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L&FP, 54: J C Wright on the haunting “Morlockery” of many today, in the neo-gnostic, nihilistic “Technoplutocracy”

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Mr Wright, a noted Science Fiction/Fantasy writer [and married to another, L Jagi Lampwriter Wright] observes a pattern of our times:

John C Wright

Technoplutocracy is my term for our current intellectual elite, a combination of traditionally leftwing and rightwing elements [–> outdated reference], dominating our public institutions, political and legal and scholarly, corporate culture, international finance, but most particularly in our mass media and social media. Not all Morlocks are technoplutocratic elites, but all elites are Morlocks.

“Morlock,” is a strange term, tracing to pioneer Sci Fi writer H G Wells in Time Machine. As Wright describes, “[i]n Wells, the Morlock is a cannibal troglodyte who treats other human descendants [the “fair, childlike Eloi”] as cattle [–> as in, food].” So, he extends to a sadly common phenomenon of today, “[i]n my wry jest, a Morlock is an intellectual trapped in a structure of reasoning he erected, at first, to justify his inhumanity toward his fellow human beings.” Just before, he noted that he uses the term to describe: “anyone who imagines himself to be evolved beyond human norms and into the realm of moral inversion, so that all rules of right and wrong, only for oneself, are flipped downside up.”

Technoplutocacy, can be easily parsed as a compound: Techno + plutocracy, rule of wealth and power expressed through domination of key technological structures. Here, obviously, the oligarchs of the dominant Internet, Social Media, General Media and associated platforms. The ones who exploit the principle that you cannot beat free.

That is,


IF . . .

a technology driven service such as email or video hosting or blog and related hosting,or even the older broadcast radio or television, etc. is expensive to provide but is made available free or nearly free to the first tier consumer,

THEN . . .

it is because that consumer is actually the product being marketed to the true customer, the one seeking market research and/or information to guide agit prop and lawfare etc., the better to manipulate not only the consumer but the public at large.

(And yes, this is a first principle of our era; one, we dare not ignore.)

Wright, therefore, has put his finger on a saddening feature of our times, an irresponsible irrationality and nihilism posing as avant garde intellectual sophistication that then leads to a mood that demands inversion of millennia of civilisation and moral principle preservative thereof, to suit one’s preferences. This, then leads our minds to:

The center of this philosophy . . . a desperate and hysterical sense of indefatigable guilt, guilt without cause or forgiveness, a crushing, biting, acidic, soul-destroying guilt, a guilt for the sin of being created, for breathing air, for walking in the light of the sun. To escape this causeless a neurotic sense of guilt, a causeless and neurotic sense of entitlement, a sense of moral and mental superiority, must be manufactured by those with not even a specious claim to it.

To manufacture the claim, a gnostic view of the universe is adopted, a metaphysical conspiracy theory, where everything the common man holds to be unquestionable, one must hold as an illusion.

This implies the second Technoplutocratic principle, based on crooked yardstick thinking:


IF . . .

a significant proportion of the public* — especially the “educated” or “informed” in a democracy where +/- 5% support can be decisive — can be manipulated or intimidated into accepting or enabling crooked yardsticks in the place of self-evident, plumb-line first principles and duties foundational to sound, sustainable civilisation,

THEN . . .

such fallacies, perversities and follies will so marginalise truth, prudence and sound knowledge that lawless oligarchy can be entrenched in power and can marginalise and stigmatise soundness as though it were nonsense.


Eventually, unsoundness has over-the cliff ruinous consequences.

* In an oligarchy, that becomes the cluster of key factions.

As in . . .

Or, more simply . . .

Of Lemmings, marches of folly and cliffs of self-falsifying absurdity . . .

Where, we need to rethink our political spectrum models:

Thus, we come to the strange phenomenon of many people doubling down on and clinging to grand delusion and its irrational, perverse, chaotic absurdities:

Note that a YouTube search, at least at the time of this writing, on the word “illusion” brings a list of optical illusions, but searching “is an illusion” a list of gnostic propositions: the self is an illusion; reality is an illusion; the passage of time is an illusion; free will is an illusion; the universe is an illusion; love is an illusion; consciousness is an illusion.

