“When they've tortured and scared you for 20 odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function, you're so full of fear”.
– John Lennon, ‘Working Class Hero’
“The technocratic control apparatus of the United States has at its fingertips new techniques which if fully exploited could make Orwell’s 1984 seem like a benevolent utopia.”
- William Burroughs, ‘The Limits of Control’ (1978)
The Dissolution of the Control Matrix
Something remarkable has been taking place over the past five years and it has only accelerated during the two years of the pandemic. Millions of people are no longer watching the various entertainment spectacles that make up ‘popular culture’ in the West, much of which is of course global pop culture too. The ratings for a variety of long vaunted cultural vehicles have plummeted and continue to sink unabated. For instance, the ratings for the 93rd Academy Awards cratered to its all time low, its previous low being the year before. The 2021 Golden Globe Awards sunk to a thirteen-year low, losing two thirds of its audience. Netflix reported its lowest growth in subscribers in a decade, although it still has a large audience.
The same phenomenon is happening with sports. The ratings for the NBA have “gone off a cliff”. The 2020 NFL ratings were down enough that the league had to “restructure deals with advertisers to make up for the smaller audience”. The NHL’s Stanley Cup finals were the least watched since 2007, losing sixty percent of its audience from the previous year. Golf’s US Open lost half of its viewing audience, as did the US Open tennis tournament. The major leagues are losing billions, and all this during a period when many people were stuck at home. The recent Tokyo Olympics didn’t fare any better, with its “ratings in free fall”, losing half of its audience compared to the 2016 Olympics. The ratings for NBC’s coverage of the Olympics were an all-time low for the network since it started broadcasting the Olympics in 1988, and because of it NBC was forced to enter “make good” discussions with its advertisers, who were promised more viewers.
The mainstream media is also experiencing a huge drop in its audiences. CNN has lost 68% of its audience in prime time since Biden took office. MSNBC hasn’t fared much better. This prompted Glenn Greenwald to Tweet recently, “It’s hard to put into words how completely the audience for both MSNBC and CNN have collapsed: an unprecedented failure. Chris Hayes is on the verge of having fewer than a 100,000 people watching under 55. Humiliating numbers for a YouTuber. Same with Reid and Lawrence”. Trust in the media in the US has hit an all-time low, with just 29% of people saying they trust the news. The viewership for many major newspaper outlets is also down. Meanwhile, independent journalists on Substack are being strongly supported and are doing well financially. Podcast listening is on the rise, and from the viewing the numbers you can see on alternative free speech friendly platforms such as Bitchute and Rumble, there are large audiences for independent media, as there once was on YouTube before all the censorship and deplatforming began.
Why this is all happening we’ll discuss in the third and final section of this piece. But first we want to look at why this decoupling trend is very good news. And to help see that, we’ll look through the lens of Guy Debord’s concept of the society of the spectacle.
Awakening from the Long Slumber
In the 20th century various Marxist thinkers started to wonder why capitalism was holding on so long to its power, and why the workers had not yet risen to throw off their chains. Why were the masses so entranced by the fake capitalist shadows dancing on their cave walls? A group of theorists turned to looking at culture as the locus of control, such as Antonio Gramsci’s work on cultural hegemony, the Frankfurt School and their writings on the culture industry, and Gyorgy Lukacs work on class consciousness and how it’s manipulated by the ruling class. Guy Debord’s 1967 book The Society of the Spectacle is in this lineage, and it was influenced by Marshall McLuhan’s pioneering work on media and the mass media. While I wouldn’t sign on to the whole Marxist backdrop of Debord’s theoretical starting points, the book remains quite insightful into the cultural mass reality we still live in. Its series of theses in aphoristic form are quite rich, and we’ll turn to just a few of them now to see what they offer our investigation in this piece.
