A Beginner’s How-To on Taking Over the World, Chapter 1
Welcome philosophers, bloggers, and casual observers of politics. Welcome industrialists, entrepreneurs, artists, and thespians. I write to you today with an offer to give up your useful, productive lifestyle of such uninteresting things as building tools, growing crops, and designing software, in favor of more honorable occupations in the fields of leeching, deceiving, corrupting, and generally advancing interests contrary to those of humanity. Your reward shall be dominion over others, the ability to squander what honest men have created at will, and an interview on CNN. Sound like a dream come true? It can all be yours with this Beginner’s How-To on Taking Over the World.
Chapter One: Playing Both Ends Against the Middle
The most essential component of any strategy of world domination is the misdirection of concerned citizens with regard to critical issues. Nobody wants to hear that the man to whom they are submitting is going to destroy civilization and make everyone miserable. Yet they know, in fact, that this is exactly what is happening. Would-be dictators must use this to their advantage! Take the somewhat politically educated, the moderately concerned, and split them in half. Draw a false dichotomy between two equally reprehensible ideas and convince each side that the other’s plan is the reason the world is going to hell. While they argue Left vs. Right, take them towards Totalitarian. Use their desire to avoid corrupt politicians and bad laws to increase your own power at their expense.
This principle is golden, and very widely implemented! Oil companies have refined it to a science. They have worked with Congress to orchestrate a brilliant and hostile takeover of the world economy. To start, they sold high-quality products at competitive prices, causing them to accumulate substantial wealth quickly. Then, they changed tactics radically. They hopped on board a public outcry about the environmental damage done by drilling for oil, and so managed to negotiate highly agreeable legislation which made it completely impossible for start-up companies to obtain the paperwork to drill. Congress looked good for saving the whales. With potential competition eliminated, the oil companies began to raise their prices, decrease the quality of their service, and make extraordinary profits. As these prices really hurt consumers, it was no surprise what the next step would be: Congress would have to step in to give the oil companies a good thrashing. Nobody is quite sure exactly what they did or how it was supposed to help, but the result ultimately was that we have even fewer oil companies now than before and gas prices are still high. The CEOs are laughing their way to the bank, Congressmen keep getting re-elected for passing stupid laws, and no ordinary person is actually better off for it – but rest assured we all have our opinions about whether the oil companies or the regulations are at fault.
Union leaders are also experts at playing both ends against the middle. On the heels of the Industrial Revolution, Americans experienced prosperity and wealth like the world had never known. There was an explosion of job opportunities and a dramatic increase in the real value of wages. However, the rapid growth outpaced information transfer, and that left many people uninformed and unable to get the most for their labor. To ensure that every worker was well-educated on what sort of working conditions he could expect and how well he ought to be paid for his time, workers unionized, meaning that they chose to pay dues to an organization which represented them in employer-employee negotiations to argue on their behalf. Because this all makes perfect sense, cue Congress – to come in and decide things are going too damn well. Nobody needed coercion and legal battles to make the world a happier place, which conflicted with their desire to rule the world. Their response was to declare that unions and companies were incapable of negotiating fairly to agreeable conclusion, and that the only way to satisfactorily end disputes was through government intervention. Thus they created anti-trust laws while simultaneously using police forces to break up strikes, and, in doing so, they made it dangerous to be a successful company or a conscientious group of workers. This might seem like a bad PR move, but it was absolutely ingenious. The irrelevant-but-totally-binding third-party arbitration these laws created led to a deterioration of working conditions, a rise in prices as a result of inefficiencies, and a blossoming legal department in every major company. This gave the union leaders the ultimate opportunity to step up – and further their cause by declaring that industrialist malpractice, rather than Congressional interference, was the cause of the world’s problems. The unions informed the public that innocent workers were being subjected to horrible conditions and there was nothing they could do about it – except lobby Congress. Now we see the brilliance of the Congressional plan, for it is those same Congressmen that broke a working system in the first place who rushed to fix it, by tightening anti-trust laws and – you guessed it – forcing more disputes to court arbitration. The tremendous legal costs associated with arbitration roll over into prices levied against consumers, and the government sponsorship of unions makes it difficult for non-unionized workers to avoid penalties. The union leaders are laughing their way to the bank, Congressmen keep getting re-elected for passing stupid laws, and no ordinary person is actually better off for it – but rest assured we all have our opinions about whether the corporations or the unions are at fault.
One of the most profound examples of obscuring the course of action that most people want in favor of a constructed dichotomy is the alleged health care reform bill. Americans can’t agree on whether medical insurance should be nationalized or not. They can’t agree on whether mandatory 100% acceptance rate should be enforced. The interesting note, though, is that these aren’t the only issues considered – not even close. Everyone knows, for example, that there’s no sensible reason why Americans shouldn’t be able to buy insurance across state lines – but they can’t. Everyone knows that the tort system needs to be revised so that consumers can’t be forced to foot the bill for unreasonable lawsuits. Everyone knows insurance contracts need to be enforced more rigidly so that claimants can’t be dismissed for irrelevant pre-existing conditions after they’ve already bought insurance. The consensus on this is universal among politically aware, working class or middle class citizens – which means just about everyone. But those aren’t really the issues this bill addresses! The Democrats are raving about how desperately this country needs to socialize insurance, and the Republicans are insisting that it doesn’t, and nobody seems to care enough to fix the problems that we all know are problems, that we all agree on how to fix, and that could be easily fixed pretty quickly. Nobody’s fixing those because it wouldn’t increase Congressional power. If this bill passes, Congress will have effectively granted itself a categorically new level of privacy invasion into the lives of every American citizen. If the bill fails, insurance companies will continue to deny legitimate claims with impunity and charge obscene prices because of the reduced competition and hyper-regulation. Whichever way it goes, one thing remains constant: The insurance companies are laughing their way to the bank, Congressmen keep getting re-elected for passing stupid laws, and no ordinary person is actually better off for it – but rest assured we all have our opinions about whether the Democrats or the Republicans are at fault.
In summary, the clever dictator-in-training must understand from this chapter these general principles:
1) The Left believes the government defends people from corporations, the Right believes corporations are victimized by the government, but all ordinary people lose out when the government and corporations work together.
2) The most obvious problems don’t get solved because they don’t provide anything to run against, which is to say they don’t involve a reason to increase power over others. Coercive power comes from controversy, not harmony.
3) Never let people realize what they have in common. Work constantly to prevent them from all waking up one day and not being able to remember why they hate each other. If people partially agree and partially disagree on an issue, televise the parts where they disagree, not where they agree. Turn “reduce deficit spending!” into capitalism vs. socialism. Turn “stop making useless regulations!” into Republicans vs. Democrats. Turn “let me do what I want!” into gays vs. Christians. Don’t let people live and let live – if they do that, you won’t have any excuse to take over the world.