Reading time: 5,643 words, 19 pages, 13 to 22 minutes.
Democracy is dead. ‘Soft despotism’ replaced it. Most people have never heard of soft despotism, yet we are constantly enslaved by it without our knowledge. We are so immersed in soft despotism that we’re largely unaware of it. We’re like fish that take for granted the medium in which they swim. Soft despotism results from democracy slowly degenerating into an all-encompassing, paternalistic state whose power gradually expands and undermines the spirit of self-government and its independent citizens.
Soft despotism is ultimately more dangerous than despotism (‘hard despotism’) because it is not obvious. However, it is very attractive, so easy to fall into and so very difficult to extricate ourselves from its corrosive embrace. Understanding soft despotism is important because it helps to explain the increasing uneasiness, doubt, anxiety and fear rampant in democratic countries. More so, understanding soft despotism arms you against its insidious effect by helping you identify it and resist its enslavement.
Warning: before you read any further; be aware that you will never be the same after you read this because in today’s world you will see soft despotism everywhere you look.
I’m dismayed to have only recently learned about soft despotism because I’m a Political Science major and, until one of this blog’s astute readers asked if I’d heard of it (thanks again, Paul) I had to admit my ignorance. Even more humbling, the term is attributed to one of my favorite political analysts, Alexis de Tocqueville. In the 1830’s, he coined the term “administrative despotism” to describe countries such as France and England that were overrun and degraded by “a network of small complicated rules”. Today, we refer to this condition as ‘soft despotism’, but it goes by many names including ‘inverted totalitarianism’ and ‘audacious oligarchy.’
Paul Rahe, the author of “Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift” speaking at The Heritage Foundation said that in the 1800’s Alexis de Tocqueville feared “that the great democratic revolution sweeping the globe would eventuate not in liberty, but in a soft, gentle despotism wholly welcome to those who would be subject to it.”
Tocqueville toured the United States studying democracy from the grass roots to the federal level. He hoped to find an antidote to the soft despotism that gave rise to the dictator Napoleon Bonaparte. In contrast to Europe where every problem seemed to require a government solution, de Tocqueville found America of that time was refreshingly free from government interference and he marvelled at American’s embrace of voluntary associations to solve problems and accomplish great things.
“Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite. …Americans use associations to give fêtes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools. …Everywhere that, at the head of a new undertaking, you see the government in France and a great lord in England, count on it that you will perceive an association in the United States.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, pg. 513, Perennial Classics 2000
Rahe says, “Tocqueville discovered what he was looking for. In decentralized administration, local self-government, civic associations, an unfettered press, Biblical religion, and the marital solidarity characteristic of Jacksonian America, he found what he took to be an antidote for the soft despotism that he rightly saw as democracy’s drift.”
Today we see how far democracy drifted in de Tocqueville’s description of soft despotism. “[The sovereign] extends its arms about society as a whole. It covers its surface with a network of petty regulations–complicated, minute, and uniform–through which even the most original minds and the most vigorous souls know not how to make their way past the crowd and emerge into the light of day.
“It does not break wills; it softens them, bends them and directs them. Rarely does it force one to act but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting on one’s own. It does not destroy, it prevents things from being born, it extinguishes, it stupefies and finally, it will reduce each nation to nothing more than a herd of timid, and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.”
It might be argued the drift began with Lincoln’s autocratic war against the South’s attempted secession that killed hundreds of thousands and drove Old Dixie down. Democracy’s drift to soft despotism picked up speed about a century ago. Rahe says, “during the presidential campaign of 1912, when both Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt attacked the Constitution and William Howard Taft, its only defender, came in a dismal third. The institutional foundation was put in place one year later with ratification of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments to the Constitution, which legalized the federal income tax and provided for the direct election of United States Senators, putting the federal government in a position to secure for itself unlimited funding and denying to the state legislatures, which had once chosen the Senators, the capacity to defend state and local governments against federal encroachment.” And, in 1913 the Federal Reserve Bank was created as a privately owned institution that was neither Federal, nor a bank and had no reserves, but it did control the nation’s money.
Gradually, over the past century, the only real difference that devolved between Democrats and Republicans has been the speed at which centralized administration has been allowed to overcome Amerika’s spirit of independence. Rahe says, “nearly all of the regulations imposed are devised by unelected civil servants and political appointees to whom Congress–undeniably in breach of the Constitution’s separation of powers–has delegated legislative, executive, and judicial responsibilities … Moreover, what remains undecided within the administrative agencies is generally dealt with in courts, unresponsive to the electorate. We may still take pride in being a self-governing people, but to an ever-increasing degree, that pretense is unsustainable.”
More specifically, Rahe says, “The states and localities are in thrall to the federal government. Civic associations survive almost solely as lobbying operations. Newspapers are disappearing hither and yon. Christianity and Judaism have lost their hold on much of our population. The divorce rate is unconscionably high, and, last year, 40 percent of all children in the United States were born out of wedlock.”
