Hypernormative Culture Awareness Month

The definition of normality in the industrial era is based on the metaphor of society as a factory and on the metaphor of people as machines. Our laws and social norms have been shaped by these metaphors to a far greater extent than most people are able to comprehend without an in-depth explanation.

Diagnostic criteria for hypernormative societies

  1. A culture based on the an industrial factory model of society that wrongly assumes that all human children develop along a path of universally applicable milestones
  2. A culture that indoctrinates children in cultural techniques and tools via an “education” system based on age cohorts that actively encourages individual competition and obedience within a hierarchical structure of social power differentials
  3. A culture that pathologises the neurological diversity of humans and any interests, capabilities, sensitivities, and limitations that diverge from a culturally predefined set of quantifiable “norms”
  4. A culture that elevates pseudo-scientific techniques of psychological child abuse to the status of remedial “therapy to maximise conformance with social “norms”
  5. A culture that is built on anthropocentric myths of human superiority and technological “progress”
  6. A culture that insists that people need to “earn” a living instead of appreciating the diversity of possible human life paths
  7. A culture with a social operating system that denies innate collaborative capacities that differentiate the human species from other primate species, wrongly assuming that individual social competition is the main driver of human cultural evolution
  8. A culture that allows an Autism Industrial Complex to emerge and become a profitable multi-billion dollar busyness opportunity
  9. A culture that has led to a growing number of existential threats and that is incapable of dealing effectively with any of these threats
  10. A culture that elevates the religious belief in continuous abstract “economic growth” to a law of nature

From the perspective of any human scale culture that has any level of appreciation for biological life, a hypernormative culture with the above characteristics is denying the wonder of life, the complexity of living systems, and the endless possibilities for developing de-powered human cultures.

Industrialised functioning

The three tools of the trade for “success” at the competitive social game are:

  1. persuasive story telling,
  2. the strategic use of plausibly deniable lies – which some autism researchers celebrate as the “valuable” capacity for flexible deception,
  3. and the art of bullying to the limits of what is deemed socially acceptable in specific contexts.

Our current globalised industrialised society is best understood as a cult. All people who are unable to or hesitate to play the competitive social game are systematically disadvantaged and pathologised.

The pathology paradigm ensures that all defective people are identified, and to the greatest possible extent, are corrected by suitable therapies and medical interventions, to get as close to normal “functioning” as possible. The diagnostic criteria for hypernormative societies can be traced back to the implicit assumptions of the pathology paradigm. It is impossible to take most “autism research” seriously, because it brims with circular reasoning and cultural bias. The pseudo-science used to justify pathologisation is a reflection of the exploitative nature of “civilised” industrialised society.

Industrialised society has become increasingly normative in many ways. The term “hypernormalisation”, coined in the Soviet era, and transposed into the Western context in an extended documentary by Adam Curtis (2016), is quite appropriate.

April is Hypernormative Culture Awareness Month. Please spare a moment for all culturally well adjusted people, who are unable to speak about their many fears and the many sources of cognitive dissonance in their lives. We can support them by nurturing shared understanding in a deceptive world.

Ban of conversion therapies

I can not imagine the horrors that some Autistic children must go through today, when exposed to intensive “early intervention” autistic “conversion therapy”, i.e. 20 to 40 hours of what is known as Applied Behaviour Analysis or Positive Behaviour Support. Autistic children are systematically taught that their needs and feelings don’t matter at all. All that matters are the demands of “therapists” (maybe better “the rapists”), and ambitious parents and teachers who are concerned about “functioning levels” according to a fictitious and irresponsibly simplistic model of “human development” that simply ignores the diversity of human neurocognitive functioning and lived experience.

Please join us. Now is the time to act and ban all forms of “conversion therapy”, including conversion therapies that target Autistic children, which are often branded as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) or Positive Behaviour Support (PBS). The time for change is now.

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15 Responses

  1. One effect of automation and industrial output was a rise in the desirability of labor unions and other forms of collective bargaining. Craft guilds have certainly been around for a considerable amount of time.

  2. Hey Jorn, love your work. Can I ask what’s your MBTI personality type, if you’re aware of it?

    1. I don’t pay too much attention to diagnostic or personality type labels as they can detract from important nuances that lie beyond the perspectives of any attempt at categorisation. I am familiar with the MBTI categories and the four binary choices you have to make to arrive at a label. Within that framework INTJ roughly corresponds to my way of experiencing and interacting with the world. But to understand each other’s viewpoints to any helpful level, we need to have a much deeper dialogue than one about type indicators. Having said that, I do find the notion of ‘Autistic ways of being’ very helpful to connect with others who are sensitive enough to be incapable of going along with all the cognitive dissonance that is baked into the social operating systems of current industrialised societies.

      1. I was almost forced to take one for biology class back in high school, but intuitively rejected doing so. I agree with your observations about the trouble with these personality type categorizations. In addition, I find type indicators to be yet another way for individuals in this culture to create an external identity label that they can be defined by and attach to their personal branding so as to temporarily satisfy their desire to belong to an arbitrarily defined clique and signal themselves as healthy conformers to the meta-clique (i.e., this hypernormative society) of all who subscribe to the faux-scientificality of type indicators.

  3. Colonialist capitalism is horrible; it’s the antithesis of community, love, and compassion which we all need to thrive and survive, autistic or not !! Amazing piece. I would recommend anyone reading this comment to look at @wokescientist’s page on Instagram. She has also created so many pieces about this type of stuff.

  4. ‘The antithesis of community, love, and compassion’ is a good way of summarising the effects of all powered-up superhuman scale societies, including all forms of colonialist capitalism. I think it’s important to emphasise the toxicity of all forms of social power gradients, and to never lose sight of the reality and unavoidability of human cognitive limits, which limits any human comprehensible forms of social organisation to human scale. Only then do we have a rough idea of how to navigate the path ahead, without falling into the trap of constructing yet again further variants of superhuman scale systems of oppression. Any social operating system that ticks one or more of the boxes of the diagnostic criteria outlined above should be viewed with utmost suspicion.

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