In the Dark Places of the World

If you want to understand what “technocratic shamanism” is, and its connection with techno-fascism (and why we should be concerned about this), Carol Cadwalladr, writing in today’s Guardian, has an excellent article on just this — where, we might say, the Shadow of “dark money” meets “dark data” in the “propaganda ecosystem” of the internet. It reveals the very sinister side of artificial intelligence that largely proceeds “under the radar”.

Those behind this are fools. They have no understanding of the consequences of this destruction of the intellect, and the confounding of our perception, and its functions of discernment between the true and the false, or what is and what isn’t.

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15 responses to “In the Dark Places of the World”

  1. donsalmon says :

    just sent this to the NY Times:

    Ok, now, please take a l…o…n…g breath – I’m going to mention then Nazis and Swastikas….. (you think you know where I’m going – to Bannon’s appropriation of the Sanskrit term “Dharma”? you’re wrong….)

    *****

    The original Sanskrit meaning of “swastika” pointed to auspicious events – in its profoundest sense, events which in some way evoked or made accessible the previously hidden Divine Presence.

    The Nazis misread this symbol, looked at now discredited theories of white Aryan invades of ancient India, inverted the Swastika and made it a symbol of “Aryan” world domination.

    We have lived through a year in which the Time Spirit has been massively misread yet works to create an evolutionary revolution hinted at by Karl Jaspers (who coined the term “Axial age” for the earthshaking events of 500 BC).

    Now, along comes Bannon, who sees just as Bernie sees that the “crony capitalists” – the millionaires and billionaires – have corrupted the economies and governments of the planet.

    He sees, correctly, that “Dharma” – which is action in harmony with the All, with the universal movement, the Spirit of All – has been corrupted.

    But like the Nazis he has inverted its meaning, as all can see.

    Whoever can manifest the true Dharma in today’s world will fulfill the longings of the vast majority of good, caring, compassionate human beings throughout the world.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I was taken aback by that — Bannon and dharma. I found this piece on Huffington Post when I googled it up.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steve-bannon-bhagavad-gita_us_589b9b55e4b04061313b7746

      God forfend that we should have someone like that — manical, fanatical — in position of influence! We see now why it’s unwise to “cast your pearls before swine”.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I hate to say it, but…. there are very close parallels between the present time and the waning of the Middle Ages, except in one respect. Then, during the wars of religion and the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, they didn’t have nuclear weapons.

      • mikemackd says :

        Redolent of another era, as well.

        I see that Trump is calling for a $50 billion increase in defence spending, to be funded by cuts to aid, and to in-country social services.

        Coincidentally, $50 billion is the amount bandied around that would be needed to either feed all the world’s hungry, or provide them with clean water.

        Either would go some way towards redeeming the USA in the minds of many, and such soft power would give far more bang for the American taxpayer’s buck. Sadly though, it would not enrich the powers behind Trump’s throne, and is, thereby, both a non-starter and a QED about what rules him.

        To wit, the sentiment in a degenerate phase of the Roman Empire, attributed to Caligula: “Oderint dum metuant”: I scorn their hatred, if they do but fear me. As Philo said of Caligula in “On the Embassy to Gaius, translated by C. D. Yonge (as quoted in https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Caligula), “you, wretched man, full of all cowardice and iniquity, who have emptied every city of all the things which can conduce to stability and prosperity, and have made them full of everything which leads to trouble and confusion, and the most utter misery and desolation. XII, sec. 90. … But the madness and frenzy to which he gave way were so preposterous, and so utterly insane, that he went even beyond the demigods, and mounted up to and invaded the veneration and worship paid to those who are looked upon as greater than they, as the supreme deities of the world, Mercury, and Apollo, and Mars. XIII, sec. 93.

        I wonder if that is how these will be remembered? But if they are indeed post-historic, in Mumford’s meaning of the phrase, they would not have given that a moment’s thought.

  2. mikemackd says :

    This ties in well with an article about Steve Bannon that, despite its age, first appeared in my mailbox this morning via Medium Daily Digest:

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/steve-bannon-trump-tower-interview-trumps-strategist-plots-new-political-movement-948747

    It is about Steve Bannon, who is quoted therein as saying: “Darkness is good: Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.”

    I just saw the above posts about Bannon when I came online to post this. I will read them now.

    I don’t think even Mumford realised just how “total” the functionaries of The Machine could make totalitarianism.

    Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind …

    • mikemackd says :

      Also interesting that Mumford quoted the Bhagavad Gita at the end of his article the Corruption of Liberalism, which I quoted from here recently.