Sounds familiar?

That’s what we are seeing behind a good slice of the current rhetoric of objections here at UD, folks.

Wright then highlights the key point, self-referential incoherence and tied absurdity leading to neo-gnostic, nihilistic chaos:

Now, all these are self-refuting statements, not merely illogical but obviously and blatantly so. Their purpose is not to be believed and acted upon — what action is recommended in a universe where both you and the universe are illusions, not to mention time, free will, and reality? What action is possible? — their purpose is to create a false sense of mental superiority above dullards who believe reality is real and truth is true. [And, echoing Havel in his epochal Power of the Powerless, to so impose an agenda of falsities that you break the conscience and common sense rationality of the ordinary person, through imposed, inescapable cognitive dissonance leading to conscience numbing conformity to the imposed order of neo-gnostic nihilism.]

This false sense of mental superiority is prompted and sustained by believing in paradoxes and absurdities. No one can challenge a paradox, because a paradox denies what it asserts. No one can call wrong a statement that is both wrong and right — there is no place to start.

Actually, we can point out the absurdity and insist that we shall not live by lies, absurdities and perversities of thought or deed. Thus, we build a counter culture of the truth in loving community. In so doing, we can insist on first principles of right reason and first, branch on which we sit first duties. Of course, the slander machines will be cranked up to bring us under a cynical bombardment of filth, to smear, marginalise and scapegoat.

That simply reveals the Dark Lord such slanderers actually blindly serve, one whose very name is Slanderer or Accuser.

Resemblance to the course of public affairs and discussion in recent decades is not coincidental.

Wright draws out consequences:

This false sense of mental superiority segues into a sense of moral superiority on the same basis: merely by substituting bad for good, foul for fair, vice for virtue. Saying jihadists are victims, or that police are criminals, or that property is theft, or that theft is reparations, or that men are women, is not enough. One must accuse any who fail to repeat the paradox of being uneducated, distraught, gauche, heartless, misogynist or racist, or of suffering from new mental illnesses, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, xenophobia, or of being running dogs and supporters of one evil world-conspiracy or another.

Naturally, these ad hominem accusations have no basis in fact, nor are they meant to. They are meant to signal one’s nonexistent virtue, to shout down opposition, to kick over the chessboard, and change the subject.

Hence, of course,


IF . . .

a critical mass (our small, tipping faction) can be so influenced and programmed in a party-line as to habitually resort to using red herring distractors led away to strawman caricatures of other views and their proponents (duly soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere for discussion on key matters) — the trifecta fallacy

THEN . . .

the resulting toxic polarisation, marginalisation or “cancelling” of the despised, slandered other or his/her considerations, will tend to stabilise the ideology and cultural agenda being promoted (despite its evident fallaciousness and potentially ruinous consequences). Where of course if this is pointed out, the programmed, habitual retort is to try to turn about and project the blame and fault to the other . . . a favourite agit prop tactic of men like Hitler and Goebbels.


again, unsoundness can lead to ruin.

Wright concludes:

For intellects otherwise bankrupt, ad hominem is the only threadbare remnant of a once-vibrant mental life. Standing silent when one has no counterargument is not an option, for it signals no virtue and props up no sense of false self-regard. Recall that for these sad souls, the monster of neurotic and causeless guilt, a guilt for being alive, lurks in their shadow and waits at the door, claws and fangs gleaming, lusting to rend and tear. If only empty words can hold the devilish beast at bay, then empty words will be said and shouted and spewed like vomit.

These days, sadly, even honest men otherwise careful of their reputation for integrity, will applaud, or even repeat, such empty words.

