The Monopoly on Normal

The state is defined by some as being the entity that has a monopoly on violence. 

But there’s more to a society than just who has the guns. There are other forms of control. 

I’m more interested in the entity that has a monopoly on normal.

And that entity is not necessarily just “The State.”

What is acceptable?

What can you do?

What can you think?

Who is it that you can criticize? And who is it that you can’t?

And who makes these rules?

There’s this tendency, which I find laughable, of constantly deriding the 1950s as an era of overwhelming, stifling conformity, a boogeyman to be invoked every time we beat our chests and crow about “how far we’ve come.”

And while certain things are better–many, in fact–in other ways thigs today are just as stifling. 

Every era has its problems. And every era has standards that you will be nudged to comply with–at first gently, and then with increasingly greater force. Until, eventually, the guys with the guns, threatened or actual, will come pay you a visit. 

(I got a response to this on Twitter, snidely purporting to take me to task for ignoring the plight of African-Americans during this era. This response so egregiously missed my point and clearly did not read the whole thread while subtly insinuating sinister things a about me and my intentions that it’s not worth acknowledging beyond this parenthetical).

We’re all wearing uniforms and conforming to some standard, whether you admit it or not.

The only issue is: WHOSE standard?

Are there now more opportunities for you to make a go of your life outside of the lines that society sets for you, or fewer?

If you want to reinvent yourself in America, where can you pack up and go to?

How are those student loans or that huge mortgage working out for you?

Are you licensed enough to earn your living however, wherever you wish?

Who set these rules, anyway? And who convinced us they were good for us?

History is written by the winners, right? Yesterday’s normal is today’s abhorrent. Today’s normal would make you a pariah yesterday. 

It’s why we see art and literature from the past either being modified or forgotten. 

And why we see art and literature today being forced into little beige boxes. 

And why once-beloved historical figures are now today’s villains. 

And why your entire livelihood can be ruined simply for holding the wrong opinions…you know, the way it’s always been, in the 50s and today. 

Whomever has the monopoly on normal, the gatekeepers, the tastemakers, have more power than the people with the guns. 

The people with the guns control your body. 

The people who define normal control your mind.

There is just as much conformity now as there has ever been in human history. It’s just different and imposed by different people. 

There is a citadel that dictates your life. It just happens to be different than the citadel of old. And in the future, people will speak derisively about our time the way we do about the 1950s. 

What a trick to make us think we are any more mentally free than we’ve ever been. 

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13 thoughts on “The Monopoly on Normal

  1. Woah, your posts never fail to be thought-provoking! ‘The people who define normal control your mind’ – I’ve never thought about things like that, it’s kinda scary but nevertheless, I feel like it’s the truth so thanks for sharing your thoughts. 😀​

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Daytime Renegade says:

      Thank you for the kind words! I am just thinking about a lot of Current Year triumphalism and the “herd of independent minds” mentality.

      We all follow a dogma. We all wear a uniform. And we all conform to standards we perhaps think–or wish–don’t apply to us.

      Times may change, things may change superficially, but the deeper themes always remain. To me, ignoring this, or thinking we’ve somehow “overcome history,” is a harmful mentality.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I completely agree with you! Just to clarify, do you think that people falsely believe that they’re independent in modern society? If so, do you think that this something that we should combat, or something that we should embrace? (sorry for so many questions, I just find it so interesting!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Daytime Renegade says:

        Questions are good!

        My take is that people should always be aware of everything as much as possible, including themselves. Ideological blind spots and I examined biases have done a lot of damage to me in my life. Things started improving markedly the more I started questioning them and taking stock of them. You might not change your mind about everything…but maybe you will. And maybe your positions will just emerge that much stronger.

        On a societal level, I see ignoring the human condition and the forces that control us as harmful on a grander scale. The impetus to conform isn’t necessarily a bad–it’s good to follow the herd and NOT be a murderer, for example–but there are things worth looking at deeper.

        I see this with politics and world events. Never question immigration policies. Support foreign wars no matter what. Go to university; don’t worry about that loan.

        Why? Where did this come from?

        Maybe I just get crankier the older I get, but I find myself questioning everything as time goes by. We can’t change the human condition, but maybe we can understand it.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. The Daytime Renegade says:

        As far as the mistaken belief in one’s independence, that to me is harmful because it can lead to more and more of these blind spots. If you think you’re perfect and have it all figured out, you’re likely to never change course no matter how destructive it may be. Very dangerous!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Such a well-written response! Thanks for sharing your ideas. This post gets more interesting the more I think about it so I think I might just re-blog it… you did an amazing job!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on BlueFishh and commented:
    I would 100% recommend following ‘The Daytime Renegade’ if, like me, you love thinking about things to the next level. Not only are the posts so well-written and concise (something I can only dream to achieve), they leave you with thoughts that you can carry throughout your day-to-day lives. The ideas are more than deep, they’re profound.

    This post, in particular, talks about an idea that kind of scares me as much as it opens my eyes to the reality of my being, as well as yours. So, enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well-written. It’s such an important issue, but people rarely have the courage to think beyond this ‘normal’ and most of them are so caught up in their beliefs that they live their lives completely devoid of metacognition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Daytime Renegade says:

      Glad you enjoyed the load Tatyana–thanks for commenting!

      It’s a constant struggle that I know I face: Filtering what I hear and making sure that I don’t accept it “just because.” I think everyone needs some beliefs that originate *somewhere,* but it’s always good to question the “why” as you say. Why is something “acceptable” and something not? Who says?

      Just stuff to think about.

      Liked by 1 person

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