Technique and A Troubled Young Swede
by Not Sure
5 June 2022
“By technique, for example, he means far more than machine technology. Technique refers to any complex of standardized means for attaining a predetermined result. Thus, it converts spontaneous and unreflective behavior into behavior that is deliberate and rationalized. The Technical Man is fascinated by results, by the immediate consequences of setting standardized devices into motion. He cannot help admiring the spectacular effectiveness of nuclear weapons of war. Above all, he is committed to the never-ending search for "the one best way” to achieve any designated objective.”
- From the forward to The Technological Society, the 1964 English translation of Jacques Ellul’s 1954 book La Technique.
This week’s Redux is from 19 September 2007, Alan Watt "Cutting Through The Matrix" LIVE on RBN entitled "Technique of Mass-Suggestion, Truth Deflection”. Alan reads from Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society and talks about the technique of controlling masses of people. Alan had started his Republic Broadcasting Network show barely a month earlier and a quick glance at the show titles and topics reveal that he was clearly focused on mind-control, mass manipulation, propaganda, predictive programming. It was good for me to listen to this talk several times because like some of Alan’s forays into the “dusty, old books” one can easily tune out at the critical point. I found myself skipping back and repeating chunks so that some of these concepts could penetrate my thick skull.
Alan read this sentence from the forward, “Above all, he [the Technical Man] is committed to the never-ending search for "the one best way” to achieve any designated objective.” He commented that “best way” is the formula for determining the desired behaviour (“designated objective.”)
The media gives us slogans and catchphrases that we parrot but do not understand (e.g., downsizing, cost-cutting, weapons of mass destruction, vaccines are “safe and effective”). Alan talks about how theories become doctrine which in turn is made procedure. Our policies spring from nothing but theories, but since each discipline is launched with its own esoteric vocabulary into which one must be initiated, questioning the procedure becomes impossible.
Please don’t tune out! Following is a large chunk from The Technological Society found on pages 369-370, which Alan reads. If you don’t want to keep skipping backwards in the talk to catch it all, then please read:
“Some effects of propaganda, however, are already clear. 1) The critical faculty has been suppressed by the creation of collective passions. The well-known phenomenon of “reciprocal suggestion” has made collective passion a very different force from individual passion. We know that individual passion is itself inimical to the critical faculty, but the critical faculty can still be exercised if some equilibrium can be established between criticism and passion. In the collective passion created by technique (of which technique itself is sometimes the object), the critical faculty, which is peculiar to the intellectual organization of the individual, is excluded. As Monnerot says flatly: "There is no such thing as a collective critical faculty.” Because technique acts upon men collectively, the passions it provokes— which exist in everybody— are amplified. The suppression of the critical faculty— man’s growing incapacity to distinguish truth from falsehood, the individual from the collectivity, action from talk, reality from statistics, and so on— is one of the most evident results of the technical power of propaganda. Human intelligence cannot resist propaganda’s manipulation of its subconscious. 2) A good social conscience appears with the suppression of the critical faculty. Technique provides justification to everybody and gives all men the conviction that their actions are just, good, and in the spirit of truth. This conviction is the stronger because it is collectively shared. The individual finds the same conviction in his fellow workers and neighbors and feels himself strengthened in it through the implicit communion of media such as the radio. In countries where propaganda technique is exploited, there is a decrease in neurosis as well as in crime. We can believe the wartime statistics of the Nazis and the Americans because they fit so well with everything else we know. Conversely, whenever for some reason propaganda technique fails to instill a good collective social conscience, there is a sudden and brutal collapse of the sense of individual justification, and individual morale falls drastically. This, among other things, would explain the extraordinary increase in neuroses in the United States after 1945. A similar situation among the Germans may have other explanations, but I am convinced that the sudden halting in the Nazi propaganda machine played a significant role in German postwar neurosis. The problem in the United States has been so serious that it has led to the dramatic development of psychoanalytic therapy in the past few years. This development in reality represents a resumption, on an individual level, of the activity which collective technique had abandoned. When a good collective social conscience has been created, the individual becomes addicted to it, as to a drug. And when the Americans realize that individual psychoanalysis is more costly, less efficient (because it cannot integrate the individual), and more difficult, they will return to a collective psychotherapeutic technique. 