Sunday, June 24, 2018

Propaganda of Interest (Episode VIII)

 A Distinguishing Plot Feature

What one notices about the plot in the first episode is something that happens to end up being the case throughout the first two seasons, and that is that there is a normal world without the direct influence of any ASIs.  Or at least the events ongoing in each episode highlight the aspects of the world that go on as if  there aren't any ASIs, carrying on with the inertia of their existence which had formerly been in a world without any.  It hadn't caught up to them yet, and that's due to several reasons.  Firstly because of the "black box" design of The Machine, which is the only ASI in operational existence.  It's "clients" can't gain direct access to the way it processes information, nor what information it is processing, but can only receive one output of its processing, a list of social security numbers. And these numbers pertain only to national security threats, or other threats which involve mass acts of violence.  Therefore its active intelligence which leads to these outputs cannot be commandeered for other purposes (such as detecting organized criminal action, fraud, domestic violence leading to murder etc.).  The only way additional information is gained from The Machine is through the irrelevant list, which still represents assessments only of violent crimes which involve lethal intent and potential, "often days or weeks in advance", in the words of The Machine's fictional creator and official backdoor installer and hacker Mr. Finch, or "glasses" as Detective Fusco lovingly calls him.  But most of human action, criminal or otherwise, isn't being influenced by the machine, though it is all  being studied.

This continues until the last two episodes of season three, when Samaritan goes online and fights for its own existence by doing two things: demonstrating "to the politicians" its value at stopping a terrorist threat in the NYC area, and destroying the assets of The Machine which are the only operational threat of serious significance to Samaritan.  But that is a world which exists transcendental to the "normal" world where people generally act like they're just fine and dandy with being in an open air panopticon run by corrupt and generally falsified institutions. They are not concerned about the information being sucked out of their devices and through the public infrastructure, or with the existence of clandestine operations being conducted which will require their assassination if they "know too much" or even strongly suspect too much. Therefore there is already a sense of what "normal" is meant to be within this story world of POI.  It is a world where people resemble farm animals with respect to the system which sees to their safety and security (and its own, of course). 

They are this way because they have always been this way, since the days of old when the "all seeing eye" was not an arcane technological monstrosity, but a monstrous perversion of an ancient human tradition, leadership by the wiser and braver among them.  In the days of old before history, and on into its earliest recordings, the leaders of society were the wisest at maintaining it in peace and war.  That was demonstrated by their personal demonstration of expertise in matters of maintaining a peaceful society and protecting it, through their understanding of what is required for successful action in either condition.  At least if the venerable sages such as Confucius, or the bards and historians of other cultures, are to be believed.  But such a Golden Age did not last well into the period of the agriculture-fed city state. From that point on, institutional control over dense human populations fixed to a specific area of land and required to protect hard assets on developed land became the norm.  And this developed a status quo of institutional authority which managed structures rather than events.  Events became a function of established structures the operation of which, whether in peace or war, involved a bureaucracy that was relatively ensconced in the safety of the citadels of their offices. The operational spheres which involved actual ingenuity, labor, and courage; in short which required sacrifice in hope of gain and with increasing degrees of risk as proximity to war or other dangers, fell to a growing slave class.

There is no need to aver to any socialist ideology here.  Why flatter such when they lack explanatory power for why the masses who do all the work and have all the talent and virtue yet don't put an end to corruption found throughout the institutions of their civilizations, both material and cultural, nor seem to have the guts even to face the truth about such things.  Who are they kidding making the "proletariat" the heroes in human history?  So far they've been nothing but easily manipulated mobs in the service of those who do nothing but tell them what to do and kidnap their children at will, to include repurposing them in an organized way with the consent of their parents to do the bidding of the their parents' masters when the time comes to pass the "baton of civilization".  Regardless of whether this became the norm because of a mistake at the end of the Golden Age of Atlantis or the like, or whether it has always been the nature of humanity to be this way yet fantasize about ideal utopias that used to be and might be again someday, the norm is and has been throughout recorded history, that the city state is controlled by an elite bureaucracy who don't want to work, don't want to risk a hair on their heads, and don't even want to think if they can avoid it, but somehow get everyone else to do these things for them.

