United States of America: Homeland of The Matrix Conspiracy
In the beginning of my article on The Matrix Conspiracy, I wrote:
Many of the popular conspiracy theories come from USA. This is hardly because that the European governments, companies, institutions and organizations are more reliable than the American. However, the freedom loving Americans all feel a personal responsibility as the society's watchdogs. For better or for worse it is lying as a fundamental value within the culture, that you hunt the truth at any price. This mentality has created a line of interesting stories, which all point towards another truth, than the one we know – or have become deceived to believe in.
In my update to the article I wrote:
With my concept of The Matrix Conspiracy I put myself in the risk of being accused of being a paranoid conspiracy theorist. This is not the case. I´m just making aware of that there exists a conspiracy theory which is called The Matrix Conspiracy, and that this conspiracy in fact are a global spreading ideology. An ideology I´m highly critical towards. My critique is in that way ideological critique, or cultural critique.
The concept of the Matrix comes from mathematics, but is more popular known from the movie the Matrix, which asks the question whether we might live in a computer simulation. In The Matrix though, there is also an evil demon, or evil demons, namely the machines which keep the humans´ in tanks linked to black cable wires that stimulates the virtual reality of the Matrix. Doing this the machines can use the human bodies as batteries that supply the machines with energy. This leads of course to questions of evil scientists, Sophists, etc. It is the fascination of the virtual reality that deceives the humans.
The philosophy behind the movie comes from especially two philosophers: Rene Descartes and George Berkeley. But the idea that the whole of reality might not exist at all, is an essential American way of thinking. The problem is that this way of thinking is forced upon people globally.
This article is divided into two parts:
1) America as a Fantasyland
2) Evolutionism as a Science Fiction Producer
1) America as a Fantasyland
Susan Jacoby's new book The Age of American Unreason might be viewed as a kind of sequel to Richard Hofstadter's 1963 classic, “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.” A cultural history of the last forty years, The Age of American Unreason focuses on the convergence of social forces—usually treated as separate entities—that has created a perfect storm of anti-rationalism. These include the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, with more political power today than ever before; the failure of public education to create an informed citizenry; and the triumph of video over print culture. Sparing neither the right nor the left, Jacoby asserts that Americans today have embraced a universe of “junk thought” that makes almost no effort to separate fact from opinion.
With mordant wit, she surveys an anti-rationalist landscape extending from pop culture to a pseudo-intellectual universe of "junk thought." Disdain for logic and evidence defines a pervasive malaise fostered by the mass media, triumphalist religious fundamentalism, mediocre public education, a dearth of fair-minded public intellectuals on the right and the left, and, above all, a lazy and credulous public. It is a breeding ground for populism.
In my articles on Donald Trump (The Confabulation of Trump, and its update, A Critique of Donald Trump), I showed that populism is the key factor in the election of Donald Trump as the President of US. The key elements of this kind of populism are anti-elitism and nativism, which can translate into anti-immigrant views. Donald Trump, and his government, are defending concepts of “alternate truths” about Trump´s ideas, and “fake news” about any critique of him. Trump is completely indifferent to what is true and false, never speaks positively about democracy, equality before the law or human rights. He openly admires foreign dictators, who define leadership as the ability to suppress the opposition and who led an election campaign where people who contradicted him were removed by force. So, we actually have a quite good idea about what we are dealing with.
Donald Trump seems like the ultimate proof of the premise of Kurt Andersen´s book Fantasyland – How America Went Haywire. An entertainer, reality tv star, conspiracy theorist, con artist and pathological liar are now sitting in the White House. In his book Andersen argues for that USA was created by people, who likes good stories and the believe in the, some times a bit too, fantastic worlds. The book describes the Trump-phenomenon as a direct consequence of the land´s history. The national character is determined by the right of believing what you want. No matter what others are saying. This moment in history, the era of Donald Trump, where facts no longer are facts, are quite natural for Americans.
In the start of Fantasyland Andersen defines to decisive movements for the creation of the American identity: the strong religious protestant immigrants, and the English colonialists. Other versions of American history has also told this story, but Andersen is doing it in quite another way.
When the puritans went from Europe to America, they precisely did this because they insisted on the right to believe what they wanted to, even if the surrounded world believed they were crazy. The first English attempts on settling in America was an attempt of copying the Spaniards, who had found gold in South America and Mexico. The English dreamt fever dreams about their own Eldorado. However, there was no gold in Jamestown in Virginia, which became the British´s first anchor in the new world. Neverthelesss, they kept on believing that the grand gold discovery was just around the next corner.
Andersen believes that the Nation is created by what at that time was extremist protestant sects and people who kept on digging after gold, despite that people died like flies. In other words: religious nutcases and soldiers of fortune, who hoped about being rich in a moment.
