The Ultimate Weapon
ODAY BADDAR | MAY 3, 2011
I - Prelude
They have lined up, several years ago now, a new range of so-called non-lethal weapons, designed mainly for riot control. Of the controversial non-lethal weapons that have been produced and tested, but not yet put in the market, are ones called directed-energy weapons (DEW). By using electromagnetic pulses, sonic emissions, and particle beams, DEWs can physically or psychologically paralyze human beings; not only crowds of protesters, but entire cities. In addition to paralysis, they deliver excruciating, unbearable pain by heating up the human body like a microwave oven does with food. Should the weapon activation intervals exceed the time limits, people will turn into roasted ducks.
The reason why DEWs have not entered the riot-control market has less to do with governments' concern for human rights and the Geneva Conventions, and more to do with the psychological unpreparedness of the public to yet accept images or stories of such horror unleashed against, usually, unarmed protesters.
The current legal methods of dealing with popular uprisings (tear gas, rubber bullets and rubber shrapnel, water cannons, stun grenades, batons, and the occasional use of live ammunition) seem to effectively deter enough people from participating in contact zones. But in some cases; in certain conditions, the uprising goes out of control. The most recent events in Egypt and Libya have proven that not even horrific body mutilation at the hands of thugs and mercenaries, nor the shelling and bombing from the ground and sky (nevermind non-lethal weapons), could stop a people bent on accomplishing revolution. The reason for riot-control failure has everything to do with the failure in acquiring and updating a unique weapon that is infinitely more potent than the deadliest DEWs and WMDs combined; the ultimate weapon: information.
II - Information
Contemplate, for a minute, the marvel of human creation. From microchips and computers to high rises and man-made islands. It began thousands of years ago, when a man observed how a fire starts. Now we have put satellites in outer-space for scientific research, telecommunications, and weapon activation. A science fiction super hero might have the ability to telekinetically move knives and light sabers, but we have figured out how to move over a ton of aluminum and steel at a speed of 500 km/hr by applying slight pressure on a foot pedal. X-Men may be able to harness thunder and magnetism to flip cars in the air, but we have built electric grids that generate enough electricity to power entire cities with millions of sophisticated machines, by flipping a tiny switch. There is a subtle, yet undeniable conclusion: the human mind is infinitely more powerful than all of X-Men's powers combined.
More important and more potent than conquering electromagnetism, gravity, and solar energy is the human mind's capacity to create and recognize information (in the sense that Vilém Flusser conveys in his Philosophy of Photography). Originally, to inform means to communicate or instill a form into the human mind by utilizing reason and sense perception. A form is an image, a product, a construct, a frame of understanding, a concept, or an idea. It is still arguable whether humans are capable of producing truly original information without synthesizing previous information, but that is beside the point. Superiority belongs to the one who conquers the weapon of information.
One might ask: are you saying that information is more powerful than a nuclear bomb? Yes it is. A nuclear bomb as a deterrent: being unaware (uninformed) of its presence and effects, defeats the whole point of deterrence. As a weapon of terror (i.e. kill some to subdue others), the survivors of the attack can only be inhibited by the informed horror and fear they witness. Otherwise it would be like killing zombies in order to convince other zombies to back off. Moreover, should this informed fear subside (with counter information), plots for revenge would be underway. As a weapon of annihilation and genocide against a foreign country, there will be need for profound information to get the public's support, or else it will be grounds for ousting (by force if necessary) and prosecution. As a weapon of annihilation and genocide against one's own people (assuming they can actually get away with it), they'd have no one left to rule and enslave, not to mention that they'd end up killing themselves in the process.
The 9/11 terror attacks failed to achieve their aim because their perpetrators have not informed the American public that it was an act of desperation and vengeance to end US hegemonic presence in the Middle East. The United States government quickly launched a counter-information campaign on its own people through its most potent apparatuses (schools and the mainstream media): "They attacked us because they hate freedom; because Islam teaches to kill infidels; because they are evil; because they can't stand western culture and values; etc." Had the 9/11 attacks been a nuclear one, the only difference is that the US reaction (in Afghanistan, Iraq, and probably other countries) would have been a hundred times deadlier.
