Footnote: Personality Type and The Social Order

Western neo-liberal capitalism is a form of socio-economy with a chokingly narrow modus operandi, which is essentially out-of-tune with most human beings. Indeed, it is totally incompatible with one in every 70 individuals; that's 100 million people worldwide. So should it have a place here? [PDF] [Português]

I am perfectly content and at ease with the natural environment of the bounteous planet on which I live and the universe beyond it. With these I have no conflict. Yet I feel an overwhelming incompatibility with human society, particularly the one in which I was born, raised and spent the greater part of my life. Notwithstanding, I do not find it difficult to construct in my imagination the form, tenets and protocols of a social order that would be benign to all, including the elite of the present order.

I can say, in all honesty, that I have worked extremely hard throughout my entire life. Yet now in 2020 — my 78th year — I am in receipt of a total per­sonal income of £92.49 per week [US $107.62], which is reluctantly given by a society that officially regards me as a lazy good-for-nothing layabout. That is 28% of the contemporary UK minimum wage and 16% of the UK average wage.

This amount is not inflation prot­ected. It will stay at that figure for the rest of my life, provided it does not disappear al­together as a result of some kind of 'administrative oversight'. This means that in 10 years time [if I am still alive] it will have only half the buying power it has now.

Hard work and no money suggests to me that I must be somehow incompatible with the economic system under which I am constrained to live. So what precisely is the nature of this incompatibility?

It is not a lack of relevant technical skills, talents or abilities. I have plenty of these. It is not lack of motivation: I have always driven myself hard. I am naturally self-motivated. So it must be something to do with the way I interact with society. Yet I have researched, learned and applied all the established approaches and proced­ures for acquiring work and doing business. I have been honest and truthful in my interactions with people, so the fault is not with my character [although I concede that honesty and truthfulness do not appear to be attributes of those who succeed in business]. The only thing left that could be the culprit of my incompatibility with the incumbent social order is my personality.

My Personality

I am an obsessively hard worker: a self-motivated perfectionist. I relish long periods free from interruption and distraction so that I can concentrate on my current ob­session. I am very sensitive to sound. I remember crying all the way through a drum recital by an older pupil at an end of term function at my pre-infants school. Even today, extraneous sounds easily annoy me and significantly disrupt my think­ing. I have zero tolerance for lies, whether heinus or simply idle bullshit, because their content has no part with universal reality. I am a deeply caring person and feel empathy with others in both joy and suffering. The problem is that it does not show in my face or body language. My generally expressionless face seems to convey that I have an air of arrogance towards people. Although I am not in the least arro­gant, this perception on the part of others imposes a communication barrier, gener­ating within me a social ineptness that cuts me off from people.

As a result, I was bullied: not so much at school but certainly on the 16 mile bus ride I had to take every morning and evening. This bullying was perpetrated en­tirely by pupils from other schools who did not know me well. The bullying was done entirely by girls. I suffered this for 5 long years, until a female teacher from one of those other schools befriended me and we sat together on the bus and talked about life, the universe and everything. I can fully understand that my personality must have appeared weird to these bus kids. I don't criticise them for being offended. But their reaction: that of relentless bullying, I consider to be in­excusable. My social ineptness hit home when, while in the sixth form, my father forcefully criticised me for never having brought a girl home to visit. Truth is, I did not know any.

My parents seemed to me to be excessively intolerant of me but not of my sister. I could say something which to me appeared quite casual and trivial, which would precipitate a tirade from my mother and anger in my father. Life was like walking on egg shells, wondering when I would next get my head blown off and not know­ing why. My father used to clout me over the head for saying things and I could not understand what I had said that was so offensive. It alienated me from him. If it happened in formal company he would scold me, broadcastingly call me an idiot and cold-shoulder me for the rest of the time. In fairness to my father, he did have a brain injury during the Second World War, which changed his person­ality. This probably also affected my mother. I don't think my parents had any idea that I was somehow 'different'.

