March 10, 2014

Between Global Tyranny And Anarchy - Where Do You Stand?

by Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2014

There are many rich and powerful people throughout the world, especially in the fields of politics, business, and religion, who work very hard to undermine Humankind's ability to think clearly and independently. Being skeptical, using reason and logic, and placing high value on scientific knowledge are portrayed as threats to the well-being of members of the working class, whose votes and support they need, to the nation, to the national culture, and sometimes to the whole of civilization. What they fear most, however, is the harm critical independent thinking may do to their maintaining and increasing their power and wealth. Conservative political, economic, and religious leaders in the US and elsewhere have developed and perfected a way of undermining such freethinking - plant seeds of doubt about science and couple this with their peculiar notions of patriotism and freedom, as explained in the above article.

This is not a new approach. That is, the use of governmental and economic power (including the use and threat of military force) combined with religious indoctrination to subdue and exploit people and their resources has many historical precedents. In the West, for example, a version of it was adopted as the 19th century strategy for the European colonization of Africa. Those who governed, owned the deep coffers of commerce, and purveyed the Christian religion in Europe, pushed their way into Africa, justified and emboldened by their conviction of the superiority of their values, beliefs, behaviors, and technology.

Beginning in the mid-1800s and continuously and tirelessly for the next fifty years, European businessmen, soldiers, administrators, and missionaries, often in a coordinated or mutually-supportive manner, began directing and controlling the minds, lives, and destinies of all the East-Central Africans upon whom they forced themselves. They also imposed their will upon other East-Central Africans whose leaders aided, abetted, and profited from the European incursion. Indigenous freethinking, skepticism, and resistance to the destruction of their way of life on the part of the Africans, not to mention their aspirations, hopes and dreams, were dealt with through European laws and institutions, religious disdain and ridicule, and land and natural resource usurpation. When the Europeans deemed it necessary for achieving their purposes, they also mounted brutal military "pacification" or "punitive" campaigns against the less-powerfully armed Africans.

This strategy worked in almost every case and its legacy remains in Africa. The powerful manipulative influences of Western-style governance, social Darwinistic extractive capitalism, unashamed and unabashed militarism, and Christianity remain. However, at "Independence" these methods of colonial tyranny were passed to, accepted, and have since been wielded by African leaders against their compatriots. If you do not support the full agenda of the tyrannical majority in political, economic, and religious power in many sub-Saharan countries, you are labelled as unpatriotic or rebellious.  If you persist you are "dealt" with in a manner commensurate with the heinousness of your "transgressions." At the same time, indirect yet very powerful influences remain securely ensconced in the hands of the powerful and wealthy inhabitants of the governmental and financial capitals of the West. These are the cultural descendants of those who a century and a half ago initiated this strategy of tyranny and who continue to provide succor to African leaders who "cooperate" with them.

Almost everywhere on the continent those who espouse freethinking, press and speech freedom, skepticism, dissent, and scientific secularism are told to abandon their efforts. They are declared to be power-hungry, evil profiteers bent on undermining the nation and its cultures. And if you do not acquiesce to the majority's "benign," rightful, and righteous tyranny you will almost certainly incur the wrath of the rich and powerful who control government, business, and religion.

Somewhere between such forms of tyranny at one extreme and anarchy at the other is a better worldview and way of life. Specifically, there is a slowly emerging global morality and world order that values democracy, preserves a wholesome blend of conservatism and liberalism, and, most important of all, provides a strong and lasting atmosphere of freedom with responsibility and accountability. Such a path tolerates diversity and dissent and encourages and protects free, scientific secular thought, legitimate public discourse and debate, and reasoning. A viable, sustainable life for each individual, society, and Humankind as a whole is only possible if we work to find, promote, and defend this enlightened humanistic middle ground. It is a necessary human-enhancing and Earth-stewarding way of life that is under attack around the world by the very powerful conservative, self-serving elite who wield political, commercial, and religious power. Even those in politics, business, and religion with the best of intentions toward Humankind and the planet, and there are many such persons, must have their ideas and actions scrutinized and questioned.  No person or ideology, no matter how powerful or influential, is infallible or beyond improvement.

The article linked above is a good example of how powerful and wealthy conservatives in the US are successfully implementing their form of tyranny. Are similar efforts underway in your country? If so, are the rich and powerful using some of the same tactics - being mindful of their admiration and past wholesale importation of Western political, military, economic, and religious beliefs and behaviors?

In response to such tyranny you as an individual can either remain passively neutral, totally support them, or skeptically scrutinize very closely all of their words and actions - political, commercial, and religious - and call them out on their efforts to establish mental or social tyranny over you. If you have taken the first option you are not fulfilling your responsibility as a citizen. If you have chosen the second option or fear choosing the third option you have sadly already become a victim of tyranny. Where do you stand?

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