TODAY’S MONKEY NUMBER: 6,850
They call them “Police States.” No, they’re not places free from crime. They’re places where the crime is that no one is free. Freedom does not exist. There are no choices. Instead of true government, Police States are run by those who have the most power, which means, of course, control of the military. Those in power always keep it until they’re forced to relinquish it. The United States has a sordid history of supporting and backing these sewers of human rights. Mubarak is just another in a long line of human latrines who acquired obscene wealth from the United States while oppressing and tyrannizing the citizens of his own country.
In 1983 I crossed Bulgaria by train without a visa. It was a terrifying experience where my own ignorance nearly got me into a serious, life-damaging jam. Pure luck, Baksheesh in the form of American dollars and the intervention of a Turkish woman saved me. I watched mile after mile of barbed wire and lookout towers go by before the shit hit the fan. I was fortunate.
Several weeks later I again saw the militarized fist of oppression at work. This time it was Egypt. This incident was actually quite mild, compared to Bulgaria. Not terrifying at all. A little anxiety. Some concern for the Egyptians involved, yes.
The Egyptians – four university students – had broken a strictly enforced law by speaking to three tourists (myself and an Australian couple). We were chatting outside the station when the police came out of nowhere and arrested the four students. The three of us didn’t understand. We tried to protest. As they were taken away, one of the students told us to be outside the National Museum at 5:00 p.m., about an hour later.
When we met them they explained that it was against the law for Egyptians to talk to foreigners. They had been taken to the local police station where they immediately paid the standard fine (bribe) and were released. If you don’t pay the fine? We asked them. Trouble, they said, without elaborating. We followed them to a student café and talked late into the night.
Mubarak’s gone and there’s talk of democracy floating around, looking for its memeness. The military says it wants democracy, Israel peace. What kind of democracy and what kind of peace remains to be seen.
Mohamed Bouazizi? Name ring a bell? It should. He’s the match that started this freedom fire raging. Dec. 17, 2010 he performed self-immolation in Tunisia. Started a brush fire of thought that toppled Tunisia and spread to Egypt, a conflagration of memes in the First Digital Dynasty.
How did it happen? January 25, announced as a “police holiday” in Egypt turns into mass demonstrations, and only 17 days (!) later Mubarak is gone. What happened?
In a word: Words. As Hamlet says, “Words, words, words.” And, as he might add, were he living today: “Images, images, images!”
Images, especially when the same ones are shown simultaneously and then repeatedly (how often? how many times? Come on somebody, study this!) throughout the world create Godzillian memes.
Memes (imagine thoughts that go subconsciously viral, like a video on Youtube) become particularly powerful when the language of an event becomes exhausted. How does the “language of an event” become “exhausted.” That’s easy. It’s when there’s nothing more to say about the event (or occurrence, or moment, catastrophe, etc.), but there’s still a huge demand for people to say something about the event.
Or, to put it another way, when the viewing and listening and reading public becomes ADDICTED to an event, and the creators of the addiction (media) run short on fresh supply, the addicts get sold a weaker and weaker drug – one that says or shows the same thing over and over. And it’s that repetition that often becomes the event. The repetition creates its own power. Sure, it’s Orwellian, good old 1984 stuff.
Those homo sapiens possessing a subconscious are particularly susceptible to these viruses. Once a meme reaches the subconscious level, it owns the conscious being it inhabits.
The run-up to the Super Bowl is a classic example. Everything important gets said and written in the various media within the first few days. After that, most of what you hear has already been said or written before. And it gets written or said over and over, and over. The language soon becomes exhausted because it can’t say anything new, find any new words. At that point the language becomes merely propaganda, a tool that creates the IDEA of the event. You never have to FORM a thought yourself. It’s been inculcated into your thinking
What happened in Egypt is different, but not. Even before January 25 happened, memes had already created the issue – no more Mubarak! The thought virus had already started in Tunisia. A tough, government-resistant strain. As if it had already been determined. And those memes were swiftly exhausted. (Not so much if you only relied upon American media because the US never really understood how far things had gone before it started). What was left was 16 more days of those memes working overtime – no more Mubarak! until they had created their own self-fulfilling prophecy in the minds of everyone (including Mubarak) and he was gone. As I write this, it’s started up in Algeria, also Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East. Thought flues can be contagious.