3) Propaganda technique, moreover, creates a new sphere of the “sacred.” As Monnerot puts it: “When an entire category of events, beings, and ideas is outside criticism, it constitutes a sacred realm, in contrast to the realm of the profane.” As a result of the profound influence of the mechanisms of propaganda, a new zone of the forbidden is created in the heart of man, but it is artificially induced, in contrast to the taboos of primitive societies. When there is propaganda, we are no longer able to evaluate certain questions, or even to discuss them. A series of protective reflexes organized by technique immediately intervene. To summarize: the suppression of the critical faculty, the formation of a good social conscience, and the creation of a sphere of the sacred are all aspects of a single manifestation, the first and clearest consequence of the application of psychoanalytic mass techniques. Incidentally, our analysis confirms a social phenomenon frequently analyzed by modern sociologists: the “creation of the masses.” These three elements add a new dimension to the masses; the masses thereby gain an internal cohesion they did not possess naturally. A unifying psychism has come into being.”
In Alan’s words, people think they’re sane because they bounce ideas off their neighbors and if their neighbors have the same opinions they have (they’ve all had the same indoctrination) they think they must all be sane. Indoctrination may come from education, the media, religion, or a combination of sources. The result is a particular type of social conscience; you’re given a sort of group formula to exist within, a matrix. Inside of this matrix, there may be the appearance of choice. If you’re into conspiracy, there are lots of sites that have been supplied for you to go into. You think you’re doing your own thing, going against the grain, exposing a plan or cabal, but you are still being controlled.
Religions are an obvious example of collectively shared convictions toward the goal of a good social conscience. This is particularly effective because the impulse toward God or a Creator is innate. An agnostic or atheist may replace this with the State or the Self, but the hole which needs to be filled is primordial. I have spent hours in the company of a religious “in group”, thoroughly indoctrinated or catechized in the tenets of their belief, listening as they vilify those from another creed or offshoot of their own “faith” (the “out group”). They would not be able to comprehend that their heated defense of their brand of religion is a perfectly acceptable and non-threatening pastime given to them by those who understand and use Technique.
It was interesting listening to the talk, reading Ellul, thinking about Technique, but what popped into my mind this week was Greta Thunberg who seemed to have nothing to do with this week’s Redux, but there she was. How did she get there? What was she up to? Why do I care?
This was the point of departure that led to Greta, “UK Government report states all UK Airports must close within the next 10 years, beef and lamb is to be banned, and construction of new buildings must cease in the name of Climate Change”. The accompanying picture was a scowling Greta Thunberg standing in front of the World Economic Forum logo.
UK Fires published their Absolute Zero report in November of 2019. This is how they describe themselves on their website:
UK Fires is a collaboration between the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Nottingham, Bath and Imperial College London.
We are funded by EPSRC. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is the main funding body for engineering and physical sciences research in the UK.
By investing and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation.
This year’s school strikers and Extinction Rebellion protestors have been extremely effective in raising public concern about climate change, but so far the focus has been to get the issues on the agenda rather than on the solutions. By recognising that new technologies won’t arrive soon enough to take the problem away.”
Here are some of the recommendations that will get the UK to Carbon Zero by 2050:
Stop flying, and take the train not the car when possible.
Share rides to use more of the seats in the car now and buy a smaller electric car next time.
Cut out beef and lamb and reduce use of processed frozen meals.
Only heat rooms where people are sitting, and replace the boiler with a heat pump next time.
Lobby local councils and public clients to allow only long-lasting buildings without overdesign.
