There is a temptation, pronounced most acutely in frustration or fear, to compare the indoctrinated to the mole or the grub. This creature, accustomed to the tenebrous, subterranean environment in which it has been placed, may not be unlike the myopic bourgeoisie, those social specimens born into psychic and intellectual darkness, and preserved in darkness by pervasive propaganda. They are cautioned against venturing into the world above and outside, and for good reason, as the brutal brilliance of the natural light will blind them—temporarily, yes, but not so briefly as to deny them time to squint and squeal and scurry back furiously to the comfortable ignorance to which they’ve grown accustomed. Have we painted this portrait fairly? Are we right to reduce the bourgeoisie to this cruel and dehumanizing cliché? Perhaps, but let us not forget Nietzsche’s warning: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster.” We the unplugged, the disillusioned and the disabused, spend so much time within our own shelter, within the echo chamber of reality, speaking only with those who have escaped the prison of the benighted, that we forget the benighted are real men and women, living beings whose words and behaviors, ventriloquized and puppetized though they may be, have a tangible and sometimes even fatal impact. We forget this only at our own peril, and we run an even greater risk if we forget that it is they, the programmed and the manipulated, who have forced us into our own chateau, and not the other way around.
For this reason, it is necessary to maintain some limited conversance with the popular culture, but this proves more trying with each passing day. The popular culture is alien, hostile, and frequently unintelligible, hence why we must commit ourselves to a mastery of it. An especially provocative and relevant example emerged just a couple of days ago, when Anderson Cooper of CNN invited Bill Gates to describe his vision of what the United States government must do in its ongoing battle against the coronavirus. It is a battle that is growing increasingly quixotic, as neither a relaxed and Darwinist approach, nor the enforcement of mass social isolation, has been proven to reliably halt the spread of infection—which is to say that there is no practical justification, to say nothing of a philosophical foundation, to suspend the people’s freedom of movement. We are aghast to hear of policemen detaining people without formal charge, yet our tolerance for the revocation of several other civil liberties under universal suspicion of infection is apparently everlasting. Unfortunately, the popular culture has little patience for this criticism, and will entertain it only rhetorically, so as to caricaturize and demonize the conscientious objector.
Bill Gates is more than willing to execute this task, one which he has pursued with salient passion in the days of the pandemic. This summer, he has made multiple appearances on CNN, delivering cheerful lectures on “the need” to proscribe freedom of movement and to enforce compliance with this prohibition through “contact tracing” and other forms of universal surveillance. When he isn’t speaking to the hosts of CNN directly, they are discussing him with an unreserved reverence, and in the absence of even gestural neutrality—a journalistic malignance that has become the norm in the Trumpish Age—a novice might think Gates is the network’s senior coronavirus correspondent. We have written of institutional incest before, but the problem remains mysterious, even unknown, to the bourgeoisie who depend on popular culture to remain “informed”. Alas, the corporate brass of Warner Media are more perceptive than that, and they recognize that their pageantry has become dangerously undignified. Perhaps they wanted to avert calamity when, on Thursday, July 23rd, they pumped the brakes of their propaganda machine and invited Gates to address some of the criticism he has received in the independent media.