A look into history, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and our souls.
The first part of this story is about my people, their grinder, historical parallels, and my life. The second part of the story is about tricks and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The pressure is so high, and it’s all moving so fast that the tongue gets numb—but I keep thinking about how the Soviet adults became the way they were—and what we can do about love.
As I was almost ready to post this story, a friend sent an interview with a 94-year-old (non-Soviet) man. Check it out, it’s interesting.
It made me think about my grandfather—whom I think about a lot. From my childhood, I mostly remember the simple things: his unassuming kindness, his toiling in the garden, and the delicious berries he brought me (and apples, and tomatoes that compared to no other tomatoes in the world, and a million other things). I didn’t have the wisdom to ask him about his life enough. Only now I realize how strong he was. When the WWII started, he was a student and a semi-professional athlete. He went through the war. He was resilient. He always took pain and illness stoically, without complaining. Even in his older age, he was athletic and very handsome. I don’t know what he would think of today. His generation was such a mystery, and I long to finally give my love in a proper way.
And now the story.
The emotional trajectory of my people in the USSR has impacted me viscerally. Their trauma—the trauma that I actively resented—made me run away to America. It is strange and ironic that today, I am suddenly seeing the beginning of the movie about psychology whose ending I saw years ago back home—or at least an attempt to play that movie again.
It so happens that as a child, I spent a lot of time around the people from my grandparents’ generation. I looked up to them and simultaneously learned about the world by observing them.
I suppose I’ve always been philosophically inclined—and even as a kid, I was drawn to connecting the dots and analyzing what leads to what. What I observed in the generation of my grandparents was great strength, great resilience, and a general lack of unobstructed happiness. Their marriages, on average, were full of bickering, their lives were about toiling—and their ideology was, “Life is hard.” There were great resilience and selflessness. There was great strength. There was no place and no allowance for individual joy—and not much expectation of it, either.
As a child, I concluded—without using the lofty words that I use today—that the acceptance of martyrdom led to lasting martyrdom.
Many years later, I realized that they’d been played.
My grandparents’ generation’s acceptance of struggle as the default way of thinking about things didn’t come from nowhere. Their lives were ridiculously hard. They were the generation born shortly after the revolution of October 1917. They were raised into the linear and uncompromising Soviet ideology that claimed the absolute superiority of the official, state-formulated “common good” over the selfish good and petty desires of an individual. (A con for the masses, without a doubt—since the party leaders were quite the bourgeoisie.)
Their generation was the first generation who left the village for the city life. They were dragged into the bloody grinder of WWII in their teens or early twenties. They defeated Hitler. By twenty, they were fully grown adults who had gone through a lot and had lots of responsibilities. They’ve lived through the post-war destruction. They’ve lived through devastating poverty, and raised their kids in that poverty, too. Joy was a very secondary concern for them. There was little joy. Life was hard. It was all work and supporting the family—and of course, hard life was considered noble by the official standards.
My heart goes out to that generation because they were thrown into the Machine without a warning and without mercy. Hardship and compliance were the only things that the Machine revealed to them. They were wounded and kind of rigid—but there was that beauty about them that I cannot name—and I pray that my heart’s longing to understand their mystery, my heart’s desire to understand them in a respectful and loving way can bring us clarity about today, and joy, and healing—for all of us. There are so many parallels between their grinder and the grinder that we are potentially looking at right now—so maybe trying to understand them with love can guide us on how to handle today.
And so, if you think about, say, the 1930s in the Soviet Union, and later, the majority of the citizens were not particularly dissenting. Their lives were hard but also theoretically exciting because the state said that they were “respected” and cheered them on. Plus, they had families to feed, so, what rebellion. Yes, at one point the state took the cattle away from the villagers—but it said it was for common good, even though the women cried. Yes, the farmers had to farm on an abstract and irrelevant city schedule that didn’t connect to nature or reality. Yes, the state rerouted people’s personal energy, which would have existed regardless of any government, in a way that made everything an expression of the official ideology—from how people had relationships to how people talked. Even the language changed! And yet, in each moment, the people who lived through it found ways to handle it.
And so, the kids of the 1920s, raised into the angular and pompous language of the Soviet posters, embraced and internalized it. The language of the Soviet ideology colored every aspect of their lives. Doing their youth, they were busy struggling in the name of personal survival and party sloganeering—and in their old age, they took care of their grandchildren and taught them that life was hard.
