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Mattias Desmet's
The Psychology of Totalitarianism: A Review



Mattias Desmet's The Psychology of Totalitarianism




Paul Gosselin (18/10/2022)

Mattias Desmet's The Psychology of Totalitarianism (2022) is getting a lot of attention and has endorsements from high profile Americans such as Dr. Robert Malone and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the UK guitarist Eric Clapton.

In Part I Desmet chronicles the growth of the totalitarian mindset, pointing out that totalitarianism finds a fertile ground when the masses are led to erect as an absolute the "Collective Good"[1] (leading to the erosion and denial of individual rights) and have rejected facts for fiction. The despising of facts for fiction is of course rooted in a basic rejection of the concept of Truth. Desmet links this to the recent plague of science publications frauds. All of which begs the question: Which ideologies or belief systems deny Truth? This is a matter for which Desmet shows little interest[2]... Desmet examines the coming into almost absolute power of the technocrats or scientific experts[3] during the Covid crisis (and their totalitarian mindset). This leads to an unusual statement from Desmet (2022: 7):

Totalitarianism is not a historical coincidence. It is the logical consequence of mechanistic thinking and the delusional belief in the omnipotence of human rationality[4]. As such, totalitarianism is a defining feature of the Enlightenment tradition.

This is a rather radical statement and generally few educated Westerners influenced by the Enlightenment belief system would dare go so far[5]. This would appear to cement Desmet's rejection of the Enlightenment belief system, but as we shall see, Desmet does not take such a critique very far. In chapter 1 (Science and Ideology), Desmet very conveniently conflates Science and the Enlightenment belief system. No effort to disentangle the two... Educated Europeans seem incapable of avoiding such confusion. Logically Desmet should be a coherent opponent of the Enlightenment as well, but he never goes so far. The conflation of Science and the Enlightenment belief system is a very useful ploy as this allows the exploitation of science for (ideological) marketing purposes[6] and enables using "Science" as a shield to deflect criticisms of Enlightenment-based ideologies. Once this conflation is complete then one can put into effect the VERY effective strategy of accusing critics of one's ideology of being "Anti-Science"... This will shut up or intimidate most adversaries or at very least waste their time on trivial side issues.

Desmet goes on to explore the manipulative behaviour we have observed in government technocrats and media around the world regarding the management of the Covid pandemic and its countermeasures. In an article appearing on the Brownstone Institute website Desmet perceptively describes the shift from open political power under the modern/Enlightenment worldview to more subtle/hypocritical expressions of political power under the postmodern worldview (2022)

If the masses cannot be commanded, they have to be manipulated. That's where modern indoctrination and propaganda was born, as it is described in the works of people such as Lippman, Trotter, and Bernays. We will go through the work of the founding fathers of propaganda in order to fully grasp the societal function and impact of propaganda on society. Indoctrination and propaganda are usually associated with totalitarian states such as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or the People's Republic of China. But it is easy to show that from the beginning of the twentieth century, indoctrination and propaganda were also constantly used in virtually every "democratic" state worldwide. Besides these two, we will describe other techniques of mass-manipulation, such as brainwashing and psychological warfare.

The compliance demanded of the masses was insured by a wide variety of methods, fear being the primary method. Following examples set in totalitarian regimes such as Nazism or Stalinism[7], early on in the Covid crisis, technocrats, such as Anthony Fauci, were quickly installed as a scientific priesthood, with powers no politician had ever wielded based on the irresistible 'Truth of Science'. Rather than relying on oracles to justify policy decisions, this scientific priesthood relied on the magic of statistics[8] (Covid infections, Covid cases, Covid deaths...) to justify their decisions. And this scientific priesthood endlessly intoned the hypnotizing mantra: "Follow the Science", "Follow the Science", "Follow the Science"... which, stripped of the pseudo-science rhetoric, was nothing more than an invitation to accept the technocrat's absolute power and mindlessly submit to their dictates (despite their many incoherences in policy and resulting violations of constitutional rights).

professor of pharmacology Jean-Bernard FourtillanFurthermore, pressure for compliance came from another quarter as Covid lockdowns insured social isolation, which cut people off from their grass-root social networks and putting them at mercy of the State[9]. Massive media compliance with the official Covid narrative also created the illusion of an irresistible social current accepted by all. With others not so easily coerced, such as critics voicing opposition to the official narrative, if they were deemed an actual threat to the Covid narrative, bullying and intimidation were employed. In many Western nations, nurses and doctors were blackmailed into compliance with threats to lose their licence to practice medicine if they dared voice criticism of the official Covid narrative. This was effective with the vast majority in the medical system. In France government officials went to far as to use Soviet-era KGB tactics when in 2020 they had professor of pharmacology Jean-Bernard Fourtillan arrested and interned in a psych ward (as well as freezing his bank account...) for views he expressed in the HoldUp documentary that was critical of French government Covid policies (see article by Smits below).

