Skilluminati Research

An Invocation Against the Inevitable

Posted Sep 01, 2011 14 comments

“There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.” - McLuhan

Skilluminati Research has been a very cynical project...until now. Change of policy: there are no sufficient excuses for inaction. There is no point to all this research if I'm not capable of using it for something real. What interests me now is Synthesis. How can we build a politics that takes all of this horrible shit for granted and still provides a master plan?

In 2011, Hope and Change are hollow brand names and representative Democracy itself is hollowed out, broken for decades. Distrust of government has gone from a fringe position to a bipartisan consensus. If you think all that adds up to a "Now is the Time" pep talk, you're not hearing me at all. We are more fucked than ever. The situation is not "ripe," it is fundamentally out of control and irreversible. ...so what then?

The Machine is bigger than you can think. It snakes through every aspect of your life, it networks an entire planet of political powerbrokers, banking cartels, intelligence agencies, arms dealers, cult leaders, secret societies and royal families. From cynical operatives to true believers, from corporate boardrooms to secret bases, the Machine is too vast an ecosystem to model accurately. Both in human terms and hardware specs, much of the infrastructure is classified -- and that's just the stuff the military is doing. Every serious effort to reform this system to date has gotten nowhere. ...so what now?

Most dangerously, our language is broken. Not only broken, but weaponized against us. Human beings are depressingly easy to manipulate in large numbers. Your brain, not to get too technical, is a buggy piece of shit. Despite being a three pound patty of Universe-making miracle meat, our brains leave us very vulnerable to each other. Our broken cultural dialog is a cascading feedback loop of confirmation bias, narrative framing, visual cues, and paid disinformation -- and that's just the stuff the Democratics are doing. Even starting the conversation about "fixing the system" or "improving quality of life" is difficult now. This is a testament to the power of demographic targeting, segmented messaging and persuasion engineering. Mind control is a very mundane science these days.

And...so what? I can at least say this: there is a way - in fact, thousands of Ways - and we will find them, and we will use them. I'm still sketching out the details, but it's there and I'm far from the only monkey in the Zoo who sees it.

Perception Management | Social Control | Hudson Institute

Every 24 hours, the global situation gets more unstable, and we have less time to fix it. The imperative weight of what our generation must accomplish is crushing, and for most of us, paralyzing. What is being asked of you is both unfair and unrealistic. To be clear: I'm not going to tell you that you have to do it, I'm just explaining where I will be located through 2012.

"One man with an idea in his head is in danger of being considered a madman: two men with the same idea in common may be foolish, but can hardly be mad; ten men sharing an idea begin to act, a hundred draw attention as fanatics, a thousand and society begins to tremble, a hundred thousand and there is war abroad, and the cause has victories tangible and real; and why only a hundred thousand? Why not a hundred million and peace upon the earth? You and I who agree together, it is we who have to answer that question." -- William Morris

Everybody wants to change the world...and that makes this a dangerous conversation to have. I can understand why bloggers get touchy about being labeled "Enemy Combatants" by DoD documentation like the Information Operations Roadmap, but I also don't think the Pentagon is exactly wrong, either. We all think our motives are pure, so when we talk about "changing the world" we seldom hear the resemblance to, for instance: Christian Dominionists, al-Qaeda, Jeff Skilling from Enron, and the Council on Foreign Relations. In fact, the langauge is identical, and any serious political reform effort is essentially a non-violent revolutionary act.

Enemies are too easy, though. I would like to play a different game now. I am here to learn from everyone, but please don't mistake that for an invitation. I learn on my own terms -- as Wyndham Lewis never said to Marshall McLuhan, "The secret of success is secrecy."

With that approach in mind, I will be tinkering with changes to the format here at Skilluminati Research. This will still be home to long-form essays, but the back end architecture will be changing into something more useful for other researchers. Certainly, my source documentation is more valuable than my moron opinions. I also intend to make this more of a network hub, with more outbound links and spotlights on worthy endeavors being waged elsewhere.