In the U.S. soft despotism has reached the point where “nearly 70 percent of all of the money that the federal government spends goes toward entitlement and welfare programs,” according to ETFDailyNews 49% of spending is major entitlements and 20% is income security and other benefits.
Chart – Heritage Foundation
“… the number of Americans getting benefits from the federal government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million.”
Soft despotism’s ‘Thought Police’ are aided and abetted by the shrinks. The Soviet Union used mental illness for political repression. In the West, psychiatrists now list creativity and non-conformity as a mental illness. The latest edition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) targets dissenters. “Oppositional defiant disorder” is defined as an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” and symptoms include “questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.”
Lest you think that soft despotism is strictly an Amerikan problem, it infects the EU and you need only look at the history and present culture of British Commonwealth nations such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They BEGAN their history infected with England’s soft despotism and have never extricated themselves from it.
Canada alone has over 110,000 laws and bylaws yet a Canadian judge will tell you with a straight face that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Thus, every Canadian is a criminal 24 / 7 /365.
In Nova Scotia, Canada, the Alcohol and Gaming Division heavily scrutinizes bars to ensure patrons have proper ID. The ‘National Post’ reports about a bar “refusing to serve a man carrying what it deemed to be improper I.D. — and then calling the police when he refused to leave — a Halifax bar is now awaiting punishment for what the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission deemed to be a discriminatory act of ‘imposing the police’ on a customer ‘because of his colour.’” When soft despotism runs amok, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
How times have changed! Fifty years ago as children, we rode our bicycles without helmets, gave friends rides on our bike’s handlebars, drank from the garden hose and rode in the bed of pick-up trucks. We fought immense battles with wooden swords; a rock in one of Dad’s woollen socks was our mace and metal garbage can lids gripped tight with winter mitts served as shields. Nobody lost an eye although profuse bleeding guaranteed a safe exit from the field of battle.
By the time I was thirteen I had more than a 100 stitches just on my head and no more than 7 at any one time. I learned to clean and dress my own wounds. Nowadays, all this would be unthinkable and we’d likely all be arrested, our parents charged with child abuse and we’d all be taken away by Children’s Aid.
I had a BB gun at age 10, a .22 caliber at 13 and was into serious competitive shooting at 15. Summers, after breakfast, we’d disappear into the forest with our rifles or fishing rods. Parents wouldn’t give it a second thought. We’d catch and cook our own lunch, be home for dinner and played outside until the street lights came on. Nowadays, we’d be charged and hauled off for making the sign of a gun with our index fingers.
Any parent could discipline any kid, or feed him or get him to carry the groceries and nobody thought a thing of it. Being sent to the principal’s office was nothing compared to what awaited us at home. And, then things slowly changed. We became soft and weak and started to believe the government would look after us.
Today, we live in a soft despotic cocoon. Today, rather than look to family and friends and neighbors and civil society, we expect governments to solve all our problems, provide for all our needs and wants. Today we expect government to remove risk from our lives as we become more and more dependent on bureaucracy and Big Brother. Is it any wonder FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “I believe people should be suspicious of government power. I am …”
There are countless examples of soft despotism. Here are just a few:
Government economic intervention
Global warming / climate change
Human Rights Commissions (Canada)
Obama, Obamacare, etc.
Police exist to protect the people
Wars are good for the economy
There are too many (and more) to cover in detail so I’ll briefly expand on only a few of these.
Affirmative Action – This is just reverse discrimination. Two wrongs don’t make a right no matter how well intentioned. Enough said.
Child Poverty – Children do not work, therefore all children live in poverty. Of course, that statement is utterly preposterous because children don’t support themselves; they’re supported by adults. If children live in poverty, it’s because the adults who support them are poor. So, let’s call it what it is; child poverty is really adult poverty. The term ‘child poverty’ is bullshit. However, adult poverty doesn’t tug at our heart-strings quite like ‘child poverty’, does it?
Collectivism – Rahe quotes Walter Lippmann, a repentant Progressive, who noted that:
“Throughout the world, in the name of progress, men who call themselves communists, socialists, fascists, nationalists, progressives and even liberals, are unanimous in holding that government with its instruments of coercion, must by commanding the people how they shall live, direct the course of civilization and fix the shape of things to come…. [T]he premises of authoritarian collectivism have become the working beliefs, the self-evident assumptions, the unquestioned axioms, not only of all the revolutionary regimes, but of nearly every effort which lays claim to being enlightened, humane, and progressive.”
