Dystopic Thoughts: 21st Century Neurototalitarianism

On BBT, all traditional and metacognitive accounts of the human are the product of extreme informatic poverty. Ironically enough, many have sought intentional asylum within that poverty in the form of apriori or pragmatic formalisms, confusing the lack of information for the lack of substantial commitment, and thus for immunity against whatever the sciences of the brain may have to say.

– R. Scott Bakker, Reactionary Atheism

In my previous post I centered on the statement all traditional and metacognitive accounts of the human are the product of extreme informatic poverty. And that we know that informatic poverty is defined as that situation in which individuals and communities, within a given context, do not have the requisite skills, abilities or material means to obtain efficient access to information, interpret it  apply it appropriately. It is further characterized by a lack of essential information and a poorly developed information infrastructure.

I also want to return to the previous quote:

The epoch of intentional philosophy is at an end. It will deny and declaim–it can do nothing else–but to little effect. Like all prescientific domains of discourse it can only linger and watch its credibility evaporate into New Age aether as the sciences of the brain accumulate ever more information and refine ever more instrumentally powerful interpretations of that information. It’s hard to argue against cures. Any explanatory paradigm that restores sight to the blind, returns mobility to the crippled, not to mention facilitates the compliance of the masses, will utterly dominate the commanding heights of cognition. (ibid)

In the statement above I began to visualize a future where people were divided by genetic profiles and forced into dystopic conclaves of the stupid, the knowledgeable, and the players. This tripartite division came to me from Scott’s statement above about people through the power of science, and especially of neuroscience, being suborned into cognitive domains (“compliance of the masses, will utterly dominate the commanding heights of cognition”). One can imagine how our globalists and their corporate think-tanks would have a heyday with such ideas.

A dystopic society controlled through neuropathic or cognitive sciences as the basic premise. Obviously the horror of such a thing brokers our imaginations. But I think we have to assume such a possibility if we are to take seriously Scott’s and our investment in a society in which naturalism and science rule. If as he suggests in his original post that intentional thought is an illusion, and that thought itself may become a thing of the past, then what will replace it? Will we be controlled by neurosurgeons who divide the human species into workers that are more machine than human, devoid of emotion and thought they would become the perfect society of robots enabled to do all our work without thought or issue. Such a world of mindless beings, of zombies without the virus of cannibalism, who live to work, never complain, go about their lives with idiot smiles on their faces living to serve their masters.

While on the other hand you have the knowledge workers, those who have the ability to think (within limits), who can use thought (Math, language, etc.) as tools but no more. Manipulators of symbolic codes that no longer have the ability to feel, to love, to care only enabled to work the vast knowledge based systems of control for their masters.

And, the Masters, the elite of this society? What kind of power plays would be afforded to them? What kind of lives would they lead knowing that the majority of humans were enslaved within neuroprisons, free to move about and do their jobs and live out their lives oblivious to the truth of their slavedom. And what if these supposed Masters were conned into believing that they were truly free, that they were enabled to do whatever they liked but were in fact worse off that the suborned classes of stupids and knowledgers? What if these elite were neuropathically enabled with only a set of predefined emotional markers, enabled to love but only under controlled and manipulated forms, able to rule but only as the neurotoxins and neurosuregeries allowed for? What if these Masters were slaves as well to a system that their ancestors schemed up ages before and threw away the keys to such knowledge.

And, what if someone came upon this knowledge? What if someone accidently, as evolutionary thought has always supposed, became an enigma a new Eve or Adam and discovered that everyone else lived in a clockwork world thinking they were actually free and moral beings? What then? I can imagine this as a series of YA Dystopic Novels with all the antagonisms of young protaganists awakening from the long sleep within neuroprison. Reawakening all the old revolutionary ideologies etc. A tattered set of ideas, all, I agree… but what happens if Bakker is right… and such a neurotechnical society came about through the erroneous use of science without philosophy, ethics, etc. What then?

1. R. Scott Bakker, Reactionary Atheism

4 thoughts on “Dystopic Thoughts: 21st Century Neurototalitarianism

  1. This dystopic future is dystopic, I don’t want to take anything away from that, but isn’t there worse possibilities? I can think of two.

    In the first instance, the Elite decide that the sheer logistics of managing a neurototalitarianism isn’t worthy the bother. Having ‘perfected’ themselves they fortify themselves in urban enclaves and (following Colson Whitehead’s vision of a failed anti-zombie fortress in Zone One ) the stupid that are not kept on as minimally necessary workers are left to starve and degenerate in the wastes. Maybe even be killed off. It’d be easier than the upkeep of our bodies and neuropathic adjustments. A Holocaust of the cretins.

    In the second instance, we always think of this as something that would happen to us. What if we “found out” as it were, if Adam or Eve demonstrated the facts. What if they said ‘listen, I no longer experience unhappiness, the frustration of desire, or acute physical pain’. Would it still be neurototalitarianism if the people demanded it? If when such technologies and secrets existed, our desire was revealed to us as a longing for our own erasure?

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    • These were minimal reflections on the run so to speak yesterday morning before work… not fully fledged out… I agree there needs to be a lot more thinking through just how such a world would come about. I’m actually toying with this for a YA Novel I’ve been working on, thinking of changing direction, delving more into pushing the limits of both political, religious, and secular ideological bubbles. The idea of a society that could be controlled through genetic, chemical, and ideological modifications both terrifies and fascinates. The horror of such a world is that in the wrong hands it is not only feasible, but something that might actually be promoted if we went down the wrong path…

      In our own age we are seeing the collapse of the Enlightenment world view, the secular age that has barely been with us for two-hundred years is being undermined by many factions within the academic and other outside institutions. What will take its place? Will science move beyond its current reductionary stage, open its thoughts and ideas to a more open world view. Will what we once termed the spiritual be transformed into an academic discipline of knowledge and understanding that is no longer bound to the old religious ideologies and disciplines, but will come under the eye of new sciences. Is the discipline of cognitive sciences the site where both religious and secular world views continue to collide or will they transform into some new alchemical transformation, something different….

      Fiction is a way of pushing these paths to beyond certain limits, of taking ideas to their logical conclusion, see what if….

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