In 1990 theologian John Milbank wrote Theology and Social Theory. The book was (and continues to be) a radical critique of modernist humanism particularly of the social sciences as being an intellectual cover for a more power-grabbing, secular agenda.
Milbank argued that while the social scientific disciplines—particularly economics, political science, and sociology—saw themselves as neutral objective observers of human social relations, in reality the disciplines are shot through with what Milbank termed violence. Milbank means here a kind of ontological violence. The violence being an inherently antagonistic relationship to theology (and thereby the Divine).
Milbank was certainly fluent in many strands of postmodern thought though his own contribution of radical orthodoxy was unique with its emphasis on the writings of St. Augustine, The Neoplatonists, and the early Church Fathers (typically major villains of most postmodern discourse). See my earlier pieces on other strands of postmodernism, as well as on St. Augustine and the Neoplatonist tradition for more on those streams of thought.
As part of this larger critique of sociology, Milbank critiques the language of rights, a subset of larger modernist political discourse. Ever since the French Revolution’s Declaration on the Rights of Man and the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights, the language of rights was central to (classical) liberal discourse. The language of rights were later extended to women (“right to vote”), the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, even the environmentalist movement (animal rights).
While not looking to endorse all (or maybe even most) of Milbank’s views, his critique of the framework of rights is uncomfortable but rather important territory in my view, particularly when juxtaposed with the current moment, as groups protest against covid restrictions by invoking the language of defending or gaining back their rights.
At its core, the intellectual rationale for much of the covid restrictions and quarantines lies in scientism: that is the philosophical belief in the inherent rationality of the scientific method. Please note the key qualifier being belief. Science, as such, is a technology, able to be deployed to multiple ends—positive or negative. Scientism is the naive belief that science or rather rationally ordered and logically followed methods of regularization will create the best society possible. As a belief system—“BELIEVE THE SCIENCE”—scientism is a form of religious and therefore unquestionable dogmatism. Question the dogma and one faces the contemporary version of The (Scientific) Inquisition as an unbeliever.
As such, Milbank correctly criticizes scientism as a pseudo-religion, an inverted parody of true religion. For more on that argument see my piece on Giordano Bruno, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and the limited hangout of scientism. Milbank does not offer a parapolitical (conspiratorial) perspective, like I do, but nevertheless he is on point about the shadowed religious roots of scientism.
On the other hand Milbank is very critical of the language and framework of rights as well. Both scientism and the framework of rights derive from modernist discourse. Ultimately they have their roots in the same (classical) liberal modernist tradition. In the present moment of fights over vaccines, digital passports, and surveillance scientism rears its ugly head in the form of “believe in the science.” Scientism is typically seen at odds with voices emphasizing “fighting for our rights”. In other words, the mainstream media pits the present moment as a fight between reasonable “pro-science” types versus anti-science and anti-reason right-wingers. Never mind that there’s plenty of voices from the left critical of lockdowns, digital surveillance, (and the like), as well as plenty on the right in favor of authoritarian responses to the present moment.
Jeremy Bentham, one of the godfathers of classical liberal rights thought, also developed the idea of the Panopticon: the forerunner to the prison-industrial complex and the all-seeing eye of surveillance AI. As Michel Foucault pointed out decades ago, you have in Bentham both the framework of rights and the seemingly oppositional pull towards “scientific”-based tyranny in the Panopticon. But for Foucault those are simply two sides of one coin and there’s no self-contradiction between them at all.
Bentham, it should be noted, criticized the French Declarations of the Rights of Man for its claim of human rights being rooted in nature (“natural rights”). For further thoughts along those lines, see my piece against using nature as a metaphor for human politics. For Bentham, only a state could grant rights as a matter of law or custom, which is the key point here. The state or rather the elites running the state who declare such rights, are therefore in a state of exception. That exempted status has been on full display (for anyone bothering to look) over the last few years.
To further (data)mine this thread, Yasha Levine’s book Surveillance Valley details how Silicon Valley was deeply embedded in the military-industrial complex. In particular Levine explores how the ethos of California libertarianism and digital utopianism was used as the philosophical cover for a larger military psychological operation whose end game was always surveillance.