Andersen hereafter follows the American history, which slowly over the centuries develops into the present Fantasyland, where reality constantly are being questioned, and where the irrational and false have become respectable and perhaps unstoppable.
Over witch hunts, revivalist preachers, Mormons, gold diggers, quacks, capitalists, sects, immigrants and soldiers of fortune, who believe they can become millionaires over a night, the book is going through the history of America. A history which are accentuated by strong individuality, anti-establishment-culture, extreme religiousness and the believe in the fantastic – that anything is possible.
The classical American enterprise plays a central role in the development. The American idea, that everything can be sold or bought – even religion, is quite unique for USA. Andersen says that before John D. Rockefeller ended up as the world´s richest man, the oil baron´s father got rich on a false pink elixir drink by the name Microbe Killer, which apparently was able to cure all diseases.
The establishment of Hollywood´s dream universe marks another turning-point on USA´s path towards the ultimate state of “Fantasyland”. The most famous people in USA are now actors – persons who pretend to be other persons, who exists in an alternative version of reality. In the movie theatres´ seats, everybody can now live a life with unrealistic stories, and they can dream themselves away into another reality.
The 1960s puts even more fire to this. The hippies´ rebellion against the existing norms begins in a beautiful way, but leads to a widespread relativism, where the subjective view becomes more important than the objective. The political left, and its insistence that you can perceive many things in different ways, was gaining foothold in the academical world and therefore it was turned into the society as such. With time the political right was following and has taken relativism into new heights. Andersen argues that the 1968s somehow is partly responsible for the denial of facts coming from the political right. I have myself argued for this. American weapon enthusiasts, climate deniers and conspiracy theoreticians are in a high degree using information which are against the objective truth.
The hippies´ message about that you can believe in anything because truth is constructed, created a markedly movement. In the 1960s all forms of belief and speculations were suddenly made possible, says Andersen.
Around the turn of the century another revolution happened: the internet allows the spread of fake news, and wrong information and viewpoints explode. Conspiracy theorists have found a haven here. Donald Trump, for example, created his political platform and power base in the republican party on the background of a conspiracy theory: that the former president, Barack Obama, not is born in USA.
The internet creates a perfect infrastructure to obscure ideas and beliefs, which before were long from mainstream. Alternative realities could now be discharged to a huge audience, which the traditional gatekeepers couldn´t control.
In 1961 the former president Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against the “military industrial complex”. He believed that the mix of interests of the US military and the weapon industry could have catastrophic consequences. Andersen, however, is worried about the “fantasy industrial complex” where the mix of business, religion, entertainment, technology and politics, have created a culture which are out of touch with reality. Where truth not is truth, facts not is facts, and where you can believe whatever you want to believe.
People want to be entertained. Everything can now become entertainment, and entertainment sneaks in in all parts of society. Andersen claims that this is important in order to understand why the difference between fantasy and reality has become blurred.
Americans are basically more religious and believe more in supernatural phenomena than most other “highly developed” societies. According to Andersen, half of the Americans are completely convinced that there exists a divine heaven where you come up when you die. Two-thirds believe that there exist angels and demons, while half see God as a male being and not just a universal power.
But the Americans also believe in all kind of other stuff. A third is convinced that aliens have visited earth and that the government has invented a cure for cancer, but keeps it hidden for the population. Almost a quarter believe that vaccines creates autism – and that Donald Trump won most votes at the presidential election in 2016. 15 procent believes that the medias or the government have inserted technology in the TV signals which can control peoples´ minds.
Andersen argues that the strong Protestantism, mixed with the thoughts of the enlightenment time, have created a unique situation – and a problem for America. The impulse in Protestantism to find meaning in everything, mixed with the enlightenment time´s focus on empirical evidence, have created Americans´ mania with connecting all points. Everything has to be explained. Irrationality mixed with rationality.
The special about the American Protestantism was, among others, that you were in completely new country where you could do what you liked to do: create your own faith societies, churches and cities. Where everything was possible. People could in fact be rich overnight. This was mixed with the less fortunate aspects of the Enlightenment time. Not Voltaire, Jefferson and Hume, but on the contrary the viewpoint that you can believe in anything. When you in this way don´t care about normal rules of evidence, for example through science, you end in an almost religious believe, that you can define your own reality; a phenomenon which is very American and are characterizing the situation today. This is the problem of reductionism, pseudoscience and scientism. The insistence that science should be united with spirituality. New Age. Quite central in New Age is the idea that you can create your own reality, an idea which often is supplied with all kinds of pseudoscientific statements that claim to prove it. There is no consideration of evidence at all.
