Citizen or Subject
Profit and Tax
Parable of Cows
Chapter 11: How They Govern
Footnote: My Imaginary Friend
I am one of the elite - one of the favoured few. But I am also only human. I do not have the power within me to contain and exploit an entire nation. I need the help of an omnipotent omnipresent imaginary friend who can keep the people in obedient fear of certain damnation.
There is an ancient text that is well-known to my national culture and civilization. It claims to be the unique record of a category of knowledge that is beyond the reach of the human mind and senses. It comprises the laws and prophecies of an omnipotent Being. It was revealed by this Being to an exclusive handful of select individuals called prophets. They either wrote his words themselves or spoke them to scribes who then wrote them. With the passage of time, what this elite few wrote became revered as a sacred text.
The only evidence of its authenticity is contained within itself. Its authority is its antiquity. It became translated into many languages. It became adopted by many different variants of a major world religion. The ancient text, of which I speak, is the Judeo-Christian Bible. There are, of course, other sacred texts in the world. These I have not read, so on them I cannot comment.
For much of the greater part of human history, the vast majority of people could neither read nor write. What the sacred text said was spoken to the ignorant majority by another elite few, who claimed to be the custodians of the revealed knowledge. This other elite were able to exist, however, solely by my leave, and that of my landed peers. This other elite comprised a self-sustaining exclusive religious hierarchy.
The vast majority of people had no access to the revealed knowledge of the omnipotent Being, except through the elect few who constituted this hierarchy. Consequently, the hierarchy was free to interpret the ancient text to suit our own ends and ambitions. And what it preached to the ignorant masses was, in essence, the universal obligation to submit to and serve people like myself.
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there is no power but of God. The powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. They that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same, for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." [Romans 13]
Here, from the ancient past, as if from the mouth of omnipotence, is the authority I need to justify my position and behaviour. I was put here by God. The dispossessed masses are therefore obliged, by divine proclamation, to submit to me. Should any refuse, I have the God-given authority to use force against him, after which, God himself will condemn him to eternal damnation.
Thus convinced of their obligations, it is the dispossessed masses themselves who supply the overwhelming power by which I contain and exploit them. So, my power comes, not from me, not from beyond physical reality, but from the collective id of those I deceive and enslave. It keeps me secure in my wealth and power. It keeps them vulnerable in their poverty and subservience. This remains the social order for many centuries.
Diversification of Religion
But then something goes wrong. Somebody invents an inconvenient contraption called a printing press. The ancient text, that was once hidden within the custody of the church hierarchy, becomes directly visible to vast numbers of people. Many of these disagree with the church's interpretation of what it says. They read the ancient text and deduce that it conveys a somewhat different message. Soon, there is a plethora of different interpretations. God appears to be saying different things to different people. The plethora of interpretations gives rise to a plethora of church denominations and sects. They range from a conservative mainstream to a bickering diversity of literal fundamentalists. How can the very same words convey completely different doctrines to different groups of people? Here are 7 possible reasons.
The revealed knowledge of the ancient text is not empirical. It is not revealed through practical demonstration or experiment. It is conveyed through written words. Words are merely symbolic representations of meaning. They do not themselves contain the substance of what they represent. We can only guess, through context, what the words of an ancient language really signify.
We do not know the cultural, social or economic context of the original writer. He lived in a civilization radically different from ours. We could thereby so easily get hold of the wrong end of the stick as regards our understanding of what he said.
We can't be sure of the specific context within which the originator was writing. Consider what St Paul said in his letter to the Romans quoted above.
Interpreted in a universal context, St Paul appears to be saying that it is one's unconditional duty to submit to, and obey, whatever civil authority they find themselves under. A German soldier of World War II thus would be duty bound before God to open the gas valve to exterminate a room full of Jews if that is what the powers that be (who were put there by God) told him to do.
On the other hand, perhaps the recipients of St Paul's letter had decided that, since the evil Roman Empire, within which they lived, was not the Kingdom of God, they would not pay its taxes or respect its authority. By this interpretation, St Paul was simply telling them to live as peacefully as possible within their current social context. In other words, don't rock the boat unnecessarily.
