My picture of American politics before and after I became aware of SOPA is as different as day and night — and my “after” is far darker.
December, 2010: the middle eastern nation of Tunisia erupted in protests against a corrupt and oppressive government, arguably the first bloom of the “Arab Spring.” As the rest of the world watched, mesmerized, the drama unfolded, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was thrown out, and the subsequent interim government went through several upheavals.
I remember, shortly after Tunisia’s Ben Ali was ousted, I had an errant thought: could this happen here?
I dismissed the thought with a mental shrug — it didn’t seem like conditions in the United States were bad enough for something like this to happen, and that Americans were too complacent to make this kind of stand anyway.
It Can’t Happen Here … or it Won’t?
It is clear one of the facilitators of the Tunisian revolution, the Iranian election protests of 2009 and 2010, and the later revolutions in Egypt and Libya, was the internet, and social media.
When I look at the seemingly unending reams of internet legislation (written to destroy what little privacy is left to users of the internet and enforce the ownership of intellectual property rights light years beyond any reasonable measure) that are quietly being rammed with unconscionable haste through the United States Congress, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch of the imagination to suggest I was not alone in wondering if the same kind of revolution could happen here.
And I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch of the imagination to suggest the drive to throttle the internet from both the government and corporate sectors is that The Powers That Be are striving to ensure that it won’t.
And I had to ask myself why.
We all know what this is about. It’s about greed, hiding under the tissue-thin rationalizations of intellectual property rights. It’s about power, masquerading behind the facade of the need for national security.
These aren’t just lies. They’re damned lies, told by damned liars.
And it’s about control, keeping us isolated, dumbed down, and demoralized so we can’t possibly be a threat to their greed and their lust for power.
And I had to ask myself again, why. Why do those in power seem be be satisfied with nothing but more power? Why is it that those consumed by greed are only satisfied by an endless supply of more? What darkness drives The Powers That Be even to the point of crushing those they control or enslave to the edge of their existences, and beyond?
An “Authentic” Answer
I connected via social media with a friend of mine, Evan Hadkins, blogger and author of the book, Living Authentically: Living from the Core of Who You Are for Lasting Satisfaction. I asked him:
Evan, I was just thinking about the motivations behind all these intellectual property and internet surveillance laws, and I’m finding myself looking into an abyss. It seems like something much larger than greed. It seems more like the underlying drive toward whatever makes totalitarianism attractive to those who seek power. (I could start blaming Satan, but that’s really a non-answer.)
And, as always, Evan gave me a thoughtful answer:
There are various answers. Inquiring into what Satan means in human experience is one. Reich and Fromm wrote on this.
When the environment is perceived as hostile this leads to hierarchy and violence.
From teaching in gaol [“jail” — Evan spent two years teaching relapse prevention, anger management, and cognitive skills in the jail system in Australia] I think it really is true that violence shows weakness — the legitimizations are always along the lines of “there is nothing else to do,” “it was the last resort,” “we had our backs to the wall,” and so on. So I think totalitarianism is about control in an environment perceived to be hostile (so that superiority is necessary). This can take a military form (as it did for the fascist groups in the West and other places) but it needn’t. There are some groups I think of as “spiritually totalitarian” — hierarchical, not open to the diverse experience of the members and so on, focused on becoming superior and so on.
I think when we feel demeaned and violated we are likely to lash out and want to feel superior.
My thoughts, for what it’s worth.
Perhaps a gross oversimplification, but those who want/need power over others are fundamentally broken people?
I think that is pretty right Daniel.
An Inner Hell of Emptiness
I had to sit back and think about that for a bit. Taken to the logical conclusion (at least in my mind) the people who are running the show, who have risen to the pinnacles of worldly success and rub our noses in it every waking moment of every single day, are so damaged inside, so tormented by some inner emptiness that God’s own infinite universe wouldn’t be enough to fill it and bring them peace.
These people are in Hell. Fitting, in an ironic way.
Thinking about The Powers That Be in this way, recognizing that the petty tyrants that make up the forces that shape our world are deeply crippled inside makes it easier to forgive, for me at least.
Not excuse it, of course, but forgive it.
And it makes me realize that as these tyrants are defeated, one by one over the course of the years to come, that they will receive far greater justice from those of us that are whole, who have a core of peace and happiness to draw from inside, than any of them would have ever shown to us.
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Copyright © 2012, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.