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Authority Is A Virus

One of the most iconic and enduring scenes from George Orwell's famous book Nineteen Eighty-Four is the one in which main character Winston Smith finally capitulates in Room 101 and actually sees five fingers, when O'Brien is only holding up four.  To be more accurate, Smith admits he doesn't know how many fingers there are without being told, regardless of what his own senses are telling him.

A similar scene takes place in the "Chain of Command" episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Captain Picard is tortured by an alien and repeatedly told that he sees five lights, when there are in fact only four.  Picard later admits, after being rescued, that he could in fact see five.

Both these well-known scenes depict the power of authority to control the perceptions of those it considers under its sway.  In an authoritarian State, the State assumes the power to dictate reality itself to the masses, and by either coersion or capitulation, the masses accept.

Because science is the study of reality, it is important that the authoritarian State control the results of scientific investigation.  In our current society, the State dictates its chosen narrative in the guise of science, controls the education of sciene, and through funding controls who will and won't be allowed access to the gliziest toys and to publish their findings.

Through this mechanism, the State controls what is perceived as "settled science" and the interpretation of the results.  In this way, the authoritarian State controls reality itself.

After years of indoctrination at the hands of the State's schools and media, the world is populated with people who literally deny the evidence of their own eyes and common sense, in favor of the official narrative.  In other words, they willingly choose not to know how many fingers or lights there are until told by someone in "authority"/

The Star Trek example here dramatizes the brute force approach.  The State is aware that it is foisting a false narrative on the masses, and uses pain and suffering to force the masses to accept the dictated reality.

Orwell's Smith and O'Brien are much more subtle and closer to what we really experience.  In this scene, O'Brien - the representative of State authority, has already been indoctrinated/  While he is aware at some level that there are other ways to view reality, he cannot see them.  He only manipulates their symbols in order to force Smith to accept the dictated narrative.  O'Brien reads from a script, as it were.  As representative of authority, he is full a part of the authoritarianism.  He is not above or outside it, or he could not "teach" it to Smith.

In the modern authoritarian State, it is hard to tell whether any of the heirarchy have a larger picture or context.  It seems to have become a self-perpetuating illusion that every member of the Inner Party fervently believes, and is incapable of seeing objective reality, even though it can manipulate the trappings of it, for the purposes of shutting down and endoctrinating those who see beyond the ruse.

There are many examples of this, but things like "gravitational waves" or the "Higgs boson: are perfect examples.  The State has spent billions of our hard-earned dollars on things like the CERN "atom smasher" and the LIGO "gravitational wave" detectors as props to reinforce how "serious" the Stat'e's narrative is.  Only fully indoctrinated individuals are allowed to use these contraptions, and only those "findings" that match the official narrative are allowed to be published. 

Since the individual's income and years of work are dependent on "finding" the approved answers, they willfully view reality through "warped glasses" and will fervently defend whatever results they are allowed to publish, while ignoring any other results that don't match the bespoke narrative.

Thus, through an intricate system of rewards and punishments, people rise through the ranks of the authoritarian structure until everyone, from top to bottom, is fully incapable of seeing objective reality.  They advance and are rewarded with perks for toeing the State's line, and those who do not are marginalized and discarded if they can't be "re-educated".

Science was envisioned as a means to filter out the authoritarian bias, but the method was conscripted by the authorities and bent to their will.  We must realize, though, that the original authorities actually believed their own narrative and willfully prevented themselves from seeing any other possibilities.

In the end, O'Brien can indoctrinate Smith because he IS the system - he fully embraces and believes in the the system, he can see nothing other than the system.  He can manipulate objective reality, and Smith's mind, only to the extent that it serves the authoritarian purpose.  It is as if he has a virus that has invaded his entire body, and at that point becomes a carrier who then can infect others.

It is a strange and all-encompassing phenomenon that is active throughout our daily lives.  Even those of us who consider ourselves "awake" are infected with the virus of authoritarianism, and it is very difficult to let go of the illness, since we must function in the world that has been created for us.  It is still an open question.  The disease is pervasive, both within and without.  Even those who are recovering from the disease are highly prone to relapse.

We must constantly check whether we see five lights or four, and whatever the answer, discover some way to objectively check the answer.  Even then, it is not a matter of how many lights we see, but whether we require an authority to tell us what to see.

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