Institutional Thinking – The Matrix, 1984 and The Allegory of The Cave

I saw this and thought it would be a perfect follow up to my last post. Thanks Ethan, and Waking Times for all the awesome information you put out there. (groovy picture below from google images). Keep in mind this was written around 380 B.C. so sadly, it’s safe to say enlightenment seems very slow in coming to the collective we. Does mankind really prefer to look at the shadows rather than look up at the light of the sun?

cavemen

Ethan ‘Indigo’ Smith, Contributor
Waking Times

Some philosophical work is so profound as to be influential for thousands of years. Plato’s ‘The Republic‘ is one such series of dialogues. It explains and explores the relationship between state institutions and individuals, and has provided humanity with lessons in politics, philosophy and individual enlightenment since it was penned some two thousand years ago.

One of the central dialogues in The Republic is called the Allegory of the Cave. The lessons the Allegory of the Cave provides to today’s world are numerous, and its depiction of our insidious societal structure is extremely accurate and insightful — despite often going unacknowledged as such.  Through its exploration of our political outer states, it also explores our psychological inner state as well.

The Allegory of The Cave proposes that what people take to be ‘reality’ in total is only a partial reality, or an all out illusion.  As is all similar philosophy, the allegory is layered, but it is partially about breaking from mainstream thinking and seeking individual knowledge; the ascension of  perspective; being in a cave and coming out of a cave. It’s about how we can ascend from the bottom to stand face-to-face with the golden Sun.

Socrates begins:  “Let me show you in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened Behold! Human beings living in an underground cave”.

The 4 Characters of the Cave

In the Allegory there are four character types.  Most people are chained, forced to watch images on a cave wall. Some however, the second character type, are unchained. They need no force; they are so transfixed with the imagery on the wall that the shadows are all they care about, and remain in the cave by choice. The images are cast on the wall by the third character type, the captors, who use a fire behind them to produce various shadows, to keep the prisoners entertained. The prisoners interpret the shadows and whatever noises are made as reality in total, for it is all they know. The fourth character type is the freed prisoner.

The narrative of The Cave hypothesizes what happens after the prisoner is released from the false imagery to which his society is subjected. In the film The Matrix, Neo is the freed prisoner; in 1984, Winston Smith dreams of being the freed prisoner.

The Freed Prisoner

The story of the freed prisoner goes that, after initial shock and distress, the prisoner learns to distinguish between reality and shadows, and sees the fire producing the shadows. When exiting the cave, he is first blinded by the light but eventually learns the basics of nature. He learns what is real, and what is shadow and reflection. He learns of Earth and Water and that all is dependent on the Sun, seasons and all life. After learning of the true reality outside the cave, free of the false images of his captors, the prisoner is inclined to return and inform those still confined to the cave of their present predicament… with unexpected results.

Similarly, the story of 1984 by George Orwell  takes place within an imagined dystopian future;  the allegorical cavern. The Telescreen, which constantly transmits as well as oversees, is equivalent to the shadows on the cave wall cast by the unseen captors, the Inner Party. Most people in 1984 are Proles; they are equivalent to the people chained in the cave, forced to accept false imagery as their reality. They have been prisoners their whole lives and do not notice the fact they are chained. The Outer party are the unchained, remaining totally transfixed on the party line told by the Telescreen. They are so loyal to the imagery and  narrative created by their captors that they will believe whatever they are shown, rather than observe for themselves. They will believe two plus two is five, as the saying goes, as long as it is presented as such on the Telescreen.

In the  dystopian world of  The Matrix, the same futuristic Allegory of The Cave is again explored. Neo is freed and seeks to free the others, and encounters the same archetypes and challenges.

Moreover the return of the freed prisoner can also be related to the ‘return of the prophet’ described in many theological constructs.

The Freed and the Scorned

The experience of the freed prisoner who returns to the Cave to free his fellow captors  is depicted in all three narratives; the Allegory of the Cave, 1984, and The Matrix.

