Voltairine de Cleyre wrote:The love of material ease has been, in the mass of men and permanently speaking, always greater than the love of liberty. Nine hundred and ninety-nine women out of a thousand are more interested in the cut of a dress than in the independence of their sex; nine hundred and ninety-nine men out of a thousand are more interested in drinking a glass of beer than in questioning the tax that is laid on it; how many children are not willing to trade the liberty to play for the promise of a new cap or a new dress? This it is which begets the complicated mechanism of society; this it is which, by multiplying the concerns of government, multiplies the strength of government and the corresponding weakness of the people.
Written nearly a century later, in the 1999 science fiction movie, The Matrix, the character Morpheus says the following:
The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Business men, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.
Voltairine's words are about real life everyday political freedom in a non-fictional context, in a time before AI and smartphone addiction existed, let alone were so intertwined with the zeitgeist of the time.
Morpheus's words are written in a fictional context and regard a prison-like virtual reality run by AI overlords. It brings into context matters relevant to the human condition that do not exist at all, at least not yet.
Despite the differences, do you also see some parallels between the words of the real Voltairine about our world versus the words of the fictional Morpheus about his world-within-a-world, a sort of dream within a dream?
When it comes to political oppression, does it tend to be the case that the oppressed assist in their own oppression?
Who makes the guns that the police and government agents carry, even when the citizens are deprived of equal rights to arms? Who builds the prisons and camps? Who builds the tanks and paddy wagons? Who does the paperwork and bureaucracy? Do those people tend to do it begrudgingly, or do they tend to apply for and seek out the job? Do they get excited, gitty, and happy when they get the job?
For instance, if we hypothetically imagine an average human living as an unemployed prisoner in a Soviet gulag or a Nazi concentration camp, but then this human was offered an important job helping produce supplies for the government and its armed agents, or doing important bureaucratic paperwork, would the human tend to be eager to take job and happy to get the offer?
Is it an understatement to say that humans tend to be complacent in their own slavery and oppression?
Is it more accurate and less of an understatement to instead say that--rather than being merely complacent--humans tend to be active assistants in their own oppression?
Perhaps humans wouldn't just build the AI that builds the matrix; perhaps humans would also be the ones to build the matrix itself.