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]

I can say, in all honesty, that I have worked extremely hard throughout my entire life. Yet in the year 2020 — the 78th year of my life — I am in receipt of a total per­sonal income of £92.49 a week [28% of the current UK minimum wage], which is reluctantly given by a society that officially regards me as a lazy good-for-nothing layabout. 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 tried very hard all the time: 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. 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 have zero toler­ance for bullshit because its content does not form part of 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. Bosses and work col­leagues complained that my 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.

I can neither bestow nor accept deference, even if I try to pretend. It simply doesn't work. 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 didn'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. On the other hand, I can give talks to large audiences. But this is not an interactive situation: it is a monologue. At school I had few "friends". These were almost invariably colleagues who shared the same nar­row interest, which in my case was short-wave radio. When I left school I lost touch with my "friends". I have always had great difficulty interacting with people and forming lasting relationships. 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 competed in mini and half-marathons.

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 kind of sham.

I am an excellent observer. I can focus intensely on detail, but can also switch 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 am clumsy at conversation. I don't understand the notion of monetary value. To me it is paradox: an artificial elastic ruler used to measure like against unlike in terms of a 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 making mailshots but I hated and dreaded making unsolicited telephone calls. 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 worked again.

What Could I do?

A person can change his character. For example, he can overcome dishonesty and, by sheer will-power, become honest and straight-dealing. 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 changing.

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 next twenty-two and a half 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 it 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 full time with 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. 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.

Asperger's syndrome is not an illness or a deficiency: it is simply a type of person­ality. It 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 the 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 people like me. So clearly, people in general are voting selfishly, not socially.

However, it is not the political system, as such, that is causing 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 exclusively 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.

© 04 December 2019 Robert John Morton