And once the Soviet Union collapsed, suddenly “everybody knew” that totalitarianism was bad—and my grandparents’ generation was emotionally and physically thrown under the bus by the very Machine that had tricked them and ate their youth—but while it was still standing, people just lived their lives and didn’t think of themselves as living in a totalitarian society. In fact, they might have thought they had the best freedom in the world, unlike those in the scary world of cruel capitalism. And most of them perhaps never aspired to read forbidden books or play forbidden music. My grandparents’ generation’s Soviet Union was the only life they knew—and as it goes with people, the only life they knew was the best life they knew.
[Which is to say that if we ever get to a place in history where people are officially surveilled 24/7, plugged into the Internet of Bodies, feel barely alive, need permits from the state to have a child, and go to jail for getting pregnant without a permit, people will just think it’s normal… and yes, there will be this overall cloak of joylessness and submission with islands of fanaticism—there kind of already is—but the Machine will just tell people that it’s normal, and that they are fulfilling their duty because whatever… climate change… viruses… overpopulation… progress… any slogan of the day to keep the peasants skinny and the leaders fat.
What I am trying to say emphatically is that just because something is survivable, it doesn’t make it acceptable or good. And I believe with passion that our intrinsic dignity does not lie, and that we can and should fight with tooth and claw for our full straight-up dignity and free will, and that we should question the little voice of self-betrayal in our heads, which really is not our friend but a marketing representative of the Machine, a representative it sends out before it locks the trap.]
I am going to write a separate article about the Internet of Bodies but for now, the RAND report above should give it some weight—and separately, in no relation to IoB, please check out this outrageous video from Australia and tell me that it does not feel like a dystopian film.
Now let’s go to the days when the Soviet Union just started. You can bet that the complete normalization of “totalitarianism” did not occur immediately. It took a while, and it was made possible only after the old ways were squashed with violence, after all the property was seized and redistributed, after all the cultural values were “upgraded,” and all the people who opposed the change were either murdered or driven out of the country—or, at best, forced to pretend for the rest of their lives.
It is an ugly story, and a painful story for me to tell. I don’t care about isms but I care about my people. Yes, I dislike the bolsheviks and their coup, and it’s not about politics, it’s about the spirit. I am disgusted and appalled by the havoc that the bolsheviks brought upon the people by weaponizing jealousy and trauma, by dividing families, and by turning people into snitches—and this is not a statement about isms. It is a statement about people destroying other people’s lives for material power and control and ideological domination—while lying about their true motives and pretending to be about “the people.” The lying was unjust and cold-blooded and inhumane, and I am glad the tower eventually collapsed. And yet, on the ground, there were all those sincere and broken people…
If we were to take a snapshot of life in the USSR a generation after “the enemy” had been murdered or expelled, the new life was the only “normal,” and most people probably didn’t spend much time thinking about the GULAG—and if they ever thought about the GULAG, they probably thought it was for the criminals who deserved it. And then, two full generations later, there was less poverty, and life got kind of sweet—in a simple and pure way—for anyone who was naturally politically correct and did not crave anything consumerist.
Does it mean that in the end, anything goes? Does it mean that the most important thing for a human being is not the amount of freedom—but the perception of own dignity in the moment? Does it mean that “democracy” is overrated because, "hey… look.. it’s fine”?
[“They locked me down for months but it’s for my own good, and I can work from home, so I’m fine.”]
Well, the devil is always in the detail—and if politicians’ care were in the cards for us, it would be possible to imagine a scenario where we are benevolently locked down “for two weeks to flatten the curve.” And then it ends. But it’s August 2021, and no politician looks eager to just give us our good old normal back and leave us to our devices… it just doesn’t look that way! And now that they have tasted our compliance, we are looking at being micromanaged and physically milked us until the day we die. Unless we say that we don’t like it…
What is a totalitarian society?
Here is my crude personal definition: A totalitarian society is a society that applies the boot to the majority of its citizens in a way that is direct and glitter-free. It punishes speech and behavior based on arbitrary rules that protect the authority and that can be bent for the leaders but cannot be bent for regular citizens. And yes, there is an internal logic to the rules, and they do make sense from the standpoint of the Machine. But to internalize that logic as a citizen, one has to be broken and learn to be helpless first.
