Huxwell - Frankenstein Monster of the Woke Left
The great Noam Chomsky stopped just one rung shy of perfection with his equally great book, Manufacturing Consent, about how commercial media work as extensions of government and corporate power to manufacture the consent of the masses. Likewise, Matt Taibbi’s title, Hate, Inc. is a near-perfect indictment of cable and digital news revenue models that manufacture and prioritize enmity and division to the exclusion of the common good.
Both works fall just one rung shy of perfection, however, not because they aren’t impressive examples of applied critical thought and insight, but because neither consent nor hate are the primary products of commercial media. Rather, they are toxic byproducts of a commercial mass media whose primary product is addiction.
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“The effect of mass media is not to elicit belief but to maintain the apparatus of addiction.”– Christopher Lasch
In the early 21st century, we turned the corner from a society in which addiction was the exception to the rule to a society in which addiction became the rule. By 2004, still some years before social media, the smartphone and streaming media secured their reputations as history’s most perfect narcotics, the average American – according to the Ball State University Middletown Media Studies report (the first large-scale observational study of American media consumption habits) — was already consuming more than eleven hours of media each and every day.
Concurrently, TV Everywhere, the commercial imperative behind the trillion-dollar campaigns for high-speed bandwidth and streaming HDTV, was ordained as the latest media industry mantra — part of an all-hands-on-deck digital blitzkrieg to normalize late-stage addiction.
Since then, hundreds of studies, articles, books and documentaries (like The Social Dilemma) have confirmed what anyone with a smartphone, social media account or a teenager already knows or suspects: we are a nation of media addicts — by design. We are, per Stanford addiction expert Dr. Anna Lembke, a Dopamine Nation. The scientific jury is in: smartphones, streaming HDTV and social media are now — by far — the primary narcotics of choice in what I call the Great Age of Addiction.
“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.”– Carl Jung
What Carl Jung failed to mention at the time was the practical reason why all addictions are bad: because all addictions — regardless of the narcotics — are manifestations of behavioral excess. As such, they all steal our time and money and freedom – none more ruthlessly or efficiently than our default meta-addiction to all things media and all things digital.
Needless to say, we didn’t just suddenly wake up one morning to discover that we had become a society of media addicts overnight. We became a society of media addicts the same way we became a society of institutions too big to fail. What happened to us (more precisely, what was done to us), happened over decades. Like too big to fail it happened not as an unintended consequence of a failure to plan, or the unfortunate fallout from a lousy plan. Like too big to fail, default addiction is the plan.
“The model of ownership, in a society built round mass consumption, is addiction.”
– Christopher Lasch
Per Marshall McLuhan’s seminal observation more than half a century ago, the medium is the message. But what happens to the message when the medium is addiction? In the Great Age of Addiction, our meta-addiction to all things media and all things digital is the meta-medium, and the meta-medium always delivers the same meta-message. In the Great Age of Addiction, the meta-message is always a binge-worthy call to action: Eat all you want, we’ll make more. Everything else, like the manufacture of consent and hate, follows…
Of course, commercial mass media’s essential job in a culture of mass consumption is to promote and protect the narrow interests of the ruling elite who now own the corporate media, the technomedia cartel and just about everything else. As such, the manufacture of consent in the 21st century borrows a page right out of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World – the story of a dystopian society controlled by state-mandated addiction…
In Huxley’s vision, the manufacture of individual consent assumes the individual is already an addict from birth. Logically, the manufacture of mass consent requires the manufacture of mass addiction, a process much accelerated in the early 21st century by the tools of hyper-personalized digital scale — tools deployed en masse for the past generation by both the technomedia cartel and the post-9/11 surveillance state in a corporatist (fascist) union of private and government interests.
Of course, you and I and all our friends, family members and colleagues are nothing if not complicit in our own addictions — as always. We alone manufacture our own consent as eager co-conspirators in league with the corporatist dealers of our state-sanctioned and state-enabled narcotics.
That said, addiction is a cradle-to-grave relationship for the children of the 21st century, an endless parade of state-sanctioned psychotropics, sex and numerous other behavioral addictions — not least our meta-addiction to all things media and all things digital. Our lives as addicts begin these days in early childhood, and the single most enduring and compelling relationship in our lives as mass consumers of mass commercial media and everything else is our relationship with addiction.