A dangerous example of the Collectivist meme is Thomas Piketty. One has to wonder about the sanity of the Nobel Prize committee that awarded the Peace Prize to Obama who started more wars than any Amerikan President and awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics to Thomas Piketty. Hunter Lewis writes, “In 1936, a dense, difficult-to-read academic book appeared that seemed to tell politicians they could do exactly what they wanted to do. This was Keynes’s General Theory. Piketty’s book serves the same purpose in 2014, and serves the same short-sighted, destructive policies … If the Obama White House, the IMF, and people like Piketty would just let the economy alone, it could recover. As it is, they keep inventing new ways to destroy it.”
Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has been named the 2014 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year. When the Powers-That-Be of the Nobel Committee and Britain’s propaganda mothership Financial Times push something, you can bet it’s not for your benefit.
Collectivist ideology blinds Thomas Piketty into believing the working man always gets the short end of the stick; that the worker and the capitalist compete for material rewards (Marxism). He states that capital compounds at an annual rate of 4.5%. If that were the case throughout history, we’d all be gazillionaires. In fact, as Bill Bonner writes, “capital compounds… and then gets whacked by bear markets, depressions, wars, and central bank policies … In fact, there is no competition between capital and labor. Both benefit, according to relative scarcity and abundance of what they have to offer, from each other’s contributions … The capitalist puts up the resources. The working man turns them into something worth more…”
Ominously, Martin Armstrong writes, “We are seeing the most dangerous trend ever. There is an agenda behind the curtain and that is to sustain government at all costs and that includes everything you own … Piketty did not appear out of nowhere. This is a coordinated assault to set the stage for massive taxation increases without a one-world government, just a one-world agreement to hunt down capital hiding everywhere … Then there was the IMF papers telling the US it should raise its taxes to 80% and then rigged the numbers to say see – it will not harm the economy. Then Piketty comes out saying the same thing and his book has reached Rockstar status thanks to the socialists pushing it. This is all selling an idea that taxes will go through the roof.”
The only difference between the various flavors of leftish Collectivism is the speed they intend to achieve poverty for everyone. I covered Collectivist idiocy in greater detail in Human Nature Trumps Ideology and I spanked Canadians for their Collectivist idiocy, calling it Socialist Envy, Canadian Style.
Command economies – Soviet Union, Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, etc.
Question: what do all these countries have in common?
Answer: extreme poverty caused by government controlled command economies.
More and more countries are turning into command economies. As John Browne writes, “capitalism usually takes the blame for the failures of statism.”
Command economies don’t work because government bureaucrats couldn’t run a lemonade stand. Enough said.
Equality – We have been inculcated with the flawed premise that “we all can be equal”. Leftish Collectivists have us believing that ‘fairness’ means ‘equal’ and ‘equal’ means we can all enjoy equal outcomes in life. The Soviets tried that. Everybody had the same, everybody was the same, everybody did the same, everybody earned the same and everybody got a trophy or ribbon just for showing up. They went bankrupt and collapsed.
The notion of ‘equality’ sounds wonderful and it’s well-intentioned. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Equality is a hoax and, like all lies, it’s difficult to keep the story straight and have it make sense without spinning off into never-never land. Here is an example of a headline and by-line from the Financial Times (Dec. 9) that is both baffling and pointless: Rich nations told inequality hurts growth. “Educational opportunity worse in less equal countries…” First, the headline is redundant. Secondly, what is an ‘equal country’? Answer: where all countries are equally poor because spreading it around won’t make anyone equally rich. The notion of ‘equal countries’ has as little credibility as ‘Child Poverty’ above.
For another perspective on equality and ‘fairness’ read about the Father & daughter discussion – politics.
Life isn’t fair. It never was; it never will be. In the words of Karl Denninger,
“If you think life should be ‘fair’ then you may as well blow your own brains out right now, so as to return the sperm that won to the same state as the millions that lost.”
Feminism – See “Equality” above. Why women would stoop so low to equate themselves with men baffles me no end.
When Canadian soft despotism combines with feminism the result is a Toronto woman acquitted of killing boyfriend.
Global Warming / Climate Change – The failed Collectivists have found a new cause in which to mind other people’s business. After ‘global warming’ was exposed as a hoax, they seamlessly morphed the charade into ‘climate change’.
In The Enviro-Skeptic’s Manifesto Lew Rockwell writes, “All over Europe and the U.S., Marxists are joining the environmental movement. And no wonder: environmentalism is also a coercive utopianism – one as impossible to achieve as socialism, and just as destructive in the attempt.”
If meteorologists cannot predict weather beyond a week or so with any accuracy, how can the IPCC predict the climate years into the future? The Daily Bell writes, “the answer, of course, is that they cannot. Global warming/climate change is first and foremost a political exercise. The power elite wishes to use climate change to initiate a number of command-and-control policies.”
Qui Bono? Latin for “who benefits?” In other words, follow the money. I covered this in more detail in Beware Carbon Tax Hoax.