Many errors can be made during translation from the original language of the ancient text to the modern languages in which we read it today. These would be especially likely when translating colloquial expressions and figures of speech, which differ radically and unrelatedly from one language to another.
Different readers have different culturally-ingrained pre-conceived ideas and doctrines that they will subconsciously read into the words of the ancient text.
Elitist authorities, with vested interests in preserving their power structure, deliberately engage in a certain amount of creative editing during copying or translation to make the text conform to what suits their ends. For instance, the text predominantly depicts a doctrine of male-dominated hierarchy. Yet, uncharacteristically, in a few small parts, one can catch a fleeting glimpse of a doctrine of gender-independent egalitarianism.
The full historic context of many passages of the ancient text do not appear to be present within the text itself. Who decided which ancient writings should be included in and which should be excluded from this sacred collection? Historically, this appears to have been decided on criteria that appear to be extremely fickle. For example, were not 4 gospels included simply because there were 4 directions in the world - north, south, east and west?
The result is that the ancient text, as available today, is incomplete, inaccurate, ambiguous, vague, incoherent. It seems to be a smattering of truth copiously diluted with vast swathes of error. If this ancient text, as we have it today, were of divine origin, I would expect it to be truthful, complete, consistent, clear and universally understandable. Perhaps, once upon a time, there existed a clear, complete, unambiguous, consistent, coherent message from a divine source. If so, it obviously became garbled and fragmented somewhere along the passages of time and space. There seems to be a lot missing. Many of its fragments must have become lost or deliberately discarded. The remainder then seem to have been subjected to mistranslation and misinterpretation, while becoming repeatedly bent and warped to fit preconceived ideas and objectives.
The growing diversity of interpretations of the ancient text has a radical effect. It slowly but surely erodes the credibility of the knowledge the text purportedly reveals. This, in turn, gradually dissipates the fear by which the minds of the masses are held in captivity. Finally, their chains melt away. The monster from the id dissolves and is gone. But it leaves a gnawing void. What can take its place?
The answer is science. However, here again, we encounter a mixture of truth and error, clarity and ambiguity. The sciences of precise observation, measurement and logical deduction rightly give science a firm foundation of credibility. Sciences - mathematics, physics and chemistry - spawn precise applications in engineering. Notwithstanding, there are other sciences that are not so precise. Their observations are not so conclusive. And the theories built upon them are all too speculative.
A New Faith
One of these more speculative theories is the Theory of Evolution. And it is this that has been heralded as the credible alternative to the revealed knowledge in explaining the origin of humanity. Being derived from a science, the Theory of Evolution inherits the credibility of the precise sciences with which it is passively associated within the academic world. Its beauty lies in that it provides free-thinkers with a way out from any obligations of obedience to a supreme Being. It thereby potentially releases the masses from their obligation of subservience to state and religious elites.
The Theory is built upon a well-documented history of painstaking observations. From these, one can rightly deduce that the bodies and behaviours of various species of animals and birds automatically adapt to changes in environmental conditions over generations. So far, so good. But then the proponents of the Theory commit what I [the author] call the cardinal sin of science. They extrapolate without basis. They speculate that, because a species of bird is seen to automatically adapt into a somewhat different bird, then ipso facto, given enough time, primitive bacteria adapted into human beings. One small credible deduction about a bird: one giant leap of faith about mankind.
Engineers have produced mechanisms that can adapt automatically in response to changes in their environments. I [the author] have worked on the software of air navigation systems that do this. However, the system's ability to adapt does not come from blind external forces. It comes from the system's internal programming. This, in turn, comes from the programmer's foreknowledge of the different environmental conditions the system is likely to encounter as it journeys across the globe. The software, through sensors, observes the environmental conditions. It then switches in the relevant functionality and switches out the inapplicable functionality to suit those particular environmental conditions.
Life-forms also adapt to changes in environmental conditions. Some of these adaptations occur in the short-term. One's body can adapt to climate. My body did this when I moved from the United Kingdom to Brazil in 2004. Other adaptations take place over generations. There was the interesting case where a race of normal-sized people migrated to an Arctic region. They suffered a severe shortage of food for many years. Their descendants of the next generation - their children - were all very much shorter.