The 2004 Madrid train bombings, in contrast, led to a very different response from Spain. The great majority of Spaniards seem to have been informed in advance; that their involvement in the Iraq bombing, invasion, and occupation was very likely going to invite a deadly reaction. The train bombings, one year after the war on Iraq started, and three days before general elections, led the Spaniards to oust the incumbent prime minister, and vote in another whose promise to fully withdraw from Iraq was his elections campaign slogan. Unlike most Americans, the great majority of Spaniards, over 90% of whom opposed the Iraq war, openly accept that they had it coming. Thus, instead of an unquenchable thirst for revenge, the Spaniards hastily pulled out of Iraq.
Understand that when information is used by who we perceive as an oppressor, we refer to it as brainwashing, indoctrination, propaganda, false advertisement, etc. But when information is used by who we perceive as an emancipator, we refer to it as enlightenment, empowerment, revelation, deliverance, and so on. Thus, one vital information is the recognition of who’s who, because unlike comic books and movies, the bad guy isn't always the one who has reptilian features, and the good guy isn't always the hot one in spandex.
To understand, in depth, how the ultimate weapon is (and has been) used, we must first review the objectives of oppression and emancipation, and what is it that every oppressor (whether imposed or democratically elected, religious or secular, rightist or leftist, local or foreign) seek? Why do oppressors oppress?
III - The Oppressors
Oppression in all its forms, including torture, imprisonment, execution, assassination, confiscation of property, destruction of possessions, expulsion, humiliation, economic deprivation, to name a few; is aimed at subjugating and controlling the public. But control is not the oppressor's aim. It is but a means to an end, namely, to decide who gets what. In other words, they oppress because they decided, with justification, that they should be the ones who get more (approaching all) material gains, which can only mean that the oppressed will get less (approaching none).
That being said, all oppressors, even Nazis, truly prefer to achieve this aim peacefully. This notion that they enjoy inflicting pain and oppression, an image fortified in cartoons and fairy tales with exaggerated sinister laughs and devilish looks, should not escape the confines of metaphor. The main obstacle, from an oppressor's point of view, is that people have brains (too) and an equally insatiable desire to get more. The prudent oppressor knows that he cannot rely on violence for long intervals, because its effectiveness, regardless of its methods or severity, has a threshold. Thus, it should only be used when all other means have been exhausted. And when violence is finally used, it should be at shocking and awful levels.
Inflicting pain on a people who are out of control, the prudent oppressor understands, is not meant to punish or to vent some personal vendetta, and it is not random. It must be scientifically designed to disorient the protesters and break their spirits; to make them lose the ability and (more importantly) the willingness to fight, in order to regain control. When taken prisoners, they are blindfolded or hooded because psychological research has proven that the levels of horror and devastation on the human mind are much greater when he cannot see what is about to happen to him.
Nevertheless, waiting till the situation explodes into a mass demonstration is already a major failure of control. Shock and awe, and all lesser forms of subjugation to pain, should not be on the oppressor's mind like a madman who carries a fire extinguisher wherever he goes expecting a fire to break out. Violent suppression is the least favorable means because the prudent oppressor understands that brutality (or the threat of brutality) used over a long time span, loses its psychological (informative) effect on the populace. One can understand why the Egyptian and Syrian regimes (who have imposed martial law for over thirty years) have fallen apart so quickly, while other brutal dictators, who resorted to violence less frequently, were able to extend their rule. Long-term control, whether in a democracy or a dictatorship, can only be achieved with information.
IV - The Brainwash
Brutality is to an oppressor what a cloth is to a bleeding cut. It is meant to be a temporary fix until the injured makes it to a hospital. Inexperienced, dumb oppressors would indulge themselves in those temporary fixes. But eventually, the cloth will get soaked, and the oppressed will explode.