Desmet calls this mass compliance phenomenon "mass formation psychosis". Such mass formation psychosis explains why, for the most part, Germans in the 1930-40s placidly accepted atrocities committed by the Nazi party, and it explains why so many people in the world today support medical apartheid and violations of the rights of the unvaccinated.

Further into his book Desmet points out that the many violations of liberties (such as informed consent regarding medical treatment [which implies the fundamental right to refuse treatment], assembly and travel) during the Covid crisis must be linked to the materialistic worldview. The 20th century amply demonstrated that the materialistic worldview, when given absolute, unopposed power, leads to totalitarian regimes such as Nazism and Communism.


Desmet, A Davos Mole?

In chapter 8 Desmet pulls a strange trick as he asserts totalitarianism just happens, don't ask how. He asserts that if bad things have gone down during the Covid crisis, we are ALL guilty. Don't demand accountability from those in power (in the political system, in mainstream media or the medical system), those who wrote up the policies, endlessly fear-mongered in press conferences, signed the decrees for lockdowns, vaccine passports or firing those who refused vaccines. Don't ask which particular ideologies produce totalitarianism and who has actively promoted these ideologies. Totalitarianism just happens... Be nice, express your views, remain politically passive, and whatever you do, do not hold anyONE accountable for such events. Do not demand justice be done. This is what Desmet is telling us. In terms of political science and history this is extremely naïve. But generally speaking Desmet does NOT come across as naïve, which leads to the conclusion that his advice to disregard the actions of specific human agents in the events of the Covid crisis is deliberate.

Desmet doubles down and goes on to stigmatize critics of the political and medical elites by means of guilt by association. Desmet (p. 138) attempts to spin a link between serious criticism of the Covid political and medical elites to discredited conspiracy theories such the Protocols of the Elders of Zion pamphlet, thus insinuating that critics targeting the political and medical elites managing the Covid crisis may be deranged "conspiracy theorists" (implicitly Anti-Semites). It should be noted that this is nothing more that insinuation. Desmet has proven nothing... And even if he had in fact provided evidence that ONE anti-vaxx "conspiracy theorist" was in fact Anti-Semitic, this would still prove NOTHING regarding whether specific criticisms of Covid elites were true or false... Desmet clearly opposes any demands for justice regarding the actions and policies of specific Covid elites. In fact Desmet claims that no one is guilty for the all the violations of rights, ALL are guilty (2022: 139):()

The whole of society has a part in its rise [totalitarianism][10] in one way or another; every person bears a responsibility in it. That's why this nuanced statement is usually unsatisfactory for those who thirst for certainty and seek to vent anger and frustration by pointing out one main culprit.

Rather than deal with facts, Desmet prefers to change the subject, insinuating that "conspiracy theorists" are mentally unstable with a fixation for simplistic explanations. No doubt Desmet's more nuanced statement will be considered quite satisfactory to those who would rather remain in their comfort zone and avoid any unpleasant confrontations regarding the behaviour of the global elites... Desmet then goes on to categorize any demand for justice or accountability of the Covid elites as dangerous "conspiracy theorism". And as Desmet discusses such issues he alludes to a matter that may be the cause of uneasy sleep with more than a few of the Covid elites (2022: 137)

The risk of a violent confrontation between these two groups [the Covid elites and their detractors] is not non-existent. Conspiracy thinking itself can also give rise to the emergence of a mass phenomenon. The famous witch-hunts of the Middle Ages, leaving some cities and towns with hardly a woman alive...

The thought that justice (in some form) may be coming must be an unsettling thought to the Covid political and medical elites... It is odd that Desmet so often refers to the expression "conspiracy theory". One should keep in mind that, as the renowned linguist and political commentator, Noam Chomsky once pointed out, the expression "conspiracy theory" is primarily a very effective strategy for shutting down a discussion by diverting it AWAY from verifiable facts and into a dead end analysis of the "conspiracy theorist's" psychological state. In this regard, Chomsky dryly observes (2005):

"If you're down at a bar... and you say something that people don't like, they'll... shriek four-letter words. If you're in a faculty club or an editorial office, where you're more polite — there's a collection of phrases that can be used which are the intellectual equivalent of four-letter words and tantrums. One of them is "conspiracy theory"... , [part of] a series of totally meaningless curse words, in effect, which are used by people who know that they can't answer arguments, and that they can't deal with evidence. But... they want to shut you up."

