If you ever feared your next decade is not going to be interesting to write political/mind shifting/mind blowing SF: think again!
In the 1950’s we had nuclear power, the communist threat and space rockets. In the 1960’s it was nuclear war. In the 1970’s it was drugs. In the 1980’s? Hmm. Cyberpunk.
The 2000’s? Hmm… Post Cyberpunk? Distopian stories about corporations and nano-tech gone wild?
I am writing a set of stories with freedom as an underlying theme. These stories investigate what freedom is, what makes you think you are free, how far you can stretch this sense of freedom and that no system is absolutely perfect, meaning that any and all systems will have people feeling trapped and imprisoned.
Then I started asking myself things about revolutions. Why does it happen? Why do people wait so long? How is it possible that crazy stuff like fascism and Nazi Germany happens? (And while I write this post, the thing with the Greek fascists / neo nazis)
Starting the revolution
Here is a thing I have been working on in the past 4 months: what does it take to start a revolution? And what does it take to suppress one?
- Hunger – Apparently hunger is a good reason. When the population starts to feel the crisis in their stomach, the population will rise
- Deaths – When too many people die, that is another good reason. Because when enough people die, it starts to get close. But they have to be of your own kind.
- Murdering kittens and babies – The same people that eat cow- and pigs meat will revolt when you post hours and hours of kitten-snuff movies. We can not stand innocent cuteness to be murdered.
- Destroying art – In other cultures, the destruction of art might be the starting point. Unfortunately, art is not really appreciated anymore in most “civilized” countries. Hence the previous kittens (and babies), which is the “new art”.
- Nothing to lose – People who have nothing to lose are the most dangerous ones
- Education – The better educated, the more free-thinking a person is, the easier it is to break loose of fictional bonds. “Good” education here means everything that makes a well-rounded person. Including self-discovery: “who am I? What do I want? For real?”
- Food – Feed the people. Full bellies are happy people
- Dependencies – Create dependencies and fears to lose what is dear. These can be false securities. Best is to make them long-term before you answer them. Dependencies can be jobs and job-related. Insurances, pensions and so on. “Revolt and you will lose more than is dear to you”
- Fake security – As long as things do not happen to you, why bother?
- Bullshit belief systems – We are able to believe everything as long as there are enough people to support that system. It will be fun to make up some crazy shit, make a whole country believe and reap the benefits. In a story naturally.
- False information – Own the news and you own your country. You can claim scientific research to be false. You can silence specific voices. You can declare people crazy.
What we stand:
- Inequality – For some reason there is no loud outcry when some people are more equal than others (assuming you read: “Animal Farm” by Orwell). Who cares people die of cancer and obesity? Who cares certain chemicals can be the source of a lifetime of allergic reactions, skin rashes and asthma? As long as it does not happen in my family. And when it happens in my family, I am probably one of the very few in this world.
The velvet oligarchies/dictatorships
An oligarchy is a form of dictatorship where only a few rule and define the rules for the many. There is no democratic process.
“Velvet” means that there is:
- The sense of happiness and safety – The people in general feel “happy” and “safe”. Even when there is more police on the street than people, this gives mostly a feeling of increased safety as they are always after the other. The one that breaks the law.
- The sense of justice and consent – that there is a sense of “justice” behind all actions. Something that looks like a collective consent. “Sure you can arrest and fine someone for saying the word ‘Fuck’ in public, because we have laws against swearing”.
- No direct reason to fear your government – Meaning that “crimes” are very easy to avoid when you are aware of them
You can create the worst kind of police/control-state while still give the people the feeling that everything is OK. “As long as you abide to the rules”. These rules need to be “just”, meaning that they only limit the freedom of people who commit “crimes” that do not affect the people at large.
So if you want to do this and be like Fidel Castro and rule for decades AND have people weeping at your casket when you are dead (for real and not hired for money) then assure these three basic things. Be soft, gentle and completely ruthless.
Making the oligarchy/dictatorship work
To have (a voice in any) a oligarchy/dictatorship — I guess — you need:
- Money – Like a lot. Like billions. Like “I represent a multinational that earns more than an entire country” kind of money.
- Your spokes-people – It is possible you are not directly represented as a party. So you need someone who voices your opinions. Who gets your ideas on the table. People you either buy or inject.
To be able to pull it off, you can not be a normal person. You need at least the following qualities:
- Narcissism – It is all about you. Who cares people die of cancer because of your works? Or lose their jobs and their houses and need to live in tents due to one of your decisions?
- Sociopathic tendencies – Yes: your decisions will influence millions. And yes: you still need to be able to sleep. So to see people die and know you are partially responsible, should not affect you. Instead: it is really useful when you can detach that entirely from yourself.
- Disattachement from reality – This can be a strong belief in something someone made up like: “if you die of poverty, that is entirely your own fault”. Some external force also does good: “It was gods will your village got swept away by that flood.” Mostly to help not feel responsible.
- A good story – It helps a lot when you have a good story that convinces enough people to continue to not drop you. This story has to be believeable, not true. You can lie all you want, as long as it is done properly.
