The Antidote to Squid Games
Our culture hooks us on dystopian spectacle to keep us from awakening to our true nature
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Squid Games as Neoliberal Pornography
The other night I watched a few episodes of Squid Games, and felt nihilistic despair afterwards. Like so many other shows on Netflix as well as so many Hollywood movies, Squid Games is dystopian neoliberal pornography with no redeeming message. In the show, people who have fallen into debt — prisoners of the system — get exterminated like lab rats to provide some tiny jolt of pleasure to a faceless corporate-seeming entity, which functions a bit like a transcendent being, an insane, evil God (or capital itself). This is not so much a metaphor for neoliberalism as it is accurate reporting.
How can we understand the ideological purpose of such entertainment? What do people gain from watching such spectacles of glacial predation? In The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Walter Benjamin proposed:
“Humanity’s self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.”
Netflix and Hollywood gives people the frisson of identifying with the process of degradation and destruction in which they are enmeshed. Unfortunately, just like lab rats, they keep taking the bait.
I find it logical that Marc Bernays Randolph, the first CEO of Netflix, was the great-nephew of Edgar Bearnays, the founder of the modern discipline of propaganda and public relations, responsible for coining the term, “engineering consent.” Bearnays, himself, was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. He applied ideas from Freudian psychology to marketing and PR. For example, cigarette companies hired Bernays in the 1920s because they wanted more young women to smoke. Bernays devised “flapper parades,” representing the new wave of female liberation, which ended with the flappers lighting up cigarettes, called “torches of freedom.” The goal was to make an association between women’s liberation and smoking in people’s minds, packaging the poison as something sexy and glamorous.
Netflix is, I believe, a mind-control device — a psychological operation — transmitting the ideology of neoliberalism and transhumanism to the masses. Shows such as Squid Games help to amplify people’s self-alienation, so they identify with the forces of destruction and exploitation that hover, invisibly, all around them. Such spectacles imprison the human psyche in a degraded world, devoid of meaning or purpose, where all that is left are human dregs feeding off each other like parasites. This is the sterile psychological reality of the elite psychopath class, which they compulsively force onto the rest of humanity.
Over the last month, I released a series of essays considering the possible shape of the future. I reviewed a number of different theoretical efforts to define or point toward a Post-capitalist system. These included Aaron Bustani’s “Fully Automated Luxury Communism,” Darren Allen’s “Anarcho-Primitivism,” Mark Fisher’s “Acid Communism,” Jeremy Gilbert’s “Psychedelic Socialism,” plus the different prospects presented in Peter Frase’s Four Futures (communism, socialism, rentism, exterminism.) I touched upon Technocratic transhumanism, which sees humanity merging with machinery, becoming “post-human.” This is the vision championed by Klaus Schwab’s Great Reset, as well as Google Director Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity. I proposed that the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic reveals a conspiratorial plan to establish an extra-legal, transnational bio-security state in order to accelerate humanity’s march toward technocratic transhumanism.
Despite all of the defenses made for it, reductive materialism is utterly wrong as a philosophy, as Bernardo Kastrup dissects in his book, Why Materialism is Baloney. But this philosophy still rules, not only in the academies of the West but also in China and across most of the world. Reductive materialism, as an ideology, drives technocratic transhumanism. Transhumanists seek to perpetuate the human ego in a deathless, virtual matrix that will continue eternally, or at least indefinitely.
I feel I haven’t, as of yet, fully explained what I understand to be the alternative possibilities latent within humanity — why I feel we must swivel around and change our direction as a species. Why it would be worth making the effort to do so, even though, at this point, admittedly, the deck seems stacked against such an effort.
Making this counter-argument is very difficult to do because I have to speak about hidden capacities and potentials within the human being that the vast majority of people no longer have any idea about, let alone know from their direct experience. And in fact, our entire system of education-plus-indoctrination is ingeniously designed to rob us of our most essential birthright, which is our direct access to the Sacred and the capacity to commune, in an unmediated way, with levels of Spirit far beyond the limits of this transitional human sphere.
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In the past, I was naive to think that by expressing this as best I could in a few books, that would be enough: A new understanding would begin to disseminate itself, spread virally across the collective consciousness of humanity. The seed would become a sprout. The sprout would become a tree. The tree’s roots would break through the concrete mental structures.
With hindsight, I see that any one person’s life is just a blip, a tiny Jigsaw piece in a gigantic cosmological puzzle. We do what we can, but there are larger forces in the universe, operating beyond our control. In fact, through my direct experience I learned that we also contend against invisible, occult systems — “power and principalities” — that exploit our weaknesses. These forces work against humanity’s capacity to escape from this mechanized prison we are building around ourselves. But this is a complicated subject I will bookmark for a later discussion.
After feeling demoralized by Squid Games, I felt it was necessary to clear my psychic palette by watching whatever reminders I could find, on Youtube, of this other potentiality within consciousness, within the collective field of humanity. I turned to two documentaries about the Kogi people in Colombia, From the Heart of the World and Aluna, and a beautiful icaro from Maestra Olivia, a Shipibo woman shaman who was tragically killed a few years ago by a crazed Canadian tourist.
I have spent just enough time with indigenous shamans and communities, including visiting the Kogi and Aruak people in Colombia, the Shipibo in Peru, the Secoya in Ecuador, and the Bwiti in Gabon — to know from direct experience that through nature we can commune with a vast ecology of sentience, levels of consciousness both very different and far beyond our own. It is here, I suspect, that we can find the “saving grace,” the saving power, if we so choose. It is through such phenomenological experiences, through direct communion with higher intelligences and other forms of consciousness, that we can find the willpower and wisdom, the new/ancient gnosis, to reject the technocratic trap.
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