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The Psychology of Totalitarianism
Why has our society gone insane and how can it be fixed?
My faith holds the perspective that if something is true, it will inevitably be discovered again and again throughout history. For example, in the recent series on ethics and morality, I highlighted the common observation that each of the major religious faiths holds many of the same core beliefs. In my own exploration, I have found that many of the world’s most advanced holistic medical systems have developed identical principles for healing the human body despite having no interaction with each other and the same can be said for many of the world’s most advanced meditation traditions.
Much of human history is a series of repeating cycles and many believe this trend is reflective of the fact that the underlying nature of the human heart and mind has remained unchanged. As a result, human societies will always react in the same way when similar circumstances arise regardless of the era.
Many of you have most likely noticed, our society appears to be going insane. While the current flavor of insanity is a bit different than anything that has come before it (which I believe is due to the amount of readily available information exceeding the capacity of the average human brain to process), what we are experiencing now is by no means the first time a collective insanity has gripped society.
On account of the focus and reach of this substack, I was requested by the publisher to review a recently released book-The Psychology of Totalitarianism (the author of which, Mattias Desmet, is best known for popularizing the term “Mass Formation”).
In reviewing the manuscript, I realized that many of the themes throughout it overlapped with both the messages I have tried to share on this substack and the ideas put forth by many wise individuals throughout history who identified the core problems with our society and were able accurately to predict what they would lead to far into the future.
The Consciousness of Society
One of the most common questions raised throughout history has been “are humans intrinsically good or intrinsically bad?” My own belief is that most (but not all) humans are intrinsically good, but also that most human beings have varying degrees of susceptibility to outside forces that can cause them to commit evil. For example, many sexual predators who assault children were sexually molested in their childhood. I also believe it is likely each reader here has seen examples in their lifetime of someone being treated badly coping with that stressor by treating someone else badly (in psychology this process is termed “displacement”) or someone acting out at another because something innocuous that individual did consciously or unconsciously reminded them of a previous traumatic experience with another individual.
In general, as societies develop a more evolved consciousness, I believe the degree of evil that can occur within them decreases. This is because the society will structure itself to prevent the circumstances that eventually give rise to evil within its members and actively encourage the intrinsic aspects of human nature that promote goodness within the society.
Simultaneously, as each member of society becomes more conscious, they will become more resistant to allowing negative experiences to influence their conduct towards others.
The subject of ethics and morality in most cases I would argue is an attempt to move the consciousness and conduct of a society in a positive direction. I also suspect each of you has met people with immense hearts where regardless of how awful something they experience is, they will always be kind to those around them.
My exploration of this topic has led me to believe the most important thing for the direction of society is to encourage the evolution of consciousness within it and in that vein, I have researched how consciousness within societies has changed over the generations. In this exploration, I have found that while less conscious and more warlike societies will often wipe out more conscious and less violent societies (such as what the Roman Empire did to the Druids), in general, I believe there has been a steady forward evolution in the consciousness of the human species.
Providing the assertion that human consciousness has evolved in a positive direction should raise an immediate objection: if that is the case, why have the most horrific acts in human history occurred in the last century? The answer is very simple; even though as a society we have evolved into a kinder and more conscious species, our technological capacity to harm others and the environment around us has evolved at a much faster pace.
World War II
World War II is the most studied war in human history. This is because it was the last major war fought between superpowers where it was unclear who would win and both sides pulled out all the stops to ensure they would be the victor. This is important because, at the time of World War II, technology had finally advanced to the point mass carnage could be created, hence leading to many historians endlessly studying each battlefield implementation of a new war machine.
What is less appreciated about World War II was that it also marked the point where the media, building upon the recent advancements of Edward Bernays (the father of public relations), had evolved into a tool that could control the consciousness of society.
A large part of the Nazi party’s success arose from their sophisticated propaganda and utilization of the new mediums of film and television. For example, the 1935 Nazi film, The Triumph of the Will was revolutionary for its time and was an immensely successful piece of propaganda many have credited with enabling the Nazis to rise to power and convincing the German populace to consent to the Nazi’s war against the world.
When film was first developed, it was not possible to overlay sound onto it, so movies were typically produced with a pianist in the theater playing a musical score to accompany the cinematography. In this era of silent movies, Charlie Chaplin excelled at non-verbally conveying his intended meaning to the audience and became the first global superstar.
