Panoptic Age: Entering the Pupil of the All-Seeing Eye
by Paul & Phillip D. Collins ©, Apr. 2nd, 2007
George Orwell’s 1984 captured the totalitarian vision of a surveillance society with frighteningly vivid precision. Years later, deceased philosopher Michel Foucault would expound upon the Orwellian model and provide some conceptual understanding of the emergent carceral culture. In so doing, he would trace the ideational origins of panopticism to the Enlightenment. The ultimate objective of the Enlightenment was the enshrinement of a Technocracy equipped with panoptic machinations to monitor and squelch any potential dissidents. Today, the ideological heirs to the Enlightenment tradition are still endeavoring to realize that vision. This is painfully evidenced by the various panoptic machinations being established by the neoconservative-dominated Bush Administration. The purpose of this article is to trace the ideational continuum that underpins the present neoconservative panoptic initiatives. Through careful examination of this continuum, these researchers hope to provide a succinct analysis of panopticism’s ideological heritage and its developmental history.
The Post-September 11th Surveillance Society
If a recent Justice Department audit is correct, the worst nightmares of constitutionalists and privacy advocates may have been realized. The audit found that the FBI had misused power given to the Bureau by the Patriot Act to conduct surveillance. The controversy circles around the FBI’s use of national security letters. A CNN report elaborates:
The FBI is guilty of “serious misuse” of the power to secretly obtain private information under the Patriot Act, a government audit said Friday.
The Justice Department’s inspector general looked at the FBI’s use of national security letters, in which agents demand personal and business information about individuals — such as financial, phone, and Internet records — without court orders. The audit found the letters were issued without proper authority, cited incorrect statutes or obtained information they weren’t supposed to.
As many as 22 percent of national security letters were not recorded, the audit said.
“We concluded that many of the problems we identified constituted serious misuse of the FBI’s national security letter authorities,” Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said in the report. (No pagination)
The findings of the government audit hearken back to an earlier era in FBI history, namely the reign of J. Edgar Hoover. The audit discovered that the FBI has made “as many as 56,000 requests a year for information using the letters since the Patriot Act was passed in October 2001” (no pagination). What is even more disturbing is the fact that between 2004 and 2005 “more than half of the targets of the national security letters were U.S. citizens” (no pagination). Even Arlen Specter, the Senator who is famous for his role in the farcical Warren Commission, had to admit that “the Patriot Act may have to be changed and the FBI’s power curtailed because ‘they appear not to be able to know how to use it'” (no pagination).
Commensurate to the enshrinement of the Patriot Act, the Bush Administration began to erect several other draconian machinations. In January 2002, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency established the Information Awareness Office (“Information Awareness Office, no pagination). This department was designed to “imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness” (no pagination). To achieve such an end, the Information Awareness Office would begin to finance the Total Information Awareness (TIA) Program in FY2003 (no pagination). Daniel Schorr, a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor, provided a closer examination of the obscurantist project:
Deep in the recesses of the Pentagon is the Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA is where Vice Adm. John Poindexter (USN ret.) hangs out these days, working on TIA. TIA stands for Total Information Awareness. The project, which is budgeted at $10 million this year and expected to get more next year, has been getting bad press. That is in part because its Orwellian-sounding purpose is to create a centralized database of personal information about Americans.
Cutting-edge technology would be used to gather everything that the computer age has to offer, from travel plans to pharmacy prescriptions. Pentagon officials say it’s meant to be a tool in the war against terrorism, not an invasion of privacy of innocent citizens. Well, maybe. But that would sound more reassuring if it were not for the identity of the project manager. (No pagination)
The name of John Poindexter occupies its own unique place in the halls of infamy. His past is mired in scandal, corruption, fraud, and conspiracy. Schorr expanded upon Poindexter’s dubious résumé:
Admiral Poindexter is probably better known for destroying information than for gathering it. Before a congressional investigating committee in 1986, he admitted that, as President Reagan’s national security adviser, he destroyed evidence in connection with the Iran-contra affair. Specifically, he tore up the only signed copy of a document called a “presidential finding” that retroactively authorized shipment of arms to Iran in return for the release of American hostages in Lebanon. He testified that he did this to avoid embarrassment to Mr. Reagan. Poindexter, like Oliver North, who reported to him, was convicted in federal district court of lying to Congress and of obstruction. The conviction was overturned on technical grounds by an appeals court majority of two Reagan-appointed judges, Douglas Ginsburg and David Sentelle, over the vigorous dissent of Carter-appointed judge Abner Mikva. (No pagination)
Yet, Poindexter’s shady past did not dissuade the Bush Administration in its appointment of the Admiral to such a sensitive post. Schorr stated:
The Bush administration has shown no inclination to alter Poindexter’s sensitive assignment. Mr. Rumsfeld says: “I would recommend people take a deep breath. Nothing terrible is going to happen.” (No pagination)
Eventually, civil liberties activists and privacy advocates began to publicly criticize the project, citing its Orwellian potential to become a mass surveillance program (“Information Awareness Office, no pagination). This criticism were not entirely unwarranted. Washington Times journalist Audrey Hudson provided a glimpse of the scope and magnitude that the TIA would have encompassed:
In what one critic has called “a supersnoop’s dream,” the Defense Department’s Total Information Awareness program would be authorized to collect every type of available public and private data in what the Pentagon describes as one “centralized grand database.” (No pagination)
This data would include: “e-mail, Internet use, travel, credit-card purchases, phone and bank records of foreigners” (no pagination). Further elaborating on the ominous scope of this centralized database, New York Times columnist William Safire wrote:
“To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you – passport application, driver’s license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the FBI, your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance – and you have the supersnoop’s dream: a ‘Total Information Awareness’ about every U.S. citizen.” (Qutd. In Hudson, no pagination)
After considerable public outcries, Congress defunded the Information Awareness Office in 2003 (“Information Awareness Office,” no pagination). However, many of the projects conducted under the Information Awareness Office have continued under different funding (no pagination). Thus, the agenda for the transformation of America into a surveillance society continues.
Monitoring the Eschaton: The Immanentist Garrison State
The obscurantist agenda of the present Administration actually represents the continuation of an older conspiratorial tradition. To understand this tradition, one need only examine the iconography surrounding the ostensibly defunct TIA program. Schorr revealed that: “Outside Poindexter’s Pentagon office is a logo showing an all-seeing eye on top of a pyramid and the slogan, ‘Scientia est potentia’ (‘Knowledge is power’)” (No pagination). Semiotically speaking, this logo was replete with the very same esoteric signs that have populated the lexicons of occult secret societies for years. For instance, the slogan “Knowledge is power” intertextually references the concepts of Gnosticism and Baconian occultism. Carl Raschke explains:
The well-known maxim of Bacon, nam et ipsa scientia potestas est (“Knowledge itself is power”), is often commemorated as the credo of the new science, but it also suits quite precisely the magico-religious mentality of Gnosticism. (49)
Moreover, the program’s very acronym seemed to semiotically gesticulate towards Gnostic and Masonic esotericism: “… ‘Iao’ is another name for a gnostic supreme deity and sun-god, the Demiurge which is purportedly referred to in Masonic ritual” (“Information Awareness Office,” no pagination). The significance of these semiotic items becomes clearer when one examines the role of Gnosticism in the development of modern sociopolitical Utopian movements. Contemporary sociopolitical Utopians adopted a Gnostic practice that historian Eric Voegelin calls “immanentization.” This practice found its conceptual basis in the Trinitarian symbolism of Joachim of Fiore. Voegelin elaborates:
Joachim of Flora broke with the Augustinian conception of a Christian society when he applied the symbol of the Trinity to the course of history…. In his trinitarian eschatology Joachim created the aggregate of symbols which govern the self-interpretation of modern political society to this day…. The first of these symbols is the conception of history as a sequence of three ages, of which the third age is intelligibly the final Third Realm…. As variations of this symbol are recognizable the humanistic and encyclopedist periodization of history into ancient, medieval and modern history; Turgot’s and Comte’s theory of a sequence of theological, metaphysical and scientific phases; Hegel’s dialectic of the three stages of freedom and self-reflective spiritual fulfillment; the Marxian dialectic of the three states of primitive communism, class society, and final Communism; and, finally, the National Socialist symbol of the Third Realm. (111-12)
At the core of Gnostic immanentization was the transplantation of transcendant metaphysical concepts within the ontological plane of the physical universe. This transplantation stemmed from an overwhelming desire to render the transcendant intelligible to the rational mind, thus circumventing the need for faith. Voegelin reiterates:
The attempt at immanentizing the meaning of existence is fundamentally an attempt at bringing our knowledge of transcendence into a firmer grip than the cognitio fidei, the cognition of faith, will afford, and the Gnostic experiences offer this firmer grip insofar as they are an expansion of the soul to the point where God is drawn into the existence of man. (124)
Immanentization represented the nadir of Gnosticism’s anthropocentric hubris. Convinced that man would attain his own salvation through his own cognitive powers, Gnostic immanentists refused to live by faith and not by sight. Instead, they sought to re-conceptualize objects of faith as objects of immanent experience. Of course, that which is not immanent cannot be arbitrarily made immanent. The more that Gnostics attempted to immanentize objects of faith, the more bowdlerized the metaphysical concepts of the transcendant realm became. Voegelin expands on the fallacy of immanentization:
From the Joachitic immanentization, a theoretical problem arises which occurs neither in classic antiquity nor in orthodox Christianity, that is, the problem of an adios in history…. There is no eidos of history because the eschatological supernature is not a nature in the philosophical, immanent case. The problem of an eidos in history, hence, arises only when Christian transcendental fulfillment becomes immanentized. Such an immanentist hypostasis of the eschaton, however, is a theoretical fallacy. Things are not things, nor do they have essences, by arbitrary declaration. The course of history as a whole is no object of experience; history has no eidos, because the course of history extends into the unknown future. The meaning of history, thus, is an illusion; and this illusory eidos is created by treating a symbol of faith as if it were a proposition concerning an object of immanent experience. (120)
Still, the eschatological vision of the immanentist was reiterated and codified in the revolutionary doctrines of modern sociopolitical Utopians. The result was a strain of neo-Gnosticism that envisaged the manifestation of the Eschaton (the “end of days”) within the immanent cosmos. Commenting on this new strain of Gnosticism, Wolfgang Smith writes:
In place of an Eschaton which ontologically transcends the confines of this world, the modern Gnostic envisions an End within history, an Eschaton, therefore, which is to be realized within the ontological plane of this visible universe. (238; emphasis added).
