Originally published as ‘No’ by John Carter on Substack
In 1988 the Chilean junta was coming under increasing international pressure to democratize. In order to head this off, the Pinochet regime announced a national plebiscite on the simple question of whether the people wanted him to remain as the head of government – Yes, or No. This is the jumping off point for the 2012 Chilean movie, No.
The protagonist is a marketing guy who gets pulled in to the dissident No campaign against his better apolitical instincts, by his radical sister or ex-girlfriend or something.
The No campaign staff are a bunch of crusty activist veterans, embittered and traumatized by a decade and a half of authoritarian military repression. They have friends, lovers, and family members who have gotten vanned, held in black sites, tortured, executed. Whatever idealism they started off with has been ground out of them by their long, hopeless struggle, and their vehement opposition to Pinochet has long since crystallized around anger and resentment at the monster in sunglasses rather than any real hope of a better world. Their lives revolve around getting beaten by riot cops at protests against getting beaten by riot cops, so of course, their plan for the No campaign is to focus on Pinochet’s human rights abuses. If they can just make the people see how badly they’re being treated, they think, the people will reject the old tyrant out of a sense of moral outrage.
This, the protagonist explains to them, is a sure recipe for failure.
Of course, the people know all about the brutalities of the regime. They’re neither blind nor stupid. But focusing on these excesses will communicate nothing but fear, and from an emotional psychology standpoint this is not a winning strategy. Frightened people given the choice between the devil they know and the unknown will choose the familiar every time. Even those strongly predisposed against voting Yes will simply be demoralized by such messaging, as it will remind them that there could be painful personal consequences to casting a No vote. “True, Pinochet is a huevón, and he’s too scary for me to do anything about. This referendum is a sham in any case, voting in it won’t do anything but get me in trouble. Better to stay home.”
Instead, our hero says, the No campaign needs to market itself using joy. “Pinochet has had his time, and he’s done much good for the country. We’re safer and more prosperous than we’ve ever been! But we’re ready to move on now, our country has grown up, we have a bright and beautiful future ahead of us if we leave this authoritarian regime behind!” The point is to put viewers in a happy, positive frame of mind, and to get them to associate this emotional state with dancing through the streets on their way to cast a No vote, not as a doomed act of symbolic resistance but in the spirit of a carnival, with grins on their faces.
The activists are skeptical, and outraged at the thought of not holding Pinochet to account, but the ad man is a professional at selling things, and he sells them on it through sheer force of personality. Do you want to win, he asks them, or do you want to whine?
As history records, No carried the day – despite voter intimidation and ballot stuffing, 56% of the population, or at any rate, 56% of enumerated ballots, were for Pinochet to step down. With the eyes of the world upon him, he had no choice but to keep his word.
Set aside for a moment any questions you might have about the historical accuracy of the film’s account (which I’m sure takes great liberties), and set aside as well any personal feelings you might have about the Helicopter Uncle and what measures were justified in removing commies. The point of the movie isn’t Pinochet, or Chile, or communism vs. capitalism, or democracy vs. military rule. That’s nothing but the scenery.
The movie is about effective propaganda.
It’s about what works when you’re trying to bring down a powerful, deeply entrenched, ruthless, but overconfident and sclerotic regime.
And what works is positivity.
Conservatives have been standing athwart history yelling, Stop! for generations now, and the blind idiot god Azathoth has only grown more corpulent and ravenous as it reduces our cultures, identities, and very minds to so much slurry.
Enough of us know what the problems are by now, and those problems are legion. Most of the dissident sphere is composed of an almost pornographic cataloguing of Clown World’s sins against God and nature. Tranissaries shooting up schools; microplastics in the water; children taught to loathe their skin colour and genitalia; lockdowns for the common cold; forced injections with experimental medications; the steady dismantling of our cherished institutions by midwit Marxcissist commissars; women being tricked into thinking their most energetic and fertile years are best spent in servitude to the HR department and ending up bitter and childless as a result; our borders being dissolved so our countries can be handed over to an endless third world horde; a disappearing middle class being crushed to oblivion between the anvil of the lumenproletariat and the diamond hammer of the financial aristocracy….
