Saturday, September 02, 2006

The shepherd and the sheep: a modern fairy tale

The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.
- Stendal (Marie Henri Beyle), novelist (1783-1842)

For those of us who have no idea what this quotation is about, it's allegorical. The shepherd doesn't really haved quiet little chats with each of his sheep while the rest are grazing. The sheep are people and the shepherd their leader, as in many allegorical stories that we call nursery rhymes.

Remember when Beyle lived, so you won't get the idea that this man with the pseudonym is referring to US President George W. Bush.

For the leader's interests and the interests of the followers to be the same, the leader must give a feeling of unity among the group. The easiest and most dependable way of deriving unity of purpose and of cause among people is to make them fear a common enemy. If necessary, an enemy may be created from nothing, just to serve the purpose.

The Cold War was an example of such contrived enemy-making. The US and the USSR, neither of whom wanted anything to do with another war and both of whom wanted to strengthen the power of their countries both politically and financially around the world, created the appearance of enemy of the other. The nuclear weapons and the rhetoric were all parts of the show.

It worked, although the two entered a poker war in which the USSR finally went bust. And, to the great joy of the USA, "democracy succeeded." In fact, the USA does not have a true democracy any more than the USSR had a system of communism. Political ideology was also part of the act. Russia's political system today varies little from the communist system of the USSR, though the candidates in elections are more numerous because more have been approved by the establishment to give the appearance of greater democracy.

What happens now, when the US doesn't have a pretend competitor with whom to have a quiet war? The US has entered into real wars and is heading for the same financial disaster as the USSR suffered--$2 billion dollars per day for the Middle East conflicts alone, much of it coming from borrowings.

Leaders don't like to change course. They remain, just as Saddam did, until their final curtain call. Notice how President Bush and Prime Minister Blair spout basically the same propaganda slogans today as they did before they entered Afghanistan. However, this time the enemy (who is only an enemy because the US declared it so) is terrorism, which exists in every Muslim population, as the US and its allies are quick to point out.

The US is not at war with Islam, President Bush has declared many times. It is at war with terrorism, which just happens to exist in every situation where Muslims exist in large numbers.

The US is led by a man whose largest support base is fundamentalist Christians.

In politics, every instance of coincidence should be questioned because they are very seldom accidents.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help people tell the difference.
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