2 June 2021 — Edward Curtin
Etymology – from Greek, etymos, true, real, actual (the study of roots)
Life is full of slips.
Words slip out of our mouths to surprise us. Thoughts slip into our minds to shock us. Dreams slip into our nights to sometimes slip into our waking thoughts to startle us. And, as the wonderful singer/songwriter Paul Simon, sings, we are always “slip sliding away,” a reminder that can be a spur to courage and freedom or an inducement to fear and shut-upness.
Slips are double-edged.
It is obvious that since September 11, 2001, and more so since the corona virus lockdowns and the World Economic Forum’s push for a Fourth Industrial Revolution that will lead to the marriage of artificial intelligence, cyborgs, digital technology, and biology, that the USA and other countries have been slipping into a new form of fascist control. Or at least it should be obvious, especially since this push has been accompanied by massive censorship by technology companies of dissenting voices and government crackdowns on what they term “domestic terrorists.” Dissent has become unpatriotic and worse – treasonous.
Unless people wake up and rebel in greater numbers, the gates of this electronic iron cage will quietly be shut.
In the name of teleological efficiency and reason, as Max Weber noted more than a century ago in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, capitalist elites, operating from within the shadows of bureaucratic castles such as The World Economic Forum (WEF), the World Health Organization WHO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), The World Bank (WBG), The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Google, Facebook, the National Security Agency (NSA), the CIA, etc., – run by people whose faces are always well hidden – have been using digital technology to exert increasing control over the thoughts and actions of people worldwide. They have been doing this not only by diktats but by manufacturing social habits – customary usages – through which they exert their social power over populations. This linguistic and ideational propaganda is continually slipped into the daily “news” by their mainstream media partners in crime. They become social habits that occupy people’s minds and lead to certain forms of behavior. Ideas have consequences but also histories because humans are etymological animals – that is, their ideas, beliefs, and behaviors have histories. It is not just words that have etymologies.
When Weber said “a polar night of icy darkness” was coming in the future, he was referring to what is happening today. Fascism usually comes on slowly as history has shown. It slips in when people are asleep.
John Berger, commenting on the ghostly life of our received ideas whose etymology is so often lost on us, aptly said:
Our totalitarianism begins with our teleology.
And the teleology in use today is digital technology controlled by wealthy elites and governments for social control. For years they have been creating certain dispositions in the general public, as Jacques Ellul has said, “by working spells upon them and exercising a kind of fascination” that makes the public receptive to the digital life. This is accomplished slowly in increments, as permanent dispositions are established by slipping in regular reminders of how wonderful the new technology is and how its magical possibilities will make life so free and easy. Efficient. Happiness machines. A close study of the past twenty-five years would no doubt reveal the specifics of this campaign. In The Technological Society, Ellul writes:
… the use of certain propaganda techniques is not meant to entail immediate and definite adhesion to a given formula, but rather to bring about a long-range vacuity of the individual. The individual, his soul massaged, emptied of his natural tendencies, and thoroughly assimilated to the group, is ready for anything. Propaganda’s chief requirement is not so much to be rational, well-grounded, and powerful as it is to produce individuals especially open to suggestion who can easily be set into motion.
Once this softening up has made people “available,” the stage is set to get them to act impulsively. Ellul again:
It operates by simple pressure and is often contradictory (since contradictory mass movements are sometimes necessary). Of course, this dissociation can be effective only after the propaganda technique has been fused with the popular mores and has become indispensable to the population. This stage may be reached quickly, as, for example, in Germany in 1942, after only ten years of psychic manipulation.
The end result, he argues, is the establishment of an abstract universe, in which reality is completely recreated in people’s minds. This fake reality is truer than reality as the news is faked and people are formed rather than informed.
In today’s computer driven world, one thing that people have been told for decades is to be vigilant that their computers do not become infected with viruses. This meme was slipped regularly into popular consciousness. To avoid infection, everyone was advised to make sure to have virus protection by downloading protection or using that provided by their operating systems, despite all the back doors built in which most have been unaware of.
Now that other incredible “machine” – the human body – can get virus “protection” by getting what the vaccine maker Moderna says is its messenger RNA (mRNA) non-vaccine “vaccine” that functions “like an operating system on a computer.” First people must be softened up and made available and then “set in motion” to accept the solution to the fearful problem built in from the start by the same people creating the problem. A slippery slope indeed.
But slipping is also good, especially when repetition and conventional thought rules people’s lives as it does today in a digital screen life world where algorithms often prevent creative breakthroughs, and the checking of hourly weather reports from cells is a commonplace fix to ease the anxiety of being trapped in a seemingly uncontrollable nightmare. It seems you now do need computer generated weather reports to know which way the wind blows.
In our culture of the copy, new thoughts are difficult and so the problems that plague society persist and get rehashed ad infinitum. I think most people realize at some level of feeling if not articulation that they are caught in a repetitive cycle of social stasis that is akin to addiction, one that has been imposed on them by elite forces they sense but don’t fully comprehend since they have bought into this circular trap that they love and hate simultaneously. The cell phone is its symbol and the world-wide lockdowns its reality. Even right now as the authorities grant a tactical reprieve from their cruel lockdowns if you obey and get experimentally shot with a non-vaccine vaccine, there is an anxious sense that another shoe will drop when we least expect it. And it will. But don’t say this out loud.