The summer I was 10 was the last time I ever went on holiday with my parents. My father had said that I always ruined their holidays. I had no idea why and he would not elaborate. On the other hand, my sister — as a child and later throughout her married life until my parents died — always went on holiday with them. After I was 10, I spent my summer holiday time with my grandparents. When I was 13 my father took me to a YMCA camp in the Lake District. I was sent back there each year alone from then on. When I was 14, I was abused there by a homosexual staff member. When I went there with a school friend, at the age of 16, I was falsely accused by the camp chief of molesting little boys. The accusation, I discovered, was originated by the homosexual who had abused me 2 years earlier. After that, I spent my holidays at home alone.

When I entered the world of work, my bosses and work colleagues complained that my facial expression conveyed nothing about how I felt or what I was thinking. They said I would make an excellent poker player, although I wouldn't really because I can't stand games. It seems that when I thought I was reacting facially — smiling, for instance — my physical face was not smiling: it was still blank or was projecting some other inappropriate expression. It was only my mind that was smiling. Not­withstanding, as time passed, I began to master the art of hiding or circumventing my personality, and the facial non-expressions it precipitated, by role-acting rote-learned social norms. However, the mental overload of this continuous role-playing was extremely fatiguing. During the 1970s, I worked in an office located in the tran­quillity of an old mansion – way out on a country estate. There, while my colleagues went to a local country pub at lunchtimes, I would head off down a forest path, spending the lunch hour just walking alone in order to take a break from the stress of my continuous role-act.

I can neither bestow nor accept deference, even if I try to pretend. I am far too transparent. I also have an inherent distrust for all forms of authority. The notions of deference and hierarchy are anathema to me. Thus, at work, I did not accept willingly the concept of a boss telling me what to do. Fortuitously, I always seemed to fall into a job in which I was essentially self-managing. This began because I was a programmer in a company where management knew practically nothing about programming. The use of computers was very new. Later employers seemed to relish my self-managing aspect because it saved them the task of man­aging me.

I do not see truth as a function of location, circumstance or company, although I would have no compunction about lying to save life. This makes me liable, at times, to say what most would consider to be inappropriate. Such often merely comprises overtly blunt truths, which people generally consider better not said or at least kept from view or circumvented. At work, this led to my gaining a reputation with man­agement for being what they termed "undiplomatic". While at college in 1962 I told a joke which my greatly revolted colleagues considered totally inappropriate for the company present. I couldn't see why at the time. I also have a propensity for pro­viding what most would term "too much information", which contrasts sharply with their complaints that my facial expression and body language provide too little.

I feel uncomfortable as part of a group of more than 4 or 5 other people. In a group of more than 7, I tend to stay silent and unassertive. Consequently, I never had many 'friends'.

At school, these were almost invariably colleagues who shared the same narrow interest. At primary school, I was one of 3 introverted friends who always went around together. Our common interest was to 'investigate' all kinds of 'suspicious' objects and events within our school locality. On pressure from my father, I diverted one day to try to take part in an informal football match with the friends of the son of one of my father's friends. This happened only once but I was devastated when my original two friends shunned me from then onwards. The football match had been a lost cause from the outset. I am physically clumsy, although not obviously so. Nonetheless, lack of physical coordination means that I can't play football or cricket because I can neither throw, catch nor kick a ball. It just doesn't work, no matter how hard I try or how long I practice. At my secondary school, I was again one of 3 somewhat introverted friends. We were linked by a common interest in short-wave radio. I also remember spending much time at home alone happily pur­suing this hobby of building and operating short-wave radios and erecting varieties of aerials and antennas.

On the other hand, I can give talks to large audiences. But this is not an interactive situation: it is a monologue. I remember giving the most enthusiastically received sixth form talk of my year to all three sixth form classes combined presided over by the headmaster. It was a heavily illustrated talk about the history of guns for which I borrowed a large number of small arms from a friend of my father's who was a gun collector.

I have always had great difficulty interacting with people and forming lasting rel­ationships. When I left school I immediately lost touch with my 'friends'.

I hate team sports. I was forced to play football at one school, rugby at another and cricket at both. I am definitely NOT a team player. On the other hand, I love running because here I 'compete' only with myself and the clock. Until I was 72 I ran mini and half-marathons.

