Cogs Have to Be Ground Down

One of the things our schools and universities do is prepare us for a life in the world. And the world, that society is largely made up of cogs. Cogs have to be ground down to fit in, to work together, to obey social and institutional rules. In return we can build things greater than any one person or small group could manage. But there is a trade off, that while I am fine with, I can absolutely accept that some people would not be.

The lesson is that sometimes you do have to bend the knee. You will have a boss, or a cop, or a bureaucrat and they have the power to make your life pretty horrible. Either because they want to or because of Molochian incentives. So school and college in part exist to crush people into cogs. To sand off rough edges.

I don't think he deserved to be expelled for whatever we want to call that initial incident. It didn't warrant anything. But he then came across like a dick (that's the technical term!) in the interview with people who are within the context of the institution his betters and his superiors. The wielders of social and institutional power. He showed that he was not a cog. But schools exist to make cogs. If you don't buckle down to their authority, then you likely won't buckle down to the authority of your boss in 4 years. So with that in mind they were "right" to expel him.

People ask why teachers force petty rules on kids and the like, and part of the reason is because you will be subject to petty rules and rule enforcers your whole life, and learning to live with that is an important part of what we call today socialization.

I can already hear the libertarian hearts racing, not least u/KulakRevolt so I will say that I am actually sympathetic here. I don't necessarily think this is the best way to run things, and I think it does make things difficult for contrarians and people who would have preferred to live beyond the wall among the freefolk. But a society of contrarians is not a cohesive society at all. Cogs are necessary for our current civilization and so that is what we churn out.

The young man in question is not a cog. He doesn't think like a cog and nor was he willing to fake it which is the other alternative route often taken. Nor do many of the people here. But most universities and schools (with a few exceptions) want to make cogs. You pass tests, you learn, you defer to your teachers, you learn to fit in. Society, civilization is built upon millions of millions of cogs. Some cogs are small and some are large, but cogs are necessary.

There is a cost to individual freedom here I acknowledge. And while I think it is worth the price for the wonders it has built, there definitely is a trade off and I do think that deserves to be acknowledged. Whether that was gays who refused to conform, or anti-SJ types today, there will always be those who will pay the price for refusing to be shaped. Who refuse to bend the knee. And I think everyone should have the right to make that choice. But it should be made knowing that a billion cogs will grind on nonetheless and the system is not merciful to those who may gum up the works.

That said, there will always be need for iconoclasts and free thinkers, but society just doesn't need very many of those and the ones it does need have to be strong and adamant enough to stand against the cog machine and shape it. Those people do tend to be remembered while most cogs will not be. But most potential agents of change either get ground down into unhappy cogs or shatter under the strain I think. High risk..high reward.

Again if I had have been on the panel as an academic, I wouldn't have voted to expel him. But he was resisting societal arrest and just as we see with police, that will sometimes have consequences. He would (perhaps?) have been better served by following the rules lawyers often give when dealing with the police. Stay calm, cooperate to the extent you are required. Don't resist arrest. Be polite. It doesn't mean the police aren't behaving badly, but being belligerent is not going to end well when they are the wielders of physical power. Social power is a weapon all the same and the panel were its wielders (though there may yet be a weapon against this, crowd sourced pressure can flip the script in some cases.)

But then again, if he had done that, he would be a cog. And perhaps that he cannot be.