Suggestions welcome. As always: Thank you for your time.

Filed in: Political Science

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Comments

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  • 1. Thirtyseven on Sep 01, 2011 at 8:57 PM permalink

    Happy Ganesh Chaturthi, folks. This was the intro to a much longer piece still in progress, but I had to get this out today for obvious reasons.

    Thanks to synchronicity, this can be read as an oblique response to a powerful piece that was posted by Jeff Wells today:
    http://rigint.blogspot.com/2011/09/we-are-monsters-weve-been-waiting-for.html

  • 2. The Wolf on Sep 02, 2011 at 1:12 AM permalink

    I’m in. Time to go back to work.

  • 3. Eric on Sep 02, 2011 at 9:34 AM permalink

    ಠ_ಠ Ah, what we must accomplish. Whenever I discuss things with either side of the alternative politics spectrum, it always comes back to how the new generation must step up.

    To which I always reply, if you’re going to build something for the future, why not go somewhere that has no established interests for you to threaten? What kind of deal can you make to counter the incentives to leave, what actual benefits do you provide? Certainly everyone isn’t going to leave, they have family and established codes of conduct. But are you going to get the best people to work with you simply because you trapped them in a quagmire?

    And if their mind control was so effective people wouldn’t be complaining about Obama every other time I mention politics in the coffee shop. Approval ratings are in the toilet. There is a status quo that is hanging around until 2016-late 2018, after which things will kick back in gear and change will accelerate. And most likely get worse.

    What virtues do you possess for these times? Most of the alternative right and left groups are caught up in an endless circle jerking and lack anything resembling leadership. The circumstances that they will face will be much harsher and they will no longer simply be able to agree away their troubles. They must create actual benefits.

    And do and think things that aren’t comfortable. Not in the way depression porn and playing tabloid reporter to the world leaders is “uncomfortable”. That is nothing more than highbrow TMZ that has no deeper goal behind it. Yes the Italian PM slept with a 17 year old girl whose body has reached sexual maturity. Are your children not going to starve in a decade because you know this? Will you be able to defend your way of life with this? You stand to actually lose something from this game and it will not go away if you agree to stop publishing about it. Competent SOF cannot be created after the crisis occurs.

    The Left has plenty of room to innovate; right now its main purpose is blindly accepting right wing economic policies and criticizing every type of social policy as not being far enough to the left. It’s a mode of thought that actively tries to censor most forms of thought because they are afraid of hurting other people. It stands for nothing except to weaken the culture that it hosts, it is primarily reactive. And in the absence of culture, Capitalism will fill the void that it should not and consumption will become take precedence over community. We literally have the worst of both worlds. I’m not sure if you could fuck it up any worse given how much wealth and power we still have.

    Yes, I know gay rights are important. They are also a tiny minority (less than 4%) in society and the act of debating their right to marriage is one of the most trivial and meaningless things in existence compared to the gradual economic collapse of Western civilization. It’s a question of tax and healthcare benefits versus the end of life as we know it.

    But no liberal or conservative has this kind of perspective, to put aside the need to feel the pain or outrage of someone else and instead look at what must be done. Both sides are more than willing to have giant rallies for or against these minor issues, probably because the larger picture is so grim. As I said before these luxuries will pass. We simply aren’t important, powerful or experienced enough to pretend to be the moral authority for everyone in the world anymore. Our own morality has degraded to the point that we can’t function properly.

    What method could possibly be more indirect than laying your happiness and success solely on your ability to convince a group of other people about what you should try to do? In the real world trying to do something is only the beginning, you will try and have to bounce back from failure repeatedly as you adjust your philosophy and tactics to a rapidly changing reality. This is how competitive fields work. If you are succeeding more than 30% of the time then you didn’t set your sights high enough in the first place.

