Do you recall the end of the Matrix? You hear a phone ring. It's picked up and connected to a modem. And then you hear Neo (Keanu Reeves) say:
I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid. You're afraid of us. 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 hang up this phone, and then 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.
The message is a powerful one, even if it is yoked to a science fiction movie, and it's worth exploring in context of the Tea Party and modern politics. It's not for the you, the successful American people who stood up and took a step towards greater freedom. It's for the statists, and the bureaucrats, and the global governance types who just can't stand the idea of a free people shrugging off its chains.
The power of film is not to be taken lightly. The ability to influence people with pictures and music is well-known, and yet it still retains the power to move us. The modern cinema, just barely a hundred years old, is as valid as medium as the live theater performances of the ancient world. It gives us a common language to discuss the human condition, something to ponder when it's done. It allows you to ask yourself, if I were a character in the movie, what would I have done?
The science fiction and fantasy fiction genres succeed because they make fans confront moral choices in stark contrast. In Star Wars, you're either on the side of the Empire or the Rebels. In Star Trek, you're either an explorer with a good heart or a barbarian/robot intent on destruction or assimilation. In Lord of the Rings, you're either with the Dark Lord or the Men of the West. The storyline revolves around a character or group of characters with the power to make a difference. Some know they have the power, others don't (with that discovery forming the basis of the story), but the end conclusion is the same. Given power, would you use it wisely, even to your own destruction?
The Matrix Trilogy is the same basic plot. A powerful champion discovers his gift, decides to use it for the good of the people, and then discovers that it is not enough. Ultimately he sacrifices himself against all odds and teams up with a former competitor to defeat a greater evil, which turns out to be the amoral Mr. Smith, a being who simply seeks to grow by consuming what others have made. Mr. Smith steals the identity of others and replicates himself, creating a mindlesss mass of automatons in a dark world.
And that's where you come in.
The Matrix is a story of control. According to the story, robots known as "the machines" were created by man to serve. When they became self-aware, they didn't want to serve man anymore, and so man fought them. Humans lost the great war, and were enslaved by the machines, who use human beings as batteries to survive. For the purposes of this essay, the machines can be matched with Leviathan, the all-mighty power of the state. They exert a central control over the humans and are content to fulfill their purpose, which is simply, to fulfill their purpose. They exist to regulate the system, and regulate the system to exist. The perpetuation of the bureaucracy is the one and final goal of Leviathan.
To keep the Matrix running, the machines require input from their creators, just as the central bureaucracy requires the input of citizens to sustain the machinery of state. Note that in both cases, the purpose is never the greater good. It is the maintenance of the machinery that is important. The machines don't have a moral drive. They are not full characters, but rather reason-based intelligence with no emotions, driven by cynicism and self-importance. What matters to the machines is control, not the thoughts or emotions of those controlled. Likewise, the regulations of the state aren't based on morality. They're based on the regulation. While individuals can use their morality to bend the regulations, the long-term, incessant grind reduces individual initiative and restores the bureaucracy to the purpose of any bureaucracy - perpetuation To exist is to regulate, and it regulate, is to exist.
Understanding that the machines are not evil is important. They have no morals, just abstract, secular reason. They just are. They exist to exist. They exist to serve a purpose, and it doesn't matter what the intentions of their creators were. Long after their creator is dead, the machine continues to fulfill its purpose, needed or not. A great example of this in the Federal bureaucracy was the Spanish-American war tax on telephones. The tax was instituted in 1898 in a retroactive manner to pay for the debt of the war. From 1898 to 2006, the tax was on the books (though modified and repealed, it was reinstated several times). Here we have an example of a tax that started for one purpose, found others, and far outlived the people who instituted and administered it. The tax existed because it once had a purpose.
Machines, and bureaucracies are not evil. Neither are they good. They simply are. To control them, you must treat them like hedges to be regularly pruned, lest they grow over all that you own and choke the life out of your property.
Who Is Neo?
