Stealing Consciousness: Using Cybernetics for Controlling Populations

Stealing Consciousness: Using Cybernetics for Controlling Populations

Geoffrey R. Skoll (Buffalo State College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7113-1.ch083
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In light of the recent revelations about the electronic surveillance by the US National Security Agency, this essay analyzes such surveillance as part of state strategies to control populations. It also examines the use of terror scares—that is, fear mongering—by states as the rationale for their control practices. It contrasts the origins of terrorism in the French Terror to contemporary terrorism, and shows how cybernetic control and surveillance steal human communications and thereby steal consciousness.
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La Terreur

‘Terrorism’ first entered the English lexicon with Edmund Burke’s anti-democratic fears of the French Revolution. Burke (1790, 1791) characterized the Jacobin ascendancy as a reign of terror. The origin of the word reveals its affinity with a fear of popular uprisings and revolutionary governments. Historical and contemporary surveys of terrorism emphasize its political character. ‘Terrorism’ and ‘terrorists’ were and are value laden epithets used by established elites. Only when the political right, the Girondins, gained control of the revolutionary French government July 27, 1794 (Thermidor) did the democratic leaders, Louis Saint-Just and Maximilien Robespierre find themselves criminalized and executed by a second, reactionary terror.

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