As we've seen, Desmet clumsily uses guilt by association ("medieval witch hunts"...) to stigmatise critics of the Covid elites. The intent is clearly to discredit (using shame) and shut up such dissidents. This raises a further question, WHO is Desmet protecting? While in most cases Desmet has avoided being too specific in such matters, somewhat carelessly he has dropped a few hints. Seeing that he mentions (page 132) the Rockefeller foundation, Bill Gates and the World Economic Forum with Klaus Schwab and on page 135 members of the Davos sect in positions of political power as potential targets of narrow-minded conspiracy theorists readers can connect the dots on their own... One of Desmet's more high profile detractors is Peter Breggin, a psychotherapist with extensive forensic experience with mass murders. In the reference section below, one article by Breggin accuses Desmet himself of a serious breach of professional ethics, that is of ignoring one of his patient's (a serial killer) murders rather than reporting him to the police.


What is Desmet's Game?

In Part III (Beyond the Mechanistic Worldview) Desmet takes the reader in a new direction. As one slogs through the last 3 chapters, one becomes increasingly aware that Desmet is in fact selling a religion, a new worldview. The trick is of course, following the Enlightenment tradition, Desmet carefully avoids using the term "religion" to describe what he is proposing. Using the term "religion" would make things "too clear"... Regarding the Judeo-Christian tradition, Desmet parrots the typical Enlightenment memes about the "darkness of religion". He is no friend to Christianity.

In the second half of the book, once having established his (generally superficial) opposition to the Enlightenment, more specifically materialism, Desmet rather clumsily begins promoting his own postmodern non-materialistic religion (he is very careful to avoid this term...). And here we are treated to clever mumbo-jumbo about quantum theory and effects at a distance and such. Despite Desmet's apparent rejection of the Enlightenment, his ideological marketing strategy here is precisely the same as that of Enlightenment ideologues, that is exploiting the prestige of ‘science' to promote his ideology and get a foot in the door... In the final pages of his book, Desmet vaguely alludes to the need for a new understanding of death (2022: 186):

To the degree that we can connect with what is outside ourselves [communicating with the dead?], we are able to transcend our own boundaries and our own world of experience gets expanded to an existence that extends endlessly in time and space. Through resonance with the greater plain[11] [sic], we participate in the timelessness of the universe, like a reed rustling in the eternal air of life.

And on page 187 Desmet dishes out more religious language, talking about "Truth" and "prophecy"... Of course Desmet is too subtle to bother clearly explaining what "Truth" he is talking about.

Albert EinsteinPart of Desmet's ideological strategy in initiating a break from materialism (and the Enlightenment?) is to bring the reader's attention to issues (see p. 178-79) that expose the inherent limitations of scientific enquiry[12]. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is one case that Desmet raises as evidence against the Enlightenment claim that Science always leads to Absolute all-encompassing Knowledge. As Desmet points out, in the early 20th century, scientists, physicists particularly, were giving serious thought to the problem of order/law in Nature. The question is WHY is there order/law in Nature? In a letter to his friend Maurice Solovine dated March 30, 1952, we see Einstein toying with such ideas (1956/2011):

You may find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world to the degree that we may speak of such comprehensibility as a miracle or an eternal mystery. Well, a priori one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be in any way grasped through thought... The kind of order created, for example, by Newton's theory of gravity is of quite a different kind. Even if the axioms of the theory are posited by a human being, the success of such an enterprise presupposes an order in the objective world of a high degree, which one has no a priori right to expect. That is the miracle which grows increasingly persuasive with the increasing development of knowledge.

As Einstein recognized, the basic issue is that if there is no order/law in Nature then there can be no basis for experimentation nor for science[13]. But the evidence of order/law in Nature is a kind of trap as it leads logically to the concept of a LawGiver and Creator, which of course is a rather unpleasant thought for Enlightenment devotees. While as a rule eminent scientists can get along with the concept of an Intelligent Agent behind the order in the world they are exploring, most would rather avoid having to deal with a personal God with an interest in ethics who might have a thing or two to say about how they lived their lives... A more "manageable god" (manipulated to suit our tastes) is much to be preferred[14]. This was true of Einstein. Though of Jewish origin, Einstein did not have an orthodox conception of God. At most, he could be considered a deist. He once said (2005: 195-6)

My religiosity consists of a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit, ...That superior reasoning power forms my idea of God.

