From People to Puppets
How government controls the population it’s meant to serve
When a contradiction is impossible to resolve except by a lie, then we know that it is really a door.
— Simone Weil
The role of attention
Unbroken attention is the key to solving problems.
It’s troubling that one minute we have it — the next minute we don’t. And many hours of the day can be seen trying to reclaim what we had.
When we don’t put our full attention to something, we can’t expect to get the outcome we want.
The major hindrance to blocking our desired aims is politics.
For Simone Weil, political action appears to carry a solution to the problem but perpetuates it somehow.
Ostensibly, this would come by rearranging a premise through legislation so that the same problem occurs in different ways in the political or social spheres, or to talk through the problem via diplomacy without getting a solution.
For pessimists of the political machine, problems persist without eradicating so much as a symptom because within government lies the problem.
Weil’s essay On the Abolition of All Political Parties points out that the needs of the individual appear to be solvable through political party activities, while the individual gets swallowed up by the political party they serve.
The anarchist calls on political parties to justify their actions. If a party can justify its actions, then it deserves to continue to function. If it cannot justify its actions, it should be abolished.
The measurement is the will of the people, and theoretically, this would be represented through democracy.
The anarchist desires to secede from any political apparatus that is not justifiable, to govern themselves freely.
For Weil, attention is the most important thing for a person to have. Political parties ruin a person’s attention because they insist their members hold two different interests simultaneously that cannot be reconciled.
The governed are fed lies and misdirected through political parties because of their inherently contradictory nature.
Unbroken attention is a very difficult state to achieve. Attention is volatile. Any emotional disturbance can derail it. To keep our attention we have to guard our sense of judgment against the outside world and the turmoil of personal hopes and fears.
But truly unbroken attention can only be achieved for considerable lengths of time through discipline and practice. Go ahead and try to keep yours while reading this essay. My guess is that at some time while reading what remains, you’ll think of something off-topic no matter how charming the words.
The crux of any political party is the same
Simone Weil asserts that a political party’s ambition is to stir passion in the heart of its members in order to strengthen its desired course of action.
She drew from the two premises of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s notion of the general will:
1.Our reason perceives and chooses what is useful; crimes are motivated by passion.
2. The ability to reason is identical in all people, but our passions differ.
The ostensible purpose of a political party is to protect the people it governs. But as Weil points out, a political party’s real plan is to do what’s suitable for itself. All parties wish to expand their power and influence.
Put any name on it — republican, democrat, independent, or green — a political party seeks to expand its existence.
They’re never the same thing, and the party’s needs invariably win.
Elite collective thinking shaping the minds of the larger collective
There are three essential characteristics of political parties.
1. They are machines for generating collective passions.
2. They are organizations designed to exert collective pressure upon the minds of all their members.
3. Any political party’s first and ultimate objective is its growth, without limit.
Political parties maintain their agenda behind a platform of ideas that obfuscates their members’ potential culpability as they operate under the banner of the party’s image. This is mutable by embellishments, such as through a charismatic leader or a party member who does a notable act (either good or bad).
Propaganda is the principal language of government
Hitler and Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew the power of propaganda could be welded to sway minds.
We might be tempted to say that Hitler used propaganda to enslave minds while Franklin Delano Roosevelt used it to catalyze support for World War II to fight the Nazis. That one was evil, and the other was noble and good. This would be an apt takeaway, but not one that will serve the point since we are looking at the power of implementation, not its outcome.
Propaganda is considered a tool for brainwashing that only authoritarian governments use.
In actuality, propaganda is the medium through which all governments communicate.
Think about it.
The United States government regulates what can appear on television, for what age groups a movie is appropriate, and what holidays should be celebrated.
Its message is channeled through television, streaming, social media, magazines, journals, and online content. Not through every medium at all times, but through any medium at any time.
In that order, our interaction with these mediums shapes our view of ourselves and the world we live in.
Consider the power of a national holiday.
Families and friends gather in groups during Thanksgiving to celebrate — watch football, eat and drink to excess, and yammer away over long weekends. What are they celebrating? The triumph of the United States over First Nations People. Most people don’t revel in this point of celebration, but it is the only valid point of Thanksgiving — as honest as its namesake is misleading.
The nature of propaganda is to instill passion. Propaganda is a tool for kindling and channeling passion.
Consider former President Donald Trump’s message: “I won. The election was rigged.”
That his insistence backed his message, and a minority of his party was able to trigger a half-baked revolution on January 6, 2021.
It may not seem a legitimate revolution or even a legitimate viewpoint to you because his message was carried without the agreement of all mainstream news — and many Republican figureheads did not support him — but his power and influence were so strong at that time that his babble was able to sway 2,000+ supporters to storm the capital on January 6. A year into the Joe Biden presidency, many Republicans still believe Trump won the election in 2020.
Do you know what would be really funny? — if Trump won 2020 and we were tricked into thinking Biden won because we foolishly believed we could have more freedom in a Biden presidency and that he could win.
Imagine if conspiracy Republicans were right and the rest of us suddenly woke up to it. We’d feel stupid, and we’d have good reason to.
That’s the power of propaganda in a rouge campaign. Imagine its authority when it has state backing.
Free market gives the illusion that corporations are separate from the government. Still, there’s been so much lobbying in Washington in the 153 years since the 14th Amendment that corporations have been fused with the government by written law.
Diogenes’ party was a barrel of one
If you sought to join Diogenes’s party, you were automatically not accepted, and it was for your good.
But seek acceptance to a political party, you’re automatically accepted, but it’s only for the party’s good.
Political parties stay in power because they arouse people’s passion.
- Political parties aim to find solutions to our biggest problems
- We are passionate about our ideals and passionately against what threatens them
- We live with the thinking that our party’s thinking is in the right to some greater degree, and the other party’s thinking is wrong or primarily wrong to some varying degree
While we see improvement inching towards acceptable conditions, there is backsliding everywhere. Human interests are best served on a small scale, where we can care about each other — without being blinded by greed and hatred.
This article was originally published on my Medium profile page.