Thesis 3 is an important place to start. It reads: “The spectacle appears at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is the sector where all attention, all consciousness, converges. Being isolated- and precisely for that reason- this sector is the locus of illusion and false consciousness; the unity it imposes is merely the official language of generalized separation”. The spectacle is not just media, its advertising, movies, entertainment, news, branding and so on. It’s the cultural waters we swim, and most of us just take it as society itself. But that, according to Debord, is the locus of its subversive power. We think the spectacle is culture, and we talk about the latest show or fad or sports outcome over the water cooler or on social media as though it is. But really, it’s “a social relationship between people that is mediated by images” (Thesis 4). The spectacle is not real culture that we create with our neighbors or within our local communities. It’s an externally constructed reality that we look to as culture, but since most people don’t create and guide what the spectacle produces and says (“The spectacle has a monopoly of appearances” Thesis 12), it’s really the engine of a generalized alienation that we consume from afar. As Debord says in Thesis 1, “All that once was directly lived has become mere representation”.
This generalized separation is even more acute in our era of social media. Not only is social media “the trauma dome”, as my colleague Son of Korg writes, but according to a recent large and cross-cultural study (37 countries) teenage loneliness is at “troubling” levels. What’s making teens feel so isolated and lonely in so many parts of the world? The use of the smartphone/Internet, with social media at its core, was found as the culprit with remarkable consistency across the different countries and societal contexts. What could be more mediated than sitting alone and communicating through images on a phone, hoping for that dopamine hit while inwardly feeling isolated. People would be better off having a conversation with a single person at a coffee shop to find much greater fulfilment. The inherent alienation that Debord observed at heart of the society of the spectacle has been amplified even deeper with the addition of the smart phone and social media. Even when people are physically together with one another, they’re too often alone together.
The spectacle is not only a form of generalized separation, but also a powerful force of social engineering and social control. As Debord often points out, the spectacle keeps us in a state of passivity. He writes, “The spectacle…is the sun that never sets on the empire of passivity” (Thesis 13), and “The spectacle is the bad dream of a modern society in chains and ultimately expresses nothing more than its wish for sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of that sleep” (Thesis 21). Debord calls the society of the spectacle the “permanent opium war” (44), seducing the populace into narcoticized passivity with its constant shiny spectacles that we consume in a comfortable apathy. Not only does it keep the populace passive, it “replac[es] the satisfaction of primary human needs” with a “ceaseless manufacture of pseudo-needs, all of which comes down to one- namely, the pseudo-need for the reign of an autonomous economy to continue" (Thesis 51). The spectacle manufactures desires in people, most of which are unnecessary and many of which lead to addiction, as Bruce Alexander has outlined in his book The Globalization of Addiction. One of the fathers of the society of the spectacle, Edward Bernays, a former intelligence officer and nephew of Sigmund Freud, realized that people’s desires could be manufactured and steered without them knowing it. In a book on Bernays entitled The Father of Spin, the author writes, “Bernays was able to transform attitudes toward group action. He used his uncle’s ideas in the commercial realm to predict, then adjust, the way people believed and behaved. Never mind that they didn’t realize it. In fact, all the better…The techniques he developed fast became staples of political campaigns and of image-making in general” (p.ix).
This ability to steer the desires of people is an important part of the control mechanism built into the society of the spectacle, as is the ability to constrain and limit what information people take in. The mass spectacle acts as a pair of horse blinders on most people when it comes what they know about the world, especially what they know about the vast criminal activity that’s rampant yet hidden within it. As Son of Korg writes in his excellent piece OODA Loops and the Cabal, “The mainstream media does not discuss these [parapolitical] issues. They simply are occulted. How is someone to Observe wisely when so much of the crucial information that is affecting one’s environment is hidden?...What one observes is what is socially approved to be observed—things like the latest celebrity scandal or faux-outrage…Whatever action is chosen by [most people] is an ultimately controlled decision—to vote for their preferred party, to only follow cable news and social media that reinforce their worldview, and so on. Those are faux decisions. The real rub (and dastardly genius of the thing) is the appearance of free choice and meaningful decisions when, in truth, the entire enterprise is engineered”. We feel free and autonomous within the society of the spectacle, even more so since the advent of social media and the personal expression it provides. But as Yasha Levine showed in his 2018 book Surveillance Valley- The Secret Military History of the Internet, even the supposed free emergent space of the Internet and social media (“Here comes everybody!”) had a long planned history, and was designed both for surveillance and as a powerful tool for mediating what information is allowed to be posted and seen (the extensive censorship on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube being a prime examples of this, as are the machinations of Google). The illusion of freedom is a powerful force that props up and sustains the society of the spectacle.