In 1984  Emmanuel Goldstein (Emmanuel = God is with us, Goldstein = gold rock)  is a character who figuratively left the cave, or understood the Inner Party’s images were lies and attempted to get others to understand the institutional lies. Emmanuel is the supposed leader of the elusive Brotherhood in 1984, and is scorned, even hated by society. His attempt to enlighten his community to its captivity is met with disbelief,  resistance and scorn.

On-the-walls-of-the-cave-only-the-shadows-are-the-Truth-Plato-s-The-Allergory-of-The-Cave

The character of Winston Smith in 1984 is that of a person who attempts to leave the cave. He is privy to certain Inner Party lies and begins to question the Inner Party line  and seek alternate facts and perceptions. Winston’s end is not a happy one; akin to the return of the prisoner hypothesized in The Allegory of The Cave, he  attempts to leave the cave only to be shut in and beaten down – made to hold the party line by both prisoners and captors alike.

Similarly, today, individuals can transmute from dull repetitive ‘thought’ into ascended golden thinking, but as our minds are freed, one at a time, we ultimately find that our broader society is embedded with a series of norms and structures – of Matrices and Caves – that perpetuate false imagery, preserving the status quo from the ‘threat’ of  individual thinking.

Individuals and Institutions

Some fictional literature is so profound as to be relevant for decades (and centuries) and serves to expand humanity’s language and thought; its understanding of itself. George Orwell’s  1984 is one such literary work. It is a post WWII interpretation of the relationship between individuals and institutions, using the archetypal Allegory of the Cave.

The Allegory of the Cave, 1984 and The Matrix contain corresponding layers. Each explores a diabolical form of societal control; the control of thought through the presentation of selective information and images,  in combination with physical constraints of  strict surveillance and imprisonment. Sound familiar? In fact, the original title of 1984 was proposed as The Last Man in Europe. Certainly that is the way many of us feel – as if we are the last lone person – when we first become aware of lies and partial-truths that are presented as reality by those in control, and accepted in totality by seemingly everyone else.

George Orwell’s 1984 spawned new language for age-old structures of manipulation presented in the Allegory of the cave – the word “Orwellian” being one among many. This all-encompassing term is reflective of lies made to be truths, unlimited institutional surveillance, and logic so distorted as to not only convince the masses that two plus two equal five, but that war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength; and also to deny the very basic elements of nature… Just as we do today.

In reality, individual ignorance is strength to institutions. Everyone has their own personal caves and we are all figuratively held in larger societal caverns. Coming up with your own questions is the way get out of the cave and gain enlightenment. Questioning what seems like a lie, or an illusion in the cave, is the first step outside the cave.

The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall toward the earth’s center. With the feeling that he was speaking to… and setting forth an important axiom, he wrote: “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows”. ~  George Orwell’s 1984

Ethan Discusses ‘The Allegory of The Cave’ on Aquarian Radio

Click here  to listen to  Ethan discussing the Allegory of the Cave, and much more, with Janet and Sasha on the Planetary Oligarchy series (presented by Aquarian Radio).

About the Author

Activist, author and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to Mendocino, California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity, Ethan’s work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humour.

Ethan’s publications include:

For more information, visit Ethan on Facebook. (I follow him and enjoy his posts).

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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(Individual) IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH (To Institutions)

Ethan recently asked me to give his new book The Geometry of Energy: How to Meditate  a shout out, available here http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T3MZ8K8 He has also been making a lot of interesting Facebook posts. You can follow him here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ethan-Indigo-Smith/423549761069857 . In honor of his new book I will repost an article by him. Cheers.

1984-movie

By Ethan Indigo Smith

Your ignorance is their strength.  Human history is the story of individuals and institutions.  And today we are at the crossroads.  Arguably all of the world’s most extreme problems stem from information and its lacking.  Today there is a matrix formed at these crossroads, a figurative fork in the road where our story can be altered, where the direction will be chosen.  We can submit to the information overlords or we can share information for all so that the entire globe can move forward.

