History demonstrates that governments of all types have a vested interest in subjugating its citizenry, to varying degrees. Typically this is done to facilitate its own ends and prosperity by collectively enriching the system through the acquisition of property and/or labor, and individually enriching the members of the ruling class by expanding power and influence. In this context I refer primarily to the bureaucracy itself vice any particular mechanism or specific system that defines government, per se, in a given state. The subjugation of populations has taken many forms over the millennia but its modern form (at least in America) does not come at the end of a gun or sword, or from wide-sweeping Gestapo tactics as has been the case in other nations. Rather, this form draws its success from three distinct but nonetheless mutually complimentary characteristics – division, ignorance, and dependency.
These social characteristics are ingeniously fostered amongst the “rabble” by the dominion-hungry that are savvy enough to recognize the fact that, collectively, these elements help create an environment that is ripe for political exploitation, manipulation, coercion, and subterfuge. “Our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.” These are the areas that must be first identified and then addressed if we are to prevent further degradation of our natural rights at the hands of the oligarchy – and even ourselves.
Social division is a natural byproduct of a collection of free-thinking people but politicians, partisan pundits, and special interests seek to exponentially widen this chasm. They seek to marginalize and vilify the opposition to their particular viewpoints by issuing inflammatory (and often inaccurate) rhetoric. Rather than making a case that stands or falls based on its merits they will insultingly label the opposition based on largely irrelevant, and most often outright erroneous, collectivist notions (e.g., “Tea Partiers” are racists, “liberals” are socialist, “conservatives” are anti-immigrant, “Christians” hate gays, “Muslims” are terrorists, etc., etc., etc.). This intentional misdirection is nothing new in the realm of political gamesmanship and serves to sharpen the already natural divisions that occur in a society where free will can and should be exercised. Infighting, one-upmanship, and contentious confrontations quickly become the natural consequences of this artificially amplified atmosphere and are ultimately the desired effects. If vitriol prevails it detracts from the substance of the relevant issues. Not to mention such an atmosphere consolidates and unifies the respective partisan bases which further make it improbable to independently decide one’s own path. We quickly find ourselves towing the “company line” for sake of a short-sighted political victory instead of stopping and asking ourselves whether or not the line is consistent with our own values or even makes any sense at all. We cannot oversee the oligarchy effectively when such conditions triumph and what better operating environment could exist for those that wish to dominate? But this is just one ingredient of the overall recipe, one which cannot sufficiently facilitate the libido dominandi by itself. As stated before, disagreement and differing perspectives are normal and healthy within a free society but allowing it to become all-consuming to the detriment of objectivity is dangerous and exactly what is sought.
This sort of blind division must also be propped up and fed by ignorance. The general public ignorance to which I am referring is a product of varying combinations of laziness, misinformation, and overall lack of comprehension (for a number of reasons). Part of this is entirely our own faults, and certainly politicians know quite well how ignorant we can be. At many of the town hall meetings I have attended, the comments and questions posed to the presiding politicians were, at times, hard to believe. It certainly made it difficult for me to blame the politicians for treating us as if we were silly little children who could not possibly know what is best for ourselves. But part of this is certainly created and facilitated by the bureaucracy, through intentionally verbose and obscure legislation replete with ready-made loopholes and caveats that are made to confuse, disguise, and outright abuse their publicly declared intent. Some of this ignorance we admittedly cannot help but too much of it we inexcusably allow to exist. The ruling class revels in the understanding that we do not understand what exactly our rights are, why we have them, or how government is supposed to operate with regard to them. It preys on the fact that the average American accepts what it is presented to him/her via 30-second sound bites in the fluid 24-hour news cycle, rather than seeking self-empowerment through questioning, research, and independent information discovery. The inherent side effect of the former is that we tend to accept a pre-formulated opinion or perspective that is provided to us, whereas the side effect of the latter is independent formation of values-based and informed opinion and perspective.
The final piece to the riddle of dominance is the ever unpopular-for-discussion dependency factor. Much like the serfs of yore depended on the aristocracy for protection, sustenance, and shelter – all the while being exploited and abused for the gain of a select collection of individuals – we are venturing down a similar path, though with a decidedly modern twist to it. Rather than embracing “divine right” as justification for this paternal/dependent relationship, the modern deviously cunning politicians sell this relationship to us beautifully packaged in attractive entitlements, handouts, and disingenuously rationalized “equality” programs. In alarmingly similar fashion as drug dealers, politicians pander their selective wares in relatively small “tastes” to satiate the instant gratification of the prospective “user.” Soon enough, the taste becomes repetitive and grows, along with the appetite for them, until the full cycle of addiction ultimately sets in. As with the colloquial self-licking ice cream cone, it is in the vested interest of the facilitator of this arrangement to never allow those whom they publicly claim to want to “help” to actually achieve independence from this cycle because then there would be no incentive for their existence. If we were all truly independent of the panderers, then what could they sell to us for our votes other than principle and conviction – two things that most politicians attempt to avoid at all costs.
While some of this we cannot help, much of it we directly control. We owe it to ourselves and our families to recognize when we are being manipulated and taken advantage of for the gain of others. We can independently discover for ourselves what it means to be a society of the willing governed. We can embrace personal responsibility and the independence that this affords us. We can self-educate and share our ideas without solely relying on others to tell us what we should think, feel, or believe about a given situation. We can share our ideas and opinions without getting so engrossed in the confrontation that we forget objectivism and principle for sake of the win.
Who knows, if we do this consistently perhaps more than two pre-packaged, canned approaches to all situations can be realistically optioned up for debate or evaluation. If we recognize that each of us possesses a natural right to be who we wish to be and live our lives accordingly, would this not in turn simplify most of our lives? If we understood that our constitutional and natural rights are being slowly and steadily eroded via this recipe, would it not benefit us to implement Jefferson’s approach: “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” If we did this, would not personal integrity, work ethic, and individual intellect matter in substitution of said person’s political party, familial ties, or celebrity status?
If we acknowledge that any just government exists solely to protect our natural rights, and that government is properly limited and restrained accordingly, then what practical reason would there be for partisanship, media-, pundit-, and politically-inspired rhetoric and labeling, and handout programs that perpetually enslave entire generations? Would the power then not truly lie where it belongs – with the people rather than the pandering oligarchy?