Credible evidence suggests that the adaptations in life-forms are also effected by internal software. The software that effects the inter-generation adaptations is thought to be the DNA program, a copy of which resides within each cell of an individual's body. A surprising observation is that the DNA of the simplest of creatures and the DNA of the human being contain similar quantities of information. The difference in size is very small compared with the vast difference in complexity of the simplest creatures and the human. Why is this?
Large suites of computer software exhibit a similar characteristic. A product range is often created from a fully functional software package by using encrypted keys to switch in or switch out various items of functionality. The basic version of the product has all but the basic functionality switched out. More and more advanced versions of the product have more and more of the optional functionality switched in. This way, all customers actually receive the full quid. But they are only able to make use of the functionality for which they are prepared to pay. This method makes the software easier to distribute and maintain. It also makes it less problematic.
DNA appears to work in a similar fashion. In a simpler life-form, most of the functionality within the DNA program is switched out, leaving only the part necessary to construct and operate the simple creature. In a human being, a much larger proportion of the DNA's functionality is switched in, thus providing the much larger more complex programming necessary to construct and operate a human being.
The DNA code is not a direct miniature of the animal it generates and operates. It is a set of symbolic instructions to mechanisms within the body's cells on how each of them should form and organize itself to form the relevant creature. Being a symbolic representation of a procedure, it must contain foreknowledge of the form and behaviour of the finished creature and also the range of external environments within which that creature must live and operate. Where did this foreknowledge come from? Who was the programmer? Some say he was the divine Being we previously referred to as God. However, there is no reason why, in the absence of certain knowledge, we should not just leave it as an open question.
Fossils of a whole series of creatures have been found that show that adaptation has taken place within the bounds of a major animal-type or genus. However, transgenic species are never found. One never encounters the remains of a creature half way between a man and a monkey. There is certainly no practical evidence to illustrate how a bacteria evolved into a human being. This presents a serious problem for the Theory of Evolution.
Many believers in the Theory of Evolution say that the reason transgenic species - or their remains - are never found is that at many stages, the path of evolution takes a quantum leap. This could be due, they say, to a sudden catastrophic change in environment - such as a large meteor impact - triggering a catastrophic adaptation. This idea is problematic. Adaptation - gradual or catastrophic - can occur only if the specie's internal DNA contains the programming required to execute the necessary bodily and behavioural adaptation. Perhaps it does. Perhaps the divine programmer had foreknowledge of such catastrophic possibilities.
Evolutionists generally do not like the idea of external foreknowledge being built into the DNA programming of a species. They prefer the idea that the DNA programming also adapts. Since the DNA programming is a symbolic instruction set, it is difficult to perceive how it could adapt itself. Another preferred idea of the evolutionist is that the DNA programming somehow undergoes a quantum leap in functional complexity by having its base molecules re-mangled by freak cosmic ray showers or such like. This also is implausible. It is like taking a computer file containing MS DOS 3.1, mixing it haphazardly with a vast byte-stream generated from random noise, and out comes Windows Vista. Maybe that's how they did it!
Notwithstanding, whatever its flaws, the Theory of Evolution is a faith by which people can escape from the austere divine obligations foisted upon them by the deceptive interpretations of ancient texts propagated by the hierarchies of elite vested interest.
I Need a New Imaginary Friend
Despite its flaws, the Theory of Evolution deals a devastating blow to mainstream religion. But it does not kill it. Out of the conflagration arises a more radical form of religious fundamentalism. This manages to capture a significant proportion of the minds of the majority, while evolution holds onto the remainder. On faith, therefore, society is now divided. Evolution diluted the omnipotence of my old imaginary friend. I need a new one. But he cannot be a supernatural God. A dominant proportion of the common people have now grown wise to that ploy. He will have to take a different form and gain his omnipotent power from another source.