The neo-Gnostic re-conceptualized Heaven as an earthly paradise tangibly enacted by the hands of man. Thus, man would become the self-proclaimed god of a newly reconstituted Eden. Consistently, the final product of this neo-Gnostic immanentization was the establishment of some authoritarian form of government: “The totalitarianism of our time must be understood as journey’s end of the Gnostic search for a civil theology” (Voegelin 163). Communism and fascism are two of the most recent forms of totalitarianism to be birthed by this Gnostic quest for a “civil theology.” In fact, all modern socialist revolutions constitute a form of secular Gnosticism that promises a Heaven shaped by the hands of man and confined entirely to the ontological plane of the physical universe:
In this century, with the presentation of traditional religious positions in secular form, there has emerged a secular Gnosticism beside the other great secular religions–the mystical union of Fascism, the apocalypse of Marxist dialectic, the Earthly City of social democracy. The secular Gnosticism is almost never recognized for what it is, and it can exist alongside other convictions almost unperceived. (Webb 418)
That the Bush Administration’s TIA project would be immersed in such overtly Gnostic symbols comes as little surprise. Presently, George W. Bush is surrounded by neoconservatives. Irving Kristol, the “godfather of neoconservatism,” states in his book Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea: “I regard myself lucky to have been a young Trotskyist and I have not a single bitter memory” (13). The statist tradition found in Marxism is also carried on by the neocons. This is another point made clear by Kristol: “Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable” (“The Neoconservative Persuasion,” no pagination). Former neoconservative Michael Lind admits:
The fact that most of the younger neocons were never on the left is irrelevant; they are the intellectual (and, in the case of William Kristol and John Podhoretz, the literal) heirs of older ex-leftists. The idea that the United States and similar societies are dominated by a decadent, postbourgeois “new class” was developed by thinkers in the Trotskyist tradition like James Burnham and Max Schachtman, who influenced an older generation of neocons. The concept of the “global democratic revolution” has its origins in the Trotskyist Fourth International’s vision of permanent revolution. The economic determinist idea that liberal democracy is an epiphenomenon of capitalism, promoted by neocons like Michael Novak, is simply Marxism with entrepreneurs substituted for proletarians as the heroic subjects of history. (No pagination)
As neo-Trotskyists, neoconservatives hail from the secular Gnostic heritage. Christopher Manion identifies neoconservativism’s secular Gnostic pedigree:
Now, “immanentizing the eschaton” was Voegelin’s theoretical phrase describing the ideological attempt to promise in this world the perfection that Christians have always understood to be available only after death and the end of the world. The promised perfection bears only one price: give us power, and watch the future grow. Throw away the Constitution and its restraints on the power lust, and the world will be our oyster, prime for schucking. Throw in a little Trotskyite dialectic and Maoist love of contradiction, mix in a little hubris, and voila, you’re a neocon. (“The Great Purge,” no pagination)
The secular Gnostic character of neoconservativism is made especially evident by the movement’s overt Utopian ambitions, which is expressed through the neoconservative advocacy of a “global democratic revolution.” Whether through diplomacy or force, neoconservatives hope to globally export democratism (i.e., plebiscitary democracy, which Lenin contended was “indispensable to socialism”). In so doing, the neoconservative strives to realize the secular Gnostic vision of an Earthly City of social democracy. For the neoconservative, democracy is humanity’s messiah, not any transcendent God. Patrick Buchanan recapitulates:
“Liberty is both the plan of Heaven for humanity, and the best hope for progress here on Earth,” said Mr. Bush. Christians used to believe salvation was Heaven’s plan for humanity and Jesus Christ was the way, the truth, and the life. Neoconservatives have made democracy their god. (34)
Thus, the neoconservative transplants God within the ontological plane of the physical universe. Now, God is incarnated with the political institution of social democracy. This is vintage neo-Gnostic immanentization, much to the chagrin of many traditional conservatives. Gene Callahan states:
Voegelin’s phrase “immanentizing the eschaton” was fairly popular with conservatives for a time, to the extent that members of the conservative youth group Young Americans for Freedom frequently wore buttons proclaiming “Don’t Immanentize the Eschaton.” Those days are gone, but even now a neoconservative like Jonah Goldberg will toss the phrase out on occasion, but apparently without suspecting that it applies to his own political faction. Nevertheless, if one genuinely understands what Voegelin means by Gnosticism, it is clear that there is nothing conservative about “Neoconservatism”; that it is instead the currently most virulent strain of Gnosticism…
Early Gnostics, Voegelin contends, had not moved so far from the more traditional Christian view of salvation that they imagined creating heaven on earth merely required transforming or abolishing one or more particular social institution. However, as Gnosticism’s connection to its Christian roots weakens, and “with increasing theoretical illiteracy, it may assume the form of various social idealisms, such as the abolition of war, of unequal distribution of property, of fear and want.” And so today we find Neoconservatives exhorting Americans to make the “War on Terror” the focus of their lives, from now until we totally eradicate terrorism from the world. Even more grandiose in its aims, a recent book by two prominent neocons and Bush advisers, David Frum and Richard Perle, promises An End to Evil itself! (“We’re Living in the Dream World of George W. Bush,” no pagination)
In addition to immanentizing the Eschaton, neoconservatives also exhibit the Gnostic derision for the continuum of history. Unwilling to accept the fact that history is bereft of any sort of eidos and frustrated by the impermanence of the temporal spatial cosmos, the Gnostic immanentist sought to trap time within a period of Utopian permanence. Neoconservatives also seek to immobilize history and re-sculpt reality according to their own Utopian designs. Callahan reiterates:
The Gnostic spirit has great difficulty accepting that the impermanence characterizing all temporal existence is inherent to its nature. Therefore, he seeks to freeze “history into an everlasting final realm on this earth.” It would be hard to find a more severe case of this malady than the one we can diagnose from the title of a book by the neoconservative writer Francis Fukuyama, proclaiming the arrival of The End of History and the Last Man. (No pagination)
Immanentizing the Eschaton stipulates an extremely violent form of Gnostic political activism. Typically, the character of Gnostic immanentist crusades is distinctly Manichean. Manicheanism was a form of Gnosticism that combined Zoroastrianism and some bowdlerized Christian concepts into a radically dualistic Weltanschauung. Neoconservatives adhere to such a Weltanschauung, a fact that has begun to visibly disturb other factions of the power elite. One Establishment luminary who has become overtly critical of neoconservativism’s Manichean impulses is none other than former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. The invasion of Iraq, which was largely planned and coordinated by neoconservative policy professionals, represented a drastic deviation from the imperialistic geostrategy delineated in Brzezinski’s book The Grand Chessboard. In response to this deviation, Brzezinski began to voice an open disapproval with the Bush Administration’s strategy in the Middle East. In his February 1, 2007 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Brzezinski drew attention to the Manichean character of the neoconservatives’ foreign policy:
The war in Iraq is a historic, strategic, and moral calamity. Undertaken under false assumptions, it is undermining America’s global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses are tarnishing America’s moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability. (No pagination; emphasis added)
Neoconservatives apply the dualistic template of Manicheanism to geopolitics, dividing nations and peoples into the camps of good and evil. In the neoconservative’s mind, the moral complexities intrinsic to human nature simply do not exist. Individuals are either entirely good or entirely evil. This prompts a troubling question. In the neoconservative mind, who qualifies as good and who qualifies as evil? The answer is equally disturbing. According to the categorical imperatives of neoconservatives, only those who share their Gnostic political vision qualify as “good.” All those who disagree qualify as “evil.” Such Manichean dualism locks American foreign policy into a perpetually adversarial posture. The present tension between the United States, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and several nations of the Arab world is a product of neoconservativism’s Manichean zealotry. Callahan writes:
The cast of characters appearing in the Gnostic’s dream world can be divided, neatly and without remainder, into the adherents of the party of light and the demonic members of the party of darkness. The latter grouping, however much its various sub-groups might appear to work at cross-purposes to the unenlightened, actually represents a united force opposing the fulfillment of mankind’s destiny. In Voegelin’s words, “the Antichristian powers… will ‘combine against [the Saints] universally.'” The paranoid certitude that everyone who is not “with us” is joined in a single, hostile army arrayed “against us” finds expression in George Bush’s imaginary “Axis of Evil,” a purported alliance uniting two habitual enemies, Iraq and Iran, and the non-Islamic, communist country of North Korea. Our foes in our present conflict, far from being limited to a small, fanatical band of Moslem terrorists, in fact include anyone, anywhere in the world, who does not fully embrace every goal and tactic of American foreign policy. Ann Coulter notoriously declared all of Islam to be the real enemy of the US, proposing that “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” (As I recall it, the original version also promoted “raping their women,” but Coulter seems to have excised that bit. There’s nothing like a good rape to get you ready for Baptism, is there?) To overcome such a monstrous enemy, “the Saints… will have to combine ‘against the Antichristian powers of the world.” (No pagination)
When the Bush Administration characterized the so-called “War on Terror” as a “crusade,” Muslims exhibited an archetypal rage response. This response was not without justification. America’s militaristic campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq represented nothing short of a religious crusade, something to which the Muslim world is certainly no stranger. However, both Muslims and critics on the political left misidentified the crusade as a Christian cause. To the contrary, the jihad is a neo-Gnostic one. Callahan elucidates the Gnostic immanentist undercurrents of the present crusade:
A number of neoconservative commentators have suggested that the “original sin” that set Moslems against our benevolent plans for the entire world was their failure to embrace “modernity.” Seen in the light of Voegelin’s theory, neocons are indicting Islam for not having signed on to the most current set of Gnostic projects being energetically pursued by the West, such as the commercialization of all cultural practices and the wholesale replacement of traditional sexual morality with a rationally constructed, “new and improved” version. To some extent those critics of Islam are on the mark, as foreseen by Voegelin in asking what sort of explosion might follow from Islam’s “prolonged exposure to Gnostic devastation and repression.” (My pointing out the role of this factor in generating tension between Moslem and western culture should not be read to imply my endorsement of every feature of traditional Moslem society, or that I deny the need for reform in important Moslem institutions, especially in regards to the status of women. But genuine, effective social reforms must be rooted in the historical experience and worldview of the society to be reformed. If an alien culture tries to impose its views about what some people ought to be doing to “shape up,” the effort is likely both to produce results quite at odds with the outsiders’ intentions, and to create resentment of the outsiders on the part of the people being reprimanded. Nor am I suggesting that a moral tradition concerning an activity such as sex should be, or even can be, held immutable and forever beyond the reach of practical revision and rational critique. But to think that a society can simply abandon its existing traditions concerning sex and devise a new code of sexual conduct from scratch is to commit the opposite error.) (No pagination)
The neoconservative-dominated Administration continues to agitate the Muslim world, paving the way for Islam’s ongoing “exposure to Gnostic devastation and repression.” The current hostilities between the West and Iran exemplify this harsh reality. Recently, in the Sunday Telegraph, a former high-ranking CIA official in Washington revealed that money from the Agency’s classified budget was being used to secretly fund militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran’s border regions (Lowther and Freeman, no pagination). While the CIA official wished to stay anonymous, his assertions were confirmed by Fred Burton, a former State Department counter-terrorism agent (no pagination). Burton stated: “The latest attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran’s ethnic minorities to destabilise the Iranian regime” (no pagination). The ethnic militias receiving CIA funds have employed terrorist tactics to achieve objectives (no pagination). The methods used include “bombing and assassination campaigns against soldiers and government officials” (no pagination). It seems that supporting these separatists is meant to lure Iran into war with America, thus ensuring the continuation of the current neo-Gnostic jihad.