As Desmet explores his break from the Enlightenment worldview he favourably quotes (2022: 179) another physicist, Max Planck, who wrote along the same lines as Einstein saying: ‘Both religion and science require a belief in God,' Here Desmet seems to be playing the theistic crowd using vague god-talk yet conveniently ignoring the small matter of WHO this God might be. This has no interest for him. Unsurprisingly, like a good postmodern, regarding science Desmet exposes the fact he is much more interested with the idea of a subjective, fact-free science (2022: 15):

It should be VERY clear that this would result in a science completely subjugated to ideological concerns... It is rather likely that Desmet's covert religion will be found to be somewhere along the lines of Henri Bergson's Élan Vital/Life-Force concept. Here is a sample of Desmet's Yoda-like pantheistic mumbo-jumbo (2022: 184):

The ultimate knowledge lies outside of man. It vibrates in all things. And man is able to receive it, by tuning his vibrations, like a string, to the frequency of things. And the more man is able to set aside prejudices and beliefs, the more purely he will vibrate with the things around him and receive new knowledge.

Those familiar with CS Lewis' Space Trilogy sci-fi novel series will recognize such mumbo-jumbo as comparable to propaganda spouted by NICE[15] officials in That Hideous Strength. For those not familiar with this series, the NICE promoted an anti-life ideology [cf. chap. 8] combining both materialism AND the paranormal along with the occult... Whether Desmet is headed in this direction remains to be seen, but clearly he has opened this door. But what specific beliefs he is attempting to promote, Desmet is very careful to keep his cards to himself. For now, the only thing he is explicit about is his rejection of materialism. This opens a lot of ideologico-religious doors... This is a road that the American novelist Kurt Vonnegut and WWII vet has travelled down. Here is Vonnegut's description of his deconversion from hard-core materialism and Enlightenment pop-utopias that he provided as a speech at a high school graduation, (1975: 161-162):

I thought scientists were going to find out exactly how everything worked, and then make it work better. I fully expected that by the time I was twenty-one, some scientist, maybe my brother, would have taken a color photograph of God Almighty and sold it to Popular Mechanics magazine.
Scientific truth was going to make us so happy and comfortable.
What actually happened when I was twenty-one was that we dropped scientific truth on Hiroshima. We killed everybody there. And I had just come home from being a prisoner of war in Dresden, which I'd seen burned to the ground. And the world was just then learning how ghastly the German extermination camps had been. So I had a heart-to-heart talk with myself.
"Hey, Corporal Vonnegut," I said to myself, "maybe you were wrong to be an optimist. Maybe pessimism is the thing."
I have been a consistent pessimist ever since, with a few exceptions. In order to persuade my wife to marry me, of course, I had to promise her that the future would be heavenly. And then I had to lie about the future again every time I thought she should have a baby. And then I had to lie to her again every time she threatened to leave me because I was too pessimistic.
I saved our marriage many times by exclaiming, "Wait!; Wait! I see light at the end of the tunnel at last!" And I wish I could bring light to your tunnels today. My wife begged me to bring you light, but there is no light. Everything is going to become unimaginably worse, and never get better again. If I lied to you about that, you would sense that I'd lied to you, and that would be another cause for gloom. We have enough causes for gloom.
(p. 163-64) I know that millions of dollars have been spent to produce this splendid graduating class, and that the main hope of your teachers was, once they got through with you, that you would no longer be superstitious. I'm sorry I have to undo that now. I beg you to believe in the most ridiculous superstition of all: that humanity is at the center of the universe, the fulfiller or the frustrator of the grandest dreams of God Almighty. If you can believe that, and make others believe it, then there might be hope for us. Human beings might stop treating each other like garbage, might begin to treasure and protect each other instead. Then it might be all right to have babies again.
Many of you will have babies anyway, if you're any thing like me. To quote the poet Schiller: "Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain." About astrology and palmistry: They are good because they make people feel vivid and full of possibilities. They are communism at its best. Everybody has a birthday and almost everybody has a palm.

Even Desmet's introduction has a (rather unambiguous) hint of his ideologico-religious intentions (2022: 8):

The real task facing us as individuals and as a society is to construct a new view of man and the world, to find a new foundation for our identity, to formulate new principles for living together with others, and to reappraise a timely human capacity – speaking the truth.

