News, the new Opium of the People

I wrote this as a preamble to the post about the Boston Tea Party but it soon took a life of it’s own. It’s a work in progress.

Last night Jen mentioned how schools don’t really teach critical thinking. I think that’s just the understatement of the century. In schools, church, and in general history is taught with a standard narrative:

  1. There are good people just trying to do their thing
  2. There are bad people that want to fuck things up for everyone
  3. The bad people do something bad
  4. The good people fight back

There are two endings:

  1. The good people endure fierce battles to win, yay!
    • American Revolution
    • Civil War
    • The Taliban and Bin Laden
    • 2020 US Election (or 2016 depending on your point of view)
  2. The good people are valiant but lose and it is very sad.
    • The Alamo
    • Custer’s Last Stand
    • Vietnam
    • 2016 US Election (or 2020 depending on your point of view)

This teaching leads to people to use a problem-solving algorithm of:

  1. Identify the bad people
  2. Locate them
  3. Keep them from doing bad things through
    • Force/Law/Imprisonment
    • Keeping them impoverished/muted
    • Cutting them off from decent society
    • Education
    • Killing them

The actual algorithm is something like this:

  1. There are powerful political entities that are usually working together when it helps them maintain power yet they are also deeply in conflict long-term. In general incremental power gains trump long-term strategy, this is a long game.
  2. There are powerful economic entities (companies and wealthy people) that exist on the pretext of serving the people (customers) but also have their own interests.
  3. The political and economic entities have a deeply symbiotic relationship but also recognize the other as the primary foe long-term. If politics won you’d have classical communism, and if economics won you’d have classical free-market capitalism, both of which tend to result in rebellion. If you want to maximize the power held by those with power (not the people) then an alliance is the best strategy.
  4. Acts of drama and violence are either created or seized upon and put into the good vs. bad narrative propaganda to keep one part of the population blaming their misfortune on another part of the population. This keeps the population from scrutinizing the role of those in power and asking difficult questions like why, since they they have the power to stop them, do these things happen? It also keeps the population dependent on the entities in power for the solution.

News, not religion, is the opium of the people.

No one likes talking about the actual algorithm. It’s much more difficult than changing your profile photo to black or wearing a MAGA hat. It quickly gets quite complicated, fairly boring, and sounds like a conspiracy theory. Why would people do all that for just this one case? But it’s not, it’s all the cases.

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