      I wonder if Bannon ever read that? He may have, as his fellow right-winger David Brooks quoted from it approvingly on 4 October 2014 (sorry, I’ve mislaid the link). There was a retort to Brooks’ argument by a Mumford scholar at:
      https://librarianshipwreck.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/corrupting-the-corruption-of-liberalism-brooks-gets-mumford-wrong/,
      but Bannon would have disregarded that, for reasons explained in Elizabeth Kolbert’s recent article, “Why Facts Don’t Change our Minds” at http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts-dont-change-our-minds.

      That is, confirmation bias, especially “myside bias”, controls machine minds per se. So if Bannon and Mercer are organization men as Mumford described them (and Bannon, like the current Australian PM and many other highly influential people, is a Goldman Sachs alumni), then, again per se, they cannot have developed the co-evolved wisdom and compassion to behave otherwise, and we are in for, as the old Chinese curse goes, interesting times.

      • mikemackd says :

        BTW, the conflating of capitalism and democracy is a fine example of the sort of howler a post-historic man would fall prey to. Capitalism has been, and remains, as much a foe of democracy as fascism and communism, but less honest about it.

        I’m fine with it in proportion, but out of proportion it becomes corptocracy and kleptocracy. Thank heavens we don’t have any of that about! Imagine what trouble we would be in then! A capitalocracy run by capitalopaths!

        Heaven forend.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Every totalitarian system describes itself as “true democracy”. Goebbels defended fascism as “true democracy”, just as the “People’s Republics” — Maoist China or Bolshevik Russia — also pretended to be “true democracy” — the rule of the demos. Le Pen in France also uses the slogan “au Nom du Peuple” — “in the name of the people” — Le Peuple being,apparently, the new god, but which, as we know, systematically excludes others as non-people. Same for the “All Lives Matter” slogan that is intended to counter “Black Lives Matter”.

          In saying “All Lives Matter”, are they saying, with Blake, that “everything that lives is Holy”? I bet not. I bet they start making exceptions to the universality implied in “All Lives Matter” — exceptions for capital punishment; exceptions for slaughter houses; exceptions for this and exceptions for that, exceptions for trees, etc, etc, until “All Lives Matter” starts to look like empty lip-service.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      Tavis Smiley said what we’ve all been thinking: “Trump is an empty vessel into which anything can be poured.” Bannon is definitely the one to watch. Ironically, Bannon and Co. have the same thing in their sights as everyone else: “globalization.” Trouble is, their “methodical strategy” is all wrong. Rather than being transformative, it’s patently destructive and, therefore, representative of the ‘The Great Unraveling‘ as opposed to ‘The Great Turning.’

      Still, I have the strongest feeling the microcosm, if not the macrocosm, is nonetheless on the right track.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    One thing I’ve noticed, of some relevance to Cadwalladr’s article, is that people I had a brief private email correspondence with even 15 years ago are suddenly popping up as “Friends” or “people you may know” and such. Quite obviously, “private” email isn’t so private at all. It’s a case of “I can see you, but you can’t see me”, like the Great Eye of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings.

  4. davidm58 says :

    Yes, Excellent article by Carol Cadwalladr. A good follow-up to an article I mentioned a while back on the role of Cambridge Analytics in the Trump campaign.

    All of this is especially important to be aware of right now, as we see the white house blocking numerous mainstream media outlets from a press briefing.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-house-bars-news-organizations_us_58b08a76e4b0a8a9b78213ae
    “This is how dictatorships start,” said one commenter (I think it was Mark Shields). Steve Bannon is calling news media “the opposition party,” and Trump is using the phrase “the enemy.” Meanwhile, billionaires such as Robert Mercer are very effectively waging war on the media in a more subtle way.
    And so, for emphasis, the last paragraphs of Cadwalladr’s piece in the Guardian:

    “Many of the techniques were refined in Russia, he says, and then exported everywhere else. “You have these incredible propaganda tools developed in an authoritarian regime moving into a free market economy with a complete regulatory vacuum. What you get is a firestorm.”

    This is the world we enter every day, on our laptops and our smartphones. It has become a battleground where the ambitions of nation states and ideologues are being fought – using us. We are the bounty: our social media feeds; our conversations; our hearts and minds. Our votes. Bots influence trending topics and trending topics have a powerful effect on algorithms, Woolley, explains, on Twitter, on Google, on Facebook. Know how to manipulate information structure and you can manipulate reality.

    We’re not quite in the alternative reality where the actual news has become “FAKE news!!!” But we’re almost there. Out on Twitter, the new transnational battleground for the future, someone I follow tweets a quote by Marshall McLuhan, the great information theorist of the 60s. “World War III will be a guerrilla information war,” it says. “With no divisions between military and civilian participation.”

    By that definition we’re already there.”

