The Masque of Pandora

What happens when people awake to the deceit of Totalitarian-Lite posing as liberty and individualism (let alone democracy)?

Well, this piece is from the leading Establishment journal from the Deep-State-linked, Anglosphere, the Daily Telegraph:

“This is the summer before the storm. Make no mistake, with energy prices set to rise to unprecedented highs, we are approaching one of the biggest geopolitical earthquake in decades. The ensuing convulsions are likely to be of a far greater order of magnitude than those that followed the 2008 financial crash, which sparked protests culminating in the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring …

“Carnage has already arrived in the developing world, with power outages from Cuba to South Africa. Sri Lanka is just one of a cascade of low-income countries where leaders face being driven out of power in an ignominious blaze of petrol droughts and loan defaults.

“But the West is not going to escape this Armageddon. In fact, in many ways, it looks set to be its epicentre – and Britain, its Ground Zero. In Europe and America, a technocratic élite system built on mythology and complacency is crumbling. Its founding fable – which prophesied the nation states’ glorious enmeshment in world government and supply chains – has metastasised into a parable of the perils of globalisation.

“This time, élites cannot shirk responsibility for the consequences of their fatal errors … Put simply, the emperor has no clothes: The Establishment simply has no message for voters in the face of hardship. The only vision for the future it can conjure up is Net Zero – a dystopian agenda that takes the sacrificial politics of austerity and financialisation of the world economy to new heights. But it is a perfectly logical programme for an élite that has become unhinged from the real world”.

Yes, the western sphere has become so prone to a ‘head-spinning’ disorientation (as was intended), through the constant rain of disinformation labels, stuck haphazardly across anything critical of the ‘uniform messaging’, and by outrageous, obvious lying, that a majority in the western world has begun to question their own and surrounding levels of sanity.

In their bemusement, they have come to see the ‘messaging’ of sacrificial politics and the financialisation of absolutely everything as ‘perfectly rational’. They have been rendered helpless, held immobile in a spider’s web. Bewitched.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone,

“it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – – that’s all.”

(Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass)

Yes, the Beast’s Siren Call is for sacrificial politics to be levered down upon the people, whilst the horsemen of War and Pandemic all scream out that an apocalyptic hour approaches. We may call it a collective syndrome – similar to the Witch Craze of the 14th–17th Centuries – but today, the phenomenon WB Yeats termed the ‘rough beast’ with its’ gaze as ‘blank and pitiless as the sun’, is better known simply as Ideology.

The word ‘ideology’ is often used as a synonym for political ideas, a corruption of language that conceals its fundamentally anti-political, latent totalitarian character. Ideology is incapable of treating human beings as distinct participants in a shared, non-political social life. Today’s woke ideology sees human association rather, as groups to be acted upon. It is explicitly anti-National, anti-Sovereign, anti-Traditional Religion, anti-Traditional Culture, anti-National Infrastructure, and anti-Family.

The term idéologie was coined during the French Revolution by Antoine Destutt de Tracy, an anti-clerical materialist philosopher who conceived of idéologie as a social science of ‘ideas’ that would inform the construction of a rational progressive society governed by an enlightened élite, whose technical expertise would justify their claim to rule.

These contours to European ideology, as they emerged during the French revolutionary era, largely were cast by the Franks in the period before, and after Charlemagne. It was then that the doctrine of racial superiority arose (‘others’ were ‘barbarian’ and Pagan and served only as slaves). It was then too, that outward, predatory expansionism (the Crusades, then colonialism) was embedded in the European psyche.

The Charlemagne era further cemented an unbridgeable social schism. The Frankish oligarch in his castle; his Frankish bishops inculcating his villein serfs, living by the foot of the castle, with vivid fear of eternal Hell. To which, the non-elect was pre-destined, unless improbably, they gained the grace of God. This nascent Frankish ‘idea’ was precursor to how we Europeans are today: the sense of absolute superiority; of belonging to an elect; and Europe’s class divide – are today’s shadows from that totalitarian era.

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

What the French Revolution added was raw ideology, through the radical shift in the relation between state and traditional society. Rousseau is often taken as the icon of ‘liberty’ and ‘individualism’ and is widely admired. Yet here we have that clearcorruption of language which conceals ideology’s fundamentally anti-political character.

Rousseau explicitly refused human participation in non-political, shared life. He saw the human associations rather, as groups to be acted upon so that all thinking and daily behaviour could be folded into the like-minded units of a unitary state.

It is that unified state – the absolute state – which Rousseau upholds at the expense of the other forms of cultural tradition, together with the moral ‘narratives’ that provide context to terms such as good, justice and telos.

The individualism of Rousseau’s thought, therefore, is no libertarian assertion of absolute rights against the all-consuming state. No raising of the ‘tri-colour’ against an oppressive state.

Quite the reverse! Rousseau’s passionate ‘defence of the individual’ arises out of his opposition to ‘the tyranny’ of social convention – the forms and ancient myths that bind society: religion, family, history, and social institutions. His ideal may be proclaimed as that of individual freedom; but it is ‘freedom’, however, not in a sense of immunity from control of the state, but in our withdrawal from the supposed oppressions and corruptions of collective society.

Family relationship is thus transmuted subtly into a political relationship; the molecule of the family is broken into the atoms of its individuals. With these atoms today groomed further to shed their biological gender, their cultural identity and ethnicity, they are coalesced afresh into the single unity of the state.