When the Triumph of the Will was released in 1935, technology has advanced enough for sound to become incorporated into movies. According to one source, both Charlie Chaplin and French filmmaker René Clair viewed Triumph of the Will together at a showing at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Clair was horrified by the power of the film, crying out that this should never be shown or the West was lost. Chaplin, on the other hand, laughed uproariously at the film. I shared Chaplin‘s interpretation, but I can understand how Claire’s interpretation could have been arrived at in an era where there were no sophisticated movies to serve as a comparison.
Charlie Chaplin saw how easily Hitler’s depiction in that movie could be portrayed as a farcical theatre of absurdity, but also recognized just how dangerous a future it foreboded and made the decision to risk his career and personal savings to produce a rebuttal to it. Charlie Chaplin then studied the movie to the point he could accurately mimic Hitler (Chaplin shared many unusual characteristics with Hitler that also helped in this regard), and in The Great Dictator, Chaplin successfully portrayed Hitler to the world as a clueless buffoon rather than the maniacal genius Hitler had worked for nearly a decade to craft himself to the world as. This approach is extremely important to understand because often the most effective way to red-pill a group of people is not to win with “facts” but rather undermine the foundations of their belief system through comedy and satire that pokes fun at it without direct confronting the ideology and the endless defense mechanisms propping it up.
In addition to breaking down the foundation Nazism was built upon through humor that highlighted the inherent absurdity within it, Chaplin also structured the entire movie to set the stage for a much more serious speech at the movie’s conclusion.
When I stumbled across this speech, I was awed by both the quality of it (it is still viewed as one of the most impactful speeches in history) and how much of it is just as true now as it was in 1940. Much of the psychology of totalitarianism is encapsulated in this three-and-a-half-minute speech and I would highly advise watching it to better understand our current era.
Note: A soundtrack (that arguably improves the speech) is added to the video below. If you would like to watch the original, it can be viewed here. There are also likely a few aspects of the speech you may disagree with which will be addressed later in the article
20th Century Totalitarianism
Although the carnage of World War II’s battlefields is a frequent focus of historians, the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century are best known for the unimaginable horrors they committed upon their own people. Much in the same way advances in technology enabled unprecedented military massacres, those same advances enabled mass genocides to commence around the world.
As I attempted to illustrate in this series on the history of population control and sterilizing vaccines, what normally prevents governments from committing crimes against their people is ultimately the technological feasibility of those approaches.
This history of “population control” has become much more relevant in the brief time that has elapsed since those articles were written as signs have since begun to emerge of catastrophic changes in the birth rate, the disability rate, and the death rate in the population that are difficult to attribute to anything besides the COVID vaccination campaign.
Like many, I have spent almost three years trying to understand how the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and its various delivery platforms kill or injure the human body. At the same time, the novel spike protein only represents one of the new technologies being utilized against the population and I believe the novel technology (particularly that from Silicon Valley) being used to cause the populace to comply with this agenda is just as important.
One of the major challenges with “red-pilling” people is that the entire context and implications of one “red-pill” belief can often be so complicated it is somewhat of a lost cause to try and open someone’s mind to it. Once one questions one foundational belief, it often requires them to question hundreds of other entrenched beliefs tied to the first belief, and effectively a barrier to seeing the truth is created that is often described as being “too monstrous to conceive.”
Successfully red-pilling an audience thus often becomes a task of being able to concisely weave together a complex tapestry that accurately portrays the full picture. This is quite challenging to do, and bit by bit has been a goal of this substack. A key reason why I have repeatedly referenced The Real Anthony Fauci is because RFK Jr. was able to effectively portray the immense criminal enterprise behind the entire pandemic response. Likewise, I feel Mattias Desmet in The Psychology of Totalitarianism was able to explain the psychological terrain within our culture that has allowed this insanity to take root.
Like RFK Jr., I believe the criminal enterprise must be recognized for what it is and the responsible parties held accountable, but like Desmet, I believe addressing these issues is a lost cause unless the societal consciousness within the society that permitted them to emerge is changed. For this reason, his book serves an invaluable role in bringing forth the mindset that is necessary for a better future.
For the remainder of this review, I will discuss key themes within The Psychology of Totalitarianism, and as best as I can illustrate them with concepts that were not covered in the book (so there is less redundancy for those who later decide to read or listen to it).