No kidding, "speaking the truth"... but what exactly is this "truth" Desmet is talking about? He never says... Elsewhere, in the last paragraph of the Brownstone Institute article, Desmet again alludes to the "need" for a new worldview, a new religion (2022):

The solution to our fear and uncertainty does not lie in the increase of (technological) control. The real task facing us as individuals and as a society is to envision a new view of humankind and the world, to find a new foundation for our identity, to formulate new principles for living together with others, and to reclaim a timely human capacity—Truth Speech.

In the same article, Desmet reiterates his rejection of materialism or what he calls "mechanistic thinking". One should deliberately keep in mind that the issues Desmet raises here are precisely those that belief systems, worldviews and religions attempt to answer. Again in chapter 11, Desmet drops more religious language, i.e. the path, as well a further hint to what his new religion might be (2022: 183):

When choosing the second[16] path [as opposed to the Enlightenment = first path], society defies its anxiety and recognizes that uncertainty is inherent in the human condition and is a necessary condition for the emergence of creativity, individuality, and human connectedness. (...) The Great Science [=Enlightenment] has preceded us on this path – it followed Reason to its absolute limit, whereupon it opened up a view to a new form of knowing, a new form of connecting with the Other, and to a human existence based on different principles.

Here we see Desmet insisting we desperately need a new religion (though he cleverly avoids using this specific term) or worldview (2022: 173):

Christians at least should be VERY wary about such matters as Scripture does offer serious warning about propagandists offering "Another Gospel". The Epistle to Galatians makes the following point:

One would expect the "any man" clause would include psychoanalysts... Oh, perhaps it is some use to point out that in less polite language "let him be anathema" simply means let him be damned to Hell... In any case, seeing for the time being Desmet has been very careful to keep his cards to himself regarding this new religion he is sure we all need, chances are this will be the object of the book he is working on at present...


Trolling the Reader With the Truth?

In chapter 8, as Desmet discusses conspiracy theories that in his view go too far, then out of the blue he suddenly makes some rather bizarre personal admissions (2022: 130-131):

Now while Desmet here is not so subtly insinuating that such allegations are of course absurd and laughable, here is something to keep in mind. What if Desmet was in fact trolling the reader with the Truth? Of course I am NOT in a position to prove such allegations, but just let the reader suppose for a moment he could, in his present state, go back to Jan. 1st 2020 and have a quiet conversation with his Jan. 1st 2020 counterpart (before the Covid crisis began) and expose ALL the events that events and decrees and decisions by the Covid elites that have gone down since the beginning of this Covid crisis, then ask yourself what are the chances that your Jan. 1st 2020 counterpart would dismiss all your information and claims as speculation too "absurd and laughable" to be true? Since in fact we have all witnessed absurd and unbelievable events taking place on an unprecedented massive, global scale, then perhaps "absurd and laughable" explanations for these events are just what are called for... Time will tell.


Nazi Lies and Bad Covid Vaccines

Part of the reason many people REFUSE to consider the possibility that the genetically engineered Covid vaccine might be BAD is that such questions lets out a terrifying MONSTER. And this monster is the logical conclusion of such a line of questioning is that if in fact we have been lied to about the vaccine, then the STATE, along with mainstream media and most of the influential decision–makers in the medical system are my ENEMY... This dark concept lurking in the background of people's minds is enough to shut down many (otherwise educated, intelligent and rational) people, even without raising threats of being denied going to the restaurant, denied travelling to their favourite tourist destinations or threatened with losing their jobs or careers... No need to intimidate or blackmail such people, the fearsome monster will keep them in line. The blue pill[18] is always the best choice as it keeps stress levels low and reality comfortable and manageable. As Desmet himself points out (pp. 107-109) during WWII, Jewish authorities in Nazi-occupied Europe often bought into Nazi lies about "relocation" and collaborated with the Nazis in organising the logistics of the Final Solution rather than believe that "such a civilized nation could be so evil..." An article on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website observes (2018):

Daniel Falkner, a Polish Jewish Holocaust survivor related:

In fact, when confronted with facts, people did not want to believe such evil could lurk in human hearts. Premsyl Dobias, an Austrian Jewish Holocaust survivor related (Imperial War Museum 2018: 2):

It's a tremendous nightmare, nightmare to such an extent, that I could have never believed that a nation, civilized nation, which gave the world musicians, poets, experts in every field of science, how they could have been fooled by a maniac like Hitler is something which I will never understand.

As we have seen, given the choice, most people will buy into pleasant lies rather than having to deal with terrifying facts.