    Meanwhile, armchair internet politicians argue about whether change can occur from within the system, instead of testing to see whether it works in their district. They argue that everyone is apathetic without testing or getting any kind of metric to qualify this assumption. They underestimate just how much effort it requires and how much more alive they will feel when they have done something real.

    The alternative politics crowd is alienated because they are full of shit. They are not repressed because they are not a threat, they aren’t even viable. ಠ_ಠ

  • 4. Jason Gallagher on Sep 02, 2011 at 10:27 AM permalink

    Knowledge is easily shaped and shipped through the web. If we leverage that fact, non-violent revolutionary technologies like civil disobedience can become memetic.

  • 5. Thirtyseven on Sep 02, 2011 at 11:16 AM permalink

    “why not go somewhere that has no established interests for you to threaten?”

    ...because Mars is expensive.

  • 6. Splendide on Sep 02, 2011 at 11:23 AM permalink

    Your William Morris quote reminds me of something I’ve heard every Thanksgiving driving to my Grandparents house.

    “And friends, somewhere in Washington enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of my fingerprints.  And the only reason I’m singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a situation like that there’s only one thing you can do and that’s walk into the shrink wherever you are ,just walk in say “Shrink, You can get anything you want, at Alice’s restaurant.”.  And walk out.  You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him.  And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in
    singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization.  And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out.  And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

    And that’s what it is , the Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and
    all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come’s around on the
    guitar.” - Arlo Guthrie

  • 7. Eric on Sep 02, 2011 at 12:09 PM permalink

    Fair point, you’re always stepping on someones toes if you build anything.

    To clarify: Whenever there is an intersection of political, corporate and government power preventing you from creating your own “thing”, you are better off trying in a more receptive environment. For example, the independent ISP’s that tried to start their own high speed services to compete with established services in very low speed states, only to find themselves blocked by the local government because of bribes.

    The Luddites were mostly middle class textile workers who didn’t want their livelihood threatened by machines. They had an established interest in seeing the total destruction of the new enterprise, there was no room for them to compete on any other level in price or quality. If you set up shop where there are no textile workers then there won’t be a peasant revolt to destroy your factories. People sure as fuck aren’t going to stop buying cheap merchandise.

    Another example: trying to build a rainwater collector, which is illegal in most states in spite of there being drought in those states (lol); or gardening on your front lawn in a “liberal” city like Portland. Is anyone in Brazil going to give a fuck if you do these things? Are they going to be supportive in any way, instead of noticeably hostile? When the authorities go out of their way to restrict you from trying new solutions, you are dealing with established interests. It is easier to avoid them and go to a place that will work with you.

  • 8. Thirtyseven on Sep 02, 2011 at 12:37 PM permalink

    I appreciate the clarification, Eric. I was wondering where you were headed with that one.

  • 9. HEARlabs on Sep 02, 2011 at 6:56 PM permalink

    are you talking about an ‘invisible college’ here, or an ‘open conspiracy’?

  • 10. Thirtyseven on Sep 02, 2011 at 9:43 PM permalink

    Both, definitely.

    Neither is dispensable.

    The conversation is open, the application is something else altogether. There’s not going to be a Skilluminati Party or anything like that. Hopefully we can be boring enough to stay off the radar screen and make strong contributions, quietly.

  • 11. HEARlabs on Sep 03, 2011 at 1:12 AM permalink

    “… build a politics ...” So, first, can you define politics? I’m taking my definition from the first line of Wikipedia’s politics page: “… a process by which groups of people make collective decisions.” Observing government, politicians, etc, behavior, and applying “The purpose of a system is what it does” rule of thumb, what is usually going on is the application of predetermined & set ideology to all problems (as well as clashes between 2 or more ideologies, and the occassional attempt at finding some compromise between ideologies.)

    In contrast to that, engineering has developed a whole bunch of tools & techniques for effective problem solving - root cause analysis, 5 whys, cost benefit analysis, total cost of ownership, trade study, risk analysis, and so on. I’ve never heard any politician, journalist, commentator or analyst mention any of these concepts. As long as we continue to just throw ideology at every situation, instead of actually using our best problem solving techniques, things will continue to get worse.