The spectacle is also buttressed using celebrity, that whole world that surrounds us on magazine covers as we check-out at the grocery store. These larger-than-life beautiful people are to be idolized and emulated, as we wistfully wish to live such glamorous lives. But as Debord writes in Thesis 61, “Entering the spectacle as a model to be identified with, [the celebrity] renounces all autonomous qualities in order to identify himself with the general law of obedience to the succession of things…The admirable people who personify the system are well known for not being what they seem; they attain greatness by stooping below the reality of the most insignificant individual life, and everyone knows it”. Debord calls celebrities the “spectacular representations of living human beings”, who portray a glorious free life on top of the world. But they are anything but free says Debord. They are carefully controlled by the managers of the spectacle, and they must act out a role they are given to play. Let’s look at some recent comments that confirm this to be the case. During the opening brought about by the #MeToo movement, the model and actress Ana Lucia Alves broke the spectacle’s fourth wall and spoke out about what the world of celebrity is all about (the original interview with Tiffany Fitzhenry is no longer on the web). Alves says, “Celebrity is very depressing. It is a depressing, controlling, oppressive place to be…Robert De Niro, Leo DiCaprio, George Clooney, they have this thing they are given to promote, that they have to promote”. Celebrities are highly controlled and meant to play a part in the spectacle, trading their autonomy for a pirate’s treasure and a private life of carnal indulgence. Because we’re taught to identify with them from the time we are young (exploiting our natural psychological tendency to form imagos), we listen to and are influenced by the values and political opinions they (are told to) express. Celebrity is just one more insidious tool that helps build the hyperreal cage that is the society of the spectacle.
In sum, as Terence McKenna once put it, "We are caged by our cultural programming. Culture is a mass hallucination, and when you step outside the mass hallucination you see it for what it's worth". And today, many people are awakening from the slumber of the permanent opium war, no longer bound by the spell of the spectacle’s entrancing mass apparition.
Global Psyops and Its Discontents
The quickly waning grip of the society of spectacle would be good news at any time, it being such an engine of alienation, illusion, and apathy, and such a block to human flourishing. But it’s extremely good news in this world historical moment, as we are, I believe, living through a global psychological warfare operation that’s using all parts of the spectacle for a full out and full tilt assault on the minds of humanity. Now that we’re two years into two weeks to flatten the curve, even voices on the embattled left are beginning to see that something isn’t right in this whole global pandemic. Author and philosopher Charles Eisenstein spoke out bravely recently, acknowledging that, “There can be little doubt that some kind of totalitarian program is well underway…Conspiracies and the secret machinations of power do operate, and I’ve come to accept that some things about our current historical moment are best explained in those terms". When you look at a place like Australia, which has gone from a democracy to a full-on police state in a year, or heavily vaccinated Israel which is now telling its citizens that their vaccine passport won’t be valid until they get a third shot, it’s starting to become increasingly and frightfully clear that something sinister is taking place via the pandemic. The author Christopher Knowles, who has been studying and writing about the world of the parapolitical for a long time, recently wrote this- “What is going on in the world right now is the culmination of a lot of different projects and agendas that have been in the planning stages for a very long time. For whatever reason, it feels like the timetables have been moved up and everything is coming out of the toolbox”.
