Monday, March 22, 2021

Blows Against the Empire 4 – set and setting

It has been said that we are living in Gnostic times. This observation is true and fitting in the sense that our overriding socio-political systems seem to be increasingly oppressive and alienating. In the days of the biblical-era Gnostics, the Roman EMPIRE conquered and occupied the Gnostics' traditional territory. Although the Roman overlords brought technological marvels, such as roads and aqueducts, they were none-the-less an oppressive bureaucracy. Consequently, the semi-nomadic Gnostics increasingly became strangers in a strange land.

The Gnostics described their Roman overlords, the magistrates and governors of the province of Judaea, as Archons. The term Archon, not only applied to the worldly, occupying rulers… it was also used to describe spiritual powers… the Demiurgic Archons, or rulers of the seven planes (seven planets) of existence. These archons were the cosmic henchmen of the great and terrible Demiurge… arch-ruler of the material plane.

Consequently, The Gnostics’ resistance occurred on multiple levels… alluding and skirmishing, both the Roman occupiers and the archonic overlords. The Gnostics viewed their resistance as a war… “on earth, as it is in heaven.” As above, so below. This multifaceted understanding can best be described as a mythology… more real than fiction. Their mythic reality impacted their worldview on spiritual, psychological, and down-to-earth levels.

Today, the EMPIRE… Dick’s “codification of derangement” is the predator/dominator paradigm. Its operating system… its weaponized mechanism of control, is the all-pervasive Bureaucratic Orthodoxy. Like the Gnostics of old, we must navigate the treacherous territories of increasingly oppressive regimes. We too, we travelers of the Fortean frontier, in our increasing alienation, appear as strangers in a strange land.
In allegory, the predator/dominator patriarchy of today, can be viewed in a similar light as the Archonic overlords. The established, bureaucratic system of control, presiding over each of earth’s civilizations… can be viewed as a specific Archon. Each Archon claims dominion over each culture, when in fact, it is a deceiver… a false mechanism of thought control. As a pop-cultural example, a similar allegory was masterfully depicted in Neil Gaiman’s 2001 book: “American Gods.”
The archonic bureaucracy commands us to leave well enough alone, not to think outside the box (Dick’s Black Iron Prison). But thinking outside the box is precisely the objective.

In part one of this series, we examined PDK’s “EMPIRE,” viewing it as a demiurgic, predator/dominator institution of thought control… its insidiousness only being matched by its pervasiveness. In part two, we considered the political ramifications of the Bureaucratic Orthodoxy (BO). In part three, we introduced the “Leviathan” allegory to identify the parapolitical underbelly of the beast, in an attempt to… “Know Your Enemy.”

Thus far, we have focused on the setting… the ground conditions of our social dilemma. It is this series’ thesis that the conditions on the ground are untenable to freedom-loving, self-determined beings everywhere, and that something ought to be done about it… but what?

Being “of this world” means that we were born into the material plane, and must contend with corporal existence. Therefore, while we are here, we have (some think we have chosen) a responsibility to improve conditions for ourselves and our brothers and sisters. Given the current state of affairs, the new Archons oversee technological marvels. They fancy themselves masters of the infosphere. Instead of roads and aqueducts, they “influence” via the myriad social media nexus and electronic, connecting arteries.

So it is fitting that our resistance (in part) flow through the conduits of mobile and social media. 

One of the most viable operating systems, with a decent likelihood of achieving a conducive, intended outcome… is the Disruptive Insurgency (DI) model. To recap, a “Disruptive Insurgency” is an autonomous network that is composed of individuals and small groups working independently, yet in tandem. Participation is driven by specific, yet shared goals. DIs are more innovative than BOs. They constantly innovate. Disruptive insurgencies are nimble… they move fast… bureaucratic orthodoxies are slow… they take time to react.
The beauty of the disruptive insurgency is that it is built upon independent action. Each intelligence agent acts upon their personal goals and objectives. You do not have to be in direct conspiracy with other intelligence agents, so long as there are many like-minded agents in the network. Even if individual objectives are not in exact alignment, the EMPIRE is taken down by virtue of the “Lingchi” or “thousand cuts” principle. Like the Anonymous collective, we are legion. 

Resistance to the EMPIRE is driven by a decentralized consortium of autonomous actors, similar to a clandestine, or sleeper cell system. Individual intelligence agents work independently, or with a small group of cohorts. If they or their group are compromised for any reason, the larger disruptive insurgency is not at risk, and is consequently left intact. Thus the orthodoxy has no one to "out" other than the unlucky operator and/or their group (cell).

A word of caution… as we have said many times before… It is critical to remember that all types of violence are counterproductive and should be avoided at all cost. Violence is unimaginative and detestable. Use of violence defeats the purpose of any DI operation, by resorting to the very tactics that make the brutal predator/dominator paradigm so repugnant. Resorting to violence is the quickest way to BECOME the EMPIRE, per PKD’s paradox...

