Today, we will explore the “8th-grade civics” mindset: what it is, why it’s terrible, and how to think differently.
Table of Contents
- What Is 8th Grade Civics Mentality?
- Why Is 8th Grade Civics Mentality Unhealthy?
- Firstly, these lies made us believe institutions care about resolving issues.
- Secondly, these lies absolved us of direct, personal action and responsibility regarding societal and individual issues.
- How Do You Overcome A Belief In 8th Grade Civics?
- Firstly, accept that 8th-grade civics was propaganda.
- Secondly, figure out your bare minimum when it comes to societal involvement.
- Lastly, figure out what you need to do to improve yourself, overcome your trauma, and become a stronger individual.
- Remember: You Have To Save Yourself
What Is 8th Grade Civics Mentality?
When presented with a societal problem, most people think simplistically. I call this thinking “8th-grade civics” because the attitudes behind such thinking originate from the days of youth.
In civics class, teachers told us how the government was supposed to work: checks and balances, impartial judges, due process, fair taxation, and so forth. When confronted with real-world issues, most people will revert to this line of thinking. Unfortunately, they believe this imaginary perfect system will fix our various social ills, even though government officials are never interested in helping anyone.
Why Is 8th Grade Civics Mentality Unhealthy?
“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking…” – Leo Tolstoy
Life is difficult, messy, and complicated, and people refuse to engage with the complexity of social ills. We prefer the comforts of lies such as “the government cares about us. We just need the right people in power.” Or “voting makes a difference” and so on. We were taught these lies at a young age. Unfortunately, these falsehoods define our thinking and ensure two things:
- Firstly, these lies made us believe institutions care about resolving issues. For example, we support our military, assuming they are the bulwark between us and tyranny. Because of our support, we fail to see the evils the military commits and how we have become less free even as the military has claimed more power in the fight for “freedom.”
- Secondly, these lies absolved us of direct, personal action and responsibility regarding societal and individual issues. For example, if we believe that the government “helps the poor,” we won’t do it ourselves. Why donate money or time to helping others when we already vote and pay taxes to help the poor?
Both aspects above form the 8th-grade civics mindset. If you believe institutions will resolve your issues, you will hand over power to these institutions. You will refuse to see how you can handle your problems without permission from the state. Secondly, if you believe you are “off the hook” for resolving personal and societal issues, then such issues will fester and grow. Such growth will increase dysfunction within a society.
And the government always benefits from dysfunction because it allows justification for more power grabs. Therefore, the 8th-grade civics mentality was embedded in you and everyone else to simplify power consolidation for the ruling classes.
How Do You Overcome A Belief In 8th Grade Civics?
- Firstly, accept that 8th-grade civics was propaganda. The ruling classes do not support or create systems that ensure personal strength or freedom. Therefore, do not believe in the benevolence of the state. You are more capable of saving yourself and helping your neighbor than the government is.
- Secondly, figure out your bare minimum when it comes to societal involvement. Stop believing you need to go above and beyond, arguing on the internet, rallying all the time, and doing whatever. Do what you can to participate in the system, but your focuses are self-improvement and community. The world is on its path of self-destruction and will not stop its course. Prepare yourself accordingly.
- Lastly, figure out what you need to do to improve yourself, overcome your trauma, and become a stronger individual. Do not reflect heavily on the world and the culture. People will do what they’ve always done. Your goal is to survive the consequences of their stupidity. Your best chance at happiness and survival is to strengthen yourself through skill growth and overcome your flaws and traumas.
At the core of overcoming the 8th-grade civics mindset is self-improvement. If you take responsibility for your life, you will have little use for the lies you were fed as a child.
Remember: You Have To Save Yourself
We maintain the mindset that the ruling class cares about us because we do not want to accept that the system is broken and no one will or can repair it. We do not want to accept that the government, by its very nature, will always be corrupt, bloated, and destructive. That anything short of the most stringent minarchism will work.
But above all else, we do not wish to accept that we have to save ourselves. The government will not give you free healthcare – you must take better care of your health. The government will not increase your wages – you must increase the value of your labor. The police will not protect you – you must learn to defend yourself. The schools will not teach the values of your forefathers and the morality of your country’s history – you must do that yourself.
There is no escaping personal responsibility. From the right to the left to the communists and the traditionalists, everyone desperately wants to believe that government will save them from exercising self-control, forward-thinking, and personal responsibility.
Do not despair. Let go of 8th-grade civics. Vote when it matters or maybe attend a rally. But your business will be saved by your ingenuity; your better habits will improve your health; your mindset will sharpen because of your discipline.
Please do not give up on yourself.
“To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to go right in someone else’s.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky
- What lies about the state from your youth do you still believe? Why do you think you’re emotionally attached to these lies?
- What lies from your youth have you overcome? How does it feel to not believe what you know to be untrue?
- Are there any lies you are fed as an adult that you can readily identify? Are there any that you can’t? It’s worth questioning the narratives that you hear.
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.