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What Heidegger Can Teach Us About Our Technological Moment

What Heidegger Can Teach Us About Our Technological Moment


Has anyone noticed how prophetically pertinent Leonard Cohen’s Song, ‘The Future’ is for the time in which we live? Here are some of the lyrics: 

Give me back my broken night
My mirrored room, my secret life
It’s lonely here
There’s no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
Over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby
That’s an order!…

Give me back the Berlin wall
Give me Stalin and St Paul
I’ve seen the future, brother:
It is murder

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won’t be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold
And it has overturned
The order of the soul
When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant…

Two of the key words here are ‘control’ and ‘murder,’ which resonate with what has been happening incrementally around us since lockdowns were imposed in 2020. And the two are linked. The large-scale murder of unsuspecting (and arguably naïve) people who accepted the Covid jab is still unfolding around us, and it has been made possible by a new kind of technological control, which would probably even had astounded Martin Heidegger. More on that below.

Heidegger was a German philosopher – whose brief flirtation with the Nazis many people in the English-speaking world still cannot forgive – who wrote a famous essay called ‘The question concerning technology’ in the late 1940s, where he characterised modern (as opposed to ancient) technology as an increasingly hegemonic way of ‘framing’ the world and everything in it, including human beings. It is a thought-provoking essay which may be used as an interpretive lens for understanding many things, including cultural artifacts such as films, for example James Cameron’s first Avatar movie. 

Heidegger believed that technology was the dominant power of the 20th century, and although he did not live to experience its advanced form, namely ‘information and communication technology,’ today it is the case more than ever (keeping in mind its indissoluble link with capitalism, which requires advanced technology for product innovation).

Perhaps surprisingly for those unfamiliar with phenomenological thinking – in which Heidegger was schooled – he distinguished between technology and its ‘essence,’ or what he calls ‘Gestell’ (‘Enframing,’ ‘Framework’). The latter, Heidegger argued, is itself nothing technological, and functions in the ontological (that is, relating to the being of things) register, from where it determines the way in which social reality is structured and organised.

In plain language this means that all humans have an idea, no matter how vague – even if it is subliminal – of what the true nature of reality is. In the 20th century this idea was what Heidegger called Gestell or Enframing – as a way to ‘frame’ our experience of the world. It helps to understand Heidegger comparatively: the Western Middle Ages was a ‘theocentric’ age, in so far as all questions and problems (philosophical, social, political, religious, economic) were approached on the basis of the assumption that humans occupy a privileged position in God’s creation.

Although there were interminable debates concerning the relation between humanity and God, church and state, faith and reason, the fundamental assumption of God’s centrality to an understanding of anything on earth was, as far as the evidence suggests, unquestioned. 

Similarly, for Heidegger technology – or rather, its ‘essence’ as ‘Enframing’ – was a tacit, inescapable ontological ‘framework’ which functioned implicitly as unquestioned assumption on the part of individuals and organisations when questions are asked, or problems are approached, concerning nature, society, economics, or politics. Until recently this was humanity’s manner of experiencing the real, and no one was exempt from it. 

But what did Heidegger mean by claiming the essence of technology is ‘Enframing?’ According to this, everything – from nature to human beings – is ‘set upon’ or ‘ordered,’ or treated as something that can be turned into a ‘standing-reserve,’ which means things like energy can be used or ‘stored’ as ‘resources’ for use. Not even people are exempt from this: while organisations used to have a ‘personnel’ department, this appellation was eventually replaced by ‘human resources.’ It is a way of ‘framing’ questions and problems, even religious ones, as Norman Melchert so appositely remarks in the 1991 edition of The Great Conversation (p. 576): 

In the age of enframing, where everything is understood as standing-reserve, there is no ‘room’ for God. (Or perhaps even God is thought of as ‘standing-reserve,’ a kind of public utility that can be used to gain the satisfaction of one’s desires; one often gets this impression from the television evangelists). 

While Heidegger regarded Enframing as a legitimate manner in which the real presents itself – just as, among the ancient Greeks, nature manifested itself as physis (a perpetual, cyclical coming into being, and the corresponding decay, of living things) – he challenged the belief that this was the only manner in which being manifests itself.

It may be that, in the 20th century, humans experienced the real as a ‘standing-reserve,’ or a monstrous ‘challenging forth’ and unlocking, specifically of nature, but it is salutary to recall that, in earlier ages this was ‘let-be,’ that is, recognised in its autonomy. Art, he argued, is a manner of allowing things, for example nature, to be what it is, instead of turning it into a ‘standing reserve’ for human use. 

In Cameron’s Avatar, alluded to earlier, this occurs where the characters of Jake and Neytiri, aided by the creatures of Pandora, resist the attempts by humans to turn it into a standing reserve, in this way ‘letting it be’ the lush, life-giving moon, Pandora. Or think of the French artist Claude Monet’s paintings of his garden at Giverny where, even when one visits it today, you have a sense of these artworks actively letting the garden as it existed during Monet’s life be what it was then, in a kind of enduring present. 

It may seem as if I am labouring the point of ‘letting something be’ here, but it is for a reason. One of Heidegger’s most fecund concepts is that of Gelassenheit, which is translated as ‘letting-be,’ and sometimes as ‘releasement,’ and today it is more relevant than ever, given that human beings are no longer merely treated as a ‘standing reserve’ for industry.

Current technology has gone much further. Modern technology, for Heidegger, reduced things, including people, to a standing reserve in order to draw whatever resource material was available from them – in the process refusing to ‘let them be what they are.’ From this one can infer that ‘letting-be’ is nothing passive, but an active process of respecting the nature or unique character of every entity (and doing what is necessary for this to happen), as the example of Avatar illustrates.