The prudent oppressor's hospital is nothing short of a mental rehabilitation facility, staffed with the top brainwash doctors, aided with the most advanced tools and vaccines in brainwash therapy and surgery. For prolonged, stable control, most citizens must be periodically (approaching permanently) admitted to this hospital where collective brainwash is engineered.
The first and most crucial double-dose of indoctrination is: (1) that the concept of truth is always subjective; and (2) that although all people are equal, some are more equal than others - that societal hierarchy is natural, that some people deserve to have more than others for all different kinds of reasons.
Some oppressors still cling onto obsolete theories of nobility, royalty, purity, and even scientific racism to justify hierarchy; why they of all people should be in power. Others created mythologies or abused religions to say that the gods favor hierarchy. Today we have the greatest of all modern hierarchy theories: Herbert Spencer's "survival of the fittest" economics, intertwined with John Locke's "modified theory of value" which builds on a remarkably simple and seemingly flawless logic: when one mixes their labor with nature, they become the rightful owners of that part of nature. It's a scientific way of saying "you reap what you sow."
Those five simple words, at first glance, seem to be the pinnacle of fairness and justice, and that is because they are. The more you sow, the more you reap! This axiom has been so powerful that it led civilizations to believe in karma, reincarnation, and afterlife; for they needed to explain why some have sown but never reaped, while others did not sow but reaped anyway. A universe so magnificently designed with infinite precision, bound by physical laws, would not allow such imbalance (injustice) to go unchecked.
From that tradition we get norms like: the more you study, the higher grades you get; the harder you work, the higher pay you receive; and the more good you do for others, the more good will be done for you. And this seems to be the most logical theory of hierarchy we have to date. It makes no sense to reward everyone equally, when they have not studied and worked equally. To impose equal rewards on everyone regardless of their contribution is clearly unjust.
V - The Emancipators
In the same way that oppressors struggle as they build their brainwash software through schools and media, there is another group of people on the other end of the spectrum who struggle to develop the antidote to the oppressor's enslaving poison. The antidote makers are, hence, called emancipators.
An emancipator is recognized not by miracles or superpowers (elements also obtainable by oppressors), but by a message centered on achieving a different form of justice based on equality, not hierarchy. The emancipator's antidote begins its effect on the brain by asking the logical questions. For example: since the harder one works the more pay he should receive, why have so many worked really hard but got paid less, or, even worse, got laid off? And why did some do good, like fulfill their citizenship duties to society (e.g. paid taxes) but have not received citizenship benefits?
The brainwash doctors fight back by injecting the oppressed with many a mixture of informative-drugs to ensure their apathetic acceptance and manufacture their submissiveness. They would say that such unfairness is inevitable as it is built into the system. You recognize the drugged by the cynical mottoes they use to justify their post-modern passive consent: life isn't fair; we're all gonna die anyway; life is a bitch; whatever; shit happens; c'est la vie. They accept worse conditions because they have come to believe that good and bad must go hand in hand.
The emancipator responds by acknowledging the truth in "you reap what you sow," but the difference being in that the oppressor's interpretation is based on narrowminded rationalism. He believes that he gained power through his own effort, thus the rewards are well-deserved and well-earned. Based on this, the poor and the weak do not truly deserve sympathy or charity because no one else should be blamed for the choices these weaklings made in life which led them to poverty and destitute (i.e. they reaped what they sowed). The emancipator, on the other hand, interprets based on broad-minded structuralism. He believes that no one rationally chooses a path of poverty and suffering, which means that there are factors beyond our perceived choices that pave our paths to wealth or poverty, factors like an oppressive business owner who underpays or lays off his employees to increase his profits. Can we seriously claim that that business owner reaped what he sowed, or that the underpaid and laid-off employees reaped what they sowed?
The prudent emancipator does not seek to impose equal rewards, but equal opportunities; and in the absence of those opportunities, to impose an effective system of social welfare to take back some of those opportunities which the oppressors hogged all for themselves. In other words, before we preach "you reap what you sow," or "you own the part of nature you mix your labor with," shouldn't we guarantee everyone equal access to that nature to mix their labor with? Why quote Locke's theory of value without mentioning his condition to the above statement, that there should be "enough, and as good, left in common for others"?
