Thursday, October 20, 2005

A quick, early morning thought

Ideology, as Hannah Arendt tells us, is the domination by the "logic" of an "idea." Any good idea--a model, a theory, a scientific "fact"--is accompanied by an inner pattern. When this inner pattern breaks outside of the original, "factual" content of the model, takes on a life of its own, and begins to enslave thought in foreign spheres, then it becomes ideology. Examples: Naziism as an outgrowth of Darwinism; Communism as an outgrowth of Hegelianism; Ideological Republicanism as an outgrowth of Adam Smith; Relativism as an outgrowth of sociology. See also: VIKI's totalisation of the "Three Laws" in the "I, Robot" movie--"My logic is undeniable."

Democracy is good, not because it has an especially keen eye for truth (it doesn't), but because it is the best natural bulwark against ideology. I.e., the best way to humanize the ideas driving government is to throw as many humans at them as possible.

However, we must remember that Hitler was "legitimately" elected in a democratic process. Why? Because the electors were, not persuaded by, but attracted to Hitler. Why? The mass media, image manipulation, and mob psychology.

The mass media--particularly that which is controlled by the few, i.e., television and radio--is the nemesis of democracy. It is a parasite on the system which prevents it from humanizing government as it ought. It is the means by which ideology subverts its only bulwark. Democracy, full of hope for the humanization of government in the 19th century, is now just as utterly defunct as monarchy.

What about the Internet as a democratizing influence? Several problems. (1) Not nearly as many people have it, or can take full advantage of it, (2) though useful as a tool of research, it can also be (and is, generally) used by individuals to reinforce already-held views bestowed upon them by media-controlled culture, (3) is only too often the "handmaid" of the media.

The new golden rule: the one who controls ideas controls the nations; ideas are manipulable via images and omission of information; governments are built to legitimize and promote lifestyles cooked up in the minds of sitcom writers.



Sitcoms and drama shows are miniature, super-controlled universes, where nothing happens except exactly what the writer wishes to happen; "Sex and the City," "Friends," etc., vividly show an actualized, possible "Age of Aquarius," at every turn and in every living room purveying a "hey-this-stuff-ain't-so-bad" fictional fracture between sex and the origin of life, family and identity, trivial choices and life-altering/breaking consequences. The clarion call of "Murphy Brown," "Viva la liberated single mother!" deliciously omits her profound agony, and her child's future inability to form deep relationships. And it does it, not for liberating women, but liberating men: "get out while you can, she can take care of herself just fine."


Addendum 2:

The sympathetic protagonist of modern televized fiction is always in danger of becoming an absolute center of value; the quasi-divine arbiter of right and wrong. There is an ominous truth to the title of "everyman" often assumed by characters like Frasier, Clark Kent, Raymond, etc. This character's worries become my worries; this character's joys become my joys; this character's enemies become my enemies; this character's solutions become my solutions. It will not matter if an individual can admit that there are "good priests and bad priests;" the more often priests are the antagonists in films--or that the "good priests" have, as their antagonists, the Catholic faith--the more habitually priests will be seen as either the bearers, the dupes, or the tragic slaves of "oppressive tradition."

Obviously it will be objected that people are not such sheep, and that this is a demeaning theory of the effect of television. But may I be so bold as to point out that the only film I can recall in the last decade not to assume that people in love must shack-up before they marry was, in all irony, "The 40 Year Old Virgin"? Consider also that, as many gullible or sheep-like individuals there may be, not a single one of them will admit to being such. In fact, this is the most telling sign of it: "I am no sheep; I am a radically independent individual. I form my own values; I am my own man/woman; I am free." Is this not the very thing promised and/or granted by every commercial advertisement, not merely in fact, but in method? Show me the one who is terrified to be influenced by television, and I will show you the radically independent thinker.

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