On The Matrix
Henry H. Lindner
If you’ve seen the movie The Matrix and especially if you took a real interest in it, I can use it to illustrate just what these pages are about. We are indeed living in a Matrix—a web of false ideas that distort our thinking, our lives, and our societies and which effectively enslaves us all.
The Matrix is set at some time in the future when a man-made artificial intelligence--software--has taken over the Earth and controls a vast army of robots. Humans are exploited as sources of electrical power for the machines. They are grown in vast nurseries and live out their lives in vats, with tubes to supply food and remove waste, and with their brains hardwired to a neuro-interactive simulation. The simulation is called the “Matrix”. It serves to keep the humans inactive and docile while the robots gather the electricity that their bodies generate.
The authors of this story no doubt understood some of the obvious implications for our present situation, and knew that our subconscious grasp of this meaning would make the movie all that more attractive. We do, in fact, live within mental matrix of words, ideas, ideologies and theories with which we represent and interpret our experiences. How has this come about? All animals are conscious to some extent, they experience pain, hunger, desire, pleasure, etc. much as we do. Homo sapiens are animals whose consciousness enhanced by, and whose minds are made immeasurably more powerful by language. We are apes that evolved the ability to speak. With words and the ideas that they can represent, we spin a web of meaning around our sensations—around the inputs we receive from the Cosmos with which we interact and of which we are a part. Since the actual nature of Cosmos and the causes of most things are hidden to us, we must operate on the basis of assumptions and theories. The ideas and theories that we are taught as children become a part of our mental structure—we use them to interpret everything that we experience and do. These assumptions and ideologies guide and control all of our thinking and therefore our actions. They are the foundation of our mental matrix and of our social systems. Richard Dawkins and others have described these ideas as memes. Memes which accurately represent Cosmic and human reality allow us to survive and thrive. False memes act just like viruses, preventing us from understanding reality and causing us to harm ourselves, our children, and other human beings.
Here’s the problem. The memes that inhabit our minds, such as God, freedom, immortality, soul, reality, sin, innate evil, obedience, capitalism, communism, law, etc., are for the most part very old ideas. Most of them originate in the Old Testament of the Bible and are false and destructive. No serious thinker today can begin to take them seriously. However, these memes stubbornly persist because the very structure of our society is based upon them and they are transferred—like viruses—from the minds of the previous generation to the next generation. As the Matrix in the movie was used to facilitate the exploitation of humans, so the current ideological Matrix was created for, and serves to exploit us, turning us into unthinking workers and consumers—slaves of the a ruling elite who themselves are trapped in the Matrix. Very few of us are able to escape the Matrix. We do not even know that it exists. And even if we get a clue to its existence, we usually don't have the free time or the inclination to investigate it, nor the belief in our own mental capability to understand or to escape it. The Matrix is sustained by the very institutions and behaviors that it has created: coercive parenting, religious indoctrination, universal government schooling, corporate mass media and authoritarian political systems. The Matrix turns every parent into an oppressor and "trainer" of their own children—preparing them for a life of obedience to authorities—a life of mortgage and tax slavery. As our species’ past was largely superstitious and authoritarian, with some persons controlling other persons, our theories and memes that come from that time continue to support today’s more "sophisticated" forms of authoritarianism. Capitalism, far from being the highest form of freedom as we are told, is an authoritarian system where the few exploit the many via fractional reserve banking, the government and its corporations, and the legal system. Fractional reserve banking is simply a legalized scam in which private banks are allowed to create money from nothing when issuing a loan, and therefore they effectively enslave every person who takes out a mortgage—for the next 30 years of his/her life. With this scam, bankers have accumulated the money needed to control the media, the political process and higher education.
As in the movie, freeing oneself from the Matrix is not easy. For some ideas on how to do so, see the many articles at this site including So You Want to be a Philosopher? As in the movie, the single most effective means of grasping the nature of the Matrix is to get outside of it. One way of doing this is to leave one’s society and live in a third world or even an “enemy” country. You will need to go through a very long process of questioning everything you've learned from your church, school, media, and state. You have to confront the myths, the lies, and pure evil of the religion you were taught to embrace. You must ask yourself if you really believe that X is true, and why. What is the evidence? Is there a better theory to explain it? And just like in the movie, you will find that learning the truth is liberating but is also very painful and depressing. You will start to see the lies and the unnecessary suffering that is all around you. You will begin to see the Matrix’s cost in human life and potential. You will become a stranger—cut off from most people in your society—even from the members of your own family.
As in the movie, here in real life it’s also true that after a certain age, most adults cannot be unplugged from the Matrix, no matter what they see, or experience, or are taught. The only real hope for mankind is to raise children outside of the Matrix. For this, parents need to deprogram themselves as much as possible first. They need to learn about humane childrearing principles. They need to practice natural childrearing (attachment parenting). They need an entirely different attitude towards their children--concerned to supply their needs, answer their cries, never abandon them even for a few minutes, respect their individuality and choices, never train them to obey commands, allow them to think for themselves and to be responsible for their own education, and never send them to any school unless/until they are old enough to decide to go on their own, for their own purposes.
