• Miguel A. Fernandez

They don´t control you

by Miguel A. Fernandez

Very few would dare to suspect that the expression “they control us” which is often applied by the public to the powerful political and technocratic elites (powers that be, ruling classes, etc.) is not only an equivocal expression but also it´s extremely disempowering for whoever affirms it. As all linguistic construction this one also has embedded an interpretation of the world, and in this case the interpretation is based on a reductionist-anthropomorphic worldview that assumes that some individuals in positions of power (politicians, etc.) can actually “control” others. Not only conspiracy theorists, but also the entire press and media proliferates this wrong prejudice.

But if we have the chance of gaining an actual experience on how power relations operate in organizations, we never see anywhere individuals “controlling” others; what we actually observe is the imposition exerted by impersonal power structures (i.e. the State, corporations, financial system, administration, etc.) that base their effective power on the sociopolitical and economical agreement on a series of values by society, and in urban-industrial societies it´s very often an ideological type of collective agreement. In this context there might be individuals aiming to “control” others in order to maintain their prerogatives or socioeconomic status, but this aim implies surrendering to an abstraction –the concept of “control”- that gained its presence in the modern minds since the development of servo-systems in the 1920s and cybernetics in the 1930s, yet constituting a concept that has an extremely limited application in concrete realities that exist beyond the engineering of automatic regulators and automata.

For instance, in nature we never see such thing as a “control” of one species by another, or in other words: we never see zoos. What we see in nature is the spontaneous establishment of hierarchical relations dependent on long-range ecosystem dynamics. And in the case of civilizations, what modern historians often refer to as “control by the elites” corresponds to an optical illusion that is produced by the distorted lens of anthropomorphism applied upon the type of order that defines a civilization or State. This order implies the capacity of a given State to provide form to the chaotic forces of nature which are present in all living beings -even in the human being- and this form can only be accomplished by developing a hierarchy where the cosmological values that support the State organize the life of society at all levels. Contrary to the common prejudice, the primordial function of the higher castes of a given State (kingship, aristocracies, dynasties, etc.) is not that of “controlling” the life of the populations, but to incarnate the values that support the State, this is, to have the capacity to respond to any fact or phenomenon (war, food scarcity, etc.) that ought to be mastered in order to keep up the stability of the State, and as a consequence, the stability and order in society. However, modern historiography has been heavily influenced by a misleading interpretation of Charles Darwin´s studies on natural selection, and this purely ideological interpretation of the evolutionary processes that take place in nature has strongly permeated during the 20th century the developments of all sociological, economic and politic thinking in general. As a consequence, the notion of the “survival of the fittest” has served to persuade the public with the wrong assumption that those sectors that are granted with representative power in the State (politicians, wealthy industrialists/CEOs, technocrats, old dynasties, etc.) are the most “evolved” sectors in society, or in other words, they´re wrongly assumed to fulfill the same Statesmanship role in modernity as, for instance, the Patricians in Ancient Rome. And this assumption is extremely far from the truth because in times such as today´s dominated by the massive production of digital information at a worldwide scale, only extremely powerful computing systems have the capacity of classifying all the worldwide economic and social data in order to generate a cybernetic order at a global level. Today, effective power resides in this impersonal cybernetic architecture, and the so-called “elites” are forced to surrender to the total demands of this technological system as everyone else. For instance, today a wealthy bank multinational must always keep up with the latest developments in criptotechnologies, etc. in order to stay in business, just like any small company or freelance worker. Very likely the French philosopher Jacques Ellul is the first thinker who presented the inner laws of the technological system (automatism, self-augmentation, autonomy, unity, universality, causal progression, etc.) which essentially demonstrate that the system self-organizes -just like any other dissipative system in the cosmos- and this self-organization implies progressively greater levels of structural power upon all the economic and sociopolitical processes it encompasses. It´s not that this technological system “controls” the work of individuals, but that the individuals are incentivized to collectively agree in the use of specific technologies, in order to have access to economic resources and sociopolitical opportunities. This process transcends all nations, cultures and all the limits defined by modern socioeconomic standards and classes, provoking a fast displacement of power from the capitalist sectors and national governments towards the sectors formed by the high echelon technocrats that operate at a global level.