In order to practically get out of this cycle of oppression and injustice, the emancipator stresses the reaping of spiritual gains, which then in turn gives the correct scientific framework for reaping the material gains we're after. That is to say, reaping spiritual gains - such as dignity, respect, love, cooperation, freedom, trust, loyalty, friendship, happiness, and even the afterlife – would prepare us to avoid abusing "you reap what you sow," by preventing the devil from playing with our minds to take what is not ours, to understand that cheating, cunning, and conning others are not considered intellectual or physical efforts that have rightfully earned material rewards, and they are certainly not labor in order to earn wages, and they are not material sowing that justify any material reaping. Instead, they end up reaping what others have sown, that is to say stealing from others, and leading to an unbalancing shift in the scales of life. And as this kind of corruption continues, so will the unbalancing, until the scale breaks down, and the oppressed roll up their sleeves and sweep the oppressors like a tsunami, starting with the most corrupt.
As for the oppressor, due to his narrow-minded rationalism, he secretly ridicules spiritual gains, while the emancipator openly ridicules the endless chase after material gains - money and all that money can buy - without first obtaining the spiritual framework. The oppressor sacrifices the lives of others for material gains under the guise of noble pursuits; while the emancipator sacrifices his or her own material gains, including his flesh if necessary, so that others gain spiritually and eventually materialistically. The oppressor preaches that you benefit society most by looking after your own interests; to keep away from what does not concern you, while the latter preaches that your benefit is maximized only when you seek the benefit of others as you do your own (do unto others as you wish be done unto yourself), for their benefit and yours are tied together.
There is a feeling of euphoria that beholds the person who sees a starving child and feeds her, or even a dog or a cat. And most people think they can explain the source of that euphoria as being an earthly or heavenly reward, when in fact its source is the entire earth and the heavens; a universal energy that fills your soul, because you have, although for a just a few moments, participated in pushing the scale towards universal balance and justice. The verse "whoever does an atom's worth of good shall see it" attests to this truth, and so do the words of Gibran: "Money is like love. It kills who holds onto it, and breathes life into the one who gives it away."
VI - The Savior
In desperate times some people dream that the only way to be delivered from severe oppression is for some supreme individual, or a messiah, with supernatural powers to come along and save us. When we look back at both myth and religion, we find that supernatural powers, whether real or not, were never actually directed at the oppressor, but used as a "visual aid" to deliver a message to the oppressed; to deliver a dose of informative antidote. Once taken, they would gain sight beyond sight, to see truth with unclouded eyes: that the source of the oppressor's power is their obedient consent.
Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad made enemies with authorities not because they were preaching new worship rituals (as many religious oppressors would have us believe), but because they were informing the oppressed with the truth that would set them free.
Oppressors relegated such teachings to the fringe, when in fact they have been at the core of their message. Jesus spoke, in parable, of the four types of oppressed people (Matthew 13), a parable that Muhammad confirmed (Quran 48:29): The first type receives the informative antidote (message), but the oppressor's poison inside is too strong to be affected. The second type accepts the antidote, but its effect doesn't last for more than a couple of hours, only to return to his poisoned state. The third type accepts the antidote and gladly joins the struggle against the oppressor, but after some weeks or months, the oppressor injects him with a choking dose of poison that compels the antidote to recede. The fourth type successfully accepts an irreversible dose of antidote. They, always few in numbers, become the forefront of the revolution.
Turning to modern myth, such as the Matrix, the savior is once again portrayed to be a superman with divine powers, but he doesn't seem to have a message to deliver to the masses he's supposed to save. Neo's supreme kung fu moves and bullet-dodging speed couldn't explain to someone like Cypher, who represents the majority of people, why they should even bother fight against an oppressor who promises and delivers a decent life.
