The Discordian Non-Coalition

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, May 30, 2011 | Published in

Thanks to a suggestion by Jerry Coyne on his blog Why Evolution is True I've been reading Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer. (And by recently I mean over the last 3 months. I'm a notoriously slow reader when it comes to books.) It's a very interesting book in that it tackles religion from the perspective of anthropology while other books on the subject that I have read have used the routes of evolutionary psychology, cognitive science and lots and lots of sex.

Boyer does a good job of tying a lot of things together like why human inference systems like to create supernatural beings, why funerals and weddings are so important, why religions that are based on holy books are so different from "native" religions, and, definitely the most interesting to me, why coalitions are so important to society.
One of the most solid and famous findings of social psychology is that it is trivially easy to create strong feelings of group membership and solidarity between arbitrarily chosen group members. All it takes is to divide a set of participants and assign them to, say, the Blue group and the Red group. Once membership is clearly established, get them to perform some trivial task (any task will do) with members of their team. In a very short time, people are better disposed toward members of their group than toward the others.
- Pascal Boyer - Religion Explained
As someone who is about as social backwards as a slightly retarded chihuahua I've never given much thought to the types of coalitions that make up society. I've never been good at joining or forming coalitions, but more on that later. Coalitions are the glue that keeps any society together. Whether you know it or not you are currently in a coalition with your family, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, your local/state/national governments, and everyone else on this planet. In all of these coalitions you are expected to act a certain way at all times. Your family expects you to have their back, your friends expect you to talk to them every once in awhile, your neighbors expect you to not play your music too loud, your coworkers expect you to do your job on time, your government expects you to not violate someone else's rights, and everyone else expects you to not to go on a killing spree. It's a heavy burden but we all must share it together. Each coalition has its benefits and costs.

Where Discordianism comes into all of this, IMHO, is that Discordianism is very anti-coalitional. At least, it is anti artificial coalitional. What I meant by artificial coalitions are things like organized religions, political parties, schools of philosophy, cults of computer operating systems, etc. Coalitions not of the physical world but of the mental world.
Above an orange couch hung a huge oil painting in an elaborate gilt frame easily a foot deep on all sides. The painting was essentially a cartoon. It showed a man in robes with long, flowing white hair and beard standing on a mountaintop staring in astonishment at a wall of black rock. Above his head a fiery hand traced flaming letters with its index finger on the rock. The words it wrote were: THINK FOR YOURSELF, SCHMUCK!
- Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea - The Illuminatus! Trilogy
One of the most important teachings of Discordianism is that your thoughts should always be your own. You should not adhere too closely to one ideology because there is always the possibility that it could be wrong. Always be ready to walk away from a bad idea. And don't apologize for someone else's ideas just because they happen to attach the sample label that you are currently using.

I think that is why Discordianism has always appealed to people who either cannot or do not want to form coalitions. Discordians are outsiders, by choice or by ineptitude. None of us have the overwhelming desire to belong to just one group. Yes, we use the same label but we always stick apart. We are liberals and libertarians. We are pagans and atheists. We are chaos magicians and staunch rationalists. We are pot heads and Straight Edgers. We are Macs and Linux and PCs. We are always ready to fight to the teeth about these ideas, but we are also ready to drop them like the bad habits they are. We are a non-coalition of fools ready to protect each other from the other coalitions.

(3) Comments

  1. Anonymous

    You might want to look into reading this book: http://www.amazon.com/Imagined-Communities-Reflections-Origin-Nationalism/dp/0860915468

    It discusses the idea of imagined communities, which you referred to as artificial coalitions, in great detail.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:28 PM
  2. Rev. Ouabache said...

    Looks like a good book. And it's available for Kindle. It's going on my Wish List.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:01 PM
  3. Anonymous

    Fuck yea! I am your new secret admirer.

    December 21, 2011 at 7:00 PM

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