From Hitler to Pharaoh
Jared Diamond, in his book “Guns, Germs and Steel”, asks the question; what happens to the losers of tribal warfare? His answer is that it depends on the density of the population and the technical/civilizational level.
In lands sparsely populated by hunter-gatherers, the losers are driven from the land. The exiles must flee elsewhere for game and foraging. They in turn tend to exile other inhabitants of the lands they invade. I call this the “Jackson solution”, after Andrew Jackson, founder of the Trail of Tears.
In lands moderately populated by subsistence farmers, the losers are massacred. They need the land too much to simply abandon it and survive; and the victors lack the power to keep the losers under control, except by killing every man, woman and child. I call this the “Hitler solution”, for its finality.
In lands thickly settled by established civilizations, the losers are enslaved. They stay on the land and are allowed to live, but must labor unpaid for the winners, who keep them under control. I call this the “Pharaoh solution”, after a well-known enslaver.
The Jackson solution is simple savagery; the Hitler solution is barbaric cruelty; the Pharaoh solution is civilized oppression. These three solutions apply within civilization, to the criminal law. The British used exile (to the Colonies, and later to Australia) when they had land to exile people to; the death penalty is the barbaric final solution; and imprisonment is another name for slavery.
The Romans attempted a fourth solution to the problem of society’s losers; bread and circuses. The theory is that it’s easier and cheaper to keep the proles fed and distracted than to stuff them into prisons; for if the proles think they’re free, then they won’t cause trouble.
A modern version of this would combine the dole with video entertainment; I call it the “Welfare Matrix”. I imagine the Welfare Matrix this way; each day the losers enter cyberspace; there they battle demons and bureaucrats, and thus earn game-points, which can be traded for food, clothing, shelter and other goods and services. The Welfare is just enough to live on, if you spend all your time in the Matrix.
Recently we have seen a global shift from Hitler to Pharaoh. The Cold War was all about the politics of genocide. We were all of us, man woman and child, constantly in fear of death by incineration. This infernal threat was pseudo-justified by the most devilish of excuses; namely that it was all the other guy’s fault. America played Hitler to Russia, and Russia played Hitler to America; thus they excused each other’s barbarism. Really it was a perverse alliance of mutual abuse; but in the end Gorbachev ruined the whole evil game by walking away.
I distinctly recall being promised a ‘peace dividend’; a promise which, like moon colonies, never materialized. Instead we have seen the emergence of a global oligarchy; a 1% over-class secure in its privileges, and immune to all law. They don’t plan to kill us, at least not quickly; they just want to keep on top, at all costs; a cost that the 99% shall pay. They justify their crass exploitation by a self-image of inherent superiority. In their godlike perfection, they need never change their ways, except to worsen them; for their wealth and power shields them from the consequences of their cruelty, greed and idiocy. The 1% never corrects an error because they do not know themselves capable of error.
So planet Earth has gone from a Hitlerian Cold War to a Pharaonic New World Order. It’s progress of sorts, from barbarism to empire. Tinpot godlings are a lesser evil than nuclear demons; but we, the 99%, remain losers.
The question I put to you, dear reader, is; what will winning look like? What will be the shape of our liberation? For the 1% will fall; their immunity from consequence is painful to us but will ultimately be fatal to them. Reality will not be denied; that is the doom of all lies, and all empires. Hitler’s thousand years was twelve; and Pharaoh too fell.
My dream is democracy; rule by the people. How do we get there?