No one confessed the machine was out of hand. Year by year it was served with increased efficiency and decreased intelligence. The better a man knew his own duties upon it, the less he understood the duties of his neighbour, and in all the world there was not one who understood the monster as a whole.
E. M. Forster’s novella, The Machine Stops, was published in 1909. It is set in the distant future. The human race lives underground in pod-like dwellings, their lives mediated by what we would now recognize as a kind of Internet of Things. The history of the world is constantly refalsified, and the main occupation of the populace is the cultivation of ‘ideas,’ which has replaced all previous forms of human endeavour. A Central Committee oversees the entire system. There is a tiny minority of isolated dissenters who have held on to the memory of the world as it was long ago, but they are considered outcasts and live in danger of punishment, the worst being death by exposure to the toxic air at the surface of the earth.
Our Virtual Reality.
In the early days of moving pictures, there were commentators who remarked on the artificiality of the phenomenon: a two-dimensional thing, a shadow play compared with the live theatre. Parking a camera in front of the action resulted in a static image, even if the actors were moving around in it. Gradually it became apparent that the camera itself could be made to move around, like a kind of artificial brain-behind-the-eye, a reflection of the visionary motion human beings experience in their memories and dreams. Techniques of editing evolved to help enhance this effect. As the art of film developed, it was presented with live music, ranging from a piano player or parlour-organist in the smaller theatres, up to full orchestras performing original scores in the great movie palaces of the 1920s.
Now we have technology that makes all extant film heritage easily available to us. Some of it is cleaned up and restored to a high-resolution, carefully curated ideal version of what it may originally have been like. Moving pictures are a wonderful art. But no matter how high the quality of the technologically manipulated image and sound, it is not the same as the living reality of theatre, where the audience breathes together with the souls on the stage. Many people can’t even connect with a live performance. The ‘live’ shows they attend often simulate digitized screen entertainment, as though real human beings using their own bodies and voices is somehow too embarrassing or boring, and needs to be camouflaged with special effects.
The memory of the development of things is forgotten, distorted and belittled. Or it is pillaged for its half-remembered echo of the past, and commodified by the corporate powers that now control the ‘entertainment industry.’ Historical continuity is lost. No wonder some people believe that famous actors and other celebrities are the tools of some kind of shadowy ‘Illuminati.’
As the electronic devices that rule our lives have steadily become more technologically advanced and compact, our souls seem to have shrunk. Analog, the rounded, fully connected flow of recorded sound and image, is digitally translated into discrete bits, a fragmented and incomplete experience that has its origins in binary computer language.
Human beings are also binary. But not in the same way as computers.
Rainbows and Unicorns.
In the early 1970s, there was an influential television program and book called Free to Be…You and Me. Its intent was to encourage parents to help their children become healthy human beings and fulfill their potential in life, which included freedom from stereotypes of gender. There was a growing recognition that a child who was encouraged to love him- or herself might grow up to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, masculine or feminine, and that all of these things could be healthy forms of self-expression.
Apparently we are not Free to Be anymore.
Social and familial pressures or abuse (sexual, physical, psychological) can result in a young person growing up with a sense of disconnection from his or her own body. This is not a new phenomenon, but it is now being treated as though it were an indication of something wrong with the child’s body rather than with their environment. Adolescent girls, dismayed at the way their bodies are scrutinized and degraded in a pornified society, want to opt out of being female. Boys who fear they will not be accepted as gay or effeminate are encouraged to believe that they are really girls. Almost overnight, gender reassignment has spread like a social contagion among children and young adults. Many seem to be feeling that they are ‘in the wrong body.’
And it doesn’t stop with feeling. It carries right on into drugging with synthetic hormones, sterilization and physical mutilation. Preadolescent children of both sexes are being ‘transed’ by their parents, who at the first sign of gender non-conformity rush to turn their offspring into a grotesque parody of the opposite sex, with little apparent concern for the long-term consequences. If your male child ‘identifies’ as a girl, he must be one.