I must also note that in the same way in most cases I strongly agreed with the content of The Real Anthony Fauci but simultaneously had objections to certain details within it, I also do not one hundred percent agree with the content in The Psychology of Totalitarianism. For example, I understand why Desmet needed to take the approach he did for the eighth chapter, “Conspiracy and Ideology,” but my interpretation of the events he chronicled differs. I also noticed a few key aspects of the worst totalitarians of the 20th century were omitted such as Joseph Stalin being a highly paranoid and extremely sadistic individual or Mao Zedong (who caused far more carnage than any other human in history but was not mentioned in the book) largely operating from a place of amorality where he simply didn’t consider the human consequences as he tried his various disastrous ideas out.
Ivan Illich (1926-2002) was a gifted polymath who recognized a variety of ills within society and accurately extrapolated what they would lead to throughout his lifetime and well after his death. One of Illich’s central beliefs was that the complexity necessary to maintain the smooth functioning of an increasingly technologically advanced society would result in governments of the world seeking to use every technological means available to micromanage each aspect of society. Illich argued these technocratic dictatorships were attempting to fulfill a fundamentally impossible task, and because they failed to recognize this, would respond to their failures by seeking more and more control over society.
Illich believed that rather than using elaborate mechanisms of control to force human beings to adhere to an unnatural state that was in opposition to human nature, the ideal form of government followed a more decentralized model that encouraged the natural capacities of each member of society and provided the tools each member needed to succeed. This thesis was based on his observations of how well members of radically different societies around the world were able to work together and become highly successful once they were allowed to do so.
Many others have shared similar viewpoints to Illich. The oldest example I know of can be found within the Chinese classic, the Tao Te Ching.
This book was written during an incredibly stressful period of Chinese history where many aspects of each citizen's life were highly micromanaged (with those who failed to comply being immediately executed) and the citizenry were subject to prolonged periods of immense physical, emotional, mental and spiritual stress. The Tao Te Ching’s author argued that using force to control society was an exercise in futility that would require greater and greater strain to maintain, and that the correct way to live life and run society was to work in harmony with nature instead of attempting to dominate it.
Many of the approaches we have taken with modern technology have attempted to dominate a natural process to “improve it,“ yet over time have resulted in diminishing returns requiring greater inputs to maintain alongside a variety of disastrous secondary consequences. For example, modern monoculture agriculture initially boosted crop yields, but in the process destroyed the soil and continually requires more and more pesticides or fertilizers to support it.
This is highly problematic both because this approach significantly reduces the nutritional quality of the food that is grown (which I believe is one of the underlying causes of poor health within the society) and because it has made the agricultural inputs necessary to create food become a scarce and limited resource. The effects of these policies are best shown within Africa and India, where western NGOs (particularly the Gates foundation), convinced farmers to discard their traditional forms of agriculture for the more “advanced” agrochemical and GMO approach.
Many of those areas subsequently experienced famine or mass suicides of farmers and are now beginning to experience widespread famine due to the pandemic policies increasing the prices of agricultural inputs such as fertilizer. Had these areas maintained their traditional form of agriculture (or even improved it), none of that would have occurred.
One alternative model to our current form of agriculture is known as “permaculture.“ This approach is built around structuring plant ecosystems so that each plant fertilizes the surrounding plants and provides resistance in the ecosystem to pests. In permaculture models, rather than continually increasing external inputs of agricultural chemicals being required, those inputs are instead naturally produced by the plant ecosystem.
The same principles hold throughout medicine, and I believe many problems within the medical system are a result of modern medicine attempting to temporarily dominate illness rather than working in harmony with the natural healing mechanisms of the body. In parallel to the above examples, the modern approach to medicine leads to progressively increasing strain within the human body. This strain then requires greater and greater external inputs to be maintained and thing after thing needing to subsequently be added in order to address each of the complications that arise from this gestalt of unnatural medical interventions.
Finally (as there are many other examples I could also cite of this principle), many activists have come to the conclusion that the best way to oppose totalitarianism and the technological dictatorship we are falling into is not to violently resist it, but rather oppose it through nonviolent resistance such as boycotting the system by creating parallel economic systems. Each of those decentralized systems is built upon the innate human ingenuity and the natural cooperation between human beings that emerge, when as Illich envisioned, they are allowed to.
