"The man", "the system", "the establishment", "the machine"; all phrases used to describe various social entities that have more power than you do. And there are many different types of individuals out there, from rightwing rednecks to slogan spewing hippies, and from disenchanted college students to beaten down blue collar workers; all of whom seem to lament this unevenness in the balance of power. Many of these types of individuals wish to strike back at those who possess the power, but posing a genuine threat to the establishment is a little more difficult than some of these rather simple minded individuals seem to think.
One thing that many of the antiestablishment folks out there fail to realize is that the individuals and systems that are in power, are in power for a reason. There are many idealistic malcontents out there who believe that things can be done "better" and who swear that they would do things differently if (or when) they get into power.
However, if these people would just stop whining for a moment and evaluate the situation, they would realized that the type of behavior that they dislike coming from powerful individuals, is the same type of behavior that led those individuals to power in the first place. There's a behavioral "recipe" that individuals in power discover and that works for them. It should be noted that this is not some product of "a corrupt society" or anything like that. There are universal traits and attitudes that you will find in many powerful individuals throughout history and in any society. It could be that this is the essence of authority itself; and the people who don't like it and say that they would do it differently have no hope of obtaining that sort of authority because they aren't willing to do what it takes to gain it.
Obtaining power is not about luck, though many seem to believe that it is. Those who have a greater social status than you are obviously doing something better than you are, in some respect. This is why there is no room for idealistic notions about "my generation inheriting the earth and doing things differently". Those who wish to obtain and maintain a certain level of social, governmental or economic power must apply a formula that works and this means doing things very similar to what the last generation did. This is just the nature of power. There are certain things that work and certain things that do not.
I always find it funny when people in their teens say that they believe that their generation will be the one to "change everything". If they would stop and look at history for a moment, they would realize that this is not how it works. You never see that type of radical change because the same principles needed to obtain power continue to apply regardless of what generation you're coming from. As I've said before, human psychology does not change that much and there will always be people of any generation who will strive for greater things.
It's staggering just how many people there are who wish to stand against, fight or otherwise takedown many large, established entities. It's gotten to the point where preaching any sort of "revolutionary" antiestablishment ideology has become extremely cliché and ridiculous (and with good reason, most individuals who do this are not very bright). Attempting to start some sort of social activism group often makes you look like an annoying idiot. And doing anything more extreme than that makes you a criminal. The truth is that by displaying many typical antiestablishment believes and clichés, you are essentially admitting that you are a loser. That you're unable to cut it playing the game the way that the rules have been set, and so you want reality to change them for you. You don't have what it takes to succeed, so you're whining about it.
Some of you might be wondering about real revolutions. Those do happen occasionally, so why not now? The answer is because we don't need one now. We're not experiencing that kind of oppression. You'll know when a real revolution is necessary because even some very intelligent and influential individuals will be participating in it. Because no one like that is seriously arranging a full blown revolution at the moment, just assume that things have not gotten bad enough to warrant one.
It takes more than just being a pissed off citizen who feels that they have nothing to lose, to start a successful revolution. Intelligence, charisma, money and other forms of power are necessary for that. The types of people who possess such traits are usually too busy succeeding at more significant and selfish pursuits, to be bothered with juvenile concepts of rebelliousness.
Another thing to consider is the fact that even if you were able to somehow overthrow the current established power systems, they would just be replaced by new ones who would inevitably use very similar tactics. Even if you broke society down into a state of complete anarchy, you'd need a stopwatch to tell just how quickly people begin forming individual tribes, which in turn, would become larger and more complex power structures. There can be no equality or fairness in a human society and someone will always be on top.
Much of the antiestablishment mentality that's going around seems to come as a result of people's frustrations about their own powerlessness. They feel trapped by the system. But what is causing them to be trapped in this system? Most people will just blame the system itself for trapping them and consider themselves to be victims of circumstance. Others will claim more responsibility and say that they allowed themselves to be trapped.
It's my opinion that the situation is a little bit different. The system was built to cater to them and that is why they're trapped in it. The people who feel the most stuck are the people who are the most dependent on the system (which is why they're stuck). Think of it as like being on life-support, they can't survive without it but it sucks to be constrained by it. The cogs have no purpose without the machine, and so a machine was created around them in order to support them and justify their existence.
What I'm saying is that many people are so worthless that without this system they would serve no purpose at all. They hate the system because it not only keeps them trapped, but it constantly serves as a reminder that they are unable to live without it. They're disgusted by their own worthlessness and want to escape, but without the system of control, they'd be lost. The only purpose that they serve is to keep the system afloat, keep the economy thriving, etc. That's the extent of any contribution that they are capable of making to the larger world. Most of them will never try to do anything else and if they did, they'd fail miserably.
We should also remember that there are plenty of people who will talk about fighting the man or rebelling against various systems, but never seem to do much else. Most of these individuals will only talk about it and will never act on this in any significant way (they may do some stupid, petty crap; but that's exactly the sort of thing that should be avoided). If they had any real intention of truly breaking away from the system, they wouldn't be talking about it; they'd just go quietly into the woods somewhere, live as a recluse, and do what they wanted. No, most people don't really want to rebel in a severe way because they simply don't have the inner strength or will to do so. If they had the level of personal power and responsibility required to actually do something like that, then they probably wouldn't be so resentful of the power that the system has over them in the first place.
I've occasionally wondered to myself: "would it really be so bad to be nothing more than a cog in the machine?" Some people find this idea too horrible to contemplate, but I think that there are far worse fates than existing in order to keep money flowing; especially if that's all you're really able to do. And even if that's the only contribution that you're able to make to the world at large, you can still determine your own, subjective purpose for living, based on your own priorities.
Of course I'd expect my villainous audience to be a bit more ambitious than that. The point is that harboring an irrational, antiestablishment mentality is usually both damaging and pointless. Bad ass types who refuse to acknowledge any form of authority, usually wined up in prison and the pseudo intellectual types who keep obsessing about how corrupt various organizations and systems are, often can't gain much success in the world do to the fact that they are unwilling to work within these systems. Losers all!
A true villain doesn't really want to fight the man; he wants to be the man! But in order to do this, he also has to be willing to play the game. This doesn't mean you have to conform to everything. There is plenty of room for innovation and individually (note: there is nothing more unoriginal than a generic, "stick it to the man" attitude). But this does mean accepting the realities of the power structures which are a constant part of all human civilizations. There are always people in charge and you're always going to have to deal with them (this is where being sneaky and manipulative comes in).
Play the game and play to win. Be realistic about the conditions of this world and don't engage in that blatant, anti authoritarian style stupidity. There is nothing more trite and juvenile than pointless rebellion. I'm sure that you can do a lot better than that!
Remember, a truly powerful and intelligent person is someone who has the ability to work within these systems and still succeed.