But is this ‘identity’ really the child’s own idea?
Dissociation from the physical reality of one’s body, or any part of it, used to be recognized as a form of mental illness. Eccentric behaviour such as crossdressing in males was regarded as a more or less harmless fetish. Today ‘identities’ are proliferating, and they are publicly enforced and policed. Men declare themselves to be women, say that they always were women, and are rewarded with stylish photos of themselves on the covers of women’s fashion magazines. They may undergo chemical and surgical interventions that aim to create a ‘female’ body. But whether it is a male or a female body that is being tampered with, the manufactured pseudoparts do not work anything like the real ones. And Mother Nature recognizes them as wounds, and is constantly trying to heal them.
Trauma can drive us to take refuge in alternative, self-created worlds. It’s hard to cope with life in a society ruled by elites whose interests are served by keeping the masses in a state of confusion and anxiety, so that the latent possibilities of individual lives are not allowed to manifest. It’s easy to see why individual ‘identity’ has become a way of regaining some sense of power and control. Many of us know what it’s like to be confused and dissociated from our bodies. But the job of those who can help a person in such a state is to support them in healing from their trauma, to learn to love the body they have, and to reconnect and interact with their real environment. Instead, the whole world is expected to conform to the dictates of a mass delusion.
We are supposed to forget the historical record of what life has been like for women, and the real reasons they have to fear the invasion of male-bodied persons into their sex-specific spaces. Many of the sex-based rights and protections that women struggled for decades and even centuries to establish are now being annihilated with astonishing rapidity, as men and boys can declare themselves to be female, often without undergoing any form of body modification. Any suggestion that the danger to women and girls is real is likely to be met with accusations of bigotry or worse.
“Four Legs Good! Two Legs Better!”
Let’s take a look at what is happening to language.
“Impactful.” A word we hear every day, again and again. What does it signify? A terrible accident, or winning the lottery?
Another one: “resilience.” It describes the quality we are supposed to cultivate in the face of everything that creates trauma, including sexual abuse, grinding poverty, unbearable working conditions, earthquakes and wars. “Resilience” replaces every other possible response, especially any that would call into question the motives of those who demand that we must be always “resilient.”
Over the last quarter century or so, the word “sex” has become interchangeable with, and for the most part eclipsed by, the word “gender,” even though they do not mean the same thing. Sex is either male or female. Gender is identity, role play, and a word used to designate nouns in languages that specify some words as masculine, feminine, or neuter. But on personal identification documents, census forms, and in common discourse, “sex” has been replaced with “gender.” This has implications for our perception of reality.
Here is the classical definition of the word ‘homosexual’: a human being whose sexual orientation is towards other human beings of the same sex. This definition applies regardless of what clothes you prefer to wear, how masculine or feminine you feel, or what you ‘identify’ as. According to the latest version of gender doctrine, however, a human being can not only ‘identify’ as the opposite sex, but such self-identification automatically entitles that person to demand that everyone else recognize them as such.
The rapid rise of ‘personal pronouns’ has occurred simultaneously with the generation of a myriad of ‘gender identities.’ But pronouns belong to language, not to the individuals using them. Aside from honorifics attached to royalty, the military, clergy, and some other groups in society, your pronouns are to be found in a common language related to your sex.
The word “transgender” is now part of an acronym which also encompasses “gay” and “lesbian,” so that there appears to be some kind of homogeneous community of LGBTQ+2 etc, etc, (plus whatever letters or numbers are added this week). We hear references to one or another “LGBTQ” person, as though a single human being could be all of these things at the same time. We are supposed to believe there is such a thing as a ‘non-binary’ individual. And when heterosexual people are calling themselves ‘queer,’ we have to ask whether language is still functioning as a coherent form of human communication.
It is no longer acceptable to believe our eyes, or the testimony of medical science, when it comes to the sex of a human being at birth. In order to avoid the trauma of being arbitrarily ‘assigned’ to the wrong gender, children are to be born as neither male nor female. Doctors and other health care professionals are supposed to ignore the evidence of their senses, to use ‘gender neutral’ words for what are clearly male and female body parts, or to pretend that the person they are treating is the opposite sex of the sex they actually are, if that is how they ‘identify’ themselves.
