A long time ago, before there was the Internet, if you wanted to herd your potential critics into fake communities and waste their time, one of the only ways to do that was the church. Although a rather primitive system of control by today’s standards, the church (i.e. organized religion, of any variety) was, for well over a thousand years, the primary means of dividing people up into arbitrary groups, filling their heads with all manner of alternately frightening and comforting nonsense, and tricking them into hating each other for a variety of ridiculous reasons that not even the clergy that invented them ever completely understood. So, before we get into the Internet and social networks and all that stuff, we want to take a quick look back at the original means of unplugging people from the material world and plugging them into a totally made-up ontological simulation that renders the majority of them harmless and compliant.
Now, organized religion, in one form or another, has been around since pretty much the dawn of human civilization, but the kind of sophisticated operation we’re talking about (i.e. herding people into fake communities and wasting their time, as opposed to simply brainwashing children into identifying with their parents’ ethnic/cultural groups) doesn’t get started until 313 AD, so with the Edict of Milan, and Constantine, and the beginning of the Fall of the Roman Empire, and all that. This is the time when organized Christianity merges with the already disintegrating Empire, and is deployed as the primary means of brainwashing and manipulating the masses, once the Romans have begun to lose their ability to intimidate and oppress everyone with brute force.
This is a key point, because, as we noted in Part One of our series, as long as the whole despotic social structure thing is still working for you (as it was for the Roman elites during the heyday of the Empire, so 27 BC to around 180 AD), you don’t really need to worry about herding critics into fake communities and wasting their time, because, well, basically, you can just kill them, and nail their mutilated corpses up on big wooden crosses alongside the road into town, or impale their severed heads on spikes, or feed them to the lions or whatever, as a warning to any other potential critics.
However, once your despotic social structure starts to come apart at the seams — as it inevitably will, due to its fundamental top-down inefficiency, and the immutable natural laws of the Market and so on — organized religion (or something very much like it) becomes essential as a means of brainwashing and manipulating all the millions of people you want to ruthlessly exploit for your personal benefit, and whose behavior and beliefs you want to control as much as possible. Which, of course, was the main function of organized religion throughout the Middle Ages, and right up until the Age of Enlightenment, when modern capitalist forces started challenging all the despotic beliefs and social structures the church and the aristocracies had been ramming down everyone’s throats for hundreds of years.
Now, obviously, we don’t have time or space to cover the entire history of Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism, or how organized religion functioned hand in hand with the ever-changing balance of power among the various medieval empires, kingdoms, fiefdoms and the like, or during the initial transition from Feudalism to modern Capitalism, when organized religion was losing its ability to brainwash and manipulate the masses into docilely serving the ruling class in this life in exchange for the promise of some form of eternal happiness in the next (although we do recommend looking into all that), so we’re going to jump ahead to the late-20th Century, by which time nobody actually believed in God anymore (except for insane religious fanatics) and the church had become more or less useless as a means of herding people into fake communities and wasting their time … the whole “death of God” thing also being responsible for most of the horrors of the early- and mid-20th Century, as people were suddenly faced with the utter meaninglessness of the pain and suffering they were submitting themselves to in order to enrich the ruling classes without any prospect of an “eternal reward” in heaven. See Existentialism for further details on that.
Fortunately, during the 1960s and 1970s, while Capitalism was experiencing one of its periodic crises, and the Specter of Communism was still very much on the march, and all kinds of radical terrorist groups, university students, hippies and minorities were rising up against the System all over the world, a bunch of geniuses started developing all these packet switched network things, which later, during the 1980s, would become the Internet, which would lead to the World Wide Web, and … well, here we are.
Now, the Internet and the World Wide Web are probably the most powerful tools ever invented in the entire history of herding people into fake communities and wasting their time. For starters, the World Wide Web (the infinite virtual information space where documents and other such resources are accessed via the Internet) is really just one big fake community — a simulated global community comprising an infinite number of ever-smaller subsidiary or subordinate simulated communities, which are the ones we want to focus on.
This gets a little tricky as, remember, we’re not despots, so we can’t just force people to spend hours and hours interacting with some virtual “reality” wherein we blatantly tell them what they’re supposed to be thinking and doing all the time. It’s not like the old days. On top of which, due to its decentralized structure, we’re never really going to be able to control the Internet completely, so we need to focus on tactics like misdirection, instigation, luring, negging, ostracization, cordoning-off, positive and negative peer pressure, and a variety of other deviously manipulative techniques.
The good news is, by pretending to deliver people from the misery and monotony of the material world (as the church did back in the Middle Ages), the World Wide Web has already done half our work for us. Getting the majority of people to forget about the completely unnecessary pain and suffering they are putting up with so that a small minority of elite individuals can live off everyone else like parasites is already taken care of. All we need to focus on is identifying your potential critics (as well as any other type of unstable individuals who are using the Internet to preach heretical or otherwise unorthodox ideas) and herd them into the appropriate fake communities where we can waste a significant amount of their time.
Editors’ Note: OK, we’ve had to adjust our original installment sequence here, as we seem to have gotten bogged down in all this history stuff again … but we promise to get to social networks in Part Three. So do stay tuned for that.