I wrote this in 2002. My views have likely evolved a little since then, but it is likely that I still agree with most of this position.
PrefaceIn the following essay, I use the word "Democracy" to cover exactly those systems based on representative and/or majoritarian democracy (i.e. any system that puts the will of the majority over the rights of the individual).
IntroductionAt the dawn of the 21st century, we find ourselves embedded in a dark age. The voice of dissent is no louder than a whisper. At no point in human history has a society existed with more constraints upon the freedom of individuals. At no point in human history has such a large number of individuals been jailed. This is especial true in the United States, where more individuals are jailed than in any other Western democracy. Despite the constant drop in crime, the number of police and incarcerations grows. The vast majority of people are oblivious to their loss of freedom. It is as if consciousness itself has been altered, anesthetizing the general population to its own imprisonment. This essay examines the cause of this shift in consciousness, identifies the mechanisms of oppression, and seeks to provide an answer to the question: What is to be done?
The Postmodern Meme ComplexWe live today as prisoners of our own consciousness. Critical and rational thought has been undermined by a mutually supporting set of fallacies generated by the concentration of media and government into the hands of the few and fueled by a bankrupt conception of the nature of humankind. There is no master plan. There is no individual sitting behind the curtain pulling the levers of oppression. There is no conspiracy. The enemy has no physical body. All of the players are puppets to this disembodied evil. The evil is not a spirit. It has no consciousness. Its only prerogative is to exist. It is the parasite that draws our lives for its benefit.
What is this dark monster? It is consciousness itself, or at least, consciousness as consciousness now stands. It is a network of mutually supportive ideas, fears, and attitudes which collectively consume human potential. Its consequence is a society of experimental rats, wired to pleasure receptors, who waste their precious lives within their cages, pressing the button that actuates the desired sensation, to the exclusion of nature itself.
Why all this metaphor? Well, this metaphor is necessary. For you too are a victim of this monster whose tentacles have wiggled their way into the synapses of your brain. I cannot begin by identifying the components of this complex without first alerting you to the impediment that strangles your mind. For a moment, forget everything you believe. If you don't trust me, then save your beliefs on the table beside you. They will be there when we finish. If you choose, upon finishing, you can reinstall the monster.
I assume you have freed your mind, even if just for a moment. You will know whether you have succeeded by monitoring your blood pressure. Each time you feel your blood pressure go up, ask yourself why. Is it because something unreasonable has been said, or is it because the tentacles are interfering with your thought processes? Let, see! I'm going to strike you hard.
Democracy is dictatorship.
"Ouch! How could someone say that? Are you advocating dictatorship?"
Well, no. I'm advocating freedom.
"But democracy is freedom!"
Wrong again. Think about what democracy is. Democracy is a mechanism by which a group of individuals compromise their freedom to create a set of rules by which everyone must live.
"Sounds like freedom," you protest.
Is it really? First of all, what if not everyone is willing to compromise the same freedoms?
"Well, the majority rule. At least then, most people are free."
Interesting statement! Lets examine it.
You say, "The majority rule." Who do they rule over?
"The minority of course."
I see, so the majority have the right to rule of the minority. Who gave them that right?
"They simply took it. They can, after all, as they are greater in number."
So, might makes right?
"No. I don't wish to support a dictatorial position. It is not because the larger number, collectively, are more powerful, it is because it is only right that we maximize the number of individuals who can enjoy freedom."
You are a utilitarian then? Your goal is to maximize freedom. How do you weigh one freedom against another? How do you decided what freedom is more important than another in the subjective reality of each individual?
"Everyone is equal. Therefore, the value of freedom to each individual is the same. By increasing the number of free individuals we increase the amount of freedom."
Is everyone truly equal? Is the freedom of expression equally important to the writer as it is to the police officer? Is the freedom to control one's reproductive capacity as important to the young woman as it is to the old man? How do you weigh these freedoms and combine them, on a case by case basis, to assess the total amount of freedom produced by majoritarianism?