In recent years we have witnessed the addition of yet another dystopian vision to the American cultural stew. Unlike the Huxleyan model, this one is concerned far less with the bemused manufacture of addicted consent, already fait accompli in the Great Age of Addiction, and far more with the iron-fist mechanics of top-down enforcement.
After all, even societies like ours — societies whose citizens have been duly converted into passive addicts in order to manufacture compliance and consent on behalf of a ruling elite — must deal with outliers and the occasional rise of populist movements. What is the ruling elite to do with those who refuse or fail to comply?
What, the American oligarchs ask themselves and each other, are we to do with the tens of millions of Donald Trump voters, the America First movement, January 6th rioters and angry parents who suddenly show up uninvited to school board meetings? What, ask blue-state governors and blue-city mayors, are we to do with unvaccinated monsters who don’t comply with covid lockdown, vaccine and mask mandates? What, the Canadian oligarchs ask, are we to do with all these rogue truckers?
What happens when the Huxleyan model of manufactured consent and compliance via state-sanctioned addiction fails to keep them all in check? To properly manage these and future populist miscreants, the ruling elite have borrowed from the 20th century’s other great literary dystopia: George Orwell’s 1984. In it, Orwell describes a society ruled and controlled not by the manufacture of consent but by the state manipulation of mandated language in the manufacture and iron-fisted application of abject hate and fear.
In Orwell’s classic dystopian vision, state-sanctioned violence is converted from something to fear into something to cheer. Each and every morning, for instance, members of the Outer Party of Oceania are required by the elite Inner Party to participate in the daily Two Minutes Hate — 120 seconds of publicly expressed mob contempt and disgust for fabricated public enemy and terrorist, Emmanuel Goldstein…
In retrospect, the fictional execration of the Two Minutes Hate seems almost quaint when compared to the real thing today, an endless torrent of 1984-inspired venom and vitriol spewed on cable news and social media. More ominously, in the past few years the primary focus of our animus has been turned inward, from foreign to domestic enemies of the state.
Nowadays, the new-and-improved Two Minutes Hate runs 24/7 nonstop, and the fabled Emmanuel Goldstein has been replaced by Donald Trump (first and forever, it seems), his legions of deplorables, Nick Sandmann, Kyle Rittenhouse, the unvaccinated/unmasked and the white-supremacist insurrectionists of January 6th — the day that almost lived in infamy.
To keep today’s unwashed and under-educated working class in line, the ruling elite call upon the institutional shock troops and street thugs of the Woke Left. Everything about the Woke Left is a derivative of 1984, beginning with the perversely dangerous assertion that speech is violence — the epitome of 21st-century DoubleSpeak.
Further homage to Orwell is everywhere manifest in official Woke Left vernacular, informed and enhanced at any given moment by an ever-expanding style guide of pandering pronouns and euphemisms that — among other functions — confer quasi-scientific status on racist anti-racism and eugenics-based gender studies straight out of the Aryan playbook.
With almost total control of institutional America, including and especially the technomedia cartel, corporate media, the DHS and the DOJ, the Woke Left’s eagerness to jettison civil liberties and resort to political violence whenever it suits them is testimony to a wholly manufactured frenzy of hatred and fear once reserved only for foreign enemies of the state — like the Nazis or the Soviet Union. Now, however, they lavish DEFCON 1 levels of hatred and fear upon half the population of the country with casual disregard. We should be so lucky to confine their hate to only two minutes a day.
A study in illiberal intolerance that would humble Big Brother, the Woke Left is the ruling elite’s Praetorian Guard in a global class war against poor and middle class people of all colors worldwide.
So there you have it: a Huxleyan model to manufacture consent and compel compliance via state-sanctioned addiction on the one hand, and an Orwellian model to compel enforcement via the state-sanctioned manufacture of hate and fear on the other. In the deliberate marriage of the two, the ruling elite of the Woke Left have created a new Frankenstein monster: Huxwell – equal doses of both dystopian visions, equal measures of manufactured consent and Stasi-style enforcement — with a little Mary Shelley tossed in for good measure.
Huxwell, the global Woke answer to all the crowd-control questions posed by all the oligarchs. Huxwell, the ruling elites’ go-to compliance officer and Enforcer-in-Chief. Huxwell, a monster created specifically to keep populist movements from both sides of the aisle in check while the ruling elite ransack the joint. Huxwell, the Great Reset come to life...
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