This reveals another immutable aspect of my personality: I am inherently uncom­petitive. I remember my father chastising me after one primary school parents' meeting because the headmaster had said to him "... he seems to have no desire to beat his peers", in the sportive and academic sense of course. I can never understand society's obsession with competition. It achieves nothing but to dissi­pate the vast majority of human effort working against the efforts of others, there­by neither creating nor producing anything. It seems strange that, having been immersed all my life in a competitive society and raised in a family with an in­grained ethos of competition, I am inherently non-competitive. It is not a reaction on my part: it is simply the way I am.

Being inherently uncompetitive, I naturally embrace the notion of cooper­ation. Sadly, my difficulty in forming relationships with others renders me inept at working or playing with others. Thus, for me, cooperation is extr­emely stressful, even though I relish — indeed crave — the idea.

Even from an early age, examinations were, for me, an impervious barrier to prog­ress. I simply could not pass them. I failed the 11+ examination even though my junior school headmaster had told my parents not to worry and that I would sail through. So I could not go to grammar school. I managed to scrape through the 13+. This was an optional examination taken two years later by those who failed the 11+. So now I could attend grammar school. Through a fortuitous move, I was able to attend the second to top ranked "red brick" grammar school in the UK. I gained English 'O' level a year early [a splinter skill]. But I did badly at 'A' level, having to re-take mathematics a year later at evening class. I tried a diploma in advanced techn­ology and also an external university degree in Maths & Physics. I flunked both. Not­withstanding, these failures were not through lack of effort, know­ledge or ability. I simply had an immovable subconscious contempt for exams. I had no control over this. To me, exams weren't the real thing. They were a sham.

I am an excellent observer. I can focus intensely on detail, but can also zoom inst­antly to, and back from, a grand overview — an ability I am told is quite rare. I am very bad at reading: I am dyslexic and dyscalculic. I have only managed to struggle through very few books in my life. By contrast, I am an excellent writer, having completed a book plus associated articles totalling well over a million words.

I don't understand the notion of monetary value. To me it is a paradox: an artificial elastic ruler used to measure an immense diversity of like against unlike in terms of one single dimensionless unit that is unrelated to physical reality.

I managed to sustain a business for 15 years, mainly from work put my way by a former colleague and also by relatives who had businesses. I approached the task of creating business contacts in a very methodical and systematic way. I planned and drew stylised maps of my proposed territory. I wrote a comprehensive highly efficient contacts management software package, which government sponsored business advisors hailed as the best they had seen and drafted plans for me to sell it big-time. Through fortuitous contacts, I did manage to sell about 15 units, which I understand proved valuable and beneficial to its users. Notwithstanding, I person­ally was completely useless at using my own package. I did not mind sending mail­shots but I hated and dreaded making unsolicited telephone calls. That is because I am clumsy at conversation. I well remember the single telephone response I had to a vast mail-out to the county business association of a brochure designed and pro­duced for me by a professional design house. I was tongue tied and confused, con­sequently losing the contact and any potential business. I also hated and dreaded face-to-face encounters in which I was supposed to try to sell my product and services to business people. So my business gradually petered out to the point where I had to gracefully close it down in April 1991 at the age of 49 and sign on as unemployed. I never again received financial remuneration for my work.

Internally, throughout my entire life, I have been regularly tormented by repeating mental scenarios of horrible past events. These can trigger at any time, whether I am in bed at night, or during the day, but invariable when I am alone. They mostly relate to injustices I have suffered from people in authority, which still perturb me because there is nothing to stop them, or something similar, happening again. They are not dreams. They are devastatingly vivid, true and accurate. Notwithstanding, they have a pos­itive side in that I think the same mechanism that causes them also bestows upon me a propensity for lateral thinking and constructive imagination from which new ideas are born and developed.

What Could I Do?

A person can change his character. For example, he can overcome dishonesty and, by sheer will-power, become honest. Not so with personality. A person's person­ality-type is what he is born with. It may be influenced in some way by his form­ative social or family environment. I don't think science is really sure about this. But in a figurative way, one could say that it's the way his brain's wired. And that is a fait accompli: it is something he cannot do anything about.

