On reading We have been harmonised I was reminded the if you want to control a large group, one of easiest ways to do that is to get them all 1) naked and 2) alone.
Naked, so that they feel watched by the authority, their peers and -more importantly – by their own selves. Religion does this (gods are by definition omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent – even the you cannot see them, you feel and know they can see you whenever they like), Santa Clause does this (as every child knows). Social media does this (we know the algorithms know what we type – even what we type and delete before posting – we know this and we check and cool our own behaviour accordingly.)
“The Empire’s got something worse than whips all right. It’s got obedience. Whips in the soul. They obey anyone who tells them what to do. Freedom just means being told what to do by someone different.”
~ Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times
Alone, so that we distrust and envy each other (and surveil each other, all the better to ensure everyone is watched and watching, always exposed, never at ease) and learn to defer to and depend on – and even LOVE the hidden central authority alone (as Winston learned to love his Big Brother, in Orwell’s 1984, as we all know all too well). Sweden has done this very well, with its strange sort of libertarian socialism, where individuals are encouraged to “free” themselves of dependancy on others (including their parents, siblings, children and friends) by submitting instead to dependance on the state (this explains a lot about their covid pandemic response and results).
“The Swedish system is best understood not in terms of socialism, but in terms of Rousseau,” he continued. “Rousseau was an extreme egalitarian and he really hated any kind of dependence–depending on other people destroyed your integrity, your authenticity– therefore the ideal situation was one where every citizen was an atom separated from all the other atoms…. The Swedish system’s logic is that it is dangerous to be dependent on other people, to be beholden to other people. Even to your family.”
~ Michael Booth, author of The Nearly Almost Perfect People
Naked and alone.
Every man an exposed island, focused and dependant on the centre, just like Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon envisaged.
Which brings me to panopticons. And nightclubs.
“The panopticon is a disciplinary concept brought to life in the form of a central observation tower placed within a circle of prison cells. From the tower, a guard can see every cell and inmate but the inmates can’t see into the tower. Prisoners will never know whether or not they are being watched.” ~ Ethics.org
And the panopticon party state we are sleepwalking into, as a Peter Pan generation suffering from Stockholm syndrome and drugged on psychedelics, and dependant on “likes for its dopamine hits, is tempted and comforted to goose-step towards hedonistic authoritarianism by the soothing sounds of the Pied Piper in the DJ box.
As Mary Harrington wrote here:
“In the hedonistic autocracy of a night-club is the perfect metaphor for millennial authoritarianism, so too is the crowd: a mass of people united in the shared thrill of the music, yet also atomised, every dance unique…”
Or, to quote myself : “In the future, everyone gets MDMA in the water and timeshare in a VR sexbot experience.”
Yet finally equal: Drugged, dependent, and “happy”.