May 2nd, 2004


"Matrix Revolutions"

93, all!

Cath and I recently got the DVD of Matrix Revolutions, and finally watched it last night -- our second time seeing the film (after numerous viewings of the first two). It prompted, particularly in light of my recent "Jesus Factor" entries here, a meditation on the nature of politics, and my own take on same. Some thoughts, then: stated as propositions but meant as food for reflection.

Partisan politics, like exclusivist religion, can involve a form of hypnosis: a semantic pattern that tends to obscure the nature of underlying reality. Not that there's no difference between contending political factions, there certainly is: differing policies lead to differing results, often with dramatic, even melodramatic, consequences. But just as exclusivist religions fail to understand that "spirituality" is a single phenomenon, merely partisan politics fails to understand its own utility as one aspect of a whole.

Put briefly, every society is run for the benefit of those who rule it -- not their visible catspaws, the actual rulers. Political systems exist to keep their subject populaces relatively quiescent. The broad triumph of republics (usually miscalled "democracies"), as against dictatorships, is due to the former's utility: its effectiveness in keeping people more or less satisfied with their lot. In particular, republics allow dissatisfied people to let off steam, and provide a means to correct failed policies without the necessity for an actual change of government. They make for "matrix revolutions": i.e., "revolutions" within an overarching "matrix."

When rulers forget this -- fall in love with a particular partisan orientation to the exclusion of all others -- they tend to undermine the very thing that makes republics so darned effective at maintaining social order. They may come to adore their maps irrespective of how well, or ill, they represent the underlying territory. History is littered with such failed experiments...and given the complexity, and dangers, of the modern world, such failures have the potential for real catastrophe in the twenty-first century of the common era.

Politics, wisely practiced, involves a sort of self-correcting mechanism: it ensures that sufficient dissatisfaction in a populace will translate into a modicum of necessary social change. The deliberate whipping-up of dissatisfaction in a populace is a high-risk social strategy at the best of times; but if it's based on actual conviction that one is Totally Right to the Permanent Exclusion of All Others...well, I think you can see the point.

So in case you thought my expressed concern involved a dogmatic preference for Left, Right, or even Center (much less, heaven forbid, any tendency toward political activism), I hope this clarifies matters. My concern was for basic wisdom in human affairs, for the ability to mediate intelligently with one's actual -- not imagined -- environment. Rulership without such wisdom tends to go fractally wrong, with very little warning.

Amen, and Amen without Lie.  ;)

93 93/93 -- Apolitical AJ

P.S. Sometime I should add some thoughts about the Matrix films themselves. For example, I assume everyone got that, (a) Neo was himself a program, a subroutine of The Matrix, and therefore that (b) we quite possibly never really saw anyone in these films outside the Matrix itself? -- either when "in The Matrix," or "in The Machine World"?