What about contemporary technology, then? If modern 20th-century technology reduced things to usable resources, today’s technology is predicated on optimal control – if not ‘absolute control,’ as Leonard Cohen would have it (something I shall return to in a future piece on Foucault, Deleuze and surveillance). CBDCs are one instance of this, in so far as these centrally controlled, programmable, digital entities would enable the federal government in the US, for example, to control people’s lives as they please, without limits. Fortunately not everyone in the US government is enamoured of this idea. 

Then there is the phenomenon, familiar to one by now, of powerful corporations setting out to control information with a view to steering one’s actions in the direction they want. A recently surfaced instance of this concerns pharmaceutical companies – specifically Pfizer and Moderna – attempting to exercise control over ‘vaccine discourse’ in the US. In an article titled ‘How Pfizer and Moderna control vaccine discourse,’ Dr Joseph Mercola – drawing on investigative journalist Lee Fang’s published research – shows that various organisations which lobbied for Covid shot mandates were financed by Pfizer, thus creating the erroneous impression of widespread support of the jab. 

Dr Mercola further discloses that Moderna, in turn, attempts to control debates about vaccines – and in this way influence vaccine policy – by partnering with an organisation ironically called Public Good Projects, which tracks and censors online exchanges on Covid jabs. To add insult to injury, it employs an ‘online monitoring company,’ Talkwalker, which uses AI to track and flag vaccine-related discussions globally, stretching across no fewer than 150 million websites. Anything – even information that is factually accurate – that is indicated, algorithmically, as potentially contradicting the ‘safe and effective’ claims about Covid jabs, or as leading to ‘vaccine hesitancy,’ is flagged and censored.

Arguably indicative of these companies’ increasing desperation in the face of growing resistance to Covid ‘vaccines,’ Moderna is accelerating its surveillance project, concentrating on forced vaccination policies. As Dr Mercola keenly observes about the implications of Moderna’s operation,

Basically, Moderna accurately points out that when health authorities lie and deceive, people stop trusting them. The answer Moderna comes up with, however, is not to quit lying and deceiving. Rather, it’s to bury those who point out that we’ve been lied to and deceived. That way, the liars can continue to deceive and still be held up as paragons of credibility.

Fortunately, this unscrupulous attempt at controlling the mainstream narrative is doomed to fail, because courageous individuals will continue exposing them. This is not to underestimate the power these corporations have; it is to emphasise that, their power notwithstanding, those among us who value freedom will not be cowed into silence and submission. 

Returning to Heidegger’s conception of technology as Enframing, how does this new technology, based on the digitalisation of information, sometimes at nanoscale level, compare to it? In a word, it might be called ‘(bio)technical programming,’ not only in the light of the pervasive use of algorithms to assess and predict people’s behaviour, but – hence inserting the ‘bio’ before ‘technical’ – particularly given the development of technology that is aimed at changing our very biological being.

So, for instance, Klaus Steger reports that the lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) in modRNA ‘vaccines’ (modified RNA; not ‘messenger RNA as people were told initially) do not, as initially reported, deliver molecular coding for SARS-CoV-2 into human cells. Instead, he writes, ‘they are more like Trojan horses that sneak past biological barriers and smuggle modRNA into our cells.’ Steger elaborates:

LNPs are made of lipids (fats) arranged to form a sphere. LNPs hide the modRNA from our body’s immune system until the modRNA can enter our cells when the lipid sphere merges with our cells’ lipid walls. The substances that make up LNPs are phospholipids, cholesterol, PEGylated lipids, and cationic lipids. The most problematic of these are cationic lipids, which are possibly cytotoxic. A 2022 editorial raised massive concerns that the cationic lipids in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines cause acute inflammatory responses.

 Due to their small size (less than 100 nanometers), LNPs can easily overcome biological barriers and theoretically reach every cell of our body—including cells in our brain and heart.

This is already disturbing enough. But the revelations from tech analyst and whistleblower Karen Kingston are beyond disturbing; they are apocalyptic in their implications. Mike Adams (The Healthranger), for many years a thorn in the flesh of Big Pharma, reports as follows about Kingston’s findings

In a bombshell interview that features key screen shots of patents, science journal articles and corporate documents, Karen Kingston lays out the argument for mRNA Covid ‘vaccine’ injections actually being exotic technology implantations [Bold in original; BO] that can be used to achieve global enslavement and/or genocide…This interview features video screen shots of several key documents. 

To make things even clearer regarding my argument, above, that current technology amounts to ‘(bio)technical programming,’ on her Substack Kingston provides evidence, in the form of documentation, of her claims. She is uncompromising where she writes: 

mRNA cationic liposome ‘vaccines’ are nanotechnologies used to introduce non-human DNA into the bodies of adults and children, forcing the directed evolution of cells inside the human body.

Could it be stated more clearly than this? The manufacturers of these bioweapons disguised as vaccines have come up with something that directs the evolution of our body cells. They are guilty of the greatest hubris imaginable, arrogating for themselves the role of gods, if not the Creator. Heidegger would turn in his grave. In the last interview he gave (to Der Spiegel), ten years before his death, alluding to what he saw as a kind of technological dystopia awaiting society, he remarked that ‘Only a god can save us.’ We cannot afford to wait for that, however. We must save ourselves.

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  • Bert Olivier

    Bert Olivier works at the Department of Philosophy, University of the Free State. Bert does research in Psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, ecological philosophy and the philosophy of technology, Literature, cinema, architecture and Aesthetics. His current project is 'Understanding the subject in relation to the hegemony of neoliberalism.'

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