Sunday, 19 December 2021

The Social Kafka System


Regular followers of my online content would be forgiven for thinking that I've dropped off the end of the earth in recent weeks or decided to simply sit-out the last days of what used to pass for freedom in the west. In actual fact it's worse than that, I've been through the grueling process of moving home in the middle of winter with the ever present shadow of more government lockdowns hampering my plans.

 I have no problem with the actual moving, the lifting, the graft, but what strikes fear into the very core of my soul is the prospect of negotiating the faceless and increasingly automated utilities services and bureaucracies which modern life depends on. The reason I'm writing this rather than ranting it into a microphone is because my internet speed is so cripplingly slow that I'd be waiting for an entire day for a video to upload, nobody would hear me scream in cyberspace.

Today people engage in debates over whether we're living through 1984 or Brave New World, understandably so, but I've recently began to recognize that ''Kafkaesque'' best describes the minor forms of emergent tyranny we face each day. Each service or utility means navigating a bewildering soup of identifications, forgotten passwords and unused email accounts. 

Kafka's ''The Castle'' tells the story of a stranger arriving in a small town and attempting to gain access to the bureaucrats who govern from within a large castle. With every attempt being thwarted and the main character ''K'' becoming increasingly frantic in his attempts to gain entry. 

The smart metre becomes your very own ''Castle'' which you're inexplicably locked out of.  

The system isn't persecuting you, it's that the system is indifferent to the human condition. In a sense the social credit system is already here, in a latent and flabby form. The transition over the years is one of power dynamics. A few decades ago the ''customer was always right'' and any person whose job it was to listen to your demands and complaints on the end of the phone simply had to deal with it, or you could complain about them to their superior. They had massive incentives to be as friendly as possible and cater to your every need.

The largely automated services we have now removed that component and ushered in an age wherein the individual did not deal with a human so much as a system. The system is ''dead'' in the sense that it neither knows nor cares that you can't remember your ex-girlfriend's birthday that you used as a password. It's simply a matter of ''access denied''. You can't enter the Castle. 

Any human element which remains will be manifest through the broken English of a wage-slave in Bangalore who has never set foot in your country or town and exists purely as a conduit of information until the AI and algorithms catch up and phase them out too.

The frustration factor and feeling of helplessness when confronted with these labyrinthine bureaucracies is that there doesn't seem to be a human factor to either hold to account or to plead with, to explain that you don't get it, you've had a bad day and so on. Instead you're confronted with an inert system, an information processing machine.  

Throughout history the heating of one's home amounted to a man gathering and storing physical resources such as wood and coal, then simply burning them on his fire. Such a primordial activity required agency and physical activity on behalf of a man who would in turn feel a deep sense of catharsis and contentment when sitting by his warm, glowing hearth.

Even into the 1980's in the North East coal sheds were the primary means by which fuel was stored, requiring to be carried into the house and chucked onto the fire. Now, however, all such agency has been removed, a man never sees the fuel he's burning and rather than being confronted with an ax or shovel he has to go through the emasculating processes of logins, passwords and robot voiced AI answer machines. 

The discussion around the decline of masculinity and the rise of effeminate sissy-boys mainly focuses on propaganda and ideology, and rightly so, yet not so much on the stark reality that even the most ancient and basic acts of manhood, being able to keep yourself warm, have been entirely lifted from the hands of men and passed into amorphous networks and managerial systems of control.

To visit a major supermarket now is to temporarily become checkout staff for the company that should be servicing you! Once more, the individual who would've once been the dominant partner in the transaction is subservient to the ''system'' of buying goods to the degree that you do the work of scanning and bagging for the corporation. You can of course choose which brand to endorse, but that hardly matters because the automated system remains the same, it's just the goods that change and even then only very slightly.

Once more the machine has purged itself of the human element and once more the onus is on you to find out how to navigate scanning and bagging in order to achieve the once simple task of buying milk and bread.

In theory the expansion of technology into every facet of our lives should prove to be more efficient, and for billionaires it is. But the defining character of the grid is not actually efficiency but the dis-empowerment of the individual who seeks desperately to keep pace, to understand how he can enter The Castle and remain there.

