August 14, 2020-
When I was around thirty-one, I learned to play chess, by watching two chess masters teaching a group of Dineh boys, in the school where I worked and in the neighbouring junior high school.
Chess is a game of high presence and stealth. Many times, a player becomes absorbed in own feelings of cleverness and innovation, until the more present opponent makes the winning gambit, and announces “Checkmate!”. Chess can morph into Covert External Tyranny.
There are, essentially, three forms of tyranny: Overt External, Covert External and Self-Imposed.
Overt External is most often aimed at transforming the person subjected to the trials. It is never intended to permanently disempower its target subject. Basic and advanced military training; team coaching-in fact, any sort of “Boot Camp”, headed by a hard-nosed, but self-effacing, task master, exemplifies Overt External Tyranny. It occurs for a specified period of time, has specific performance goals, and once these are regarded as having been met, the subject is congratulated, the tyranny lifts and all participants come to know one another on a more equal level. A variation on this is SOMETIMES shown by our current President-hardly a self-effacing man, at least on the surface, but one who does, privately, give credit to those who have taken, and met, a challenge he has thrown out. The peace agreement between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates is an example of this.
Covert External Tyranny is illustrated by the common method of preparing crustaceans for food. The animal is placed in a pot of cold water, under which a flame is then lit. The water slowly heats, and the animal, being sensitized to the rising temperature, shows no distress. Once the water is heated to a point that no longer sustains life, the animal’s awareness is negated. It loses consciousness, it is boiled to the point where its flesh is safe to eat and the tyranny, in this individual case, comes to an end, only to be replicated, thousands of times over, with different crustaceans.
In the human world, a budding Covert Tyrant will study the target population. The interactions, mindsets and approaches to new ideas, of those intended to be subjugated, will be closely watched and a plan of action will be gradually devised. The Covert Tyrant will appear on the scene as a friend of the people, who will call attention to real and imagined difficulties they have faced. S(he) will then suggest ways to solve these problems, which look great, at first blush. A critical mass of the target group will be elated, extol the virtues of the newly arrived saviour.
The deception has thus started to embed itself, and ere long, as the people give up more and more of their prerogatives and freedoms to the Covert Tyrant, and regime, the rules and the penalties for non-compliance become more stringent. Before long, the tyrant and successors have cowed the populace, and the true intention, usually to enrich themselves, at the expense of the populace, and in perpetuity, is revealed. It is the boiling water, but the semi-conscious victims barely take notice. To those few who do raise a protest, the tyrant responds either with brute force or by disparaging the critics, rendering them as pariahs to the wider community. The current President has followed this pattern, as well. It is my view, though, that he is not the prime mover of the stealthy oppression. He is a bit player. Those who are really working behind the scenes have done their homework, have carefully worked, at state and local levels-and in the judiciary, where lifetime appointments are not easily abrogated by the voting public.
I have mentioned a right-wing claque, led currently by Charles Koch, in previous posts. They are seemingly opposed by an opposite, but more loosely-organized, oligarchy. Both, however, seek the disempowerment of the common man, with a view towards dominance towards their own ends-whether personal power and comfort for an elite, as defined by themselves or for the dispiriting of the masses, who will then grovel and serve without complaint. The enslavement of Africans and certain others, from the 17th-19th Centuries, is a prime example of the latter. Low wage employment and human trafficking, in the 20th Century and presently, are examples of the former.
These are made possible by the third form of tyranny: Self-imposed. Every human being has a modicum of desire to please those close to self: Child to parent and, sometimes, the reverse; spouse to spouse; worker to supervisor, or both, to employer; citizen to public official, and again, sometimes in reverse; friend to friend.
An imbalance in this desire, often sparked by low self-esteem, can lead to tyranny towards self. I have browbeaten myself, on occasion, for not having pleased a person whom I had held up as either a real or imagined authority figure. I wanted to please my parents, close relatives, those bosses for whom I’ve had genuine respect, my driving instructor-back in high school, my late wife. It was only when I learned to love and accept myself, within my own space, that this tyranny became unnecessary, and faded away.
There is much that we could discuss further, along these lines. I am still resistant to uninvited critics, who seek to impose their will-either overtly or covertly. Only by examining their motives from a safe distance does that change my response.