Date: Mon, 7 Oct 1996 21:14:17 +0200


Who Are We: Who Are We Becoming?

Mark Stahlman

Who are we? We are the sons and daughters of propagandists, psychological warriors and social engineers. Even if our own parents didn't participate (or actively fought the tide), we became adopted by others who used and are still using us make the world in their own image. It's an image of disgust, hatred and immorality. It's an image without God, without truth and without love. We are the first psychologically engineered, test-tube generation. We were designed to end civilization, once and for all.

Who are we becoming? We are becoming virtual artists, cultural hackers, post- everything ideologue and . . . Internet entrepreneurs. We are taking on the awesome responsibility of designing the future. Our parents are dying. They cannot experiment on us anymore. Now we control the experiments. Now we have the next generation in our hands. Now we have to make some very difficult decisions. We are becoming the only thing that stands between humanity and the oblivion of Nature without a conscious soul.

Who am I? I am the son of a historian of science. He didn't start out life that way. He won a scholarship to MIT to study mathematics, where he became a protege and close associate of Norbert Wiener -- one the greatest American mathematicians of the 20th Century and the father of Cybernetics. Wiener helped invent anti-aircraft and radar technology -- crucial inventions in the WW II arsenal but, then, he resigned from all cooperation with official science following the war. Wiener knew all the brightest brains and all the most powerful leaders and he knew what was coming. He wrote a book in 1950 called the "Human Use of Human Beings" where he warned about the inhumanity towards mankind that was in store for us all. He told my father to not cooperate either and to study earliest science, instead. Then in 1954 he re-wrote the book to hide his fears and hide his anger. He had lost. My father had lost. And, then,there was only me.

I studied evolutionary genetics and theology in college and afterwards. Then I gave up studying. I now think that I was afraid of what I might learn. I taught myself computers and business and formed my first software company in 1972. I went on launch the Local Area Network business, the data-over-cable television business and wound up with a career as a technology analyst on Wall Street where I championed the rise of Sun Microsystems. And, I was starting to study once again. I studied how technology moves from the laboratories to become products. I studied how businesspeople take bold ideas and relentless technology to forge new industries. I started to understand some of the ways that technology and business shape our lives. And, I learned that I was right back at the beginning of the quest my father must have given me.

What I learned from this quest was that during WW II an awful secret was discovered. Humans could be psychologically programmed. Coercion didn't need to be physical -- it could become psychological instead. We have all lived under conditions of constant and never-ending warfare -- psychological warfare. The Cold War has been mostly a psychological war. Even in Budapest, where real blood flowed in the streets in 1956, the radio broadcasts which gave insane and false hopes to the uprising were pure psychological warfare. Lies. All lies. Wiener was right. Inhumanity was being unleashed from broadcast towers around the world.

I learned that both freedom and conformity could be used to cripple consciousness. I learned that breaking down the old belief structures was necessary before you could construct the new ones. I learned that Western Civilization had been targeted for destruction in order to build a New Age. I learned the New Age which was being planned was a New Dark Age. I learned who was organizing this New Dark Age and what they hoped to accomplish. I learned that nearly everything which we have been taught -- and taught to others -- is just more lies. I learned that we are being groomed to become bees in a hive. Happy worker bees, producing honey, living our tormented lives in the lawless inevitability of our own death.

And, I learned that humanity is very different than what today's textbooks tell us it is. Humanity is not beast-like or machine-like. Humanity is not a complex system or part of a great chain of fractal being. Humanity is not evolving towards trans-human robotics or mutated, mutilated genetic monsters. Humanity is, as we understood long before Nietzsche or Darwin, made in the image of God. We are capable of grasping for the truth which is transcendent. We are human because we are unlike anything else that we have ever encountered. Human consciousness is our creation and what created us -- a creation based on a unique capability which evolved with our biology but which we had to discover all on our own only a short 3000 years ago. Only 150 generations ago, when we discovered written language and when we invented history.

Now, we must invent the future by remembering who we were to begin with. We cannot become until we know how we began. Those who designed the Information Age -- another name for the New Dark Age -- understood this very well. They called it the "image" of humanity -- following the biblical language of Genesis. And, they knew that it needed to be replaced or their project would fail. Just as individual brainwashing starts with disintegrating of the target's personality and group behavior control starts with "unfreezing" social conventions, cultural re-programming begins with deliberate (and often violent) forgetting of who we think we are. What post-modernism calls "de-centering" is just the philosophical endorsement of this cultural destruction. What WIRED magazine calls the "Digital Revolution" is just the commercial exploitation of this advanced mass-hypnosis. What culture critics call "memes" is just a ripped off biological concept masquerading as an excuse for justifying the rape of human volition and free-will.