And it's here we begin to see the magnitude of the folly being embarked upon. The transition always goes from the human to the technological, however, as noted above, the technology is still inert, dead and mechanistic. It doesn't ''judge'' you it simply refuses to respond to incorrect computations. 

 However, now that the superstructure exists and we're having to learn the ways in which we can navigate it for our basic needs another scenario presents itself, having already become accustomed to the gamification involved with the automated society which is engulfing late-modernity, we see that all it takes is an algorithmic nip and tuck to raise the bar once more, to once again cast ''K'' outside of The Castle walls and back into the village below. 

K is in the situation of asking what is required of him to be recognized and adhered to by the system, what is it he did wrong? why is he a bad person? why, in the end, is he on Trial?

The Trial is of course Kafka's most famous work, but living under a social credit system is to live in a permanent state of insecurity and paranoia in a ceaseless quest to keep higher powers content. Digital technology seems almost to be in possession of its own metaphysic, a guiding force that reduces everything to a form of access either being granted or denied, a video game structure of achieving new levels and ''unlocking'' special items which can swiftly become basic necessities if those in control of the technology are malicious and vindictive.  

Yet even before a social credit system goes fully active we're being trained and inured to being subservient to forces which exist in the ether, and as I sit watching the abysmal internet speed I've landed with over the last week, I can't help but get the feeling I'm like the fat kid who's about to embark upon a marathon. 



  1. One of the most depressing aspects of the self service system and the phasing out of the checkout staff is that it was aided into relevance by the same people that it aims to replace; the working class stiff who blindly uses the self checkout for the sake of "convenience" or to avoid the awkward human interaction at the point of checkout in the consumer process. Similarly, the managerial class at these retails organisations also push for various automation systems which will in turn make null and void their occupations. All we had to do was say no, each step along the way to the technocracy, but for some reason people can't see the wood for the trees.

    Also, I believe the Soviet beurocratic system was also coined as kafkaesque, was it Hitchens? I can't remember.

  2. Well, since you're in the moving mood, maybe try visiting South Korea. I hear Seoul has incredibly fast internet speeds. And you'd be right next door to two totalitarian systems, so you'd hardly miss the West, it'd be like you never left.
    - WinterPhoenixForestKirin

  3. I highly recommend getting one of the supermarkets to deliver, the chat with the driver the general lugging of the goods, in our case this happens in a wheelbarrow, is all great fun. Another boon would be to get a log burning stove, logs are cheap, here anyway, and stoves are efficient as fuck.

  4. I've started going to my local market as Tesco removed the option to pay by cash at my local branch. I always pay cash so I'm not supporting their cashless agenda and doing my bit to make sustainable - by using it. I'd urge others to also.

  5. Nothing like battling a phone-tree machine for 15 minutes as it slowly spells out poorly named extensions, drones on about COVID, and wants you to stay on hold even more before being put through to a human being. If that wasn’t degrading enough, the first human you’re put through to has a heavy accent of the usual indifferent kind… and speaks broken English, so another fight ensues this time a language barrier, as you’re put on yet further hold before you can speak to someone who can actually help. If there was any hope of masculinity left, PAYG phone users—usually people with no fixed address or steady income—pay for this privilege, usually at a rate of 20p per minute, whilst being recorded for “training” purposes, and with of the call dropping for any reason so one must start all over again.
    Half an hour locked into a call spent doing what would’ve been in the past a 5-minute affair at most. Of course, the companies you’re calling have no other means of free direct communication aside from a complaints form, which I’ve found to be particularly effective when submitting a bogus complaint to schedule them to call you, usually straight through to a manager.
    Something, something, efficiency, something, something, automation and AI… all I know for certain is that I absolute HATE the anti-Christ.

  6. Merry Christmas Morgoth, I look fwd to hearing you on MY. Good luck with the move.

  7. Good to see you writing again, Morgoth. Good essay. It's like living in an asylum, but as is typical with asylums, one which is designed to benefit the people who run it rather than the patients. It's hard for a man to navigate such an emasculated world such as ours whilst not being of such a world (or becoming of such a world), but therein lies the challenge.

    I think the 1985 film, Brazil, best captures our predicament in this modern world with its anti-human, impersonal, automated and labyrinthine bureaucratic procedures and protocols. One to review with Endeavour at some point, maybe? Good luck with the move, Morgoth. All the best to you and family this Christmas.