To rule your country or continent, you need:
- The media – When you do stuff, you need to make sure people do not find out. They are probably less than you (as Aristotle so nicely pointed out in his “Politics” where the working people were considered “of lower birth” and without virtues, evil, antagonists to reason) but still they can be powerful when they unite.
- The law – What is a ruling by the few when you do not have the law on your side? Sure you need to assure that when someone of the commoners does something that might harm you (like leaking information or telling the people at large that you really suck) you can suppress them. Shut them up.
- More money – Taxes is one way, if you own the government, but selling good is also a good way. You can keep that money flowing by increasing the buying moments. For instance by selling cheap crap that breaks down in one to five years: for good prices.
To divert the revolution you need:
- Some bullshit belief – Invest in things like nazism, fascism, religion. Divert the shit. Make it broken. The worst enemy of any oppressive force is where people start to think and unite and build something that is social and based on equal eights and that actually works.
- Diversion – See “Some bullshit belief”
- Misinformation – See “Diversion”
- War amongst the suppressed – See “Diversion” and “misinformation”. Make two or more groups hate each other, for instance: make the low-income people hate the unemployed or the immigrants. By this hate you derail the possible solutions they might be able to come up with. More importantly: they are so busy fighting each other they will not fight you.
What starts the revolution?
First it helps what does not:
- The awareness of inequality – Who cares? Life is already hard. Marx was a communists, Bakoenin is long dead and you see what happened to Russia.
- The awareness of misconduct – When people die on the work-floor or not get paid enough, this will maybe lead to strikes, when the lobby is strong enough towards the unions. Then the unions will sit with the culprits and work out some deal. Then people will go back to work. And maybe something will change.
You can milk an entire population. You can ride that gravy train of taxes and increase in prices for a long while. As long as people are able to feed themselves, keep their houses, keep their jobs, keep their sense of security and safety.
If people would really be beasts, primitives, no law and no misconduct would be stand. Companies who treat their people like they are disposable (as used to happen in mining-companies where safety measures were usually delayed and people were underpaid to safe money on all accounts) people would revolt long before their current boiling point. You would not take that suck-ass boss who treats you like dirt. Even the slightest sense of misconduct would lead to murder and death. Things would probably much more democratic as they usually are, because if you would step over some line, you would probably end up dead. Or badly hurt.
Unfortunately people have been conditioned to accept a lot of mistreatment. Starting at school, where you are supposed to be obedient. Be a rule-breaker and you probably end up in all kinds of troubles. Be the obedient good kid and you get good grades and probably also good recommendations.
The same goes for work. Nobody needs people who create trouble. You need people who to their job.
- Nothing to lose– Mentioned earlier. People who already lost everything or people willing to risk it all, will probably have less inhibits to stand up against injustice. It is the kind of position where it is easy to say: “fuck you, this is as far as it goes. I will stop this here and now”.
- Zen state of mind – Buddha was all about this kind of shit. When you learn and feel what you want, your chains are already broken. India back then was very much a slave-society. Figure it out what it means to “release yourself from your own suffering”.
- Artists, rebels and revolutionaries – Some artists are willing to go beyond. To make art more important than anything else, including house, health and safety. When their art is a different and “better” vision of the future, the artist can become a rebel and when the rebel gets enough following: a revolutionary.
- Survivors – When your life is fucked over by others, again and again and again, it can kind of created this Zen state of mind: where there is nothing more to lose. Where your own core belief is the only thing standing and you will go for that. (Note: most people are simply happy they survived. Only a few will really step up.)
- Hunger and inequality – Once people start to feel it, things become relevant.
- Death and inequality/injustice – So your brother, your uncle and your grand-father were killed while on the job, in crappy labor conditions? You might be next? And this could have been prevented only if…?
- A vision – Angry people are just angry people. Without a vision they are just an angry mob looting shops. But what if there is something to fight for? What if there is something good at the end of the line? Something that ends the suffering? What if all that anger can be directed, pointed at one collective goal (for the better of the whole)?
Why do we wait so long?
Here are some possible factors:
- We do not know any better – All of our lives we have been in one or another system looking like this. Our family system, our schooling system, our working environment. It is “normal” to be mistreated, abused and told to shut up when we have an opinion. We do not know how a better world can work. We do not know how to work together and make things better.
- We are trained to be submissive – To rebel is not really endorsed. Not in your Church and your religion. Not in your years of education. Not in the years after. Not when you grow up. To have your own ideas is dangerous. It is going against your teachers. It is rebellion.
- We believe others will solve the problem for us – If we wait long enough, someone might come and fix it. This is how it works anyway, is it not: you tell everyone your problem, maybe even share how worried you are about it all, sit back and wait until it is fixed.
- We think it will change for the better – This is just a temporary phase. It will pass. Tomorrow things will be different. And if not: the next week, the next year.
- We do not know how to organize – We are used to compete mostly. To raise our voice, to be right. To bypass others. To win. It is easier to speak than to listen. It is easier to complain than to organize.
- We are mislead and lied to – “Sure we will fix this”. “Tomorrow it will be better”. “It is actually the fault of others”. “X, Y and Z are to blame”.
- We do not have the full information – Think censorship here. Lies, bullshit generators. “Own the media and you own the country”.