As I’ve pointed out before, the internet (Arpanet) was being developed in the same research lab Stanford Research Institute (SRI) that was also simultaneously participating in a CIA-funded experiment to develop a “scientific” method for remote viewing and psychic espionage (aka The Third Eye Spies). Both technologies—the digital arpanet and the psychic remote viewing were aiming for total surveillance. As I’ve argued repeatedly scientism is a public form of social conditioning occulting the deeper truth which is a deeply transhumanist and Luciferian form of black magic practice hidden only for the elites, as the masses “believe” in secular science.
Which brings us back to Milbank and some of the critical impasses of the present moment. For Milbank the language and the framework of rights, particularly economic and political rights, that came to be such a hallmark of liberal reform movements in the 18th and 19th centuries, extending into the 20th century, only occurred after nation-states gain monopolies of force over populations. As sovereign entities—whether constitutional monarchs or national republics—gained greater and greater power, in no small part due to the disciplining application of the social sciences, the state had the luxury to “gift” rights to the people. For Milbank a theological grounding is necessary to argue for human freedom (as granted by God). For Thomas Jefferson and the natural rights advocates Nature (and somewhat awkwardly Nature’s Deistic god) were the ground for such rights. While one may argue the merits or demerits of Jefferson’s view, in practice the historical evidence seems much more on the side of Milbank.
Worse still, as organic Nature has come to be more and more digitized, the hyperreal Great Other, the computerized Deus Ex Machina, is the one to grant (or take away) liberties and freedoms. Individuals and groups fighting against the current moment’s authoritarianism with rallying cries of defending our freedoms are unbeknownst to themselves, often using the oppressor’s very logic. Without meaning to diminish the courage and tenacity of such people, it is worth contemplating how effective such a counter movement can be when it is using the frameworks of state control itself.
That is how a controlled dialectic truly works. As I’ve pointed out before, for all the talk about being “red pilled”, the actual red pills in The Matrix were created by the machines, which made even Morpheus an unwitting asset of the machines.
And yet on the third hand, as it were, the framework of rights has been the only process that has allowed, on large scales, a limiting of the power of the state and less often state-sponsored corporate entities.
So even while the language of rights is co-opted and likely compromised from the jump, it has nevertheless been more effective than any other alternatives. So it is understandable why protests movements would organize around rights. And what is occurring now through “nudges”, AI, attention merchants, surveillance, and algorithms is shifting the tectonic political plates from the language of rights to the language of privileges and credits (as in social credits). Social credits have to be earned and can be taken away based on behavior, whereas rights are understood to be inalienable.
The terrain of this psychological war is subtle and complex.
To wit, some prominent voices in Canada are arguing that the flying of the Canadian national flag during the trucker convoy is inherently racist. In a weird way they almost have half a point although it’s entirely misplaced. The language of rights is tied up in colonialism. It’s not sufficient to simply dismiss the entire discourse of rights as mere colonialist claptrap and yet pretending that rights discourse and colonialism aren’t tied into each other is equally naive.
It is most definitely true, there is a deep colonialist impulse in the history of that flag—a colonialist impulse by the way that continues to play itself out directly in the lockdowns, quarantines, digital passports, and restrictions which many (self-proclaimed) leftists are all too gleefully embracing. The mentality that is behind surveillance and technocracy is the same mindset that gave birth to colonialism. Surveillance oriented society is the further application to the wider society of the “logic” of colonialism through digital means rather than through physical resource control (as in original colonialism).
Hence the woke-ists advocating for all the shutdowns and against the protest movements are themselves useful idiots to the present moment’s digital colonizers. They are digital foot soldiers (pawns) in the game of scientistic technocracy. Just like the historical Jacobins, the woke-ists of today are pushing for a Committee of Public Safety while simultaneously advocating for war abroad and domestically. In this case a global digital surveillance war. As I’ve written about before this is a repeat dynamic with our modern day Jacobins.
