In my estimation somewhere at the end of the eighties something went terribly wrong. I dont say that because I believe the whole American Dream and western society has not always been an empire with its respective propaganda: it is, and has always been, but what we saw was a rapid demise of the quality of the propaganda, as if all these institutions suddenly hired a bunch of idiots to do their PR. I am not saying we were living in a perfect world in the 60′s and 70′s, there were in fact a lot of things wrong with it, but there is one thing i liked about it: people seemed to actually care to do their best. Chess was popular. Science fiction. People were dreaming of better worlds. Everyone felt he had to perform to the best his being was capable of. Now that is the effect of EFFECTIVE propaganda.
But what happened in the nineties? God knows. In the seventies, they tried all sorts of things to make the best sound systems you could imagine. In the 90′s all of a sudden a cheap piece of plastic with some nice color was good enough for everyone. What does actually explain this difference?
We suddenly live in a world where nobody seems to care anymore about ‘doing his best’. There is no intellectual challenges anymore: you can become a scientist, true, but you are guaranteed to work a lifetime of service serving some company’s profit with ‘more addictive pills’ or some similar goal. Can all this be explained by the ‘end of the cold war’? Was it really the cold war in the first place that was the cause of the ‘intelligence race’ such as was expressed in so many forms? I claim it wasn’t.
What caused the demise of the ‘Intelligence Race’ was not the end of the cold war, or even the fact that all of a sudden ‘only one ideology’ was left and there was no more ‘competition’, as some claim. I make an entirely different hypothesis: I think that the three dominant ‘ideologies’ of the 20th century, namely capitalism, communism and fascism, are not in fact ‘ideologies’ at all but rather something else. Why, you ask. Well, think about it. What is it that an ‘ideology’ actually does? An ideology is a believable picture of a better world, a picture you can believe in, an utopia. The ideology is like the formula that can make the utopia possible. But here we encounter a giant problem: what exactly is this ‘utopia’ in case of:
Capitalism: does it have any? A better world by earning money and working hard? Come on, what kind of utopia is that? It is not even an utopia at all, its just a practical guideline for everyday life. You cannot with a serious face claim that the economy is an utopia of itself, and yet: that is exactly how it was presented to us in the 20th century.
Communism: an utopia? What utopia would that be? The idea behind communism deals only with the same ideas Capitalism deals with: work hard, and earn money, but instead of one guy getting very rich everyone will get a little bit rich’. Well I can see how this could strike some simpletons as an ‘utopia’ but it doesn’t change the fact that no actual image or ideas for a better world are presented: it is just a mild variation on capitalism, with a somewhat different power structure.
Then last but not least: Fascism. What ideology or utopia does it really present us? The ‘strong man’ which will solve all our problems, but ‘Mein Kampf’ is so incoherent its hardly even readable, and Hitler, a neurotic bureaucrat, as ‘the ubermensch’? Nietzsche believed that the ‘State’ was a monstrous entity which had as its only purpose to shield the weak and destroy the strong. That image certainly springs to mind when we think of Hitler. No intelligence, no physical strength, no humor, nothing anyone sane could somehow label as ‘strong’. Mr Hitler would on any decent ape-hill have ended up at the bottom pretty damn soon. So how can this all be presented as an ‘utopia’ or a formula leading there?
See the problem? We have been presented a reality model in the 20th century, the model of the ‘Battle of the ideologies’, and that model was in itself a form of propaganda. There never were any ideologies. I claim that the only TRUE ideology of the 20th century was the ideology of rock music. Because rock music actually did present us with an utopia: a truly different form of organization that wasn’t family based, a totally different and wilder lifestyle, people started actually experimenting with their lives and with their consciousness, all because of the strange utopia of Rock Music.
I claim that loss of the ‘Intelligence Race’ has almost nothing to do with the end of the Cold War and everything with the Death of the Rock Utopia. This is not difficult to perceive at all: imagine they would have succeeded building a ‘New Cold War’ between the west and the muslim world, as they so desperately tried to do. Do you believe that if that would have happened, the Intelligence Race would have returned? Of course not. Something got lost, and it wasn’t an animosity between two fake ideologies. What we actually ‘lost’ is rather the real ideology: the idea that it is possible to ‘break free’ from the system with a different lifestyle.
It is the absence of this real possibility, of the possibility to experiment with ones life instead of just being ‘the average hedonist life enjoy-er like anyone’ as we can be nowadays: that, my dear readers, is the main drive behind this demise of the Intelligence Race. Sure, there are also some other factors that play a role: worsening education systems, abominable food, etc. But we lost the only ideology that had suddenly manifested itself to us, in the middle of the 20th century: the idea that life just wasn’t about ‘birth-school-work-death’ and was actually worth living and fighting for.
The fake ideologies of the 20th century, on the contrary, are all just about this: birth-school-work-death and slight organizational variances between those.
They are all just ‘variances of state’ that do not essentially offer an individual any sort of useful utopia. We actually killed the cause of the Intelligence Race: the idea that ‘everyone is different and we are all hedonist’ is egalism at its worst: there is simply no challenge in exceeding and being the best if that not either means you gain freedom from it or at least the right to be different than others.
Anyone with ears knows that what we once knew as ‘music’ has been replaced by some monotone sounding endless marketing drone. There is no ‘rock spirit’ in such automatism: in my opinion the basic problem here is that capitalism started believing in automatizing so much that it didn’t realize such automatism would essentially destroy its basis. Why? Well, think about it. We now live in a world where the majority of film-scripts are simply scripts auto-generated by computers. We have thus, effectively, automatized our propaganda. I believe this and the demise of the true ideology are responsible for the horrible mess we are in today. Nobody can believe in anything anymore. Nothing feels real. Nobody tries to do his best, all because the alternative spirit is absent and the propaganda is so flat and unbelievable not even an idiot would feel motivated by it. This is what we young people have inherited of the previous generation: a war between fake ideologies, and the silent demise of stuff that really did matter.
Martinus Benders, Istanbul, 29-07-2012