Resisting the Matrix
The Matrixby Ace Evader
- MORPHEUS: Let me tell you why you are here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life. There's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?
- NEO: The Matrix?
- MORPHEUS: Do you want to know what it is?
- Neo nods.
- MORPHEUS: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
- NEO: What truth?
- MORPHEUS: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.
So let's begin by discussing what the Matrix is not. The Matrix is not the physical world. As far as I'm concerned, the physical world is actually real and is in fact governed ceaselessly by the laws of physics. Conversely, the Matrix is also not the Internet, despite what many seem to believe. The Matrix spans and transcends both these worlds. It has existed since the dawn of civilization, and it will continue to exist until its collapse.
So then, what is it? Well, that's complicated. Much like in the movie, it's nearly impossible to convey the size and scope of the Matrix to someone who doesn't already see it for what it is. However, unlike the movie, I believe it is an ethical imperative to try to convey it in a literal sense, even to those who are so dependent upon the Matrix that they would fight to protect it. At worst, they won't understand or believe and will continue on about their business. In a sense, I believe Cypher was right to resent Morpheus for what he did, because Morpheus engaged in flat out trickery and deception to free people.
But I digress. The Matrix is the social structure that subordinates Humanity to its will. It is the machinery of society that exists solely to perpetuate itself, its influence, and its power independent of any human need. It insulates us from each other and ourselves through deception, and essentially transforms us into servile engines of economic and political output (power). The machines that live off this power are institutions: large corporations, governments, schools, religious institutions, and even non-profit orgs. Every institution will reach a point in its existence where its primary function becomes self-preservation and perpetuation, instead of serving human need. At this point it becomes a machine of the Matrix. For example, when they become machines, governments cease to serve people and instead seek to extend their power over them; corporations prioritize increasing shareholder value over producing quality products or otherwise serving the public good; schools view students as a means and not an end; religions equate membership with salvation (and actively oppose other teachings and even independent practice); and non-profits and charities spend more budget on fund raising activity than on their original focus. Inevitably all large institutions eventually become machines. They become too big for Humanity.
In addition to the independent self-perpetuating machines that write most of our paychecks, the Matrix has several major cooperative and more actively sinister groups of machines subsisting off of its power and directly contributing to the structure of the Matrix itself. These groups are the Military Industrial Complex, the Political Industrial Complex, the Prison Industrial Complex, the Surveillance Industrial Complex, the Media Industrial Complex, the Academic Industrial Complex, the Agricultural Industrial Complex, the Medical Industrial Complex and the major organized religions. All machines in these groups either actively oppress humanity, or enable the oppression to persist. It is through their combined efforts that the Matrix takes on some of its more distasteful qualities.
Resisting the Matrix requires understanding its operating principles and assumptions, rejecting them, and helping others to do the same.
The Matrix is fascist, the Matrix is deceptive, and the Matrix is bureaucracy. The Matrix is essentially the rule of the institution over the individual, and in it, the rights of the individual are subordinate to the rights of the institution. Individuals have to believe (or at least not actively oppose the idea) that large corporations have the right to protect their profits above all else, and thus dictate policy and law. They have to believe that this law is just, moral, and seemingly based upon reason. Or, they have to feel unaffected by the law on an individual level. They have to accept the program, and be satisfied with the rewards given for doing so. They have to do their jobs, pay their taxes, and be content with their salary (at least to the point where their salary and the stability it provides are appealing enough to deter risking leaving the Matrix). Rejecting these beliefs is the first step in resisting the Matrix.
Furthermore, people must be insulated from the creative process. They have to forget that they are able to produce craft as individuals independent of large institutions, and they must feel entirely dependent upon the system to provide them with what they need. It is mostly through the violation of this principle that many who work with computers come to free themselves, or at least come to see the Matrix for what it is. Despite being products of the Matrix (for the most part), computers and the Internet enable humans to create individual works on a global scale: independent media, self-publishing, Free Software, computer music, computer art and graphics, and so on. Computers also enable independent people to communicate and build human-serving social structures outside of the Matrix.
More at: http://jdoe.freeshell.org/howtos/ExitTheMatrix/ar01s02.html