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September 25, 2019 / Congau

Flattering Force

A dictatorship forces; a democracy flatters. Dictatorial power is violence; democratic power is enticement. Power is always about making people do what they otherwise wouldn’t have done, what they didn’t really want, and democratic power is no different. But democracy is presumably to give the people what they want. In other words, it makes them do what they don’t want which is what they want. It is an ingenious invention! A power that is not a power! A force that doesn’t force! What a glorious deception!

We hate it when we are told what to do. We dread the whip and long to defy it. But the sweet songs that we hear dull our resistance and entice us into submission. They tell us we are free and sovereign, autonomous and independent, and since we believe them, they can rule us. No totalitarian state can be that clever.

But the rebels among us refuse to surrender. It is frustrating when the enemy poses as a friend, and it’s annoying to see fellow citizens bow to the inevitable while believing it to be their own choice.

The rebel misses the honest fight. He envies the clarity that his soul mates can find under outright oppressive conditions. It is easy to make people notice their prison guard when he is ugly, but it is difficult pull off the disguise from that sweet talking flatterer they have elected president.

What is better? To think you are free while in chains or to know you’re in prison?

Well, an awful truth is hard to bear, and a sweet deception has often been a savior. So maybe that’s the true benefit of democracy. It makes us love an unloving government because we think it loves us. Only those obsessed with the truth are bothered by that.

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