And along this process the former powers of the 19th-20th century (State-nation governments, capitalist sectors, etc.) become desperate to not lose “control” of their prerogatives and support by society, and therefore they resort to propaganda strategies which ultimately aim to conserve in the minds of the public the old 19th-20th century political values (democracy, State-nation sovereignty, etc.). This use of propaganda is indeed an attempt to “control” public opinion, this is, an attempt to drive public opinion in a very specific direction that promotes specific ideologies and narratives in the minds of the population, as an indirect way of advertising to the public the narrative that “those who represent power (politicians, etc.) are the sector responsible to cope with the problems presented in such narratives”, this is, as a justification for maintaining their political privileges. In this regard, often false flag operations are employed by those sectors that aim for “control”, shocking the public opinion and driving it intensively towards a series of narratives that define a very specific public problem that demands the public intervention of those sectors who aim to maintain their status by desiring to “control” public opinion. But here it´s important to make an important distinction: the fact that these sectors aim to “control” the population minds (by directing the contents of public opinion…) in no way implies that they can actually “control” the life of such populations. Why?... Let´s again observe what occurs in nature:

As formerly pointed out, in nature there´s no process that follows the dynamics of “control” and this goes hand in hand with the fact that in nature it´s also very difficult to clearly discern an “individual” as such, this is, the existence of any entity separated from totality, because in the broader sense of the word “control” implies the goal of separating a being or a process from totality. In this regard, German writer Ernst Jünger proposed us in the 1930s the notion of the “type”, as a being that symbolizes in its forms the character of totality. For instance, it´s easy to realize that in the organism of a simple ant is contained the entire cosmos because the ant´s metabolism is firstly linked to the characteristics of its congenial territory/ecosystem; secondly this ecosystem is linked to the planet´s biosphere; and thirdly the planet´s biosphere is linked to the cycles of the planets, stars and constellations in outer space. Jünger argued that the more any being encompasses totality, the more freedom and power it incarnates.

Ernst Jünger

When we observe a termite mound, we could hypothesize the existence of, let´s say, 150 “individual” termites, but such observation is merely a very reductionist projection upon nature of a materialistic paradigm because it´s easy to verify that, just like in the case of starling flocks, all the termites follow synergic dynamics that aim to constantly evolve towards the “type”, this is, towards the termite species that encompasses totality.

In the case of human communities that have a direct relation with nature the goal is also the same; it´s about the evolution towards human types or castes that encompass totality and incarnate the State, be it a king, queen, nobility, saints, heroes, etc. However this evolution can easily be aborted if a community becomes politically conceived as a mass society supposedly composed of “individuals” separated from each other and separated from the cosmos at large. This separation isn´t but an abstraction, and yet it can become a stiff conviction that´s often referred to as the individual´s “ego”. The “ego” disrupts the connection with totality/transcendence and the result of this false separation is the feeling of fear, which is accompanied with feelings of anxiety that are induced by a lack of self-knowledge capable of mirroring the knowledge of the outer world and the total forces that operate upon the cosmos. Both fear and anxiety paralyze the evolution of human consciousness and reinforce the sense of separation, and yet this separation once and again exposes its false character because it´s precisely those who perceive themselves as “individuals” and “egos” those who are more susceptible to totally surrender to the collective demands of a given mass society.

State-nation propaganda, advertisement companies and mass-media in general take full advantage of the individual´s fear by feeding the individual´s minds with all sort of ideological narratives that justify the individual’s sense of separation from totality. All ideologies have one same thing in common: they´re addressed exclusively to mass individuals and collectives, but not to the singular person who aspires towards totality and freedom. Hence the result is not directly a “control” of the individual´s life by such sophisticate techniques but rather a stiffening of their ego, an “addiction” to their ego which then demands more and more doses of propaganda from all sources (T.V. radio, Internet, etc.). The immediate result of this neurotic compensation is that the individual adopts behaviors that are mechanistic, exclusively based on quantitative factors (i.e. performance…), a behavior which sets the path for all technological interface or mediations to intrude in the style by which such individual actively relates to other individuals and to the cosmos at large. If there is any chance of actual “control” of the individual´s actions it´s precisely in terms of the technical control exerted by the technological “prosthesis” that the individual employs at work or during leisure moments.