"Well, I guess that there is some inequality in the needs of people. However, without a mechanism to individually weigh the value of each freedom across each individual, the principle of averages should support the concept of majoritarianism."
So, you admit that you really don't know whether majoritarianism increases the total amount of freedom enjoyed by a society, you only guess that it does. Should any individual suffer on the basis of a guess? Furthermore, what would you say if a different system permitted 80% of the population to live in unfettered freedom? Would you choose that system over democracy.
"I don't believe that such a system exists. However, if it did, then I would prefer it to democracy."
What if a system provided 100% of the population with unfettered freedom? Would you prefer that?
"Of course, but that is impossible."
Is it? Why is it impossible?
"Individuals cannot practice unfettered liberty without stepping on the rights of others."
Oh, I see. Why can't they? Please be specific.
"Left to themselves, people will take advantage of others. They will steal. They will disregard the needs of others. They will murder. Some will rape. There would be no order."
So, left to yourself you would take advantage of others, steal, murder and perhaps even rape?
"No. Not me. Of course I wouldn't do these things. Other people would."
You would do none of these things?
"I would do none of these things."
How do I know that?
"You don't. You just have to have faith in me."
Well, OK, one down and 5 billion to go. Why do you believe that others are not like you?
"I watch television. Don't you?"
No. In fact I usually do not watch television. What do you see on television?
"A day does not pass when someone does not commit some horrible crime against another. Mothers kill their children. Men kill their wives. People get drunk and cause accidents. Terrorists blow up buildings. Clearly, people left to their own devices will destroy each other."
Forgive me for interrupting you. I'd like to examine what you said. First of all, how many television channels are there?
"There are dozens."
How many networks are there.
"Less than ten."
How many owners of networks are there.
"I don't know."
So, lets see. There are less than ten networks. There are 5 billion people on the planet. Each night there are many horrible crimes on television. Are these crimes all happening in your neighborhood?
"Well, no. They happen all over the world."
I understand. Most of the people watch the same news, more or less, on television and everyone sees the same crimes. Compared to the number of individuals in the world, the number of crimes is relatively low, but everyone gets to experience these few crimes on a daily basis. Has it occurred to you that perhaps the mechanism for informing everyone about rare events is too efficient? People who do not go out and experience their own lives but live vicariously through the eyes of a few who intentionally channel all that is evil to the eyes of everyone are bound to get a distorted view of the world.
"But these things really do happen."
Yes, I believe that most of these things do happen. Tell me, are the people committing these crimes living under anarchism?
"What do you mean?"
Well, you mentioned that, "people left to their own devices will destroy each other." I assume then that these people committing the crimes are not living under a government.
"Of course they are. There is no place on Earth without some form of government."
So these people are not "left to their own devices." In fact, they are living under the rule of law. Despite these controls, they commit these crimes.
"That is because some individuals have no values."
Where did they learn their lack of values?
"I suppose they watch too much television. Television is full of violence."
Yes, I suppose they do. Television, from what you have explained to me, certainly does seem to be full of violence. There are other examples of violence, though. For example, the United States Government has backed regimes that have killed millions of people. This backing has not been merely financial. The US Government has provided arms, torture equipment, airplanes, helicopters, intelligence, and training to Indonesia, Iraq, El Salvador, Guatemala, and many other oppressive governments which have murdered their own people. Daily the US bombs Iraq. Our foreign policy denies aid to the people of Iraq. Our trade sanctions impose poverty upon the people of Cuba. Don't you think that the Government itself is teaching violence?
"There are many good individuals in government. For example, many police officers give their lives to protect people."