So repetition and constant change, seemingly opposites, suffuse society these days. The sagacious John Steppling captures this brilliantly in a recent article:
So ubiquitous are the metaphors and myths of AI, post humanism, transhumanism, et al. that they infuse daily discourse and pass barely noticed. And there is a quality of incoherence in a lot of this post humanist discourse, a kind of default setting for obfuscation….The techno and cyber vocabulary now meets the language of World Banking. Bourgeois economics provides the structural underpinning for enormous amounts of political rhetoric, and increasingly of cultural expression….This new incoherence is both intentional, and unintentional. The so called ‘Great Reset’ is operationally effective, and it is happening before our eyes, and yet it is also a testament to just how far basic logic has been eroded….Advanced social atomization and a radical absence of social change. Today, I might argue, at least in the U.S. (and likely much of Europe) there is a profound sense of repetitiveness to daily life. No matter one’s occupation, and quite possibly no matter one’s class. Certainly the repetitiveness of the high-net-worth one percent is of a different quality than that of an Uber driver. And yet, the experience of life is an experience of repetition.
A kind of flaccid grimness accompanies this sensibility. Humor is absent, and the only kind of laughter allowed is the mocking kind that hides a nihilistic spirit of resignation – a sense of inevitability that mocks the spirit of rebellion. Everything is solipsistic and even jokes are taken as revelations of one’s personal life.
The other day I was going grocery shopping. My wife had written on the list: “heavy cream or whipping cream.” Not knowing if there were a difference, I asked her which she preferred. “I prefer whipping,” she said.
I replied, “But I don’t have a whip nor do they sell them at the supermarket.”
We both laughed, although I found it funnier than she. She slipped, and I found humor in that. Because it was an innocent slip of the tongue with no significance and she had done the slipping, there was also a slippage between our senses of humor.
But when I told this to a few people, they hesitated to laugh as if I might be revealing some sado-masochistic personal reality, and they didn’t know whether to laugh or not.
It’s harder to laugh at yourself because we get uptight and are afraid to say the “wrong” things. Many people come to the end of their lives hearing the tolling for their tongues that never spoke freely because of the pale cast of thought that has infected them. Not their own thoughts, but thoughts that have been placed into their minds by their controllers in the mass media.
Freud famously wrote about slips of the tongue and tried to pin them down. In this he was a bit similar to a lepidopterist who pins butterflies. We are left with the eponymous Freudian slips that sometimes do and sometimes don’t signify some revelation that the speaker does not consciously intend to utter.
It seems to me that in order to understand anything about ourselves and our present historical condition – which no doubt seems very confusing to many people as propagandists and liars spew out disinformation daily – we need to develop a way to cut through the enervating miasma of fear that grips so many. A fear created by elites to cower regular people into submission, as another doctor named Anthony Fauci has said: “Now is the time to just do what you are told.”
But obviously words do matter, but what they matter is open to interpretation and sometimes debate. To be told to shut up and do what you’re told, to censor differences of opinion, to impose authoritarian restrictions on free speech as is happening now, speech that can involve slips of the tongue, is a slippery slope in an allegedly democratic society. Jim Garrison of JFK fame said that we live in a doll’s house of propaganda where the population is treated as children and fantasies have replaced reality. He was right.
So how can we break out of this deeply imbedded impasse?
This is the hard part, for digital addiction has penetrated deep into our lives.
I believe we need to disrupt our routines, break free from our habits, in order to clearly see what is happening today.
We need to slip away for a while. Leave our cells. Let their doors clang shut behind. Abandon television. Close the computer. Step out without any mask, not just the paper kind but the ones used to hide from others. Disburden our minds of its old rubbish. Become another as you go walking away. Find a park or some natural enclave where the hum and buzz quiets down and you can breathe. Recall that in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four the only place Winston Smith can escape the prying eyes and spies of Big Brother, the only place he can grasp the truth, was not in analyzing Doublethink or Crimestop, but “in a natural clearing, a tiny grass knoll surrounded by tall saplings that shut it in completely” and bluebells bloomed and a thrush sang madly. Here he meets his lover and they affirm their humanity and feel free and alive for a brief respite. Here in the green wood, the green chaos, new thoughts have a chance to grow. It is an old story and old remedy, transitory of course, but as vital as breathing. In his profound meditation on this phenomenon, The Tree, John Fowles, another Englishman, writes:
It is not necessarily too little knowledge that causes ignorance; possessing too much, or wanting to gain too much, can produce the same thing.
I am not proposing that such a retreat is a permanent answer to the propaganda that engulfs us. But without it we are lost. Without it, we cannot break free from received opinions and the constant mental noise the digital media have substituted for thought. Without it, we cannot distinguish our own thoughts from those slyly suggested to us to make us “available.” Without it, we will always feel ourselves lost, “shipwrecked upon things,” in the words of the Spanish philosopher Ortega Y Gasset. If we are to take a stand against the endless lies and a world-wide war waged against regular people by the world’s elites, we must first take “a stand within the self, ensimismamiento,” by slipping away into contemplation. Only then, once we have clarified what we really believe and don’t believe, can we take meaningful action.
There’s an old saying about falling or slipping between the cracks. It’s meant to be a bad thing and to refer to a place where no one is taking care of you. The saying doesn’t make sense. For if you end up between the cracks, you are on the same ground where habits hold you in learned helplessness. Better to slip into the cracks where, as Leonard Cohen sings, “the light gets in.”
It may feel like you are slipping away, but you may be exploring your roots.
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