It appears that the ‘New World Order’ has gone live. The elites generally like to play a long gradualist game, slowly putting the pieces of their technocratic control grid in little by little so that most people don’t realize it’s happening (as they’re too busy with their lives). But now something is very different. Now it feels like we’re in the endgame, and a full court press to establish a global totalitarian technocratic world order on the back of the pandemic is viciously underway. As the Dean of the Disinfo Dozen Robert F. Kennedy Jr. put on Instagram recently, “We are in the last battle. This is the apocalypse. We are fighting for the salvation of humanity. We all knew this was coming at some point. I never believed it would happen in my lifetime, but here it is”. I don’t think he’s being dramatic or shrill when saying this. It’s just the cold hard truth. The global elite, the hidden hand, the invisible enemy, is utilizing all the tools they learned through the many illegal human experiments of the long trauma war to terrorize and traumatize people into accepting the loss of their freedoms and a new medical dictatorship. The pandemic is not meant to end. An Australian health chief even said the quiet part out loud recently. And through this permanent crisis, where regular citizen’s rights can be suspended under the guise of the emergency, governments the world over will attempt to put in new control structures that will lock in for good. As Naomi Klein saw presciently in a 2008 Rolling Stone article, China’s social credit system was complete and “ready for export”. The attempt to globally implement this “high-tech police state” is occurring right now.
But people are increasingly waking up to this and are fighting back, with massive protests in France, England, Greece, Australia, Canada, Holland, and in many cities across the United States (very little of which is shown on the news of course). There are hundreds of court cases in multiple countries that are fighting against lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccine passports and the trampling of human rights. And as we’ve been discussing, the main weapon of psychological control, the society of the spectacle, is losing its grip on people at a rapid rate. Let’s look at each of the three main pillars of the spectacle, entertainment, news, and sports, and look at why so many people are no longer tuning in. It’s all interrelated and related to the pandemic too. We can begin with sports. For sports the situation has a lot to do with the major sports leagues’ support of the woke agenda. The phrase “Go woke, get broke” is now a truism because a vast silent majority find the woke left and its values repugnant. Our culture only looks like the woke left agenda is dominant and on ‘the right side of history’ because it’s propped up by the media, and because extremely aggressive and toxic cancel culture warriors have bullied most people into silence. But the majority don’t support it at all. And the sports TV ratings and attendance show it.
Most people don’t want politics in their sports. Sports are about escapism, and they’re about having something you can talk to strangers about, like the weather. The woke agenda being crammed in sours all of that, so people are turning away. So why are these leagues still doing this, even though they’re hemorrhaging money? I believe it’s because the billionaires who own these leagues are part of the elite (or are being directed by the elite), and the elite needs the woke agenda as a tool for bringing about its technocratic world order. As I attempted to unpack in my article Is the Woke Left a New Religion? Notes on the Tip of the Spear, support of the woke agenda serves many purposes for the ruling elite. It creates endless division, allowing for easy divide and conquer rule, which keeps the public’s eyes off the real enemy (them). It’s an effective tool for censorship, deeming people opposed to their agenda as racists or misogynists or homophobes, or calling it hate speech and having it banned. It allows them to smear those who are country first nationalists (as opposed to their globalism) as backward racists or white supremacists or now domestic terrorists. People who believe in free speech can be denigrated as far-right “free speech absolutists”. Well-meaning people on the progressive left learn not to associate with or hold any of these positions. Young kids see their larger-than-life sports heroes seeming to support this woke agenda, so they think it must be good and are indoctrinated early. And just like with the celebrity actors who play a role in the spectacle, athletes better not say what they really think or the banhammer will come down quickly. The support of the woke agenda by major league sports doesn’t seem sustainable the way it’s going, but so far they have yet to pivot away from it.
