Why deviants of the world will never unite

Frank Zappa once said that the world cannot progress without deviation. That’s why deviants are so necessary.

One can quibble over the definition of “progress” but if you replace it with the word “change”, then Zappa’s judgement seems to ring universally true.

The world cannot change without deviation. Without deviation, to the right, to the left, up or down, everything stays as it is. It stagnates. It dies. Life is constant movement. Doing something. Anything. Just doing. The moment you stop doing you stop being. And every movement is a deviation from some previous position.

You can, of course, move straight ahead and will achieve something that could be perceived as progress. It may bring some change over time, but gradually. If it’s faster and more fundamental change that you seek, you must deviate from the norm. Leave the beaten path. Break out of the box. (Pick your metaphor.)

Global society must move to stay alive as well, which is why it has constantly changed over the last 30 thousand years. Some will say “progressed”, but that’s an argument that will persist until the proverbial cows come home. (Cows move too.)

Definitions of progress are based on designations of what is good and what is bad. Values. But even the endless arguments over values and the purpose of life (progress presumes a purpose) are another form of movement, action, and activity that keeps us alive and kicking. Disagreeing over progress always brings change in some form or another.

It applies to each of us individually and to society as a whole. We do because we must. What we do has no higher purpose than that which we ourselves give it. And it’s the clash of purposes that brings about change.

Looking over the 30 thousand year timeline of human existence it becomes evident that change in human existence comes about and is largely measured by human conflict. We mark our history by wars, revolutions, and other cataclysmic events. Yes, there are long periods of relative tranquility in between, but the major changes in society take place after conflict of some sort or another.

Deviations. The men who have moved society have been deviants. The movers and shakers. Those who shake things up and bring things down. They are active players who deviate from the norm and send society hurtling into a new direction. Whether what they do is good or bad depends on your point of view. But you can’t deny that they are doers and without them life would stagnate.

Stagnation was a fashionable word in the latter Soviet days but it’s been evident elsewhere whenever a society no longer accepts the status quo and seeks change. The United States I grew up in during the late 60’s was shaking off a period of stagnation and Frank Zappa was one of the many deviant factors that brought about major changes in society.

History shows that human societies have always sought change. Change for the better they hope, but change nevertheless, even if it goes bad.

Which it often does. Change arises from deviation and conflict, and in conflict there are winners and losers. Survival, one of the primal driving forces of life in all its forms, does indeed go to the fittest. While many humans have embraced the concept of equality as a desireable state in society, the very nature of life itself opposes that.

Granted, some life forms such as ants may appear to achieve and accept a state of equality in order to work for a common goal, but even that is impossible without a queen. And compared to all the other ants, equal as they may be, the queen is a deviant. She’s the driving force that keeps those ants moving and alive.

Changes that take place in the animal world are usually not viewed as progress, but simply evolution. A species gets “better” at its primary task – being alive – by evolving over time. Humans have a need to speed up the process.

That’s why we require deviants. We may love them or hate them, but without them nothing would change.

Which raises the question, is change a good thing, in and of itself? Why can’t we reach an acceptable state and keep it that way forever? That’s what Faust wanted, and it took Mephistopheles to remind him that nothing lasts forever. Constant change is the natural condition of life and if you hope to maximize your comfortzone while being alive, you best learn to accept and adapt to change.

And while the vast majority of people on this planet are struggling to accept and adapt to constant change in their lives, some, a select few, are trying to control it, guide it, and drive it. They are the deviants.

Probably the only thing deviants could ever unite on is their common desire to inaugurate change. And that’s good. Because if all the deviants of the world agreed on which way to go and why, they would cease to be deviants. And nothing would change.

August 30, 2017