Propaganda

Average humans are stupid, but not completely stupid. If the poor vote for tax cuts for the rich, it is not necessarily because they are stupid. They might simply be lickspittles who see a position as the rich man's loyal dog or hired gun as their only hope for advancement in life. The Jesuits famously say, "Give me the child until he is seven and I'll give you the man." But that is because the children know the Jesuits teach the sorts of songs the rich and powerful want to hear, and that is why they eagerly learn these songs and sing them later in life. If the Jesuits had a reputation for teaching songs the rich and powerful don't want to hear, the children would likely refuse to learn. Recall how the highly disciplined Nazis of East Germany converted themselves overnight into highly disciplined communists upon falling under Soviet rule, switching from reciting Hilter's slogans to those of Marx and Lenin without even missing a beat. "Whose bread I eat, his song I sing! Whose bread I plan to eat, his song I want to learn, so teach me that song, that I may sing it!"

This is not to say there is no such thing as social conditioning or that social conditioning is not difficult to overcome. On the contrary, the difficulty of enlightenment is precisely the point of this document. What is important to understand is that social conditioning is ultimately based on real power relationships, and not just empty words. People believe God is a man in the sky because that belief is rewarded in some situations. Others believe in the non-existence of God (or rather the importance of publicly proclaiming the non-existence of God, since belief in non-existence is meaningless), because they anticipate being rewarded for this belief. Take away the rewards (or punishments, as the case may be), and the beliefs also disappear. All learning is via sticks and carrots, never by mere words.

Though social conditioning usually reflects real power relationships, it doesn't always reflect them perfectly. Which is why revolt again social conditioning, also known as seeking enlightenment, is normally necessary. Nor is the deviation between social conditioning and reality necessarily intentional on the part of the teacher. Sometimes there are simply mistakes in the learning process and who knows what direction these mistakes may take. Our Jesuit may teach that God is all-powerful and thus we must obey God and do his will. The child, for who knows what reason, may learn that God is all-evil and thus we should do the opposite of what God says. Incidentally, both of these views are wrong in most cases, in the sense that neither of them is normally conducive to the highest happiness. Someone who only does what God wants (unquestioning obedience of society's moral code) will likely be depressed (excessive repression). Someone who deliberately disobeys God (deliberately defies society's moral code) will likely end up in prison or worse.