Let me turn to illustrating more aspects of our own Matrix with quotes from the movie:
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave. Neo, like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch; a prison for your mind.
Indeed, the web of old, inadequate and contradictory ideas that creates and sustains our "enlightened" society is a prison of ideas. It prevents us from seeing reality as it is and from understanding it. It prevents us even from knowing ourselves. We are trained by parents and school to label ourselves as lazy and stupid and our own minds as inadequate. As powerless children, we try to conform to the dictates of parents, churches and schools in order to be “good”. The “normal” childrearing we experience is calculated to impede our emotional and intellectual development. Fractional reserve banking allows an elite to enslave us with credit. The state taxes our labor at a rate similar to that of a medieval serf. Indeed, the vast majority of us are raised by slaves, to be slaves. The government we have today, this capitalistic, welfare state "democracy", enslaves our minds and thus our lives more efficiently than any system that has ever existed. Instead of a whip or a gun, it uses ideas to control us—hence its need for the unprecedented governmental control and brainwashing of children throughout their developmental years. Mass public schooling was created in Prussia in the 19th century to create a population of technically proficient but intellectually undeveloped people who would make the state and its industries a powerful and efficient machine. This coercive schooling was brought to America and instituted in the late nineteenth century here by the capitalist controllers of society for the very same reason. They wanted to turn the independent, self-taught American people into obedient workers in their factories and soldiers in their armies. (See John Taylor Gatto’s Underground History of American Education and Weapons of Mass Instruction.) Schooling impresses every child with the idea that everything they cannot learn on their own. They are stupid and must be trained. Everything that is worth knowing is already known by the experts, and their job is to absorb that knowledge and follow the experts' guidance. They are taught that “success” comes from fitting into the system, succeeding in the system by its rules, and making a lot of money. Today, our Earth has been carved up into slave states. Each country is owned and run by an elite who use the population for their own purposes. These elites cooperate with one another, creating a planetary ruling class. Laws, regulations, and government interventions into all aspects of life make it very difficult to live an independent life. Human beings have nowhere to run to escape this slavery. The best that they can do is flee from a worse slave state to a better one.
Morpheus: Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself…You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes...Remember, all I’m offering you is the truth, nothing more.
I have worked for over thirty years to deprogram myself from the Matrix in which I was raised as an American Protestant--the American version of the Bible's "chosen people". I was very fortunate. I had all the advantages I needed to allow me to deprogram myself. I was always the top student and learned very easily. Therefore I did not have the handicap, that most students acquire, of believing that I was not as intelligent as the “experts” and authorities that created and that run our society. Once I left home, I began to challenge every belief that I’d been taught. I grasped opportunities to live in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. I discovered history and began to grasp its significance and meaning. I had the time to read every intelligent book that I could find that could shed some light on the nature of reality and of every aspect of human life and society. I was amazed to find how deep the rabbit hole goes—and I’m still following it. I can’t deprogram you or anyone else, but I can help you along the same path I’ve trod. Deprogramming, like all real learning, has to come from within. You have to decide to live a life of total honesty. You have to decide to follow your intuition and intellect wherever they lead. You have to trust that your mind is as good as anyone else’s mind. You have to decide that knowing the truth is more important than fitting into the system. Why should you do all this? So that you will know the truth; so that you will improve your mental health and happiness; so you will not distort and destroy your own children; and so that you will be able to help your fellow human beings to eventually produce an enlightened, open society.
Morpheus: The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this (battery)…As long as the Matrix exists, the human race will never be free.
This accurately describes the Matrix of old religious and political ideas that allows an elite to enslave us today. For the religious/metaphysical foundation of our Matrix, see The Pentateuch. Most citizens are raised to be worker ants and cannon fodder. They are inculcated with a blind, unthinking patriotism. The system of government schooling combined with government-created corporations leaves no space for natural and independent human development or society. We must obey authorities at home, school, and work every day of our lives, feeding this corporate capitalist military machine. Just look at the immense web of laws and you will see the chains that distort every aspect of human life. In order to be truly free, we need to discard all old ideas and take a fresh an honest look at our situation--as language-using animals who evolved on this planet. We have to discard some of our most precious ideas, like a personal God and personal immortality. The teaching of immortality is used to encourage us to suffer slavery this life, since we have the hope of perfect freedom and happiness after death. Yet the evidence indicates that the Cosmos is all that exists, and that we are part of it. The Cosmos has produced us in the process of its own evolution towards self-consciousness, towards greater self-awareness, self-direction and perfection. We are part of the Cosmos, animals that can think. When our brain dies, we cease to exist. Children who are never indoctrinated with spiritualist/immortality memes have no problem understanding that this life is the only one we have. We have to realize that the religious justifications for authoritarianism are invalid, therefore no person or institution has any right to control or harm any other person. We must dismantle the Matrix, or we will never be free.