Like Desmet, I believe that much of the current insanity within our society arises from individuals being disconnected from themselves, each other, and their environment. It is only when this connection is lost that it becomes possible to create a totalitarian society. Once one’s internal environment is in disarray, they stop caring about the disarray around them. This I would argue is why so many humans have no objections to the incredibly short sighted rampant environmental destruction that is committed for the sake of profit and reciprocally why having a clean home often improves mental health.
In my previous series on ethics and morality, I attempted to make the case that the ideal form of morality empowers each member of society with the ability to discern what is right and what is wrong and encourages them to be driven to do what is right. As this is rarely possible it implement consistently, ethics and laws are utilized to fill that societal need, and in all cases there will be times when they overshoot their target (creating collateral damage) and times when they undershoot their target (failing to prevent the societal ill they were created to address). Unfortunately, we are now in an era where we have largely lost the societal morality provided by organized religion and have not developed an intrinsic morality to replace it.
I strongly believe humans have an innate ability to discern what is right and what is wrong. However, as one becomes more disconnected from their body, heart, mind and spirit, this ability is lost. The best analogy I have found for what occurs in the mind can be found within the daily life of kelp, a large floating form of seaweed that is anchored to the rocks on the ocean floor and continually sways back and forth in response to the ocean’s currents. Once the anchor to the ocean floor is lost, the kelp can no longer return to its original location and will eventually end up washed up on the shore.
The daily pressures of life we face are like the currents of the ocean, and once our anchors are lost, we rapidly fall sway to the tides of society. To some extent, this is encapsulated by the famous quote “if you stand for nothing, you fall for anything.”
Over the last century anchor after anchor that connected us to the ocean floor has been systematically lost. Most of the population works jobs they feel are meaningless (Desmet for example shares a 2013 Gallup World Poll that found only 13% of people worldwide are truly engaged in their jobs). The social bonds that held Americans together such as religion, trust in one’s neighbors, and a healthy family structure have been replaced with a disorienting onslaught of advertising that seeks to convert each viewer to the sponsor’s agenda. For one of the first times in human history, we have abruptly transitioned from primarily requiring physical labor to intellectual labor and have further accelerated this disconnection into our minds through the rapid proliferation of big tech and social media within every aspect of our lives. In my eyes, this is extremely harmful because our species is beginning to lose the ability to feel (which I believe is what fundamentally makes us alive) and is replacing that loss with a slew of mental images and ideas.
The core problem with purely mental ideas is they hold no life within them. As a result, when people are dead inside and disconnected from themselves, ideas become everything to them, and the need to be “right” regarding a specific idea, regardless of how trivial it is can become a metaphorical matter of life or death because these people lack their intrinsic human connection to being alive.
In totalitarian societies, as Desmet excellently illustrates, this disconnect is deliberately created and then continually propped up by idea after idea (of which many, like Charlie Chaplin a century ago noted often border on the absurd). Eventually, a collective psychosis consumes the nation and much of the population fanatically adheres to the increasingly inhumane and dysfunctional totalitarian system that has established itself. In many cases this fanatical adherence sadly is their way of obtaining a surrogate for the human connection they desperately crave but have no access to in their everyday lives.
In a recent article, I discussed the absurd sexual policies advised by governments around the world to “stop the spread.” Although this was partly in jest, it also was meant to highlight the tendency of totalitarian governments to rip apart the basic bonds that hold human beings together (I would argue that healthy sexual intercourse is one of the deepest forms of connection and communication in our lives). This is particularly relevant because it has been noted by many scholars (such as Freud’s contemporary Wilhelm Reich in regards to Nazi Germany) that fascist and inhumane behavior within a society often emerges from highly repressive and disconnected sexual relations within the society.
The Search for Truth
Since the dawn of time, there has been a fundamental human need to understand the world and ask the question of “Why?”. One thing an effective search for the truth requires is developing a framework for determining what is true, and a branch of philosophy, epistemology or “How do we know what we know?”, was created for this purpose.
Often when I look at science, I notice that many of its shortcomings are ultimately epistemological in nature (many others have also made the same observation). Throughout this substack I have so far attempted to detail the corruption within the scientific process that led to the disastrous and completely unscientific pandemic response. However, this corruption was only possible due to the pervasive epistemological deficits within our society I would argue are another consequence of the widespread disconnection in modern society.