    Switching gears:

    Bakan’s The Corporation argues (IMO compellingly) that corporations behave like psychopaths (incapable of empathy or guilt, reckless, deceitful, etc.) And corporations are inextricably intertwined with government, news/media & military, such that they are, arguably, one large psychopathic system.

    Up until recently, I was basically convinced that corporations, government, or both, can be changed via application of cybernetic & systems engineering principles. Factoring in the psychopathology makes things tricky - assuming this is valid, or at least a valid analogy, “changing” the system may not even be possible, at least in any real substantive fashion. Psychopaths don’t usually respond to treatment - it usually just makes them better at being psychopaths. The only thing that occurs to me would be to find ways to “convince” the system that it is its own best interest to substantively change.

    This then generates other questions - and it is getting late now…

    Here’s a good starting point for where this is going, if you aren’t familiar - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_leverage_points

    The twelve leverage points to intervene in a system were proposed by Donella Meadows… She started with the observation that there are levers, or places within a complex system (such as a firm, a city, an economy, a living being, an ecosystem, an ecoregion) where a “small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything”

  • 12. Eric on Sep 03, 2011 at 1:21 PM permalink

    Many large corporations are being kept on life support by governments. The financial system is being leveraged hundreds of times beyond it’s actual value to keep the profits coming in - it’s not sustainable.

    The same technological changes that have allowed small guerrilla groups to run circles around the large and slow US Army have allowed smaller firms to out compete larger ones. In 25 years peoples concept of a corporation will be very different from what it is now.

    Technology has already changed the system and caused it to eat itself alive. John Robb, Vinay Gupta and literally thousands of people have tried the “convince the system” route, incentives and power work a lot better.

    The term psychopath gets thrown around too loosely on the left, like how the right throws around the title alpha male. No one wants to actually earn anything anymore.

  • 13. Doc on Sep 03, 2011 at 7:07 PM permalink

    Very good. This has me thinking again along the lines of weaponization of the thought of us “plebians” - albeit still foggy right now to me. It also has me trying to clear out my mental chache to catch up. Bear with me.

    Bloom’s Taxomony came straight to mind, especially the
    pyramid version of this: In educaitonl institutions he is still all the current rage (although it is a bit older) and the impact is eveidental when the instution’s are selling “power verbs” see page 4 of the pdf:
    http://www.stanford.edu/dept/pres-provost/irds/assessment/downloads/CLO.pdf Wonder how will those mesh with
    Newt’s words.

    The control machine is large, but we might be the beast that is unpredictable. Feeding our memes back to the machine, with our payloads intact seems a viable method of prevailing.

    So im looking at lakoff’s How democrats & progressives can win:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vo4whfUDPcU , Remembering Heraclitus, Aesop, and Taleb’s latest pdf on aphoristic philosophy. there is something there and many memetic blasts are still functional from teh 60s, however, most are now forgotten cause media focus is on flower children and their partying.

    The other method I consider is what im calling ‘elemental warfare.’ that is, envisioning control systems as embodying certain elemental attributes or attribute pyramids, and application of the resolving elements to balance the control scheme. So, the most common elemental used is fire, and is mostly put out by the application of water, but one should consider the method of removing the ‘air’ as well as smoldering with earth...but i digress. 

    Finally, Kevin, has his approach mostly summarized: “If you want to protest, do it as a general strike that shuts down the Ponzi scheme economy, make a lot less taxable income, produce your own food, participate in local, outlaw food economies, remove your money from the bank, stop buying shit you don’t need.”

    Ultimately, a new story, myth, is needed and that myth needs action to live. Lots to grapple with.

  • 14. Yesferatu on Jan 07, 2013 at 6:54 PM permalink

    Reads well in 2013. Hopefully this year yields more written material from you.

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