The future looks incredibly bleak, too. 15-minute cities that you need to obtain permission to venture outside of for your CBDC Fedcoin to work. Virtual reality as the only refuge from the crowded and soulless chicken battery into which you’ve been crammed. ‘Renewable’ energy poverty. Bugs and soy for food. You know the deal. It’s a bad deal.
It’s all quite depressing, and it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by it. If the people would only rise up, and reject these obscenities! But then you look around at the fat morons on the street, you sigh for the hundredth time at the fluoride stare you get from normies when you mention anything outside of their programming, and you despair. Like Winston Smith seeing the proles rioting, and imagining that they’re finally revolting against the Party, only to realize that they’re simply excited over a sale on pots. The livestock, you come to realize, are never going to cast off their chains. If they’ve ever had it in their nature to do so, it’s been bred, beaten, drugged, and Netflixed out of them.
It doesn’t help that the WEF present their antiseptic nightmare of global AI surveillance serfdom as a fait accompli. It’s not just that they are showing you the future they would like to build – they present it as the future that will happen, the inevitable outcome of the relentless forces of history, technological and social progress carrying us all towards their technological Singularity as surely as a dropped rock falls to the ground.
Which is really quite excellent propaganda on their part. If their future is the only possible future, after all, there’s not much point in resisting it.
In the trade that’s known as assuming the sale.
Sure, Kalergi’s dystopia looks like hell on Earth, at least for anyone who values human freedom (although don’t worry, I hear they’ll have a chip for that). You can rant and rave against it all you want, you can point out the horrible things the demonic regime of Planet Pennywise has already done, you can point to the broken countries and the broken people that languish in mental illness and broken bodies behind the Rainbow Curtain, you can rail against the endless self-contradictory deceptions of the Empire of Lies.
But it won’t change anything, because their vision of the future is the only vision. They’re too strong, too rich, too powerful; they’ve hypnotized the population too thoroughly; they have too many ways of crushing any opposition, starving it of attention and resources, while lavishing funding on all those projects they’re using to build their prison. You can’t stop it. It’s inevitable.
Or so they’d like you to think.
And I think many of us tacitly accept this.
So we busy ourselves pointing out the insanity and corruption in excruciating detail. Did you hear the latest cretinous gibbering from today’s over-promoted regime lickspittle? Did you see the latest demented statement from a TikTok gender fiend? Did you hear about how yet another dissident got deplatformed, debanked, assaulted by the tolerant left? Have you heard about the most recent thing we’ve learned about what the vaxx does to your endothelial lining?
And oh my God what’s wrong with the normies, don’t they see all of this, what more will it take to wake them up?
The answer is much simpler than you expect.
The answer is joy.
The normies aren’t that stupid. They know the economy has been shattered. They know we’re all getting a raw deal. They know the gender theology is off-putting and nonsensical. They know the politicians lie, and they know the food is unhealthy. Sure, they’ve got ice cold takes on almost any given specific subject you get into with them, they’re normies after all, but the herd has the general sense that the world has been irreparably broken, and the herd is spooked, it senses in its own incoherent fashion that the world is being reconstituted in a way it won’t like.
Shoving all of the evidence of how badly things are broken in their faces only agitates them more, and in the face of that fear and cognitive dissonance whatever cracks might have opened in their minds slam shut.
What is needed is a positive vision.
As usual, the globalists are way ahead of us on this, in their tone deaf and ham-fisted, lying fashion. They’ve got ready answers for the sources of the problems people are experiencing: the Coronavirus, the Russians, the Chinese, climate change, racism, what have you. And for each of those they have a solution, with all of their solutions naturally converging on the Kalergi dystopia’s UN 2030 Sustainability Goals. They have an explanation for the anxiety everyone’s feeling, and they have a remedy for it. Just trust them, and they’ll deliver you from environmental apocalypse, racial hatred, and sexism, into a perfect garden world where all your ills will be seamlessly handled by machines of loving grace.
