“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” ~ Clay Shirky
You know the slavery Kool-Aid is working well when those who are oppressed petition their oppressors for more of that which helps keep them oppressed.
For instance, public education is a tool that was designed–specifically and directly–as a means of controlling the hoi polloi. The educational system of compulsory public education championed by Horace Mann, chock-full of multiple-choice testing perfected by Frederick J. Kelly, feeding into statistical models based upon the work of (eugenicist) Sir Francis Galton, was (and is) designed to fulfill the need for employees who are primed and ready to inhabit factories where efficiency can be measured in ways developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor. (The fact that so few of such factories currently exist in America should also be telling, but that’s a different discussion.) Mann believed “universal public education was the best way to turn the nation’s unruly children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens.” The whole thing was designed to produce a seething throng of people ready to take orders, stand in line, ask few questions, and install bumpers all day–accepting the interminable boredom of such a life–while their over-lords made a ton of money. Free and compulsory public education was never intended to create inquisitive, risk-taking, leaders. Or entrepreneurs and/or business owners. Or frankly, owners of anything! Yet, people clamor that “education is a right” and “we need more funding for our schools” despite the inescapable fact that these same crap holes are doing their best at producing children incapable of independent thought and unable to read a book (or a blueprint), solve a simple mathematics problem, or devise a new strategy. It’s damned sad, really.
“Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” ~ Frederic Bastiat
No. Not even.
When Romney said “there are 47 percent who are with him [POTUS], who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them” he was roughly half right. Very. Roughly. What he left out is that the “other” 47 percent, those that are with him [Romney] are after the same thing. Admittedly, the number of people who are unrepentant tax feeders, to use Will Grigg’s apt description, is likely (hopefully?) lower than 94 percent. The naive, hopeful dreamer in me would peg it at probably closer to 65–75 percent. Whatever the exact number is, the simple fact of the matter is that politics — particularly in the U.S., but abroad as well — is dominated by sociopaths with megalomaniacal tendencies who are often attended to and served by sycophants with dependency issues.
The other 25-35 percent and I just wish they’d all leave us the hell alone.
What’s all the hoopla about? Well, you may recall that back in the 2008 presidential election CNN debuted a new ratings-capturing gimmick below the bloviating candidates: “A real-time graph depicting the averaged reactions of 32 supposedly undecided voters, who expressed favor or disfavor by turning handheld dials as they watched.”
A study by British scientists purports to show that a relative handful of indecisive common folk can “unduly” influence millions of their equally indecisive fellows around the country with this real-time feedback. Wait, we needed what was probably a tax-funded scientific study to tell us that?
Anyway … this, apparently, is BAD FOR DEMOCRACY™.
We can’t have WE THE PEOPLE™ influencing WE THE PEOPLE™ while a “debate” is going on! Oh noes! It’s the job of the elites — in the media, in politics, in government bureaucracies, in academia, and in think tanks — to influence the people before and after the “debates.” Now that’s democracy!
In Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s writings on problems with democracy, he points out that one advantage of monarchy over democracy is that there is a clearer distinction between the ruler and the ruled; so that if the monarch starts to become despotic, he can at least in principle be killed or removed from power. At least the people know who to aim their ire at. In democracy, the state is bureaucratized and distributed, and the line between ruler and ruled is blurred–because citizens can vote, they accept the propaganda that “we are the government.”
Recent protests in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen help illustrate this–there, the people are fed up with rule by brutal strongmen, thugs and dictators, so demand their ouster. Success is not guaranteed but the people at least have a target for their anger. In the western democracies, protests of this type are inconceivable. Half the country voted for Obama, so there would never be mass protests. And he’ll be out of office in 2 or 6 years in any case, so why bother protesting to kick him out a bit earlier. And even if he is somehow ousted, he’ll be replaced with another plastic man. While regicide is possible with a monarchy or even dictatorship, it’s not so easy to decapitate a democratic state; it’s more like a hydra. The most we can expect in a democracy are protests by special interest groups demanding more loot from the state (such as the pathetic protests by the state teachers’ unions in Wisconsin) or reform of a particular law (such as medical marijuana or gay marriage). And when 5% of the populace pays most of the income tax, don’t expect widespread protests against confiscatory tax rates.
This is not to say that rule by dictatorial thugs is preferable to modern democracy–Hoppe’s work compares modern democracy to limited, traditional monarchies, not to dictators and absolute emperors–but it does help highlight why it’s so difficult to reform a democratic state.