The rewards of these policies are unimaginable. The Collectivists get to stick their noses into everyone’s lives. Governments collect lucrative carbon taxes. The banksters reap commissions and obscene bonuses trading carbon credits and creating evermore derivatives based on them. Regulators push more Smart Meters on us. Globalists are one step closer to global government and the sheeple one step closer to Soylent Green with the principles carved into the Georgia Guidestones.
Australia, in a fit of sanity, is talking about ditching the carbon tax. Another leaked IPCC report shows the cost of so-called global warming has been overstated by a magnitude of ten. In fact, there hasn’t been any global warming for more than sixteen years. The ass media won’t report that of course; they’re fixated on pushing their climate porn.
There’s evidence to suggest methane-producing archaea called Methanosarcina rather than anthropogenic activity (man-made) may be responsible for past climate change. And, “Columbia University Is Spending Millions Of Tax Dollars On Fake Climate-Change
Death Voicemails.” Even the movie “Noah” reveals Hollywood’s underlying ‘warmist’ promotion and environmental agenda. There is no end to this bullshit.
You know that the ‘global warming / climate change’ isn’t science but an enviro-religion when
sceptics deniers are threatened with jail for treason and called immoral and criminally irresponsible. It’s nothing new. They threw Galileo in jail for questioning the so-called prevailing wisdom that the sun revolved around the earth.
Government intervention – Everything governments touch, turns to shit. They half-ass solve one problem and their solution creates several more. It justifies government’s existence.
Government economic intervention such as QE, stimulus, currency controls, etc. I’ve covered the insanity and failure of government economic meddling in numerous blog posts over the past seven years.
It’s not surprising that there are endless examples of government interference outside of economics. Robert Batemarco, writing for Mises.org lists, “The TSA and its privacy-violating “security theater,” NSA spying on law-abiding citizens, subsidized artwork of dubious value, a War on Poverty that generated numerous behaviors that perpetuated poverty, and a food pyramid that, when followed, seems to lead to more obesity rather than less, are just a few on a list that seems endless. In every one of these cases, people came to accept such programs that were not satisfying needs that were intrinsic due to the hype generated by court economists or court historians, or failing that, had them shoved down their throats by force.”
Government solutions – this is an oxymoron (contradiction of terms). Governments do not solve problems because government is the problem. Every problem they allegedly solve creates several more problems requiring more government solutions. The more problems governments create and allegedly solve, the larger government has to grow in order to solve these ever-increasing problems.
Political theatre is used to broadcast these so-called solutions and the ass media laps it up and regurgitates it widely. Take for instance U.S. spending bills. Congress holds themselves hostage pretending to debate their own spending bill which they inevitably pass but deliberately delay until the very last minute to heighten the drama.
CNN on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 10:08 PM reported that “Congress has narrowly averted a government shutdown that was to have taken effect at midnight. After the House approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep the government open through September, the Senate agreed to a two-day extension of current funding levels to give itself time to consider the House bill.”
Human Rights (Canada)
In Canadian ‘Human Rights” hearings the ‘accused’ is guilty until proven innocent.
Minimum Wage – is the triumph of political correctness over the law of supply & demand. When you raise the price of employment, you get less of it. Minimum wage laws create institutional unemployment, and hit the lowest skilled workers and the poorest the hardest.
There are always unintended consequences that result from government policies like rent controls or agricultural price supports. Controlling rents results in fewer available rental units. Supporting higher agricultural prices results in surplus produce.
Andy Sutton analyzed the minimum wage myth and summarized it as nothing more than a price control. He wrote, “…this gimmick is particularly appealing because we live in an instant gratification world…”
In a study of EU countries, Steve Hanke wrote “In the 21 countries with a minimum wage, the average country has an unemployment rate of 11.8%. Whereas, the average unemployment rate in the seven countries without mandated minimum wages is about one third lower — at 7.9%.” The effect is even more pronounced on those under 25 years of age.
The U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, in a 2006 report, “Minimum Wages and Employment: A Review of Evidence from the New Minimum Wage Research” summarized their findings: “The oft-stated assertion that recent research fails to support the traditional view that the minimum wage reduces the employment of low-wage workers is clearly incorrect.” Most of the papers they reviewed “point to negative employment effects”.
Mass media – aka Public Relations aka propaganda.
What Mark Twain said about the presstitutes of his day applies to all forms of the ass media today.
If it’s important, the ass media won’t report it.
Corollary: if the ass media reports it, it’s not important.
Analysis: they don’t lie so much as give you only a small part of the truth. To find the rest of it, you need to develop alternate news sources. Here are a few suggestions for alternate news.
Nations – The notion of the centralized, large-scale nation state is anachronistic and will eventually go the way of the dinosaur. We are seeing more and more separatist movements for the simple reason nations don’t work anymore.
