Don’t Be Manipulated By The “Divide & Rule” Strategy

It’s a tactic that goes back to the dawn of civilization.  The ruling class of a particular area effectively gains control over the dissemination of information.  They then use this control to instigate and perpetuate conflict between various groups under their rule.  The general population (the ruled), having been educated in schools controlled by their ruling class, largely fails to recognize this propaganda.  They fall under the spell of believing that the source of their oppression stems from other groups rather than from the ruling class itself.

This tactic is as strong today as ever.  The ruling class benefits immensely by keeping those under their rule (“us”) fighting against each other instead of joining together to fight against them.  Everyday, the state controlled media fills their radio, television, and internet outlets with story after story of apparent wrongdoing being done by one group against another.

Perpetuation of conflict between groups is so prevalent that it’s impossible to keep track of them all:

Racial conflict today is perpetuated by the Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter debate.  Rarely does either side of this debate acknowledge that it is the ruling class which is the primary threat to lives.  That it is they who are able to get away with mass murder simply by manipulating language and calling it “war”.  That it is their police forces whom have become excessively militarized, and whom far too many of act as judge, jury, and executioner when dealing with the ruled population.  If both groups would simply come to the mutual agreement that every single life does indeed matter, then perhaps they could see that no group of people takes more innocent lives than the rulers and the ruling class – the state.  But the major media, controlled by the ruling class, refuses to point out this fact.  While both groups bicker and quarrel amongst themselves, the ruling class sits back and smiles.

Xenophobia is rampant as the ruled are led to believe that it’s the fault of the Mexicans or the Chinese for “stealing our jobs”, or why crime is so prevalent.  Conflict comes when those who believe this narrative are called racists and bigots by others.  Despite the fact that both sides will likely agree that the economy and the crime rate both leave a lot to be desired, they are blinded by their quarrels to see that both issues stem from, and are advanced by policies created by the ruling class.

Religious conflict keeps everyone either hating or defending those who practice Islam.  Alongside the “divide and rule” tactic, another favorite ploy of the ruling class is to conjure up fear of some “other” that poses a danger and a threat to the ruled populace.  So-called Islamic terrorism has provided the perfect scapegoat for the rulers to perpetuate both tactics.  The resulting conflict comes between those who want to blame Islam and its believers for every occurrence of violence in the world, and those who blindly defend those same people without caveat.  The truth is that much of the terrorism that does occur is from the hands of people who claim Islam.  This, however; cannot be blamed on the religion, but rather on the hatred and desire for revenge that develops as a result of the rulers’ constant militant intervention in regions heavily populated by believers of Islam.

Sexual conflict stems from senseless debates about whether homosexuals should be allowed to marry, whether or not bakers should be forced to bake cakes, and where transvestites can or can’t go to the bathroom.  Even though both sides have legitimate beliefs, they despise the other and want their ruling class to force those they disagree with to alter their behaviors.  This plays straight into the desires of the rulers.  Using force is all they know, and when those under their rule come to them begging for them to use force, they will gladly oblige.

Political conflict keeps the ruled pointing the finger at the “conservatives” or the “liberals” instead of seeing the obvious truth for themselves that both parties are simply different sides of the same coin.  Every election season, the ruled get in line to cheer for their choice of new ruler.  Because there is often so little substantive difference between the choices, people latch onto nonsensical reasons to support their chosen one.  Reasons as vague as “it’d be cool to have the first woman president”, “I feel like I could have a beer with him”, “he’s a businessman”, or “she’s got experience.”  The most common reason given for why someone supports any particular ruler is that they are not as bad as the alternative.  Clearly, this is all nonsense, and instead of clamoring for a new ruler, a far better use of time would be for everyone to ask themselves – “do I really need a ruler to manage and control my life?”

Constantly, the perception of the great struggle between “us” and “them” is that of divisions between ordinary individuals along the lines detailed above.  In reality, the only real “us” and “them” is “us” the ordinary individuals, and “them” the ruling class who hold all the power.  It is “them” who perpetuate conflict, violence, and resentment among “us” while at the same time managing to keep fingers pointed between factions of “us” instead of at “them”.  It is “them” who have special rights that the rest of “us” do not have, and it is “them” who claim power to take rights away from “us”.  “We” certainly do not need “them”.

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The NBA Flexes Rights That Are Denied To Others

In response to North Carolina’s new law regarding bathroom usage, the NBA announced that they will be removing their 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.  Fine, good for them.  If they feel that the law is bigoted in nature, or unfair to certain groups of people, the NBA is perfectly within their rights to protest and take action to dissociate themselves with the state and their law.