On Friday, March 23, 2007, Iranian naval vessels captured fifteen sailors and marines outside the Shatt al-Arab waterway dividing Iran and Iraq (Krane, no pagination). This kidnapping may have been provoked by factions of the United States government. On March 18, 2007, the Times Online reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s weekly paper, the Subhi Sadek, warned that Iran was going to retaliate “for what it claims is a daring undercover operation by western intelligence services to kidnap senior officers in its Revolutionary Guard” (Mahnaimi, no pagination). Uzi Mahnaimi elaborates on this undercover mission to abduct Iranian officers:
The first sign of a possible campaign against high-ranking Iranian officers emerged earlier this month with the discovery that Ali Reza Asgari, former commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force in Lebanon and deputy defence minister, had vanished, apparently during a trip to Istanbul. Asgari’s disappearance shocked the Iranian regime as he is believed to possess some of its most closely guarded secrets. The Quds Force is responsible for operations outside Iran. Last week it was revealed that Colonel Amir Muhammed Shirazi, another high-ranking Revolutionary Guard officer, had disappeared, probably in Iraq.
A third Iranian general is also understood to be missing – the head of the Revolutionary Guard in the Persian Gulf. Sources named him as Brigadier General Muhammed Soltani, but his identity could not be confirmed.
“This is no longer a coincidence, but rather an orchestrated operation to shake the higher echelons of the Revolutionary Guard,” said an Israeli source.
Other members of the Quds Force are said to have been seized in Irbil, in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq, by US special forces.
“The capture of Quds members in Irbil was essential for our understanding of Iranian activity in Iraq,” said an American official with knowledge of the operation.
One theory circulating in Israel is that a US taskforce known as the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG) is coordinating the campaign to take Revolutionary Guard commanders. (Mahnaimi, no pagination)
Iran’s kidnapping of British sailors and military men may have been retribution for kidnappings on the part of western intelligence. Are the Iranians being encouraged to fire the first shot? Even if Iran does not take the bait, an incident could be concocted to provide a pretext for the current neo-Gnostic jihad to expand to Iran. Conspiracy theorists are not the only people taking such a contention seriously. Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski entertained the possibility in his February 1, 2007 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Brzezinski stated:
If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a “defensive” U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. (No pagination; emphasis added)
The scenario described by Brzezinski could be carried out by terrorists who are actually shepherded and protected by factions of America’s own government. One such group is the Muslim Brotherhood. This group has several close ties to Al Qaeda. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the architect of the September 11 attacks, joined the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of sixteen and attended the Brotherhood’s desert youth camps (Mintz and Farah, no pagination). Ayman Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egyptian branch (no pagination). According to Seymour Hersh, the Brotherhood may have even been involved in the September 11 attacks. Hersh states: “Many of the September 11th hijackers had operated out of cells in Aachen and Hamburg, where Al Qaeda was working with the Brotherhood” (no pagination).
Given the connections between the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, one would think that the United States government would be interested in cracking down on the Brotherhood. However, that has not been the case. After September 11, Syria’s leader, Bashar Assad:
initiated the delivery of Syrian intelligence to the United States. The Syrians had compiled hundreds of files on Al Qaeda, including dossiers on the men who participated – and others who wanted to participate – in the September 11th attacks. Syria also penetrated Al Qaeda cells throughout the Middle East and in Arab exile communities throughout Europe. That data began flowing to C.I.A. and F.B.I. operatives. (Hersh, no pagination)
Syria was willing to seek a security relationship with America because of Al Qaeda’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Syrian branch (no pagination). Syria felt that it shared a common enemy with the United States in the Muslim Brotherhood. Syria’s rivalry with the Muslim Brotherhood began with Bashar’s father, Hafez Assad. Seymour Hersh elaborates:
In 1982, after years of increasingly violent terrorist attacks throughout Syria, Hafez Assad ordered a massive military assault on the Muslim Brotherhood in the northern city of Hama. He saw the group as a threat to his control of Syria, and his forces, showing little mercy, killed at least five thousand people, many of them civilians, in a month long battle that left the city in ruins. (No pagination)
According to former CIA operative Robert Baer: “The Syrians know that the Saudis were involved in the financing of the Muslim Brotherhood and they for sure know the names” (no pagination). The Syrians were willing to share the names of the Muslim Brotherhood’s members with the United States on the condition that an invasion of Iraq would be avoided (no pagination). America declined the offer and the security relationship with Syria broke down (no pagination).
Instead of confronting the Muslim Brotherhood, the United States government seems to have actually collaborated with them. Former CIA official Graham E. Fuller’s words seem to sum up the government’s position:
“It is the preeminent movement in the Muslim world,” said Graham E. Fuller, a former CIA official specializing in the Middle East. “It’s something we can work with.” Demonizing the Brotherhood “would be foolhardy in the extreme,” he warned. (Mintz and Farah, no pagination)
John Mintz and Douglas Farah elaborate on the relationship between the United States government and the Muslim Brotherhood:
For years, State Department and CIA officials have met with Brotherhood activists in Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and elsewhere to track currents within Islamic politics.
“We want to know where they’re coming from, to influence them,” said Edward P. Djerejian, a former top State Department official who now runs Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.
At the same time, host governments in Cairo, Tunis and elsewhere warn that the Brotherhood is dangerous. So do many in U.S. law enforcement. “There were debates all the time about meeting with them,” Djerejian said.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, pockets in the government — including officials in State’s Near East bureau and diplomats posted overseas — have quietly advocated that the government reach out to the Brotherhood and its allies. These officials and some in U.S. think tanks hope the Brotherhood can temper its anti-U.S. stance and become a barrier against jihadists worldwide. (No pagination)
Does the government really believe the Brotherhood will abandon its anti-American sentiments and act as a bulwark against jihadists? So far, neither has happened and the United States government still seems to be in a cozy relationship with the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood may conduct the terrorist attack on U.S. soil that is needed to provide the neoconservatives of the Bush regime with their pretext to expand their neo-Gnostic jihad to Iran. Such a terrorist attack would also provide the pretext for continued erection of the Panopticon in the United States.
It is with neoconservativism’s immanentist crusade that one finds the rationale for the transformation of America into a surveillance society. The constitutional safeguards of America’s representative republican system could potentially stymie their campaigns of Gnostic imperialism. Thus, the neoconservative-dominated Bush Administration has endeavored to erect a system of omnipresent government control. Perpetual surveillance of the citizenry is integral to this system of control. Although the neoconservatives have deviated from Brzezinski’s geostrategy, they still heed the former national security advisor’s admonitions concerning militaristic campaigns abroad: “The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent” (The Grand Chessboard, 24). Brzezinski reiterates this fear later and in much more elitist language:
It is also a fact that America is too democratic at home to be autocratic abroad. This limits the use of America’s power, especially its capacity for military intimidation. Never before has a populist democracy attained international supremacy. But the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of domestic well-being. The economic self-denial (that is, defense spending) and the human sacrifice (casualties, even among professional soldiers) required in the effort are uncongenial to democratic instincts. Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization. (The Grand Chessboard, 35)
Under the stringent surveillance of a national security state, democracy can be incrementally dismantled and imperial mobilization can be more effectively expedited. Ultimately, the defunct TIA Program represented just one installment in an ongoing series of projects to create an All-Seeing Eye for the immanentist garrison state.
The Enlightenment: Crucible of the Emergent Carceral Culture
The most immediate precursor to all modern crusades to immanentize the Eschaton was the Enlightenment. Secular humanist Conrad Goeringer synopsizes the Enlightenment as follows:
In the history of Atheism, no period is as complex and exciting as that time we know today as the Enlightenment. Cultural historians and philosophers consider this era to have spanned the eighteenth century, cresting during the French Revolution of 1789. It was a phenomenon which swept the western world, drowning in its wake many of the sclerotic and despotic institutions of l’ancien regime or old order, and helping to crystallize a new view of man and the roles of reason, nature, progress and religion.