These technological “prosthesis” (or that which Marshall McLuhan referred to as “extensions”) don´t redeem fear, but rather numb the human senses in such a powerful way that, just like a powerful anxiolytic (Valium, Ritalin, etc.) any human experience that might induce stress and anxiety is then not even perceived by the individual, according to a former process of perceptive modification that McLuhan himself referred to as the “molding of the perceptive faculties” by the technological medium itself. Any individual who reaches this perceptive state exerts actions and adopts decisions that are mechanistic, passively driven by external stimuli, and therefore such individual is susceptible to surrender to collective dynamics. Many corporations and institutions aim to monopolize and “control” such type of passive collective-mechanistic individual behaviors for increasing their own profit and power, but it would be inaccurate to state that they´re actually “controlling” the individual. Such statement would be another optical illusion… It´s the selfsame individual who, dominated by the fear induced by a false separation from totality, pursues any interpretation of the world that justifies such separation. Very few would dare to accept that since the Copernican revolution, even modern science has fully justified this separation, since it implicitly assumes that the “objectivity” of nature is independent of the symbolic imagination that human senses can acquire during the phenomenon of perception. The defense of this power of imagination is precisely what confronted Goethe with Newton during the dawn of modern science… Also, public opinion feeds the individual´s ego with this justification of separation because it addresses exclusively the individual or citizen who is a passive assimilator of contents and narratives linked to immediacy (news, etc.) or in other words, a citizen who is also separated from the past and from the power of time in general.

Some might suggest that a human being who is imprisoned, just like an animal that is caged in a zoo, is someone who can be successfully “controlled” by a given government by means of physical barriers…

Let´s keep in mind that in modern urban-industrial societies the requirement of total State order is a much greater priority than the judicial and legal requirements that in former societies determined law and that were mainly founded on ethical and theological frameworks. Consequently, in this modern context both States and governments have often resorted to physical control methods (prisons, concentration camps, etc.) to minimize the risks of any disruption of State order. But physical methods of control can only succeed when individual action is reduced to a mechanistic character and therefore is highly predictable, generally based on passive responses to external stimuli or need for physical survival. Also, once an individual is deprived of technical means (i.e. weapons) the perceptive faculties of such individual then categorize the immediate surrounding dynamics in terms of the former “molding” of the senses operated by the individual´s former relation to technology. In other words, we might have the key to escape from the prison in front of our selfsame eyes, but we might not be able to see it because the invisible “prosthesis” or “extensions” that were formerly forged in our senses (at work or during leisure) actually direct the gesture of the eyes and hands in a very specific direction. And yet whenever a human being gains operative knowledge of the physical methods of control employed by a given structure of power (an awareness that animals are incapable of…) this knowledge by itself provides the human being´s consciousness with new degrees of freedom that, in terms of action, easily dodge the constrictions imposed by any physical or technological method of control.

As a conclusion: if there are any chances of “control” by a structure of power or State upon a human being this “control” is only feasible through technological means, and linked to these means is always a very specific perception of the cosmos, which implies that the common assumption that “technology is neutral and it depends on how we use it” is extremely lopsided. However, in a society like today where technology is naively assumed to be a mere “means”, the individual is persuaded to believe that he/she “uses” a given technology in order to satisfy their individual goals, and yet it´s actually the technological mediation itself what not only determines the character of the individual´s actions upon reality but also progressively configures the structure and depth of the individual´s worldview and consciousness.

Consequently, the only way for a human being to gain freedom in today´s society is by making a responsible use of all technological means available, this is, by developing an operative of technique. This responsibility implies first the acknowledgment that the use of a given technological mediation operates simultaneously upon reality as upon the perceptive faculties of the person who makes use of such technology. This “molding” of the perceptive faculties by technological means remains permanently embedded in the individual´s senses and “rewires” the nervous system, even when released from the use of such technological means, and even when sleeping. So it´s not misleading to affirm that any technology operates upon consciousness exactly as a drug. And here comes the issue of responsibility as occurs with any other drug: how can a human being make use of a technology without letting his/her perceptive faculties be determined by such technology?...

As in the case of any drug addiction, the problem here is purely existential, and only secondarily therapeutic… It´s about encouraging human beings to live their most authentic and genuine lives, to encourage them to learn to get stronger through adversity, to encourage them to be who they are, to learn how to fight, to learn how to love, to encourage them to challenge all the delusions and deceptions that feed their ego, to encourage them to regain the extraordinary power of the human senses in relation to the cosmos, to encourage them to avoid most diversions/entertainments and to rather encourage them to define for themselves a personal mission. The cultivation and disciplining of this human type is the perfect “antidote” against the intrusions of any power that aims for “control”, and it’s precisely this human type who, as timelessly demonstrated in myth and legend, demonstrates that such notion of “control” is simply a mirage and an illusion.

Miguel A. Fernandez

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