In ‘GOODBYE, GOOD LUCK Or The Wrong Trousers Or Naming Subversion’ I discussed the Power of Naming and the way that it can be used to reconstruct opposition. This Power To Name was certainly instrumental in twisting round Russell Brand to the point that he has had to withdraw due to mental injury.
But there is a more complex and powerful factor in the battle to control the way we think; The Marketplace Of Ideas.
The Marketplace of Ideas is profound because it determines what is, and what is not possible to achieve through politics and discourse in the modern world.
The Marketplace of ideas does not just outline the rules of the game, it delineates the principles on which those rules are founded. The ‘Marketplace of Ideas’ is the root system of thought from which Germanic Capitalism grows; it is the network of tubers that anchors Germanic Capitalism and allows it to draw nutrients up from the ground. Cut this root and the tree will begin to die; just expose this root and the air and the light will begin to kill it.
Ideas as commodities
Modern/Germanic ideology characterises Ideas/Conceptions, (which I will refer to as Ideas), as commodities; a particular kind of social construction. To begin with, Ideas are artefacts, (man made objects), Germanic ideology does not accept Ideas as having existence outside of this Provenance.
Capitalism is founded and relies upon, the belief that Ideas like everything else that exists, have attributable ownership. Where there is no attributable ownership, there can be no Germanic law, because under Germanic law all authority comes from ownership.
The concept of Provenance (provable chain of ownership), itself means that no Idea can come from outside this system of ownership. There can be no ‘Inspiration’ in the classic sense of the word, which is: ‘To breathe on or breathe life into; To affect, guide, or arouse by divine influence.’ In other words every idea starts with somebody and is therefore owned by somebody. Ideas cannot ever belong to everyone and no-one. Ideas can never be a commons.
As Ideas are understood as owned man made artefacts, it follows that they can be commodities, that is things that are valued according to how people see them to be. They cannot have a value outside of this. It follows from this that people can be divided into two groups; those who own ideas and those who don’t. In other words a market. Hence the Marketplace of Ideas.
Idea Commodities, Value and Time
In tandem with the Idea as a commodity with social value comes the Idea that only has value (value in trade or consumption), for a certain amount of time- a kind of ‘sell by’ date, leading to the Germanic ‘History’ brand.
Modern History and Ownership: Modernity and Tradition
History is intimately bound up with ownership, the two are mutually dependent. History expresses the belief that there is no truth that lasts forever or that can exist outside the boundaries of a specific time. There can be no ideas that are valid forever. There can be no ideas that are universally true in all time and all space.
If it were possible that Ideas could be true for all time, there would be no way of differentiating between the past and present because no change in perspective would be possible. People in the ‘here and now’ would have no basis on which to understand people in the ‘there and then’ as different. There would be no history. But the in fact, belief in history is crystallised in the image of modernity and tradition.
The idea of a dichotomy between modernity and tradition is rooted in the way that the ‘Renaissance’ and the ‘Enlightenment’ are portrayed in German rhetoric. We are said to exist in the ‘Modern’ world because of the break with the past that Renaissance and Enlightenment represents and caused. As ‘modern’ people we are told that we think differently because of the Enlightenment, in fact we are told that we are fundamentally different people because of it.
The Progress Brand
The concept of ‘progress’ follows from this description of the Enlightenment. We are ‘modern’ in the sense that we are on this side of the historical fact of the Enlightenment and we have made ‘Progress’ in the sense that this is a good thing.
The ‘fact’ of the Enlightenment proves Progress is possible and once possible, Progress becomes inevitable. Because becoming aware of the possibility of Progress, is making Progress. You no longer see the world as stable and unchanging. Once you accept and believe in change, you are no longer ‘Primitive’.
Primitive people hold that what is true is always true and always will be true. And what is untrue is always untrue and always will be untrue. Truth and untruth are unchanging. So there can be no demarcation between modernity and the past. In contrast, ‘Modern’ people by definition can never accept that there is no difference between past, present and future. How can I be a ‘modern’ person if there is no difference between past and present?
So the ‘Progress’ brand naturally ‘evolves’ from the Enlightenment brand. It is a self proving, self referencing bubble. The fact that the Enlightenment happened is proof that thought can fundamentally change. The Enlightenment itself IS that fundamental change…
Does this mean that the arguments for Progress and Modernity are no more than a simple tautology? No. The key lies in the claim to universality for modern thought.
Why Modernity Is Forced To Make Itself Universal
Once ideas have a ‘sell by’ date, TIME becomes the central component of thought itself, allowing, and in the end forcing, Germanic thought to assume the mantle of MODERNITY and UNIVERSALITY. The categories of ‘truth’ and ‘untruth’, ‘validity’ and ‘invalidity’ become fused with and then subordinated to, Modernity and Tradition.
The ideology of Progress tells us that pre Enlightenment thought is fundamentally different from post Enlightenment thought. Pre Enlightenment thought is based on a belief in absolute truth expressed through concepts of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. If Truth and Untruth is the universal dichotomy then Tradition and Modernity as expressed the Enlightenment must be secondary to this reality.
If it is possible that there is universal timeless Truth, and by implication Untruth, then the Enlightenment could be characterised as Untruth and challenged. The only way to neutralise this fatal weakness in the Enlightenment brand is to make it supplant THE CONCEPT OF TRUTH ITSELF. MODERNITY AND TRADITION IS NOW HOW REALITY IS TO BE NAVIGATED – NOT TRUTH AND UNTRUTH. Not Right and Wrong anymore but Now and Then.
