by Butler Shaffer
I have come to the conclusion that imperialism and exploitation are forms of cannibalism and, in fact, are precisely those forms of cannibalism that are most diabolical or evil. – Jack D. Forbes
Recent events across the carnival of hokum midway make evident the nature of political systems, contradicting the articles of faith inculcated into the minds of the young by the state priesthood (i.e., civics class pedagogues). That some amorphous collective known as “We the people” own and direct the agency enjoying a legal monopoly on the exercise of violence across a nation has become a laughable proposition.
The pretense that competition for control of the machinery of state power has been vested in “the people” is often seen in the realpolitick of state action. The process by which popular sovereignty is supposedly exercised (i.e., “democracy”) is not as complete as might appear. The election of Donald Trump to the presidency has made increasing numbers of Americans aware of the existence of the “deep state.” Unelected and unidentified government officials’ power to thwart the results of a duly-constituted election has begun to awaken the suspicions of the dullest minds. While the votes were still being counted, and before the new president had even taken the oath of office, these hidden forces were already speaking of the need to impeach Mr. Trump! That no legal grounds could be found for doing so only increased the intensity, and absurdity of trumped up (pardon the pun) claims against him! The heretofore unasked question “who runs the government” began to blossom within passive minds.
Popular efforts by the electorate to create, amend, or repeal constitutional provisions or statutes are often met with judicial declarations of their unconstitutionality. Rarely is the question asked: if “the people” are the sovereign political authority, why is their collective will subject to judicial preemption? The same question applies to the charge that people ought not “take the law into their own hands.” Whose hands are to manipulate the machinery of state power if not the purported owners thereof?
As long as inquiries into the nature of political systems extend no further than exploring their “deep state” implications (i.e., the covert organizational framework, and persons – be they elected or appointed officials or career bureaucrats who constitute the government-within-the-government) they will never get to the core of the problems they pose to human well-being. They will tend to be seen, rather, as flaws to be remedied within the system itself by “responsible” men and women; the kinds of reforms criticized by Frank Chodorov as wanting to “clean up a brothel and yet leave the business intact.” It is the nature of the state itself, including the identity of the persons who own and control its operations, that requires focused, in-depth examination.
I have no quarrel with those who engage in “deep state” inquiries: indeed, such efforts are a good place to start to help people understand the inherently deceitful and corrupt nature of all political systems. A resilient state can withstand the embarrassment of its short-term defects being made public. It may even enhance its trustworthiness by creating remedies and punish wrongdoers in the expectation of making changes to ensure that “problems like this never happen again.” This oft-recited mantra has become words of assurance to reinforce Boobus’s faith in the system that is systematically destroying mankind!
I have almost completed another book – titled “Please Don’t Feed the Cannibals! A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Zoo” – in which I explore the nature of political systems from a perspective never taught in a political science classroom. Borrowing from Plato’s three-part characterization of political society being comprised of the “men of gold, men of silver, and men of brass;” I treat these classes less glamourously as the Cannibals, the Vultures, and the Zombies. At the top of this pyramidal structure reside the Cannibals, whose lives and interests are sustained by consuming the energies of the Zombies, who have little or no control over the system, and who have been conditioned to be but resources for the Cannibal class. Between these two classes are the Vultures, whose roles are also to serve the Cannibals, but in controlling and providing the Zombies for the Cannibals. In the Vulture class are to be found politicians, judges, career bureaucrats, members of the mainstream media, military, many church officials, teachers and academicians, members of the entertainment industry, writers, and numerous others, all of whom derive their incomes and social status from helping to shape the minds and control the bodies of the subservient Zombies.
Why are entertainers included in the Vulture category? A brief examination of the television and Hollywood film industries reveal their connections to serving the cannibalistic state. Early Greek and Roman mythology spoke of nine goddesses – the muses – who inspired artistic, scientific, speculative thinking, and other creative expressions. Poets, painters and sculptors, musicians, and philosophers, were among the better known occupations whose creative works were said to have been inspired by the muses. But creativity produces change, and change is quite upsetting to the established order’s preferences for the status quo.
The entertainment industry’s function is to provide products that amuse people. The word “amuse” finds its meaning in how the word is organized: “a-muse,” to be without the creative spirits, the inspirations provided by the muses. Entertainment produces minds willing to be maintained in a passive state, their energies diverted from the focused, hard work associated with creative pursuits. When entertainers are separated from the scripts others have prepared for them to follow, they rarely have much of importance to say.
Another branch of the entertainment industry, sporting events, has been taken over by the state’s war-making racket. In addition to the presence of military color-guards, the playing of the national anthem has raised the contrived issue of whether players should stand, or be allowed to kneel, during its performance. “Oh, the disrespect by those who refuse to stand!” Perhaps the most vulgar – if not sociopathic – institutional expression celebrating war I have recently seen is in Northwestern University’s football uniforms. Running from helmets to the players’ shoes, the uniforms are one blood- splattered American flag. Why no one seems to have suggested that a show of patriotism need not be incorporated into every public event, and that the conflict could easily be resolved by not having color-guards and Star-Spangled Banners preceding such events, is another example of the problems that can arise by asking the wrong questions. Eating at restaurants, or attending a movie theater, are not accompanied by these symbols of statism.
