Mattias Desmet has a very interesting Tablet piece on the transition from democracy to totalitarian technocracy.
COVID-19 and the Psychology of Totalitarianism
The transition from democracy to totalitarian technocracy is not an elite conspiracy, but the process of a whole society succumbing to a new dominant ideology
It is clear to most rational observers that COVID-19 had a totalizing effect on society and its institutions. The long-term mass formation that existed during the coronacrisis could not have been maintained without all kinds of steering and intentional manipulation. With the means available to today’s media, the possibilities are simply phenomenal.
Such steering, however, is rarely done by individual persons; the most fundamental steering is impersonal in nature. The steering is first and foremost driven by an ideology—a way of thinking. Ideologies organize and structure society progressively and organically.
The whole piece is well worth reading as another aspect of the idea that current totalitarian trends are driven by conspiracies. In a sense they are conspiracies in that leaders ride the trends and try to control and promote them, but they are also reacting, not necessarily steering.
In the process of exercising power—i.e., shaping the world to ideological beliefs—there usually is no need to make secret plans and agreements. As Noam Chomsky put it, if you have to tell someone what to do, you’ve chosen the wrong person. In other words: The dominant ideology selects who ends up in key positions. Someone who does not share the ideology is usually less successful in society, apart from a few exceptions. Consequently, all people in positions of power automatically follow the same rules in their thinking and in their behavior and are under the influence of the same “attractors” (to use a term from complex dynamical systems theory). Furthermore, they all succumb to the same logical fallacies and the same absurd behavior, independently of each other, or at least without having to gather in secret meetings. Compare it to computers running on the same, wrong software: Their “behavior” and their “thinking” will all deviate in the same direction, without “communicating” with one another. This is what the Sierpinski triangle shows us: Mind-blowingly precise and regular patterns can arise because individuals independently follow the same simple rules of behavior and are attracted to the same set of attractors. The puppet master is the ideology, not the elite.
As Desmet goes on to say, a point may arrive where the imposition of ideals may cross ethical boundaries and devolve into a genuine conspiracy.
In their endeavors to impose their ideals on society, institutions and people do indeed cross ethical boundaries, and when things get out of hand, their strategies may indeed devolve into a conspiracy: a secret, intentional, planned, and malicious project. It is also well known that, as the process of totalitarianization continues, the totalitarian regime is increasingly organized as a fully fledged “secret society.” We have seen that the Holocaust came about through a mind-boggling process of mass formation that blinded both the perpetrators and the victims and drew them into an infernal dynamic. However, there was also an intentional plan, which had as its purpose to systematically optimize racial purity through sterilization and elimination of all impure elements. There were approximately five people who patiently and systematically prepared the entire Holocaust destruction apparatus, and they managed to make all the rest of the system cooperate with it in total blindness for a long time. Those who did see what was going on—namely, that the concentration camps were in fact extermination camps—were accused of being … conspiracy theorists.
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