And too, the Enlightenment was a feverish period of Atheistic thought and propaganda. Many of the leading philosophers of the time were Atheists or deists, opposed to the cultural and political hegemony long exercised by the Vatican and its shock troops, the Jesuits. Much of the political, social and literary activity of the Enlightenment was characterized by a repudiation of Christianity, and the formulation of doctrines calling for separation, if not outright abolition, of state and church. (No pagination)
In essence, the Enlightenment was merely the latest incarnation of the same anthropocentric religion that originated in the Garden of Eden. It was premised upon a single dictum that the serpent whispered to Eve: “…ye shall be as gods…” (Genesis 3:4). A little later, this same anthropocentric mantra would inspire Nimrod’s attempt to build the Tower of Babel and establish the first one-world government (Genesis 11:1-9). Nimrod’s enterprise would be highly esteemed by several occult secret societies. In particular, Freemasons would allege that historical ties existed between the Lodge and the infamous Babel project: “A 1425 manuscript traces the origins of masonry back to Euclid, through the construction of the Tower of Babel and Solomon’s Temple” (Goeringer, no pagination).
Thematically implied through such claims is the serpent’s mandate for man to supplant God and the Gnostic ambition to immanentize the Eschaton. These two precepts are really natural correlatives. For centuries, they would underpin virtually every human effort to seize the bridle of history and guide man towards apotheosis. Not surprisingly, the ancient Egyptian Gnostic myth, The Hypostasis of the Archons, venerated the serpent as humanity’s “Instructor” and the guide to genuine gnosis (Raschke 27). This Gnostic veneration for the Devil would continue with the Enlightenment variety of humanism, which exalted Satan under his original title of Lucifer. According to Goeringer, this undercurrent of Luciferian thought was semiotically expressed through the iconography adorning the Enlightenment’s chief sacred text, Diderot’s Encyclopedia:
If the bible was the holy book of the Christian enlightenment, then the Encyclopedia was the inspiration of the Enlightenment. Here was a compendium of human knowledge dealing with arts, sciences mechanics and philosophy which swelled to some 36 volumes by 1780. Begun by the Atheist Diderot in 1751, the Encyclopedia bore the imprints of Voltaire, Montesque, Rousseau, Buffon, Turgot and others. Gracing the title page of Diderot’s compendium in the first edition was a drawing of Lucifer, symbol of light and rebellion, standing beside the masonic symbols of square and compass. (No pagination)
The anthropocentric character of the Enlightenment can be further demonstrated through the three pillars that provided its conceptual and philosophical foundation: reason, nature, and progress. Goeringer enumerates these three pillars and their role in the formation of Enlightenment thought:
Any definition of the Enlightenment must, of necessity, begin with a prohibitorum – attempts to rigidly segmentalize history are often futile, since they envision history as a string of compact, autonomous events, each a “period”, distinct in all respects from all other times. History is not this way, of course, and like any period the Enlightenment is a broad designation to help us understand the events and ideas of the 18th century. Were we to construct a model to loosely describe this time, however, it would emphasize three areas – reason, nature, and progress. It was during this time that how leading personalities looked at their world, its religions, its societies, its knowledge, its political institutions, changed so radically. And it was here that the birthpangs of industrialization were being felt, where so much of the modern world was to be born from the womb of the old order.
Reason is the capstone in the pyramid of ideas which describe the Enlightenment. Reason, not faith or divine revelation, told one the facts about life and the world. Some held that reason alone, the product of thoughtful contemplation, could reveal archetypical truths in much the same way Pythagoras had deduced his theorems on Samos millenia before; others maintained that reason involved an empirical faculty as well. In either case, reason was intermeshed with nature. Like nature, mans’ reason had become vitiated by those notorious enemies of humanity – religious superstition, government, socioeconomic rank, poverty and prejudice. Destroy these in an unpheavel of antiauthoritarian wrath, and once again reason would provide a lucid, natural mechanism for apprehending the world and guiding a new human society.
Reason, then, was the faculty for comprehending nature, the second important element in the Enlightenment triad. Nature was just that – the natural, real world. It was not the realm of the supernatural, the demonic, or the godly, but the empirical or rational “stuff” of which the universe was, and is, made. Nature could be understood through reason; through logic, scientific inquiry, and open mind of free inquiry, nature would yield her secrets.
Finally, there was progress. Reason, working upon nature, would enhance the quality of life for each and every one of the Enlightened. The Atheist philosopher Condorcet preached the doctrine of a coming Utopia, where indefinite progress would bring forth a “natural salvation” of plenty and immortality. Progress held that since the universe was knowable, enlightened man could become the subject of history rather than its object. Mankind could fashion nature to its wishes; the efficacy in shaping the natural order was limited only by time and the sheer limits, if any, of reason. (No pagination)
Although it was stridently secular, the Enlightenment was no less religious in character. In fact, it was a secular faith designed specifically to displace the traditional Abrahamic faiths, particularly Christianity:
The Enlightenment mirrored the Christian religion. Reason became its revelation, nature its god. If the Enlightenment did not abolish the myth of god, it reduced god to a sort of absentee deity, a caretaker to the universe who was nevertheless subject to the laws of nature. Deism arose from the same fertile soil of the Enlightenment as had Atheism, and no doubt many deists were actually Atheists. The deistic god was symbolized in the masonic lodges as the “Great Architect of the Universe”, certainly not the god of the Christian superstition. (No pagination)
Thus, the eighteenth century would witness the rise of an entire movement seduced by a deceptive promise whispered in man’s ancient past. The hubris promoted by the serpent in Eden had found a conduit into contemporary history. The Enlightenment was merely a continuation of an older anthropocentric faith, which had been sustained by occult secret societies throughout the ages. These secret societies acted as retainers of this religion of apotheosis and would play a significant role in the Enlightenment. Goeringer expands on the significance of secret societies during the Enlightenment:
While there are many currents to this period, one of the fascinating and little-explored backwater eddys of particular interest to Atheists and libertarians is the role of Masonic lodges and “secret societies” during this time. Surprisingly little objective historical work exists on this area. The drama of social revolution and intellectual apostacy was taking place not only in the streets of Paris, or the open fields of Lexington and Concord, but in countless lodges and sect gatherings and reading societies as well. These conclaves, with their metaphorical-hermetic secrets, symbolism and lore, were the crucibles of “impiety and anarchy” so bemoaned by church dogmatists of the time like the Jesuit Abbe Barruel. Of all of the clubs, societies, libraries, salons and lodges of this stormy time, perhaps none has been so villified, attacked and misunderstood as that group known as the Order of the Illuminati. (No pagination)
Goeringer briefly recounts the early history of the Illuminati’s founder, Adam Weishaupt:
It is ironic, yet in a way fitting, that the most secret, yet historically popular manifestation of Enlightenment conspiratorialism was formed in Bavaria. It was here in the middle of the 18th century that the ideas of the Enlightenment met such hostility and censure from an entrenched clerical and aristocratic establishment. One traveler reported the existence of some 28,000 churches and chapels; Munich, a city of only 40,000 boasted 17 convents. As one writer observed, “the degree of power to which the representatives of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) had been able to obtain in Bavaria was all but absolute”. It was in Bavaria on February 6, 1748 that Adam Weishaupt was born, son of a professor of canon law at the University of Ingolstadt. The father died when the boy was seven; the child’s intensive education then rested in the hands of his godfather. Baron von Ickstatt, a member of the Privy Council. Adam had free access to the Baron’s magnificent library, which was well-stocked with the works of the Enlightenment philosophers. (No pagination)
Many of Weishaupt’s ideas were derivative of Jesuit concepts. This is most ironic indeed; especially given Weishaupt’s deeply embedded Enlightenment derision for the Society of Jesus. However, the primacy of the Jesuits within the University of Ingolstadt invariably affected
The young Weishaupt graduated from the university in 1768, rising quickly within the Jesuit-dominated institution to become a full professor in 1733. Despite his militant Atheism, he managed to become dean of the law faculty two years later at the age of 27.
Constantly at odds with university and ecclesiastical authorities, Weishaupt conceived the idea of forming a secret society, an order, organized along lines similar to the Jesuits, yet committed to the ideals of the Enlightenment. Weishaupt had embraced the Rousseauian vision of a world free of the constraints of government and church, where humanity would exist in a universal community with nature. (No pagination)
One of the symbols that comprised Illuminist iconography was the truncated pyramid crowned by the All-Seeing Eye. Of course, this was precisely the same symbol that the neoconservative-dominated Bush Administration chose for the TIA Program. Given this semiotic synchronicity, a definite continuity of thought becomes apparent. Both the Illuminati and the neoconservatives share the Enlightenment heritage. The ideational link between the 21st century neoconservatives and the 18th century Illuminati comes into clearer focus when one examines the statements of Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson. Wilkerson is the individual who helped former Secretary of State Colin Powell amass the dossier against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq (Mascolo, no pagination). Commenting on the ideological pedigree of the neoconservatives, Wilkerson candidly stated:
They are not neo-cons. They are not new conservatives. They’re Jacobins. Their predecessor is French Revolution leader Maximilien Robespierre. And to say that these people are dead, dormant or lying quiescent is not encouraging because there are enough of them left. And it’s going to be incumbent on the rest of us, in this country at least, to watch these trends and make sure that their ugly head doesn’t rise up and cause more problems in the future. (No pagination)
Who were the Jacobins? William Hoar reveals that they were “agents of the Bavarian-bred Illuminati who operated out of the Club Breton” (2). These are the individuals with whom the neoconservatives find their proximate ideological origins. They are the modern incarnation of the violent, subversive wing of the 18th century Enlightenment. Their ideological progenitors are Robespierre and Weishaupt, two of the chief conspiratorial personalities that ignited the flames of the bloody French Revolution. As neo-Jacobins, the neoconservatives also qualify as neo-Illuminists. The resurgence of the All-Seeing Eye and truncated pyramid motif underscores this ideological continuum.
The Benthamite Physics of Power
What is semiotically communicated through the All-Seeing Eye atop the truncated pyramid is the theme of a panoptic society. A panoptic society is a system of control maintained through the perpetual surveillance of the citizenry (“pan” meaning “all,” “optic” meaning “seeing”). The system of panoptic control within Adam Weishaupt’s Illuminati was an adaptation of earlier Jesuit systems. According to deceased philosopher Michel Foucault, the model colleges of the Jesuits employed panopticism. Panopticism is a method of hierarchical observation designed specifically for the maintenance of disciplinary power over subjects. The regulatory schema of panopticism is derived from Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, a theoretical model for a prison where the inmate is perpetually cognizant of the ubiquitous gaze of others.
