May 21, 2010

Red Pill Or Blue Pill?

Red pill, or blue? As Chris Hedges points out in Empire of Illusion, "we are vainly trying to return to a bubble economy, of the sort that once handed us the illusion of wealth, rather than confront the stark reality that lies ahead." We have been taking the blue pill for over 100 years now, and it seems that we would like to continue. We prefer comfortable illusions over messy, inconvenient reality.

In The Matrix Morpheus offered two pills - a red one, and a blue one. He tells IT drone, Thomas Anderson, that he is in a prison of the mind. He is a slave to a system that is largely incomprehensible in its opaque anonymity.

"You take the blue pill", Morpheus says, "and the story ends. You wake up in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember! All I am offering is the truth. Nothing more."

If we choose the blue pill everything is always progressing toward a better, easier future. House prices always rise, and endless entertainments keep us merrily occupied. Newspapers gloss over bad news while touting thousand dollar handbags in half-page, stylish adds. "All is well in blue pill world", we are assured - "relax, enjoy, work, spend. Have another blue pill".

Blue pill addiction leads us to feed the hallucination with trillions of dollars of borrowed money that we will never be able to pay back, in order to prop up a dying system. The blue pill leads us to believe that fossil fuels and off shore drilling are the only way forward, regardless of the dismal track record of the oil and gas industry. There is happiness in denial, and the blue pill will not allow images of the poor, the weak, the suffering, and environmental destruction to mar our perfect world. We can't see them.

However, what we also lose sight of is the fact that we have adopted these delusions by choice. We could have, like Thomas Anderson, picked the red pill.

The red pill will set you free. But first it will kick you in the head. The red pill reveals the truth as it is, blemished, harsh, and uncomfortable. The red pill awakens us to environmental and social injustice. The red pill allows us to see 14 000 children dying every day, ravaged by the poverty that we allow when on blue pills.

The red pill may even reveal your own drone-like existence if you have not already broken free of the apparatus that seeks to perpetuate the exploitative, parasitic approach of the purveyors of profit. However, also revealed will be an exit door, a way out.

Neo got out. He knew that life is better with stale bread and water in freedom than with cakes and ale in bondage. Neo took the hard way, refusing the comforts offered by the delusional blue pill. His was a struggle that entailed much hardship, but in the end he broke free of those who would keep him in chains.

It will be the same for us - we can take the blue pill and continue the illusion of limitless luxury and comfort, but we will be keeping ourselves in bondage until our hand is ultimately forced by the sheer weight of delusion crushing the fantasy utterly. Blue pills lead to ultimate failure.

If, like Mr. Anderson, we don't want to fail, we pick the red pill. Then the puppet masters are revealed behind the curtain. Also illuminated is the pain and suffering these shadow masters have created in the name of the free market and liberty, the very things they have corrupted beyond recognition. Red pills will lead us to monumental changes, but they will be for the greater good, and we will all be free.

We can choose knowledge over ignorance, and freedom over captivity. Like Plato's cave dweller, those who make this choice will emerge into the sunlight and see reality for the first time, rather than remain chained up in the cave facing the wall.

Which will you choose? Red pill, or blue?

Morpheus: "It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth."

Neo: "What truth?"

Morpheus: "That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Born into a prison that you can not smell or taste or touch. A prison - for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back."


  1. Nice analogy but its not as black and white as you are making out. Too many shades of grey involved. Also, can you suggest a plausible alternative for radical change you are suggesting that wouldn't involve all out anarchy?

    1. One of the biggest barriers to change is the violently enforced political authority of our governments, and their massive inertia.

      I think a little anarchy would be good for us if it led to dissolving the barriers to sanity and sustainability.

      An alternative to anarchy, if one is uncomfortable with that form of governance, would be for each of us to focus on increasing awareness of global issues.

      Once we become aware of the issues, we can take many actions within our own lives to foster and model positive change.

      I try to introduce as many of these small personal changes as I can in my blog posts.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  2. Anonymous6/17/2012

    check out
    I believe you might find some common grounds,
    see how far the rabbit goes!

  3. I just re-read this again on Black Friday. It's one of my favorite posts. Every time I watch the Matrix, I equate it with our society and think about how we work to pay taxes to feed the government/corporations machine. If I thought the machine was doing any good, helping people, etc, I wouldn't mind so much. But the corruption and greed are so overwhelming that I wish I could pull out the plugs. I'm tired of working so someone else can be rich. Very very tired.

    1. I am not afraid of hard work, but I sure do not wish for my labour to be exploited by ruthless, corrupt, greedy people.

      I will not work for them, and I will not buy their stuff. If enough of us did this, things would change, and fast.

  4. Anonymous4/15/2015

    I love your blog and all that it stands for. I know this post is old but when I saw it I thought you might want to check out mine (for obvious reasons):

    I post news that is aimed at waking people up from taking the blue pill.

    I totally agree with Gregg when he said "I think a little anarchy would be good for us if it led to dissolving the barriers to sanity and sustainability." It's sure not going to happen by itself.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a link to your blog. I have put you on our blogroll.


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