From this dialogue, we see that the actual emancipator was Morpheus. It was he who set Neo free and showed him his true potential. Neo is but a soldier; transformed into a supreme weapon through the informing of Morpheus. The act of "saving" has been misunderstood (by many) throughout the trilogy, thinking that punching the invincible enemy to death is how the oppressed can be saved. And at the end of the trilogy, the chosen one finally realizes that smiting the oppressor is truly futile, and gives up his life willingly as the price to end armed conflict, and the war returns to a battle of information.
The misunderstanding of the "savior's role" is cleared up at the end of the first part, when Neo disrupts the Matrix encoding (informing) process, and delivers this message to the oppressor:
VII - The Resistance
Whenever the oppressor's brainwashing efforts are successfully thwarted by the emancipator's antidote, the awakened masses of the oppressed will rise up against the oppressor to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. When they have figured out that the oppressor had never actually reaped what he sowed (of material gains), but was reaping what they have been sowing for decades, they will finally demand their hardearned, stolen wealth. It is at this stage of the game that the oppressor, understandably, launches a campaign of terror he had long assembled, for the unlikely event of mass rebellion. "Understandably," because he stole what's theirs, and a criminal must naturally predict a reaction.
Gandhi, based on his understanding of the oppressor's ultimate aim, had figured out (as many others before him) the ultimate antidote that would snatch all power from the oppressor: collective and total civil disobedience: stop all commerce, block traffic in streets, block railroads, lie down on airport runways, block entrances and exits of vital buildings, shut down all public transportation, all facilities, all schools, all businesses, all factories, make your own clothes, produce your own food; i.e. stop all forms of economic life tied to the system. When the oppressed collective no longer participate in producing and delivering the oppressor's gains, he will effectively lose control and consequently power.
It is false to say that Gandhi's movement succeeded because of its non-violent nature, just as it is false to attribute Guevara's and Castro's successful revolution to armed resistance. All a nation has to do to successfully overthrow an oppressor is to refuse to partake in any economic activity. Whether one chooses to carry a sign, a gun, a rock, or a bomb is not the determining factor for political change.
Keep in mind that the oppressor is the one who requests the nation's uninterrupted participation in economic life, no matter what catastrophe has befallen the nation, for that is the source of his income and power. Recall in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush said:
Similarly in Egypt, Mubarak and his VP, Suleiman, reiterated the same message: "go back to your homes." When that didn't work, the army (main economic beneficiary in the country) got rid of them faster than anyone had imagined. When oppressors talk about how the country's economy hurts, they mean they are the ones hurting. One can witness the gradual decline in the oppressor's threats as civil disobedience begins to succeed. No government on earth could ever sustain incessant civil disobedience. Even the supposedly invincible Israeli Zionists capitulated to the first Intifada of 1987, and in return for the end of civil disobedience, they gave up territories to be run by their arch-enemy: Arafat and the PLO. It was either that, or they would have lost the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip, along with the cheap labor they provide.
VIII - Conclusion
This magical word, information, contains the key to free and to enslave minds. To inform, originally, means to imprint a certain form in the mind. When a person is informed, a certain combination of images and symbols get imprinted in her mind, which will then lead her to act upon that information. All human actions, from sharpening a pencil to overthrowing a king, are based on cumulative information. Without information, the human mind will cease to exist, and along with it all meaningful and purposeful action. The prudent oppressor, hence, seeks to control people through a sophisticated campaign of information. The oppressed must be convinced that the oppressor's presence is not only irreversible, but that it is also beneficial.
Thus, the real battle between oppressor and emancipator takes place in the world of information. Both the oppressor and the emancipator attempt to "inform" the people with a certain world view, to make them act upon it. While the oppressor's aim is to inform the people in order to accept his rule and serve his endless strife for material gains (the blue pill), the emancipator's aim is to inform the people to live in a world where there is no master and no slave (the red pill).
The oppressor must use information that entices the slaves' instincts, targeting their physiological needs which he had deprived them from satisfying due to the scarcity he created. The emancipator, on the other hand, does not own any material gains to entice people with. Thus, he must resort to stressing spiritual gains, such as freedom, love, dignity, respect, in addition to material gains that will come after the struggle (jihad) is over.