Notwithstanding, a person with a particular personality-type can act the role of a fictitious person with a different personality-type. For instance, a geeky introvert can act the role of a flamboyant salesman. I did this. And it worked up to a point. But I al­ways found it difficult and stressful because I knew it was a sham, which I found distasteful. Yet, throughout what should have been my working life, I played this role. But it simply wasn't me. Consequently, when I reached retiring age, I stopped, instantly reverting to the way I really am. I became me again.

From when I signed on as unemployed in April 1991, I was obliged to seek work during every working day. This I did diligently until April 1997. During that 6 years, thoughts had been running through my mind concerning why things were the way they were for me. I was living a wasted life. I knew by then that I had no chance of finding work. So I decided to give myself a job. I knew I could not run a business so I decided to create and pursue a personal project to try to make sense of my life. I started to write. My first written work was a short poem, all of which came into my mind as a torrent of words that just fell into rhyme. For the following 22½ years, with the poem as its basis, I wrote a book accompanied by more than 300 footnote articles, which together returned a count of well over a million words.

In April 1998, I mounted what I had written so far on a web site. That website, en­titled Land, Social Justice, The Universe, Perception & Survival, is now [in December 2019] complete. From 1997 to 2004 I continued my daily task of seeking work as re­quired. However, now seeing this as a futile chore, I gave it only the minimum neces­sary and sufficient time and effort to satisfy the bureaucratic requirements to qualify for the receipt of social security benefit. Finally, frustrated and exhausted by my Draconian life in the UK, I emigrated to Brazil in 2004, where I continued to work full time on my writing, under the unfailing support of a very kind friend.

So What Am I?

In late 2019, a flurry of short news articles appeared on the Web about Asperger's syndrome. On reading these, lots of bells began to ring about my whole life and the problems I had interacting with people and forming lasting relationships. I wanted to find out if I had Asperger's syndrome, but on an income of only £92.49 per week, I was unable to afford diagnosis by a professional psychologist or neurologist. My only option was to seek free psychological battery tests on the Web. I found several that seemed to have good credibility and took three of them.

These tests determined that I am between 67% and 87% neuro­diverse, which, from what I can glean, signifies that I have a form of high-function autism, previously called Asperger's syndrome. My autism-spectrum quotient [AQ] result from a Web-based test devised by the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge is 44. This dis­covery was quite a personal shock at the time, although it gave me a great sense of relief that I now had some kind of "excuse" for my life-long failures: academically, in business and in social rel­ationships. I don't know quite where all this leaves me or where I go from here, if anywhere.

The professionals concede that Asperger's syndrome is not an ill­ness. Neverthe­less, they do refer to it as a developmental defici­ency. This implies that some aspect of the make-up of a person with Asperger's syndrome did not develop correctly or completely. Thus, anybody with a personality-type that sees the world differently from the way the incumbent mainstream sees it must be somehow deficient. It is tantamount to a capitalist reg­arding a socialist as having a deficiency, and vice versa.

Notwithstanding, when I look honestly at myself, the term deficiency does not ap­propriately describe my difference from others. I do not feel deficient: I feel incom­patible, which is definitely not the same thing. And this feeling of incompatibility is with the suffocatingly narrow options that are ruthlessly imposed upon me, by the society in which I am constrained to live, under the threat of State violence, which would surely be unleashed upon me were I to try to follow what I clearly see as the morally correct way.

On the other hand, something that could be termed a deficiency does exist. But this is not part of me: it pertains to my relationships with others. It is to do with the nature of my relationship with society: specifically with the type of society in which I was born and raised. Thus I see Asperger's syndrome as the inevitable deficiency in the relationship between any person with what I would term an Asperger's per­sonality-type and the currently prevailing socio-economic zeitgeist.

