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The Rape of the Mind: Technocracy

I am currently reading the fascinating book called "The rape of the mind" from 1956 by Joost Meerloo, M.D., but I jumped ahead and already read chapter 12 about technology and technocracy twice. If you read my "Bankster Paradise Series" or post on "The Age of Decay" you will understand why. The book is about brainwashing, propaganda, totalitarianism, conditioning and mind control. Technocracy is the science of social engineering.


Before sharing part of chapter 12 I will share a bit from chapter 2 called "Pavlov's students as circus tamers" and "the urge to be conditioned" because it contains a big part of the solution:


... It is not my task here to elaborate on the subject of the biased use of Pavlovian rules by totalitarians, but without doubt part of the interpretation of any psychology is determined by the ways we think about our fellow human beings and man’s place in nature. If our ideal is to make conditioned zombies out of people, the current misuse of Pavlovianism will serve our purpose. But once we become even vaguely aware that in the totalitarian picture of man the characteristic human note is missing, and when we see that in such a scheme man sacrifices his instinctual desires, his pleasures, his aims, his goals, his creativity, his instinct for freedom, his paradoxicality, we immediately turn against this political perversion of science. Such use of Pavlovian technique is aimed only at developing the automaton in man, not his free alert mind that is aware of moral goals and aims in life.
Even in laboratory animals we have found that affective goal-directedness can spoil the Pavlovian experiment. When, during a bell-food training session, the dog’s beloved master entered the room, the animal lost all its previous conditioning and began to bark excitedly.
Here is a simple example of an age-old truth: love and laughter break through all rigid conditioning. The rigid automaton cannot exist without spontaneous self-expression. Apparently, the fact that the dog’s spontaneous affection for his master could ruin all the mechanical calculations and manipulations never occurred to Pavlov’s totalitarian students.



Chapter 12: The creeping coercion by technology


Radio and television catch the mind directly, leaving children no time for calm, dialectic conversation with their books. The view from the screen doesn't allow for the freedom-arousing mutuality of communication and discussion. Conversation is the lost art. These inventions steal time and steal self-awareness. What technology gives with one hand-easiness and physical security-it takes away with the other. It has taken away affectionate relationships between men. The depersonalized Christmas card with its printed signature, the form letter, the very typewriter are examples of mechanical proxies. Technical intrusion usurps human relationships, as if people no longer had to give one another attention and love any more. The bottle replaces Mother's breast, the nickel in the automat replaces Mother's preparation of sandwiches. The impersonal machine replaces human gesture and mutuality. Children educated in this way prefer to be alone, with fantasies to escape into and gadgets to play with. Mechanization pushes them into mental withdrawal.


Technology suggests and creates the feeling of man's omnipotence on the one hand, but on the other, the smallness of man, his weakness and inferiority compared with the might of machinery. The power of man's creative mind is disguised behind dreams of social machines and world mechanics. Mechanics in_ political manoeuvrings are overestimated and go beyond reason. We use intelligence and counterintelligence, trickery and political machines, forgetting the "emotional reasons" which underlie human brilliance and stupidity. There exists a relationship between naive belief in technology only and a naive belief in human intelligence, logic, and innocence that was part of the optimistic liberalist feeling prevalent in the nineteenth century. We see in both beliefs the denial of the irrational depths of the mind.


What is the ultimate result of technical progress? Does it drive people more and more to the fear and despair brought on by a love-empty push-button world? Does it create a megalomaniac happiness won by remote control of other people? Does it deliver people to the unsatisfying emptiness of leisure hours filled with boredom? Is the ultimate result living by proxy, experiencing the world only from the movie or television screen, instead of living and labouring and creating one's own?


In cases of television addiction, | observed the following points:


1. The television fascination is a real addiction; that is to say, television can become habit-forming, the influence of which cannot be stopped without active therapeutic

interference.


2. It arouses precociously sexual and emotional turmoil, seducing children to peep again and again, though at the same time they are confused about what they see.


3. It continuously provides satisfaction for aggressive fantasies (western scenes,

crime scenes) with subsequent guilt feelings since the child unconsciously tends to identify with the criminal, despite all the heroic avengers.


4. Itis a stealer of time.


5. Preoccupation with television prevents active inner creativity children and adults merely sit and watch the pseudo-world of the screen instead of confronting their own difficulties. If there is a conflict with parents who have no time for their youngsters, the children surrender all the more willingly to the screen. The screen talks to them, plays with them, takes them into a world of magic fantasies. For them, television takes the place of a grownup and is forever patient. This the child translates into love.


As in all mass media, we have to be aware of the hypnotizing, seductive action of any all-penetrating form of communication. People become fascinated even when they do not want to look on. We must keep in mind that every step in personal growth needs isolation, needs inner conversation and deliberation and a reviewing with the self. Television hampers this process and prepares the mind more easily for collectivization and cliché thinking. It persuades onlookers to think in terms of mass values. It intrudes into family life and cuts off the more subtle interfamilial communication.