The declining influence and attention capturing ability of Hollywood and the entertainment industry can also be partially attributed to its own ongoing and disastrous support of the woke agenda. But it’s also been heavily impacted by the continuing revelations about the dark degenerate rot that underlies Hollywood and the entertainment industry. From the longtime open industry secrets of serial rapists such as Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, to the strange sociopathic behavior of Kevin Spacey, or the sex trafficking of R. Kelly, or actress Alison Mack procuring girls for a sex cult involved in human slavery, or the Pussycat Dolls being “a prostitution ring”, to James Franco being a predator, or young Disney stars being openly abused or passed around as a “sexual plaything” at parties, to the long parade of A list people who spent time on Jeffrey Epstein’s island, the gloss over Hollywood has come off and what lies behind it is both disturbing and disgusting. Ricky Gervais captured this newly understood (but in actuality very old) reality in his viral monologue at the 77th Golden Globe Awards- “In this room are some of the most important TV and film executives in the world. People from every background. They all have one thing in common: they’re all terrified of Ronan Farrow. He’s coming for ya. Talking of all you perverts, it was a big year for pedophile movies. Surviving R. Kelly. Leaving Neverland. Two Popes. Shut up. Shut up. I don’t care”. And then later- “Spoiler alert, season two [of Afterlife] is on the way so in the end he obviously didn’t kill himself. Just like Jeffrey Epstein. Shut up. I know he’s your friend but I don’t care”.
The problem for the elite purveyors of the society of the spectacle, is that one of their greatest tools of social engineering is quickly losing its power. Who wants to tune in to an award show and be lectured with woke talking points by people who take part in such debauched and wicked behavior? The ‘sheep’ are no longer following the stars, and this is a real problem.Yet that hasn’t stopped them from still trying to utilize stars to influence the public during the pandemic. The British rapper Zuby recently tweeted that, “All throughout this 'pandemic', celebrities, social media influencers, singers, rappers, podcast hosts, and more, have been paid to promote lockdowns, mask mandates, and the vaxxine. In multiple countries. This is a fact”. This was confirmed by former Australian basketball star Andrew Bogut who was offered money to promote the lockdowns. The Biden administration is openly stating that they’re using ‘influencers’ in this way. Looking through the lens of the society of spectacle and knowing how stars are highly controlled and guided in their behaviour, it was pretty transparent at the beginning of the pandemic that many stars were directed to make all those videos from home, normalizing the lockdowns, normalizing Zoom, steering people into ‘the new normal’ with their “we’re all in it together” sloganeering. Through the same lens, when Arnold Schwarzenegger says, “Screw your freedom”, or Jimmy Kimmel makes his vile comments that the unvaccinated should be denied medical treatment, there’s a very good chance they’re being told to do so. And knowing the extent of blackmail operations such as Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell’s, or others like it in the past, there might've been a little extra encouragement to do so.
The last category in the growing exodus from the manufactured dream of the spectacle, is the media. People are turning off the mainstream media in droves for a variety of reasons. One of the major ones is that they’ve been repeatedly caught lying for the past five years. Whether it was the libelous smear on the Covington kids, the lie that officer Sicknick was killed on January 6th after being hit in the head with a fire extinguisher by Trump supporters, the fake story about Russian bounties on US soldiers, the bogus story that Trump teargassed protestors, getting caught trying to make a hit piece on critics of Critical Race Theory, fabricating stories about overdoses on Ivermectin, bald face lying that there were 900 covid deaths on a single day in Florida (to no doubt smear Governor DeSantis), to three years of Rachel Maddow and so many other media outlets screeching about Russiagate and how Trump and all of his children were going to jail, it’s been an incredible cavalcade of falsehoods and fabrications. We can add to that the “horrifying rise in total media blackouts” on many important stories such as Hunter Biden’s laptop or evidence of fraud in the 2020 US election, and it’s become obvious that there’s no longer a free press if it ever existed at all. The comedian Konstantin Kisin captured all this madness well in a Twitter thread that went mega viral, now written up in this article. It’s well worth the read.