Do they? What do you think about the New York City police department filling an innocent man with bullets because he looked like a suspect? What do you think about the Los Angeles Police department setting up innocent individuals for crimes they did not commit, beating individuals who "do not cooperate," shooting a young woman sleeping in her car, waiting for a suspect whom they have shot to die before calling an ambulance? What do you think about the INS invading the home of a Cuban American family and pulling a child out at gun point? What do you think about law enforcement organizations that invade homes after planning how they will divide the property between them, shooting the man of the house, only to find that he has committed no crime? What about federal agents burning down a religious compound? Are the police really there to serve and protect you or are they there to serve and protect themselves?
"You are going too far!"
Am I? Identify one thing I have said that is untrue! The fact is that you have helped us identify several false beliefs comprising the aforementioned memeplex.
Everyone, except myself, must be controlled.Let us consider what is ethically evil about this statement. This statement implies that control exists for my benefit. Other people are to be controlled so that I may enjoy freedom. Other people, therefore, are a means to my end. The control of other people, without regard to their own ends, is to be realized for my end. This position asserts that, in affect, that other individuals should be exploited for my benefit. There are two problems with this position. It is unethical because it robs other individuals of their property. The property in question is their destiny. By reducing them to means to my end, I am robbing them of their destiny. The essence of their existence (that of a free individual) removed, I deny them existence. Thus, this position is equivalent to murder. You might as well kill them for your peace of mind. The other problem with this position is that it cannot exist as a universal principle. If everyone demanded that all others be subject to the ends of another, then everyone would be unfree in the name of freeing everyone. This is essentially the democratic ideal. The freedom of all should be denied so that everyone shall be free.
Another implication of this statement is that I am ethical and no-one else is. There is no evidence to support this position. Nearly everyone asked this question will state that "yes, I am ethical" or will fiercely question the right to ask this question. This is no conjecture. I tried an experiment on one of the many less than free forums of the Mars Society. I simply posted the question, "Do you believe that you are sufficiently ethical to live in a society without law or government?" I was attacked with a steady stream of criticism and statements to the affect that this was not even a question. The response to this question reveals two things: it makes people uncomfortable to consider that their belief system is flawed (answering the question would reveal this), and it demonstrates the effective resilience of the dominant memeplex. Violent avoidance of a question is a sure sign of irrational thinking.
The world is awash in violence.This meme is somewhat paradoxical in that in the absence of this meme it would not be true but in the presence of this meme, it is, in a way, true. To examine this meme, we need to distinguish between various worlds.
The average American lives in two worlds. One world is what we will call the real world. The other world is what we will call the simulated world. The real world is the world that we perceive through the direct stimulus of our senses initiated by the objects that compose the world. For example, when walking down the street I hear sounds, see images of the objects about me, smell the air, and feel the breeze against my skin. This is the real world. In general, it is tranquil. Birds sing. The sun shines. Trees sway in the breeze. People pass me by. The simulated world is that which I perceive indirectly by means of artificial media such as television, the radio, and the Internet. The real world is narrowcasted to me. There is only one individual in a given space time coordinate who perceives this world. The perspective is unique. The experiences of each individual in this real world are unique. The simulated world is not unique. Information and images are broadcasted to large numbers of individuals who share a common experience. This simulated world does not reflect the real world. It is an intentional creation. In the case of television and radio, the simulators are a small number of powerful individuals who have at their disposal sufficient funds to bribe the government into allocating to them a piece of the electromagnetic spectrum. In the case of the Internet, things are a little more distributed. More individuals can afford to become broadcasters, though not all, and with the grace of some search engines they can be found by those who seek them. The differences between the Internet and the traditional media are significant and we will deal with this difference at the end of the essay. For now, we will focus on television and radio.