There has been a lot of commentary on sports media pertaining to this decision.  One particularly insightful take on the situation went something like this:

The commentator was lauding the NBA’s decision, and went on to say that this is the power that exists when a non-violent injustice is perceived.  Obviously, the NBA doesn’t have all that much power to actually change the law in the short term, but what they do have the power to do is hurt the state financially.  Taking the All-Star Game out of North Carolina will undoubtedly eliminate a potential economic windfall for the state.  Perhaps this, along with the temptation of being able to hold the game again in 2019 “provided there is an appropriate resolution to this matter,” will persuade the state to change its laws.

The commentator is exactly right, and this analysis could be applied in the same way to bigoted business owners.  Rights, by definition, must apply equally to all people.  Freedom of association and the right to choose with whom you interact and do business belongs to business owners just as much as it does anyone else.

This freedom of association is a fundamental human right.  People must have the right to choose freely with whom they will or will not do business, enter into relationships, or simply interact with.  If this freedom is not upheld, and people are forced to associate with others against their will, it is not too large of a stretch for this use of force to be likened to slavery.  In most cases, this freedom exists.  The problem is that it does not exist equally across the board.

In the recent past, when bakers have made the choice to not associate and engage in transactions with homosexual couples, they have been threatened with jail time, and forced to bake cakes against their will.  Often, they’ve also been fined and therefore forced to pay for the privilege of doing business with people that they otherwise would have chosen not to.

Regardless of a person’s reasoning for not wanting to associate with another, freedom of association mandates that this choice must remain with the individual.  Of course, bigoted reasoning for not wanting to associate with someone is deplorable, but that doesn’t eliminate a person’s right to make that choice.

All relationships, economic relationships included, in order to be morally just, must be entered into voluntarily by all parties involved.  Bigots are assholes, but they are not criminals.  Using force to make a bigot associate with people he does not want to gives him the moral high ground.  Though he has refused to engage in exchange with someone, he has not aggressed against that person.  Aggressing against him in retaliation for what is nothing more than a personal choice turns an otherwise contemptible person into a victim.

In the case of the baker, he has simply indicated that he does not wish to make a cake for the homosexual couple.  Sure, this makes the baker an asshole, but it is his right to be an asshole.  It is also the right of those who are slighted by the baker to protest, picket, write damning reviews / letters to local media outlets, boycott, and urge others to boycott.  Doing this, the baker is hit where damage can be done – his wallet and his reputation.

Unfortunately, in today’s world of immediate gratification, this route is often viewed as not producing quick enough change.  Too many people would rather run to the government, have them threaten violence against the baker, and force him to make the cake.  The clear problem with this is the use of force.  Those who are angry with the bigoted baker are so because they perceive his discrimination against homosexual couples as immoral.  But what’s so moral about forcing him to act against his will?

The use of force may result in quicker results, but it does nothing to change hearts and minds.  If anything, the baker will become more steadfast in his bigoted beliefs.  A far better approach is that which is described above.  Making an issue out of the problem, starting a conversation, and causing him financial pain are the proper modes of reproach.  If people aren’t willing to wait for this method to yield fruit, and instead choose to resort to the immoral use of force, then how are they any different than the immoral discriminator?

Though the actions of North Carolina and of the homophobic baker can be rightly viewed as discrimination, the way to change both cannot morally involve the use of force.  The NBA did exactly what they are capable of – hit the state in their pocketbook and bring attention to a perceived injustice.  The correct lesson to be learned from this incident is that the power to affect change lies in the consumer’s ability to vote with their dollars.  Using physical power, force, and violence is not the way of a moral and peaceful person.

Zuckerberg Embraces the Establishment

There are two obvious branches of the economy.  There is the market economy, entirely benevolent in nature and identified by its voluntary and mutually beneficial transactions, its natural coordination of scarce resources, and its ability to increase prosperity.  And the political economy which is entirely malevolent in nature, and is identified by its reliance on coercion and force, its bureaucratic inefficiencies, and its manipulation of fear, greed, and envy to serve the ends of a select few.

Actors in both spheres of the economy are driven by a desire to better their own lives, the lives of their loved ones, and their community around them.

In the market economy, individuals compete to sell goods and services to other individuals.  These voluntary transactions are mutually beneficial to all parties involved the vast majority of the time precisely due to their voluntary nature (no party would voluntarily enter into the transaction unless they felt they were being served through it).  Rising to the top in the market economy is immensely difficult, and staying there is precarious.  The market moves quickly, and one tiny innovation or improvement in production efficiency can topple even the largest of giants.

This explains why wealthy people who have succeeded in the market economy often find themselves attracted to the political economy.  There are no guarantees in the market economy.  In the political economy, though; the future for those who are able to enter into it or become partners with those in control is much more certain.