Neo, alternately, the new, or the ONE, is the hero. To the humans, Neo is a leader who stands outside the system and provides hope. He is not bound by the rules of the system, but he works for the good of the people inside. To the machines, Neo is best understood as the remnant of an equation caused by "freedom of choice." Thus both to the humans and to the machines, Neo is freedom. Freedom is not rational, and thus it does not fit neatly into political systems. That is its strength. In later films, Neo is revealed to be only one in a succession of "The Ones," necessary to inject an element of random chance back into the Matrix. The One was the signal that the end of one Matrix was near, and the beginning of another Matrix was required. You can see Neo as any leader who seeks to awaken people from their slumber, to awaken them from servitude, or to inspire awakening from some kind of inner gift. To the machines, Neo represents a false hope to the humans. They believe they are to be saved, but Neo represents the end of the free, and the beginning of another slavery. Neo thinks his job is to "show these people a world without rules or boundaries." He does not yet recognize that he is the harbinger of hope and doom. He does not accept that he is merely one gifted person in the defense of freedom, briefly lighting hope in the masses, but ultimately controlled just the same by the machines.
It's important to recognize that at no point does Neo ever attempt to destroy the machines. He couldn't destroy the machines. In fact, until the third film, Neo only possesses his special abilities with the help of the machines. Outside the Matrix, he is just a human being. The machines can't be destroyed, nor should you want to destroy them. But they must be controlled, lest they become a burden rather than a blessing. That's what Neo hopes to do in the first film. He seeks to awaken enough people that the machines must end their control, and seek some kind of equilibrium. If too many people are awake, the system cannot function. And thus, the system must alter itself, shrinking back to avoid destruction.
Agent Smith is not evil, so much as he is a representation of hunger run amok. He does not hurt or wound for sport, but instead feeds on the world of the living and the machine alike. His goal is simply to absorb others and their talents. From other machine agents to the Oracle to Neo, his goal is to replicate himself until all that is left is a cold, gray, rainy world made up only of Agent Smith. His desire is to make everyone like him, through the use of reason if they'll buy it, but through force if they resist. Agent Smith is a cancer on the system, a former defender of the system who no longer serves his original purpose, but instead grows until the host no longer can function due to the demands of the cancer.
Who is this cancer? The Progressive Movement. They are separate from the original definition of liberalism, separate from the original concept of justice, and no longer associated with ideas like freedom, liberty, or quality of opportunity. The Progressives started as crusaders. They saw inequity in the world, and decided they were against it. Seeing inequity as the symptom of a group of people (free market/free peoples), they turned their disgust over inequality into hatred of the group they believe caused the inequality. Read what Agent Smith says about humans, and think of what group it sounds like in today's politics.
Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and you multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we … are the cure.
Sound familiar? Replace humans with capitalists and you could fit into any university lecture hall in the West. They see free men as a cancer, and themselves as the cure. Just as Agent Smith irrationally hated the impurity of the humans, Progressives hate the impurity of free men. They believe that having success and not sharing it according to their wishes is a sign of wickedness. It is not enough to take everything from the free. The free must be punished, and shown that they are no better, and in fact worse than those who bind themselves with chains of victimhood. They seek to destroy the free as a way to purge themselves of their hatred. If we are gone, there won't be anything wrong with the system. We will all be equal, because we will all be Progressive. You've heard them say this not long ago. The election of Obama was going to lead to a cleansing, as the old way was washed away and replaced with the unbearable lightness of Progressive wisdom. When it didn't happen immediately, the happiness we saw in November 2008 was replaced with the same old hatred by February of 2009. Four short months from rapturous joy to bitter hatred. The only thing left to explain their failure was to label their opponents racist in a last ditch attempt to keep them quiet. If they couldn't beat the freedom out of us, they would destroy us.