I have often called governments evil, but I admit that’s an oversimplification. They’re too stupid to be evil. Charles Hugh Smith asks, “Why is our government so incompetent? Short answer: because incompetence has been fully institutionalized in every branch, every agency and every nook and cranny of both the visible state and the Deep State.”
Governments and nations are mindless entities that grow like cancer which makes them dangerous rather than evil. After the unification of Germany and the USSR collapsed, NATO expanded by adding former U.S.S.R. (Warsaw Pact) countries.
Imperial Washington hopes to establish military bases along Russia’s western flank and, according to Mike Whitney “to stop further economic integration between Asia and Europe, and to begin the long-sought goal of dismembering the Russian Federation.” Russia, with its vast resources, is the largest country in the world. Whitney writes, “The United States is in the opening phase of a war on Russia.” This is why nations are dangerously unhealthy to children and other living things.
Lew Rockwell wrote that leaders use nationalistic propaganda to “short-circuit rational thought and regress people to their unconscious and ancient fears, drives and instincts … One of the items in the long indictment against government is that it governs by appealing to the lowest urges, drives and instincts that human beings ordinarily keep under control, if not repress. One of the many ways government does this is by appealing to membership in a group called the nation that, in this era, is closely tied to the state, the nation-state.”
Anybody who believes we need nations, borders and armies to defend them has never studied Basque history which began long before Rome was just a village and outlived numerous empires and invaders since. Nations, on the other hand, eat their own children and citizens.
Here is an angry, but passionate speech about Anarchy.
Theodore Roosevelt broke up the large industrial monopolies then known as ‘trusts’ but who is capable of breaking up gargantuan governments? Small wonder why I Am an Anarchist.
Over-regulation – there are countless examples of over-regulation. Political correctness goes wild in New Zealand with Kids’ cake stalls closed. Contra Celsum wrote,
“Child entrepreneurs have had their food stalls shut down under Auckland Council food safety regulations … Biz Kids at The Plaza hold a monthly fair in the Whangaparaoa shopping mall. The event is designed to give children business experience and has attracted more than 30 enterprises run by kids as young as 7.” What the children learned instead is that it is impossible to run a small business in the face of soft despotism.
Fox News reports that in Chester, Pennsylvania, local officials are threatening to fine a woman who gives free lunches to local needy poor children $600 per day. “The township says she needs to go before a zoning board to ask for a variance, which would cost her up to $1,000 in administrative fees.”
And the Telegraph reported that “Fort Lauderdale police charge three men with breaking new law banning food sharing … Two pastors and a 90-year old man have been arrested for feeding the homeless in public.” These are examples of voluntary associations withering uner soft despotism.
Then there’s the Oregon man sentenced to 30 days in jail for collecting rainwater. Hazelwood, Missouri banned the selling of girl scout cookies in the front yards of the girls’ own homes. The U.S. Gestapo are even cracking down on lemonade stands. There are too many more such examples of soft despotism to list them all.
The Washington Examiner reported that 79,311 pages of new regulations were published in the U.S. Federal Register in 2013. It’s not even a record as it is only the fourth highest ever recorded. “Compliance with all of those rules and regulations comes at an immense cost, estimated by Crews at $1.9 trillion annually. That comes to more than $14,000 for every American household in higher prices for everything…”
There are many other areas infected by government over-regulation – far too many to list, so I’ll give you just one more example of idiocy: the new gas can safety spouts that are supposed to prevent spilled gas environmental hazards. Unfortunately, they spill more gas than the old style cans which is why people are hanging on to and hoarding old gas cans. Don’t get me started on low-water toilets that need to be flushed several times or mercury-filled light bulbs.
And, it’s not just governments guilty of soft despotism. Organizations of every stripe are infected. Look at the way the NFL has botched their personal conduct policies involving “assault, battery, domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse, other forms of family violence, or sexual assault” among its employees and players. How the hell did the NFL turn into police, judge, jury and executioner for activities having nothing whatsoever to do with football? Soft despotism creeps into everything.
Political correctness – this is the notion that it is possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end.
Political Parties – no countries’ constitution, bills or charters of rights endorse political parties whose purpose is to give the voters the illusion of choice. You have no choice (see ‘Voting’ below) when vested interests select the candidates that run for elections. Voters mistakenly believe they elect the government, but they only elect politicians. Governments at all levels are simply millions of bureaucrats unaffected by elections and rarely ever get fired.
Professional sports – especially televised sports, is pure diversion that turns your brain to mush. Cheering for your favourite team, according to Noam Chomsky is a “way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements — in fact, it’s training in irrational jingoism.”
Public Education Less than half of 12th-graders can read or do math proficiently. That headline sums up U.S. public education.
Same-Sex Marriage – Chuck Colson wrote “In Michigan, a homosexual man is suing two Christian publishers—Zondervan and Tyndale House—for $70 million dollars. Bradley Fowler claims they violated his constitutional rights and caused him ‘emotional distress’ by publishing versions of the Bible that call homosexuality a sin.” Presumably he’s suing the publishers because it might be a bit difficult convincing God to appear in court.
