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The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Critique of Politics #8: Diversions and Wedging—Civil Discord and the Moral Bankruptcy of States

Critique of Politics #8: Diversions and Wedging—Civil Discord and the Moral Bankruptcy of States
By Tim Krenz
For: Hometown Gazette
July 30, 2019

Anyone who owns any kind of power has one goal before all others: Hold on to that power! The nature of that power contains within it the power to make choices, for self or for others, depending on the nature of the system. If humans submit to the laws of nature and of nature's god, then the liberty to choose among a larger range of alternatives translates into a higher and wider scope of liberty for the most people. Hence, the freest and widest choices available for as many citizens as possible means a much freer civil society than if only one person or a few of them made all the decisions for others. The more liberty for individuals to choose has usually meant a more just, and a wiser, system of government within which all must live together.

Of the same coin, powers for a leader or powers for the masses of individuals come with very definite responsibilities for that gift of liberty in nature's laws. Those duties include: to do good for the most people at the same time; to protect from any harm whatsoever the young, the old, the sick, and the infirm, and all who cannot protect themselves; to allow others the same freedoms, liberty, and choices one demands for oneself; and to assert and defend the principles of one's own sense of right and wrong for the benefit of the whole society. Failing any of these measures of duty for a stable, free, just and enduring public trust, then that civil society cannot last long as a free, self-governing system for all citizens. In that case, the society becomes the playground of the few most powerful at the expense of the rest. Furthermore, ignoring any of these requirements a free society needs to cope and manage conflicts and change, then that failed experiment in free society will face its own, and terminal, moral bankruptcy. That society will collapse swiftly, dangerously, violently, and indefinitely.

With the ambitions to maintain control of political power while delaying the mass recognition of moral bankruptcy in the society, diverting and dividing the public becomes the single most effective and efficient means for leaders to extend the fiction of both their control over events and the solvency of their rule.

Almost everyone may have heard of “panem et circenses,” the Latin phrase for “bread and circuses.” Roman rulers of the patrician and Praetorian ranks gave the plebians (the masses) subsidized grain for cheap bread and plenty of addicting entertainment. Keeping bellies full and distracting the public's attention from critical issues and events worked until the shatteringly swift collapse of the Western Roman Empire as a coherent entity. The breads and circuses diverted the attention from the internal decay, with grain and games itself part of the decay encouraging the ignorance and apathy of the public.

The Romans and their Byzantine brothers in the Eastern Empire also used a policy of “divide et impera,” or “divide and rule” or “divide and conquer.” In this logical construction of the foreign and domestic policies of the great political powers, rulers keep the enemy (the competition), and even their own subjects and citizens in constant conflict between each other. This leaves the opposition weak and the ruling power(s) stronger. Rulers know that if the opponents of any institution or party ever unified by common ideals or alliances of convenience, the power that rules or the elite few that support them would have a more difficult time defending or justifying their reign of power. At that stage, like France at the beginning of their revolutionary and Napoleonic eras, the ancient regimes of the old power(s) would collapse, suddenly, due to their moral bankruptcy.

With diversions, modern nation states bring updated and sophisticated breads and circuses to their heights. Anything to distract the public works to the advantage of the power that rules. The Nazis in Germany named Joseph Goebbels' grand institution the Reich Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda for very sound reasons—effectiveness and efficiency. The ministry both diverted attention from Nazis crimes against people and kept the Nazi faithful followers supportive, and eventually complicit, in those very same crimes. Now the world even surpasses the Twentieth Century's superlative tool of diversion, the television, with the combined effects of the near-instant internet, massive free content, and, ironically, subscribed on-demand programming.

Modern politics with weapons of mass manipulation refines the divide and rule/conquer methods of old. While chipping away at the legal means and ethical standards of moral dissent, and with a promotion of a mass conformity, a new, partly voluntary coercion of the public trust has crept into political dialog. This silent bomb in a very quiet war of dividing nations uses the “wedge” weapons in the modern divide et impera. The wedging principle used by influential institutions forms two distinct groups, neither willingly powerful enough to displace the other, but both benefiting from the absence of other choices that could undermine the two dominant factions. It has drawn distinct lines, defining one side and the other. More options would weaken the two ruling sides, because the third or other choices could shift some alliances of principle or interests. Oddly, and truly, the leaders of two sides have more in common with each other than they do with the rank and file members of their factions.

Wedging issues abound. Look near and far, and a thoughtful, critical, open-minded citizen can see it. Some of the more obvious ones: abortion, immigration, private firearms, socialism versus capitalism, liberalism or conservatism, force versus sanctions, war versus diplomacy, the struggle with Islam (and over Israel), and the many-sided problems of race, sex, religion, income, age, and health discrimination. These wedge issues exist not just in North America, but world-wide. It has become all too convenient for rulers everywhere to have such neat piles on each side. Why? Effectiveness and efficiency.

Maintaining diversions and sustaining wedges in the public—and avoiding deeper examinations of motives and consequences—creates a far too dangerous situation for a free society to survive with ease. Drawing lines pushes all but the rulers into an “Us or Them” mentality. Really, the issue should come down to “We!”: United, for freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom from fear, and freedom from want. With a “WE” identity, the rulers can rightfully become the “THEY” who oppress and steal our liberty of self and our choices!

Can a society self-govern itself, without a few who think they should make our choices for the mass majority? How well has self-government ever before worked? The people of the world and all nations have choices to make. The problems will not leave on their own account. Neither will the manipulations of leaders to stay in power for themselves change much unless something drastic happens. When it happens, if it does, indeed, it will come suddenly, brutally, and at great cost.

The present dilemma exists because people take too much of their own opinion too seriously, (like myself) and fail to understand that politics, governing, liberty, and the future of humankind do not have clean and neat answers. Democracy, that great last hope for the American republic to resolve its differences, allows citizens to reconcile and cooperate, to manage a peaceful resolution of conflict and change. Unfortunately, people forget or just resent the fact that other people get to vote, too. Voting, a choice made, preserves liberty, especially when the losing side has incentive to remain loyal in opposition. A winner who wants to take all will end up taking all liberty from everyone, except from themselves. Stay forewarned. And hold on to your power! WE need it.


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