Other celebrity entertainers have been quick to abandon the civilizing sentiments that otherwise make life peaceful and decent. It is the advantages associated with public fame that allows many of them to blithely speak of killing Donald Trump, blowing up the White House, or prancing across a stage with a mock-up of Trump’s severed head. That so little moral contempt has been expressed by those conditioned to laugh or applaud the performances of these people, tells much about the state of our culture.
The roles of most teachers, academicians, and make-believe journalists are essentially the same: to condition and reinforce the belief in the necessity for children and adults to accept the political arrangement for living “responsible” lives. “Obedience to institutionally constituted authority” is the premier article of faith in our politically dominated world.
First century AD Roman Emperor, Tiberius, was neither the first nor the last political authority to bring the violent collective force of the state down upon those whose creative acts might have threatened the status quo. The writer, Petronius, informs us of an inventor who appeared before Tiberius to demonstrate a form of flexible glass he had created. Impressed by what he had seen, the emperor asked the inventor whether anyone else knew of his creation and, when told “no,” Tiberius ordered the man to be immediately beheaded, concerned that his creation might generate adverse consequences to certain members of the Roman economy. Modern inventors need not fear decapitation for their genius nor, as Ayn Rand suggested, be burned at the stake for having discovered how to start fire. Instead, the often multimillion dollar expenses of satisfying government regulatory and testing standards before being allowed to market their creations, often force inventors to abandon their undertakings, or to sell them to already established firms. Preston Tucker and John DeLorean, as well as Nikola Tesla and Wilhelm Reich, Lenny Bruce, Timothy Leary, and Ezra Pound have been the more recent persons to be victimized by the state – with some being imprisoned – for daring to challenge the status quo boundaries of permitted creative work. Perhaps the First Amendment was intended, by the Founders, as a protection for the broadest then known forms of expressing the ideas, sentiments, and other products of free minds essential to human well-being. Might these men have understood, at least implicitly, that civilizations are created by individuals, and destroyed by collectives?
Yet another branch of the entertainment industry essential to inculcating popular belief in the necessity for state power is political elections. Held with sufficient frequency (e.g., every two years) to reinforce the democratic illusion that “the people” are in control of the state, the meaningfulness of the “choices” individuals make in a voting booth are akin to selecting “paper or plastic” at the grocery store checkout counter. Or at least such was the case until 2016.
Elections are an enterprise owned and operated by the Owners of the political establishment. While necessary to keep the Zombies believing they are in control of the system that few of them genuinely trust or want in their lives, the political classes are not so naïve as to allow decision-making over trillions of dollars of wealth to be left to the whims of voters. The attitudes toward the public shared by those who sit comfortably atop the pyramid of power are no secret. Many have openly referred to those they pretend to represent as “the deplorables,” “excrement,” or “freeloaders” for objecting to having to pay higher levels of taxation. And why not? Who should respect persons who make their lives, the lives of their children, their wealth and liberty subservient to the interests of those who rule them by force?
And thus do we witness the spectacle of elections as a permanent and dominating feature of our social life. As soon as one election is over, politicians, and members of the media and so-called “think-tanks,” begin speculating about the next one: who will be the candidates and what will be the issues. The real task of conducting elections will be left to the Owners and key officials of the two political parties, who will select a few safe candidates acceptable to these special interests and from whom the voters will be permitted to make “their” selections. This clique will then begin to flesh out the “issues” that will induce members of the “boobeoisie” to erect yard signs on their front lawns, place bumper-stickers on their cars, and traipse to the polls where they will receive an “I voted” sticker that provides them social approval.
This system has well served the Owners’ interests until 2016. The Willie Horton make-believe issue that sufficed to elect George H.W. Bush to office was improved upon by Barack Obama’s 2008 candidacy to be the first black president and, in 2012 by Hillary Clinton’s opportunity to become the first woman elected to the White House. We may never know whether the Owners were grooming a subsequent openly gay candidate for that office, to be followed, perhaps, by a transgender offering; for Donald Trump had the audacity to think that he could participate in the democratic process without having the permission of the Owners. The idea that the American political system could function on genuinely democratic lines, with the “deplorables” and “excrement” getting to generate their own presidential candidate, has left the Owners and their sycophantic bootlickers terrified.
If you are wondering why the hard-core political classes, members of the mainstream media, academia, the entertainment industry, and others who have been constant defenders of the established order remain in the kind of tizzy that borders on insanity, you need to ask the question: who owns the state? The Cannibal interests and the Vulture classes who have for so many years dominated and consumed mankind are in retreat from the empowered Zombies. Is it only an idle coincidence that films about zombies and the “living dead” are now so popular?
I am not a Trump supporter: I disagree with so many of his policies – particularly in matters economic, military, regulatory, and policing. But I am thoroughly enjoying the robust manner in which he has been rattling the establishment cages. The erstwhile Owners truly do not know what they are up against – just as I suspect Mr. Trump does not fully grasp the nature of the forces that drive his supporters. Be it sufficient to know that the Owners don’t have a speck of concern for the consequences of the ersatz “problems” of which they daily babble and scribble to a public increasingly weary of their concocted charades. But be equally aware that the Owners are more desperate than you can imagine to be restored to the fiefdom that only you can deny them. As is always the case in dealing with the political classes: watch every move!
Butler Shaffer [send him e-mail] is Professor Emeritus at Southwestern University School of Law. He is the author of the newly-released In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918–1938, Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival, and Boundaries of Order. His latest book is The Wizards of Ozymandias.