    1. Thanks Vigilante, I seem to be getting on top of things again now

  8. Sorry to shill my product, but I think this is pertinent, and there's another kind of castle that never gets reached. 'I'M A CELEBRITY' VERSUS THE GREAT GAME OF WINNING AND LOSING:

  9. A really excellent piece Morgoth, I hope the move has or is going well, I dread house moves but as a 'renter' it happens more often than not, unfortunately. All the best,

  10. Have you stayed local Morgoth? I am leaving the North next year and moving to the South West. The climate and fishing are a lot better. I figured I won't be going abroad again as I am a clotshot refusenik. If I get into them Tuna I will drop you a line. Keep up the great work.

  11. Facelessness ... the voiding of the human principle ... is the natural end of liberal individualism's tendency to attenuate ever outward. Without bounds there is only constant artificialisation, and no life worthy of the name, only that of the isolated and alienated. Everything that we have and are is being taken from us, not just by evil men, though that, too, but by the life the liberal philosophy has finally delivered.

  12. Merry Christmas Morgoth 👍🎅

    Keep up the good work

  13. If they've gamified the system, then the system can in turn be gamed and exploited.

  14. hello morgoth: I wrote this at Jim's blog in response to your post:

    The prospect of going through the Brazil-esque experience of getting past the options menu
    and pre-recorded voice messages and
    "then press the hash key" and
    "all our operators are busy right now, here's Vivaldi for forty minutes" and all that crap, in order to TALK TO AN ACTUAL HUMAN WHO
    CAN HELP SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM is often what puts me off, even when ultimately I will benefit.

    My monthly internet bill crept up to over twice
    what it should have been (I'd gone out of contract), yet I put up with this for months and months before picking up the phone. As it happened I was put through pretty damn quick to a very pleasant and helpful (White) South African man who rapidly and efficiently got things sorted, my bill is now back down to around £20.

    Not only that but he told me that I was eligible for a free Amazon Echo Dot and Smart Plug worth £75. Cool, I thought, I'll give it to my folks, I don't want one in my house, but they could find it useful. Ordering it was simple: click the provided link to Amazon, go to checkout as if buying it, then enter the code I'd been sent. and the price will go to £0.00.

    So I did that and OF FUCKING COURSE got "invalid code" in red letters. I tried again, several times, and fucked it off. I emailed my provider saying "I keep getting invalid code" and heard nothing back.
    I should have just called them, but I kept putting it off for the reasons I gave in the first paragraph.

    I was aware that the closing date on the offer was
    17 December, so on the 17th , two days ago, I called them. I couldn't get past the first part of the auto-menu: "I'm sorry we didn't catch that" x 6, and by now I'm already angry. I went outside and stood in the rain, in the dark, in case it was mobile-signal-related. This worked and I finally got through to a person, a South African woman with possibly an Indian twang.

    It was very dark and I was struggling to give her my landline number which I'd written in pencil on a scrap of paper (I've never memorised it), trying to read it by the light off the phone. Then my Bluetooth headphones ran out of power. At one point she asked for my mobile number, I said, "What, you mean the phone I'm talking to you on now?" (Yes) We then spent almost an hour trying to sort it out, I went back in, got on the laptop, still talking to her on the mobile, tried all the things I'd already done, same result "invalid code", blah blah.

    To cut this tedious tale short: Press F to FAIL:
    No free Amazon gadget for Tony" -Tony Hayers

  15. Steve Hughes describes here being told to go book a hotel room online,
    by the receptionist at the desk

  16. speaking of castles, and cabbages and kings

    Bouncy Castles Kill More Children Than Covid

  17. When you're on the phone to a corporation whose services you procure, you should hit the option to say you are leaving them. This is your best hope at getting put through fast to someone from your own country. I use it if I need to phone my ISP, and 8 or 9 times out of 10 I get put through to an English person.

  18. Hello Morgoth, long time listener/reader, glad you're back and hope the move went ok. I somehow got signed up to a Tory MP's newsletter and I thought you and others might appreciate it as a summary of where the system hivemind is at.

