Sunday, 3 May 2020

Understanding the surveillance monomania as a natural expression of Ahrimanic evil

There is a dominant monomania of surveillance: that everything everybody does, all the time, should be monitored and recorded.

I suggest that this is probably the dominant and overwhelming underlying motivation in the world over the past decades and continuing. There is a constant pressure to increase the scope and precision of surveillance - and a constant casting-around for more or less plausible excuses to do this.

There is both external surveillance - monitoring of behaviour by objective observation (especially by electronic media and 'artificial intelligence' algorithms); and there are the systems of self-surveillance ('quality assurance' as it is sometimes called) whereby individuals fill-in auditable 'forms' and other records about themselves - and these are then externally stored and perhaps checked for internal consistency.

The story of most jobs over the past decades has been one of ever-increased surveillance. And what is interesting is that far more data is collected than used.

To some extent, this is explicable in that the data is there if needed - for example, to sack an individual. But there appears to be a far deeper, and morally inflected, motivation to ever-more and more-thorough surveillance.

This is because surveillance is a part of the primary modern ideology of materialism; indeed surveillance is the expression of that world view. Surveillance is both the natural expression of materialism, and itself propaganda-for and enforcement-of materialism.

The surveillance society is the materialist society - the society from which spiritual and divine matters are excluded by unexamined and habitual assumption (which is the most effective of all exclusions).

A world in which most people participate in surveillance most of the time (often from both sides, as surveyors and as surveyed - monitors and monitored) - is a world of materialism; since the material = that which can be surveyed.

It is a world in which only that which can be surveyed counts as real and important.

The characteristic modern evil is 'Ahrimanic' - that is materialist - and this evil is seldom detected by modern men, because they live in bureaucratic systems that are the instantiation of this type of evil. And, as time goes by, all bureaucracies become linked to make a single entity: The System.

And this System has grown to occupy almost the whole of public discourse, and all the various social institutions (politics, civil service, law, military, education, media etc). The System links functions, and it links nations.

Indeed, ever less of the world is outwith The System. Now, pretty much only the individual's inner thinking (but only if he is exercising his agency, and thinking from his real and divine self) is outwith the System; and (to an important extent) the family. Therefore, The System substantially defines reality - in precisely analogous fashion to The Matrix or other virtual reality fictions.

This materialist evil of The System is vast, everywhere, and unavoidable - therefore, for most people (who suppose evil to be exemplified by violent and murderous individuals) evil goes undetected, and is indeed denied.

Evil is denied, because when God and the spiritual realm are denied, and when reality is seen as a consequence of accidents rather than a purposive creation, and men are seen as a type of animal rather than en route to becoming (small g) gods etc... then materialism is not seen as evil.

Materialism is seen as the hard-nosed, realistic truth about things, not as evil. If there is no God, not divine meaning nor purpose, then life just-is material (and the rest is stupidity, illusion and delusion).

So for Modern man there is nothing wrong with a materialist world! There is nothing wrong with a world of omni-surveillance, there is nothing necessarily wrong, therefore, with a totalitarian society.

(This helps explain why the recent global totalitarian takeover has gone largely unnoticed; and when noticed is not regarded as intrinsically bad. In the UK (perhaps the most materialist nation in the world); it seems that a very large majority of the population, as well as nearly-all of the Establishment - favour the open-ended continuation of the current totalitarian lock-down-social-distancing strategy. Omni-surveillance and micro-control are not seen as an intrinsic evil, but as an expedient benefit.) 

It is helpful to recognise that, from the perspective of Ahrimanic evil and the imperatives of materialism; all surveillance is functional - regardless of whether any 'use' is made of the data.

Here is an example from my experience. Sixteen years ago, a new form of surveillance was itroduced in UK universities which is often called the Diary Exercise. For several weeks per year, academic faculty keep a detailed journal of their hourly activities; and a new sub-bureaucracy was installed at each institution and centrally to administer the scheme. Probably, many tens of thousands of man-hours per year (and many millions of pounds) are expended on this scheme.

Apparently, no use has been made of this data (which is, anyway, objectively worthless) - at least I never heard of any such. So let's assume what is probably true: that sixteen years worth of data has simply been collected, stored but never made use of.

Has the Diary Exercise then been a mere waste of time and resources? No! Because it means that for several weeks a year, academics are compelled to reflect upon and present their work in detail, in such a form and fashion as will satisfy management - that is, year-on-year, academics are being trained in materialist thinking, and made to practise it in relation to their own lives.

By the Diary Exercise (plus, of course, many and increasing numbers of other similar schemes) academics have been trained to regard their work as primarily materialist; primarily that which can be monitored - and gradually that conceptualisation has come to be the academics self-conception of their proper work.