Organizations that used to represent women and mothers now refer to ‘menstruators,’ ‘uterus havers,’ and ‘birthing persons’. Women’s vaginas are called ‘front holes.’ It’s not breastfeeding, it’s ‘chestfeeding’.
But the sex of the body you were born into is not assigned; it is observed. It is not a disease, or a congenital defect like a club foot or a cleft palate, which can be corrected or improved. Even people who are born “intersex” are born with an anomaly of either a male or a female body. And regardless of what happened to you, or to me, or to anyone else over the course of our lives, or how it has affected us, a human being cannot change sex.
History is blatantly falsified. Individuals who engaged in gender non-conforming behaviour are now regularly described as having been transgender. Women who wore ‘male’ clothing in order to survive in a hostile environment, or to follow a career that would otherwise have been closed to them, were “transmen.” Are we supposed to endorse the fate of such as Alan Turing, who was forcibly injected with artificial female hormones in an attempt to ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality?
I am told that I belong to a newly minted class of oppressors: the ‘cis,’ who enjoy some kind of privilege because they recognize that the sex they were born as is the sex they are. But I am not a ‘cis.’ My mother was not a ‘cis.’ My grandmothers were not ‘cis.’ There is no such thing as a ‘cis.’
Public criticism of these developments was permitted by the mass media for the equivalent of a nanosecond, and rapidly quashed around the time we were all told to call Bruce “Caitlyn.” One has to assume that the managers of the big media outlets got the memo from their bankrollers. And who are in the overwhelming majority of those now censored, banned from social media, ‘deplatformed,’ losing their friends and even their livelihoods, because they dissent from the new gender doctrine? Women. Actual, real women. Women who refuse to talk in UnicornRainbow Newspeak are doubleplusungood.
Did this profound disconnection from physical reality, this commodification of ‘identities’ along with the interventions required to maintain them, supported by giant pharmaceutical corporations and funded by billionaires, officially sanctioned and promoted on a massive scale, just arise spontaneously? Was it a natural outgrowth of other long-established movements such as feminism, or the decades of activism which led to a general acceptance of homosexuality as normal? Was there a sudden moment of mass enlightenment, coming at the end of a long struggle for acceptance?
It is important to be careful in making connections between different things that are occurring at the same time. Humans are kind of like engines of meaning, creating structures and relationships out of what may be unrelated developments. That is how we get tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories about reptiles who live at the centre of the earth and run the world, along with other wacky notions. But if you can get masses of people to believe that human beings can change sex, and that this is the way of the future, why not also have them believe that life can be perfected by turning human beings into machines? The names of the major characters involved in the ‘transhumanist’ movement–and the corporate entities they have founded and preside over–are easy to find, and it doesn’t take long to notice that they are also in the forefront of those promoting transgender doctrine.
Great deceivers have always known that the big lie is more effective than the little lies, because the big lie reaches into the depths of our being and manipulates the values we hold most dear–such as the liberal values of kindness, tolerance, acceptance and belief in progress. The feelings associated with these concepts retain a powerful hold over people’s minds.
Running parallel with liberal values, and somehow managing to work hand in hand with them, another way of interpreting reality has offered freedom from the restrictions of the past. The old ‘grand narratives’ that used to make sense of history are now seen as constricting and irrelevant. Even attempts to salvage marginalized narratives (the lives of women, slaves, other oppressed or silenced groups) are removed from their historical context and distorted to suit contemporary fashion. Postmodernism, which had appeared to be just an academic fad, was recognized as having immense potential as an instrument of control. Translated and vulgarized for mass consumption, it took over popular culture, along with those remnants of higher intellectual life still considered useful to furthering the agenda of the financial and technocratic elites. It is easier to control people if you can convince them that history is just a jumble of stuff, all interpretations are valid, and we no longer need to try to understand the past.
