I agree with most of this. The fight has to start somewhere. It is almost certainly not a sufficient condition for escape, but definitely a necessary one, to have people be aware that other ways of doing things might exist (at the risk of sounding a little Simplico here, I think that a large part of the problem is that many people for whatever reason don't imagine or contemplate that things could potentially be different than they are (in either worse or better directions).
I also agree that the free energy issue is heavily muddled by wildly varying individual abilities and competencies. So I'm a scientist that, to be blunt, is significantly more talented and competent at my field than most of my peers. Unlike them, I haven't sold my soul to the system, but I'm still matching them, or in some cases exceeding them for publication output. Could I 'sell out' and gain a lot of fame and prestige and stuff? Maybe, but why should I care about that? My preferences don't consider that valuable. I still very much have to choose my battles, but it will be more of a loss for me if I end up getting a presitigous position while having what I'm doing become decoupled from all its meaning than being pushed out and not allowed to continue. In the second case, I'll be able to walk down a different road and do something else with my life. Maybe that day will come eventually, maybe it won't. Either way I'm going to continue as I am, trying to do my research for its actual own intrinsic sake, because I could never be personally satisified otherwise. I care a little more about the possibility of actually getting out of the rut one day than about hollow personal advancement. But as a warning, in order to take this path, you do have to be significantly better than average to survive
(as an aside, I think it's considered rude to talk about how smart you are or whatever because that's kind of an advanced stage lemon problem. People would say that regardless. So it's up to you whether to believe my assertions of competence. Only I can (maybe) know their veracity. But do keep in mind that I would sensibly keep that all to myself for the sake of not sounding like an arrogant ass (which I know I do right now) if it weren't drectly and specially relevant to the discussion at hand).
short version: you can defy the equilibrium in certain ways if you don't care about the 'rewards' and 'punishments' of that particular aspect.