Friday, January 12, 2007

What if the world was ruled by an evil gang?

Let's make a big conceptual leap here and assume that our country was ruled by an evil mafia. Well, come to think of it, the leap does not actually appear that vast, but never mind. So they tried the dictatorial thing for a while, but people rebelled, or they got into terrible civil wars.

So now this mafia has to figure out a way to get people involved in the system, or at least give the appearance of involvment without actually relinquishing power. What would such a process look like? I tried to make a list of points without inspiring myself from what we actually have as much as possible, impartially then. Here is what I have so far.

1. Obviously, you do not want the population to have any actual power. You want to keep that power. So you will not let the population decide any real issue, or offer them any real choice. You want to offer them the choices which you can tolerate, while keeping your power intact.

2. Since you have to involve the people, you might as well make it to your best advantage. You want to let people choose, through a popularity contest, who will be their chief exploiters for a certain duration of time. That way, the best exploiters and the most popular will rise to the top, and your mafia will be as efficient as possible, and keep its legitimacy high.

3. You should use the system to divert attention from your evil policies as much as possible, and divert blame as well. To do so, your system must promote social warfare. That way, people will come to believe that their enemies are different races/classes/genders/social positions, not you. Divide and conquer.

4. The participation of the public must be ritualized and accompanied by high-sounding rhetoric. That way it will actually seem as though they are doing something important, even though they are doing absolutely nothing important.

5. Given that you still yield more or less absolute power, just cloaked in rituals and procedures, you can force people to participate in this process, or at least threaten those who don't. Since the legitimacy of your system depends on participation, people who refuse to participate are really your only threat, and then only if they refuse to do so en masse. If you find yourself unable to do either of these things, rhetoric of the type "those who don't participate have no reason to complain" would work nicely (even though it is the polar opposite of the truth).

6. You want the process to have the appearance of fairness, but you also want it to depend on how much money and support you get from big companies and activist organizations. You will naturally get this money and support because of all the people who will want you to change the laws in their favour. Of course you don't NEED this support, since you can just raise taxes anyway, but people who submit to you voluntarily is a nice bonus.

7. You will pay people (the "intellectual elite") to praise your policies. You will pay other people to come up with non-existing "issues" that divert attention from your bad policies.

8. People are perfectly free to complain about superficial issues, as long as they can't do anything about it.

So... I guess we're seeing some parallels here eh?

Feel free to add any in the comments, and I'll add them here also.

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