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Memespace Egregores and Maajid Nawaz
He was so close to being right on Rogan, but stumbled at the finish.
After fully processing the Maajid Nawaz appearance on Joe Rogan from February 2022, I think he failed on several crucial layers of his analysis, and I think I know why. A distributed agenda by an egregore would look like a coordinated agenda to a conspiracy theorist.
Nawaz’s personal history is that of learning how to run psyops for Muslim extremists, and afterwards fighting against psyops by governments. He cannot conceive of a chain of responsibility for a psyop that does not begin within a centralized cabal. For him, he sees all the pieces of a grand conspiracy laid out and the only reasonable explanation is the World Economic Forum is pushing The Great Reset by establishing a Checkpoint Charlie society into which to roll digital currencies that can have social credit scores baked into them.
Let me first be clear that I’m not saying the WEF isn’t doing this. I bet they are. Of course they are. Why wouldn’t they? I would if I were them. This article isn’t about that. It’s about the analysis failure that causes Mr. Nawaz to mistake a distributed agenda by an egregore for a coordinated agenda by a cabal, an error very common within the conspiracy theory space.
And let me reassure you, the distributed agenda by the egregore is worse.
First let’s re-rehash HWFO echo chamber theory. In the digital world, all our exposure to reality is migrating into the pseudo-reality of the smartphone world instead of the real world. Nawaz obviously gets this. In the smartphone world, humans outsource any number of brain processes, from scheduling to road navigation to morality itself to our phones. Nawaz seems to get most of that too.
In the currency of clicks, all media gets paid by its traffic, which means anything they can do to incite panic and fear becomes “true.” I’m not sure Nawaz fully understands the true depth of this problem. He thinks, probably correctly, that the CIA or MI5 or other government institutions are using the postmodernity of online life to propagate false pictures of the world. He doesn’t seem to get that this happens with or without a central coordinated effort by existing power. If our governments wanted us to see a true thing, but the true thing wouldn’t get clicks, then our smartphones wouldn’t tell us the true thing. They would tell us the clickbait thing, and we would spread the clickbait thing around the government’s intervention. The media business model to drive traffic is more powerful in this smartphone space than governments are, or intelligence agencies, or any centralized cabal. Error one.
Bureaucracy is the actual government, not the elected officials, and the officials have almost no control over what the government does. Nawaz clearly gets this, from his experience trying to steer the USA’s behavior towards something positive during the war on terror. But then he immediately forgets it when he alludes to the WEF installing its indoctrinates into cabinets and positions of political power. These are installed in what Moldbug calls “the show,” not the true seat of power. The true seat of government power are the low and mid-level clock punchers that Nawaz could never turn in his time as an anti-war activist. In order to get all these low and mid-level clock punchers to all adopt the same behaviors, you wouldn’t need a centralized conspiracy to which they all proscribe, you would need a vast, pseudoreligious indoctrination program wherein their beliefs are code checked daily against their peers. That in fact is probably why Nawaz’s anti-war efforts failed. Error two.
In Nawaz’s formulation, a conspiratorial cabal influences government, the government influences both policy and the media, and then policy and the media influences individual behavior (such as masks). This is wrong, because the low and mid-level clock punchers are not beholden to the cabal. They are beholden to their smartphones. And their smartphones are beholden to the media, which in turn are beholden to the pay per click traffic incentive, which is derived by feeding an echo chamber what it wants to hear. The groupthink entity at the bottom of the echo chamber is the actual power. The egregore.
Put simply, it’s not the government manipulating the media, it’s the media manipulating the government, and the egregores manipulate the media because they are the tail that wags the dog. The bureaucracy controls the policy, the elected officials go along so as not to anger the egregore, and the control of individual behavior (such as masks) flows from that. Let’s visualize this.
Nawaz thinks it works like the diagram on the left, and nobody seems to realize that it works like the diagram on the right. I can understand why Nawaz made this error because it didn’t used to work this way. In the run up to the Vietnam war, it worked like the diagram on the left. Arguably it worked that way in the run up to the Iraq war as well. But those were both before the internet came to fully dominate our lives, before the media business model shifted to match, before the echo chambers tightened into groupthink neural networks that propagated virtual brain waves in the form of memes, and before the groupthink entities deep in the media bubbles began to use the postmodernist reality construction framework to not only propagate themselves but update themselves on the fly to become more inherently viral.