The simulated world of television and radio requires only passive participation by its audience. After a long day of being exploited at the office, few people have sufficient energy to do anything more than to sit in front of the television and experience the simulated world. The simulated world is driven by the need to deliver an audience to a market. The simulated world exists to sell. The audience, from the point of view of the broadcaster, is a means. The end is to move power, in the form of money, into the hands of those already wealthy enough to bribe the government for the exclusive privilege of broadcasting. Television and radio do not have the well being of the audience as an end. As merely a means, the audience is exploited to the ends of the broadcasters. If it was possible to broadcast commercials only and still have a large audience, the broadcasters would do so. Since this is not possible, the audience needs to be believe that they are being entertained while being sufficiently anesthetized to not notice that they are not being entertained. To this end a parade of sensationalistic simulations is passed before the eyes of the audience. Humans, with their natural disposition towards curiosity, will remain riveted to the television provided they are given a steady stream of violence, sex, fear, and assurances that everything is going to be alright (or at least, if you do what we tell you to do, everything is going to be alright).
The news, then, becomes just what is necessary to keep you watching and no more. What is necessary to keep you watching is violence. After all, you need to be informed to protect yourself. It is important to present nothing more than what is necessary, for if the audience knew the truth, they might take action (and therefore stop watching) or worse, they might realize that they are watching a simulation and choose to go out and experience life directly (and therefore stop watching). We conclude, then, that television pumps the "dangerous world" meme to its viewers in order to keep them watching. As well, it pumps the "government will take care of it" meme to keep them from taking action.
There are two other worlds we need to consider. These two other worlds are very different from the real and simulated worlds of the average American. The first world is the real world of the oppressed outside of the US. The second world is the real world of the oppressors inside the US.
The real world of the oppressed outside of the US is, indeed, a world awash in violence. Having lived for a while in a third world country, I believe that I can write from a position of knowledge. The life of the average third world individual is one of constant fear. One fears the loss of work. One fears the violence of thieves. One fears one's government. And, if you are unlucky enough to live in a country whose government acts in its own interest, you need to fear the United States.
This real world is not presented on television. It is necessary to avoid showing this world because doing so would undermine another role of the media. One does not gain the privilege to own a piece of the electromagnetic spectrum through bribery alone. One needs to demonstrate loyalty to the evil one as well. The United States could not possibly justify its foreign policy if the American People really knew what it is like to be a resident of Iraq, Cuba, El Salvador, Yugoslavia, Indonesia, Guatemala, Nicaragua or any of the other victims of US policy. Genocidal practices like bombing and economic isolation could not be justified if Americans could see, first hand, the suffering of those who bear the brunt of our rouge foreign policy. The media help to propagate acceptance of these genocidal policies by presenting, without question, logically contradictory arguments supporting US actions.
The other real world is the real word of the oppressors inside the US. There are silly programs like "Life styles of the rich and famous," but these programs do not show the real world of American power. They do not show the lobbying that is done to beat third world countries into submission in order to guarantee access to cheap labor. They do not show the bribery that goes into transferring money from the treasury into the hands of defense contractors, the creation of an incarcerated population to support the construction industry in its desire to build more prisons and to fund the economy of surveillance. The media works hand-in-glove with the US Government to create the simulation of democracy.
Law reduces violence.The founding fathers never intended the legislature to be a full time body. It was never conceived that individuals would make, as their career, the goal of continuously reducing the freedom of Americans. In an effort to justify their existence and to seek re-election, the members of the House and Senate have done all they can to propagate the belief that we live in a dangerous world, so that they can be employed, full time, in the occupation of limiting the freedom of others. Never missing an opportunity to profit from the blood of others, these individuals are always the first to shine their faces into the simulated world with calls for further restrictions to make sure that, "this never happens again." The media, in its desire for more ratings, has always been more than willing to play its role in the reduction of freedom by unquestioningly casting the collective gaze upon these self serving thieves of freedom.
The response has been to create greater gangs of thugs in blue, increasingly armed to teeth with military weaponry, too cowardly to attempt reason instead of violence, in an endless drive to terrorize Americans into supporting yet another restriction on their liberty.
Anesthetized by media and the show of force, Americans willingly hand over their earnings to fund their further incarceration in the great prison they call a democracy. They speed down the highways while paying someone to catch them. They pay the brutes in blue to terrorize the roads on every holiday to avoid deaths, while finding themselves increasingly isolated in their fear to celebrate with the fellow man. Only a population overtaken by a mass insanity would willingly support their own oppression.
