Modern political leaders focussed on polling, partisan doctrine and the next election forget at their peril that there is an ancient and non-revokable contract between leaders and followers: give us followers good times and security and we will allow you leaders your power and wealth; fail to protect us from grievous harm and we will erase you. Retribution for mass suffering has fallen brutally on high priests, pharoahs, kings, czars and presidents throughout history. And the laws of history have in no way and in no place been revoked. (To listen to the audio version, click here: 0104 The People are a Beast)
Long ago, high priests claiming a connection with the Almighty guaranteed prosperity in return for loyalty, and so long as the weather was good and the granaries were full, enjoyed whatever lifestyle they preferred. But when drought or flood or infestation brought famine, the prelate’s term was limited, usually by sudden death. It’s worth noting that the termination was according to his own terms: he took credit for the workings of the universe when they were kind, and was held responsible when they were not.
We know today, of course, that no priest controls the rain, and few of us believe that the Almighty administers the natural world in partnership with anointed celebrities. Yet we and our leaders have bought into a similar set of fantasies, a like collection of false promises that can lead only to the eventual, brutal termination of the reign of the false promiser.
Where the high priest once promised good weather for our crops, the candidate for president now vows to fix the economy. Where the pharaoh vowed that with him in power, the floods would never come again, the candidate for Congress promises to eradicate unemployment and create jobs. The czar said there would be food, and the candidate for prime minister vows there will be safety from terror. We can easily see that the assurances of the primitive, long-ago leaders were far beyond their powers, and that all they were capable of doing was to ride the tiger of their choosing until the tiger no longer wished to be ridden. How is it we are so deceived about the ability of a president to do anything, independently of the other branches of government and of the people themselves; or of a legislator, one among 535, to do anything — anything! — on his own except exert 18 one-hundredths of one per cent of the available power.
The forces of Big Money and Big Industry — shall we call them the Machinators? — are not merely comfortable with this mass delusion, they spend mightily to maintain it, because it makes it easier to elect useful idiots to positions of power wherein they can serve the aforementioned Machinators.
However, if the Machinators read history (of course they don’t, they hold it in as much contempt as science) they will lose their comfort zone. Because they will learn that in every age, in every country, for every people, there is an amount of misery, an extent to miserable times, a degree of deterioration, that when reached suddenly reminds people that there are more of them than there are of the elite, and that propels them with breathtaking suddenness and efficacy into the streets and the palaces and the homes of the people who have been treading them down.
Can’t happen here? Look again, please, at the photograph taken a month ago of the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, and his obviously terrified wife, Camilla, as their car is being pummeled by a mob shouting “Off with their heads!” The issue was university tuition. Imagine if the issue were food.
Not a day goes by that our media do not dutifully report someone’s expression of “outrage:” because the snow plow does not arrive in time, or the rescue helicopter, or the food and water supplies. A few hours after an earthquake killed a quarter of a million people in Haiti and destroyed everything that resembled infrastructure, the first “outrage” was expressed that aid had not yet arrived. An enduring image of Hurricane Katrina was captured by a TV crew who filmed an outraged woman wading in the floodwaters, crying, “What are we es-sposed to do?”
In America today, the only thing that exceeds our expressed contempt for government and taxes is our “outrage” when government does not meet our needs instantly.
Outrage is like fire: useful to warm a room or cook a meal, but a beast, sir, when out of control. And listen up, dear leaders, for a lesson you will learn from history, or repeat: all that is required for the outrage of useful idiots to become a fire to burn down your house is for enough people to suffer long enough.