American Conspiracy Theory -or- Welcome to the Machine

Adam , 22 American College Student

Recently I have had a great deal of dreams that deal with conspiracies within the government or some secret society. I recently had a dream where a secret group of people could read my thoughts and they were being printed out on a TV screen. There were a group of people watching these "printouts" like it was a form of entertainment, for example a sitcom. There is a huge amount of paranoia when I awaken as well as if I am still dreaming when I wake up. Do you have any insight to these dreams?

Mr Hagen's Reply; The Paranoid Style in American Politics

The child psychologist Melanie Klein believed that paranoid anxieties are born in early childhood when emotional frustrations, feelings of persecution and hatred due to conflict are aroused. The psychological defense mechanism of paranoid splitting is instituted to cope with these feelings and perceptual conflicts with the "badness" (read evil) of others, most specifically care givers. Using this theory can explain the psychological projection of paranoid anxieties and the perceptual roots of prejudicial phenomena such as racism, homophobia, sexism, hate crimes, and anti-Semitism to name a few. From a Jungian perspective the collective shadow of our thoughts and dreams is full of such dark psychological projections and perceptions.

The historian Richard R. Hofstadter in The Paranoid Style in American Politics traces the influence of conspiracy theories throughout American history. Reportedly Hofstadter had written the article and presented his ideas in a lecture at Oxford University close to the time John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas. Liberals fearing a turn to the radical right in American politics and culture responded by attempting to make transparent apocalyptic "movements of suspicious discontent."

Here is an excerpt from Hofstadter's article; "The paranoid spokesman, sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms - he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization . . . he does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated - if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention."

Dreams, The Marketplace of Thought and The Myth of the Machine

Although dreams can be viewed as a form of nightly entertainment, the influences that underlie a dream may have more insidious motives. As Freud already discovered, censorship in dreams is a reality. The development and causes of censorship can be attributed to numerous factors both internal and external. Freud, in "Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious", believed jokes have the ability to bypass the censorship imposed upon the dream work and its underlying thoughts. Dreams provide access to the "marketplace of thought" and reveal their psychodynamics.

Governments have always sought to censor and regulate the marketplace of ideas, especially those thought considered subversive to their authority. The justification for surveillance and censorship is the regulation of public communication, especially subversive ideas. Concepts that are considered too dangerous are denied currency in the marketplace of thought. After the invention of printing, governments quickly realized the power of the printed word to spread sedition and heresy. Henry VIII in 1529 made a proclamation against seditious and heretical works. As well in the 16th century, the government established censorship controls over theatres, plays and performers. Mind control can be used to restrict freedom of expression of individuals and communities; censorship is the primary vehicle to exercise control over the production of thought in the marketplace.

Lewis Mumford's "The Myth of the Machine: The Pentagon of Power", attempts to expose the "Secrets of the Temple". He argues that the technical inventions of the 16th century laid the foundation for the "myth of the machine" and, much later, science fiction narratives. The constant surveillance and control of the public by the collection of intelligence data created the need for maintaining "sealed in" knowledge. Secrecy became valued as a military badge of authority and enforcing control.

Mumford wrote that the military "with the pusillanimous aid of Congress has extended [its] tentacles through-out the industrial and academic world ... With the computer [it] will be able to find, to locate and to address instantly any individual on the planet: exercising control over every detail over the subject's daily life by commanding a dossier which would include parentage, birth and education record, an account of illness and medical breakdown if treated, his marriage, his sperm bank count, his income, loans, security payments, taxes and pensions and the disposition of organs upon death."

"In the end, no action, no conversation and in time no dream or thought would escape the wakeful and relentless eye of this deity (the megamachine). Every manifestation of life would be processed into the computer and brought under its all pervading system of control." "This would mean not just the invasion of privacy, but the total destruction of the human soul." The prototypical machinery of paranoia from the ancient Greeks to Nazi Germany, Communist Russia or America has as its basis the same underlying nightmarish and dystopian vision. The TV screens in your dream, are right out of the dystopian novel by George Orwell 1984 and the telescreens monitored by the "Thought Police".

From a popular culture perspective, conspiracy in film finds expression in Three Days of the Condor, JFK, Conspiracy Theory, All the President's Men, The Bourne Identity, China Syndrome, Chinatown, The Constant Gardner, The Da Vinci Code, The International, The Manchurian Candidate, The Pelican Brief, and Wag the Dog to name a few. From a popular music perspective Pink Floyd's Welcome to the Machine whose lyrics include; "What did you dream, it's alright we told you what to dream" fits the sentiment of your dream. As well Crosby, Stills & Nash and Young's concept album American Dream (watch video) fits the description of your dream.

The IIDR interpretations; "Apocalypse: The American Military-Industrial Complex " and The Psychodynamic Problem of Democracy" provides further insight. 

Further Reading;

Derrick Jensen and George Draffen,"Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, anf the Culture of Control".

Henry Giroux, "Agaist the New Authoritarianism: Politics After Abu Ghraib".

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.