If law reduces violence then why do we, as a people, feel more and more threatened with each passing year, as the number of laws increases? We have installed cameras everywhere. Even the cops' favorite hangout, Duncan Donuts, has been found to install listening devices to spy on their clients. With the constant gaze of the camera, the monitoring of the microphone, the cancerous growth of laws and law enforcement, we feel less secure than ever. If law reduces violence, then why do we not feel more secure?
If we feel less secure with the passage of each new law, could it be that we have discovered a natural law of human society? Could this law be that there is a positive correlation between the acceleration of law and insecurity?
Clearly, a close examination will reveal this: law does not reduce violence. Additionally, if more law leads to more violence then could it be that less law leads to less violence? The answer to this question is surprising. Yes. Less law leads to less violence. Why, you may ask?
There are two reasons for this astonishing fact. Law is predicated upon violence and thus, by example, teaches violence. Law substitutes ethical practice with obedience, leaving the population unpracticed in ethics and consequently unethical. Thus, law is the cause of violence and unethical practice. If ethics is good then the absence of ethics is evil. Government, as the source of the absence of ethics is the source of evil.
The police exist to protect and serve.I have had many a long argument over the nature of the police. In almost every corner one finds that any criticism of the police is answered with obligatory rhetoric about the hero police officer I may someday rely upon for help. In counting the many instances of police contact over a life time, I cannot remember a single instance where this contact constituted a form of help. Whether this contact was the product of being stopped for wearing a black leather jacket that seemed to match the brown leather jacket of a suspect, informing an officer that he cut in front of me in a donut shop line (this is not a joke, it did happen), following me around town because he did not like a bumper sticker on my car, welcoming me to a neighborhood by asking for a donation to the "police officer's ball", throwing my cousin into a pond because he asked about his gun, slashing up the inside of my brother's car after an accident, having a flashlight trained on my eyes for daring to watch the police beating a youth during a traffic stop in front of my apartment, ticketing me for "blocking traffic" while parked legally in a parking lot, or any of the other many similar incidents, the one thing they all had in common was that an individual of lower intelligence had nothing better to do with his time than harass someone who is a productive member of society. In all of these cases, I have not figured out who they were protecting or who they were serving, unless of course, they were serving themselves.
The Supreme Court of the United States has already ruled on the question of whether the police must protect the citizens of this country. This court of pompous individuals, completely out of touch with reality and accountable to no-one, ruled that enforcing the law was the only function of the police. Despite the fact that police knock down doors without warrants, shoot innocent people in the back, pull people over because they don't like their skin color, engage in illegal searches and seizures, use their access to law enforcement databases to spy on their neighbors, and countless other crimes, we enshrine their lives with higher penalties against those who would defend themselves, call them public servants, and turn the other way when they brutalize and incarcerate those who know. Every highway is crowded with the cars of cowards displaying those stickers bearing an image of a police badge with some slogan about supporting the police. This surreal image of such individuals hitting their brakes to avoid a ticket at the first sign of a thug in blue never ceases to amaze me. We are a nation of thug worshipers. Nightly, show after show, beamed into our living rooms from the simulated world, portray these miscreants as heroes. Wake up America!
Adding insult to injury, the government forces us to give a portion of our salaries to employ these rouges, reducing us to nothing more than slaves toiling in the field to enrich the master who pays the guards that trample our dignity. Lulled into stupidity by the simulated world, we gladly hand over the cash. Protect me from myself, we cry! Hand my rights over to those insufficiently intelligent to pursue a line of work that creates value. Look around you! Out there! In the real world. You are little more than a prisoner at the whim of the guards. Will you wait until it is you that they take away?