The modern oppressor uses some of his people's stolen resources to invest in research and development on how to modernize his superiority in the control of information. Thus, obligatory schools are set up, teachers and professors are indoctrinated or automatically filtered out of the system (for their failure to keep up with the set curriculum would lead to many failing grades; it would be the students and their parents who would oust the teacher), media outlets are bought, emancipators are captured and silenced, and of course, hierarchical individualism is praised while collective and equitable work is despised.
The modern oppressor's message is: "to become Bill Gates or Michael Jordan, you only need yourself! Don't trust anyone, for everyone is out there for himself, and they will try their best to take everything they can from you. Don't lend money to anyone, because you can't trust that they will pay it back. Don't start up a business with too many partners, you never know what could go wrong and your hard-earned money will be lost." How many times have you heard people warning you to stay away from unions and to not do business with Jews, Arabs, Italians, Irish, Chinese, Blacks, Whites, Indians, Druze, Gypsies, Nigerians, Turks, Mexicans, Sunnis, Shiites, Orthodox, Mormons, Catholics, Presbyterians, etc, even when you yourself belong to one of these groups! Can you think of any group of people that has an unchallenged reputation for trustworthiness?
The prudent oppressor, however, will allow small, insignificant, and inconsequential groups to exist and function freely, for their ineffectiveness and internal dysfunctions will only serve to fortify one's apathy, cynicism, and belief in the uselessness of joining any group. In the same line of thinking, the prudent oppressor will not clear all streets and parks from bums and beggars, for they function as a reminder to everyone else how they would end up should they not show up to work every day.
As for the work place, corporate oppressors will set up cubicles with high walls to minimize socializing. And if that wasn't enough, flexible work schedules are set up to decrease colleague familiarity and social frequency. Even if you somehow managed to overcome all those socializing barriers, be assured that many of your disposable colleagues will be recycled and reshuffled into other departments and temp agencies, not to mention employees being forced to tick the "willing to relocate" box on the application form.
These social barriers begin as early as high school. Students used to all stay in the same classroom, with different teachers walking in and out of the same classroom. Such conditions created a greater solidarity among students, which they picked up all the way into college, where programs for each major had almost identical schedules for all enrolled students. So if you were a freshman in a business college, you were more likely to see the same faces in every course you took all the way until graduation. But this is no longer the case. Moreover, student fraternities and sororities, as well as other student groups, become private clubs with very little funding and a long list of restrictions, where any activity deemed illegal could cost the student his or her diploma and probably their career.
As the oppressor's grip over information becomes tighter, the emancipator's task becomes ever more difficult. So when Che Guevara succeeded in Cuba, the oppressors all around updated their tactics and prepared for the anticipated spread of revolution throughout Latin America. Unlike Cuba, where Che and his men were welcomed, loved, and supported by the people, it was in Bolivia that he was captured and killed in cold blood. The difference was that the Bolivian oppressors fought much harder, and preemptively, in the information battle, with the help of the CIA. The impoverished peasants, the very people he was trying to emancipate, were the ones who gave him up to the authorities, without even a reward.
Morpheus wasn't really talking to Neo, but the film producers were talking to the viewers, telling us that saving people is done by unplugging their minds first, not by simply fighting the agents of oppression. For without the informative antidote, the oppressed will function as an extension to the oppressor's arm of control. They, too, oppress others in the hierarchy of oppression; and they, too, reap what the poorer have sown.
If you're looking up, waiting for the savior to descend on a cloud with an army of angels, you're wasting your time - You're looking in the wrong place. The savior is not a person, but an information that will unlock and reconfigure your mind to see the objective truth; to see that your fear of the oppressor is based on your ignorance of his weakness, while his fear of your power is based on his recognition of his own crimes against you; so that the illusion of his power decimates, while you realize how powerful you truly are. The ultimate weapon... is already in your possession.