Say what you will about globalism, at least it’s an ethos.
Within the faction of free humanity, there’s pretty broad consensus on the problem – namely, the globalists themselves, the extractive micromanaged hyperregulated inhuman global prison system they’ve built, and the fortress tower of deception they’ve built it on. The vocabulary with which this system is described is vast, reflecting the attention that describing the problem has received: the Cathedral, Clown World, the Longhouse, globohomo, GAE, NWO, ZOG, and so on all point to different facets of the same suppurating dispensation.
But what’s our solution?
What’s our joyful vision of the future?
Collapse porn isn’t going to cut it. Painting a picture of bands of armed men defending their potato patches from the cannibal hordes isn’t an attractive future for most, no matter how badass it sounds or how many seasons of The Walking Dead you managed to get through. The back-to-the-land cottagecore of the hippie luddite rejectionist isn’t all that enticing either, at least for anyone who doesn’t want to be a subsistence farmer. Something more compelling than “You’ll be desperately poor and constantly on the edge of survival, but you’ll be free!” is called for.
To be fair, there have been a few efforts to articulate something better than 15-minute pod-cities.
N. Dexiahad a good write-up of Trump’s recent forays into MAGA futurism. He pointed out probably the best headline libs came up with trying to make Trump’s vision sound stupid: “Donald Trump Wants to Build ‘Freedom Cities’ Powered by Sex and Flying Cars (Yes, This Is Real)”. Sold. With opponents like that, who needs marketing directors? N. Dexia finishes his piece with an amusing vision of:
the big, beautiful future city of Trumpopolis, nestled somewhere amid the scenic grandeur of the northern Rockies, or maybe the Sierras, its gleaming towers of spun nanocarbon lifting a mile or more high, and a cloud of VTOL pleasure craft darkening its skies as they carry the sex-crazed, baby-making citizens on their various errands; and in the midst, among it all, the city’s centerpiece: a gigantic, gold-plated colossus, twice—no, make that thrice the height of the Statue of Liberty, with Donald Trump’as scowling visage planted atop the heroic physique of a gleaming Greek god.
Now, Trump’s vision sounds great – I love the idea of opening up Federal land for beautiful next-gen metropoli to be built around VTOL aircraft rather than the hateful automobile, and I especially love the idea of keeping the lights on through sheer eros.
Still, my first thought was – where’s that wall, bro? And my second thought was, how exactly are those cities going to be funded? America’s bankrupt already, and with the petrodollar collapsing it will only get broker. Even if you don’t think America’s Potemkin prosperity is about to shatter, when was the last time America (or any other Western country) built anything impressive? My third thought was to recall Dubya’s stirring vision from back in ye olden days of 2004 promising a manned mission to the Moon by 2015 and a permanent base by 2020. So about that. We’re a bit behind schedule. Shocking, I know.
Frankly, when I hear the grand visions of politicians, experience has left me a bit jaded.
Aside from their awkward tendency to turn into vapourware, there’s another problem with such ambitious proposals. They’re generally quite limiting, along the lines of large infrastructure projects and the like. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a case in point … not that I’m knocking the BRI. At least, unlike the organizational sludge of our hyper-regulated rentier states, the Chinese are actually able to build stuff. They’re still able to think big.
And there’s something to be said for thinking big. Take the Line, the Saudi plan to build a shining $500 billion, 170 km long arcology in the middle of a desert wasteland. Its focus on sustainability and its featureless mirror aesthetics are pure UN2030SG, but nevertheless when I discussed this in a group chat with some friends the general consensus was “Fuck it, at least they’re doing something.” The sheer audacity of the project is impressive. Not that there’s much danger of it being built.