Government is ethical.What is the ethical? The ethical, clearly, is the practice of ethics. It is the realm of reason. Reason requires no force. It stands on its own. Government, however, does not stand on its own. Government is the monopolistic manifestation of force and control. It matters not whether government arises from the power of a single man or the zombied masses. In all cases, government is force. As force, the government cannot be ethical. Its motivations lie not with what is right, but with what is necessary to maintain its existence and control. Government is the abnegation of ethics. Ethics requires free will. Government denies free will. Obedience is the fountain of the unethical. The want of ethics is evil. Therefore, government is the fountain of evil. To not oppose government is to be less than a man. By nature, man is free will. Obedience is the denial of this nature and, consequently, the corruption of the individual.
Individuals that employ their free will to practice ethics become more ethical as ethical conduct becomes their self conditioning. Individuals who practice obedience become less ethical as the lack of ethics becomes their conditioning. With or without the presence of government, unethical individuals will continue to be unethical. Their obedience, when it coincides with ethical practice, is an empty gesture. It is the action of a machine. In the absence of the gaze of government, the unethical will continue to behave unethically. It is only when they get caught that their actions become "wrong." Thus, it is only natural that individuals living in an unethical society, produced by government, will believe that government is necessary. Amazingly they fail to notice that despite the presence of government, unethical conduct continues. This is no surprise. Ethical conduct can exist under government only when an individual chooses to break the law in favor of ethics.
Television gives an accurate portrayal of the world.Writing those words almost made me laugh. Many people agree that television does not give an accurate portrayal of the world. How is it then, that despite this belief, they continue to see the world in terms of the models and values manifested in television? There are several answers to this question. One important reason is that most people spend their lives in a simulated world. In the morning they depart their homes and enter their cars. Before they even begin to move, the radio comes on and the simulation begins. On the way to work they listen to the radio jockeys bantering their jokes or listen to music backed by corporations. Everything is neatly packaged. The memes flow into their minds as they sing along with the latest tune. At the office, they simulate themselves. Each worker puts on his or her office mask. They engage in simulated conversations. Simulated democracy solicits their opinions, if they are luck enough to be asked. They produce simulated products, wrapped in packaging or presented in words that only coincidently resemble the truth. After 8 to 10 hours of this simulation they get into their cars and listen to the simulated reality of radio. Upon entering their homes they cook their simulated food. Too tired to go out and experience the real world, they sit in front of the television for another simulation of the world beyond. Without any actual experience, how can one know the difference between this simulation and the real world? Even an individual sufficiently astute can fall victim to the fallacies.
The origin of these fallacies is the second cause we need to address. Why does television simulate the real world? Why doesn't television just show the real world as it is? The answer should be obvious. If television only showed the real world, who would watch it? After all, the real world is three dimensional, full of sensations, smells and tastes. How could television, a two dimensional representation of "reality" within a small box accompanied by sound compete with reality? The only solution to this problem is to create something other than reality that seems to be more seductive. An ordinary real world experience is seldom emotional. Television, on the other hand, by controlling the content, can pump one emotional trigger after another, in rapid sequence. It can make you sad, happy, angry, and horny, all within a half hour. Reality does not sell. Titillation sells.
Naturally, this is true of the news as well. The news presented on television is designed to meet several well defined goals. It seeks to entrap you, invoke fear, assure you that the government will protect you, and prevent you from taking action. This combination of goals is designed to keep you watching. How does television news entrap you? We all have felt the frustration of frequent announcements that something important will come tonight on the news. It is a "must see." It may "change your life." "Not knowing it may put you at risk." "Details at 10:00." Gee, something upon which my life depends must wait until 10:00! So, I wait until 10:00. I turn the television on and wait, and wait, and wait... Every five minutes they tell me that it is coming right up. Sometime before 11:00, I go to get a snack and in the 20 seconds that passes I miss it. I've been trapped.