Mark Zuckerberg is steadily embracing the political economy.  He built an amazing company, fundamentally transformed communication, created thousands of jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurial marketing, and made a vast fortune for himself.  He recently became the 6th richest man in the world – so he’s got nothing to worry about financially for himself and his family for at least the next generation or two.  Still, despite being in a better financial position than all but 5 people in the world, it appears that Mr. Zuckerberg’s confidence in the long-term may not be as high as it should be.  To boost his confidence, evidence continues to pile up showing that he is indeed embracing the political economy, the establishment, and the powers possessed by the elite.

When a person reaches the level that Zuckerberg has, the world becomes much smaller.  Doors open up that the average person doesn’t even know how to find.  Meetings with political elites at the highest level become routine.  There is a level of access to the levers of power in the world that the rest of us will never even come close to.  Getting to that level allows the richest and most powerful people in the world to influence and even control decision making of national and world governments.  When sitting at these “decision making” tables, the individuals involved do what individuals do – make deals to better their own lives, and the lives of their loved ones.

What do such people have to offer each other?  The better question would be what DON’T they have to offer.  Multi-billionaires like Zuckerberg can fund campaigns, donate huge sums to national committees, and offer the services of whatever their company specializes in.  Politicians and powerful government officials can pass laws, write regulations, alter tax codes, and directly and indirectly manipulate the market economy.Meme

In Zuckerberg’s case, his Facebook is one of the largest platforms for dissemination of information.  Governments and the people who run them desire control over information in order to effectively push their agendas.  There is no question that Zuckerberg is doing the bidding of those in power with regards to censoring information on his site.  From working for Angel Merkel and the German government to suppress knowledge of problems stemming from middle eastern immigration, to censoring “conservative” news and viewpoints, to banning and threatening individuals and pages that violate “community standards”, to removing harmless anti-Hillary Clinton memes.

Focusing on the last item from the paragraph above, it is readily apparent that Zuckerberg is overtly censoring views that deviate from those favored by the establishment.  Liberty Memes, a Facebook group that recently broached 100k likes, produced a hilarious, simple, accurate, and devastating meme in the wake of the FBI’s announcement that Hillary wouldn’t face indictment.  The meme was blowing up, and had garnered 10k likes, 50k shares, and 4 million views before it was removed by Facebook.

Regarding what can be said about public figures, Facebook’s community standards says:

Attacks on Public Figures: What protection public figures receive on Facebook.

We permit open and critical discussion of people who are featured in the news or have a large public audience based on their profession or chosen activities. We remove credible threats to public figures, as well as hate speech directed at them – just as we do for private individuals.”

Anyone who is willing to buy the line that this meme was a “credible threat” or “hate speech” is probably also in line to purchase a bridge in Brooklyn.  Clearly, a partnership has been formed between Zuckerberg and the establishment.  He gets to protect his billions, and they get to protect the flow of ideas & information.

So what should be done about this?  The short answer: nothing.  Facebook is a private company, and they should have the right to limit content however they see fit.  They don’t force anyone to use their service, their service is provided for free, and it has for the most part been a positive addition to society.

The long answer is more nuanced.  Zuckerberg first of all should be applauded for attempting to avoid paying as much taxes as he can.  It’s his money.  He earned it.  It certainly will be put to better use in his hands than in the hands of some government bureaucracy.  The problem is not entirely with Zuckerberg.  It is with government.  Only an institution that is funded by violence and coercion, that has the power to pull levers and twist knobs to manipulate the economy to their desire, and that can choose winners and losers within the economy is able to attract and ultimately control the richest people in the world.

If this power structure did not exist, market manipulation and favor trading between elites would become a relic “in the dustbin of history.”  Without the risk of losing big chunks of his fortune to taxation, Zuckerberg would not have the incentive to allow elite figures to control content and information on his site.  Without a central authority that has the power to regulate and tax, there would be no government elites for Zuckerberg to lobby and make deals with to protect his business.

Even though nothing should be done to force Facebook to change is its ways, there is plenty that can be done to persuade it to do so.  The market economy is powerful.  Competition is high in the social media market, and there have been signs that Facebook’s market share is shrinking.  This is the power that we have.  We can complain and protest.  And if The Zuck causes us enough angst, we can leave.  What we can’t do is use force.  Force and violence is the way of evil people.  Force and violence is the way of the government.

In order to eliminate the favors for favors relationship between the rich and the powerful, their levers of power must be taken away.  This is not likely to happen in the short run.  It may not happen until a complete collapse of the US empire.  Regardless, the most important work that we can do today is to spread the ideals of freedom, liberty, responsibility, and the power of the market economy.