But put all of those things aside for a moment. The overwhelming majority of us are not billionaires, or even millionaires. We can’t credibly claim to expect to build things on such a scale, even if we pooled all of our resources together and agreed on a project.
One thing we can do is develop ideas – articulate coherent philosophies of governance and cultural organization, which is something intellectuals have been doing for some time. Charles Haywood’s Foundationalism is an excellent example of a well-thought-out, post-liberal system. On the metaphysical level, Christopher Langan’s Cognitive Theoretic Model of the Universe provides a spiritual framework that can serve as a sort of philosophical bedrock with which to unify science and the various religions. His classic essay, Metareligion as the Human Singularity is worth reading in full for the way it clearly articulates the choice facing the human species on the verge of this planetary phase change, and the role he believes his CTMU can play in getting humanity to make the right choice. Along the same lines,
Harrison Koehli has been translating Andrez Lobaczewski’s previously unpublished Logocracy into English (the latest chapter can be found here), which together with the political ponerology for which Lobaczewski is known provides a meta-framework that can be applied to any form of government to keep it from degenerating into a pathocracy.
All of this is important, good stuff – interesting for nerds like us who like to, lol, read things, but yet it is unlikely to inspire the masses of humanity, for whom abstruse political philosophy, recondite metaphysics, and careful parsing of the historical factors leading to the development of managerial liberalism is liable to make their eyes glaze over.
But then, maybe, nerds that we are, we’re overthinking this.
Go back to that Chilean movie, No. The Pinochet regime’s Yes campaign was larded down with economic statistics (“See how far we’ve come under Pinochet’s wise leadership and firm hand!”) and grand projects for the future (“Our economic plan will increase GDP by 2.5% per annum!”). The No campaign didn’t bother with any of that. There were no specific policy proposals, no economic models, no dense political theory.
There was just a simple message:
We don’t need you.
We can do better without you.
We’d rather be free.
And they put a cheerful rainbow behind it to drive home how happy this freedom was.
And that worked.
It’s no accident, I think, that the greatest cultural success the right has enjoyed in several decades has been, not due to think tanks pushing out fifty-page white papers, but rather due to the jokes told by sensitive young men with anime avatars trading frog memes. “Hippocleides doesn’t care,” the Neo-Hellenists laugh, as they do cartwheels with ludic insouciance over sacred idols and perform obscene political haruspicy with sacred cows.
We’re not being offered an explicit referendum, of course. Davos man has absolutely no intention of directly soliciting our democratic approval of his plans. That isn’t how technocracy works. The experts develop policy, inform the rest of us what it is, and we are expected to obey.
But make no mistake, there’s always a choice – to obey, or not.
And we’ll be asked to make that choice again soon, I think.
As the currencies collapse in on themselves, they’ll role out their CBDCs, offering us a one-way ticket into their walled garden. We can accept the invitation, adopt their digital currencies, and become slaves.
Or we can do something else … whatever that something else is.
It’s up to us.
We can accept their Great Reset, or we can reply with a Great Reject.
Which answer the species gives will depend a lot on who has the best messaging.
We might not know exactly what the alternative is, yet. It’s probably impossible to know. It might even be better that we don’t. We’re not trying to impose a plan on the world. Control is their thing, not ours.
But we can make the Great Reject into the greatest party the world has ever seen, if we’re smart about it. And everyone likes a party.
If you’re already a paid supporter of Postcards From Barsoom, you have my deepest and most heartfelt gratitude. Your support makes my writing possible. If you enjoyed this essay, or you’ve enjoyed previous essays, and you have the resources to do so, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription. If you take out a paid sub, you might even develop superpowers. What is certain, however, is that a paid sub gets you in to Deimos Station.
In between writing on Substack you can find me on Twitter @martianwyrdlord, and I’m also pretty active at Telegrams From Barsoom