To wit, Robespierre during his reign brought forward The Cult of the Supreme (Rational) Being—a secular religion worshiping Reason. Reason was a co-opting of the traditions of Lady Wisdom (Sophia) the intelligence permeating the Cosmos (see more on that thread here.). The Jacboin secular religion that co-opted and inverted True Wisdom in practice became an unconscious revival of the Roman Imperial state cult. Just so, as Christopher Knowles has argued, the woke movement is really a cover for the return of the Roman Imperial State Cult in our day, completing the circuit between woke-ists and The Jacobins.
To counter this attack, rather brilliantly, the trucker convoy movement has been supporting the indigenous sovereign water movement. So one might ask…whose the post-colonialist now?
It’s almost as if the woke crowd forgot that they were supposed to be against the state, against Big Pharma, and remember their postmodern roots in the deconstruction of the myth of progress and scientific rationality. All of a sudden they literally forgot everything they (never) read of Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Heidegger, Deleuze, and Levinas. But especially Foucault who wrote extensively on how whenever the state uses the language of contagion to describe the body politic it is inevitably the precursor to quarantining and repression.
The psyop of flipping supposed left-wingers into shills for scientism and state tyranny is a pretty nifty trick.
To cite some specific examples….
Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron came to power by both being media-friendly vague, “progressive”, empty suits and blank slates that one could place their projections on. Macron literally made up a political party overnight out of nowhere to ride into office.
The only thing both of them ever did clearly articulate was that they were the anti-Trump, the lone bastions of reasonableness and progressive values of toleration against right wing fundamentalism.
That those men were, in actuality, puppets for technocratic and globalist elites was left out of the speeches and campaign slogans. Consequently whenever they experience any resistance to their politics, they immediately label those opposed evil right-wing anti-science, racist fundamentalists.
Simplistic but nonetheless effective.
Prior to covid, particularly around 2010-2015 there was a moment when an unlikely set of alliances across the left-right divide was coming into view in a number of places (including the US and Canada but elsewhere as well), particularly around Big Pharma and The Drug War. Traditionally opposition to Big Pharma mostly came from the left while Big Pharma was defended mostly on the right with its deep free market ideology (an ideology deeply funded by cartel corporate interests but that’s a different story).
But as more and more traditionally conservative areas of the US especially were hit by the opioid crisis, voices on the right started to emerge critiquing Big Pharma. It is important to note here that the opioid crisis was simply the application of a longer arc of psychological operations by intelligence agencies to socially engineer populations through drugs. That thread has been covered elsewhere on the site, detailing how the CIA was behind the rise of the counterculture and the pervasive spread of LSD in the 1960s, the crack epidemic of the 1980s, then the meth epidemic of rural white American populations through the 1990s, and then onto middle classes through the opioid crisis (2000s on).
For a hot second, forces were starting to coalesce across traditional political lines around the dangers of pharmacological interventionism and addiction. Pare that with the fact that (as mentioned previously) Richard Nixon explicitly used the Drug War framework as a psyop to crack down on poor and anti-war left wing communities in the US while simultaneously perpetrating intelligence-led psychological warfare with actual drugs. See Iran Contra and its ties to the crack epidemic for an example of the latter trend. Simultaneously other voices joined (from the left and the right) criticizing the prison industrial complex and the militarization of domestic police forces—all tied directly of course to The Drug War.
A constellation of forces were coming into view—the prison-industrial complex with its slave labor; the “legal” drug cartel of Big Pharma and it’s pervasive regulatory capture; militarized police forces fighting a Drug War that funneled the bodies to the prison-industrial complex. The possibility of a cross-political party alliance against these forces was terrifying to the elites. Those elites typically have investments in the for-profit prison industrial complex, may well be connected to the intelligence agencies that control the illicit drug trade, and almost certainly are financially implicated with the “legal drug cartel” of Big Pharma.
