Firstly I'd like to thank you for raising this issue. I happen to be developing ideas along very similar lines at the moment so I am intrigued aso to your thoughts on the matter.
Trevor wrote:In order for society to function men need to be kept in check.
If you accept a computational model of society, then I would say this follows yes.
Folk tales, mythology, religion all served to steer men in a certain direction.But they were/are inadequate.
I don't think it's a case of they were inadequate
rather that the imagination got muddled with the underlying moral impetus; ethical doctrines become less convoluted and more solvable when one accepts a naturalist, scientific, empirical conception of reality. For example christian ethics and it's illogical dedication to an external existence.
So, today, Law, more precisely, the fear of punishment control men. Accepted behaviour is 'virtue.' Unacceptable 'vice.' Moral/Immoral. Good/Evil. Legal/Illegal.
I feel that your pejorative tone suggests you feel this is deplorable? Have I got that right?
It's sort of a tricky one because the state needs
to control mass behaviour to a certain extent; a civil society cannot function if it's participants had equal power to the sovereign because any tom dick and harry could abuse that power. It is because the sovereign control the limits of the power of it's subjects that it's subjects are not susceptible to eating each other. (Thomas Hobbes state of nature)
Particular ways of life are more encouraged than others. For the benefit of society. You pass through the educational system gaining a number of certificates and qualifications. You then enter into larger society and your role as an economic entity begins. You consume according to your tastes and your ability to do so. You assist in the turning of the economic cogs that enable society to tick. From hereonin life is a series of checks, you get married etc. produce kids, and then they basically do the same shit as you did. They repeat the cycle.
These "particular ways of life" are encouraged because the state and it's participants find them to benefit their own interests. Hence the jokers laconic line of "Have you ever noticed no one complains about actions that go with "the plan"; even if the actions are horrifying?".
But what happens if you reject this way of life? How far can it/should, the rejection, be taken?
"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Nietzsche
If you maintain your existence within the society and that which you have rejected, are you a hypocrit? Or merely a theoretical rebel?
I would say neither, but if I had to I would say one out of your two options: theoretical rebel. I think you are just an individual who thinks about your own values and following your own logic. You only continue to participate in any decadent practices of the civil society because you have to to survive. The individual struggles to survive by his own means.
Should compromises be made? If you utter the words freedom and independance, then what obligation do you have to these ideals in order to be a man of his word, or of his own ideals before they are merely lib service to another pretender? Should you become an enemy of the state?
Probably. It depends what you mean by "freedom". As a member of a civil society you can never be absolutely free. What would you consider "freedom" in the civil society?
And what are you to do if there is no foundation to what you believe to be your moral system?
One should probably never base a moral decision on something over than atleast logic of any order. If you believe in your head (and not heart) that your moral system is justified then back it. Even if you are wrong you're error is not from irrationality. What do you think?
Oh, and one ought not underestimate the importance of thinking for yourself; even if you think woeful ideas!
One does not easily suffer tryants but in monarchies we enamour several of them at once.