References

--- (2018) Deceiving The Public: The Nazis frequently used propaganda to disguise their political aims and deceive the German and international public. They depicted Germany as the victim of Allied and Jewish aggression to hide their true ideological goals and to justify war and violence against innocent civilians. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC – June 2018)

Book, Joakim (2022) Mattias Desmet sur le totalitarisme de la panique de masse. The Brownstone Institute – 12/6/2022

Breggin, Peter MD & Ginger Breggin (2022) Mattias Desmet Demoralizes the Freedom Movement – Mass Hypnosis Expert or Trojan Horse. America Out Loud – 22/7/2022

Breggin, Peter MD & Ginger Breggin (2022) Psychotherapist Mattias Desmet Failed to Report His Own Mass Murderer Patient. America Out Loud – 5/9/2022

Chomsky, Noam. (2005) "On Historical Amnesia, Foreign Policy, and Iraq." American Amnesia: Noam Chomsky interviewed by Kirk W. Johnson.

Desmet, Mattias (2022) The Psychology of Totalitarianism: From rationalism to mass formation - and towards Truth speech. Mattias Desmet's Substack - 29/8/2022

Desmet, Mattias (2022) The Psychology of Totalitarianism. The Brownstone Institute - 30/8/2022

Dobias, Premsyl (2018) Survivor Testimony [Audio] Transcripts. [PDF] Imperial War Museum

Einstein, Albert (1956/2011) Letters to Solovine: 1906–1955. Open Road Media, 159 p.

Einstein, Albert (2005) The Quotable Einstein. ed. Alice Calaprice - Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,

Falkner, Daniel (2022) Holocaust Testimonies. (History of Sorts – Dirk de Klein)

Gellner, Ernest (1992/1999) Postmodernism, Reason and Religion. Routledge London/New York 108 p.

Lewis, C. S. (1947/1990) Miracles: A Preliminary Study. Fount Publications London

Lewis, C. S. (1946/1965) That Hideous Strength. MacMillan New York 382 p. [Ebook]

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1901/1924) The Will to Power: An Attempted Transvaluation of All Values. (Anthony M. Ludovici, translator) volumes 1 & 2, Allen & Unwin London

Saul, John Ralston (1992) Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West. Penguin Books Toronto ON 640 p.

Smits, Jeanne (2020) Accomplished pharma prof thrown in psych hospital after questioning official COVID narrative: Early on December 10, Jean-Bernard Fourtillan was taken from his home by a team of French law enforcement officers and forcibly placed in solitary confinement at the psychiatric hospital of Uzès. (LifeSite – 11/12/2020)

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr (1983) "Godlessness: the First Step to the Gulag". Templeton Prize Lecture, 10 May 1983 (London)

Steiner, George (2001) Grammars of Creation. Yale University Press New Haven 347p.

Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. (1975) Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons. Dell Publishing Co. Inc, New York 238 p.



Notes

[1] - A concept one is never invited to ask: "WHO gets to shape and define this term...??"

[2] - Other have shown interest in the question that frauds in science publications might be symptom of a more general worldview shift in scientists. The Social Anthropologist Ernst Gellner observed (1992/1999: 93):

Quite probably, the break-through to the scientific miracle was only possible because some men were passionately, sincerely, whole-heartedly concerned with Truth. Will such passion survive the habit of granting oneself different kinds of truth according to the day of the week ?

[3] - In his book The Will to Power, Books III and IV German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche describes the Ubermench, the Superman, that heartless Nazi technocrats, such as Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz, made their model.

962. A great man, --a man whom Nature has built up and invented in a grand style,--What is such a man? First, in his general course of action his consistency is so broad that owing to its very breadth it can be surveyed only with difficulty, and consequently misleads; he possesses the capacity of extending his will over great stretches of his life, and of despising and rejecting all small things, whatever most beautiful and "divine" things of the world there may be among them. Secondly, he is colder, harder, less cautious and more free from the fear of "public opinion"; he does not possess the virtues which are compatible with respectability and with being respected, nor any of those things which are counted among the "virtues of the herd." If he is unable to lead, he walks alone; he may then perchance grunt at many things which he meets on his way. Thirdly, he asks for no "compassionate" heart, but servants, instruments; in his dealings with men his one aim is to make something out of them. He knows that he cannot reveal himself to anybody: he thinks it bad taste to become familiar; and as a rule he is not familiar when people think he is. When he is not talking to his soul, he wears a mask. He would rather lie than tell the truth, because lying requires more spirit and will. There is a loneliness within his heart which neither praise nor blame can reach, because he is his own judge from whom is no appeal.

