In The Matrix, Laurence Fishburne says to Keanu Reeves that his worldview is an imagined one that is being controlled by an external alien force, concealing a much bleaker reality.
It’s something of an extension of the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, who puts forward the concept of cultural hegemony. This concept essentially argues that that the ruling class control a culturally diverse society by manipulating the culture of that society, and therefore manipulating its beliefs, values and norms. So ruling-class norms become accepted as common-sense: alien norms become seen as the real world, a Matrix that we can’t escape from. With me so far? Good.
“Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the US got nuked.”
So, this week North Korea announced that they had developed a new missile that could reach the USA. Naturally, a lot of people were a bit scared, or upset. But – and stay with me here for a minute – maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the US got nuked.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re already sold, I don’t need to explain myself. But indulge me. I’ll go on, just in case you need some convincing.
So it’s fair to say the US is at the forefront of the world. Even if they might no longer be the biggest military power, or the largest economy, most people would still say they’re at the centre of the world: they’re a world-leader in virtually every sense, and they’re culturally dominant – from their films to their music to their fast food.
And their ideology is almost exclusively globally dominant. Neoliberalism and capitalism has swept the globe, backed by the imperialism of the US – you don’t have to look any further than Nicaragua to see evidence of that, where a socialist revolution was quickly quashed by a human rights-violating, neoliberal-loving, CIA-funded-and-backed regime. The US has been imposing its version of capitalist faux-democracy on countries for decades – from Vietnam to Iraq, often helped by friends like our humble selves.
“Wouldn’t it be good to have a change of view?”
So I think it’s fair to ask – are the US kind of like the aliens from the Matrix, enforcing a form of cultural hegemony on the rest of us, shaping our world view with their dominant culture and economics and tainting our beliefs to ensure they’re in alignment with their own? And if they are, how many of us would realise?
And if that’s the case, would it be that unfair for them to get nuked? After all, they’ve imposed their will on a fair few countries over the years – isn’t it about time they got a taste of their own medicine? In fact, wouldn’t it be good to have a change of view, and get rid of the horrible capitalist imperialist aliens?
“Isn’t it time we took the red pill and woke up to reality?”
To continue the Matrix metaphor, isn’t it time we took the red pill and woke up to reality? But not like those loser single men on the internet who hate women and themselves. No, instead we’d be cool people (not sheeple) who realised that North Korea was actually Right and Good and the USA was actually Wrong and Bad.
In reality, we have never been at war with North Korea, we have always been at war with America. So take the red pill and wake up. It’s what Laurence Fishburne would want you to do.
Image courtesy of Jaume Escofet on Flickr