Future dystopias – which now have to be written the present tense – almost invariably involve governmental control and manipulation of the people’s thoughts and consequent behaviour, with a false and deliberately manipulative view of reality foisted upon the citizenry, usually by technological means to which the people are addicted. (Ironically, and providentially, I’m publishing this as the police crack down on the Freedom Convoy, with a media blackout in the area)
The paradigmatic is Orwell’s 1984, (published in 1949 in the wake of the collapsed Nazi regime) with Big Brother both watching every move we make and every breath we take, as well as shaping and controlling our thoughts by declaring obvious falsehoods from which none dare demur. Two plus two is five, and the past is what we say it be.
Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953) has the people of 1999 (which seemed far off in the fifties!) mesmerized by giant, wall-sized television screens, filled with inane entertainment – clowns and circuses – with interludes of ‘news’, shaped to form the opinions the government desires.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), the people of 2540 (at this point, I’m not sure we’ll reach mid-century) addicted to the soporific soma, accepting whatever Mustafa Ford tells them. Unlike the hapless citizens of 1984, they were more lulled into obeisance than forced.
Before all of these, there was E.M. Forester’s The Machine Stops (first published in 1909, no future date given for the story, but we’re all more or less in it) which eerily predicts a giant information/entertainment ‘machine’ to which everyone in the underground city is connected, and which gives them everything they need, from music, to food, to news. They have forgotten there is a world ‘up there’, for the machine does everything for them. But what happens when the machine no longer works?
These are all meditations on a theme of Plato’s original allegory of The Cave, from chapter VII of his Republic (written circa 400 B.C.). In a metaphorical underground cavern, people watch shadows of images, thinking they are real. When the philosopher tries to convince them that there is a beautiful, glorious world outside, the sun shining, the water sparkling, the rocks, grass and hills…Well, you may guess what they do to him, deemed a liar and dreamer, contradicting their ‘narrative’, as they return to their shadowy idols dancing on a stage.
Every one of these dystopias, from Plato to Bradbury, were written well before the internet, full-immersion media which has made mass psychosis a very distinct and all-too-real possibility. Peruse this interview with Robert Epstein on how we are all being manipulated by Google and friends, and how easy it is. Dr. Epstein is quirky and liberal, but dedicated and courageous. The first twenty minutes give you most of what you need to know, which is to get gone from Google, for they are indeed not only watching us, but manipulating us in very subtle ways.
An article in Wired commented that two of the recent SuperBowl ads advocated the new Meta virtual reality and their idiotic headsets as a way to escape the hell we’re building here. Yet, a contrary one, with all-American Matthew McConaghey urged us to fix our problems right here on planet Earth.
It’s in reality that we must remain grounded if we’re to see our way through the deceit and mayhem that is on the horizon. Saint Thomas defines truth as the adequatio rei et intellectus, the ‘conformity of the mind to reality’, God’s good, holy cosmos and all the living and non-living beings therein.
Satan hates all of this. Christ quite aptly describes him as a liar and murderer, the two evils not unrelated. The unborn child is declared a non-person, a lie repeated enough, and, eventually, their lives can be snuffed out. The Jews in Germany were deemed by physicians and Goebell’s propaganda machine as disease-ridden and untermensch. In the Rwandan massacre, Hutus were urged on by the media to massacre and rape their ‘inhuman’ Tutsi neighbours by the tens of thousands; many claiming they did so because the ‘radio told them to’. It should be a cause for concern that the mainstream media in Canada – the CBC especially, but also the newspapers – are funded or heavily subsidized by the government, which means the Liberals, which means Trudeau.
Whither now, dear reader, as the rhetoric ramps up? Will peace and good will prevail?
One way to ensure they do, to some extent, in some locales, refuges, remnants, or at least in some hearts, is to immerse yourself in the truth, not least those of our Faith, in Scripture, the Catechism, the Fathers, the Summa, in a myriad of great and good books. As well, spend far more time in reality than in the virtual version on screens. In nature – forest therapy! – friendships, music, home-cooked food, laughter, love – hug someone, and let’s see some friends shaking hands, and couples holding them.
Lies enslave, while the truth sets us free. By living in the really real, we can, by the grace of God, quite easily tell the difference.
Ad veritatem, in caritate! +