Anthony FauciSome may notice this describes rather well technocrats such as Anthony Fauci... It seems likely that K. Swchab copy-pasted his Young Leaders programme from the pages of Nietzsche. But the technocrats holding power in 2022 have added marketing skills, manipulation and hypocrisy to their toolkit that even Nietzsche would not have imagined... John Ralston Saul offers comments regarding technocrats that parallel Nietzsche's and apply VERY well to the Davos pawns presently in power (1992: 106):

Modern men of power come in many apparently different forms. But certain characteristics link them. First, a great difficulty in coming to terms with the democratic process. The talents of the technocrat do not suit public debate or an open relationship with the people. They become aloof in order to hide contempt; or ridiculously friendly, as if the people were idiots; or simply confused. Their innate talents lead them in other directions. They are masters of structure, of backstairs battles, of prestructuring or withholding information. They are merchants of knowledge, selling it in return for power.

[4] - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian dissident and novelist, Nobel Prize winner and Gulag survivor, made a similar observation, but came to a rather different conclusion (1983):

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened. Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.

While Solzhenitsyn provides us with an important clue here, but it is missing the point to say that early 20th Russian elites (followed by Communist politicians) had just "forgotten God". It goes far beyond that. Rather, they did everything in their power to remove God from the equation, that is, by eliminating all traces of Judeo-Christian influence in the West. Nietzsche's famous statement "God is Dead!" sums it up rather well. But, the critical point Solzhenitsyn misses is that once God is cut out of the equation, then Man is Dead too, as Man, made in the image of God, now loses any intrinsic value. Which leads to Lenin's heartless quip, "To make omelettes, you have to break a few eggs..." Man is just a mess of molecules, nothing more... So if 20th century the Russians had a front row seats to see what the communist elites would do, we now have front row seats to see what the postmodern elites will do with the ABSOLUTE power they presently have. And keep in mind that the postmodern elites presently in power in the West are just as ardent believers in the materialistic origins myth as the Nazis or Communists were... And have a low view of man, just as did the Nazis or Communists.

[5] - The British literary critic George Steiner is one such individual who has made the attempt. As Steiner reflected in his book Grammars of Creation on the horrors of the 20th century, he observed that the twentieth-century, as far as Europe and Russia was concerned, did not turn out to be heaven on earth (as predicted by 19th century Enlightenment propagandists), but rather hell. Steiner notes that between August 1914 and the Balkan wars of the 1990s more than 70 million people died. While the First World War set the stage for mechanized massacres, the Second introduced industrial-scale extermination, the Final Solution and the following generation experienced the terrors of the Gulag and the threat of imminent/random nuclear incineration. Groping for an explanation for such insanity, Steiner notes (2001: 4-5)

There have been hideous visitations of pestilence, famine and slaughter before. The collapse of humaneness in the twentieth century has specific enigmas. It arises not from riders on the distant steppe or barbarians at the gates. National Socialism, Fascism, Stalinism (though, in this latter instance, more opaquely) spring from within the context, the locale, the administrative-social instruments of the high places of civilization, of education, of scientific progress and humanizing deployment, be it Christian or Enlightened. I do not want to enter into the vexed, in some manner demeaning, debates over the uniqueness of the Shoah ('holocaust' is a noble, technical Greek designation for religious sacrifice, not a name proper for controlled insanity and the 'wind out of blackness'). But it does look as if the Nazi extermination of European Jewry is a 'singularity', not so much in respect of scale - Stalinism killed far more - but motivation. Here a category of human persons, down to infancy, were proclaimed guilty of being. Their crime was existence, was the mere claim to life.
The catastrophe which overtook European and Slavic civilization was particular in another sense. It undid previous advances. Even the ironists of the Enlightenment (Voltaire) had confidently predicted the lasting abolition of judicial torture in Europe. They had ruled inconceivable a general return to censorship, to the burning of books, let alone of heretics or dissenters. Nineteenth-century liberalism and scientific positivism regarded as self-evident the expectation that the spread of schooling, of scientific-technological knowledge and yield, of free travel and contact among communities would bring with them a steady improvement in civility, in political tolerance, in the mores of private and public business. Each of these axioms of reasoned hope has been proved false. It is not only that education has shown itself incapable of making sensibility and cognition resistant to murderous unreason. Far more disturbingly, the evidence is that refined intellectuality, artistic virtuosity and appreciation, scientific eminence will collaborate actively with totalitarian demands or, at best, remain indifferent to surrounding sadism. Resplendent concerts, exhibitions in great museums, the publication of learned books, the pursuit of academic research both scientific and humanistic, flourish within close reach of the death camps. Technocratic ingenuity will serve or remain neutral at the call of the inhuman. The icon of our age is the preservation of a grove dear to Goethe within a concentration camp.