More specifically, there are four recurring epistemological deficits I have observed:
•Very few people take the time for epistemological self-reflection and to honestly ask themselves how they know what they know.
•Because many issues are so complex and require lengthy backgrounds to fully understand many members of society will instead default to evaluating those issues by either trusting experts, deferring to authoritative sources, or succumbing to the human tendency to follow a crowd. Each of these is surprisingly easy to manipulate and not surprisingly, frequently occurs.
•Human beings tend to fear the unknown, and many different institutions have emerged throughout the ages to exploit that collective anxiety. It is often the case that the world around us is complex enough that it is simply not possible to fully understand what is occurring. Unfortunately, when this happens, many will respond to that ambiguity by artificially simplifying reality so that a declarative explanation can be affixed to the phenomena and create the illusion that “science” has mastered (and thus dominated) nature when in reality it has not come close to doing so. Traditionally, institutional religions filled this role by proposing a way to “explain” (and thus dominate) the world around us, thereby establishing the political power of the institutional religion. In the current era, it is critical to understand that the religion of science now occupies that role (take a moment to consider how many things can be done with medical science now like raising the dead through a cardiopulmonary resuscitation that in previous eras were labeled as “miracles”).
•The primary issue with utilizing logic as an epistemological framework is that logic is inherently subjective, and any viewpoint can be “proven” once the appropriate logical system has been chosen.
One definition of intelligence is the ability to manipulate logical symbols, and one application of this form of intelligence is the ability to rearrange logical frameworks to your advantage. This is why many logical arguments you come across are essentially meaningless, and since very few people have been formally trained in logic these arguments are rarely challenged.
On a broad societal level, this abuse of logic has been made clear over the last few years by the obsessive focus on any potential positive data that resulted from the pandemic response and the complete dismissal of any negative data (which in reality greatly outweighed the existing positive data).
I attempted to illustrate this point here, and Desmet likewise provided two excellent example:
“None of the countries, whether they went into lockdown or not, came even close to the death count predicted by the models. Sweden is perhaps the most interesting example. This country, according to Imperial College models, would have 80,000 deaths by the end of May if it didn’t go into lockdown, which of course it didn’t. Its death count was 6,000. And to reach this figure of 6,000 required the “enthusiastic” counting methods described above. Otherwise, it could even have been much less.”
“When the experts who had built some of the models were asked during their testimony before the British House of Commons why they had not included the collateral damage of the measures in their models, they replied, disarmingly honestly, that this was beyond their expertise as epidemiologists.”
Note: the next part of this which is intended to further explain the fourth bullet point will only make sense to readers who have had similar experiences; please disregard it if you do not relate to it: One of the more effective spiritual practices I have learned (which can also be used medically) works by continually rearranging minute components of the human system until a configuration is arrived at which allows a positive effect to emerge. Over time, that practice made me realize how ephemeral many things I had previously grasped onto within the body, mind, and spirit were. After this realization, I then started noticing that same ephemeral nature could be found within many arguments I came across as they were rooted in a continually reconfiguring logic seeking to at last find a configuration that could “win.” Now, when I debate with these people, I often feel as though I am observing a Tetris player desperately trying to find a way to rotate the blocks of logic falling into the conversation so that the blocks fit into the line of reasoning they are trying to build.
These four themes are frequently exploited by those seeking to convince the masses of their agenda, and because epistemology is rarely, if ever, a consideration in the process of determining what to believe, a variety of more complex deceptions (such as the systemic corruption within the scientific apparatus) never are questioned.
This leads to the curious situation we have today where many people have blind faith in numbers or statistics while simultaneously failing to recognize how incredibly arbitrary and easily changeable much of the data we are bombarded with is (put differently, the majority of current scientific studies cannot be replicated which means the “evidence” every facet of our lives is predicated upon is in many cases false). There has been such a blatant abuse of statistics and numerical figures during the pandemic response (some of which were detailed here, and much more that is discussed in Desmet’s book) that it has made this deceit observable to much of the population and hopefully can break the population's faith in numbers.
