Of late, alternative media channels have been abuzz with talk of conformism. How else can we explain why hundreds of millions of people around the world have let an engineered culture of fear control their behaviour, social interactions and perception of non-compliant neighbours. The fear has been so great, that many seemed oblivious to the massive transfer of power to the Biotech Industrial Complex.
Mass formation is best understood in the context of crowd psychology or collective delusion and should not be confused with neurological disorders that may be triggered by psychosocial stressors. Professor Mattias Desmet, whose research has recently popularised the phenomenon, has corrected many Anglophone observers who insist on adding the qualifier psychosis. Mass group formation might clarify the concept. In her 1958 book on The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt referred mainly to mass movements that require ideological conformity but not necessarily formal membership. In recent decades we have witnessed two outwardly conflicting trends. On the one hand, we have become more atomised with the demise of traditional families and close-knit communities and their substitution with looser networks of acquaintances and special interest buddies. On the other, we have been lured into various branches of a global super-culture via a ubiquitous mediascape that has conquered our minds and suppressed our power of independent thought.
The dilemma of technologically advanced societies is the degree of trust we have to place in machines and remote entites, whose inner workings we cannot conceivably understand without relying on someone’s else expertise. When faced with conflicting evidence and analyses on scientific controversies, we can either devote much time and resources to detailed independent research or we can take shortcuts by ascertaining whose interests well-known experts represent or simply judge people by their track record, which may also involve a fair amount of work to sort the wheat from the chaff. As soon as once-respected scientists rock the boat and begin to expose medical malpractice, deception or corruption, the mainstream media will either ignore or smear them. Outright lies are seldom the target of concerted censorship, although hate speech laws may first single out the exponents of unpopular opinions that the public at large loathes. Ironically, the same legislation that criminalises the downplaying of past crimes against humanity may perversely serve to silence those who seek to expose new crimes against humanity. Once we let a handful of corporate fact checkers determine the truth and set the boundaries of permissible dissent, we have replaced the façade of liberal democracy with epistocracy or rule by anointed experts.
The trick all along has been to paint the advocates of centralised authoritarian control as progressive philanthropists concerned with protecting the most vulnerable in our society and their adversaries as selfish reactionaries unwilling to accept change.
In the hope of reconciliation, we grant supreme power to a bunch of technocrats whose authority we may longer challenge. We are thus trained to view objective reality through the prism of prescribed truths. When official doctrine conflicts with the empirical data we need to solve a practical problem, we may have to accept convoluted logic to explain apparent contradictions. This leads to cognitive dissonance at multiple levels. I fear many seemingly intelligent people have lost the ability to think critically as they parrot warped groupthink.
Such people often like to ridicule so-called conspiracy theorists or science deniers, whom they view as mentally ill and to whom they claim some sort of moral superiority. Yet they instinctively dismiss anything that runs counter to the official narrative as the wild conjecture of a demented fringe minority. I regularly hear semi-intellectual group-thinkers recycle talking points from the trendy corporate media.
They may claim to be experts on the antivax movement because they read a Guardian, Huffington Post, NY Times or Washington Post article on ties between Dr Robert W Malone and the spectre of the far right. A brief analysis of Politfact’s page on the microbiologist and vaccine developer might enlighten us. Their target audience is obviously the questioning professional classes, the kind of people who may question the narrative but also crave social acceptance and professional approval. The top three reasons why Politfact claims we should distrust Dr Malone is that Twitter banned him, he was not the only person involved in the invention of mRNA gene therapies and lastly he has allegedly spread false and misleading information that appeals to that evil subspecies of humanity now known as antivaxxers. In short, do not trust Dr Malone because our corporate backers do not like what he says. Yet the same article struggles to identify any significant factual inaccuracies in Dr Malone’s public pronouncements, preferring to infer guilt by association with Trump supporters on alternative social media platforms.
The virus scare started with Event 201 in October 2019 at John Hopkins University. Administrators and media executives agreed how they would flood the airwaves to spread fear of a novel virus and suppress opposition to the proposed solution, a novel gene therapy injection they would market as vaccines, so they could smear opponents as luddite antivaxxers. Paradoxically, the same university published a study that showed all lockdown measures combined, including antisocial distancing and mask mandates, only reduced covid-19-attributed mortality by 0.2%. Throughout the simulated pandemic, a dubious association has been instilled in the public mind between tragic reports of preventable excess deaths and the Draconian measures imposed at enormous socio-economic expense. People have subconsciously assimilated the notion that non-compliance with these new diktats will kill the vulnerable. Compliance with the Science™️ has become the self-righteous stance. Challenging the official science has become a heresy.
