Thursday, 3 August 2017

Thought 563: Individual v Societal Maladjustment

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." - Jiddu Krishnamurti
A quote such as the above highlights the concept of societal maladjustment (as evidenced by the expression 'sick society') as opposed to mere individual maladjustment, such as when someone has addiction problems, is isolated, is unemployed, has a mental illness, engages in criminal or threatening conduct and so forth. 

As I hinted in my Daily Mail Readers post, people of a conservative bent are far more likely to blame individuals for their (perceived) problems than 'society' - whose existence Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously put into question - whereas individuals of a progressive bent are usually quite explicit about things wrong with society itself and how these cases of societal maladjustment, so to speak, directly or indirectly lead to instances of apparent individual maladjustment. 

For example, lack of sexual education in schools and families - an alleged case of societal maladjustment - is said to lead to an increase in the amount of teenage pregnancies and risky sexual behaviour, i.e. alleged cases of individual maladjustment. 

Going further, a society founded on capitalist principles which put money and greed before people and their welfare (i.e. a society where those of the 'greed is good' philosophy are in power), and denies the social value of a service or organisation unless it makes a lot of money (such as low-paid care work and public libraries), will lead to the Donald Trumps of this world all coming into positions of power and influence at the expense of the empathetic, compassionate and ethical. 

This latter example would of course be seen as societal maladjustment by progressives but as rightful occurrence by conservatives who would interpret the aforementioned empathetic types as themselves being maladjusted as opposed to money-driven power mongers like Donald Trump who are in fact very well adjusted to society as it is, i.e. where money and greed are the name of the game, even though this manifestation of society be deemed sick by less money-orientated demographics of the population. 

The main insight to be drawn from this writing is simply that the question of adjustment, whether social or individual, is actually a value judgement symptomatic of our modern way of life where, things no longer being purely determined by the will of God as in pre-modern perception, each and everyone is accountable for his actions, including society itself, and that there is such a thing as wrong, i.e. maladjusted, actions which lead to negative consequences, whether for individuals or the whole of society.

The secondary insight is that, depending on political sensibility and persuasion, some, of a more right-wing and conservative bent, will tend to focus more on individual maladjustment as being the cause of problems occurring - not for once questioning the general values or systems of control propagated by society with which these conservative individuals usually identify - whereas other, more left-wing and critical individuals, will tend to emphasise societal maladjustment, i.e. things wrong with society's values and way of doing things, as leading to individual cases of so-called maladjustment.

Addendum - Although not the exact topic of this post, it should be noted that different sides of the political spectrum can and do have different views on what constitutes 'maladjustment', since some may find creative bohemian types to be (socially) maladjusted whereas others will find corporate workers to be (internally) maladjusted - an odd reversal of the individual/societal model above.