Materialism of living has become the habitual and unexamined way of thinking - it has become a basic assumption concerning the nature of academic work: that is, real work is what can be objectively and defensibly described to a managerial system, on an hourly basis.

My point is that materialism is an end, not a means; and as an end, any activity which promotes materialistic thinking is valid from the perspective of materialism.

It becomes clearer why Mainstream modern people are unable to resist materialism - why, indeed, they broadly embrace it. This includes the majority of Christians in the majority of Christian churches.

And it explains why only those Romantic Christians who regard the divine and spiritual as a vital part of every-day (every-hour) can and do regard materialism as evil; and regard the totalitarian imposition of materialism as evil.

For most people (including most Christians) totalitarianism is only evil if or when it engages in violence and murder (at least, that is all the evil they ever talk about).

But for Romantic Christians, the evil of totalitarianism is the evil of materialism - thus totalitarianism is intrinsically evil.

A world of omni-surveillance is evil, and micro-control of behaviour is evil - because these are means to the end of universal and mandatory materialism. They are training us into materialism of thinking and communicating; they are enforcing materialism on all discourse, and as the basis of all activities.

And this is the major and dominant form of evil in the modern world - yet an evil that is invisible and denied by most people, all of the time.

Note added: I certainly experienced surveillance, especially self-surveillance, as an active evil - although (before I was a Christian) I was not able to explain 'why' this was so. Instead I explained my resistance in terms of surveillance being educationally and in terms of academic research, both inefficient and ineffective. But my (albeit slight and indirect - because of my dissent and boycotts) experience of participation in quality assurance exercises felt like I was being crushed under suffocating weight; meaning was drained from my vocation; I felt that my inner motivation and purpose was being replaced by the demand for submission to arbitrary or malign external plans. 


Francis Berger said...

What I find increasingly troubling are the reports of citizens informing on other citizens for engaging in seemingly harmless activities during the lockdown. I recently spoke to a friend of mine who works as police officer in Canada. He told he me he now spends most of his day following up on reports of neighbors 'snitching' on their neighbors for lockdown infractions.

Omni-surveillance has become a virtue in the material world. Modern people have fallen into the trap of believing they are being virtuous when they summon the authorities on their neighbors for the slightest perceived breach of authoritarian measures. Who needs hi-tech micro-surveillance when you have a populace like that?

Matthew T said...

"This is because surveillance is a part of the primary modern ideology of materialism"

Not to be too topical, which I know we don't like on this blog, but here in Canada the government announced a sweeping ban on many popular firearms a few days ago. And online, I've seen many sentiments like this: "a conservative government could've gotten in, and stopped this, if only they would lay off with the 'socially' conservative stuff which I find icky".

Granted these are doubtless young, inexperienced men in general. The point is, every time I hear this, I want to say to these people: do you not get how it works? How it works is, if you won't use the freedoms and privileges you've been given properly, then the universe withdraws your other ones too, as any loving parent would.

And so you get atheist-materialist gun owners, who say "I just want to be left alone", not realizing that their materialist worldview guarantees they won't be left alone.

Matthew T said...

@Francis - and people don't even have the wherewithal to enforce the old "snitches get stitches". Not morally, not spiritually, heck technologically they likely don't even know who's snitching.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Francis and Matthew - My impression is that the mass of people actively welcome the totalitarian takeover, and regard the crisis changes as morally admirable. Informers therefore both feel good about themselves and expect admiration for their actions in keeping people 'safe' (and 'supporting' The NHS). They regard the curfew breakers as reckless hedonists who endanger 'everybody' - and who deserve to be 'made an example of'.

Ranger said...

"Don't you know we are at war?"
" It shouldn't be permitted"
"Let's make an example of them"

Orc mentality intensifies. We are now living the Scouring of the Shire, but, so far, there doesn't seem to be any 4 Travellers coming back to light us up.

In different news, today was the first time I realized the sound similarity of Ahriman and Saruman (the philosophical similarity is quite obvious).

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ranger. Except in our society there is no Took resistance; and the majority of the population are Lotho Pimples or Ted Sandymans...

Ingemar said...

Things are different here in America.

In southern California where I live, thousands of locals descended upon the beaches on May 1, the day that our Governor said all state parks and beaches would remain closed.

New Yorkers used the snitching app to send lewd photos and Hitler memes to the city government.

And right near me, I can confirm with my own eyewitness people are going to the beach despite the "beach closed" signs.

Increasingly people are ignoring the arbitrary and unjust rules. I think they realize the risk of arrest and persecution but balanced it against the fact that there aren't enough police to arrest them all. Some I reckon would gladly go to jail to prove to themselves and others that they are free from spiritual bondage.