    Gale`s Omicron View – December, 2021

    While I appreciate the concerns that have been expressed to me by some constituents and while I do not blindly follow the Downing Street line I believe that the Covid/Omicron measures being introduced by the Government on scientific advice are necessary and proportionate and I shall vote accordingly.

    I know of few people or businesses that will experience great difficulty in responding to the admonition to “work from home if you can ”.Those that are able to do so will comply and many others, including those in health and public and emergency services, retail, catering and hospitality and others who have to go to their workplace will continue to do so as indeed many have throughout the entire course of the pandemic.

    Few these days, apart from the terminally bloody-minded and of course those who are clinically exempt for good reasons, have any real problems with wearing a mask in public spaces, shops or on public transport. Tiresome, possibly, but we have got used to the idea that we are not doing this to protect ourselves but as a courtesy and to protect others. Even if it is effective only at the margins it is worth doing and at the very least it appears to have diminished the prospect of catching winter coughs and colds.

    Which leaves us, really, with what are now known as “vaccine passports”.

    When I said, recently, that having travelled within mainland Europe during the past twelve months through countries where the production of a “Vax App” is commonplace I found no difficulty or impediment in obtaining entry to restaurants or to the `Bar/Tabac` I was told that “Yes but that is `over there`; we are British”. That is xenophobia in spades.

    Neither do I buy into the argument that the requirement to demonstrate pre-admission proof of vaccination is a digital re-run of “1984”. That horse left the stable door miles ago and Big Brothers Google and Amazon already know far more about you than you probably know yourself. If you do not believe me just ask Alexa!

    And then there is the “discrimination” myth.

    You have an absolute right to determine what is pumped into your body and what is not and I will fiercely defend that right. What you do not have is a right to then mix with others and to disseminate the infections that you may be carrying because you have unilaterally decided to exercise your right to decline a vaccination.

    To enter a football ground or a nightclub or a theatre you have to purchase a ticket. If you do not have the money to buy that ticket you may not gain entry. The so-called `Vaccination Passport” is part of the entry ticket. If you do not have one you cannot reasonably demand to be admitted. And unlike the funds needed to buy admission to a private venue the vaccination is free of charge and to accept or decline it is entirely your choice. So the arguments about `discrimination` and a `two-tier society` are, in my view, libertarian claptrap.

    Life is full of consequences. You ` pays your money and you takes your choice.` I believe that I have a duty to keep as many of the people that I represent as safe as possible for as much of the time as possible and I shall pursue that line of duty for as long as I remain a Member of Parliament.

    MP is Roger Gale, sitting MP for last 40 years.

    1. Pretty pathetic and obviously not willing to dig into the wider implications.

    2. Well if you'd been a looked-after party man for your entire adult life, would you stick your neck out? I'm not even sure it's possible for these cogs in the machine to think, I mean really think, about anything. Does conformity make you permanently lose your critical thinking ability? I'm beginning to think so. There is no way back for them even if they want to - it's like trying to use muscles that have atrophied after decades of disuse, painful and futile.

      The problem we face is the sheer number of these "people" in positions of power

  19. Re the "human condition"...

    The TRUE human condition or world we live in is about 2 pink elephants in the room and has never been on clearer display than with the deliberate global Covid Scam atrocity — check out “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room –The Holocaustal Covid-19 Coronavirus Madness: A Sociological Perspective & Historical Assessment Of The Covid “Phenomenon”” at w w w d o t CovidTruthBeKnown d o t c o m

    “[…] when you do things to people against their will and force them it destroys their spirit, it destroys the integrity of their body. […]. Being an adult is meaningless if you cannot even protect the integrity of your own body.” -- Jennifer Daniels, MD, MBA, Holistic Doctor

    If your employer (even educational or federal employers) wants you to take a Covid vaccine give him/her one of these form letters of exemption found at w w w d o t lc d o t o r g/exempt

    By the way, with the letters of "omicron" an alleged Covid variant you can spell "moronic"...

    And further speaking of stupid herd people not getting the glaringly obvious truth/ie not getting the constant onslaught of BIG lies of the official authorities, the world we live in and what the human condition is really is encapsulated in the following reality...

    "2 weeks to flatten the curve has turned into...3 shots to feed your family!" --- Unknown