On the other hand, a society that masks the boot and applies the boot selectively—especially if it focuses the boot on the people outside its borders and allows for a zone of respectability on the inside where the boot is velvety—and also allows people to walk from under the boot and into the zone of respectability—that society is a democracy.
The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is the size of the zone of respectability vs. the size of the hard boot zone. And that, now, is what’s currently changing in Western countries, even though it is masked as a “health response.”
What is it about the Machine? Why does it hurt?
I believe that what makes the Machine the Machine is its refusal to respect the spiritual sanctity of free will and our right to make sovereign decisions about our lives. Wherever there is an ambition to mock and stomp free citizens’ free will, there is an emboldened Machine close by. And it hurts because we are not robots. We have souls. And yeah, we are usually much quicker to notice and detest the boot on our immediate neck as opposed to the boot on the neck of our neighbor—but the thing with the boot is that once it stomps a few necks with little collective resistance, it quickly develops a big appetite, and there go all the necks....
Why is free will so important for our happiness?
We have souls. When we are connected to our soul and can spread our wings, we feel good and joyous, and we are invincible—and that’s almost regardless of the circumstance. It is from that connection to the infinite resonant energy that we get a sense of calm and existential belonging, from which we can do what we want: create, be brave, love, heal, build, trade, treat others with respect, and fight for our dignity.
But when that connection is broken, we are weak, like a flower in the wind. If we are kicked off our senses, it makes it easy for the Machine to place us where it wants us—and then eat us. For that reason, totalitarian structures tend to really pound on people, terrorize them, and spook them off their senses until their bodies disconnect from their souls. And for that exact reason, it is important that we don’t give in.
If we don’t succumb to the bullying, then sooner or later, the Machine will fail. But if we succumb to the bullying, then, depending on our personality, we’ll either turn into dwarfed versions of ourselves who just want the pain to end—or become petty tyrants whose tummies are burning with hunger for more control over physical objects to compensate for the lack of spiritual nourishment that we are born to have. And it is this disconnection from the soul that makes a dogmatic people militant. It’s the hunger. It’s the spiritual suffering.
What does totalitarianism have to do with us today?
Well, a lot. It’s the vibe. It’s the messaging. It’s the censorship. It’s the right to coerce. It is something that stared with “See something, say something,” and developed into a situation where presidents, mayors, and governors talk about Americans who don’t do as told like a mob leader would talk about a cockroach who needs to be squashed. It’s surreal—and frankly unnerving.
But even more to the point, unless we push back from the heart, we are going to be forcefully placed on a “cradle to grave” conveyor that will include about a million mandatory interventions of different kinds, tied to our digital ID and a whip. I am sure about that. They would never have bothered with the passports and surrounding infrastructure if they didn’t have very ambitious plans for our bodies. First, with the help of the journalists, we’ll get a gazillion boosters—and then a gazillion more new things that they’ll come up with as time goes by. Our bodies. Their will. They are building a precedent.
[Think about it this way. In the late 1990s, Big Telecom companies invested a lot of money into the new infrastructure for the internet, a relatively novel thing at the time. In 1998, Verizon almost single-handedly wrote the DMCA (the legislation that made companies legally immune in case of copyright infringement by internet users). Shortly after, internet companies like Google were grandfathered into the deal. And then they spent two decades manufacturing a culture shift, encouraging theft of traditional publishers’ intellectual property, trying to obsolete physical books, pushing all our activities online, coming up with all sorts of tricks and incentives, bribing academics and librarians, and lobbying politicians—all to ensure the maximum flow of ones and zeros through their precious machines so that they could make more money, build their AI, and own our lives as much as possible. This thing today is no different, except it’s more massive and more physically invasive. Anyway, I digressed.]
I like to distinguish between facts and hypotheses, so here is a fact: There is an explicitly stated goal by some of the most influential, richest individuals in the world to completely upend the fabric of life as we know it. They are not being shy about it, either. Their vision explicitly lives on government websites and is featured in mainstream publications. And it’s kind of totalitarian.
The way they describe it in their own words is near identical to the way “conspiracy theorists” describe it—the only difference is that they talk about it with a positive spin, and “conspiracy theorists” talk about it with a negative spin.