Fear? Why fear? The focus on fear based broadcasting has many roots. There is no human emotion more riveting than fear. The instinct for survival is basic to our existence. It is not the product of reason, but an irrational impulse. Fear can override our ability to make a good decision (such as shutting off the television). But the reason for employing fear does not stop there. Obtaining a license for television broadcasting is no easy fete. To obtain such a license you need money - lots of money. Frequencies are usually sold to the highest bidder. This is interesting when you consider that radio frequencies cost nothing. The consequence of this is that we do not all have an equal opportunity to broadcast television. Of course, you need a transmitter, a studio, and a source for programming as well. Such an individual or organization with access to capital of this magnitude has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. After all, it is the machinery of the status quo that provided this capital. Since television stations are licensed by the government, there is an additional incentive to not anger governmental powers. Focusing on fear satisfies the needs of the status quo and the government. A fearful population needs to be protected. They need a government to protect them from their fears. Moreover, politicians need a fearful population. If everything is fine the way it is, then there would be no need for more laws (and, therefore, no politician could distinguish herself from another).
The third convenience of fear is that it keeps individuals away from the real world. Anyone who is afraid of the real world will spend more time at home. Naturally, anyone who spends more time at home is someone more likely to watch television. More viewers mean more individuals to sell to advertisers. Fear goes a long way.
Finally, by convincing you that the networks are keeping you informed and that the government is addressing your needs, there is nothing for you to do to improve things. This is much like the police officer who tells the crowds circling the latest victims of police brutality, "there's here to see, move on." A population that believes that all matters are best left in the hands of the "experts" is a population that will not act. Not acting and not thinking help the government maintain its power. Not acting and not thinking keeps you at home to watch more television. Kill your television!
Democracy increases freedom.One of the most pathetic, and closely held, beliefs today is that democracy increases freedom. It is impossible to question this premise without becoming the target of scorn. This is to be expected. One sure test to apply if you wish to determine whether you are in a dark age is to question a basic premise. If the consequence of your question is an intelligent dialogue, then you know that there is hope. However, if the consequence is an emotional diatribe, it's time to find a flashlight.
Let us begin with the idea of a world without government. Without government individuals must acknowledge the fact that all individuals contain the same fear, that of non-existence. This fear does not go away when government is present, as we have seen above. However, in the absence of government there remains the basic instincts of human nature. Humans are social animals. We tend to live in groups. Since we are intelligent, we also tend to specialize. Individuals that specialize need to trade the product of their labor with other individuals who specialize in other areas of work. It is the need for exchange that forces individuals to bridge the gap between their selfish interests and the interests of others. Trading takes more than one party. If each individual fears all other individuals to the point where exchange cannot take place, all individuals will perish. Under such conditions the natural solution is to convince others that you are not a threat. You do this by maintaining an awareness of your own needs and the needs of your trading partners. You demonstrate this awareness through ethical conduct. Thus, in a world without government, the driving force of human harmony is the practice of ethics. Each individual lives as he or she wishes and mitigates his or her behavior when in contact with others by practicing ethics.
In contrast, let us consider democracy. Under democracy we create an entity whose purpose is to control the behavior of all individuals in order to achieve the conditions under which an economy of exchange can take place. Behavior is controlled by means of a program. The program is codified as law and is executed by the state. The state executes the program by creating sub-entities with various functions that serve, in concert, to control the individuals within society. In our case, the state constructs three sub-entities: an executive, a legislature, and a judiciary. The purpose of these sub-entities are, in order, to exercise force in order to compel obedience to the law, to create more laws, and to interpret the laws. True to their form, all three entities exist in order to impose control. Laws are applied to all individuals without regard to the beliefs of individuals. In a democracy, your beliefs do not matter, only your obedience matters. Therefore, despite an ostensible right to express your beliefs, you have no right to practice them. Without a right to practice your beliefs, you have no freedom. Democracy is tyranny.