Today’s social conformists – the kind of people who tend to go along with the woke agenda that today’s faux-liberal intelligentsia favours – like to think of themselves as open, tolerant, multicultural and democratic as well opposing any hint of racism, misogyny or homophobia. Yet they now support policies that have the exact opposite effects to their professed utopian goals. How can you extol the virtues of open borders between countries while welcoming strict biomedical controls on the free association of people in private homes, commercial and public buildings? How can you claim any liberal credentials if you’re happy for the authorities to regulate every aspect of people’s private lives? How can you vaunt your tolerance when you cannot put up with different viewpoints? How can you celebrate multiculturism when you decry all divergent ways of life and belief systems out of sync with your vision of a synthetic rainbow coalition of shiny happy people? Lastly how can you support democracy if you do not trust commoners to decide on matters you believe they do not understand without the guidance of corporate experts?
Any viable society needs the acquiescence of its members. The real question, though, is whether we achieve social harmony through bottom-up participatory democracy that responds to the will of the little people or through top-down social engineering. The managerial classes need people to comply with expected behavioural norms out of a sense of civic duty. When only a small minority break arbitrary rules or only do so well away from public scrutiny, the police and civilians can easily deal with isolated transgressors. To maintain their respect, law enforcement agencies need the public to internalise the logic behind the curtailment of personal liberties for the common good. We may privately doubt the efficacy or purpose of many regulations, but we go along with them to avoid conflict and keep a low profile. If we have a good reason or a burning desire to break a rule, we will usually only do so with the implied consent of others in our social environment. We may take many liberties in unmonitored private spaces with like-minded friends that would be unacceptable elsewhere. Such transgressions tend to involve either indulgences that may bring pleasure to some but perturb others or the open expression of subversive beliefs that may offend only those ideologically committed to the status quo. History is replete with examples of loosely enforced laws that transgressors can get easily evade. Cannabis remains a proscribed drug in the UK for recreational purposes, but the police and law courts have long turned a blind eye to its consumption and semi-clandestine cultivation. An estimated three million Britons, including many celebrities and politicians, regularly smoke marijuana, despite decades of research linking cannabis abuse with psychosis in vulnerable young people. Yet within the space of two short years, we have sleepwalked from a more laidback approach to law-enforcement that respects privacy, bodily autonomy, family life and community traditions to a regime that criminalises natural human beings who do not comply with new-fangled regulations based on a re-interpretation of scientific evidence. If our governments really cared about health, they would mandate fresh food and exercise and tackle social exclusion. Instead, in 2020 they did almost exact opposite urging people to avoid social proximity and stay at home where they are more likely to binge on snacks and booze.
Today’s rulers no longer need the income generated directly by a large working class. They’d much rather rely on a smaller army of privileged engineers and surveillance officers, while keeping the great unwashed on universal basic income with rewards for good behaviour and occasional monitoring or care duties. Old-fashioned capitalists may have been happy for potential customers not in their direct employ to fend for themselves. The impoverished would gravitate towards new money-making opportunities out of sheer necessity in a frenzied rat race with winners and losers. Primitive capitalism would see many former peasants and smallholders meet early deaths as they failed to adapt and ended up destitute without a welfare state to fall back on. By contrast, post-modern corporations have effectively merged with governments to control every aspect of our society. Tech giants are not merely concerned with their bottom line, but with changing our way of life. They find it much easier to manipulate vulnerable people with limited self-help skills than independently minded self-starters. We have become the product they sell and if we do not conform to one of their manageable pigeonholed roles, they will cast us aside from mainstream society and may ultimately deem us expendable. Untamed free thought poses the biggest threat to our managerial classes. French anthropologist and author of The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, Gustave Le Bon, explained how crowd psychology progresses through three main phases, submergence with the loss of individual identity, contagion with the triumph of emotions over reason and suggestion with the development of a shared unconscious. The neoliberal era has given way to a new age of high-tech totalitarianism.