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The Hammer and the Net: Two Faces of Totalitarianism

Photo source Bonnie Dean | CC BY 2.0

Historically, there have been two types of totalitarianism.

The earliest versions (most notably Soviet, Nazi, and Chinese) would psychologically and physically relentlessly “hammer” their subjects into submission with a mix of maximum terror of all kinds, ubiquitous public and private propaganda, and mass surveillance.

Particularly in the Soviet case, this ruthless technique of power was able to deliver some levels of material if not social and political progress at a very high human cost; the consequences of which were to reverberate negatively for generations.

So much for the historically known version of Totalitarianism.

Now we come to today’s form which is less reliant on the direct application of brute force while more dependent on creating a wide ranging “net” of superintendence.

As Marx revealed so long ago, the so called “liberal bourgeois democracies” operate on two levels: the ideological and the actual.

Ideologically and culturally, the Western powers are devoted to a cult of the individual. Of the individual as more important than the collective and or system.

In reality, the Western forms of government are shills for economic and power interests that operate through either gaming the system, infiltrating it, or successfully carrying out criminal activity without detection.

A combination of police, legal, security forces, and above all political actors make all of this possible.

No one comes forth to denounce the system because the payoffs are so large and the possible retribution if one even attempts such a thing are even greater.

Thus the system of influence and manipulation is self perpetuating through the generations.

Nominally, the system appears to deliver the economic and social goods but that is not its main function despite ideological claims to the contrary.

It’s main function is the accrual of power, in all its forms, to a select group of actors who are at times brazenly visible as well as those who are far less so.

Deception, manipulation, false flags, and other intricate machinations are the daily bread of this true network of influence.

While brute force is often not necessary, that too cannot be excluded.

In short, the Western populations live, for the most part contentedly, in a new world order of totalitarianism lite.

It is up to some of us to tear the veil from their eyes.

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