This all-pervading normalizing gaze would impose “a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power” (Foucault 197). Thus, the inmate becomes effectively and efficiently self-policing. Foucault explains:
He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection. (202-03)
Jeremy Bentham’s hypothetical penal system exemplifies the role of the Enlightenment in the development of the modern carceral culture. As the Enlightenment began to crest with the bloody French Revolution, Bentham became more actively involved in experimenting with the phsyics of power. Jeffrey Steinberg discusses Bentham’s efforts to augment the Utopian radicalism of the French Revolution with his Panopticon:
Bentham was so taken up with the events in France, that on Nov. 25, 1791, he wrote to National Assemblyman J.P. Garran offering to move to Paris to take charge of the penal system. Enclosing a draft of his Panopticon proposal, Bentham wrote: “Allow me to construct a prison on this model–I will be the jailer. You will see by the memoire, this jailer will have no salary–will cost nothing to the nation. The more I reflect, the more it appears to me that the execution of the project should be in the hands of the inventor.” (No pagination)
Evidently, Bentham hoped to act as the warden for the carceral culture that was gradually unfolding in revolutionary France:
At the same time, Bentham was proposing to assume the post of chief jailer of the Jacobin Terror, which sent many of France’s greatest scientists and pro-American republicans to the guillotine or to prison. Bentham made no bones about his loyalties: In accepting the honorary title of Citizen of France, Bentham wrote to the Jacobin interior minister in October 1792: “I should think myself a weak reasoner and a bad citizen, were I not, though a royalist in London, a republican in Paris.” (No pagination)
Bentham’s Panopticon was something of a precursor to Nazi Germany’s concentration camps and Soviet Russia’s gulag system. The hypothetical carceral model even presented a system of eugenical regimentation that would presage Hitler’s Holocaust. Steinberg elaborates on Bentham’s bestial prison model:
Bentham’s Panopticon scheme was a slave labor camp first designed by him in Russia in 1787 while he was visiting his brother, a Shelburne spy. Asked by Prince Potemkin, the prime minister of Catherine the Great, to help procure a steam engine to build up Russian industry, Bentham argued that human labor–not steam power–ought to be sufficient.
His design, complete with elaborate architectural drawings, called for criminals, the indigent, and the retarded–along with their children–to be placed in jail cells equipped with primitive machinery run by a central power source, which in turn would be fueled by swings, merry-go-rounds, and see-saws in the children’s cellblock. The energy expended by the children playing with the toys would drive the factory. A central guardroom equipped with two-way mirrors would permit one guard to oversee the slave labor of hundreds. Above the main door of the Panopticon was to be a sign, reading: “Had they been industrious when free, they need not have drudged here like slaves.”
During his tour of Russia and the Ottoman Empire, when he devised his Panopticon scheme and wrote In Defense of Usury, Bentham wrote in his diary: “It is an old maxim of mine that interest, as love, should be free.” (No pagination)
Bentham’s beloved maxim would be reiterated later by the German dictum, “Arbeit macht frei.” Translated into English, this aphorism declared, “Work will make you free.” This usurious mantra would hang over the entrances to Dachau, Terezin, KZ Sachsenhausen, and Auschwitz. Within the confines of these Nazi concentration camps, millions of Jews would lose their lives. Even after the convulsive implosion of the French Revolution, Bentham’s ideas would live on.
The continuity of Benthamite thought was painfully evidenced by the TIA Program, which was enacted by the neoconservative-dominated Bush Administration. Ultimately, neoconservativism represents a continuation of the Enlightenment’s neo-Gnostic sociopolitical Utopianism. James Kurth eloquently synopsizes:
From their origins (be it as followers of Leon Trotsky or of Leo Strauss), neo-conservatives have seen the Christian tradition as an alien, even a threatening, one. As for the classical tradition, their view of it has been formed by the decidedly untraditional interpretation of classical philosophy given by Strauss. The only Western tradition that the neoconservatives actually want to defend is the Enlightenment. They have wanted to defend it against attacks emanating from postmodernists, and in recent years, they have wanted to advance it in the rest of the world with the establishment of a kind of American empire. This latter is not a conservative project but a radical and revolutionary one. For the most part, it might be said that, with friends like the neoconservatives, Western civilization does not need enemies. (No pagination)
While they ostensibly cater to conservatives and Christians, the neoconservatives’ ideological and philosophical heritage is completely antithetical to these traditional paradigms. Neoconservatives share the ambitions of their radical revolutionary scions: the immanentization of the Eschaton. They are attempting to tangibly enact the Enlightenment vision for an earthly paradise. Following the historical Enlightenment program with exacting detail, the neoconservatives are also attempting to erect their own Panopticon. Augmented by the latest technology, the TIA was the neoconservative’s hi-tech panoptic tower.
Seelenspionage: The All-Seeing Eye of the Soul
Working with principles that were closely akin to the Benthamite physics of power, the Jesuit model colleges were able to promote compliance and conformity among their students.
However, the panoptic schema would not remain confined to the model colleges of the Jesuits. Foucault elaborates: “The panoptic schema, without disappearing as such or losing any of its properties, was destined to spread throughout the social body” (207). Thus, the panoptic schema constituted a much broader “modality of power” and “its vocation was to become a generalized function” (207). Given this schematic elasticity, Bentham’s Panopticon model:
is polyvalent in its applications; it serves to reform prisoner, but also to treat patients, to instruct schoolchildren, to confine the insane, to supervise workers, to put beggars and idlers to work. It is a type of location of bodies in space, of distribution of individuals in relation to one another, of hierarchical organization, of disposition of centres and channels of power, of definition of the instruments and modes of intervention of power, which can be implemented in hospitals, workshops, schools, prisons. Whenever one is dealing with a multiplicity of individuals on whom a task or a particular form of behaviour must be imposed, the panoptic schema may be used. (205)
Among one of the many institutions that has employed the panoptic schema is the military establishment. Throughout the course of his service, the soldier is closely monitored and evaluated. From the barracks to the battlefield, the soldier is consistently susceptible to a system of hierarchical observation. If his performance should falter or his loyalties come into question, then his superiors are informed and corrective measures are employed. Interestingly enough, the controversial Report from Iron Mountain concluded that the adaptation of the “code of military discipline” to civilian milieus would involve “surprisingly little revision” (Lewin 41-42, 68, 70). While the authenticity of the Report remains a source of contention among researchers today, its observations concerning the compatibility of military codes of discipline with civilian environs reiterates the polyvalent applications of the panoptic schema.
Adam Weishaupt, who was trained by Jesuits, may have recognized the polyvalence of Bentham’s prison model. Yet, Weishaupt did not limit his panopticism to the mere “location of bodies in space” or the “distribution of individuals in relation to one another.” Weishaupt’s panopticism moved beyond methods of spatial and chronemic regulation. Instead, the Illuminist panoptic model would attempt to penetrate the soul. Weishaupt developed his own method of hierarchical observation called “Seelenspionage,” which means “spying on the soul.” Seelenspionage involved the close observation of Illuminist adepts. Through such observation, Weishaupt believed that the Illuminist hierarchy could:
. . .get access to the adept’s soul by close analysis of the seemingly random gestures, expressions, or words that betrayed the adept’s true feelings. Von Knigge, who was privy to the system, referred to it as a “Smiotik der Seele.” “From the comparisons of all these characteristics,” von Knigge wrote, “even those which seem the smallest and least significant, one draw conclusions which have enormous significance for knowledge of human beings, and gradually draw out of that reliable semiotics of the soul. (Jones 14)
Astute readers will recognize Weishaupt’s Seelenspionage as a precursor to B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism. Like Weishaupt’s system of behavioral observation and modification, Skinner’s behaviorism was premised upon the physicalist assumption that all observable behavior provided the only adequate indicator of “mental states.” In fact, Skinner’s reductionistic metaphysics virtually obliterated the “mental state,” transforming it into a proverbial mirage imposed upon observable behavior by the percipient. Thus, from Skinner’s perspective, man was merely an amalgam of behavioral repertoires that could be manipulated and controlled. To his credit, Weishaupt identified the semiotic dimension to observable behavior, a reality that later physicalists like Skinner would ignore. However, the very same sort of reductionistic metaphysics to which Skinner and later physicalists would subscribe also stymied Weishaupt’s “semiotics of the soul.” Weishaupt attempted to reduce the extremely complex undercurrent of connotative meaning underpinning observable behavior to a simplistic paint-by-numbers schematic. Such a one-dimensional approach is reminiscent of Delsartes’ method of acting, which contended that truly great performers could mimic all the proper gestures to communicate the emotional state of their characters.
Yet, in spite of its crude and overly simplistic schematicism, this Illuminist variety of panopticism would find a permanent place in the litany of contemporary totalitarian practices:
In Illuminism we find in seminal form the system of police state spying on its citizens, the essence of psychoanalysis, the rationale for psychological testing, the therapy of journal keeping, the idea of Kinsey’s sex histories, the spontaneous confessions at Communist show trials, Gramsci’s march through the institutions, the manipulation of the sexual passion as a form of control that was the basis for advertising, and, via Comte, the rise of the “science” of behaviorism, which attempts, in the words of John B. Watson, to “predict and control behavior.” (17)
It comes as little surprise that Skinner believed that the system of communism practiced in Red China presented a societal model that America should emulate (Skinner xv). The Illuminist system of “social control” would provide the operational protocol for every totalitarian regime throughout the 20th century. Communism, fascism, and other forms of oligarchical governance have employed some variation of Weishaupt’s panopticism (Jones 17). Ultimately, the goal has always been what Weishaupt called the Maschinenmenschen, a completely mechanized man:
Once released into the intellectual ether, the vision of machine people in a machine state controlled by Jesuit-like scientist controllers would capture the imagination of generations to come, either as utopia in the thinking of people like Auguste Comte or dystopia in the minds of people like Aldous Huxley and Fritz Lang, whose film Metropolis seemed to be Weishaupt’s vision come to life. (Jones 16-17)
In his examination of the mass diffusion of panoptic schema throughout the social body, Foucault also recognized the emergence of a “machine state”:
We are neither in the amphitheatre, nor on the stage, but in the panoptic machine, invested by its effects of power, which we bring to ourselves since we are part of its mechanism (217).