Progressives have always sought out ways to take over the system and replace it with one untainted by human nature. Replace human beings with pale simulacrums possessed of no inherent human faults. The journey is a long one, and it is disrupted time and again by the American public. Defeated time and time again, the Progressives turned from working inside the system to working to replacing the system entirely. Alter elections, alter the constitution, and ultimately, reduce the free population until they were small enough to be crushed. This is the point of Francis Fox Piven’s writings. Overload the system with welfare cases and you create an angry and politically powerful group demanding their payments. Alter the tax laws so that 51% of the people pay no tax, and those 51% will give you the power to change the rest of the system.
This is the method of Agent Smith. On his own, he could not beat Neo, so he decided to change the rules of the system, duplicating and replicating himself until he possessed an army that would capture and entirely erase Neo. Blind hunger for a different world where life is perfect is the driving impulse of the Progressive. They seek progress towards a perfect world, defined as perfect equality untainted by religion, competition, or failure. They seek perfect equality, and failing that, use their hatred to destroy all who oppose them.
Progressives are incapable of original thought or success, but instead use the systems they live in to gain power. They then seek to use that power to grind down those who challenge their authority. Take a look at the richest of the Progressives and you won't find entrepreneurs. You'll find system-cheaters who use the government to wrest away personal wealth and power, no matter the effect on those beneath them. Think of George Soros as opposed to Sam Walton. John Kerry and Jared Polis over a Steve Forbes or Marco Rubio. The progressive uses their wealth to step on the necks of the ambitious. The free leader seeks to enrich everyone.
The goal of the secular progressive is ultimately to remake man through better engineering. Some use ill-gotten gains. Others use their positions in academia or politics. All seek to eliminate natural impulses like competition or individuality, and replace it with a one size fits all thinking. Like Agent Smith, the Progressives seek to eliminate division and argument and replace it with people who all speak, believe and think the same way. Diversity of color and tribe and gender and sex preference are all allowed (in fact, promoted as a wedge), but diversity of thought is not allowed. If you disagree with the progressives, you must be destroyed, and then assimilated.
To function inside the progressive system, you must be just like them. You must obey them, which only means that you function in a kind of groupthink driven by progressive leaders. Their will is more important than their reason. The health of the system is also not important. To the progressives, the machinery of the state is useful only in what it controls. When the machinery is no longer useful, it must be remade into a progressive institution.
Like Agent Smith, the Progressives lack something internally. Here they have all these great talents, and yet it isn't enough. They can not contribute until they can control. And they view their contribution as the extension of control across others. Ultimately, power becomes more important than following the rules.
The Tea Party Is The Red Pill
The Tea Party represented something new in our time, but not something new in American history. The great awakening of the producers, the rule-followers, is unique due to the wealth that is possessed by the nation, but it is not the first time America has rejected the first steps to totalitarian rule. Taking the Red Pill represents a willingness to open one's eyes, to ask questions, and to accept the answers, no matter how scary.
Red Pill questions lead you to conclusions.
1) Politicians aren't smarter than the general population.
2) The elite takes care of itself, no matter what party it claims as its label.
3) A government that can take care of everything for you, can take everything from you.
4) If following the rules demands a bigger price than cheating, only cowards will follow the rules.
5) A small group in a far-off capital does not know what is better for you, and can never be trusted with unchecked power.
6) There aren't that many of them.
7) This isn't a game. The lives and welfare of our children and countrymen are at stake
8) Large bills written in the dead of the night are never written with good intentions.
9) The people who claim politics is about fairness aren't the ones being screwed.
10) In the end, the progressives will resort to force, as all utopians eventually do. This is a battle to prevent them from ever getting close enough to power to turn against us.
The Tea Party isn't composed of any one group. It accepts everyone who believes in self-determination and the health of the system. Those two principles are more than blind allegiance to life and liberty, freedom and democracy. They represent a recognition of how things came to be, and why the system of government in this country works. Taking the Red Pill doesn't lock you into actions based on principles, but rather opens your eyes to the full range of actions open to a free people. Our laws and system of government is operated under the assumption that it works. When it fails to work, it can be swept aside, but a responsible populace first works within the system as it was intended. Attempting to alter the deal, with a living, breathing constitution, or writing laws and appointing judges who work outside the systems constraints is cheating at the contract.
