I observed that many people live their lives aware that there are several limitations to their freedom. For example, some extremely common limitations are the lack of free time, being trapped in an unfulfilling job, the financial scarcity due to taxes/mortgages.
Most of these people understand that the limitations exist because an oppressive entity exists, something usually referred to as “the system“. However, often the system is identified with the government only, while I think it’s important to take into account two other factors that are main parts of the problem as well: mainstream media and corporations. That’s why I wrote the previous article What is the system?, to help you see a complete picture of who is causing the limitations.
Now it’s time to search for solutions. Despite what chronic pessimists will tell you, freeing yourself from the system is possible. All it takes is to do things differently from the mass.
In fact, I am about to analyze a list of four different reactions to the system that people can have. What I want to show is that, while the first three reactions of this list are way more popular, a fourth option exists – one that very few people consider- and it “works” better than all the others.
1. Complaining, but keeping on being exploited
This is by far the most widespread reaction, I see this behavior all of the time.
It’s full of people who have strong negative feelings against the frontmen of the system (typically the politicians who are more exposed by the media), and who complain endlessly about their conduct.
These people express disappointment and disgust in every conversation related to the government’s decisions, grumble in front of the television, write angry posts in the social networks. But then, the next day they show up at work and slave on. By doing this, they actually nourish those same people they complain about.
In fact, the corrupted members of the government, media and corporations do not feed on people’s appreciacion: they feed on people’s work. They don’t care much about the insults, their ego is usually big enough. As long as those same people who insult them keep on showing up at work, providing them money (through the taxes) and especially goods and services (that they’d never want to provide working at unpleasant jobs), they’re perfectly fine.
A corrupted minister in the government will probably not resign for the affronts he receives in the social networks. A website of online news won’t stop its propaganda just because people accuse it to lie in the comments section. And the head of a corporation will not stop destroying the environment simply because people say she is immoral.
They will stop only when the citizens will stop this dual behavior of complaining about them and also funding them with their job.
Now, If you really like to complain, don’t worry: you are in good company. You can join the majority and complain everyday about how immoral the politicians are, and how outrageous their conduct is. You can feel satisfied of being brave enough to use a computer’s keyboard to insult your politicians via internet. Then you’re ready for another day of slavery. Just be aware of one thing: you’re in the group that makes the vital lymph of the system.
2. Fighting the system
Fighting the system is a second possible reaction. Not as popular as just complaining as most people do (preferably behind the screen of a computer), but it’s still an approach that is very appealing to many.
The desire to fight the system is a healthy indicator that some people don’t accept passively to be exploited by government, media and corporations. They understand that typing some insults in internet, or grumbling in front of the news, won’t serve any practical purpose. So they actively organize to produce change, and the main route they usually choose for pursuing this goal is politics.
Unfortunately, as “brave and generous” as this approach is generally considered, there are several reasons why I don’t consider it a smart option.
The first reason is that, if you decide to fight the system, you give away a lot of your personal time and energy -both limited and precious- in doing so. This time and energy are subtracted from the time/energy you could actually use to enjoy your freedom.
Many people decide to do the sacrifice anyway, because they feel they are fighting for others as well, but often they are just living in an utopia: the belief that their fellow citizens want to be freed, as much as they want.
If you’ll spend as many years as I did trying to free people from the different limitations caused by the system (for example explaining why most corporate jobs are modern forms of slavery, or contrasting the misinformation spread by the media), you will eventually conclude that a lot of people just don’t want to be free. They theorize about being free -yes- they will encourage you enthusiastically to fight, and they will even applaude you. But then they will search for a boss to work for.
For many people freedom is a beautiful theory, and they want it to stay like that: just a theory.
In addition, I don’t think that sacrificing your time/energy makes sense also because the decision to fight the system is based on a wrong assumption: that the system is exclusively localized in the trio government-media-corporations.
Of course, these structures are the three highest expressions of the system, and you should definitely keep a close eye on them. But the mindset of cheating and lying that make government-media-corporations such oppressive entities belongs also to the “common” citizens, the same citizens who encourage you to fight.
Usually, the main difference between many citizens and the politicians is that the politicians are up there, in positions of power, just because they’re more astute. But for the rest, those citizens cheat and lie in the same way, just on a smaller scale. So they applaude you if you fight for them -they’re happy, of course, if you help them not being exploited anymore- but they’re not so available to become virtuous themselves. Are you sure you want to sacrifice for them?
And last significant disadvantage: if you organize trying to knock down the system, if you adhere to a political party or some other structure, you gain size. If you become big, it will be easier for the system to notice you, and therefore it will defend itself, and it will attack you back.
I don’t deny that important victories can be achieved reacting this way. But I see a disproportion between these victories and the huge amount of resources (time/energy) that fighting the system requires you. This disproportion, to me, doesn’t resemble much like freedom.
3. Joining the system
“If you can’t beat them, join them.” says a common proverb. It’s not arguable that by joining the system, even if just at the lower levels, you put yourself in a favorable position.
You can get a job in one of those institutions that produce little or no value for the society, and make a living by predating those who do produce value. For example, in my previous articles I explained that I consider the political and the banking estabilishments big circuses that consume huge amounts of resources and produce almost nothing.
