Have you ever arrived at work quite unaware of the journey from home? Your alarm goes off, and the next thing you know, you're punching in. You don't remember your breakfast, that drive through traffic, that train ride, etc. What is happening around us as we jostle our ways to press #9 in the great factory of our mechanical society?
This sensation is commonly compared to an autopilot system, by which airplanes guide themselves toward the destination without the help of a human pilot. The autopilot handles the minor course corrections which would be extremely tedious for a full-time pilot. In this way, the driver of an automobile has an internal autopilot that shields him from the tedium of habitual actions. The human autopilot tends to take over any action that is repeated on a regular basis.
This is a desirable tendency for factory owners to exploit. If they can manage to set the habit in the first place, their need to enforce the habit decreases as time wears on. It becomes virtually impossible for a person to break this sort of habit, because they are unconscious of the experience itself. This is as true of workers in the factory as it is of customers who ultimately buy the goods produced by the factory.
This is especially true when the mind's consciousness is demanded by numerous urgent matters—the flashing lights and alarms of modern society. In fact, many of these things are designed to do just that! When politicians make a big deal out of an arguably small problem, they aren't simply being foolish. They are using slight of hand. As long as the people focus on today's most urgent issue, the politicians are free to manipulate to their advantage the more long-term, important issues without destroying voter loyalty.
The more the masses (both lower and middle classes) are on an upper class autopilot, the more predictable their behavior is to the human resource and mainstream marketing industries. In other words, the more they become like clockwork in a production machine. As this state of things increases, the owners of this production machine mentally dehumanize the "cogs." Once the cogs lose all humanity in the eyes of the ruling class, they can be subject to inhumane amounts of tyranny without the slightest sympathy from their oppressors.
The solution to this problem is prevention. This is redundant once the autopilot has been firmly set. However, no regime has ever or will ever create a perfect system of oppression in this way. Always the human heart will rebel against this, opening doors of perception just as the oppression seems to be complete. Tiny "flaws" such as this tend to spread discontent which eventually erupts upon the smallest setback.
What is the most memorable thing about your drive to work? Was it that guy that ran the red light? Or was it that surprise act of good will? Certainly we'd rather have the latter, but in either case we are brought out of autopilot by the unusual—by something the system couldn't handle.
Meditate on those things that cannot be mechanized. Find them in the world around you, put them into your daily actions. Help others to notice them. Break the autopilot's cycle.