In granting same-sex marriage, government is transforming a pre-political institution into its own creation by claiming it has the ability to decide what constitutes marriage. In doing so, the state will need to create the social conditions to protect these unions. It will do so with public education propaganda and the coercive power of the police and courts against two institutions it sees as foes; the family and the church. Colson writes, “State-ordered gay ‘marriage’ is an attack, not only on legitimate marriage, but upon religious freedom and the freedom not to have one’s children indoctrinated into alien ideas about marriage.”
Voting – George F. Smith writes “If voting changed anything they’d make it illegal … But that’s unnecessary. Rather than make it illegal and cause a stir they simply screen out candidates that threaten the system.” What do you think happened to Ron Paul, the only honest politician in the U.S.A.?
One of my Political Science professors was asked which party he voted for. He replied, “I don’t vote; it only encourages the bastards.”
He’s right. The more people that vote, the more it legitimizes coercive government. The fewer people that vote, the more it reveals the futility of our political systems. That’s why politicians and their ass media handmaidens are constantly urging people to vote and crying about low voter turn-out.
Paul Rosen wrote, “The worst problem with politics is that it increases the obedience of the populace. The Blues always blame the Reds, the Reds forever blame the Blues, and everyone keeps right on obeying … But if we want things to be different, we must act to make them different. Politics shuts that down by making people think that talking is magic and passivity is a virtue … Politics has given them an attractive lie to believe in … Not only is this promise a rank superstition, but it also sidetracks people from actually changing their world.”
George Carlin explains why he doesn’t vote:
“I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,’ but where’s the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote — who did not even leave the house on Election Day — am in no way responsible for that these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created.”
George Carlin video below (Warning: foul language).
If you want to start changing the world; stop voting.
War is good for the economy – Washington’s Blog does an excellent job debunking this myth in Debunking the Widespread Economic Myth that War Is Good for the Economy.
A good analogy is the “Broken Window Fallacy”.
Democracy is dead, but you don’t need to be enslaved by soft despotism. The more soft despotism you uncover, the less likely you’ll be one of the sheeple that gets fleeced, then slaughtered. As Martin Armstrong wrote, “We face some hard times ahead because we in the West trust government way too much and they are failing before our eyes. They will attack the people and scream along with yelling before they will ever give up the slight grain of power. They never see the problem is them – it is always We the People. We can survive this if we at least understand what is happening.”
If you can think of more examples of soft despotism and what we can do to protect ourselves from it, please leave a comment below.
December 13, 2014
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Great article. I just want to write and say thank you. This post really rang true for me, for these are all things that I have noticed in society both north and south of the border, I am Canadian, and I had no idea there was a term to sum things up in such a way as soft despotism. Thanks this will be much easier to explain to people who are starting to wake up
I find it very frustrating these days with the lack of critical thinking skills by the masses and their complaisance to be steam rolled by government rather than have to put any thought into the reality of the situation. Really, it is pathetic, but I have also learned that waking up the masses must be done in baby steps. I realized this not long ago and got to thinking that. Myself, I have seen the signs most of my life and my mind is more conditioned than someone who thinks everything is fine. Well it dawned on me that these truths can be scary and shocking to people who have been asleep, and kind of now refer it to waking up a sleep walker. Always be careful how you wake a sleep walker for you can get some absurd reactions.
So thanks again and great blog
It is said that the most hopelessly enslaved are those who believe themselves to be free…
Too true, Paul. Where’d ya get that…?
Wasn’t that stated in one of our discussions?
If not, I may have stumbled across it on some forum somewhere. I think it was originally stated by von Goethe.
I guess it can be said that, “Terminally stupid are those who repost a thing from the beginning of an article.” LOL.
Anyway, I was elsewhere, and found something interesting. A commenter from a former communist country had this to say: “If you want to intimidate people, you become a cop or gangster. If you think your smart, you become a lawyer. If you think your smarter than everyone else, you become a politician.”
I think this explains the arrogance of public officials today quite well.
Don’t beat yourself up, Paul. You displayed a human bias few are aware; we retain the knowledge but almost immediately forget the source. Think about it from a survival value viewpoint. What’s more useful for our limited brains to retain: the knowledge or the source? Being chased down by a Sabre Tooth Tiger remembering who told you an escape method but you can’t remember what it was is unlikely to contribute to the gene pool.
I love that former Soviet perspective – typically Russian. It’s harsh, unabashedly down-to-earth and oh, so gloomy.
You’re correct to say that “this explains the arrogance of public officials today quite well.” Indeed, it does. It may well be part of the ‘Fourth Turning’, but the increasingly brazen, daylight robberies corrupting our economies with a paucity of persecutions are harbingers of stepped-up looting in the future; desperately grabbing all before collapse.