At the end of this talk, a caller asked Alan why he covered things from a historical perspective rather than getting into exopolitics, which is an interesting term because strictly used it is the political aspects of interactions with extraterrestrial life. Whether that’s what the caller meant, I don’t know, but Alan’s response was that politics and “news” wasn’t interesting to him because he knew what was coming years ago based on his research.
So, while I’m not going to get into the politics of extraterrestrial life, I do want to think about Technique by applying the concepts to what I’m thinking about and this week it happens to be Greta. There she was, frowning at me, daring me not to take Climate Change seriously. I looked up stories about her, to find out what she was up to, what was being said about her. My first question was “What is Greta’s net worth?”
June 21, 2020, Alan Watt’s talk entitled:
In The New Beginning Was....
"All Hail the W.E.F. Pomp Power, Arrogance, Vanity,
Elite Resetting Their World, Insane is New Sanity."
Alan said, “Believe you me, you'll see little Greta for instance, she'll be probably a multimillionaire before she's 20. Because she'll be made to be, you see. And you forget that these people in their own websites, the WEF, one of the big things is creating future leaders. They pick them young. The Club of Rome does the same thing, all the big foundations do it.”
“Little” Greta is now 19. She has won numerous awards, been showered with prize money, given away large sums of her prize money, been named Time magazine Person of the Year. Who knows what she’s worth? Many online sources estimate her worth at about a million U.S. dollars.
Later on, in that same June talk, Alan was talking about revolutionary movements, first gender and then BLM. He said, “Canada remember as well is on board with this thing. Canada is pretty well a communist country already you might say, definitely completely new world order idea. It's on board with the whole the World Economic Forum agenda for complete austerity and the abolition of cars as Agenda 21 wanted, private vehicle abolishment. On board with it all...the future is written. It really is written. People may be startled to find out that most of the decisions along the way, they never had any
say in it at all. You really haven't had any say in anything at all. Let's be honest, look at the nonsense you've had to fight and accept, either fight for or against or accept over the years, you know, it isn't just gender related, is it, even right down to bathrooms for goodness’ sake. This is what you were given to fill your heads with and have folk arguing about it...But here you are, the whole things lead up to a bigger army, a bigger army, like they say, the nihilists and the atheists would get recruited into these movements. They all, a lot of them have problems, folks. A lot of them have terrible problems and the problems are within themselves, you see. But they'll externalize it when they get their fellow brothers and sisters together to go after the general society. What do you see happening? You have mayhem when mayhem breaks loose.”
First the Absolute Zero report, then reading again what Alan would often say, “the nihilists and the atheists would get recruited into these movements” and finally from Ellul’s The Technological Society, “Propaganda technique, moreover, creates a new sphere of the “sacred.” As Monnerot puts it: “When an entire category of events, beings, and ideas is outside criticism, it constitutes a sacred realm, in contrast to the realm of the profane.” It all led me to thinking about how Technique was used to create the Climate Change Religion and Greta (The Oracle of Delphi?) Because Climate Change is within the new sphere of the “sacred.” It is more than Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross promotion of Earth worship. It is Technique, the Creation of the Masses. A good collective social conscience has been created and the individual has become addicted to it. We cannot question the hypothesis because it is no longer a hypothesis, it is “fact”. Even with Leonardo DiCaprio’s stamp of approval on Al Gore, he remains fair game for comedians and other jokers but who can mock or trash wee Greta?
The creation of the Climate Change Religion has been on the go for a long time now. Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth in 1972, the first Rio Convention in 1992. But how long has a certain kind of Technique been applied to Sweden? I recall that Alan Watt has talked about how different countries have been used as testbeds for social experimentation. Test out theories on a relatively small scale and see what works.