Technocracy: The All-Seeing Eye of “Policy Professionals”
The view of man as analogous to a machine was a central characteristic of the Enlightenment. During this period, several theoreticians would systematize the concepts and principles of technocratic governance. A technocratic society, or Technocracy, can be defined as follows:
Technocracy, in classical political terms, refers to a system of governance in which technically trained experts rule by virtue of their specialized knowledge and position in dominant political and economic institutions. (Fischer 17)
Oxford Professor Carroll Quigley also wrote about a dictatorship of “experts,” suggesting that a cognitive elite “will replace the democratic voter in control of the political system” (Quigley 866). In The Open Conspiracy, H.G. Wells openly endorsed a democratic system reserved for a so-called “cognitive elite.” Commenting on such a democracy, Wells states:
The world’s political organization will be democratic, that is to say, the government and direction of affairs will be in immediate touch with and responsive to the general thought of the educated whole population. (26)
Literary critic and author W. Warren Wagar comments on this statement:
Read carefully. He did not say the world government would be elected by the people, or that it would even be responsive to the people just to those who were “educated.” (Wells 26)
Technocratic governance, or Technocracy, is a governmental system where scientists and technicians act as the sole decision-making body. This inherently anti-democratic concept originated within esoteric circles. Sir Francis Bacon developed the original model for Technocracy in his book, The New Atlantis. Published in 1627, The New Atlantis was adorned with the symbols of occult Freemasonry and presented the Rosicrucian mandate for the formation of an “Invisible College” (Howard 74-75). Bacon himself was a member of the secret Order of the Helmet and, some allege, a Grand Master of the secret Rosicrucian Order (74). The Utopia presented by Bacon in The New Atlantis was “a pure Technocratic society” (Fischer 66-67). The philosopher kings of Plato’s Republic were to be replaced by a “technical elite” (66-67). Scientists and technicians would circumvent conflicting political interests, giving rise to an apolitical bureaucracy. The Baconian concept of a New Atlantis would provide the groundwork for the technocratic ideas of Henri de Saint-Simon, an Enlightenment thinker and the mentor of August Comte. Variations of Bacon’s technocratic philosophy also circulated within Freemasonry, which was closely aligned with Weishaupt’s Illuminati.
Since the 1970s, the next developmental stage of Technocracy “has been both theorized and hailed under the banner of ‘postindustrialism'” (101). Examining this shift in technocratic thinking, Fischer states: “contemporary technocratic theories are now theories of postindustrial society” (101). Yet, some technocratic ideologues regard “postindustrialism” and “postindustrial society” as potentially misunderstood or derisive characterizations. One such ideologue is Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Carter and co-founder of the Trilateral Commission. Eschewing the “postindustrial” portraits of Technocracy, Brzezinski fancies the euphemism of “technetronic” society (101).
Brzezinski’s “technetronic” model is no less elitist or anti-democratic than its theoretical progenitors. According to Brzezinski, this new stage in Technocracy’s evolution will witness the ascendance of a “scientific/technical elite” that would seize control of the “essential flow of information and production” (Fischer 103). This epistemological cartel would subsequently direct its consolidations of knowledge toward the scientific subjugation of the masses. Fischer elaborates:
Increasingly, scientific knowledge will be used directly to plan almost every aspect of economic and social life. In the process, Brzezinski avers, class conflict will assume new forms and modes: Knowledge and culture will replace material needs in the struggle between the scientific/technical elite and the masses of people who will have to be integrated into and subordinated in the postindustrial system. (103)
President Eisenhower warned against just such an epistemological cartel. In his farewell address, he admonished:
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. (No pagination)
Although they are presently at variance with Brzezinski, the neoconservatives still strive to realize his technetronic model for society. The defunct TIA Program and all of its panoptic successors are designed to achieve just such an end. In the ongoing race for hegemonic primacy within the Establishment, the neoconservative-dominated Bush Administration hopes to become the new “scientific-technological elite.”
Technocracy is premised upon the religion of scientism, which contends that the investigational methods of the physical sciences should be universally imposed upon all fields of inquiry. Of course, such an ecumenical imposition would demolish concepts like liberty and human dignity. As a system of quantification, science must concern itself primarily with quantifiable entities. That which cannot be measured must be disregarded. Because human dignity and liberty defy quantification, these concepts are typically jettisoned by scientistic epistemologies. Michael Hoffman reiterates:
The reason that science is a bad master and dangerous servant and ought not to be worshipped, is that science is not objective. Science is fundamentally about the uses of measurement. What does not fit the yardstick of the scientist is discarded. Scientific determinism has repeatedly excluded some data from its measurement and fudged other data, such as Piltdown Man, in order to support the self-fulfilling nature of its own agenda, be it Darwinism or “cut, burn and poison” methods of cancer “treatment.” (49)
A Technocracy, which is a purely scientistic society, eschews human dignity and liberty as well. Thus, technocratic governance strives to breed a man that is, in the words of B.F. Skinner, “beyond freedom and dignity.” The Illuminati, which was a product of the Enlightenment, strove to do the same. This fact is demonstrated by Weishaupt’s promotion of a clockwork society populated by the Maschinenmenschen. The Illuminist symbol of the All-Seeing Eye atop the truncated pyramid is emblematic of a scientistic society peopled by the Maschinenmenschen:
The doctrine of man playing god reaches its nadir in the philosophy of scientism which makes possible the complete mental, spiritual and physical enslavement of mankind through technologies such as satellite and computer surveillance; a state of affairs symbolized by the “All Seeing Eye” above the unfinished pyramid on the U.S. one dollar bill. (50)
Of course, the All-Seeing Eye motif was chosen as the official emblem of the TIA Program. The selection of this symbol might be directly attributable to the technocratic pedigree of neoconservativism, which dominates the Bush Administration. In his book Technocracy and the Politics of Expertise, Frank Fischer states: “. . .neoconservativism is at base an elitist ideology aimed at promoting a new group of conservative technocrats” (172). To promote their own variety of Technocracy, neoconservatives present themselves as the antithesis to left-wing “policy professionals.” However, the conflict between these two is superficial at best. As is the case with all good Hegelian dialectics, the neoconservative antithesis is not dichotomously related to its alleged technocratic opposition. Fischer elaborates:
Neoconservatives regularly argue that knowledge elites are a threat to democracy. But if this is their primary concern, their solution is scarcely designed to remedy the problem. Indeed, by challenging the Democratic party’s use of policy expertise with a counterintelligentsia, they implicitly accept – and approve of – the evolving technocratic terrain. Developing a conservative cadre of policy analysts cannot be interpreted as a measure designed to return power to the people. (171)
Fischer correctly argues that neoconservativism’s advocacy of a so-called “conservative cadre of policy analysts” precludes citizen participation:
Neoconservatives doubtless maintain that their policy advisers speak for different political values: Rather than the welfare state and bureaucratic paternalism, conservative experts advocate democracy and free market individualism. Such an argument, however, fails to address the critical issue. As a system of decision making geared toward expert knowledge, technocracy – liberal or conservative – necessarily blocks meaningful participation for the average citizen. Ultimately only those who can interpret the complex technical languages that increasingly frame economic and social issues have access to the play of power Democratic rhetoric aside, those who nurture a conservative intelligentsia in reality only help to extend an elite system of policy-making. (171-72)
Whether under the superfluous appellations of conservative or liberal, “policy professionals” still constitute what Wells referred to as a “democracy of experts.” Neoconservativism’s promotion of its own “policy professionals” betrays the ideology’s technocratic propensities. Rhetoric concerning “democracy” and “free market individualism” amounts to little more than pageantry. The neoconservatives are remaining true to their Enlightenment heritage. They are building a Technocracy where the citizenry will perpetually live under the All-Seeing Eye of “policy professionals.” Although the TIA Program was defunded, other machinations wait in the wings to expand the pervasive gaze of shadowy “experts.”
Sociocracy: The Scientistic Priesthood of “Judges”
The scientistic interpretation of society is accompanied by an equally scientistic interpretation of religion. After all, religion has often acted as a cohesive element within societies, galvanizing the citizenry through shared beliefs and practices. While the Enlightenment sought to undermine traditional religions, it simultaneously proffered an anthropocentric religion of its own. Saint-Simon, for instance, advocated what he called the “New Christianity” (Billington 214). This scientistic faith presented “morality without metaphysics” and “technology without theology” (214). Likewise, the Illuminati re-conceptualized Jesus Christ, portraying Him as something of a Gnostic adept and technocratic prophet.
In accordance with their strident scientific materialism, Weishaupt and his fellow Illuminists presented a Christ that was bereft of any supernatural qualities. The Illuminist Christ was a technocratic Avatar that preached a Gnostic gospel of self-salvation. This doctrine of self-salvation held aloft human reason as the new incarnation of revelatory knowledge, a scientistic version of gnosis so-to-speak. According to Weishaupt, Jesus was the “assertor of the Empire of Reason” (Webster, no pagination). In this Illuminist context, the salvation offered by Christ was actually a hidden knowledge that promised to unlock the cognitive powers of man. In turn, these powers would facilitate humanity’s apotheosis.
Such conscious tampering with traditional doctrine constitutes what sociologist William Sims Bainbridge calls “religious engineering” (“Social Construction from Within: Satan’s Process,” no pagination). Religious engineering is the “the conscious, systematic, skilled creation of a new religion” (no pagination). Typically, the religion that is designed affirms the socially and politically expedient contentions of those engineering it. For instance, the Process Church, which was a satanic cult that Bainbridge conducted a five-year ethnographic study with, engineered a religion that suited its Hegelian Weltanschauung and hedonistic practices (no pagination). Bainbridge considers religious engineering instrumental to human progress and encourages sociologists to actively experiment with scientistic cults, particularly UFO cults (“New Religions, Science, and Secularization.”). Not surprisingly, several UFO cults proffer an exotheological Christ. Like the Illuminist Christ, the exotheological Christ is bereft of any supernatural qualities. Instead of spiritual salvation, the redemption offered by this scientistic Messiah is the restoration of humanity’s purported intrinsic divinity and the apotheosis of man.
