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No More Stalins, No More Hitlers

August 10, 2011

Prophesy of William Burroughs c. 1989.

“We have a new type of rule now. Not one man rule or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decisions. They are representatives of abstract forces who have reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past.

There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident; inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine that they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which button to push.”


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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Debra permalink
    August 14, 2011 4:28 pm

    Cross Burroughs with Galbraith, writing in 1967/68, in “The New Industrial State”.
    Galbraith insists that power has been taken out of the hands of individuals to be DIFFUSED in the hands of technocracy, for example, and to defeat the evil effects of entrepreneurial capitalism, which concentrates power and cannot respond adequately to THE PLANNED ECONOMY that we have become, due to scientific and technological advances and Enlightenment ideology.
    In my opinion, this process has been at work for quite some time.
    It involves the rise of ABSTRACTION in our civilization. See Jacques Barzun’s opus “From Dawn to Decadence, 500 years of Western Cultural Life”. Barzun traces the ABSTRACT ideas at work in our culture, and (dixit ME), how these ideas have been given supremacy over flesh and blood, incarnated men and women. (If you take a good look at the French Revolution, you will see how ABSTRACT “liberty, equality, fraternity” displaced the King, and the Church, for example. But getting rid of the King himself, as INCARNATION of a symbolic order (and NOT as a tyrant answering to no-one, that is our modern fantasy of our history) has fragilized our political life in the extreme.
    Ivan Illich, also, in his later books, (conversations with David Caley) came to recognize how SYSTEM, and INSTITUTIONS were replacing our flesh and blood bodies, in relation to others as flesh and blood bodies.
    As I see it, we are in full fledged REVOLT against abstraction and the diffusion of power in our institutions. “Democracy”, that CONSUMMATE ABSTRACTION, is on the decline.
    We WANT incarnated power now, and we are seeking it.
    (The last U.S. election was an example of “the people” choosing a King, for example.) As I like to say, the wheel keeps on turning. We get disillusioned with our utopias, and go in the opposite direction. Until the next time.
    In the course of one individual’s life, this may not be evident.
    But if you look at over 500 years or so, the patterns emerge.

  2. spirou permalink
    June 25, 2012 7:24 am

    WSB’s quote above is from InterZone, dating back (from top of my shallow head) to c. 1952, not 1989 – making it all the more potent, though.

    • Stephen Malagodi permalink*
      June 25, 2012 10:02 am

      Thanks for the correction.

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