Marshall McLuhan also saw what was coming. His famous aphorism, "the medium is the message", had a second crucial part. "And, the audience is the content" is rarely remembered. What did he mean? He meant that we re- define ourselves and our relations with others by using the media into which we pour ourselves. Television, the medium he wrote about, was created for psychological warfare -- specifically for the Cold War. Television was created to synchronize our thoughts and to re-define who we are. No, not by specific messages beamed at us by the thought-police -- for, we all know how that fails.

By the very process of participating in television, we re-defined ourselves. We have cut our roots with our past and learned to be afraid of our future. We have learned to hate ourselves and to fear what we will do to each other. We lost hope, trust and love -- all by becoming part of television. We learned there is no truth, no God, and, indeed, no humanity -- all on television. Future shock, as Alvin Toffler described it first in 1965, became the "psycho-pathology of the future." Television ushered in what McLuhan called the "Electric Age" and would inevitably lead to a cultural explosion of never before seen consequences. This is the conflict that we are now living through. When asked if he was an optimist or a pessimist based on his assessment of the impact of new technologies on society, McLuhan answered, "I'm an apocalypsist." What he foresaw took on the dimensions of the Apocalypse that lies at that end of all things.

McLuhan didn't have much to say about computers and even less about computer networks. He was quoted in one set of commentaries as saying that "one day we may be able to transmit consciousness, even as we can transmit light today." No one seems to remember exactly what he meant. Perhaps he didn't know, either. But, as McLuhan understood, media, like the rest of our lives, moves in reversals -- or what he called "flips." Just as the Minicomputer industry fought against Mainframes and Personal Computers fought against the Minis, New Media fights against the old. Indeed, there is a battle being waged in cyberspace between the emerging New Media and the still hegemonic Dark Age media.

We are in the process of inventing the next great media industry. What we are engaged in isn't merely opening a new market or a new wrinkle on an old business strategy. The reason why so much money has been spent and lost on failing Internet businesses is because this is lesson that has to be learned over and over. No one wants to be told that they don't know what they are doing, that the old strategies (of treating audiences with contempt) won't work anymore. No one wants to try something completely different. And, no one wants to tell the truth, anymore.

But, the Internet is different. It is inherently two-way and conversational. It could become the greatest weapon against propaganda ever imagined. It could become the foundation for breaking the stranglehold on our ability to imagine our own "image" now held by the broadcast media. It could end the push towards the Information Age. It could halt the plan to plunge us all into a New Dark Age.

It could also become an incredible mechanism of psychological destruction and seamless surveillance. In his 1975 manifesto, "The Eco-Spasm Report", Alvin Toffler described a world in which all the crucial decisions have been bumped up to a group of un-elected International commissions and the nations of the world divided into ethnic enclaves which are ruled by futurists through electronic public opinion polls. He called his mid-1970's movement "Anticipatory Democracy" and his association with Newt Gingrich began when Newt headed up the Georgia state chapter of that movement. To this day, Gingrich refers to himself as only the "handmaiden of the intellectuals who figured it all out 20 years ago."

Only the details have changed from H.G. Wells 1928 manifesto, "The Open Conspiracy." Wells wanted the scientists to lead a new world religion based on the three-fold principles of no war, no growth and no nations. When I asked Toffler last summer if he would modify any of these goals, he said, "Not one of them, but we still have to figure out how to make it all work." In a recent interview in WIRED, co-conspirator Kevin Kelly asked him if he was still on the time-table. He said it might take 10-20 years but the end-result was inevitable. Alvin Toffler stand-in, John Perry Barlow, has already declared the Internet to be independent of all of the world's governments. Wells' World State (otherwise known as the New Rome) seems to many to be nearly within their grasp. In his 1933 novel, "The Shape of Things to Come", Wells predicted that the process of re-forming humanity would be taken up by Social Psychologists in 1950 (after the next great war) and that it would take 50 years to complete. The Millennium is has been a popular target date for this New Dark Age ever since. But, only if we have truly forgotten who we are. We are humans, not insects.

We are conscious, not cognitive. We are capable of grasping the truth, not believing in our own opinions. And, on questions such as these, rests the answer to what we and our New Media will become.

Copyright New Media Associates