Food for thought. END

20 Replies to “L&FP, 54: J C Wright on the haunting “Morlockery” of many today, in the neo-gnostic, nihilistic “Technoplutocracy”

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    J C Wright on the haunting “Morlockery” of many today, in the neo-gnostic, nihilistic “Technoplutocracy”

    –> Introducing two Technoplutocratic Principles as premises of ruinous subversion of civilisation in pursuit of oligarchic, domineering power, wealth and control, through J C Wright’s reflections.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    And yes, the echoes of The Ship of State are there:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State [ –> here we see Plato’s philosopher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. [–> the issue of competence and character as qualifications to rule] The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction [–> the sophists, the Demagogues, Alcibiades and co, etc]; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable [–> implies a need for a corruption-restraining minority providing proverbial salt and light, cf. Ac 27, as well as justifying a governing structure turning on separation of powers, checks and balances], and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    Guess how multiplied billions are being made by creating and providing “free” or nearly free services that are expensive to produce, and why . . .

  4. 4
    Viola Lee says:

    The most amazing title of a UD post ever! 🙂

  5. 5
    Scamp says:

    The most amazing title of a UD post ever!

    Was that as far as you got, as well?

  6. 6
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Good analysis, KF

    Naturally, these ad hominem accusations have no basis in fact, nor are they meant to. They are meant to signal one’s nonexistent virtue, to shout down opposition, to kick over the chessboard, and change the subject.

    They also enable a common-bond within the group, so there are insiders and outsiders. The ridicule and mockery of outsiders creates fear – people do not want to leave the tribe but want to be protected within it.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    SA, sadly, yes. The resort to attack the man via distractions and caricatures is actually an admission of intellectual bankruptcy multiplied by a failure of basic respect, but can be used to reinforce a narrative of polarisation, further undermining civilisation; the notorious case of Jewish people being scapegoated should be a warning to all. J C Wright is an astute observer and has put his finger on a clear breakdown in our civilisation. KF

    PS, Have we fallen so far in awareness and appreciation of the literary canon, that Morlocks is an unknown term? Well, here is the Gutenberg page

  8. 8
  9. 9
    Scamp says:

    I reread the Time Machine recently. Interesting story but really demonstrates the Eurocentric attitudes of the time.

    I started watching the TV movie you provided a link to but had to stop. The writing and acting were horrific. I much prefer the movie with Rid Taylor. Interestingly, the actor Wit Bissell was in both. And he was also in the TV series The Time Tunnel.

  10. 10
    Silver Asiatic says:


    Have we fallen so far in awareness and appreciation of the literary canon, that Morlocks is an unknown term?

    I taught high school and middle school literature for a time and I think we have fallen very far in awareness and appreciation of the literary canon. It has left our culture impoverished. Not entirely so – there are pockets (return to classics), but in a general sense we have lost a lot.

  11. 11
    Seversky says:

    I read The Time Machine many years ago and found it engrossing and I prefer the Rod Taylor movie version as well. I’d also suggest Gregory Benford’s Timesape and Fred Hoyle’s October The First Is Too Late as different but equally intriguing fictional approaches to the conundrums of time.

  12. 12
    Scamp says:

    Well, if we are talking about time travel movies, I give two thumbs up to The Adam Project.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, J C Wright is a Sci Fi author, as is his wife, and he used the term. In the OP I cite and comment on his remarks to draw out some issues tied to what he terms with some justifiability, technoplutocracy. The book gives a literary reference but it seems many have missed out on bits of the canon. Worse the movie I found seems to have played fast and loose with the text, ah well. KF

  14. 14
    Scamp says:

    Ultimately, The Time Machine is a story about human evolution.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    Sc, more, it is about moral degradation. KF

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Morlockery at work, Meyer describes a debate with Krauss:

    [Physicist Lawrence Krauss] is also well
    known for his provocative thesis that quantum physics can explain how the
    universe came into being from nothing. But that evening he didn’t begin
    with a defense of that position. Instead, he began by declaring the topic of
    the forum unworthy of reflection and by characterizing me as unworthy of
    engagement. Indeed, he began the debate indulging in nearly ten minutes of
    what his boisterous supporters clearly regarded as deliciously personal
    invective, denouncing both me and, by extension, the organizers of the

