Popular culture, ideology, and esotericism
Dr. Who is a popular BBC television series that is embedded in the minds of several generations, in Britain and around the world. Periodically, there will be a complaint that the program has turned “woke”—or, decades before, “politically correct”—and yet this is illusion: the program has always been “woke”, a vehicle for leftist ideology, from its very inception; it is only the degree and type of ideology that has changed. It is for this reason that Dr. Who fans are known to be slavishly loyal to the prevalent ideology in Britain and the wider West; they are, effectively, the best indoctrinated.
To explain this, remember that Orwell modelled the Ministry of Truth in 1984 on the BBC—including the type of person who worked there; the Newspeak wordsmith. The BBC is not old; it is new, and it has always been about propaganda. Dr. Who belongs to a clutch of programs, including the decades-long radio soap The Archers, that were created to inculcate the latest values in the population for the managerial state. The Archers, for example, was conceived to teach “modern farming”—i.e. what the state approved of in agriculture—to rural Britain after WWII; it later expanded to propagandise on racial issues, sexuality, and so on. When Britain invaded Afghanistan in the 2000s, our propagandists worked on an “Afghan version” of the The Archers to indoctrinate rural Afghanis, with varying success—you get the picture.
Almost every entertainment product a person consumes in the Western media environment is ideologised to an extent. When I was about ten, in 1994, I watched a BBC program called Maid Marian and Her Merry Men: the concept was that a spunky feminist Marian—complete with her musical Rastafarian sidekick, the updated bard Alan-a-Dale—took on the capitalistic Sheriff of Nottingham. Her boyfriend, the useless and preening Robin, was the unjustly celebrated straight white man—the truth was hidden; it could be on Google today. Although the right likes to complain about “woke madness” most of this material is old; it is just that each generation, by the time it turns thirty, notices and starts to complain in the same way. Maid Marian and Her Merry Men could be made today, it was practically in line with contemporary woke ideology—perhaps it would require the addition of gender pronouns, but it would be otherwise unchanged.
This is not to say that the ideology does not become more severe or more pervasive, just that it has always been there—and if someone troubled to look at BBC programming from the 1930s the material would probably be familiarly proto-woke: this is the true archeology of knowledge, of our values—the order of things. Naïve conservatives tend to think it was better during their grandparents’ time; no, it was always this bad: it was always the Ministry of Truth—almost every mass consumer entertainment product since 1830 has an element of this sensibility.
As regards Dr. Who, the central villains of the series, the Daleks, represent “the Nazis”—or, more broadly, any right-wing force or expression of Indo-Aryan values. The Daleks, in summary, are a cybernetic warrior race designed to exterminate all inferior forms of life. Their catchphrase is: “Exterminate!” Their eyestalks resemble the raised arm of the fascists in salute, and they come clad in the field grey of the Wehrmacht and the black of the SS. In the post-war environment, it was no surprise that the predominate struggle in fiction was Allies versus Axis, but the significance is somewhat deeper. I have noted before that it is fairly usual—in, for example, Star Wars—for the “baddies” to be “the Nazis”: grey and black uniforms, military demeanour, and so on. The motivation for this was twofold: firstly, the Nazis instantiated every opposite value to our current regime, and it was useful to tar all inegalitarian views with the same brush; secondly, during the Cold War it was a sensitive issue to depict the Soviets as the bad guys in an unambiguous way—aside from a good chunk of the Western intelligentsia being pro-Soviet, there was the legitimate concern that the USSR monitored Western mass culture and would view an increase in explicit anti-Sovietism as a preparation for war; anyone who lived through the preparations for the 2003 Iraq War will know that subtle “mental preparation”, including films and TV series, begins early for these actions—the Soviets were not wrong to watch for bellicose themes in Western mass culture.
Hence the most usual enemy in Western mass culture is “the Nazis”, or, perhaps, the hybrid Commie-Nazi—the Prussian aristo who works for the Stasi, because at least under Communism he can still pull your toenails out with state approval. There is a certain truth to this, Prussians are quite brutal and “German nihilism” asserted that the only way to maintain a sense of the human or spiritual in a mass technological age was to inflict and feel pain—a theme taken up by Ernst Jünger. Later, the Commie-Nazi villain faded into the Nazi-Islamist, the “Islamofascist” as they used to say in the 2000s. The commonality is exaggerated, but it does exist: Western regimes always oppose that which is absolute and rooted, whether in spirituality or blood.
