As we mark another Independence Day in America, it’s worth reflecting on the meaning of our country’s much-trumpeted exceptional status. Our land is indeed beautiful and blessed in many ways, home to millions of kind and generous souls. But to pretend that all is well would be whistling past the graveyard. The United States, we must remember, wasn’t ever conceived as an organic nation, but as a revolutionary construct, the herald of a dawning Novus Ordo Seclorum. And so its progress is always unfulfilled, its nature not being, but becoming, its vastness a continental-scale laboratory for social alchemy. Yet out of all attempts to identify the meaning of the American Dream, no one depicted its essence more aptly than a humble Orthodox monk, Blessed Fr. Seraphim Rose:
One might take, as a symbol of our carefree, fun-loving, self-worshipping times, our American ‘Disneyland’; if so, we should not neglect to see behind it the more sinister symbol that shows where the ‘me generation’ is really heading: the Soviet Gulag.
Fr. Seraphim wrote these words in 1982, the year of his repose at age 48, and their import today can only be deemed prophetic. A native of Southern California, Fr. Seraphim saw nearby Disneyland as the most fitting analogy for the modern West and its leading state, America. No place better encapsulates a society of fakery, “fun,” and narcissism than the Magic Kingdom, itself the center of a media empire whose tentacles relentlessly manage market segments from infancy to adulthood, bombarding populations worldwide with weaponized “entertainment,” i.e. psychological warfare, subversion with a smile. And as America strives toward its destiny, realizing ever more perfectly the revolutionary principles of liberty and equality, so we witness Disneyland Civilization’s evolution into its fullest expression, the digital Gulag.
Never before, we feverishly tell ourselves, have we been more free, as the NSA and transnational technology giants erect a surveillance grid granting our overlords unprecedented control over every aspect of life. Never have we been so liberated and “empowered” as now, we declare in orgiastic frenzy, as every traditional interface between man and the state is systematically destroyed to a canned media laugh track. Nations, tribes, and cultures must all disappear to meld a new, improved class of consumer drones to better serve the designs of our oligarchic masters. Every human distinction, even between man and woman, must be eliminated as power over heredity will be the preserve of the ruling technocratic elite, the incipient machine-gods.
Dystopia is not in a far-off dark future; dystopia is now. Welcome to Tomorrowland. We descend further into fantasy rather than walk the hard path of repentance, enslaved to glimmering screens that play to our basest desires. Disney America, the End of History, signifies the triumph of Jean Baudrillard’s simulacrum apocalypse. A copy without an original, the simulacrum arrives as harbinger of our dissolution, with the cartoonishly absurd and unreal upheld as noble and upright. A counterfeit religion in the spirit of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor takes shape before our eyes – the postmodern miracle mystery tour. Sacraments are inverted to public celebration, and mankind himself disintegrates into the reign of quantity. I am become Goofy, the destroyer of worlds.
“Live not by lies,” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn counseled us. The time fast approaches when challenging the falsehoods of the established order will bring not just administrative and legal sanctions, but organized violence. Lies unmasked reveal the face of their father, who wills only spiritual death. Faustian Man traded away his soul for Mammon’s Magical Kingdom, a global high-tech amusement park-cum-concentration camp. Disneyland Civilization and its illusions will last but a short period, as the world and all its glory, though in the meantime it will assuredly grow more bestial in its dehumanization and persecution of truth. May God grant us – both men and whole peoples, especially Americans this day – the iron strength of repentance, that we may endure to the end.