This is the deceit concealed in the ideologues’ language of freedom and individualism. It is rather, the politicization of everything into the mould of an authoritarian singularity of perception. The late George Steiner said the Jacobins “abolished the millennial barrier between common life and the enormities of the historical [past]. Past the hedge and gate of even the humblest garden, march the bayonets of political ideology and historic conflict”.

This Jacobin inheritance was polished further by the Fabians and the likes of HG Wells, who wrote in his new Bible Trilogy, published in 1901,

“It has become apparent that whole masses of human population are, as a whole, inferior in their claim upon the future, to other masses, that they cannot be given opportunities or trusted with power as the superior peoples are trusted, that their characteristic weaknesses are contagious and detrimental to the civilizing fabric, and that their range of incapacity tempts and demoralizes the strong. To give them equality is to sink to their level, to protect and cherish them is to be swamped in their fecundity.”

Bertrand Russell (linked with the same current of thought) would put it most succinctly in The Scientific Outlook (1931):

“The scientific rulers will provide one kind of education for ordinary men and women and another for those who are to become holders of scientific power. Ordinary men and women will be expected to be docile, industrious, punctual, thoughtless and contented. Of these qualities, probably contentment will be considered the most important all the boys and girls will learn from an early age to be what is called “cooperative” i.e.: to do exactly what everybody else is doing. Initiative will be discouraged in these children, and insubordination, without being punished will be scientifically trained out of them”.

In sum, today’s ‘Totalitarianism Lite’ (Niall Ferguson coinage) of contemporary western life, accepts that whilst human beings naturally form social groups for common purposes, today’s woke ideology assumes that organic associations natural to any rooted community, cannot support a good society (because of ingrained racism, etc.), and therefore must be cleansed from the top down to rid it of such legacies. This is the ‘Bolshevik’ seed that Rousseau sowed.

Here is the point: Our disorientation and sense of disappearing sanity owes not a little to the psychic stress of embracing an ideology that purports to be exactly what it is not. Or, in other words, it proclaims liberty and the individual, when concealed within is absolute statism.

Alain Besançon remarks that “it is just not possible to remain intelligent under the spell of ideology”. Intelligence, after all, is an ongoing attentiveness to reality, which is inconsistent with willfulness and fantasy. Nor can it take root in the sterile soil of widespread cultural repudiation. This is why all ideological regimes are without exception plagued by sheer ineptitude.

Which neatly returns us to the afore-quoted Telegraph piece:

“Nor is there any explanation for this fiasco apart from decades of failed assumptions and policy missteps by our governing class. In the wake of the [2008] Great Financial Crisis, the Establishment just about managed to convince the public to submit to the purifying rigours of austerity [sacrificial politics] – persuading voters that we all shared the blame for the crisis and must all play a role in atoning for the country’s mistakes. This time, élites cannot shirk responsibility for the consequences of their fatal errors.

“Carnage has already arrived … And Britain is not going to escape [it]. In fact, in many ways, it looks set to be the tinderbox of Europe.

“The predicament we face is likely game-changing. We have barely begun to grasp how unpredictable the next few years are likely to be – and how poorly prepared we are to face the consequences. This may sound like a grim prognosis, but particularly in Britain, it does feel as if we just may have entered the final act of an economic system that has patently failed. It is clearer than ever that the emperor has no clothes and has no more stories to distract us with”.

The author is right. There will be public protests – in some states, perhaps, more than others; civil disobedience – such has already been launched in the UK and in the Netherlands: ‘The Don’t Pay’ campaign, which is urging people to join a ‘mass non-payment strike’, is the first token of pushback.

This, however, is but the initial step. When the western financial authorities say they ‘welcome’ a recession to destroy demand – and so to reduce inflation – implicit in this statement is an élite conviction that protest can and will be successfully squashed.

All the signs are that a ruthless, violent, and administrative suppression of popular disquiet is being contemplated.

Every so often, throughout history, humans have periodically experienced a deep sense of their lives being somehow hollow, of nothing realised, and of the world about them being sham – being somehow illusory and empty of meaning.

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

But if we look back at this pattern, repeating itself, time and time again, we get a clear sense of both the event and of the repeating experience of void. For, it is the insecurity and fearfulness associated with ‘void’ which causes torpor to fade, and people to erupt into rebellious disorder. And why also the attempt by the élite inner circle ‘to manage away’ such awakenings, so easily ends in tragedy (and bloodshed).

But there is a further – major – difficulty in today’s situation. Even if the ‘doors of perception were cleansed’ (Huxley), it is that there is no ‘there – there’. No neat conceptualisation to which he or she can say: ‘here is to ‘where’ we should be going’ – or, at least, there is ‘no-where’ that would make sense to those already becoming half-panicked at what they perceive to be the assault on all the landmarks by which they have lived their lives.

What then might ultimately break a collective psychosis caught up in some irresistible, ‘magical’ spell? Well, put simply, pain. Pain is the great clarifying agency.

What happens when people awake to the deceit of Totalitarian-Lite posing as liberty and individualism (let alone democracy!). The question then becomes: To what other ‘image-idea’ will the people collectively migrate?

The geo-political implication is that Italy may migrate to one; Germany to another; and France to yet another, and others may just ‘give up’ on the whole mess of European politics (and nihilism will rise). Does this matter? Might it possibly be revitalising?

It does let us address directly the ‘Beast of ideology’, who through ‘his’ own ineptitude, has inadvertently stripped Pandora of her masque, thus opening her box. Who may say which masque she will don next!

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

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