It hasn’t just been the lies and suppression of stories that have turned people away from the media, it’s also been the incredible and relentless fear mongering that has been pumped out incessantly over the past two years. The British journalist Laura Dodsworth has written an important new book entitled State of Fear- How the UK Government Weaponized Fear During the Covid-19 Pandemic. In it she describes, among other things, how the UK government used behavioural scientist teams to help them with more effective messaging that would convince people to follow the pandemic dictates stipulated by the government. This included the deliberate use of fear. Like Edward Bernay’s of old, these government leaders used knowledge of human psychology to surreptitiously ‘nudge’ the behaviour of millions of people. The same techniques were applied elsewhere, such as Canada. An article in the Toronto Star on the subject says that “Ordinary citizens were laboratory subjects” in the “massive social-science experiment that has taken place over the planet this past year”. A CNN technical director was caught on an undercover camera by Project Veritas saying that they were intentionally pushing the fear narrative, saying, “It's fear. Fear really drives numbers [TV ratings]…Fear is the thing that keeps you tuned in…Which is why we constantly have the [covid] death toll on the side”. But you don’t need an undercover video when CNN posts an article with the title, ‘What changes the unvaccinated minds? Fear’. No more pretenses I guess. This raging engine of covid fear porn has made people both weary and repelled, and a great many have simply turned it all off.
It’s long been known that the media has been compromised by deep state entities such as the CIA. But the media consolidation that has occurred after Bill Clinton passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has had an even greater undermining effect on the media. Now 90% of the media is owned by 6 conglomerates, and this creates the structural capability for widespread top-down control of the media narrative being broadcast out to the world. During the pandemic more and more journalists have begun speaking out about the strict control they’ve been under. A group of British journalists called Holding the Line are saying, “We feel there’s only been one official Covid narrative that has been pushed onto the public through the mainstream media. As journalists our role is to present all the facts, not just select a few”. They also say the media has been used as “a tool for fearmongering”. In the US Fox News reporter Ivory Hecker turned whistleblower and spoke out about all the stories her boss wouldn’t let her put on air. She even secretly recorded him telling her these things, a smoking gun if there ever was one. Among other things, she was forbidden from talking about anomalies in the US election, injuries from the vaccine, and hydroxychloroquine. After Hecker spoke out, she began receiving many messages from other reporters thanking her for her bravery and telling their own similar stories to her. Hecker posted screen shots of many of these on her Telegram account (without their names), and it was quite revealing to see the breadth of this problem. To cite just one example, a reporter says, “I’m finding myself in a similar situation to you, with corporate management making strange decisions as what is and what isn’t allowed to make air. And it’s making me reconsider things I thought I knew about this business”.
The media have been compelled during the pandemic to take part in what Professor Piers Robinson, an expert on propaganda, calls “a global propaganda operation”. At least at this point in history, the media truly has become the enemy of the people. That waves and waves of people are turning it off is a very good thing.
War In Heaven, War on Earth
The war in heaven has come to earth. And from both the light and dark forces currently active here on the terrestrial plane, I’m guessing a corollary war is raging in the heavenly realms too. The good news is there’s no time for black pills now. How could life have no meaning and purpose when the future of humanity and life on the planet is at stake? If we fail, we will, to quote Winston Churchill, “Sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science”. But if humanity resists this attempted totalitarian takeover via the permanent medical crisis, and the masks of the purveyors of the long trauma war are finally pulled off, then the future looks very bright indeed. Glorious even. That many are awakening from the long slumber of the spectacle’s bad dream, is a very good sign. With every next and even more coercive step that the elites take in this endgame showdown, even more will awaken and the leave the cave, growing strong in the sun.
The war we are in is largely an information war, and in it we need to support podcasters and independent media with our dollars, walk away from platforms that censor and don’t support free speech, totally disregard Hollywood and entertainment ‘stars’, and turn off the mainstream media. We need to stay frosty, stay grounded, and stay present to the beauty of the earth that remains all around us despite all that is going on. We need to reject the bitter division we’re constantly being riled into and come to understand our true enemy. If we do these things, we got a fighting chance. See you on the battlefield my fellow humans. Let’s win this thing.