Another thing I wanted to explore was the idea of truth and following orders and how those two things interact with one another. I was a senior in high school when 9-11 happened, and a freshman in college when we invaded Iraq, and both of these events really shaped the way I view politics and the politics of war. I’ve given a lot of thought to those events and to how America responded to them, both from the point of view of large, intractable government institutions and from the point of view of the individual. While I don’t want to get overly political, I do think that America had blinders on in the run up to the Iraq invasion. I only mention this because I see parallels between the way information was processed or suppressed in that instance and the way that it is by some members of Red Spike.
In many ways Red Spike is like a cult. It’s in an isolated location that’s cut off from any contact with the outside world. It’s incredibly secretive and the flow of information into and out of the base is highly regulated and highly stratified. Basically, the guys on top, a Moyer or a Coughlin, have a full view of the world and the peons, the cadets, they have a much smaller scope of view and they only really know what their superiors tell them. And, they really don’t have any choice but to believe what they are told and then follow the orders they’ve been given. That’s why when Greg finds what he finds, it’s such a large rupture in his world view. He’s suspicious by nature and then when he learns that he’s being lied to, he loses all trust in his superiors. But there’s nowhere to go. Everyone you know, everyone who you interact with or who is in a position to help you is either ignorant of the lie or complicit in it. Knowing the truth becomes a form of insanity….
I also feel that Moyer himself has a cultish view of Red Spike. It’s his and only his and he views himself as the sort of messianic figure who has shepherded to completion this gigantic step forward in military technology. To him, those on the outside don’t grasp the importance of what he does and the importance of Moyer, himself, in bringing Red Spike to fruition. It’s a cult centered around warfare and technology, or at least, to Moyer, that’s how he views it, and he’s sort of its high priest. Even though Matt and Greg are the ones with the abilities, Moyer views them as subordinate to him, and in the chain of command they are. He also views them as interchangeable pieces in his war machine, which as the story goes on, we learn they really aren’t.
I think this view extends to Fairfield as well. He’s sort of a Daedalus figure, but darker and less heroic, like if Daedalus and Frankenstein got together. On the one hand, he’s clearly a brilliant scientist, but on the other hand, this is a program that uses human guinea pigs and does things that, at the very least, border on being scientifically unethical. But it’s all in devotion to the cause — to Red Spike. And much like a cult, members can easily rationalize actions that on the outside they might consider immoral.
This also has a trickle down effect on Matt and Greg, but especially on Matt who views Moyer almost like a father. Greg’s hand was largely forced in his decision to join Red Spike, but Matt had other options and primarily ended up there as a result of his relationship with Moyer. So there’s elements of seduction, not sexually, but with the promise of money for his mother and power for himself and doing good for the world. Things that someone who is searching for meaning will gravitate towards. And Moyer uses this to draw Matt into his web. And, after a while, Matt is normalized to his abnormal existence and he follows orders from the leaders without question, as does everyone there. It’s a strange mix of group-think and Stockholm syndrome. You even get this sense at the end. But that’s for later…