their horizons" and make them a more diverse, interesting, and fulfilled person.
By modern standards and judging by my contemporaries, I haven't travelled that much and my travelling habits are rather "vanilla" - I've been to North America a few times and a smattering of European countries - but in my twenties, when I lived and worked in London, I met a lot of what one might call "professional" travellers: people who had been at it for years and had gone all over the place - Africa, Asia, South America, you name it, they'd been there. And guess what?
They were all, more or less, exactly the same.
They all had exactly the same social views on everything (liberal, progressive), and rather than all this travelling deepening their cultural life, it seemed to have flattened it out, as "culture" to them was just something you visited for short-lived entertainment - like a museum or a show - before moving on to the next attraction. They did not become part of any culture they visited (as is the nature of travelling), they just observed it as an outsider for a short while, and then moved on. Sure, they had lots of great stories to tell about all the fascinating places they'd been to, but this hadn't enriched their own personal experience of culture, it actually had the opposite effect, as when they finally returned "home" (sometimes after ten or more years of being on the move), they no longer felt it familiar or like they fitted in. They no longer felt they, ultimately, fitted in anywhere. And for human beings who have overwhelmingly strong "belonginess" needs, this is a profoundly difficult way to spend a lifetime.
This is not to suggest that nobody should travel if that is what they want to do, but merely to emphasise the crucial importance - including and especially at a time of immense social flux - of examining our most deep-seated beliefs and prejudices, and asking, but are they true?
It's taken as a given that leaving your hometown at 18 and travelling the world is one of the best things you could possibly do with your life - "do it now, when you're young and with no responsibilities!". Actually, though, I see precious little evidence this is the best thing most people could do at all. There's no one size fits all, and sure, for a handful of people this could suit them down to the ground. But from all the evidence I see, it doesn't suit most, not in the long-term, and many people would have been better served making different choices. For millennia, family, community and local culture were what sustained people. Perhaps it's better not to be so hasty and arrogant in tossing that aside, and assuming social conventions only developed in the last 50 years are infinitely superior.
Sometimes they are, for sure - not everything about modernity is awful - but certainly not always, and that's why every belief, expectation, and norm must be held up to the light, forensically examined, and assessed against the evidence and the alternatives, before we make important choices.
We can't "unlearn" English and it was impossible for us to make a choice about what our native tongue would be. But it's not impossible to question, challenge, and unlearn other beliefs, and reformulate ideas and world views that no longer serve us. The ruling classes count on the fact that most people can't do this - that all they can do, just as school teaches them to do, is absorb and repeat whatever the prevailing social orthodoxies of the time are.
The social orthodoxies in the very near future are set to become very strange indeed (digital IDs, vaccine passports, brain chips), so now more than ever, it is vital to own our own minds and come to our own conclusions based on our own values and critical thinking capacities, not on what the overlords spend trillions propagandising us to think.
We are in fourth generation warfare with a very evil force, and that force is deviously intelligent. It has learned that the ultimate victory comes not from shooting people or bombing their countries, but through controlling the most complex structure in the known universe - the human mind.
That means that the most critical task in front of us all right now, is to make sure that - despite all the propaganda, all the pressure, all the trillion dollar information wars to make us think a certain way - that the unassailable ownership of your mind belongs (and only ever belongs) to you.
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