I’ve watched hubris and pride destroy people, organizations and countries for more decades than I care to admit. The worst of it is that it’s ultimately all for naught. In the end, the money, through great bloodshed, is returned to its rightful owners and we start all over again.
“Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” – Euripides
I think the worst part is knowing that 100% of what happens is on us. What I mean is that it is all completely avoidable and that we chose to take this road. We chose the ease and laziness of the short-term and sacrificed the long-term.
No God or Devil did this to us, it was purely our own actions. And yet, many people believe some god is going to clean up our mess…
Absolutely bang on, excellent points, Paul! “We have met the enemy and he is us!”
Don’t forget mankind’s propensity to self-deception and uncanny ability denying responsibility and finding a convenient enemy to blame. Yes, that’s why we invented the devil.
Theatre of the absurd! Rinse, repeat. So boring. I can’t understand why anyone intelligent or sane would want to live more than one lifetime.
You’re right, waking up the masses must be done in baby steps. And, the good news is that it IS happening albeit slowly. More people are aware today than seven years ago in September 2007 when I penned my first ‘Collapse’ article. There are more blogs like this and more people reading and watching them. Readers are leaving comments that lead to further articles. In person, there is less resistance when I bring up a subject that once produced quizzical looks.
The 1963 Milgram experiments are instructive. Professor Milgram’s objective was to “determine what percentage of people would willingly administer enough progressive electric shocks which would result in death simply based on the orders of a perceived authority.” This is explained in greater detail in this link:
Milgram expected that less than one percent would administer a fatal electric shock ordered by an authority figure, but he was stunned to discover that two thirds of the population or about 66% are zombies and will obey authority without question.
Conclusion: the most we can expect to awaken is about 34% so don’t be disappointed by the failures. There’ll be many.
Wow those are some shocking results, pun intended, to an interesting experiment. I guess I can be much easier on myself for not being able to get through to some people.
Thanks for the link
Read a book on inverted totalitarianism – “Democracy Incorporated” by Sheldon Wolin. Was a bit hard to get through at times, but felt I should read it as I was reading a lot of Chris Hedges at the time.
I enjoy Hedges’ writing style (and he seems to be a pretty good speaker to boot), but he’s very liberal-leaning and that can be hard for me to stomach. I’m not as anti-liberal as you seem to be, Gerold, but I really do dislike when people point the finger at everyone else and cannot make the time/effort to point the finger at themselves and see what they’ve done (or haven’t done) to contribute to the problem. Hedges sometimes seems particularly bad for this (it’s always the corporations’ fault!).
Save for children, there’s really nobody who’s “innocent” out there. Even more enlightened folks who frequent thought-provoking blogs such as these (or write them for that matter!) should make the effort to look in the mirror and consider what they did/didn’t do today that continues to support the (vile, decrepit, perverse, immoral, unfair, exploitative, inhumane, etc. – take your pick) world we live in. I would suggest most of us probably benefit from the corrupt imperialism of Western society, even if we bad mouth it daily and wish it would end/collapse.
Sometimes I wish I could just “walk away” from it all – but really, where/what do you walk away to? It seems like there’s nowhere to run/hide to, and everyone is facing a reckoning at some point in the near future.
You’re right GBV, I have no love for smug, fence-sitting liberal centrists who refuse to make the effort to determine what they are and so take the middle as a default position.
And, you’re right about innocence. Except for children, everyone’s culpability ranges from 1% to 99%. Never underestimate the human ability to deny personal responsibility.
Indeed, where to “walk away” from it all? Doug Casey’s retreat is in disintegrating Argentina and Jeff Berwick’s crumbling utopian Galt’s Gulch is in Chile (Chile’s ok it’s the Gulch that’s falling apart). You can run, but you can’t hide. I’ll stick with Canada’s eleven months of winter, igloo’s melting in summer and exposing us to our national bird, the mosquito.
Have you read much of Chris Hedges’ work? I thoroughly enjoyed Empire of Illusion and really thought Hedges was on-point; it was just disappointing that when given an opportunity to point out that the moral fabric of our society has eroded, he chose instead to point the finger at the corporations and blame them for (most) of humanities woes and inequities.
I also read his book, Death of the Liberal Class. While less enjoyable / entertaining than Empire of Illusion, he did make a strong argument for the need for the liberal class to serve as the leaders/mediators in creating acceptable compromise within the political spectrum and to avoid radical extremism.
Hedges also (rightfully) points out that today’s liberal class – “neo-liberals” if you will (Canadian Liberals & NDP? US Democratic Party?) – have been just as corrupted and corporatized as their neo-conservative brethren (truly, neither neo-conservatives nor neo-liberals seem to have any real values anymore, just corporate interests which they champion; big finance and corporations in the manufacturing/commodity/defense industries for the neo-cons and big communication & alternative energy industries, as well as others, for the neo-liberals). Thus they do not actually serve their purpose as a “steam valve” to release political pressure through compromise that benefits the electorate, but instead acting as corporate cheerleaders/sycophants who support corporate-friendly laws that in turn line the pockets of neo-liberals at the expense of the electorate.