Thus, an Asperger's personality is simply a type of personality that just happens to be largely incompatible with the present western social order based on neo-liberal free-market capitalism. Notwithstanding, some people with this personality type do fare well under the present socio-economic system. They fall into niche jobs that thrive on their particular splinter-skills and way of being. But such is inevitably a result of a fortuitous occurrence within a natural lottery orchestrated by the com­plex dynamical behaviour of a socio-economy with the vast population of a modern nation. But if you don't happen, by pure chance, to find yourself in the right place at the right time with the right people in the right circumstances: you lose. This is the way of the neo-liberal free-market system. It bestows health, wealth and happi­ness upon the exigent, relegating the meek to misery and starvation, with a middle majority in a churning cauldron of economic uncertainty.

A socio-economy, governed by nothing other than the natural laws of complex dyn­amics, is red in tooth and claw. It renders government, nation and civilisation point­less. Is this the way it should be? I think not. Sentient man has a conscience, which, in the absence of indoctrination by tyrannical political regimes, would demand that he befriend and care for his fellows. It is for this reason that a social order, regu­lated by law, exists to compensate for the misfortunes of natural chance by helping those who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in need.

The capitalist neo-liberal free market system is a barrier, which separates common man from his natural means of turning his labour into his needs of life. Consequ­ently, for the most part, common man can turn his labour into his needs of life only through an employer. An employer has the power to decide whether or not he will employ a person. Thus, collectively, employers have the power to decide whether or not a particular person shall be permitted to turn his labour into his needs of life.

Employers increasingly use personality tests to filter out all employment candid­ates who do not have what psychologists determine to be ideal employee person­ality types. I did not, by taking thought, select the personality type with which nature en­dowed me. Consequently, it is not my fault that my personality is in­compatible with the narrow modus operandi of the socio-economy within which I was born and am con­strained to live. So is it fair and equitable that, because I was born with what psychologists decree to be the wrong personality-type for an em­ployee, I should be forcibly denied the means to turn my labour into my needs of life? I think not.

Inset: Employers in the IT industry also increasingly use aptitude tests to filter out candidate employees that psychologists determine not to be apt for computer programming. I was an established programmer of merit 10 years before these tests came into vogue. Subsequently, when I applied for new jobs, I had to take an aptitude test. My average score was never more than about 5%. I could never see any connection between these psychologist-devised tests and programming computers. That is one of the reasons I started my own business. Customers didn't presume to pre­sent me with such ridiculous aptitude tests.

A caring king or a benign dictator governs his people with equity. An evil king or a tyrannical dictator enslaves his people in misery. If the citizens of a democracy each votes for policies that suit his own selfish ambitions, without concern for the catastrophic collateral effects those policies may have on some of his fellow citi­zens, then disparity will reign. For democracy to be fair and benign, each must vote for policies he truly believes will create conditions that are fair and satisfactory for everybody. And 1 in every 70 people, within the class called 'everybody', are like me. So clearly, people in general are voting selfishly, not socially.

Inset: I think the above figure of 1 in 70 refers to anybody on the autistic spectrum. Estimates appear fickle, but some sources put the proportion of people worldwide with Asperger's syndrome at around half a percent. It also seems that this proportion is increasing quite noticeably with time. The cause could be improvements in the fine-tuning of diagnostic tests. Notwithstanding, I suspect that the dominant cause is more likely to be the steady but relentless rightward shift of the incumbent socio-economic order, leaving an ever increasing proportion of the population outside its ever narrowing envelope of compatibility. Society is thus becoming ever more exclusive; not only for aspies but for others too.

However, it is not the political system, as such, that causes them to vote this way. The people can fare well or fare badly, irrespectively of whether they are governed by decree or by democracy. The fault is with the selfish character of who governs, be it the king or the people. Under modern western democracy, this selfish char­acter is embedded within the public mind by the industrial elite who employ mod­ern mass-media to constantly drip-feed the public with their own selfish attitudes, there­by turning democracy into oligarchy. And it is this oligarchy that owns and controls the resources of the planet, giving only to those for whom it currently has need, the means to turn their labour into their needs of life. This oligarchy thus owns and controls access to the tree of life, which it uses for its own selfish ends.

Clearly, what is needed is a new social order of total inclusion in which those like myself, who are a little different, would — like everybody else — fare well, with the opportunity to contribute in accordance with their considerable abilities. It can be neither capitalist nor socialist. It is the subject of my book.

© 30 March 2019 Robert John Morton