Well, the world of Person of Interest isn't about these ultrapowerful beings, and barely even references the bureaucracy of quislings in their service at the top levels of society, except as cutouts akin to even the most commonplace extras.  But when the quislings are referenced, they are yes men to power beyond themselves, and are protected by well-armed people who have inherited their jobs from a long tradition of well-armed people protecting bureaucratic quislings at the behest of the ruling class.  That's nothing new, as I just outlined.  Supposedly, both in the world of POI and the world as we know it "in real life", the ruling class is chosen by "the people", and they are the brightest and best among us.

But that is absurd, considering the way institutions are actually staffed.  Sure, those who obtain positions of authority have to put together a package of merit (but mainly appearance of merit), so that they can actually perform some sort of managerial role in this system. But in fact they more cutout than genuine article, at least if one considers the system which actually operates to bottleneck who enters those arenas at all, let alone who wins them, mainly by choosing who enters them.  But beyond that, and more importantly, once they are in their positions, as if actors on a stage, they seem to follow a regular script that involves telling other people what to do with their own resources, under great penalty if they should disobey, and with the possibility of being well-compensated (with other people's resources) if they obey and better if they obey well.

Who writes that script is a matter of dispute.  It seems that in most fiction, as well as in most historical and politico-economic discussions, our "glorious leaders" are the remnants of a Golden Age of human merit-based rulership, kept in their proper positions of power because the human populace which serves them instinctively chooses what's best for itself in at least that one respect.  They are good at picking the people who will tell them what to do with their own resources.  But that seems to me highly unlikely. One might leave aside an intuition that this can't be right, and one might leave aside the logical analysis of the dynamics involved which demonstrate a structural contradiction in such a worldview, but one cannot argue with facts.  The facts of the world say that corruption began and persisted since about the time of recorded history, when robbery became laundered into slavery disguised as free economic action.  That was first done by force, then it was done by fear, and then it was done by sheer precedent.

But what this structure enabled that truly sealed the fate of the good old "salt of the earth" is the manipulation of the very  currency of exchange, the money supply, by the managerial class on behalf of the ruling class.  That power advanced the leverage which could be strategically leveraged against the people by those who not only know what better is to be done by the people with their own physical and mental assets, but even can decide this matter further in intensity and further into the future without any limit other than what the people can survive in the process.  And what has science and technology done or been allowed to do other than accentuate this process of usurious abuse of power and usurping of power. 

Toward a Modern System of Ancient Corruption

The modern world isn't an advance on the old world nor the ancient world except in being a version of those worlds made now more comfortable and easy for its rulers over its slaves.  They'll even tell you the same old stories to entertain while brainwashing, throw the same old parties, circuses and games, and arrange the same arenas of staged conflict, all so as to seduce, confuse, amuse and soothe (or agitate) the good ol' proles, while simultaneously honing the science of how to better do this on the backs of the proles through manipulation of their own resources. This system is supported by such a long history of steady precedents that anything further would seem unnecessary simply by the rule that it having been laid down so long, the people must accept this as just.  At least one might be tempted to believing that the behavioral inertia of the people's complicity to their own enslavement shouldn't need too much coaxing anymore through deception, let alone corruption, as it has become so normalized.

But of course there is a breaking in period and that has been institutionally facilitated remarkably well, and this has been called a sign of civilization's progress.  But it has occurred to me that the manipulations are getting more blatant in proportion as the people's ability to gain insight into them has also increased. If it were just normalization through the trauma of chronic and sometimes severe infliction of precedent, then it would seem that increased exposure to the public mind of the bad faith inherent to these manipulations would incite some sort of popular resentment to match that exposure.  Yet people seem to have become more blithe and easily manipulated in direct proportion rather than in inverse proportion to the blatant exposure of the conditions of their own enslavement.

History and its facts have not become more salient to the people except as a function of how they are rendered to them by those with control over their world of bread and circuses.  It seems astounding, until one realizes that control of the currency enables a powerful means of bypassing not only the laws of statute, but also that from which those laws are supposed to stem, which are the laws of common decency and common sense, which are supposed to inform the culture with its mores and norms.  Corruption of the institutions of academia and popular entertainment and the media of communication in society is a petty matter compared with getting everyone to accept total control of their economy through total and abusively usurious control of their currency to the point that it is tantamount to robbing someone, picking their pocket, borrowing money from them, and then loaning some of that back to them at extreme rates that would make a loan shark blush.  But are these issues ever raised in popular culture much?  Not if Person of Interest is any indicator.  Not if any amount of evidence of what passes for popular entertainment and art is any indicator.