The historical fact of the Enlightenment encapsulates this. In fact, the Enlightenment is both the vehicle and the content of this. The Enlightenment description of a progression from traditional to modern thought implies a relationship between two modes of thought that are antagonistic. This becomes the universal dichotomy.
The Truth is the expression of reality. The Enlightenment claims not to be The Truth, (an expression of reality), but to BE REALITY ITSELF. It places itself above Truth.
Truth and Untruth have been subsumed and supplanted and we are trapped in the bubble of the present; estranged from tradition because we are Modern, remorselessly moving into the future, progressing whether we like it or not.
This image of our condition might strike a chord with you. It is the essence of ‘1984’. We are trapped inside a Big Brother House – trapped inside a Big Bang universe. If we ask what was there before (outside), the Big Bang?- we are told such a question is unscientific; a meaningless question OUTSIDE of reality. If we now ask: What stands outside Modernity/Tradition? we are told the same thing.
Now you know why Germanic politics is divided into ‘Conservatives’ and ‘Progressives’ as opposed to ‘Honest’ and ‘Liars’ or ‘Christians’ and ‘Satanists’ or ‘Greedy’ and ‘Selfless’ and so on…
After the introduction of Modernity the possibility of disputing the way things are is over. After all, how can you dispute reality? ‘True’ and ‘False’ have been made the servants of this reality. There is nowhere left that you can stand to get a point of leverage. This is where Orwell left Winston Smith; trapped at a table in the traitors cafe, playing out a pointless game and waiting for the bullet that will put him out of his misery.
But we don’t have to be trapped – there is a way out.
Orwell was trapped in the modern mind because he did not understand Germanic provenance or the ownership of ideas. Or more accurately, Orwell was not willing to countenance the ownership of ideas. Why? Because as Mark Twain puts it: ‘It is hard to get a man to understand something when his living depends on not understanding it’.
In this case you can think of the ownership of ideas as negative ideology, not ‘Thought crime’ but an idea you cannot afford to think. Orwell was a professional author; he made his living by ‘having’ ideas and selling them. ‘1984’ is proof of this. If there is no legitimate private ownership of ideas Orwell must be merely a rentier or toll keeper of common ideas. His ego and his income could not survive this realisation.
And neither could 1984 itself. This gives us an insight into the way that ‘1984’ is revered as a semi religious text in the Anglo Saxon world instead of just another commercial enterprise, which is all it actually is. If you start to think of ‘1984’ as just another novel like Jilly Coopers ‘Riders’ for example, the illusion starts to fall apart.
In ‘1984’ Orwell is trying to dissect modern authoritarianism while avoiding the exact root cause of authoritarianism. Is it any wonder then that what he ends up producing is an increasingly frenzied description of madness where the greatest danger to the heroes continued existence is his own mind?
The endless trying to justify and reconcile the dichotomy is revealed throughout the book:
The novel begins with Smith writing an illegal unauthorised diary, a symbol of his individualism, but one that Smith recognises from the beginning is ultimately meaningless. (in the end it turns out that all Smith’s thoughts were not even his own.. where did they come from?)
Smith has lunch with Syme who is compiling the Newspeak dictionary. They discuss the production of language. Syme is too intelligent, Smith realises he will end up dead. Syme is clearly a representation of a dangerous part of Orwells intellect as he recognises it.
Smith forms a relationship with Julia who is involved in the mass production of pornography written by machines. Ownership, originality etc.
Smith obtains ‘The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism’ by the character ‘Emmanuel Goldstein’, from O’ Brien (notice Orwell was not up to producing more than a couple of pages of this fictional book within a book- who would be!)
And finally Smith reading the Times that he had previously had a hand in falsifying and now believing it… Author reduced to mere Reader, Producer reduced to mere Consumer. Little wonder he wanted to die.
The entire root structure of 1984 is based on Ownership of ideas and provenance of ideas. Like a rat endlessly going round and round in a maze Orwell tries to find some way round the central problem of totalitarian thought, private thought and owned thought. What is the central problem of Modern Totalitarian thought for Orwell?
That his own belief structure in the ownership of Ideas is the cause of it.
In desperation Winston Smith pleads with O Brien (part of Orwell’s mind) for an answer:
Why are you doing this to me?
Because I can comes the reply.
And stepping out side the novel itself, Big Brother himself comes exactly and specifically from the ownership and selling of ideas :
‘In the essay section of his novel 1985, Anthony Burgess states that Orwell got the idea for Big Brother from advertising billboards for educational correspondence courses from a company called Bennett’s, current during World War II. The original posters showed J. M. Bennett himself: a kindly-looking old man offering guidance and support to would-be students with the phrase “Let me be your father” attached. According to Burgess, after Bennett’s death, his son took over the company, and the posters were replaced with pictures of the son (who looked imposing and stern in contrast to his father’s kindly demeanour) with the text “Let me be your big brother.”
Selling ideas through a mail correspondence course. The inspiration for an evil totalitarian genius turns out to be as prosaic as the diminutive Wizard of Oz. And the entire edifice of Oceania is simply a smokescreen for Orwell to try to reconcile what for him is irreconcilable;
The ownership of Ideas leads in the end to the death of original thought.
Once you accept that all ideas are man made and can only be man made, you open the way to the ownership of ideas. Once you accept the ownership of ideas you open the way to the dictatorship of owned ideas. Once you accept the dictatorship of owned Ideas you are transformed into a modern German person. Once you are a modern Germanic person, Germanic society owns you body, mind and soul.
How can you fight back from there?