Morpheus: The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. And when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see?: businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters; the very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged, and many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.
This is a warning to every person who sees through the system and tries to inform and warn others. The system has powerful defenses with which it neutralizes or destroys all opposition—and those defenses are ideas planted in the minds of its victims. Our minds are controlled by memes. False memes are equivalent to viruses. They prevent the normal functioning of the intellect. Like the AIDS virus, our mental viruses have sophisticated defenses that include disabling the body's intellectual immune system--the individual’s ability to think philosophically. You and I were raised in this system. We were inculcated with its ideas and its defenses. We have to overcome these defenses and learn to trust our own minds in order to questions our memes and to think philosophically. We are creatures that depend upon language to think: If we do not control the memes in our minds, then the memes control us. To master memes, to master ideas, we must become philosophers. It we do not examine and discard every false idea in our heads and replace it with a better theory, then we remain slaves to old inadequate and false ideas. These mental viruses protect the religious, political and economic principles of the system against all challenges. The viruses’ defenses include rules—mostly unwritten—that describe what is “acceptable” speech. If you step outside those boundaries, you are judged to be insane and everyone is supposed to ignore what you say. These defenses work very well against most people most of the time—keeping them in the system’s power. Let’s try to list some more of the memes that act as defenses for this Matrix:
Neo to the machines: You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you; a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries, a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.
Long before I saw The Matrix, I began to try to show my fellowman the nature of his prison, and the route of escape. So I identified with the character Neo. My web pages reveal many truths that the system doesn’t want you to know—and I’m discovering more every day. I hope that they stimulate you to think thoughts that you’ve never dared to think. Like Neo, I envision a world that is not divided up into slave states, a world without borders where any person can travel wherever they please; a world where our relationships are humane, personal, and ethical; a world where politics is truly local and functional, a world in which every child’s needs are met, and world without coercive schooling. There is a need for limited governments, and perhaps some form of world government to manage certain planet-wide issues, but its powers too will be tightly limited to aiding consensual adult interactions. Among the powers of governments will be a monopoly on the power to create money from nothing for the public good, so that taxes will not be necessary. On a planet where all human beings are raised with love, raised without authoritarian schooling, and allowed to develop philosophically, slave states will be consigned to the dustbin of history. We will all be free citizens of planet Earth. We will have specific cultural characteristics and languages, for sure, and we will share the natural religion of all mankind—philosophy. There will be no dogmatic, irrational religions or nationalisms to pit us against each other or cause us to exploit or harm each other. The coercive schooling of children will be banned just as forced child labor was. Every human will be able to develop freely and to attain a livable prosperity. We will work to make sure that every human on this planet can live a life of dignity as they wish. Humans won’t have to leave their homes en masse to escape one lousy slave state for a better one, but neither will they be prevented from traveling or moving to any place on Earth.
Like Neo, I envision a world without rules and controls. Rules are just word formulas—they are always inadequate and inapplicable to any specific situation. They reduce morality to a word game played by lawyers and judges where all that matters is winning. Living our lives according to laws is just the modern version of living according to the commands of the Bible, the Talmud, or any other sacred text; only now the law is a sacred text is created by corrupted men and women. Disputes should be brought before elected “wise men” who have earned the respect of the community. All such decisions will be made by persons chosen from among us who have a philosophical understanding of mankind and of society, and who will take cognizance of individual circumstances. Rather than prison and punishment, infractions against other persons will be handled by reconciliation and restitution. The perpetrator will remain a part of society. A sane society will stop producing traumatized persons who traumatize others. Of course there will always be some small percentage of persons who are so disturbed that they will need to be confined. There will be zero tolerance for any kind of violence, but complete tolerance for human activities that harm no one else. We must live according to true and effective ideas, not according to government-imposed rules and controls.
I see, as the Biblical Jesus saw, that a rule-created, rule-controlled life is not worth living. Indeed, we are still living a pharisaical society. Our authoritarian system is based on cruelty and control—it increasingly drives natural love and feelings from our society and produces violence and greed. Our society is deteriorating morally and intellectually. This system cannot be reformed. It must be deconstructed and reconstructed upon a new foundation. Society must be based upon love and philosophy if we are to ever enjoy a peaceful, cooperative life together on this planet. Governments should have only strictly limited powers: defining property rights, creating money, regulating pollution on the basis of damage to the shared property of our Earth, air and water, and preventing, redressing non-cooperative behavior. There should be no control of any sort on personal behaviors, or on consensual adult interactions of any kind. Individuals must be allowed to be completely responsible for their own education and behavior. As you’ll see in my paper Consensualism over Coercion, almost everything governments do today is outside these few basic rational functions, and everything that governments do beyond these limited functions destroys human prosperity and happiness. As Neo said, I cannot tell you exactly how society will evolve when people rediscover themselves and reality. I can’t tell you exactly what kind of society will be created by a generation of loved, respected, unschooled children who trust their own minds. I can only tell you what’s wrong with this system and its ideas, and point the way towards a cooperative society of loving, freely thinking human beings.