The main implication of their vision for a regular person is a severe decrease in access to subjective personal choices and physical wholesomeness, with lots of decision-making and body management outsourced to computers (or, rather, to the influential people who have the financial means to determine what kind of algorithms are desirable for the masses… kind of like our bolshevik bourgeois who promised “land to the peasants” and then took their cattle).
In the world of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, every citizen is plugged in the Internet of Bodies via a number of implanted devices. The device may not be the classic conspiratorial “chip” but it kind of is, just a slicker version of it. On the technology side, the tools come from decades of military research and development. The military people have made great technological advances in the past years in terms of implantable devices (regular, nano, gel, the kind that interacts with various beamable frequencies. etc. etc.)
As a quick primer, here is a very short and informative video from Spiro. By the way, regardless of your thoughts about the v-word, Spiro’s statement is factually accurate. The Internet of Bodies and the COVID v-word are aggressively propagated by roughly the same group of wealthy individuals, who, I believe, view our bodies as a new frontier for their tech. There is work underway for mRNA flu shots, HIV shots, and, I kid you not, plague shots, which are particularly sorely needed. And they are only starting, so your passport better have a million slots!
In terms of policy, the Internet of Bodies comes with a set of incentives and disincentives, and once it’s in place, the sky is the limit as far as where it can go.
Case in point: Here is Bank for International Settlements’ Agustin Carstens on control. Granted, if he said what he said ten years ago, we could say that he is probably talking about some kind of basic legal regulations. But ten years ago, Western citizens could not imagine being locked down for weeks or months, no one was losing jobs over saying “pregnant woman,” and the CDC was not in charge of eviction moratoriums—so, our word today is not quite the world we are used to—and in today’s atmosphere, the sky is the limit as to what can be used as a “legal reason” to turn off our wallets. Maybe after your nth booster you get cold feet? Ask the robot if it cares. Get your next, or it’ll be like you’ve never started. It’s a roller coaster that you can’t get off of. See how slick? Land to the farmers, LOL.
Now, let’s play with the philosophical concept of digital money and controls. Let’s take you, a conscientious person, and put you in control of a group of ten people. By “control” I mean that exact scenario: You subjectively decide what’s good for the people, make it law, feed it to the computer, the computer then monitors everybody’s implants and wallets, and if people break the rules—your good rules—their digital wallets get turned off.
Let’s say, you are impeccably conscientious, and you want to create good rules—and for the sake of this exercise, let’s assume that the overall model is set in stone, so the only difference you can make as a ruler is writing good rules from a place of benevolence. Now, let’s say that based on your desire to protect their health, you decide to penalize them for eating foods containing glyphosate, a proven toxin. Or for smoking.
Now, on the surface this may sound interesting. As a good ruler, you incentivize the people to make good health choices for themselves.
But… but… isn’t this still completely tyrannical? Doesn’t this turn every one of those people into a child, in terms of their rights? Doesn’t it defy them the beautiful human experience of learning from the inside, in a free mode, and making own decisions—which, I would argue, is one of the main existential and ultimately pleasant aspects of human life?
Or, let’s say, you decide that certain ideas are dangerous for them or for the common good, and people shouldn’t be exposed to them or express them? Do you see where this is going?
Now, imagine, the table turns, and the next day, one of your ten people starts writing rules for you. And now you are just completely screwed and powerless because he is not as smart and benevolent as you…
And yes, in some way, this argument gets into the broader argument about what the state is in principle, and what defines good state policies, and where the line is between individual freedom and public good, etc. etc.—and no one can resolve these questions quickly and perfectly. But you know what, we know. We know that in our thought experience, which was a peek into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, albeit sans corruption or malfeasance—in our scenario, we’ve crossed the line.
There is a big difference between our usual imperfect western democratic country where—yes, there is still lots of crap—but in general, one can make a living, form opinions, make free choices about private life, etc.—and the proverbial dictatorship of the algorithm where getting away is impossible.
And existentially, it boils down to the fact that not all answers lie in the linear, logical realm. Some things just work mysteriously, from the inside, and this is true no matter who tries to impose what rules. Try heavily micromanaging a smart person by hard-imposing good rules and see what happens, and how long until that person either explodes or turns into a dwarf. People are not machines!!
So how do we fight the Machine?
I think it’s by remembering who we are and how to respect and honor our souls and the souls of others.
Respect for the soul is inalienable.