Turn off, tune out, drop in

A bit of a rant – sorry I haven’t time to make it less inelegant.

In a week when the UK government has proposed letting private companies access your personal medical records, and the US government proposes making America into a battleground so its citizens can be detained indefinitely without trial, the Wall Street Journal has obtained details of a secret October marketing conference for official i-snoopers.

Modern technology gives The Man the capacity to spy on us in exactly the way Orwell warned about in “1984”, and more. Thanks to phenomenal memory and computing speed, it is now possible for the Machines of Loving Grace that watch over us to locate and correlate data from many sources, and really get your number, son.

And it’s all possible because almost everything we used to do for ourselves has been invaded by a middleman, like a tin of Nestle formula milk smashing its way between the infant and its mother’s breast. Reification; read Ivan Illich.

  • They found a way to make you pay for just talking: the telephone and the cellphone. And they spy on it.
  • We no longer start revolts in the market place or tavern – we have been cut off from each other physically – and so we have much more official-eavesdropper-accessible media: email, Twitter, blogs and the Internet. And Mark Zuckerberg has patented friendship, and sold you and your friends to advertisers and marketing databases.
  • We don’t walk, because of the wonder of the automobile; and  as a result,  everything has gotten further away.  Just find that local shop, that self-employed trader.
  • We don’t tell stories, because  of the prolefeed on TV and the RPG on computers and games consoles.
  • We don’t sing, except to win the approval of multitudes on X Factor and Stars In Your Eyes. When did you last hear someone whistle on his way to work?
  • We watch cookery and gardening programmes, and buy bags of ready-made chlorine-washed salad from the supermarkets.
  • The health service? Even the doctors call it the National Sickness Service. And thanks to legislation that the medics didn’t ask for, what you tell the doctor you may as well tell straight to the police, insurers, everyone.
  • Education? I have a friend who kept his three children out of school, immediately and forever. They all did well. God knows what school would have done to them.
  • We don’t even keep our own money. We let banks look after it, and they lost it.

You love liberty? You want radical? Forget all that whingeing about fags and wacky baccy and all the other consumer traps masquerading as  the exercise of free will. It’s time to reclaim “the few cubic centimetres inside your skull” that is all you have.

Disconnect from this toxic spy society.

When I go on holiday, I very largely don’t watch TV, listen to the radio, tweet, blog, email, use the mobile… and wonder why I come home feeling refreshed, clearer-headed.

What if we all lived like that, all the time?

Never mind New Age Travellers, I’ve long imagined being an Old Age Traveller. No funny-coloured hair, no stupid tats, no drugs (such a target for Mr Plod, and why would really happy people want to bugger-up their heads?) Just get an old cara with Caravan Club stickers, and if ever stopped by The Man act like the daft oldie they’ll think you are: “Just on our way to/ from Devon, love.”

Like charity, the Revolution begins at home. I saw the student leaders and their causes and caucuses at Oxford in the 70s; they turned into the professional sh*t-stirrers and media pundits of today. They were part of the system even then, and so was any idealistic sap who followed them. It was all an apprenticeship in leadership, and I’ve never liked leaders.

What needs reforming is ourselves. The Buddhists are right: we are enslaved by attachment. There’s so much of all this that we don’t need. Including any kind of freedom you buy and consume.

Anomie? Can’t wait to reclaim it. Freedom is frightening, as Stomu Yamashita said, but not as frightening as the alternative.


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5 comments for “Turn off, tune out, drop in

  1. Voice of Reason
    December 5, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I still whistle, and walk, and tell stories. It isn’t all bad.

    To use an old Zen saying, trying to impose control with all of the contacts that we now have is like trying to squeeze a handful of water.

  2. December 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Golly, that was quick!

    Well, I said it was a rant. But of course, your thinking on these issues is much like mine, so I’m not surprised you show these signs of freedom.

  3. December 5, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    “The Buddhists are right: we are enslaved by attachment.”

    Yes we are and the irony is that we’ve known it for a very long time.

  4. December 5, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    I must re-read ‘Tools of Conviviality’ sometime. Ilich had a point. These days, I go with the Daily Mash: “Buddha says stop wanting stupid shit”.

    Thanks for this post. It has struck a chord with the way my mind has been going for some time now. Going ‘off-grid’is perhaps too extreme for some, but we can certainly withdraw and disengage from much of the twaddle that modern society has become, and be happier people for it.

  5. December 6, 2011 at 5:51 am

    ” I saw the student leaders and their causes and caucuses at Oxford in the 70s; they turned into the professional sh*t-stirrers and media pundits of today.”

    Oh, so true!

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