Bainbridge’s mandate for sociologists to become religious engineers merely reiterates the Comtean concept of a sociocracy, an anthropocentric religion that portrayed man as a gradually evolving deity. August Comte, who was the protégé of Henri de Saint-Simon, promoted a “religion of humanity” that was actively shaped and promulgated by social scientists (Fischer 71). This new scientistic theocracy would inculcate the people into its technocratic evangel through a series of rituals and festivals. Dubbed “sociolatry,” this litany of devotional practices venerated “Humanity,” which Comte viewed as an emergent deity being incarnated through the great men of history (71).
Such doctrines of emergent deity are nothing new. Nietzsche’s Ubermensch, Hegel’s Weltgeist, H.G Well’s “racial mind,” and the Freemasonic “Great Architect” are cases in point. This doctrine of emergent deity remained embedded within sociology, as is evidenced by the monistic theories of Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim. The doctrine of emergent deity inverts the traditional Biblical cosmology. God was not in the beginning, but emerged through the evolutionary ascent man in the end. This was also one of Adam Weishaupt’s “inner Areopagites: man made perfect as a god-without-God” (Billington 97).
Of course, a new scientistic theocracy requires a new scientistic priesthood. In Comte’s sociocracy, the social scientist assumed ecclesiastical authority (Fischer 71). Sociology has always been technocratic in origin, a contention reinforced by the fact that many consider Comte to be the founding father of the field (71). Comte’s vision for a sociocracy would begin to tangibly enact itself in the West. In America, sociology eventually ascended to institutional dominance and, from 1950 to 1955, subsumed communication research (Simpson 5). Recognizing communication research’s potential as a form of weaponized semiotics, the U.S. military establishment began to employ social scientists in its propaganda and intelligence agencies (5-6).
Prominent social scientists would also constitute the psychological warfare division of the OSS, which was managed and directed by William “Wild Bill” Donovan in 1941 (Simpson 24). The constellation of World War II psychological warfare programs provided its alumni with a “network of professional contacts” that proved to be “very valuable in their subsequent careers” (28). Once the war was over, OSS social scientists diffused themselves among several tax-exempt foundations and major media organs (28-29). The strategic sensitivity of the posts that were inhabited by OSS social scientists should be fairly obvious. In addition to providing the power elite with convenient tax shelters, tax-exempt foundations finance and coordinate projects in social engineering. Mass media plays an enormous role in the sculpting of public opinion and, in the words of Noam Chomsky, “manufactures consent.” The informational infrastructure of an entire nation was gradually being co-opted by the priesthood of an emergent sociocracy.
Today, the field of communication research operates like an epistemological cartel, selectively encouraging or discouraging specific modes of thought. Christopher Simpson elaborates:
Government psychological warfare programs helped shape mass communication research into a distinct scholarly field, strongly influencing the choice of leaders and determining which of the competing scientific paradigms of communication would be funded, elaborated, and encouraged to prosper. The state usually did not directly determine what scientists could or could not say, but it did significantly influence the selection of who would do the “authoritative” talking in the field. (5)
Only those “scientific paradigms” that enjoy the favor of the dominant sociocracy are “funded, elaborated, and encouraged to prosper.” Given their placement within the machinations of the power elite, the sociocrats are likely to favor only those modes of thought that correspond with the ambitions of the global oligarchical establishment. Those “scientific paradigms” that receive the sanction of the sociocrats eventually become the operational protocol for other social institutions. Those who deviate from the accepted criterion come under the normalizing gaze of what Foucault called “judges.” The “judges” are everywhere, occupying almost every social institution. They are just one more extension of the panoptic machine. Their collective gaze constitutes the ever-pervasive gaze of the All-Seeing Eye. Foucault explains:
The judges of normality are present everywhere. We are in the society of the teacher-judge, the doctor-judge, the educator-judge, the ‘social-worker’-judge; it is on them that the universal reign of the normative is based; and each individual, wherever he may find himself, subjects to it his body, his gestures, his behaviour, his aptitudes, his achievements. (304)
The concept of the “judge” is vintage Illuminism. Drawing upon the scientistic criterion promoted in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, the “judge” observes the subject’s behavior and evaluates it according to the APA’s orthodox “semiotics of the soul.” Nearly all behaviors that exhibit the complex idiosyncrasies of humanity are actively expunged as the subject is re-sculpted according to the sterile schematic of the Maschinenmenschen. Typically, this is accomplished through surgery, shock therapy, psychotropic drugs, and continued hierarchical observation. In essence, the psychiatric establishment and its closely allied pharmacological establishment constitute an institutionalized form of Seelenspionage.
The neoconservative-dominated Administration has employed several of the members of the Iran-Contra fraternity. This is likely because of the Contragaters’ specialized knowledge in Panopticism. The Contragaters’ involvement in the erection of the Panopticon can be traced back to theft of the PROMIS software by Edwin Meese’s Justice Department. PROMIS (Prosecutors Management Information Systems) was created by Bill Hamilton and nurtured through his company Inslaw (Fricker, no pagination). Edwin Meese fell in love with PROMIS. Meese had a good a reason to become infatuated with the PROMIS software. Richard Fricker describes the software’s capabilities:
Designed as a case-management system for prosecutors, PROMIS has the ability to track people. “Every use of PROMIS in the court system is tracking people,” said Inslaw President Hamilton. “You can rotate the file by case, defendant, arresting officer, judge, defense lawyer, and it’s tracking all the names of all the people in all the cases.”
What this means is that PROMIS can provide a complete rundown of all federal cases in which a lawyer has been involved, or all the cases in which a lawyer has represented defendant A, or all the cases in which a lawyer has represented white-collar criminals, at which stage in each of the cases the lawyer agreed to a plea bargain, and so on. Based on this information, PROMIS can help a prosecutor determine when a plea will be taken in a particular type of case.
But the real power of PROMIS, according to Hamilton, is that with a staggering 570,000 lines of computer code, PROMIS can integrate innumerable databases without requiring any reprogramming. In essence, PROMIS can turn blind data into information. And anyone in government will tell you that information, when wielded with finesse, begets power. Converted to use by intelligence agencies, as has been alleged in interviews by ex-CIA and Israeli Mossad agents, PROMIS can be a powerful tracking device capable of monitoring intelligence operations, agents and targets, instead of legal cases. (No pagination)
Since the 1960s, the DOJ had been using the same antiquated internal information systems (No pagination). The DOJ’s case management system was in desperate need of automation. So, in March of 1982, the Justice Department awarded Inslaw a $9.6 million contract:
to install the public domain version of PROMIS in 20 US Attorney’s offices as a pilot program. If successful, the company would install PROMIS in the remaining 74 federal prosecutors’ offices around the country. (No pagination)
After realizing that the US market for legal automation was worth $3 billion, Hamilton decided to have Inslaw go private (no pagination). Because the public domain version of PROMI had been developed with a grant from the Law Enforcement Assistance Agency back in the 1970s, Inslaw could not sell that particular version (no pagination). However, Inslaw did have an enhanced version of PROMIS that had been upgraded using Inslaw funds (no pagination). Inslaw could legally start doing business in the private sector with this enhanced version of PROMIS. These enhancements were significant. Fricker elaborates:
In the 1970s the public- domain PROMIS was adapted to run on Burroughs, Prime, Wang and IBM machines, all of which used less-powerful 16-bit architectures. With private funds, Inslaw converted that version of PROMIS to a 32-bit architecture running on a DEC VAX minicomputer. (No pagination)
Ed Meese’s DOJ desired this enhanced version of PROMIS and were willing to employ theft to obtain it. After stealing the software from Hamilton’s company, the DOJ destroyed Inslaw. Fricker describes the process:
After Inslaw’s installation of public domain PROMIS had begun, the DOJ claimed that Inslaw, which was supporting the installation with its own computers running the enhanced version of PROMIS, was on the brink of bankruptcy. Although Inslaw was contracted to provide only the public domain PROMIS, the DOJ demanded that Inslaw turn over the enhanced version of PROMIS in case the company could not complete its contractual obligations. Inslaw agreed to this contract modification, but on two conditions: that the DOJ recognize Inslaw’s proprietary rights to enhanced PROMIS, and that the DOJ not distribute enhanced PROMIS beyond the boundaries of the contract (the 94 US Attorney’s offices.) The DOJ agreed to these conditions, but requested Inslaw prove it had indeed created enhanced PROMIS with private funds. Inslaw said it would, and the enhanced software was given to the DOJ.
Once the DOJ had control of PROMIS, it dogmatically refused to verify that Inslaw had created the enhancements, essentially rendering the contract modification useless. When Inslaw protested, the DOJ began to withhold payments. Two years later, Inslaw was forced into bankruptcy. (No pagination)
Evidence suggests that the enhanced PROMIS software was passed by Meese to his fellow Contragater, Lt. Colonel Oliver North:
Lt. Col. Oliver North also may have been using the program. According to several intelligence community sources, PROMIS was in use at a 6,100-square-foot command center built on the sixth floor of the Justice Department. According to both a contractor who helped design the center and information disclosed during the Iran-Contra hearings, Oliver North had a similar, but smaller, White House operations room that was connected by computer link to the DOJ’s command center. (No pagination)
If North was in possession of the enhanced PROMIS, then he was employing the software in the tracking of dissidents here in the United States. The panoptic capabilities of PROMIS would have made the software ideal for such purposes. Fricker elaborates:
Using the computers in his command center, North tracked dissidents and potential troublemakers within the United States as part of a domestic emergency preparedness program, commissioned under Reagan’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to sources and published reports. Using PROMIS, sources point out, North could have drawn up lists of anyone ever arrested for a political protest, for example, or anyone who had ever refused to pay their taxes. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon’s enemies list or Sen. Joe McCarthy’s blacklist look downright crude. (No pagination)
The PROMIS scandal demonstrates the proficiency of Contragaters in panoptic systems. Thus, it made sense for the Bush Administration to bring Contragater Poindexter on board to fulfill its panoptic agenda.
The Panopticon Singularity
Extensive press coverage of TIA led to the Pentagon shutting the program down and Poindexter leaving the government (Bamford, no pagination). However, the TIA’s method of collecting vast heaps of information, known in national security circles as “data mining,” did not disappear. Initiatives that elites cannot establish in plain view, they usually sneak through the back door. The panoptic machine is certainly no exception to this rule. It was recently revealed that, in the fall of 2001, President Bush secretly ordered the National Security Agency (NSA) to sidestep a special court and carry out warrantless spying on American citizens (Bamford, no pagination).