Many analyses and evaluations points towards that USA is a split country, where the political difference is so large that the country almost isn´t connected. But according to Andersen there is another split which is more important: the split between those who believe in science and fact, and the part of the population who just believes what they feel are right. This is a more fundamental split and a much more dangerous one. The problem is that the ones who believe in facts also have develop into a typical American fundamentalism, namely atheist fundamentalism.
Andersen is very critical towards Trump. But Fantasyland was actually written long before Trump was nominated as the presidential candidate for the Republican party in the summer of 2016. Andersen had to rewrite it, so that the president could be included. He had good experiences since he had been writing about Trump in several years for different American publications.
When one of Donald Trump´s attorneys and a near political supporter, the former New York mayor, Rudy Giulliani, in front of rolling cameras, should explain why the president didn´t had to be questioned in the Mueller investigation, another low in the American post-factual world, was seen. He said that the argument for why the president needed to give an explanation, since he just could tell the truth and therefore hadn´t anything to fear, was a silly argument. Because that would just be one single version of truth, which not is truth.
The TV host answered confused: “truth is truth.”
“No, truth is not just truth,” was the surrealistic explanation from the president´s attorney.
One of the promises Donald Trump gave the Americans was: “I will give you anything” and “all the dreams, you have dreamt for your country, will be fulfilled”. Andersen believes that Trump´s feat both was to use the Americans´ distrust in the democratic system and at the same time play on Americans´ unrealistic dreams and fantasies about National greatness.
Trump is just a symbol on the underlying development of distorted reality and indifference towards facts. It will still be there when Trump no longer is president, says Andersen. But because Trump incarnates this development, it makes it even more clear how crazy America might seem to non-Americans.
In my article on Oprah Winfrey, I mentioned that she was mentioned as a possible 2020 candidate for President. She hasn´t announced anything yet. But one of her spiritual teachers, Marianne Williamson, on the other hand, has announced that she is running for president in 2020. Marianne Williamson is a New Ager who teaches A Course in Miracles. A quite central mantra in her teaching is that reality doesn´t exist. I will return to her presidential campaign in a coming article.
2) Evolutionism as a Science Fiction Producer
If there is a red thread running through the Matrix Conspiracy, it is evolutionism. How close to the concept of the Matrix (the theory that we live, or ought to live, in a computer simulation) evolutionism has developed today, ran into my mind when I wrote an article about the American psychedelic futurist and promotor of The Californian Ideology, David Jay Brown. The so-called ”Californian Ideology” have emerged promoting a form of techno-utopia as a reachable goal. "The Californian Ideology" is a 1995 essay by English media theorists Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron of the University of Westminster (download). Barbrook describes it as a "critique of dotcom neoliberalism". In the essay, Barbrook and Cameron argue that the rise of networking technologies in Silicon Valley in the 1990s was linked to American neoliberalism and a paradoxical hybridization of beliefs from the political left and right in the form of hopeful technological determinism. This ideology mixed New Left and New Right beliefs together based on their shared interest in anti-statism, the counterculture of the 1960s, and techno-utopianism. Again: a direct product of American fantasy, or rather, science fiction.
Transhumanism is an intellectual movement which is greatly influenced by science fiction and presents an idealistic point of view of what technology could do for humanity in the future, not what it can do; it's all hypothetical. It advocates for the transformation of the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to ”greatly enhance human intellect and physiology”. It talks about brain emulation, immortality, cryonics and mind uploading. All in all: a dream about that humans should melt together with machines and computers.
In that connection it is worth reminding that these ideas now are fully in action, and implanted through internet, TV, mobile phones and social medias as for example Facebook (see my article Is Facebook as Matrix Machine?). Everyone is today more or less associated with screens instead of reality.
In his book, The New Science of Psychedelics: At the Nexus of Culture, Consciousness, and Spirituality, David Jay Brown says:
I think DNA is ultimately trying to create a world where the imagination is externalized, where the mind and the external world become synchronized as one, so that basically whatever we can imagine can become a reality. Literally. And I think that everything throughout our entire evolution has been moving slowly toward that goal. In the past thousand years, it´s been very steady. And through nanotechnology, through artificial intelligence, through advanced robotics, I think we´re entering into an age where we´ll be able to control matter with our thoughts and actually be able to create anything that our minds can conceive of. We´re very quickly heading into a time where machines are going to be more intelligent than we are, and we´re going to most likely merge, I think, with these intelligent machines and develop capacities and abilities that we can barely imagine right now, such as the ability to self-transform. What we can do with computers – digital technology, the way we can morph things on a computer screen – is the beginning of understanding that that´s how reality itself is organized, that we can do that with physical reality through nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, that the digital nature of reality itself will allow us to externalize whatever we think. So, I think that eventually reality will become like a computer graphic screen, and we´ll be able to create whatever we want. That sound right?
