A Panopticon’s Incompleteness

Big or small, local or global, specific or general – any totalitarian system strives to reduce the things around it to the terms of its own deterministic properties.

But despite worst and best efforts, the potential weaknesses and points of failure will always lie waiting in whatever cannot be determined from within its unit cells.

If the system were “incomplete,” like most natural systems, then the system will be vulnerable from without.

And if the system were somehow “complete,” its rules and determinisms would then be inconsistent, and thereby vulnerable to internal contradictions.

In either case, no totalitarian system can last.

And therefore, for any anti-totalitarian actor, there is always hope.


If the deterministic system is a totalitarian civilization, faults will always lie in the unknowable individuals within it.

If the deterministic system is a totalitarian individual, faults will always lie in the unpredictable society around them.

If the determinism is a visual one, the faults will be found in anything that cannot be seen.

If the determinism is a computational one, the faults will lie in the terms that cannot be computed.

Potential faults will always be present.

And inevitably, faults compound.

And so all castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually.

True.

And yet, the sand remains…

This is the paradoxical nature of hope.

It can propel a civilization to great heights; it can also sustain its worst atrocities.

Because hope is the fundamental substance that drives any social system, the silicate building block of the whole order, the ultimate fuel without which no individuals would even participate.

Hope is the human foundation which pushes all the daily behavior that keeps the system running, for better and worse.

But if that system is totalitarian and rotten at its core?

Hope will sag, sog, and dwindle; hope will collapse; hope will fail.

That system will fail.

The sandcastle will fall.

At the end of the day, sand cannot fight the tide.

True.

And yet, in each failure, the hopeful actors will find each other once again, dispersed together among all the grains of silica, newly freed and cast back into the beach, a smooth manifold of formless potential waiting to be reformed once again.

And so…

— yoav golan

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