Sweden has been called the Land of the Stay-at-Home Dad. “Daddy leave” was first introduced in 1995. In 2017, fathers took more paternity leave than ever. According to the 1982 book, Sweden’s Right to be Human:
“In 1968, Sweden became the first country in the world to frame a government policy of achieving equality between the sexes by changing the role of men as well as that of women. In a statement to the United Nations that year the Swedish government had declared that it was not enough to guarantee women their rights. All legislation and all social policy must support a shift from man-the-breadwinner and woman-the-homemaker to a society of independent individuals and of partnerships in which all tasks were shared.”
Parental leave income replacement programmes were introduced in 1974. What was interesting in researching the legislative and financial incentives for Swedish men to stay home with their children was how few men took advantage of these “carrots”, at least initially. From Patricia Morgan’s 2006 book, Family Policy, Family Changes – Sweden, Italy and Britain Compared in the chapter entitled Sweden: Socialist Engineering in Family Policy she writes, “Despite all the propaganda and various pressures, men do not usually take parental leave, and role reversal is very rare.” Morgan writes (emphasis mine):
“Sweden’s welfare state is the model to emulate. The present bias is to classify welfare/fiscal or family policies in such a way as to juxtapose the ideal of the dual-career family who share household duties with the horror of the male breadwinner family and its rigid role segregation. Policies which do not aim to engineer the former are seen as setting out to subjugate women in the latter. The only enlightened policy has become one which gives women equal access to jobs in the labour market, financial independence and high quality subsidised childcare services, so that they never have to choose between a job and having children. This perspective is promoted by Swedish social scientists (as well as policy-makers), who ‘have devised several classifications of welfare states that always place the modern Nordic welfare state at the apex of typologies, as the best practice model’. They demand that it must also be exported everywhere else, and it has long been favoured by UK establishment feminists, in and out of government. In 1996, Allan Larsson, Director General of DGV (Directorate General V, responsible for Employment, Industrial Relations and Social Affairs) in the European Commission, complained that women’s work-rates in the EU were still lower than men’s. He insisted that the days of the male breadwinner had gone and dismissed the ‘old social contract’ with a division of responsibilities between spouses as ‘no longer valid’. Effectively, he demanded that the ‘traditional’ sexual division of labour must be outlawed, and the Swedish model extended to all in Europe, irrespective of preferences. Sweden has been cast as the prime example of the ‘maximalist welfare state’. Its project is to ‘put people’s lives straight by defining the content of the good life and controlling the institutional instruments leading to it’. There is even an official list of names from which babies must be named. The justification for such far-reaching intervention and attempts to shape people’s fundamental choices in life rests on assumptions that someone knows better than the individuals concerned what the good life is and how it can be achieved. Not least, this has involved the comprehensive political control of family life, where Sweden has made just about the most concerted attempt in history to engineer the freedom of women from child-rearing responsibilities and the demise of the traditional family through economic manipulation, social pressures, and massive public re-education.”
I think that little backgrounder was important before I write further about little Greta and her family. It is essential to see this family in the context of a larger social experiment.
We have free will and conscience. These are our armaments against the onslaught of technique. Ellul wrote, “Human intelligence cannot resist propaganda’s manipulation of its subconscious” but we have a con-science (pity about the words we are con-fined to use) that is innate, that came before the ersatz “social conscience.”
Greta’s mother is the opera singer Malena Ernman, so perhaps Greta was always destined to be a diva. What is Malena’s net worth? $1.3 million? $5 million? It depends on what site you look at. Svante Thunberg is Greta’s father. He is an actor, an activist, a producer, a stay-at-home dad. One site said his net worth is $1.5 million. Who knows?
What does the family’s money matter? Nothing…except…these are the parents of the Oracle, so it’s all worth a close look. Around the world, teenagers are sporting tattoos with the name “Greta” or her likeness, they participate in school strikes, following Greta’s lead. She has become sacred, not to be criticized, and yet, we must look.
