Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hagbard Celine, Never Whistle While You're Pissing

It is now theoretically possible to link the human nervous system into a radio network so that, micro-miniaturized receivers being implanted in people's brains, the messages coming out of these radios would be indistinguishable to the subjects from the voice of their own thoughts. One central transmitter, located in the nation's capital, could broadcast all day long what the authorities wanted the people to believe. The average man on the receiving end of these broadcasts would not even know he was a robot; he would think it was his own voice he was listening to. The average woman could be treated similarly.

It is ironic that people will find such a concept both shocking and frightening. Like Orwell's 1984, this is not a fantasy of the future but a parable of the present. Every citizen in every authoritarian society already has such a "radio" built into his or her brain. This radio is the little voice that asks, each time a desire is formed, "Is it safe? Will my wife (my husband/my boss/my church/my community) approve? Will people ridicule and mock me? Will the police come and arrest me?" This little voice the Freudians call "The Superego," with Freud himself vividly characterized as "the ego's harsh master." With a more functional approach, Perls, Hefferline and Goodman, in Gestalt Therapy, describe this process as "a set of conditioned verbal habits."

This set, which is fairly uniform throughout any authoritarian society, determines the actions which will, and will not, occur there. Let us consider humanity a biogram (the basic DNA blueprint of the human organism and its potentials) united with a logogram (this set of "conditioned verbal habits"). The biogram has not changed in several hundred thousand years; the logogram is different in each society. When the logogram reinforces the biogram, we have a libertarian society, such as still can be found among some American Indian tribes. Like Confucianism before it became authoritarian and rigidified, American Indian ethics is based on speaking from the heart and acting from the heart—that is, from the biogram.

No authoritarian society can tolerate this. All authority is based on conditioning men and women to act from the logogram, since the logogram is a set created by those in authority.

Every authoritarian logogram divides society, as it divides the individual, into alienated halves. Those at the bottom suffer what I shall call the burden of nescience. The natural sensory activity of the biogram—what the person sees, hears, smells, tastes, feels, and, above all, what the organism as a whole, or as a potential whole, wants—is always irrelevant and immaterial. The authoritarian logogram, not the field of sensed experience, determines what is relevant and material. This is as true of a highly paid advertising copywriter as it is of an engine lathe operator. The person acts, not on personal experience and the evaluations of the nervous system, but on the orders from above. Thus, personal experience and personal judgment being nonoperational, these functions become also less "real." They exist, if at all, only in that fantasy land which Freud called the Unconscious. Since nobody has found a way to prove that the Freudian Unconscious really exists, it can be doubted that personal experience and personal judgement exist; it is an act of faith to assume they do. The organism has become, as Marx said, "a tool, a machine, a robot."

Those at the top of the authoritarian pyramid, however, suffer an equal and opposite burden of omniscience. All that is forbidden to the servile class—the web of perception, evaluation and participation in the sensed universe—is demanded of the members of the master class. They must attempt to do the seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling and decision-making for the whole society.

But a man with a gun is told only that which people assume will not provoke him to pull the trigger. Since all authority and government are based on force, the master class, with its burden of omniscience, faces the servile, with its burden of nescience, precisely as a highwayman faces his victim. Communication is possible only between equals. The master class never abstracts enough information from the servile class to know what is actually going on in the world where the actual productivity of society occurs. Furthermore, the logogram of any authoritarian society remains fairly inflexible as time passes, but everything else in the universe constantly changes. The result can only be progressive disorientation among the rulers. The end is debacle.

The schizophrenia of authoritarianism exists both in the individual and in the whole society.

I call this the Snafu Principle.

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