Our human bodies, too, are just a jumble of parts, mix and match as you wish. We are told that those born male will give birth. How? Through womb transplants (and where will the uteri come from?) or artificial wombs—ignoring the entire matrix that is a mother’s body. Are human bodies in fact becoming obsolete? They used to be experienced as the vehicle in which our souls travelled over the course of our physical existence on earth. But proponents of transhumanism believe that the contents of the brain can be downloaded and stored for personal earthly immortality. Like ‘cissexism,’ ‘fleshism’ is another mental defect we are supposed to overcome.
Before you transform people into machines, you have to get the masses to believe that machines hold the key to their survival and salvation. We see television commercials that show how robots are teaching people to be more compassionate and caring. There are now robots who care for the aged, otherwise neglected in long term care facilities. There are robot pets and robot sex dolls, including ones that simulate children.
What kind of world will be populated by humans who have forgotten that their souls ever existed? Will the elites have some sort of soul sanctuary refuges? Like posh fortified resorts where they can gloat over the gullibility of the masses, who have been led to believe that their struggle for day-to-day survival is all about creating a robotic paradise where everyone will be immortal? There has to be a way to train us for obedience while the bugs in the system are being worked out.
The covid virus lockdown has led to an explosion in the use of virtual on-screen reality, as life went online and data mining increased. For many, living online is easier than trying to move through the minefield of restrictions that now complicate life in the real world.
Going out in public is increasingly problematic. We are supposed to wear masks and relate to each other through screens, without touching. The arrows on the floor in Walmart show us which way to go, to avoid bumping into other humans. Self-checkouts, debit or credit only, are constantly sanitized by a handful of attendants who have replaced real cashiers. The Amazon ‘fulfilment centres’ buzz like massive hives full of worker bees, and the trucks deliver endless packages to people who can afford to shop without leaving home. Those now “working from home” have their computers connected to remote managers, who can monitor their online activity on and off the job. The 24 hour surveillance state, “a digital Panopticon,” is now one’s workplace. Having microchips implanted into our bodies is no longer just an plot device in a science fiction dystopia.
As we transition to a cashless economy, and more of our public and private life is recorded through online activity, every one of us creates a footprint, and it is a record that never disappears. It’s supposed to be secure, because only the right pieces, the ones that belong, are allowed to fit into the puzzle. And we are to believe that this is the ultimate freedom, since ‘no one is in charge.’ It’s as though whoever thought this one up had never heard of viruses.
“Impact investing” shows us how the poor and the marginalized are already being ‘nudged’ through life. (Naturally, it’s dressed in the language of personal responsibility, resilience, and caring.) “Pay-for-success” projects replace publicly funded social programs. Helping the vulnerable, the broken, or the environment is no longer a laudable end in itself. Aid is now sponsored by private investors, with specific goals and deadlines which must be met in order for funding to continue. Pressure is put on those who used to be known as ‘social workers,’ for example, to meet assigned objectives efficiently and within precise financial parameters. Those who are ‘helped’ become their benefactors’ customers-for-life. ‘Smart schools’ plug young children into the system, to be monitored online (starting with kindergarten play tables that are connected to a network) and steered into jobs deemed suitable for their economic status and ‘skill sets.’ (We do have to wonder how this is supposed to work, when the future of work itself seems to be very ambiguous.) With the use of behaviour modification apps, mothers living in poverty are rewarded or punished according to their degree of obedience to compulsory tracking (for example, whether or not they are purchasing the correct food items). In Human Capital Markets, the disadvantaged and dispossessed are going to be among the first owned by the “peopleonaires.”
The souls of those who are not able to participate in the posthuman dream will go on suffering, even while people are encouraged to believe that seven billion unique personal pronouns will somehow save us from the ‘gender binary,’ a manufactured conflict which is a distraction from the bigger picture of where we are going.