Now, knowing you Gerold, I’m sure there’s a part of you that’s thinking “compromise is the slow train to Hell!”, in so much that many of the political compromises we’ve seen over the last few decades have been akin to “death by 1,000 cuts” to the we the electorate… and my libertarian-leaning conscience would agree with you were you to suggest it, for the most part. But there is another part of me (the little guy who reminds me to “pick my battles”?) that recognizes compromise can be a good solution, as long as it doesn’t overly disenfranchise any one person/group too severely and assuming some remedy is in place to allow balance to be achieved (e.g. the compromise is only temporary; something is given in return for something else to offset any ill-will by large groups of the electorate; a great deal of effort/responsibility must be demonstrated by those who benefit from said compromise; etc.).
Anyways, I guess my point was that even though I dislike Hedges’ finger pointing at corporations and his overly-liberal viewpoint, I thought he made a lot of good points and I certainly did learn something from both of his books. I just take a more libertarian viewpoint than he did and lay the blame at all of our feet for having lost the moral fabric of our society in the name of leisure / expediency, rather than blaming faceless corporations for everything that’s gone wrong.
Good points, GBV. Alas, classical liberalism is as dead as most other ‘isms’ having been co-opted and bought out by the ruling class. This is why I make the point in this article that it no longer matters who one votes for as they all lead down the road to perdition.
No, I haven’t read Hedges but if he advocates liberals counter-balancing the other extremes then I’d have to agree with him, but again from an historical perspective. Nowadays, no parties have principles or honor. All parties have are interests; getting into power, staying in power and serving those who pay them with worthless cash and empty promises.
One only has to look at the partisan bickering going on in most Western countries to see the failure of the liberal counter-balance. Read comments on popular sites like MarketWatch or Zero Hedge and you’ll see acerbic attacks by both sides against each other. Democrats blame Republicans. It’s either all Bush’s fault or all Obama’s fault. There’s no longer any middle ground for the liberals to take pot-shots from the flanks.
This makes it easier for our owners to push their agendas on us. I spent an inordinate amount of criticism in the article on Thomas Piketty because it was becoming obvious that our rulers are pushing the “inequaltity’ meme whose purpose is to justify increased taxes on the ‘rich’ most of whom are small business owners (the REAL job creators) – the super-rich are our rulers and their off-shore wealth and tax breaks will exempt them, of course. Now I came across the same bullshit from Washington’s Blog, “Inequality In U.S. Today Is Worse than in Apartheid South Africa or 1774 Slaveholding Colonial America … and TWICE As Bad As In Ancient Slaveholding Rome”
I used to respect that blog, but I see he’s now drunk the Kool-Ade.
“I’m dismayed to have only recently learned about soft despotism because I’m a Political Science major…”
And that is why even colleges are limited in their teachings. The most useful part of my college experience was access to the library, since college libraries have books that public libraries do not. School teaches only one thing – that we can learn. It doesn’t teach us what we need though. For that, one needs independent thought, which is normally despised by society.
I actually greatly disliked my political science classes (I took a few for my international studies minor), because in the first one I took, we had to participate in either a 1)Human rights, 2) Feeding the hungry, or 3) Environmental campaign. I philosophical disagreed with them all, but had to do one (Because of the dependency aspect). It was most uncomfortable. Plus, most of the PS professors felt they understood all the world’s problems, which they clearly didn’t, and that put me at odds with them.
Although, ironically, I learned about soft despotism while working at a desk as in your slavery picture. Because, you know, you have to sit at your desk 8 hours a day, even if you got all your work done. Because you know, efficiency, which no one has heard of apparently.
Paul, I can see why you dislike Poli Sci having to participate in either a 1) Human rights, 2) Feeding the hungry, or 3) Environmental campaign. I’d have puked at all three choices. Your profs obviously drank the Kool-Ade. I was fortunate to have attended a radical little university which, unfortunately, has since succumbed to Collectivist idiocy like most others. I’ve long said I learned more outside the class than inside.
Public school teaches us how to learn which is useful as we’ll spend the rest of our lives learning. University (humanities, liberal arts, etc.) teaches us HOW to think because we’ll be told WHAT to think for the rest of our lives, so knowing HOW to think (skepticism, critical analysis, independent thought, etc.) is important to be able to see through the crap.
You’re right; independent thought, is despised by society – both by so-called leaders who hate being exposed and the sheep who fear having their silly illusions shattered. That I’ve been able thumb my nose at both for so long amazes me.
Yet another highly enjoyable article. Thanks.