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Karel Donk has some intriguing thoughts on ‘maximising the upside’ of life, by reducing dependence on other people, status and possessions, so that there is less to lose:

So one of the important things in life is to be as independent as possible and rely on very few things. After all, when it comes down to it, the only thing you can really and always depend on in life is yourself. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t want a lot of things in life. Want and have as much as you like, but require as little as possible. This is the simple rule you can use to guide you in making decisions about what you want to depend on in life.

Interestingly, he also hits on the ‘architectures of control’ issue, briefly:

Today’s world, and indeed for a very very long time now, is structured in such a way where people are directed, if not forced, to become dependent. Dependent on the system, or dependent on others. When you do enough research, you will find that this is all by design. I won’t go into details in this post, but certainly will in the future. For now it’s enough to note that this is by design. The reason why things are set up in this way is of course to be able to control people and limit their freedoms. When people depend on you, you can manipulate them into behaving the way you want. Because they depend on you, they have little choice but to go along with anything you say because they fear losing what they get from you. By definition if someone depends on someone else, or something else, that person has something to lose.

I’m looking forward to reading Karel’s future thoughts on this. Creating dependence, or at least creating a need/desire/requirement to consume more, is a fair characterisation of many architectures of control we’ve looked at on this site, from printer cartridge sneakiness to outright chemical addiction; whether a simple razor-blade model (you need to buy more of this, because it’s the only thing that fits) or something more sinister, Karel is right: the common thread is dependence.

To a large extent, I think this is why education is so important. If we understand the systems around us, technical, political and cultural, we are able to make (better) decisions for ourselves. If, however, we ‘leave it up to others who understand all that stuff’, we become dependent on them.


  1. Don

    I love the second quote, but I am wary of the thinking prevalent in the first. It’s something I’ve been tackling with for years, but Jung sums it up nicely:

    Where love reigns there is no will to power; and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking. The one is but the shadow of the other.

    True independence is synonymous with the will to power, imho. Communities rise around passions, and I believe that dependency – if we’re to use that term – is necessary, but in a complimentary way?

    Though I firmly believe we can transcend the needs of everyday life through processes available to us by turning inward, the experience of the community and culture/arts depend on interdependency.

    What I enjoy about your work here is the focus on choice. Too many communities and cultures are built on what I refer to as the lowest cultural denominator. Or as Daniel Goleman said:

    The range of what we think and do
    is limited by what we fail to notice.
    And because we fail to notice
    that we fail to notice
    there is little we can do
    to change
    until we notice
    how failing to notice
    shapes our thoughts and deeds.

  2. frik---

    Just today i’ve decide to sign off from a newsletter related to a well known defragmenting software.

    I’ve come to this because their NL sends you weekly the same message, (although in different ways): BUY! BUY! BUY OUR AWESOME, UNIQUE, PRODUCT!!! BIG DISCOUNTS FOR THIS WEEK! (every week is the same, different words, same concept..)

    Ok, i choose to unsubscribe, and the automated email system sends you a confirmation:

    Unsubscribe From Our Mailings
    We have unsubscribed frik@””
    Please allow up to 10 days for us to update our records. Customers will continue to receive transactional email, such as receipts. You may re-subscribe to our mailing list at any time.

    Ok, then.. why the system needs up to 10 days to sign me off, and in the other hand if i register to the NL, they don’t wait 10 days to send me invitations to BUY?

    Maybe i’m a little paranoid, these are my 5 cents.

    Feel free to criticize my EN, that is not my first language 🙂

  3. Tina

    Spread it to the people! <3

    The society does not care, as long as they maintain control of the masses.

    F.i, in my country, Norway,
    the state fools the people to believe they are free,
    when they are actually steered by mod-communism.

    Massmedia / large newspapers / television,
    Paralyse and distract, program & limit our minds.
    Providing contentment and an ever-repeating form for information.
    People stop their search for answers.

    This is really worrying me these days.
    What will happen to our next generations?
    Will ignorance become "the new way" ????

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