Big Lies, Big Leaks, and Big Gambits of Social Control

Well, after accomplishing that feat of hoodwinkery, what else to do except reinforce it by any means necessary.  Is it any surprise that maxims such as those conceived by the likes of Machiavelli or Xun Kuang indicate that it is naturally, humanly and civically expedient to enlist the energy of everyone toward the disposal of the state?  That the state "as such" is to become a sacred object of veneration, a synechdoche of "us all", a microcosm of the world?  That is the perfect cover for mediating the sacrament through the official hierarchy of the city-state, and that is what is accomplished in the authority and prerogative of all of its institutions and offices, and it inevitably manifests as a cascade of influence that descends upon the everyday and the commonplace in the forms of its culture, its customs and its laws.

All there is to do after managing a massive power grab like this, one that has extended gradually and in a series of sudden avalanches (usually through managed crises which may or may not have been false flags), is to manage the public relations aspect of it and make sure that it has a stable footing for the foreseeable future.  While that may have been the status quo and still is and always will be, the development of technology beyond the ken of any given period of the evolution of the corrupt beast of the city-state is the only remaining force that transcends the status quo, that may come from anywhere and anyone, and needn't manifest as an asset rather than a liability to the power structure of the status quo.  When this was finally understood, the development of guilds came about by which to induce into the folds of centrally managed power any who had an inclination toward arcane pursuits.

Human history demonstrates this development, and this only escalated the corruption of authority structures and their efficiency at passing as authoritative over the course of more successful empires, to the point where people have come to accept anecdotal references to the progress of human rights principles of law and the development of science and technology as being fostered and spurred by this that or the other element of tyranny in its various guises.  The last five hundred years have escalated this process in a way that has never before been seen because of the systematic foundation of interrelated fields of theory and praxis in all areas of human thought and action.  Each epoch of the unfolding of the various modern empires has been marked by the development of multiple forms of knowledge and technology, and of accompanying rhetoric which claims that such are the fruit and flower of the hegemony which held those developments hostage under their patronizing grip.

The plot of Person of Interest (POI) places the development of its unfolding events and its evolving characters right on the cusp of the latest and most extreme development of techo-buttressed city-state cult and the imperial structures that it serves.  It is the development of a fusion of the latest in science and technology which are a byproduct of the enslavement of the overall civilization into the service of an open-air and pervasive, distributed and compartmentalized "Manhattan Project" where the hegemons behind the modern empire of the city state have absorbed all of the human assets under their sway as guinea pigs and as those who manage and experiment upon them.  POI represents the culmination of the psychological operation by which the culture of this glorified petri dish and its contents are fed back to them as simultaneously a PR stunt to maintain mind control over the subjects in the audience concerning their role in this world, especially in the context of its now fully established Orwellian dimensions of its status quo.  It is normalizing a certain cultural perspective and tone of the populace in a way that might be called "1984 with a Heart".

That's where I see the plot arc of the entire series of POI as dovetailing in with the history of the world in which it is contextually embedded both in its own content and simultaneously in the metacontext of its production in the actual world in which it is a form of propotainment.  The discourse which flows through and from POI therefore amounts to an apologetics which attempts to justify the structures and functions of the latest developments of the technological reinforcement of the city state and covers for it through a dynamic of dramatic exposition of matters of human interest of a personal, social, cultural and metaphysical kind, and to various degrees of concrete and abstract expression, so that each member of the audience can find something relevant to himself, can find a "plot element of interest", so as to engage his mind into the thrust of the events of POI, episode by episode, until a certain propaganda payload can be delivered (and multiple are).  The methods of art by which this is conducted blend very well into the structure of the plot, so that the aesthetics of expression and the logic of exposition of the plot both convey a form through which the discourse on the metarelevant ideas of POI can be related to the minds of the audience in ways that indicate unmistakable intention as to the preferred outcome of the audience members' response and "takeaway".  I will next discuss the plot arc of each season in order so as to lay out the structure of this propagandistic intent more fully.

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