When one is dedicated to learning the truth, they will often find “truth” is illusory and ethereal, but at the same time, certain unambiguous universal truths will occasionally emerge. This is an extremely important concept because life and nature are complex and chaotic, and when they are simplified into rudimentary algorithms, they transform from being vibrant and alive to bland and sterile.
Desmet argues that the choice between a living complex view of reality and a sterile dead one touches upon the fundamental question of whether science will benefit or harm society. Desmet is not alone in this view, and many highly influential figures before him have also shared this perspective.
Unfortunately, while pockets of the scientific community, such as those studying quantum physics and chaos theory are oriented towards complexity, the general trend in science and especially big tech has been to do the exact opposite and create a sanitized version of reality where everything can be transcribed into algorithms.
In general that which cannot easily be seen or measured is ridiculed or simply ignored, which is a tragedy as this happens to many of the most important things science should be investigating. One of the most key points Desmet makes is that the dead form of science that reduces reality to a set of strictly defined parameters that demand set algorithmic response is foundational to totalitarian systems, so it is somewhat understandable systemic biases exist against science that brings life and unknown spontaneous variations into our conception of reality.
Denial of Reality
One of the most educational books I ever read was 1984 because of the philosophical ideas it introduced to me that I thought about throughout middle school. One of the scenes I remember best was when the main character was being tortured near the end of the book to distort his mind so that he would hallucinate and sincerely believe whatever the party leadership required him to. Years later, I came across an episode of a cartoon show that clearly illustrated the same concept (near the end of the episode, a police officer is pressured to hallucinate the presence of a gun that is not there).
One of the most insidious lies modern science is built upon is a much more elaborate version of the above concept.
A central idea within the religion of science is that humans are irrational beings prone to a variety of cognitive blind spots that caused them to hallucinate many things that are not there.
Science and “evidence” hence assume the role of being the arbiters of truth, while we, the common people are viewed as children who require the responsible adults of science to guide us towards the truth. The problem of course is that institutional science is often completely wrong due to either its own biases or the systemic corruption within it (and in many cases years later the scientific or medical field will zealously believe the concept they had viciously denounced in the not too recent past).
I most commonly encounter this problem in the context of medical injuries (this is why I spent a few weeks drafting a series on medical gaslighting). Often, after an unambiguous adverse event occurs from a medical intervention, the individual who experienced the injury is repeatedly told by every authority figure in medicine that the idea a medical injury could have occurred is an irrational hallucination. This is asserted as an unquestionable truth because there is “no evidence” that the medical procedure can cause the specific injury that was experienced (even though in most cases you can find evidence supporting the link).
In effect, much like in the scenes described at the start of the section, the full pressure of science is brought upon the participants to make them directly deny their own perception and understanding of reality.
Because of how frequently this concept comes up whenever one attempts to study or discuss an “alternative“ science, it has always been a pet peeve of mine. However, after reading The Psychology of Totalitarianism, I discovered that this “scientific” usurping of one’s innate perception of reality is foundational to totalitarian systems; many of the same shenanigans I see today that rest on highly questionable epistemological foundations were previously utilized by the most repressive regimes of the 20th century.
Once this unmooring of reality was accomplished by instilling a blind subservience to “science” it is then followed by the “science“ of the regime continually morphing and contradicting itself to fit the daily needs of the leadership. This created a situation where the totalitarian government would play Tetris with the minds of its subjects whenever it was convenient to do so.
Because most of us never had to live in a totalitarian state, this type of societal reality is difficult to grasp, let alone comprehend. Since the religion of science has slowly been woven into every fabric of our daily lives, we in turn have moved closer and closer to the totalitarian form of science, often without realizing how deeply we have already fallen under its spell.
For most of us, the first time we have ever witnessed this type of widespread scientific abuse has been with the pandemic policies, where there has been no logically consistent principle in their approach (besides maximizing profiteering), and yet the “science“ behind each policy has been given a blank check to radically reshape and decimate our society.
In The Psychology of Totalitarianism, Desmet shows that our modern technocratic society has managed to re-create many of the same foundational conditions that gave rise to totalitarian governments in the 20th century and allowed the pandemic hysteria to rapidly take over our society. Desmet’s central thesis is that when the correct conditions are present within society, a collective or crowd consciousness emerges which causes unspeakable atrocities to be permitted by, and in many cases directly conducted by large masses of the population (this process is termed “mass formation”).