The world of tomorrow will witness a tremendous battle between technology and psychology. It will be a fight of technology versus nature, of systematic conditioning versus creative spontaneity. The veneration of the machine implies the turning of mechanical knowledge into power, into push-button power. Mechanical instruments of destruction such as the H-bomb have translated the primitive human urge for destruction into large-scale scientific killing. Now, this destructive potential may become an easy tool for any potentate crazy for power.

Driven by technology, our own world has become more interdependent, and through our dependence on technical knowledge and devices, we ourselves are in danger of delivering our people to the more brutal totalitarians. This is the actual dilemma of our civilization. The machine that became a tool of human organization and made possible the conquest of nature, has acquired a dictatorial position. It has forced people into automatic responses, into rigid patterns and destructive habits.


The machine has aroused an ever-increasing yearning for speed, for frenzied accomplishments. There exists a psychological relationship between speedomania (frenzied swiftness) and ruthlessness. Behind the wheel in a fast car, a driver becomes drunk with power. Here again we see the denial of the concept of natural, steady growth. Ideas and methods need time to mature. The machine forces results prematurely: evolution is turned into revolution of wheels. The machine is the denial that progress has to grow within us before it can be realized outside ourselves. Mechanization takes away the belief in mental struggle, the belief that problemsolving needs time and repeated attempts. Without such beliefs, the platitude will take over, the digest and the hasty memorandum. A mechanized world believes only in condensation of problems and not in a continuous dialectic struggle between man and the questions he construes.


One of the fallacies of modern technique is its direction toward greater efficiency. With less energy, more has to be produced. This principle may be right for the machine, but is not true for the human organism. In order to become strong and to remain strong, man has to learn to overcome resistances, to face challenges, and to test himself again and again. Luxury causes mental and physical atrophy.


The devaluation of the individual human brain, replacing it by mechanical computers, also suggests the totalitarian system for which its citizens are compelled to become more and more the servile tools. The inhuman "system" becomes the aim, a system that is the product of technocracy and dehumanization and which may result in organized brutality and the crushing of any personal morality. In a mechanical society a set of values are forcibly imprinted on the unconscious mind, the way Pavlov conditioned his dogs.


Our brains then no longer need to serve us or develop the thinking process; machines will do this for us. In technocracy, emphasis is on behaviour free of emotions and creativity. We speak of "electric brains," forgetting that actually creative minds are behind these brains and their frailties. For some engineers, minds have become no more than electric lamps in a totalitarian laboratory. Between man and his fellow man there has been interposed a tremendous, cold, paper force, a nameless bureaucracy of rules and tools. Mechanization has brought into being the mysterious "pimp" in human relations, the man in between, the mechanical bureaucrat, who is powerful but impersonal. He has become a new source of magic fear.


In a technocratic world every moral problem gets repressed and is displaced by a technical or statistical evaluation. The problems of sound and speedy mathematics serve to overthrow ethics. If, for instance, one investigates the inner life of the guards of the concentration camps and their inner troubles and tribulations, one understands why those jailers gave so much thought to the technical problem of how to get the murdered corpses of their victims out of the gas chambers as soon as possible. The words "clean" and "practical" and "pure" acquired for them a different dimension than our usual one. They thought in chemical and statistical terms -and stuck to them-in order not to be aware of their deeper moral guilt.


The mind regarded as a computing machine is the result of compulsive rationalization and generalization of the world. This has been so since the time of early Greek thinkers. This concept implies denial or minimization of emotional life and of the value of marginal experiences. In such a philosophy, spontaneity is never understood-nor creativity and historical coincidence, nor the miracles of human communication as revealed by telepathy. Technology based on this concept is cold and without moral standards of living, without faith and "feeling at home" in our own world. It continually stimulates new dissatisfaction and the production of new luxury without knowing why. It stimulates greediness and laziness without emphasizing restraint and the art of living. Indeed, technology as a goal instead of a means gives us the fiction of simple equality instead of the continual pursuit of freedom, diversity, and human dignity.


Technology disregards the fact that our scientific view of the world is only a gradual correction of our mythical and pre-scientific view. Technology, once a product of courageous fantasy and vision, threatens to kill that same vision, without which no human progress is possible. The idol, technology, must become a tool again and not the omnipotent magician per se, who drags us into the abyss.


The industrial development in our Western culture created a new problem, that of making man more distant from the rhythm of nature. First industrial man was tied to factory and engine, and then technological progress increased leisure time, bringing a new question: leisure for what?


The increased growth of time, and time space, and of the sizes of towns, and the reduction of distance through the increased means of transport affected deeply the roots of our feelings of belonging and security. The family-the atom of society-often became disrupted, and sometimes even deteriorated. The raving frenzy of the family car on Sunday replaced the quiet being together of family groups in mutual exchanges of affection and wisdom.


Only when man learns to be mentally independent of technology -that means when he learns to do without-will he also learn not to be overwhelmed and swept away by it. People have to become lonely Robinson Crusoe’s first, before they can really use and appreciate the advantages of technology.


Our education has to learn to present simple, natural challenges and needs to the

child in order to immunize him against the paralyzing and lazy-making tendencies of our technicized epoch.



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