    • mikemackd says :

      David, while I agree with McLuhan there, I would like to add that McLuhan’s idea of a global village was criticised by Mumford in 1970 in The Pentagon of Power in the following terms:

      “McLuhan’s ideas about the role of electronic technology have been widely accepted, I suggest, because they magnify and vulgarize the dominant components of the power system in the very act of seeming to revolt against its regimentation. In treating the planet as a ‘tribal village’ by instant electronic communication, he has, in fact, united the crippling limitations of a pre-literate culture, which made the scattered, farming population of the world an easy prey to military conquest and exploitation, with the characteristic historic mischief of ‘civilization’: the subjugation of a large population for the exclusive benefit of a ruling minority.

      “So far from there being any spontaneous communication under this regime, these electronic media are already carefully controlled to make sure that ‘dangerous,’ that is, unorthodox views do not slip through. Such a system permits neither colloquy or dialogue, as in genuine oral intercourse: what takes place is for the greater part only a meticulously arranged monologue, even if more than one person is present on the screen. A population entirely dependent upon such controlled oral communication, even though it reached every human soul on the planet, would not merely be at the mercy of the Dominant Minority but would become increasingly illiterate and soon mutually unintelligible. Thus once again the parallel between the Pyramid Age and our own forces itself upon the observer: here in prospect is actually the electronic Tower of Babel. Instant planetary communication, conducted on these principles, would bring about eventual excommunication from any identifiable community.”

      I have excerpted that quote from a 2013 paper I found a few days ago calling for people to realise the urgent current relevance of The Pentagon of Power, at:

      http://cvisaacs.univalle.edu.co/crisisycritica/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36:recovering-lewis-mumford-s-the-pentagon-of-power&catid=26:resenas

      In the same online journal issue, there is an article about the dark side of the Enlightenment as historically expressed in and through the USA. The problem being like that of a torch’s narrow beam on a dark night; it makes everywhere else darker, and unnoticeable, where creatures of darkness can thrive.

      It also articulates differences between America’s founding fathers that I had not known of as well before (I pardon myself for that, because I am not an American).

      One of them, Alexander Hamilton, “favored an elitist and aristocratic organization of American life modeled after the British Empire. Politically, he believed that because the common people often acted foolishly, that the right to vote should be limited and that only the rich and educated should govern. As the founder of the National Bank, he favored finance, manufacturing and trade. He envisioned an American Way of Life that would permit freedom to capital and finance, while imposing restrictions on individual liberties.”

      I wonder what Steve Bannon would think of Hamilton, and which founding father’s version of the USA he wants to be “first”, if any:

      http://cvisaacs.univalle.edu.co/crisisycritica/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=25:republic-and-empire-america-s-ambiguous-legacy-of-enlightenment&catid=22:esclarecimiento-e-imperialismo&limitstart=0

  5. abdulmonem says :

    It is not dark money or dark data but the dark heart that produces all types of blackness and darkness. It is the story of a civilization that has missed the road, the civilization that has allowed to its self everything and prevented others from everything, a civilization that has blackmailed itself knowingly, as it is well documented and analysed by Christopher B. Arredondo in his republic and empire, the link sent by our friend Mike who is like all of us is moving in the day light of the soul. It is a worth read that shows how christianity has been hijacked by the fathers of the house of Solomon away from the house of Jesus, moving in the house of hypocrisy that appears in the attire of a civilizing mission while killing and stealing the land and wealth of others. ( please Don ,do not think I am against moses and the good jews but I am against the crooks who have polluted our beautiful earth and this is not confined to the jews but applies to all perverters moslem and otherwise , I love the good anywhere and anytime it expresses it self. It is time for rewriting every things, a time of realizing the wrong being done and work hard toward amending everything starting with the human heart. It seems we are in a time where the liars come to the front and truth tellers are lurking behind, only to show that it is time for inversion that is to run fast to the lap of the divine truth that always delays it movement until the last moment. It is time to realize that nothing in this cosmos work without purpose and do not think that we have been created in vain with all this expanding human consciousness which is moving fast to integrate itself with its source. The call of all those mentioned by Scott despite their relations to other culture or other religions.

  6. abdulmonem says :

    Oh Mike with your links you have raised the vibrations of my sadness. Definitely people like Mumford have kept America alive and healthy,contrary to the like of Bush who humiliated others only to bring humiliation to his country. The new political chorus speaks to that unhealthy trend that will kill America if the good people of America and elsewhere do not move vigorously to address the malady. America does not lack good people but it like the activism of such people. So is the world. The pentagon of power must itself wake up to the danger of pursuing such path before it brings destruction to its house. We in an entangled cosmos, the event on this side reverberate instantly on the other side. exactly like the mobile that picks the voice of the other instantly despite how far the distance is. It is tragic that we speak about reality without giving any regard to that reality as if all the scriptures are falsified documents that do not deserve our attention. This is the dilemma of our humanity which has always accused, the prophets that call for attention to the reaction of our intelligent world, with insanity. No wonder the voice of Mumford is submerged and neglected.

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