This is a critical point because the majority of the individuals who commit the worst crimes of totalitarian regimes are not evil or psychopathic, but rather simply had a level of consciousness that allowed them to be swept into a mass formation. Similarly, this provides an explanation of why so many political zealots throughout the ages will feel it is justified to distort the facts in whatever way is necessary to promote their ideology.
The first author to identify this crowd consciousness, Gustave Le Bon, accurately modeled it in 1895 and provided many insights that remain applicable in the current era (unless you have directly witnessed it, it is nearly impossible to comprehend the extent to which people within crowds can change or suddenly snap when the correct circumstances emerge to trigger that behavior).
Totalitarian states revolve around placing the population in a vulnerable state because that facilitates pushing them into a horrific crowd consciousness. The key factors that precipitate this totalitarian transformation are those discussed throughout this article such as systemic disconnection from the things that make us human, social isolation, silencing of dissenting voices and blind faith in science and in powerful authoritarian figures.
Mass formation also requires collective anxiety to be present within the society. Many argue anxiety is the disease of the modern age (for example the WHO has reported one in five people have an anxiety disorder globally) and I believe this collective disease is a symptom of the pervasive disconnection within modern society.
One of the most well-known examples of this concept is the repeated observation that members of advanced industrial societies cannot handle solitary confinement. Many eastern spiritual traditions argue this is a result of those individuals being unable to handle being alone with what is inside their own mind. Although solitary confinement is rarely enacted upon the population, many more subtle versions of it already exist throughout modern society and create an environment that compounds the existing pervasive anxiety.
Most individuals who suffer from chronic anxiety hence will continually seek thing after thing that allows them to escape from being with themselves, and I have seen many cases where this comfort greatly weakened or emotionally disabled them (for example I find individuals who repeatedly smoked marijuana to address emotional discomfort they encountered over time became unable to cope emotionally stressful events). Once the lockdowns occurred (which imposed a more overt form of solitary confinement on many), it resulted in an epidemic of psychiatric diseases which arguably eclipsed all the potential benefits that resulted from the lockdowns.
The final component necessary for mass formation is to have an “enemy“ to attach all of these negative feelings (that largely arise from disconnection) onto. In most cases, the enemy must be an abstract target so that it can never be defeated and the perpetual war against it can sustain the mythology of the totalitarian state. Infectious disease has been a common choice throughout history (as any means can be adopted to “address” it, blind allegiance to science makes the new “scientific” policies unquestionable, and the potential for deaths from the disease makes it possible to justify committing atrocities for the greater good).
As was discussed here, I do not agree with the school of thought that argues viruses are a hoax, but I have tried to listen to their case, and I feel one very important point they make is that the fear of “deadly” diseases has been continually abused throughout history to enable genocide. Over the last few years that fear of disease has been used to justify lethal vaccine mandates, previously in the United States it was used to justify forced sterilization, and in Nazi Germany the “danger” of tuberculosis became a justification for murdering large numbers of undesirable members of society.
Breaking Mass Formation
Mass formation maintains itself because the members of the society who do not agree with it refuse to speak out because they fear for their own safety. When mass formation occurs, according to Desmet, around 30% of the population directly succumbs to the hypnosis, 40-60% avoid becoming hypnotized but choose to follow the crowd (out of fear), and 10-30% actively resist what is happening (my observations also approximate these figures). The perpetuation of a mass formation hence largely becomes a question of how much of the third group speaks out and if the system allows them to be heard. Members of society understandably assume it is to their benefit and much safer for them to not oppose the mass formation, but they fail to recognize all that does is allow a much more dangerous form of totalitarianism to set into the culture. That is why it is so vital to emulate this iconic image:
The first article that was published on this substack was an attempt to show how the current pandemic response in many ways is identical to what occurred with the smallpox vaccination campaigns. In the case of smallpox, the experimental vaccine was highly dangerous and increased rather than decreased the likelihood of developing smallpox. Rather than recognize the vaccine was the problem, each time smallpox rates increased, governments around the world responded with more aggressive measures to mandate the vaccine, and before long individuals were being imprisoned for refusing this deadly and unsafe vaccine.