The West fears death: it is revolted by the Falangist slogan “Viva la muerte!” or the Islamist assertion, “We will win because we love death more than you love life.” These statements are partially misinterpreted by Western ideology to mean: we love to kill people—only a partial truth. The Falangist and Islamist statements are actually commitments to the religious view of the world: “Only death is real, only the sayings of the wise will remain.” It refers to the death of the warrior, or the warrior-priest. The West is determined to live as long as possible on the material plane, hence its ongoing obsession with “the Singularity” and chronic fear of Covid-19. The religious attitude sees the meaning of life as attainable through its bounded nature; we live towards death, as Heidegger might have observed—and death itself can be a noble act, to live beyond a certain point becomes a squalid and ugly affair. For the materialist, death always remains the terror to be excluded at all costs.
I have noted before that Western popular culture demonises more than just “the Nazis”—it also demonises any religious position and many elements of Indo-Aryan culture, the war-like nature of these people. Let us consider the case of Dr. Who again, let us consider the Genesis of the Daleks. This was a prologue to the Dalek story made in the mid-1970s. I watched fragments of it as a repeat in the 1990s; it is a deeply claustrophobic series set on a planet that has been devastated by thousands of years of biological, nuclear, and chemical warfare—the protagonists shuttle between two bunker-domes that protect the survivors of the two factions, it is a world of tunnels and mutants cast into the wasteland.
The series awakened in me a feeling that was then almost dissipated—a feeling that I recaptured reading a book of my mother’s when I was 12 or so about nuclear weapons called Overkill—the feeling of utter extinction through nuclear war. I was born under this threat, but I grew up in the pastel and hazy mid-90s; nuclear war was not palpable to me, except through cultural remnants like Overkill and Genesis of the Daleks. I would describe the feel of this age to be claustrophobia, the sensation of there being no escape—all topped off with the pervasive taste of metal in your mouth, as sometimes happens in a chemistry laboratory at school. Indeed, certain types of radiation can produce the taste of metal in your mouth; and I suppose that was my aftertaste of nuclear war—there is a pleasure in contemplation of the wasteland.
Genesis introduced the figure of Davros, a mutated mad scientist who wished to prolong his race’s survival through cybernetic encasement in the Dalek war-machine—a war-machine piloted by a genetically altered version of his race that feels absolutely no pity or compassion, rather like a parody of the Nietzschean overman. Davros belongs to the side in the war that, obviously, represents the Nazis; his elite units wear black, click their heels, follow orders without question, and practice eugenic banishment of deformed members of their community.
Yet the character has a deeper esoteric significance: Davros, a mutant who pursues a perfect race, has no eyes; he sees with an electronic “third eye” imprinted in his head—a third eye that glows purple, the colour of imperial rule. This third eye, esoterically, represents the vajra of awakening. The association is further confirmed because his elite research group’s logo is an eye with a lightning flash through it. This is redolent of the SS lightning flash, but the vajra is also itself often taken to be the lightning—the thunderbolt of enlightenment. For a while, I thought that Davros represented a perverted version of spiritual awakening; however, this is not quite so—he represents the left-hand, Promethean, path of esotericism.
Now, it is true that the National Socialists also followed this path; the Olympics under Hitler featured a torch relay race that was meant to replicate Prometheus and the fire he stole from the gods. The left-hand path seeks to become as the gods, often through technological advance—and with no moral restraint, nothing advances technology like war. This contrasts to the path of milk—the right-hand path of amiable poets like Rumi—that seeks to replicate the love of the eternal. There is, little discussed, the third path; the path that runs straight between these two options and right up the Sefirot to the divine, straight as an arrow—this is the path of the hermaphrodite: the razor’s edge on which the adherent treads, so unifying masculine and feminine.
From an esoteric perspective, Genesis represents a repudiation of the left-hand path—here simply regarded as demonic. However, these paths to spiritual realisation are without moral content per se—or, to be exact, morality is secondary to them. The problem is that for the war-like Indo-Aryan people the left-hand path, the path of war—war the master of all things, as Heraclitus saw—is much more natural than the other paths. The condemnation of this line of spiritual realisation in popular culture cuts off the Indo-Aryans from their natural awakening: the imperial purple of Davros’s third eye represents the rule of the central authority—the authority that the left has done so much to undermine over recent centuries. Yet the desire for an imperial centre remains in Indo-Aryan peoples. In conclusion, propaganda in popular culture is often much more than propaganda; it is part of a sustained occult war.