Margaret Anna Alice
As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air—however slight—lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”
Justice William O. Douglas
Forty years ago, Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory lobbed a film into the cinematic stratosphere unlike any other then or since—a film that, on the surface, sounds like the dullest movie plot in history: two men meet for a meal and have a conversation.
And it is the most riveting quasi-fictional conversation ever recorded on celluloid.
It is a film that slashes to the heart of existence—from the quotidian delight of a cold cup of coffee surviving the night without insect encroachment to a mock death and resurrection ritual. You come away feeling, as Emily Dickinson puts it, “physically as if the top of [your] head were taken off.”
I think that New York is the new model for the new concentration camp, where the camp has been built by the inmates themselves, and the inmates are the guards, and they have this pride in this thing that they’ve built—they’ve built their own prison—and so they exist in a state of schizophrenia where they are both guards and prisoners. And as a result, they no longer have—having been lobotomized—the capacity to leave the prison they’ve made or even to see it as a prison.”
And then he went into his pocket, and he took out a seed for a tree, and he said, ‘This is a pine tree.’ He put it in my hand and he said, ‘Escape before it’s too late.’”
Concentration Camp 2.0
Are we living in Concentration Camp 2.0? In the updated version, psychologically battered inmates amble around in a state of permanent learned helplessness, a brigade of Karens standing guard, eager to inform on anyone who demonstrates a faint alertness.
When they reach the invisible boundaries of their self-constructed walls, they stop. When the atmosphere grants permission to proceed, they tiptoe tentatively forward, cringing in anticipation of the thunderclap order to halt and reverse. And it comes. It almost always comes—but at random intervals, nerves fraying as they remain suspended in a state of perpetual tension, anxiety, and terror until the next shock.
After enough waves of dread, they forget. They forget what it was like before, and they forget what it was like ahead. They forget there is an outside. They forget they have the capacity to stride through those phantom walls. They forget they have agency over their own lives. They forget they possess the power of a collective, resounding “NO!”
In another enthralling conversation—this time a real-life, contemporary one between hysterical Swiftian satirist CJ Hopkins and intrepid Planet Lockdown documentarian James Patrick captured by OVALmedia—Hopkins observes that the language of “lockdown” comes from prison (@ timestamp 25:41):
You brought up the term ‘lockdown.’ Where does this term come from? It comes from prisons. When do you lock down in a prison? When the prisoners get too rowdy.”
James Patrick then relays what a friend said when the lockdown first started, “They’ve turned the whole world into an open-air prison.”
Two conversations between two men about self-imposed incarceration—four decades apart. The methods have become more sophisticated, but the principle remains the same: They with a capital ‘T’ are relying on you to enforce your own captivity. And the easiest way to do that is to ensure you never realize you’re enchained.
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
“We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more—we had no awareness of the real situation. We spent ourselves in one unrestrained outburst in 1917, and then we hurried to submit. We submitted with pleasure!”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: Volume 1 (emphasis in original)
Far too many have submitted—with pleasure—to the ever-accelerating restrictions on our inalienable rights, clueless that such capitulations are historically followed by enslavement.
The compliant mock the contrarians, wearing their badges of obeisance with pride. They dutifully stand six feet apart, refrain from visiting unvaxxed family and friends, permit the closure of small businesses while patronizing multinational megacorporations, ridicule those who choose bodily autonomy over subjecting themselves to experimental genetic modification (all the while refusing, in a supreme irony, to let GMO Frankenfoods touch their precious lips), acquiesce to edicts requiring businesses to become complicit in the enforcement of their papers-please regulations … and then later, when the tyranny becomes too visible to ignore, they will marvel at how it all came about.
Solzhenitsyn captures the psychology that muzzles onlookers and even detainees during the early stages of mass arrests:
The majority sit quietly and dare to hope.… At what exact point, then, should one resist? When one’s belt is taken away? When one is ordered to face into a corner? When one crosses the threshold of one’s home? An arrest consists of a series of incidental irrelevancies, of a multitude of things that do not matter, and there seems no point in arguing about any one of them individually—especially at a time when the thoughts of the person arrested are wrapped tightly about the big question: ‘What for?’—and yet all these incidental irrelevancies taken together implacably constitute the arrest.”
Winning Our Enslavement
Étienne de La Boétie, cherished friend of Michel de Montaigne, puzzles over why people lazily submit to despotism in his 1552 work, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude:
It is incredible how as soon as a people becomes subject, it promptly falls into such complete forgetfulness of its freedom that it can hardly be roused to the point of regaining it, obeying so easily and so willingly that one is led to say, on beholding such a situation, that this people has not so much lost its liberty as won its enslavement. It is true that in the beginning men submit under constraint and by force; but those who come after them obey without regret and perform willingly what their predecessors had done because they had to. This is why men born under the yoke and then nourished and reared in slavery are content, without further effort, to live in their native circumstance, unaware of any other state or right, and considering as quite natural the condition into which they were born.”
Numbed into complacency by an infinite array of Huxleyian divertissements, MSM disinformation bombardments, and social media bandwagoning crusades and availability cascades (both informational and reputational), today’s populace scarcely comprehends they are unfree, having been born into bondage and been reared in conformity from kindergarten to university. How are they to perceive the tightening of their shackles when they’re oblivious to their existence?
Twilight: Dusk or Dawn?
Yes, the oncoming night looks bleak, a midnight black that inks over our minds, imposing a communal amnesia that blots out memory of concepts like “free will,” “independence,” and “resistance.”
But twilight can precede dawn as well as dusk.
There are glimmers of light cracking through the mass delusion, reminding us the only reason it persists is we permit it to—like when 50,000 Italian restaurants reopened en masse in defiance of lockdown orders. Or when states like Florida never locked down, or when Sweden initially resisted global pressures to step in line with the rest of the world.
These rare Spartacus moments of peaceful defiance remind us the many drastically outnumber the few. Instead of watching gobstruck while the capos pitch dissidents into solitary confinement, we could raise our voices together in a roaring chorus of “NO” and cut our spider-silk manacles.
de La Boétie reveals the secret:
You can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action, but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.”
If we can gain a critical mass of awareness about the consensual nature of our subjugation, the puny cadre of autocrats manufacturing our mass subservience just might fall, like Wile E. Coyote plummeting to earth the moment he realizes he is floating mid-air.
Audacious storytelling like this reminds us of the power of art to jar the sleeping to wakefulness.
COVID IS OVER! … If You Want It
John and Yoko’s message resonates even more deeply in the context of a psychological war of mass hypnosis. Instead of napalm, Agent Orange, and cluster bombs, we’re facing primarily conceptual warfare today. Seemingly more innocuous, it is potentially as lethal. Yet it is far easier to defeat, if we can break the spell.
The COVID Reign of Terror Is Over. If You Want It.
Here’s a seed. Escape before it’s too late.