In 2020, the Thunberg family wrote a book, Our House Is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis. Malena Ernman said that she didn’t want to write the book, “But I had to. Because we felt like shit. I felt like shit. Svante felt like shit. The children felt like shit. The planet felt like shit. Even the dog felt like shit.” They were, she concludes, “burned-out people on a burned-out planet.”
This is from The New Yorker coverage of the book, “In the fall of 2014, Greta stopped eating. Malena writes that at first it was unclear whether the cause was physical or psychological. Greta had her first panic attack one day in September, when the family was baking cinnamon buns and her parents encouraged her to eat some. When Greta refused, Svante and Malena yelled at her to obey. Their daughter, Malena writes, let out “an abysmal howl that lasts for over forty minutes.” After blood tests from the hospital indicated that there was nothing physically wrong with her, Greta began undergoing extensive psychological evaluation. On the recommendation of doctors, the family started keeping a list on the wall of how much she ate every day and how long it took her to eat it. (“Breakfast: 1/3 banana. Time: 53 minutes.”) If the consistency of Greta’s gnocchi wasn’t perfect, she rejected it. Too many gnocchi on a plate and she was overwhelmed. (“Lunch: 5 gnocchi. Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes.”)
Greta stopped speaking with anyone but the members of her immediate family. By the end of 2014, she was on the verge of hospitalization. Ernman would rush home on her bicycle from her performances in Stockholm before she had even removed her stage makeup, a bundle of nerves. “Svante stays home, never leaving the children’s side,” she writes. In early 2015, Greta finally received a set of diagnoses: Asperger’s, high-functioning autism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as selective mutism. She started taking an antidepressant called sertraline. But, Malena writes, “What happened to our daughter can’t be explained simply by a medical acronym.” Instead, Greta was simply exhibiting the only rational response to the world around her: “In the end, she simply couldn’t reconcile the contradictions of modern life.”
Greta’s younger sister Beata has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, Asberger’s, and OCD.
I do not think that I would allow a child to howl for forty minutes. I do not think I would allow a child to take two hours and ten minutes to eat five gnocchi (a quantity of food that would be about two forkfuls). Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes the attention a child seeks can only be found on the backside of a parents’ hand. Tough love, discipline and all that rot.
I found a photo of the whole family together when Greta would’ve been about three and a half or four. There was that famous frown! It is sad that the wee lass had such a miserable childhood and sad that she caused such grief in the circle of her family. It helps me to understand one Swedish family by placing them in the context of a much larger social experiment. There are forces at work of which they are completely oblivious. Lives are lived, children are born and loved, relationships start and then disintegrate, always in the context of Technique.
Those of us who see through the Technique, upon whom the propaganda hasn’t taken for whatever reason, suffer when the nihilists and atheists are let loose upon society. Very unhappy misfits are used for The Agenda. They champion causes whose true purpose they cannot possibly understand. Nothing external will make an unhappy person happy. We can reduce our carbon footprint, get to Absolute Zero, never eat meat again, “stopshop” and bike to work in the snow, but we cannot make Greta smile.
© Not Sure
The Technological Society - Jacques Ellul
UK Government report states all UK Airports must close within the next 10 years, beef and lamb is to be banned, and construction of new buildings must cease in the name of Climate Change
What Is Greta Thunberg’s Net Worth? She Fights to Protect the Earth for Free
Teen activist Greta Thunberg blames critics for sexually graphic image of her
Book by Greta Thunberg’s Mother Termed ‘Horrifying Reading,’ Reveals Psychological Abuse
Greta Thunberg’s family memoir sends an urgent message to us all, especially moms
Greta Thunberg's mom describes teen activist's struggles with autism, eating disorder
Greta Thunberg’s Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
How Greta Thunberg Transformed Existential Dread Into a Movement
Sweden: Land of the Stay-At-Home Dad
Dads in Sweden took more paternity leave than ever in 2017
Patricia Morgan, “Family Policy, Family Changes – Sweden, Italy and Britain Compared" (Civitas, London, 2006, ISBN 1-903386-43-8)