The Circle

The New Opium of the People: Hegemony and False Consciousness in The Circle College

George Carlin famously said “When fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts. It will not be with jack-boots. It will be Nike sneakers and Smiley shirts”. This quote couldn’t be more relevant in Dave Eggers novel The Circle in which the company of the same name is able to usher in capitalist totalitarianism not through force, but through the consent of the masses in the form of zings and smileys. This consent is manufactured through The Circle’s hegemonic control of the superstructure of society where, as the gatekeepers of information they are able to control the narrative and give rise to a false consciousness in which people enthusiastically participate in their own exploitation. In this way, The Circle can be seen as a parable for the dangers of neoliberalism left to its own devices and its need to justify the contradictions and absurdities that are inherent within it.

Historically, one of the most prominent ways in which leaders and societies justified exploitative systems is through religious ideology, which Marx famously called the opiate of the people. So it comes as no surprise that Eggers consistently links religion with The Circle. Rather than daily prayers in order to get into heaven Circle...

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