The Ultimate Source of Control
In simple terms capitalism is defined as “an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state” (). Capitalism is so embedded in American ideology that few people can see beyond this simple definition; and because teachings of capitalism are often one sided –capitalism promotes free market and private ownership therefore there is less governmental control as opposed to any other means of production– few people question the truth of these claims. Authors Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Slavoj Zizek all go beyond the simple definition of capitalism to point out some flaws that are often unseen but could prove to be detrimental for a democratic society. In his lecture "Society Must Be Defended" Foucault says that the emergence of “population” as a political problem is directly tied to the growth of capitalism. Deleuze’s paper “Society of Control” argues that modern capitalism has mutated greatly from the 19th century “ideal” form of capitalism. And Slavoj Zizek, in his article “Welcome to the Desert of the Real” points out that global capitalism has gone virtually unchallenged until the World Trade Center bombings in 2001. The film “The Matrix” (1999) takes a similar position and argues that modern capitalism is, in fact, the ultimate source of control and will be the downfall of our society. Most people will agree that “The Matrix” is a very trippy and action filled movie but few people will catch the anti-capitalist tone of the film. After all, what could futuristic men in dark clothes and sunglasses possibly say about the state of society today? Using the readings, I will give a deeper analysis of the characters and the events of the film to explain how our modern form of capitalist democracy is the ultimate form of control.
After Neo takes the red pill and enters the Construct, Morpheus says, “What is the Matrix? Control.” He then opens the back of the television remote control and says, “The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human
being into this” and he holds up the battery from the remote. The Matrix is brilliant in that it is concealed; unlike totalitarian regimes where people are explicitly being oppressed and may come together to fight the oppression, the Matrix is able to control people without physical oppression; therefore, people are blind to the oppression. Zizek quotes the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar’s attempt to appeal to Americans, “You accept everything your government says, whether it is true or false. Don't you have your own thinking? So it will be better for you to use your sense and understanding.” Perphaps as Omar implies, we do not have as much freedom as we believe we have. As Zizek hint at, a democratic-capitalist society is the ideal form of ultimate control, for people think they are getting what they want and do not feel...