“Two dangerous runaway processes have taken root in the last decade, with fatal consequences for democracy.  Government secrecy has been expanding on a terrific scale.  Simultaneously, human privacy has been secretly eradicated.”  ~Julian Asange

We can allow institutions to control information or we can open up and share information for all.  Information is restricted from individuals and held by institutions so as to steer our thinking.  Institutions seek to control information so as to control the direction of the population.  The reason we all think the way we do is because of what we know and what we believe we know.  For instance if the majority of individuals knew the detriment of war and nuclear experimentation no one would allow mad scientists and evildoers to perpetuate such ruinous turmoil.  If the majority knew about the total environmental destruction that is taking place we would act to make a change.  And yet information on relevant situations that directly affect us all is restricted so that we are steered to think a certain way or not think at all about certain things.  Access to relevant information is being restricted by institutions.

Alternatively institutions are compiling mostly irrelevant information on individuals.  As the government and corporate oligarchical collectives of the world restrict information on their activities and the world’s actualities they are compiling information on individual activities.  This information is basically useless and arbitrary information or would be, if it weren’t for the impetus to control everyone and everyone’s thinking.  Relevant information should be open to all and the personal/irrelevant information should be irrelevant to institutions.

We all make our decisions on information.  All people of the world have an unwritten right to information.  Controlling oligarchical institutions should not have access to information that individuals do not have.  The divine right of institutions should be eliminated beginning with and perhaps dependent on the open exchange of information.

“Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.”  ~Barack Obama…

(Which as we know was complete bullshit by some guy who was insane and corrupt enough to want to pretend to rule the world. But OUR ignorance is THEIR strength. “Presidents are not elected, they are selected.” ~ Roosevelt)  – hipmonkey

(individual) Ignorance is Strength (to institutions)

via (individual) Ignorance is Strength (to institutions). | Alternative.

1984-movie

By Ethan Indigo Smith

Your ignorance is their strength.  Human history is the story of individuals and institutions.  And today we are at the crossroads.  Arguably all of the world’s most extreme problems stem from information and its lacking.  Today there is a matrix formed at these crossroads, a figurative fork in the road where our story can be altered, where the direction will be chosen.  We can submit to the information overlords or we can share information for all so that the entire globe can move forward.

“Two dangerous runaway processes have taken root in the last decade, with fatal consequences for democracy.  Government secrecy has been expanding on a terrific scale.  Simultaneously, human privacy has been secretly eradicated.”  ~Julian Asange

We can allow institutions to control information or we can open up and share information for all.  Information is restricted from individuals and held by institutions so as to steer our thinking.  Institutions seek to control information so as to control the direction of the population.  The reason we all think the way we do is because of what we know and what we believe we know.  For instance if the majority of individuals knew the detriment of war and nuclear experimentation no one would allow mad scientists and evildoers to perpetuate such ruinous turmoil.  If the majority knew about the total environmental destruction that is taking place we would act to make a change.  And yet information on relevant situations that directly affect us all is restricted so that we are steered to think a certain way or not think at all about certain things.  Access to relevant information is being restricted by institutions.

Alternatively institutions are compiling mostly irrelevant information on individuals.  As the government and corporate oligarchical collectives of the world restrict information on their activities and the world’s actualities they are compiling information on individual activities.  This information is basically useless and arbitrary information or would be, if it weren’t for the impetus to control everyone and everyone’s thinking.  Relevant information should be open to all and the personal/irrelevant information should be irrelevant to institutions.

We all make our decisions on information.  All people of the world have an unwritten right to information.  Controlling oligarchical institutions should not have access to information that individuals do not have.  The divine right of institutions should be eliminated beginning with and perhaps dependent on the open exchange of information.

“Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.”  ~Barack Obama…http://change.gov/agenda/ethics_agenda/