David Jay Brown´s ideas are common in certain very influential parts of America, for example Silicon Valley and the so-called Californian Ideology, and I found that there here is a conscious strategy going on, which through technology, internet and social media wants the rest of the world to adapt this way of thinking.
That Brown supports the fascistic concept of the evolution of consciousness can be seen in his own evolutionary theory. He describes it in the chapter Head West and Get High, Young Man. Here he tells the story about that when he had completed his master´s degree in neuroscience at New York University in 1986, he drove across country to California, the place that he love more than anywhere else on Earth. A “beautiful, awe-inspiring, cannabis-fueled drive across the country…”.
Heading west was important to him. Not surprisingly, he learned from Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson that “for thousands of years the most experimentally minded and cultural innovative people have been steadily migrating in a westward pattern around the planet”. Brown had read Leary´s essay “Spinning Up the Genetic Highway” (from the book The Intelligence Agents – [sic]) when he was tripping on blotter acid during a break from college at the age of eighteen, and he realized that he needed to move to California as soon as possible if he wanted to find other people who were thinking brilliant ideas like himself. He writes that someone once asked Leary, “What do you do after you turn on?” Leary replied, “find the others.”
Westward migration made sense to me while I was tripping, because I realized that migrating west means that you´re moving against the spin of the planet, which spins from east to west. From an extraterrestrial vantage point (i.e., high off the planet) moving west can be seen as a climb upward over time, as though humans for thousands of years have been faithfully ascending a giant mountain that stretches from India to Hawaii (page 28-29).
Brown´s claim is that if one studies the history of human civilizations, it seems that those areas of the world where people have been the most culturally experimental and technologically innovative have steadily moved west since the beginning of the first developed countries that exist to this day. He writes:
The oldest surviving nations on the planet can be found in the East, and those places where great cultural advancements have taken place seem to light up in a westward (i.e., upwardly) directional sequence, beginning in India and China, expanding into the Middle East, and winding into eastern Europe, then into western Europe and Great Britain, to the east coast of America, and finally to the west coast of America, where California and Hawaii represent the current peaks of this global migration process (page 29).
There you are. A progressivist form of fascism, directly taken out of the handbook of
The Matrix Conspiracy Fascism. Brown continues:
When one travels eastward from California, one encounters societies that have increasingly older and older histories, less and less tolerance for individual differences, more and more suspicion about anything new or different, and greater and greater respect for and attachment to authority and tradition. Traveling west from China, one sees this pattern going in reverse, until one reaches California and Hawaii, where there is considerable lifestyle and cultural experimentation and tolerance for individual differences. I agree with Wilson and Leary that traveling eastward takes you into the past, and moving westward carries you into the future. The planetary time zones on Earth should not be separated by hours, Leary said, but rather by centuries (page 29).
Greater tolerance for individual differences? He continues:
Why has California primarily settled from Europe and not Asia? Where were all the great Asian explorers in history? Why did the world explorers who settled the Americas come primarly from western Europe and not eastern Asia? Why is California so psychedelic, so tolerant and open-minded, and so culturally experimental compared to the rest of the world? The answers to these questions, I suspect, reside in our understanding of planetary spin. We evolved by moving upwards, by getting high, by moving against the spin of the Earth (page 30).
I guess that America, hereunder California, shouldn´t be taken as the first example of a higher tolerance compared to other places in the world. Racism in the United States against non-whites is widespread and has been since the colonial era.
Anybody with just a tiny bit of historical knowledge knows about the treatment of Native Americans and African Americans, which continues today (try to make a quick Wikipedia search for racism in America). And this is not only limited to Native Americans and Black Americans; just about anybody with another skin color than white are subjects of intolerance in America. If Brown thinks that California is beyond this take a look at the history of racism in California (you´re in for a long study). But of course, as the above-mentioned Susan Jacoby has pointed out: Americans (hereunder Brown) are completely ignorant to history. Brown is just one of many examples of the decline of education in America. It is though-provoking that he apparently has earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Southern California (USC) in 1983. At New York University in 1986, he earned a master's degree in psychobiology. At USC, he assisted with research in a doctoral program for behavioral neuroscience.
The main problem is that America has succeeded in planting the idea in peoples´ minds that everything coming from America is innovative and better than the rest of the world. Therefore we are facing an entrance into a global Brave New World, as Aldous Huxley already has prophesized.
The Matrix Conspiracy Updates
The Matrix Conspiracy Fascism
The Psychedelic Renaissance and David Jay Brown
A Critique of Diploma Mills (Americans have a tendency to write Dr., MA, MD, or PHD, as extensions of their names. They do this on websites and on their books. Precisely this obsession with titles ought to cause a certain skepticism)