    “If you appear on stage with someone talking about these ideas, it gives
    the impression that the ideas are worth debating or that the person is worth
    debating,” Professor Krauss declared. “In this case, neither is true.”1
    When a rival in debate descends to ad hominem argument, I usually find
    myself surprised at his willingness to waste allotted time. Audiences
    typically find insults masquerading as arguments unpersuasive. Moreover,
    in a debate it usually takes little to defang such tactics beyond pointing
    them out. That night, however, Krauss’s celebrity status had attracted
    hundreds of raucous supporters who laughed loudly at his punch lines,
    leaving me with the impression that an appeal to reason alone might not win
    the evening. As I began to speak, I pointed out that Krauss had provided
    little evidence to support his critique of my views, and still less in support
    of his own. Ordinarily, I might have also made light of his use of the ad
    hominem tactic, but on that night humor escaped me as my neurological
    distress grew progressively more acute while standing before a large
    audience in the auditorium and an estimated sixty thousand people
    watching online.

    I had accepted the challenge of the debate in part to explain my own
    position about what science can tell us about the existence of God. This is,
    needless to say, an ultimate question and a subject of urgent concern for
    many thoughtful people. It is an important topic, as even many atheists
    would agree, and deserves a serious response. [Meyer, Return of the God Hypothesis]

    The attempt to delegitimise, marginalise and stigmatise through the trifecta tactic is plain. The resort to the mob is also plain, and its willingness to enthusiastically enable the trifecta game speaks, tellingly, and not in its favour.

    We now need to ask pointed questions on where the Technoplutocrats want to go, why they sponsor and promote things like so called new atheism, and why they seek to marginalise as they do. For sure, Morlock tactics like this are indefensible and the Eloi pretence that silence and ignoring the attacks are good enough is suicidal. We need a shepherd spirit to stand in the gap between sheep and wolves.


    PS, BTW, note the gross philosophical, logic of being failure posed by eminent physicists, in onward clips:

    Krauss: >> Krauss contends that the
    laws of quantum physics explain how the universe came into existence from
    literally nothing. Consequently, he argues, it is completely unnecessary,
    even irrational, to invoke a creator to explain the origin of the universe.8>>

    Hawking: >>Stephen Hawking, formerly of the University of Cambridge and until
    his death in 2018 the world’s best-known scientist, made a similar
    argument. In his book The Grand Design, coauthored with Leonard
    Mlodinow, he argues that “because there is a law such as gravity, the
    universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the
    reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why
    we exist.” Thus, for Hawking, “it is not necessary to invoke God to light the
    blue touch paper and set the Universe going.”9 >>

    If your system of thought is leading to such blunders and those can be widely spread without widely headlined public correction and collapse, that is a very bad sign of where we are and of the quality of today’s oligarchs.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: More of it, shouting down, intimidating and silencing at Yale Law School The place this happened is significant. KF

  18. 18
    William J Murray says:

    “The universe springs into existence from nothing.”

    I mean …. what?

  19. 19
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray/18

    “The universe springs into existence from nothing.”

    I mean …. what?

    I’m bound to agree. You cannot get something from literally nothing. It’s a logical contradiction.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, Sev, now we can see what sort of breakdown of thinking we are looking at. Physics is a tough intellectual discipline, and requires a lot of apprenticeship in analytical thought, care in inference and argument, mathematical and conceptual. A common term is “effects,” which ties to causes, and identifying causes is a routine exercise, pivoting on clarifying dynamics [here, including stochastic processes] and the premise is implicit, something does not come from nothing. And yet, here we have fairly significant names wanting to pull a cosmos out of a non existent hat. Basic, basic fallacy in logic applied to being. Non being, the true nothing, has no causal powers and relabelling quantum foams with fluctuations or spacetime etc as nothing is a blunder. Something, is deeply, deeply wrong in the state of our thinking. KF

    PS, that inadvertently humourous Dawkins exchange with the now somewhat rehabilitated Cardinal Pell:

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