The legality of the President’s actions is questionable. Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, before spying domestically on Americans suspected of having terrorist ties, the NSA must first go before a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court and show probable cause to obtain a warrant (Bamford, no pagination). Persuading a FISA court to give the NSA the warrants it desired would have been relatively simple, as James Bamford points out:
The court rarely turns the government down. Since it was established in 1978, the court has granted about 19,000 warrants; it has only rejected five. And even in those cases the government has the right to appeal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, which in 27 years has only heard one case. And should the appeals court also reject the warrant request, the government could then appeal immediately to a closed session of the Supreme Court. (No pagination)
Given the ease with which the NSA might have procured the required warrants it is shocking that the President’s secret program bypassed the FISA court entirely. Perhaps the evidence suggesting probable cause was extremely flimsy. It would not be the first time that such was the case. J. Edgar Hoover was convinced that Martin Luther King Jr. was a subversive and tirelessly snooped into the famous Civil Rights leader’s private life. Today it is known that, while King’s private life left much to be desired, the case that he was somehow a conscious agent of Moscow was weak. Perhaps Bush did not want take a chance, no matter how low the odds, because his oligarchical upbringing has made it hard for him to take “no” for an answer.
However, there is another possibility. Perhaps the neoconservative faction of the elite are determined to establish the panoptic machine before this President’s time in office is over. Such a task would call for circumventing every safeguard the law provides. The President may believe he has done just that by having the NSA spy on hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of Americans just for a few days or weeks at a time (Bamford, no pagination). Such fishing expeditions would allow the President to argue that the eavesdropping was short-term and that FISA does not apply because it is for long-term monitoring (Bamford, no pagination). Even still, Bamford contends that such a method is “precisely the type of abuse the FISA court was put in place to stop” (No pagination). The President may be establishing a dangerous precedent, the end of which is a fully functional panoptic machine.
How was the NSA able to conduct a spy campaign on hundreds, if not thousands, of American citizens? Investigative journalist Jason Leopold answers that question:
A clandestine National Security Agency spy program code-named Echelon was likely responsible for tapping into the emails, telephone calls and facsimiles of thousands of average American citizens over the past four years in its effort to identify people suspected of communicating with al-Qaeda terrorists, according to half-a-dozen current and former intelligence officials from the NSA and FBI. (No pagination)
Echelon is a network of listening posts scattered across the world (Bomford, no pagination). The capabilities of this network are nothing less than shocking. The BBC’s Andrew Bomford elaborates:
Every international telephone call, fax, e-mail, or radio transmission can be listened to by powerful computers capable of voice recognition. They home in on a long list of key words, or patterns of messages. (No pagination)
Technology such as that employed by the Echelon network is making it possible for the rising technocratic system of government to become what author Charles Stross calls a Panopticon Singularity. Stross even refers directly to Echelon as one of the ten technologies contributing to the creation of a Panopticon Singularity (no pagination). The Panopticon Singularity is nothing less than a carceral state made absolute in its power by technology. Stross elaborates:
A Panopticon Singularity is the logical outcome if the burgeoning technologies of the singularity are funneled into automating law enforcement. Previous police states were limited by manpower, but the panopticon singularity substitutes technology, and ultimately replaces human conscience with a brilliant but merciless prosthesis. If a panopticon singularity emerges, you’d be well advised to stay away from Massachusetts if you and your partner aren’t married. Don’t think about smoking a joint unless you want to see the inside of one of the labour camps where over 50% of the population sooner or later go. Don’t jaywalk, chew gum in public, smoke, exceed the speed limit, stand in front of fire exit routes, or wear clothing that violates the city dress code (passed on the nod in 1892, and never repealed because everybody knew nobody would enforce it and it would take up valuable legislative time). You won’t be able to watch those old DVD’s of ‘Friends’ you copied during the naughty oughties because if you stick them in your player it’ll call the copyright police on you. You’d better not spend too much time at the bar, or your insurance premiums will rocket and your boss might ask you to undergo therapy. You might be able to read a library book or play a round of a computer game, but your computer will be counting the words you read and monitoring your pulse so that it can bill you for the excitement it has delivered. (No pagination)
Those who believe that snooping technology will not be used to erect a Panopticon Singularity and will only be employed against terrorists are being extremely naïve. Echelon has already been used for purposes outside of fighting terrorism. These purposes were criminal in nature. Andrew Bomford reports:
Journalist Duncan Campbell has spent much of his life investigating Echelon. In a report commissioned by the European Parliament he produced evidence that the NSA snooped on phone calls from a French firm bidding for a contract in Brazil. They passed the information on to an American competitor, which won the contract. (No pagination)
If the powers-that-be would use Echelon to give American companies an unfair advantage, they would most certainly use it to silence opposition to the rising Panopticon.
The Two Towers: Within the Pupil of All-Seeing Consciousness
The ideological and philosophical pedigree of those who are building the present panoptic state has already been established. Behind the appellation of “neoconservativism” lurks several other neo-“isms.” They are neo-Trotskyists. They are neo-Gnostics. They are neo-Jacobins. Most importantly, they are neo-Illuminists. As such, the neoconservatives are attempting to complete the unfinished pyramid and crown it with their own All-Seeing Eye. However, Bentham and Weishaupt could have only dreamed of having the panoptic instruments that are now at the neoconservatives’ disposal. The Enlightenment revolution is being re-initiated with some of the most advanced modern technology this era has to offer. Yet, nothing is truly new under the sun and the same holds true for the motives of those who are ushering in this Panoptic Age.
Underpinning the project to create a panoptic society is the Promethean ambition to endow man with omniscience and omnipotence. Of course, these are traits reserved only for God Himself. The psalmists established this reality most succinctly. Psalm 139:1-4 reveals the infinite nature of God’s knowledge:
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and rising up; You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
Meanwhile, Psalm 139:7-10 establishes the omnipresence of God:
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
With poetic eloquence and an impressive economy of words, the psalmists provide a beautiful portrait of the omniscience and omnipotence of God. It is precisely these attributes of divinity that the power elite covet. The same holds true for the neoconservative faction of the global oligarchical establishment. The reappearance of the pyramid and All-Seeing Eye motif reinforces this contention. The All-Seeing Eye that occupies the capstone of the truncated pyramid represents the All-Seeing consciousness of apotheosized man.
Ultimately, the neoconservative vision is distinctly Luciferian in character. Recall the illustration of Lucifer that adorned Diderot’s Encyclopedia, which was the bible of the Enlightenment. This drawing was accompanied by the esoteric symbols of occult Freemasonry. In The Meaning of Masonry, W.L. Wilmshurst provides the overall mission statement of the Lodge:
Man who has sprung from earth and developed through the lower kingdoms of nature to his present rational state, has yet to complete his evolution by becoming a god-like being and unifying his consciousness with the Omniscient – to promote which is and always has been the sole aim and purpose of all Initiation. (Wilmshurst, 94; emphasis added)
Omniscience is the ultimate goal. As ideological progenies of the Enlightenment, the neoconservatives share the aspirations of the fallen cherub. Even if they do not acknowledge Lucifer as a literal metaphysical entity, neoconservatives echo the Adversary’s hubristic declaration:
I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13-14)
As neo-Illuminists, the neoconservatives still embrace Weishaupt’s “inner Areopagites: man made perfect as a god-without-God.” Technology seems to promise the realization of this Illuminist aspiration. Through information gathering systems such as PROMIS, Echelon, and the surviving machinations of the defunct TIA Program, the neoconservatives are attempting to unify their consciousness with the Omniscient. From their lofty positions in the panoptic tower, the neoconservatives hope to see all and know all. No doubt, their fellow travelers in the Establishment hope for the same. However, none of the other competing factions of the power elite have made such vast strides towards this goal. Only the neoconservatives have managed to assemble so many components of a fully functional panoptic tower.
Yet, the neoconservative Panopticon still rests in the shadow of an older tower. The shadow of this earlier monument to panoptic conceit traverses thousands of years. Accompanying it is an anthropocentric decree that has been reiterated by every modern oligarch: “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:4). Of course, the Lord confounded the efforts of this early immanentist enterprise and scattered its adherents throughout the world (Genesis 11:7-9). No doubt, as the neoconservatives continue down the self-immolating path of their Enlightenment predecessors, the legacy of Babel shall revisit this emergent Panoptic Age.
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About the Authors
Phillip D. Collins acted as the editor for The Hidden Face of Terrorism. He co-authored the book The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship, which is available at www.amazon.com. It is also available as an E-book at www.4acloserlook.com. Phillip has also written articles for Paranoia Magazine, MKzine, News With Views, B.I.P.E.D.: The Official Website of Darwinian Dissent and Conspiracy Archive. He has also been interviewed on several radio programs, including A Closer Look, Peering Into Darkness, From the Grassy Knoll, Frankly Speaking, the ByteShow, and Sphinx Radio.
In 1999, Phillip earned an Associate degree of Arts and Science. In 2006, he earned a bachelor’s degree with a major in communication studies and liberal studies along with a minor in philosophy. During the course of his seven-year college career, Phillip has studied philosophy, religion, political science, semiotics, journalism, theatre, and classic literature. He recently completed a collection of short stories, poetry, and prose entitled Expansive Thoughts. Readers can learn more about it at www.expansivethoughts.com.
Paul D. Collins has studied suppressed history and the shadowy undercurrents of world political dynamics for roughly eleven years. In 1999, he earned his Associate of Arts and Science degree. In 2006, he completed his bachelor’s degree with a major in liberal studies and a minor political science. Paul has authored another book entitled The Hidden Face of Terrorism: The Dark Side of Social Engineering, From Antiquity to September 11. Published in November 2002, the book is available online from www.1stbooks.com, barnesandnoble.com, and also amazon.com. It can be purchased as an e-book (ISBN 1-4033-6798-1) or in paperback format (ISBN 1-4033-6799-X). Paul also co-authored The Ascendancy of the Scientific Dictatorship.