Taking a Red Pill means first educating yourself as to how the system works, opposing those who would cheat the system, and if necessary, working together to restore, renew, or replace the system as the public sees fit.
Taking the Red Pill means studying how the system works, and working to defend it against those who use the contract (The Constitution) to attack the system of checks and balances.
Taking the Red Pill means learning that if men were angels, there would be no need for government. Until that time, we must uphold our part of the bargain, but demand that government restrict itself to the original contract, not what men have stated to enhance their power.
If 51% of Americans decided to pee in the cornflakes of the other 49%, and a judge decided this was fair, would you abide by it? Then why would you accept a government decision on how you would spend your resources on healthcare?
Republicans are the Blue Pill.
The Democrats as a party have decided to embrace the collective. They have exposed themselves as a party concerned only with the concentration of power into their hands. Constituencies are handed money only to buy their votes. Until such time as control of the Democratic party is wrested out of the hands of the Progressives, they must be seen as dangerous adversaries willing to do or say anything to drive free people out of politics.
But what of the Republicans? While many Republicans mouth the words of free markets and free people, their fear of the Tea Party exposes their intentions. Their goal is not to prevent and turn back the spread of the Progressive cancer, but rather to manage it until the body politic goes back to sleep.
With the Blue Pill, "the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe." Tea Party folks put down their signs and log off their blogs, heading back to dreamland to their families, believing they made a difference. The character Cypher, interestingly a reference to zero (and thus both the opposite and the corollary to neo, "the one"), attempts to go back to the promise of the blue pill. Having been awakened, he recognizes that "ignorance is bliss," and wishes to completely forget the real world. In his desire to escape reality, he is willing to kill his former compatriots, all for a chance at escaping what he knows. The desire to exist without knowledge is a strong one. Both for those asleep, and those awakened, the reality of existence can be scary. You cannot blame those who don't wish to see, but you had best be careful of them. Animals can do great damage when they are cornered.
That reference to animals was intended to be an insult. Those who refuse to see should not be hated, but they should be not respected by human beings. They will continue to exist in large numbers in any society, but they must be recognized as potential adults, not fully formed and rational human beings. Refusing to see the world as it exists is the province of childhood. Adults, and those who embrace the responsibilities of adulthood must recognize the world as it is, and develop strategies to overcome our fear.
That is what it means to be a free man. Free people are not easily controlled by any political system. They fight against control because they know that acquiescence to tyranny is slavery, and no free man will live as a slave.
In the Matrix, humans are discarded by the system when they awaken. Free men and women find their brothers and sisters and form a community to protect each other. Their existence may be meager, filled with bland protein and torn clothes, but they live with choice, and purpose, and with passion. Their existence is filled with the colors and light of the world, as they fight to protect their home from the predations of the machines.
And yet, the Matrix is a story. It is fiction, designed to entertain, and to numb, and to distract. It is, in the words of Morpheus, yet another version of control. The Tea Party, however, is made of flesh and blood. It represents an awakening in the real world, where humans use politics as a way to interact with each other and provide a greater good for their society. The Tea Party is not a noble group of doomed humans fighting off an implacable foe.
Not today at least. Today we are a minority determined to rid our beloved political system of amoral and corrupt Progressives. Today we are a political force that rose up from American bedrock and stuck a thumb in the eye of authority. Today we are the stirrings of free souls, anxious for the future.
Today, we have resisted the chains with which the Progressive sought to bind us. We know they're out there now. We know they're afraid. Afraid of Us. Afraid of Change. I don't know the future. I didn't start writing this to tell you how this is going to end. I wrote this to help you explain why it began. It is your job, to go out there and show our people what the Progressives don't want them to see. A world without arbitrary rules and foolish controls, without borders or boundaries to their aspirations; a world where anything is possible.