You can enter these establishments and, without necessarily having to reach the top of their hierarchies, you will enjoy benefits that the workers who have similar job duties, but in different sectors, will never have.
As much as it costs me to admit it, this approach does work in giving you notable advantages. In genereal, there is more money to be made. More recognition. More financial stability.
But I can’t avoid to steer into phylosophy here, with a personal perspective. For me, chosing to be part of the system is, if not “immoral” (a word I don’t like to use, as I understand that for each person morality is different), quite depressing. I would not chose this solution because I like to work to create something useful and beautiful for me and for other people too, rather than just parasite what other people produce.
Consider also two more practical and important cons of this choice. Working as part of the system, for example by doing an unproductive job for the government, some mainstream media, or a banking corporation, means actively working to the cause of these trouble makers. And the troubles will affect someone for sure, sooner or later. If it’s not gonna be this generation, it’s gonna be the next ones.
Even if you don’t care about the next generations, there’s another reason why I don’t recommend joining the system as a good way to reach freedom: it doesn’t put you in an indipendent position. You always depend from that part of the population that does produce (concrete goods and services).
And then, of course, there is a part of the population that you can never reach in your parasitic mission, because they are very elusive. Those who react as follows.
4. Leaving the system
You will be able to free yourself if you act individually, like a small and fast fish.
The fish that adopt the reaction 2 (fighting) are fish who try to convince other fish to push against the net, to destroy it. But by aggregating they become like big and slow fish, that the net keeps trapped even more tightly.
The fish that adopt the reaction 3 (joining) are working for the fishermen. They need to search for preys, continuously. In the short run they have some benefits, but in the long run they, or their successive generations, will suffer for the damages caused to the sea.
The fish that adopt the reaction 4 (leaving) are a net minority, they act individually, they take the less beaten track, and they are those with the highest rates of success in reaching freedom.
How to leave the system
Be small and fast. Take advantage of these characteristics. Take care of freeing yourself first. Don’t organize and avoid confronting the system openly. As a first step, start by recognizing the mistakes the other people are making.
This is important, because those first three behaviors that I described above are so widespread, so many people adopt them in reaction to the system, that you have to do an effort to realize that -no matter how many people react those ways- they are not the smartest strategies.
Next step, you have to realize that the most valuable thing you can offer, as a person, is your work. What you do with your time. And your work is what the system really craves. It’s not money: the heads of the system know that money, eventually, is just a mental construct. They want the goods and services you produce by working dozens of hours per week at boring, stressing, hard jobs that are heavily taxed. They don’t want to do those jobs, they prefer that you do them, and that you put on the market the resulting goods/services for few pieces of paper (that they produce and control).
Many people let them do it, but you can make different choices.
It’s often said that in most employee jobs you pay so many taxes that you end up working 5-6 month per year just to feed the government (that will feed, in cascade, its media and corporation allies), and only the rest of the year for yourself. I don’t know if the proportions are this bad, but they seem close to reality to me. And I think it’s too much.
You are not forced to be exploited this way. Open your eyes and you’ll see alternatives that the mass usually is too blind to see. You can chose a job which is taxed less, especially of entrepreneurial type. You can generate income through passive streams. You can move to a different country with less abusive institutions.
If you leave a job that you don’t enjoy, a job which is heavily taxed by a government that doesn’t provide any decent value in return, there are some really positive effetcs.
You immediately subtract a resource from the system. This is really the biggest damage you can do to it, even more than fighting it through political action. The lymph of the system is the work the citizens offer to it. It’s the flow of employees who wake up every morning, drink coffe, rush out of the house, get in the traffic queue, and spend 8 hours a day producing goods/services that the will be put on the market for just some pieces of paper.
But what would happen if more and more people would quit this routine, up to reaching a critical mass? The system would collapse for starvation. That’s not gonna happen soon probably, but by detaching yourself from this model you give your contribution in this direction. In the meanwhile, stay focused on your personal situation.
Recognize that what you do with your time, your “job”, is a treasure. Make sure that this treasure consists of a creative activity, that you enjoy doing, that fullfills you, that produces concrete value for your customers. And make sure you are the main beneficiary of this activity, not the lazy politicians or bankers who print paper rectangles.
Remember that not all the jobs are taxed at the same level: chose those in which the tax load is lighter then. And if the situation really gets too oppressive in your country, and it’s too difficult to avoid working many months per year for the system, then go working in another country that allows you to thrive. Vote with your feet.
Act alone, now, without waiting for the others to wake up. If you try to free everyone else with you, indiscriminately, you’ll become big and slow like the institutions you’re trying to free yourself from. You’ll lose the advantage of being the small and fast fish.
Isn’t it a too selfish behavior?
I think just the opposite is true.
Not everyone who is exploited by the system is ready to leave, and swim towards freedom. Most people don’t even see the system, just feel the pain. And among those who see the system, many insist in adopting the reactions 1, 2 and 3.
But there is a fraction of people who are ready for a further step, who are ready for freedom. Indicate them the way, show them how you make it. Giving an inspiring example is definitely the most generous thing you can do!
Notes: For this article I’ve been inspired by the experience in Italy of the “five star movement”, the movie the Matrix, the allegory of the cave by Plato, and as usual by the beautiful ideas of Loren Howe and Harry Browne.
Related: What is the “system”?