Unveiling the Myth of the Machine 
by Donavon L Riley 

In a world propelled by the compulsive need for conquest and expansion, the omnipresent force of the Machine, as George Orwell and others have called it, looms large, driven by an insatiable hunger for growth and control. At its core lies an ideology that venerates the breaking of bounds, the obliteration of limits, and the relentless pursuit of homogenization across cultures, ecosystems, and traditions. The Machine, if it could be attributed an ethos, embodies an anti-limit and anti-form philosophy, which consequently renders it anti-nature and, ultimately, anti-human. Its relentless pursuit of dominance foretells a future where the very essence of humanity and nature faces extinction.

Throughout recent history, particularly in the West, voices of dissent have risen against the encroaching dominion of the Machine. Philosophers, writers, and filmmakers have sounded the alarm, weaving narratives of caution and prophecy. Yet, despite these warnings, the Machine endures, its resilience rooted in its ability to absorb criticism, co-opt dissent, and commercialize resistance. Even movements once perceived as countercultural, such as environmentalism and feminism, have fallen prey to its assimilative power, mutating into advocates for agendas that unwittingly advance its cause.

Communism and fascism, purported alternatives to the perceived decadence of liberal capitalism, ultimately proved to be mere variants of the same Machine-driven ideology. Both systems, under the guise of creating utopian societies, exhibited characteristics synonymous with the Machine: control, materialism, militarism, and totalitarianism. Lysenkoism and eugenics, offspring of these ideologies, exemplify the twisted forms of pseudo-rationalism bred within the Machine’s confines.

Today, the workings of the Machine reverberate through every facet of society, infiltrating our institutions, ideologies, and even our subconscious. Movements advocating for social justice or environmental stewardship find themselves ensnared within its web, unwittingly perpetuating its values under the guise of progress and inclusivity. The green movement, once a bastion of simplicity and closeness to nature, now champions agendas that further industrialize the global food supply and prioritize technological solutions over holistic sustainability.

Similarly, feminism, in its quest for recognition and equality, unwittingly fuels the Machine’s agenda by advocating for the erasure of traditional family structures in favor of a workforce inundated with women. Woke capitalism, masquerading as a champion of social justice, aligns seamlessly with the Machine’s values, co-opting activism for profit while silencing dissent through censorship and corporate hegemony.

The characteristics and values of the contemporary Machine paint a portrait of a centralized, hierarchical society governed by effective bureaucracies and enforced by military and police might. Its economy, centrally directed and propelled by powerful financial institutions, thrives on expansion through colonization and technological integration. The proliferation of propaganda serves to normalize its agenda, perpetuating narratives of progress, openness, and individualism while suppressing dissent and alternative perspectives.

Progress, the central myth of the Machine age, dictates that material improvement in all aspects of life is both necessary and inevitable. Progress then engenders openness, the dismantling of limits and taboos, is heralded as the pathway to happiness and fulfillment. Universalism preaches the applicability of Machine values to all, promising liberation from the shackles of tradition and place.

Openness heralds the necessity of futurism, which advocates for the abandonment of history and roots, viewing them as impediments to progress and enlightenment. Individualism fragments communities and familial units, prioritizing personal ambition and desire over collective well-being. From futurism, it’s children — technologism, scientism, and commercialism, serve as pillars supporting the edifice of the Machine, elevating technology, science, and market values above all else.

Materialism forms the law enforcement arm of the Machine, the rejection of superstition and spirituality that reinforces the Machine’s ethos of rationality and utility. And carved in great grotesque letters on its head is: TINA. That is, “There Is No Alternative.” This serves as both mantra and warning, admonishing dissenters while extolling the purported benefits of the Machine to society at large.

However, despite its pervasive influence, the myth of the Machine is not immutable. Recognizing it as a narrative promoting specific values offers a pathway to liberation. The first step lies in disavowing belief in its infallibility, followed by a rejection of its narrative and values. By embracing alternative stories and values rooted in sustainability, community, and spiritual connection, humanity can chart a course away from the clutches of the Machine.

As Lewis Mumford has argued, the dismantling of the Machine begins with a collective awakening, a realization that the technocratic prison need not define our existence. Just as the Israelites were led away from Pharaoh by a librating God, so too can humanity reject the seductive allure of the Machine so long as it chooses to follow the same liberating God along a new path toward a more harmonious and sustainable future based on higher, heavenly truth. It is through divine action, and individual and communal contemplation, that we can resist the myth of the Machine and embark on an exodus toward a re-genesis of liberation and renewal.




1. In 1984, Emmanuel Goldstein’s concept of “the machine” signifies the surplus of goods in an industrial society, which, if equally distributed, could uplift the living standards of all. However, the Party manipulates this surplus to keep the populace poor, ignorant, and easier to control. The Party maintains a perpetual state of war, destroying the products of human labor, and thereby preventing the improvement of living standards. This constant warfare also promotes loyalty to Big Brother, as people seek protection and support. The Party’s tactics have effectively eradicated independent thought and free will, fostering a homogeneous culture of allegiance to Big Brother.

2. A term that refers to Trofim Denisovich Lysenko’s pseudoscientific ideas that all organisms, given the proper conditions, have the capacity to be or do anything had certain attractive parallels with the social philosophies of Karl Marx (and the 20th century French philosopher Henri Bergson) that promoted the idea that man was largely a product of his own will.

3. For more on this topic, I recommend the recent writings of Paul Kingsnorth, whom I leaned on for the theme and outline of this article. 

By Donovan Riley

Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, and contributing writer for 1517. He is also a co-host of Banned Books and Warrior Priest podcasts. He is the author of the book, "Crucifying Religion” and “The Withertongue Emails.” He is also a contributing author to "The Sinner/Saint Devotional: 60 Days in the Psalms" and "Theology of the Cross".

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.