I live in Atlanta. I know people who work in the CDC. I saw their 2020 Facebook feeds. These people were in meetings all day about Covid-19, Covid response, looking (in theory) at data, and I know what influenced their behavior. It certainly wasn’t the elected government, represented at the time by the Trump administration. It wasn’t science either, because whenever I pointed science out to them that was not narrative approved, science that has since been confirmed, I got castigated. It was whatever was being pushed on the Occupy Democrats Facebook page that day. That’s what dictated their behavior. The high value nexus nodes in the groupthink egregore pushed out their behavioral instructions and they amplified them and followed them, probably retweeting them from their afternoon CDC meeting.
On Rogan, Nawaz rolled out a slate of references for his “military grade psyop” theory, and I do not challenge those references. But these were cherry picked, related specifically to certain policy measures, and do not remotely capture the entire depth and breadth of the true “psyop.” I’ve been maintaining a running score card of the machinations of the Covid Egregore for years on Twitter, and this is the current snapshot on February 23rd, 2022:
If you’re one of my readers, you’ve definitely heard the Covid Egregore say these things. Only a fraction of these would be promulgated by a military grade psyop, but every one of these was promulgated by the Covid Egregore. The living, breathing beast at the bottom of the echo chamber. And it is this beast that has captured the employees at the CDC, the FDA, agencies in Europe, and worldwide. It attempts to force its will into places like South Africa which aren’t captured, using international funding as a carrot and stick.
Pick Your Conspiracy
The most important thing to understand about how our global society has reacted to Covid-19, is that we would have acted this way whether Klaus Schwab was a lizard person orchestrating a secret cabal of trans globalist elites trying to hijack the world or he was a Des Moines Iowa ditch digger. We acted this way not because of Schwab, but because The Egregore Demanded It. Schwab may in fact be acting the way he’s acting because he’s captured by it. And if Schwab was a ditch digger, then Nawaz would have found one of any other potential cabals to hang this on.
A distributed agenda by an egregore would look like a coordinated agenda to a conspiracy theorist.
I was pointed by a reader to a piece by Paul Kingsnorth, “The Vaccine Moment,” where he makes a very similar case to Nawaz. He gets closer to the truth than Nawaz with this passage:
"But though Schwab and the WEF’s power and influence should not be underplayed, he is not pulling the strings. There are no strings: there is only the Machine, and its direction of travel is long-set."
The archetyping of societies as machines is not new nor original, and the reduction of the concept of “the egregore” to just “society” strips it of its analytical value. An egregore is a new thing. It’s a set of behavioral indoctrination principles stored not in a book, but on the feed, which can change year by year or day by day to adapt to different environments, its chief goal being to propagate itself into as much of the available human brain space as possible. It’s not just a religion, it’s a religion with service packs pushed out on Twitter daily. It’s a religion that behaves as if it thinks. The United States went from “leaving the house is murder” to “not leaving the house is racist” in the span of approximately two days in 2020, and that was very obviously not the result of a military psyop. It was obviously the result of an egregore update, once you understand what egregores are.
It may be easier to understand this dynamic of egregore capture in the case of Qanon. Qanon is, very specifically, a few bearded nerds in a basement writing up conspiracy stuff and sticking it on 8chan. The stuff they write is intentionally written to be the most viral thing they can think of within the Qanon echo chamber, and they keep it this way by including real and true things with the fiction. We may think that because it’s a couple of guys in a basement, it qualifies as a conspiracy, but it’s not, because they can’t actually control what they’re writing. If they wrote something that the echo chamber didn’t like, then it wouldn’t go viral. Even though they are the literal central node of an obvious conspiracy they are captured by something else. They too are the dog being wagged by their own tail.
Does the Pope control Christianity? No. Christianity controls the Pope. But Christianity changes very slowly and is not beholden to a daily freakoutery click count to maintain its revenue. The groupthink entities comprised by social network echo chambers control the media they consume, which controls their version of the world, which then controls everyone’s behavior captured by them. Can I prove this? Yes. If this were true, each side of the Covid debate would think the other side is gaslit.
Each side thinks the other is gaslit.
This problem is deeper than Covid, and it’s not going away. It’s only going to get worse with each successive thing the media organism tries to freak out about. If not for Covid we may have had a nationwide schism over gun control in 2020 – it certainly looked that way in January in Richmond. We may still get that. We may get Nawaz’s prediction, that the coastal virtual elites are going to run a WEF social credit scheme against the rural reality proles and we get our war that way. It could be flat earthers vs round earthers, or a nationwide violent conflict over whether birds are or aren’t real. There’s no way to say what it will be. Because these egregores, in so much as they may be thinking, are thinking one level up from humans and the humans are enacting their will without resistance.