Typically in Nature, if a stimulus is counterproductive, a negative feedback mechanism will have evolved to decrease the output of that stimulus (for example if your body is too cold it activates heating mechanisms and if your body is too hot, it activates cooling mechanisms). Positive feedback systems, where the stimulus provokes more of the stimulus are very rare in nature and inherently unstable. Because of the religious faith our society has placed in vaccines, vaccination campaigns are often associated with positive feedback cycles and frequently leave a large body count in their wake.
Desmet likewise makes the critical point that totalitarian systems also follow self-perpetuating positive feedback cycles, and as the system injures and harms more people, that is always used as a justification for accelerating rather than pausing the evil behavior of the system. Stopping mass formation hence requires recognizing there is a positive feedback loop and choosing another approach. Because this has not happened with the pandemic response, COVID-19 is now much worse than it would have been if we had done nothing to address it.
Students of modern medicine often do not realize many different models of medicine also have been developed throughout the ages. One of the key differences between Western medicine and virtually all other medical systems is that there is no concept of an innate health or vitality within the body or a spiritual component to healing within Western medicine. Many current and historical examples within Western medicine, such as the horrific unethical human experiments that still occur to this day and Nazi physicians believing their genocide was a noble endeavor for the health of their society, show how this disconnection from life can easily lead modern medicine to intellectually endorse inhumane practices in a manner not that different from a totalitarian system.
My own belief is that this loss of health and spirit from Western medicine is often what allows it to fall into disastrous positive feedback loops and why it is frequently utilized as a tool by totalitarians to justify their twisted utopian visions of society.
Science and the age of reason have dramatically elevated the consciousness of the human species. However, science without wisdom and a heart or soul can often be far more harmful to society than any benefit it can provide. As long as science remains an abstract concept that is trusted on the words of the experts rather than something each of us is empowered to understand and make sense of, it will always be vulnerable to corrupt parties and ideologues hijacking it for their agenda. Correcting the course we are on will be a long uphill struggle, and I hope that many of the components for it have been laid out throughout this article.
One of the greatest challenges for individuals with advanced knowledge in a subject is the gradual realization of just how little they know (conversely, as shown by the Dunning–Kruger effect, the less individuals know, the more they overestimate their knowledge and competence). Being able to proceed forward despite not knowing if you were on the correct path requires a great deal of courage, especially when most of your peers oppose what you are doing. That said, virtually every person who has been highly successful and changed the world for the better had this type of courage.
In some cases, we are just born with it, but in the majority cases, it comes from living a life that cultivates courage. One of the most useful words of wisdom I heard at a young age was “comfort makes you weak” which is important because our technocratic society has tried to create the illusion that if we always comply with it, it can guarantee our safety and prevent all discomfort.
This is fundamentally impossible (and often creates many medical issues), but many traumatized and pampered members of society have become so ingrained with this mythology they now lack the courage to venture outside safe spaces created by the technocracy. Unfortunately, if you lack the courage to oppose something you know is wrong, as history repeatedly shows, that same evil will eventually show up at your doorstep, and by the time it does it will have gained enough momentum that you will no longer have the ability to oppose it.
The strength that produces courage ultimately arises from our connection to ourselves (particularly our physical body) and our connections to each other. Hence, like many things in medicine where you cannot reduce a problem to one single component, mass formation is also a complex process that weaves into so many other aspects of our society that it must also be dealt with holistically. Just remember:
Let me know what you think of this article. It took me about a week to write (hence the pause) and somewhat guided the direction of the articles I wrote over the last month. I feel this message is very important, so I temporarily changed the focus of this substack, but in the future I will return to articles more directly focused on the practice of medicine.
Postscript: I have noticed that many groups will develop a collective consciousness that often transcends the individual participants (often leading them to rapidly adopt terrible behaviors once they join the group holding that collective conscienceless) and can often persist for generations. The best term I ever came across for this, Egrigore, was something I came across on wikipedia. I cannot fully endorse the idea because of where it originates from, but over and over I have come across situations where it appears an egrigore has taken over a group (particularly in Allopathic medicine, which I believe carries fairly malignant Egrigores).
Reading Desmet’s work has led me to suspect crowd psychology and the mass formation concept provides another potential explanation for the “Egrigore” concept I keep on running across. Put differently, this means I believe in addition to Mass Formation applying to society as a whole, it can also manifest within specific subgroups which have some type of strong ritualistic link to each other especially when they also have to suffer through a collective hardship.
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