So, Who's the Enemy?At the beginning of this essay, I mentioned a parasite - a sort of "invasion of the body snatchers." Who, or what, is this dark enemy? Is it television, the government, or the police? Well, no, it is none of these. The parasite has no material manifestation. It is not found lurking in some dark place or peering over your shoulder. It is not a conspiracy. There is no single conspirator pulling the levers. The enemy is the complex of beliefs that lays waste to the nature of humanity. This complex of beliefs seeks to refine itself. It seeks to maintain its hold. It seeks to do this for its own preservation. The lives and potentialities of humanity are inconsequential to this complex. The complex exists for itself. It uses the vectors of the simulated world to render us instruments to its own end. All of society is its host.
"Absurd!" You protest. "How could a system of beliefs have a will to existence? How could a system of belief act to perpetuate itself?"
Actually, its quite simple. This system of beliefs, let us refer to it as the Totalitarian Meme Complex (TMC), is merely the product of evolution. Each belief, like genes in a cell, has settled together into a relationship with other beliefs to form an enduring mental organism that replicates from mind to mind through assimilation. It acts as it does not out of intent but because it is its nature to do so. It is not the first meme complex and it will not be the last. Intellectual human history is a long story of the rise and fall of meme complexes (or memplexes). This story, however, is punctuated with periods of stagnation. Between these periods of stagnation great advances in the social condition of humanity occur. During the periods of stagnation, however, reason becomes enslaved to a static set of progress annihilating beliefs. These systems of belief are Totalitarian Meme Complexes (or Totalitarian Memeplexes for short). During the last major dark age, for example, the rhetoric of the Catholic Church reigned supreme. Little progress occurred for about one thousand years. We are now facing the dawn of a new dark age. The Totalitarian Meme Complex has got us by our collective brain. However, as we will see, things are different this time.
ConclusionAt the present time we are in possession of knowledge and understanding not previously available at the dawn of a dark age. We have come to understand the concept of evolution. Through our understanding of self replicating processes and the growing understand of meme propagation, we have the opportunity to turn this knowledge against the newest Totalitarian Meme Complex.
Unseating this mental infection will not be easy, but it can be done. The first step is to realize that it exists. We can do this by observing it operate. Watch the news for a while. Listen to the reports. See that what I have said is true. Listen to your fellow simulation dwellers talk about the need to do something about all of this crime. Listen to them call for more laws, greater protection, and more police. Watch this process to understand it. Watch it consciously to immune yourself from it.
The next step is to shut off the television. Shut off the radio. Experience the real world. Take note of the absurd vision of lobotomized simulation dwellers functioning on autopilot. Listen to them propagate the memes that have infected them. Make it your mission to route out and destroy false memes. Throw a wrench into the meme copying process. Make a meme harder to swallow. Encourage others to follow your lead. Spread the anti-meme meme.
If you have reached this level of anti-totalitarianism-memeplex-warfare, you are ready for the next step. Remember, "the revolution will not be televised." It will be on the Internet. In fact, it already is.
Earlier I mentioned that I would get back to the Internet and explain how it is different from television and radio. While it is undeniable that many of the traditional purveyors of simulated reality have taken their slavish meme propagation to the Internet, it is also true that one does not need a license to manage a web site. All one needs is a computer, some software, a domain name, and an Internet Service Provider. While this may be out of reach for a significant portion of the population, it is obviously within the reach of another significant portion of the population. After all, unless someone copied this essay (which is fine by me), you are reading it on the Internet. The Internet presents an unprecedented opportunity for those individuals who are outside of the ruling elite to engage in the meme battleground. We are now at the final step.
The choice is yours. Remember the pile of beliefs I suggested you form on the table next to you? You can reinstall the tentacles into your mind, assimilate, and join the collective. If, however, you choose not to, then consider this: you have, within your reach, the tools to change the world. Resistance is not futile. Begin writing! Post your ideas in newsgroups! Send essays to websites such as this! Create your own website! Engage in the debate! Thrust your ideas into the battle! Unseat the Totalitarian Meme Complex! Free minds of the world, you have nothing but your tentacles to lose.
Copyright @ 2002, 2003, & 2004; Stephen DeVoy. All rights reserved.