 “The Empire is the institution, the codification, of derangement; it is insane and imposes its insanity on us by violence, since its nature is a violent one. To fight the Empire is to be infected by its derangement. This is a paradox: whoever defeats a segment of the Empire becomes the Empire; it proliferates like a virus, imposing its form on its enemies. Thereby it becomes its enemies.”

This is the EMPIRE’s most insidious trap… Violence begets violence. The predator/dominator paradigm resorts to violent force… we operate instead from a place of power. Our resistance is at its best when it’s imaginative, resourceful and fun. Be creative in imagining your strategy and implementing your resistance tactics.

In plotting your very own disruptive insurgency, take nothing for granted... challenge conventional wisdom and the status quo. Strategize with the end result in mind. Figure out what you want to achieve, then handle each obstacle that blocks your objective, as they arise. Challenge the predator/dominator paradigm. Challenge the primal forces that conspire to keep things comfortable, tidy, and “the way things have always been.”

A competing vision for the bureaucratic orthodoxy model, is the one proposed by cultural historian, systems scientist, educator, attorney, speaker, and author Riane Tennenhaus Eisler. In her 1987 book: "The Chalice and the Blade" she describes the Partnership Paradigm. Eisler’s partnership model opposes the traditional patriarchy, with a more egalitarian structure of society founded on mutual respect among its inhabitants. In this model, all segments of a population… including the afore mentioned ethnic minorities, refugees & the displaced, the poor & impoverished, LGBTQ, women & children, and of course, the weird… become innovative, working partners in a noö paradigm, rather than being preyed upon, as in the old one.

Another proponent of the Partnership model, was the late-great Terence McKenna. While he lived, he was very animated in his opposition to what he referred to as the dominator culture. In his book, The Archaic Revival McKenna proposed that humanity as a collective whole (in the Jungian sense) was creating strategies for overcoming the negativity and self-destructiveness of the old paradigm by what he termed: "a reversion to archaic values." McKenna, being who he was, brought a psychedelic vision to the resistance. His entheogenic, shamanistic sensibilities reopened the doors of perception, allowing magick and magical thinking to be included as a strategic possibility.

Having considered the general principals of mounting a resistance to EMPIRE, via a decentralized, disruptive insurgency… having outlined a partnership paradigm model as an alternative to our current, predator/dominator culture… in the next installment of this series, we will get down to the nitty-gritty. We will examine specific tactics that the intelligence engineer can employ in battling the great Leviathan of bureaucratic orthodoxy. Having deliberated on general aspects of our Set and Setting, we shall proceed to a more detailed examination of set… or the specific mind-set that is necessary to successfully achieve our objectives.
Our tactics will ideally include creative, imaginative Blows Against the EMPIRE. We will employ non-violent, magickal methodology, as well as psychedelically inspired stratagems. Together, we will fight the good fight… for there is no other option that is open to us... that has any hope of success. Prepare yourselves, dear readers, for the next exciting episode… for the hour is late, and the resistance has already begun!

Part One   /   Part Two   /   Part Three   /   Part Five


Garmr said...

I guess I have been thinking about the apparent realism of things like the black iron prison. In psychological terms we could call it a sort of death drive towards an endless imprisonment and hopelessness. In terms of the thinking outside the box the "death drive" is the box which you cannot think outside of. We want to be imprisoned in some sort of modern society where our needs are met, and we do not want to be haunted by some BS false hope from the past. The archons we fight are not ones who force us to be imprisoned or hopeless but the ones who say we cannot be imprisoned and hopeless on our own terms. To walk around in a "black iron prison" which you can only see and feel with a sort of extra sensory perception is a limitless form of hopeless imprisonment. It is to imprisonment what the vampire is to death. PK Dick offers a state of unhopelessness or unprisonment, perhaps making his work appealing. If archons and the black iron prison are a new artistic method for defeating the old order of Dante then should we destroy them, could we do better? Have we already done better? Dick himself was very keen on Dante at the end of his life. His dark materials is also inspired by Dante.

Jack Heart said...

On one level, being in the present moment, free of past or future, IS the jailbreak from the BIP. Hope is haunting. Archons, be they bureaucratic contrivances of our own making, or something more, are BS. Their greatest weapon is trickery. In facing down such a beastie, our options are to either laugh or cry... talk about divine comedy!

Garmr said...

It appears like a double bind. You relax and accept your position then you are just a compliant prisoner, the gray man, the survivalist. You see the bars as evil and attempt to negotiate your place in the order then you are actively participating in your own subjugation.

Jack Heart said...

Classic catch 22... which reminds and leads me to: 23 skidoo! (translation: get while the getting's good!) Cheers!

Pierre M said...

Great reading your postt