With the demise of fear in the supernatural, what power exists that is able to strike fear into the dispossessed majority? It is a power that was originally born out of that old universal fear of the supernatural. It is the law. It is the fear of law. And the power of the law is effected by an institution that took form during the reign of religious fear. Although religious fear has now largely evaporated, the institution of the law still carries the vast inertia with which religious fear endowed it. It is omnipotent and omnipresent, just like a God. Its omnipotence stems from those of the dispossessed majority who serve as cogs in its Metropolisian machine. Its omnipresence is deferentially furnished by the eyes of all of the dispossessed majority over whom it wields its power.
As with my old imaginary friend, so too I create my new imaginary friend in my own image. However, instead of making him supernatural, I now make him a construct of law. I construct my new imaginary friend as a legal person or pessoa jurídica. He is a limited liability corporation.
Being created in my own image, he has the same dysfunctional personality. He shares my captivating charm with the same beguiling turn of phrase. Look at any corporate public relations literature. He has an unshakeable confidence in his own superiority and value. Have you ever heard of a corporation that acknowledges the superiority of a competitor? He is a pathological liar. Corporate claims stretch legal boundaries to the limit. He is sly, cunning and manipulative. Without shame, he inveigles customer, supplier and government in his selfish pursuit of profit. He never admits mistake or error. Corporations break the law with impunity based solely on whether or not the assessed risk of getting caught results in a calculated advantage. Morality isn't an issue. His affection is shallow and ego-centric. It is the cupboard-love of profit. A corporation champions charity solely for the betterment of its public image. He will sack employees or switch suppliers for financial expedience, without regard for the human consequences. He feels no responsibility for the collateral effects of his actions. Corporations externalize all problems like waste, pollution and social destitution unless forced to do otherwise.
In other words, my imaginary friend is, like me, a psychopath. But more than this, since he is a construct of law, he is required - by law - to be a psychopath. So he is required by law to act psychopathically. Unlike me, however, my new imaginary friend is a person who can grow in size and power without limit. He faces the world for me in my place. He is the invincible warrior who fights my battles and the impenetrable bastion that protects me from the spears of my enemies. His attribute of limited liability enables me to act without accountability. If he should die in conflict, I walk away unscathed and simply create another pessoa jurídica to replace him.
My peers also create their own imaginary friends - Gods in their own image. Like mine, theirs too can grow to unlimited size and power. As my peers and I are an elite clique, so too, our Gods form an elite clique of powerful corporations, whose graven images are worshipped with awe by the common majority. This corporate clique of Gods is again omnipotent and omnipresent. Its omnipotence stems from those of the dispossessed majority whom it exploits to serve as cogs within its corporate machines. Its omnipresence is deferentially furnished by its customers - the dispossessed majority over whom it holds the keys to their needs of life.
The masses are ruthlessly exploited by our elite clique of corporate entities. They toil and stress endlessly to bloat the wealth of their omnipotent masters. They furnish the force that maintains their own enslavement. Why do they do this? Are they all masochists? How am I and my peers able to dupe the majority into building and maintaining their own bondage? It happens as the result of a collateral effect of the division of labour. I call it the division of culpability. The process by which the masses enforce their own enslavement is a complex one. It comprises a vast series of sub-processes, each of which, of itself in isolation, appears benign. Each quasi-benign sub-process is performed by a separate lowly individual, who is "just doing his job". The aggregated effect of all these sub-processes is, however, decidedly malignant.
Each individual involved does not feel very culpable for "just doing his bit". He is blissfully unaware of the "big picture", the overall process that is bringing the full force of the law to bear upon some unfortunate individual whom I have, through my vast corporate machine, decided it to be strategically expedient to destroy. And for the idiot majority, might is right. My great limited liability leviathan, with its household name, is always assumed to be in the right. In the ignorant public mind, it is always the poor unknown singled-out individual who is the natural villain. The majority always side with power. My new imaginary friend is not only my God who fights for me and protects me. He is also one of the Gods of the people, whose brand image they worship and admire.
They also fear him. No individual could stand against him. He could strike down whomsoever of them who would dare to threaten my wealth or well-being and sue them into total destitution. Thus they remain my slaves.
Parent Document | © June 2008, Jan 2013 Robert John Morton