It is a fantasy that leads nowhere–unless you believe that we were meant to sacrifice our souls to an ever self-perfecting machine. In that case, no price is too high to buy the possibility for some of us to live forever in virtual reality–not the rejection of a common language, not ignoring our biological reality, not forgetting history, not even the destruction of our current planet.
The technologically sophisticated shadow play in which we are supposed to believe is less real than the dreams made visible in the early days of cinema. Transgenderism regards the human body, male and female, as the raw material of gender fantasies. Transhumanism turns the human body into a machine, and equates the measurable activity of the human brain with the human soul. Both are heavily promoted as a substitute for freedom, the kind of freedom that would enable human beings to fulfil their potential on earth.
When the fantasies of gender and of machine-humans both fail, where will the soul be? It is there, even if everyone forgets about it, in each individual and behind the universal human experience. Those who refuse to abandon reality will be here to pick up the pieces when the soul-denying dream dies.
18 thoughts on “The Machine Stops”
excellent piece and argument. We need more thinkers like you!
Ciao Kamilla, I’m an Italian reader. I don’t know English well (and I use Google translator xD) … I was very impressed with what you write. Especially when you write these words: “When the fantasies of gender and of machine-humans both fail, where will the soul be? It is there, even if everyone forgets about it, in each individual and behind the universal human experience.” In fact, although power tries to make us forget about ourselves, there will always be a certain nostalgia that will remind us of who we really are: beings made for the Infinite. Grazie.
Thank you. I appreciate your comment. This blog is irregularly updated as I try to prioritize work on a novel.
Thank you for writing this article, reason and logic is rare these days.
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Excellent piece. I will be sharing this with my peasant family and community. Your words resonate with our own thoughts and feelings as this new world unfolds before us. Thank you for writing this.
Mostly cogent, except that proponents of both transgenderism and transhumanism are wrong but sincere. There is no conspiracy looking to control people. Transgender ideologues truly believe that men can be women. Transhumanists truly believe that people can be uploaded into machines. They’re both wrong because the technology required to achieve such a thing is beyond Star Trek level, not because there’s anything theoretically impossible about them. The “soul”, such as it is, is an emergent and ever-changing property of the operation of brain and body, and has no independent existence. It ends with the death of the body from which it arises.
If you want to control masses of people, you get them to believe things that aren’t true. Transgenderism and transhumanism are both tools of a managerial class that wants people to believe that these things are ‘progressive.’
Unless you have evidence for that, you are as much a liar as the people you claim are lying. You too want to gain control over people, to have them believe as you do. It is perfectly possible to believe in things that aren’t true “just because”, and not as an instrument of control.
Your use of “soul” would make me think that you believe in gods, the supernatural, or some other non-physical explanation of consciousness, which, of course. is the most enormous means-of-control lie that humanity has ever conceived. So there’s that.
You say: “The ‘soul,’ such as it is, is an emergent and ever-changing property of the operation of brain and body, and has no independent existence. It ends with the death of the body from which it arises.”
To which I reply: “Unless you have evidence for that, you are as much a liar as the people you claim are lying. You too want to gain control over people, to have them believe as you do. It is perfectly possible to believe in things that aren’t true “just because”, and not as an instrument of control.”
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Anyone who came to this site, knows who the liar is. Kamilla wrote this from the bottom of her heart and here you appear to call her a liar. Go back to reading your instruction manual for lying, the Talmud. Your negative energy and lies should seek out your own kind in the dark corners of the Internet. Get out of here.
You require more proof from her assertions, but give none of your own. To claim that “transgender ideologues truly believe that men can become women” is true on the ground level, and they become the foot soldiers of the ones who know how to harness these ideologies. We see such ideologies manipulated every day in targeted advertising, news and entertainment media. It is purposeful, and therefore with the intent to control to various extents. To say that transgenderism and transhumanism can be achieved if a high enough level of technology existed is not right either. They could never be truly possible, despite any human-made technology, because of the soul. Your definition of the soul is so limiting that there is no reason for it to even exist. You seem to be talking talking about consciousness, which is not the same as the soul.