So how to break apart this nascent cross-political organization before it ever fully coalesced? Here is where the dastardly (and evil) genius of the lockdowns, digital passports, and surveillance psyop comes into play. By exploiting an actual health crisis towards the ends of technocracy, the elites were able to use reason and science as a wedge. Knowing that the ultimate roots of the left are deeply in secularism, the pervasive fear of the left is always of being seen as religious (or mythic). This tie binds both the more modernist rationalist liberals with the more postmodernist woke leftist crowd. The elites brilliantly got the woke leftist types to buy in, early on, to promoting vaccines and digital passports—even though during the Black Lives Matters protests the same contact tracing apps introduced for Covid19 were subsequently used to target protesters. In this way a fusion was created pulling in scientism (“believe the science”) and shutdown/cancel culture, all in service of transnational global elites. As Frederic Jameson long ago pointed out, postmodernism Is the ideology of late capitalism.
The tension that had existed on the left between its more modernist types versus its more postmodernist types immediately was healed. Not very gracefully, like a really poorly done plastic surgery, but sutured, at least temporarily. Anyone who didn’t agree with this new fusion of cancel culture, trauma-based mind control tactics through the mainstream media, and the religion of believing science, was immediately labeled racist, fundamentalist, and a right-wing nutter.
And meanwhile the people arrayed against this grotesque hybrid are using the language of rights—the language and mindset rooted in the very same technocratic oppression itself. That’s one helluva controlled dialectic to be sure.
Very Provisional Thoughts on a Way Forward/Out of this Dialectic
The question then becomes: how to get out of this (controlled) mess?
My first response to which is that there are no easy answers. Second I can’t pretend to claim I have ultimate solutions. Third, what I do propose may seem at first blush very orthogonal and a bit out of left field to the question at hand: namely principles of over-unity in energy and consciousness.
While I’m not a fan of using nature as a political metaphor, I am a big proponent of looking to nature as an expression of co-creativity and generativity. Through multiple pieces on the site I’ve explored how certain processes generate more output than input (colloquially though somewhat inaccurately termed “over unity”).
I’ve argued that the UFO Phenomenon is a (subtly) concrete manifestation of this dynamic. I've further maintained that much of the history (and current practice) of psychological operations around the UFO Phenomenon is to obscure this very point.
I’ve contended that truly radical economic possibilities exist along these lines—though they have, I believe, been co-opted and reduced to Universal Basic Income schemes. I’ve also argued that Nature and the consciousness of Nature expresses the same tendency.
Jacques Vallee's thoughts on the physics of information would constitute another potential example, as well as the evidence of retrocausation—that is the future creating the conditions in the past for its own future fulfillment (see Eric Wargo’s book Time Loops for more on that process).
I’ve suggested that a new generation of technology, those labeled the 4th Industrial Revolution, also offer such liberatory possibilities but those too have been co-opted through the narrative of The Great Reset (or as I call it, The Great Preset). I’ve also speculated on whether The Metaverse is an attempt to siphon the deep organic intelligence of humanity to power a parasitic, and very possibly, off-world breakaway civilization, very much a Matrix.
In the realms of alchemy I’ve detailed investigations of a second, even more hidden, form of alchemy that took already existing gold and “burned” it into white gold, along the way touching into the possibility of a universal generator, aka The Philosopher’s Stone or Elixir.
In the realm of spirituality I’ve explored the work of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) as an example of spiritual alchemy of this second variety (gold to white gold). Further pieces exploring the paths of Immanence and Incandescence, particularly the latter, point again in the same “over-unity” type direction, as strangely did the most recent Matrix film (Matrix Resurrections).
The reason for making this argument Is to look for an option that is outside the bounds of the controlled dialectic. Deploying the language of rights is deploying the language of the oppressor. As previously mentioned, just like the Red Pill itself, it seems to be a means of liberation but in actuality was created by the machines as a subtler layer of psychic control.
The same I believe is operative here. Scientism is a failed ideology. The language of rights emerges from the same failed modernist worldview. The postmodern emphasis on post-truth, deconstruction, and multiple narratives has left us with broken multiverses—everything cycling around endlessly and leading to further disorientation. Elites use multiverse and postmodern post-truth discourse as a cover for their very objective desire for control.
The possibilities of an alternative physics and energy suggest to me a possible way out of this morass. I only say possible because clearly the same underlying realities can be co-opted, shrouded, or even weaponized. The language of rights, however, for me is still too separated and separating from Life. Only I believe a deeper immersion into Life offers a way forward.