Through the Matrix

“The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes…”


What is the Matrix?

Well, it was once a cool action flick with a wicked sick conceptual framework, and now it’s just a pile of garbage cash-in sequels rotting around an old allegory. There are tons of ways to read the Matrix, because it’s really just a retelling of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. You don’t know what a cave is if you’ve lived in one your whole life! Then you stumble across the exit, and your entire world horizon shifts. You run back inside the cave to tell everyone, but nobody else can understand you.

It’s a cave guys!

What the heck is a cave?

You can throw just about any conceptual dichotomy at this and it’ll stick, which is why the original Matrix film is such a fertile source for analysis. Everyone has had some kind of ‘awakening’ experience in their life – moving from one conceptual edifice to another, becoming aware of one’s sexual or gender difference, religious conversions, spiritual experiences. Perhaps being alive is nothing but a process of continual awakenings.

This is absolutely not another reading of the Matrix film, but I will be using it as a useful reference point. 

For our immediate purposes, I will tentatively define the ‘Matrix’ as our social conditioning. Every human who has ever lived has been born into and generated by specific social projects at specific times, with specific values, conceptual assumptions, and social practices. We are each inculcated into these practices, assumptions, and values as children, and then continue to receive them from our families, our schools, the media, religion, the army, our jobs, &c &c.

If this social programming ‘works’, we will continue to reproduce it, reinforce it, and condition others in turn throughout our lives. Doing a given social practice reproduces that society’s conceptual models and assumptions. This programming only really keeps working if it remains unquestioned.

We’re not going to leave anything unquestioned.

The social project we were born into is called the capitalist mode of metabolic regulation. It was first invented/discovered around 5-6 centuries ago in several locations in Europe. The capitalist MoMR is defined by a specific structure of social relations that have the unique capacity to expand seemingly without end. Because of their auto-expanding ability, capitalist social relations have since encompassed the entire globe.

While this all may have seemed like a good idea at the time, it turns out capitalists have been wrong about everything in every conceivable way!

Which brings us to this guide.

Capitalist social practices are causing a mass extinction level event – a dieoff of an as of yet unknown but definitely huge percentage of existing life-forms – including humans! While it may already be too late to stop the death of our biosphere, there’s just no reason you should spend whatever short time you have left alive on this dead planet with a bunch of self-serving lies and stupid garbage rattling around in your head.

Lucky for you – I’m here to help you deconstruct your capitalist social conditioning!

This is not something I can do without your willing participation. I want to do this because I’ve done it for myself, it has been good for me, and I’ll never go back. I want to enable you to get to a point where you can think anything at all at any time for any damn reason – where you can explore the entire universe without even putting pants on. I want to make you immune to media and advertisement brainwashing, to self-help drivel, to gurus, priests and pastors, to disinformation and pseudoscience.

Far from freedom flowing through my veins and permeating every cell and informing every step and breath I take, if I wish to be free I must endeavor to squeeze out every drop of slave’s blood as I find it, straining and pushing hard against everything the culture taught me: how to submit, how to not make waves, how to fear authority, how to fear perceiving my submission as submission, how to fear my feelings, how to fear perceiving the killing of those I love as the killing of those I love (or perhaps I should say the killing of those I would love had I not been taught to fear love, too), how to fear stopping by any means necessary those who are killing those I love, how to fear and loathe freedom, how to cherish and rely on insane moral structures stamped into me since birth.

It’s a lot of work to try to cleanse oneself of several thousand years of inculcation, even when this inculcation is into a society so obviously self-and-other destructive as this one, which is one reason so many people fail to make this effort.

Derrick Jensen

If you follow this guide, it’s going to be painful. Your life will change forever, you will alienate family and lose friends. You will stop enjoying most of the activities you currently enjoy – but you will gain a kind of freedom that few humans have ever experienced.

Unfortunately, our social conditioning is reinforced by continuing to participate in the society that generates and requires the conditioning. It’s part of a feedback loop between our minds and the objective world around us. Another name for this feedback loop between mental habits and objective social practices is ideology. Deconstructing the subjective component of capitalist ideology without also being able to change your social practices has some negative consequences (which we’ll get to), and you probably aren’t going to be able to change your social practices that much.

I can’t help you with that.

But I can help you with this: freeing your mind from capitalist social conditioning.

To be always in the process of updating, debugging, tweaking, and improving one’s own discursive capacities is precisely what it is to be mentally free. Past a certain point, I have no idea where you’ll end up, and that’s totally ok!

I don’t want to tell you what to think, or what to do, or who to be. However, there is no way to free one’s mind without the pursuit of and confrontation with truth.

We can only live awakened lives if our search for truth never ends.

So you have to want to know.

You have to want to go down the rabbit hole,

and see where it goes.

Don’t understand my fancy lingo? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has you covered. Careful tho! Sometimes it thinks it’s neutral. Remember – you can do this! You have no idea of what you’re capable of until you try!