So that's it? That's Steiner's "grand conclusion"? The savagery of Nazism, fascism and Stalinism all emerged from "within the context, the locale, the administrative-social instruments of the high places of civilization, of education, of scientific progress". That is so deep... Well, actually if it comes to serious moral self-questioning, this is pathetically weak and superficial, but then again it's probably the best one can expect from those working within the confines of the Enlightenment straight-jacket... Unfortunately it is to be expected that modern and postmodern self-blindness will insure that the horrors of the 20th century will remain "enigmas, veiled in mystery"... After all, moderns and postmoderns need their beauty sleep too.

Now if Steiner does go further in his reflection than most modern and postmodern thinkers it is rather likely this was forced on him because of his Jewish background... But in the end, Steiner himself doesn't have the courage to point the finger at the modern (or Enlightenment) ideologico-religious system, a belief system he has clearly bought into himself... As Orwell figured out, moderns (and postmoderns) are mentally well-trained in avoiding going "too far" in their thinking. In 1984, Orwell aptly described this as "thoughtcrime"... Self-censorship, the avoidance of forbidden thoughts...

[6] - Part of the picture is that Darwin's Origin of the Species has come to serve as the accepted materialistic origins myth and the foundation for the Enlightenment/materialistic worldview. Initially the Enlightenment worldview lacked a creditable origins myth. Before Darwin materialists were stumped, grasping for a solution to the origins question. One could not easily get rid of the Creator, as there was no other logical explanation for the origin of the cosmos or of life (or for morality). This is where Dawkins' revealing statement comes in as In The Blind Watchmaker he wrote: "Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Charles Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."

[7] - Both these Enlightenment-derived ideologies claimed a scientific basis for their policies.

[8] - In chapter 4, Desmet exposes how government statistics were manipulated to cultivate fear in the population. And as Desmet notes (2022: 59), dishonest government officials swept under the carpet any statistics that would not feed the official Covid narrative, such as statistics regarding the negative effects of Covid restrictions, such as bankrupted businesses, development problems in children, lost school years in school aged kids, in adults: repercussions of delayed medical treatment, denial of assembling for funerals, mental health issues, alcoholism and suicides. Governments and (bought and paid for) mainstream media completely ignored such matters.

[9] - As Desmet points out (2022: 43):

The mechanization of the world causes man to lose contact with his environment and becomes an atomized subject, the kind of subject in which Hannah Arendt recognized the essential component of the totalitarian state.

[10] - Any bracketed comments in a quote are by the reviewer, PG.

[11] - Or plane?

[12] - Generally speaking, it is heresy to the Enlightenment mindset to give attention to such matters and take them seriously...

[13] - Which is an issue CS Lewis had given some thought as he observed (1947/1990: 110):

"Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator. In most modern scientists this belief has died: it will be interesting to see how long their confidence in uniformity survives it. Two significant developments have already appeared - the hypothesis of a lawless sub-nature, and the surrender of the claim that science is true. We may be living nearer than we suppose to the end of the Scientific Age."

[14] - C.S. Lewis was quite familiar with this urge to put forward manageable gods, gods who know how to mind their own business. In his book Miracles, he wrote (1947/1990: 99-100)

"Speak about beauty, truth and goodness, or about a God who is simply the indwelling principle of these three, speak about a great spiritual force pervading all things, a common mind of which we are all parts, a pool of generalized spirituality to which we can all flow, and you will command friendly interest. But the temperature drops as soon as you mention a God who has purposes and performs particular actions, who does one thing and not another, a concrete, choosing, commanding, prohibiting God with a determinate character. People become embarassed or angry. Such a conception seems to them primitive and crude and even irreverent. The popular 'religion' excludes miracles because it excludes the 'living God' of Christianity and believes instead in a kind of God who obviously would not do miracles, or indeed anything else."

[15] - NICE = National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments.

[16] - Yet undefined...

[17] - Further warnings appear in the Gospel of Matthew 24: 4-14

[18] - Allusion to the Matrix (1999) sci-fi movie. Red pills cause the individual to wake up and become aware of an unpleasant reality, while blue pills allow the person to return to the unreal world of pleasant lies.