Thursday, January 5, 2012

Conspiracy Not Required

The slow steady erosion of personal freedoms, the increased acceptance of 'security measures', the diminishing life of our Republic:  these changes do not have to be a result of some huge conspiracy by the power brokers of the world.  They can happen gradually, a social evolution that simply makes it seem necessary, advisable, probably a good idea.
In 1977, Jerry Mander wrote a brave and good book called "Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television".  Of course, the hoped-for elimination never occurred, nor will it.  Still, it is a useful book to read if you are one who senses and regrets the losses our nation has suffered in the past six or seven decades.

Mander cites the movie Solaris as an example of what may be the future.  He speaks about the Soviet version directed by Andre Tarkovski, not the 2002 version directed by Steven Soderbergh.
In Solaris, technology is used "to produce autocracy not so much deliberate and conscious as it is evolutionary.
"As technology has evolved, step by step, it has placed boundaries between human beings and their connections with larger, nonhuman realities.  As life acquired ever more technological wrapping, human experience and understanding were confined and altered.  In Solaris these changes happen in a nonspecific order over time, until people's minds and living patterns are so disconnected that there is no way of knowing reality from fantasy.  At such a point, there is no choice but to accept leadership, however arbitrary. 
"Such leadership may very well not plan its own success.  It emerges organically at the moment when human experience has been sufficiently channeled and confined.  In this cultural analogue of mass sensory deprivation, simple, clear statements assume a greater authority and profundity than they deserve.
"Whoever recognizes that such a crucial moment has arrived, that people's minds are appropriately confused and receptive, can speak directly into them without interference.  The people who are spoken to are preconditioned to accept what they hear, like the Solaris astronauts...."
Mander goes on to say "Technology plays a critical role in this process because it creates standardized arbitrary forms of physical and mental confinement.  Television is the ideal tool for such purposes because it both confines experience and implants simple, clear ideas.

"Seen in this way, a new fact emerges.  Autocracy needn't come in the form of a person at all, or even as an articulated ideology or conscious conspiracy.  (italics mine)  The autocracy can exist in the technology itself.  The technology can produce its own subordinated society, as though it were alive, like Solaris"


  1. When we were kids -- I'm guessing we're about the same age -- we were told that if the Soviets won out over us, the state would be raising our children and we'd be propagandized incessantly by the equivalent of 1984's Big Brother. Well, most people ship their kids off at an early age to day-care centers and advertising has made us the most propagandized people in history. A good many of us have also come to think that the government is the first resort for dealing with any problem that arises in society. And just think, we did this all on our own, without any help from the Soviets.

  2. Even more disturbing (for me, anyway) is this: the Patriot Act of 2001 and the National Defense Athorization Act of 2011 have made law the power of the government to arrest & detain without charges or legal access anyone (repeat, anyone) if labeled as aiding or acting to assists terrorists.
    And in the last 10 years the Federal government has given over $1 billion dollars to police departments across the nation, large and small> Even tiny quiet towns now have SWAT teams., armor vests, automatic weapons, and training for mob control. Now drones are being proposed for local authorities.
    The enforcement people are in place.
    Everything is in place. Only thing missing: the wrong man as President at the wrong time.

  3. I don't about the wrong man being in place as President. The current administration has advanced all of these policies and the president himself seems to think he was elected King and that Parliament should simply do whatever he asks it to.
    My father was a cop, and my nephew is one also. But the police are beginning to worry me. Their arresting people for videotaping them, for instance. Their view of law-abiding citizens owning handguns. I am myself planning on getting a handgun and a permit to carry it. The violence in this city makes doing so prudent, and there is a gun store right around the corner. I think it interesting that the business that has most boomed during the past three years in this country is the firearms business.