A Personal Reflection by Squashed Philosophers editor Glyn Hughes
HOW TO MAKE ENEMIES AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE
Do you want to take control? Get to tell everyone what to do? The easy way is to tell everyone there's a horrid enemy out there. Just ask your 'marks' to give you power and control (and cash) and you'll save them.
Trouble is, the real world isn't that simple. Enemies aren't really that clear, and how to be saved from them isn't clear either. But history seems to teach us that the really clever way of getting control is to create your own enemy, an enemy you have invented, so an enemy you can blame for absolutely anything you want. A fake enemy lets you invent any horrors you want, and when the good people shout that "this enemy is fake", you can win again by shouting back that "they just don't realise how bad the enemy is". What fools they are! Follow me and I'll save you!
This is about the Noose of Lies, just a few examples of how would-be despots from Julius Caesar, Mussolini and Hearst to Geert Wilders, Farage and Trump have manipulated the fear of an unknown enemy to generate hate to take control of people.
And how you can do it too.
Vercingetorix of Gaul throws down his arms at the feet of Julius Caesar - 1899 painting by Lionel Royer
The Mark: The Roman Senate and People
The Fake Enemy: The Gauls and Britons
In 55BC Julius Caesar, then just the commanding general of one of several Roman semi-private armies, adventured over the land of the Gauls and visited Britain. He sent back home to the Roman Republic stories of a terrifying people, who Romans needed a strong leader to defend them from. He even wrote a book about it. This was far from true - the Gauls and Britons were militarily a pushover and their lands, far from being flush with gold, really had very little of value to Rome. But the stories gave him the prestige to actually march his army into Rome, get himself made sole ruler and eventually bring about the end of the Republic and turn Rome into a one-ruler Empire.
The Mark: The People of South-East England 1644-1647
The Fake Enemy: Witches
Matthew Hopkins and his associates made a handsome living between 1644 and 1647 from charging local authorities to root-out the witches who were (obviously) causing all the problems in their towns. His use of torture and trickery ensured that every ‘witch’ then disclosed more witches in the next town, methods later copied in the American colonies.
The Mark: The People of England and Scotland 1678-81
The Fake Enemy: Catholics
Titus Oates faked a degree, falsely obtained a post as vicar, was charged with perjury and dismissed from the Navy. After being expelled from a Catholic college, Oates used his considerable rhetorical skills to enrage England and Scotland with tales of an (entirely fake) ‘Popish Plot’ by Catholics to murder King Charles II, accusations that led to the executions of at least 22 innocent men and poisoned inter-faith relations for generations. His conspiracy theories were eventually shown to be entirely false and Oates was imprisoned (though later released and 'patted on the back' by the authorities).
The Mark: The British lower middle classes 1909-14
The Fake Enemy: Germans
"Give them something to hate every day, and they'll buy your paper every day" This is the 'Harmsworth Principle', probably not invented by the founder of the Daily Mail, but certainly used by him with spectacular effect. Harmsworth commissioned a series of articles 'The Invasion of 1910' for his Daily Mail outlining a possible German attack on Britain. This, entirely fictional account, was accompanied by fake posters warning the public of the foul Germans and even salesmen dressed as German soldiers parading through central London.
At the time there was not the slightest argument between Britain and Germany, but by 1914, they were at war, leading to the accusation that "Other than the Kaiser nothing has done more to bring about the war than the Daily Mail". The 'Invasion' stories, and the subsequent war, were hugely successful for Harmsworth's sales and brought him immense wealth.
While it can't be said that the Daily Mail caused the war by themselves, they certainly played a very big part in fomenting the fear, hatred and glorification of militarism which meant that a single assassination, instead of being calmed diplomatically, exploded into a world war.
Happy, smiling Hitler with happy people.
Image: Daily Mail (see above)
The Mark: The German People 1920-1940
The Fake Enemy: The Jews
Hitler did not, as he points out in his autobiography, start off hating the Jews, “I saw no fault with them”. But, to take control of the people, he needed an enemy, to, as he says; “consolidate the attention of the people against a single adversary”. And the Jews suited that purpose very nicely.
Trouble is, though, that the 'marks' had Jews as friends, neighbours, clients, they knew they weren’t all bad. So the Jewish people had to be removed from society to their own ghettoes, where the German Volks couldn’t meet or like them. And then, well, you know what had to happen next...
The Mark: The British People
The Fake Enemy: The European Union
It may be baffling to an outsider how what is actually a meeting-place for a group of independent nations could somehow be turned into a supposed enemy, and how four decades of self-evident success could be presented as failure.
Making the EU into a figure of hate was surprisingly easy to do when its continued quiet effectiveness meant that it rarely made any headlines and so the British people just didn’t (and, I think largely still don’t) know what the EU is or does.
Astonishing as it may seem to outsiders, English schools do not customarily teach any logic, philosophy, politics, critical thinking or civics. They do, however, commonly teach that their country is vastly superior to all other others, which story makes it easy to run out a noose of lies.
George Soros - video by Peter Geoghegan
The Mark: The Hungarian and USA people
The Fake Enemy: George Soros
It is difficult to comprehend how George Soros, the Hungarian-born American billionaire investor and philanthropist, who has donated more than $32 billion, some 64% of his fortune, to causes associated with democracy and good governance could be made into any sort of anyone's enemy.
But, the point of a fake enemy isn't what they actually do, it's what you say they do.
The Mark: Parliamentarians 2008-2020
The Fake Enemy: Experts
This is a very interesting case of getting power through a 'false enemy'. Dominic Cummings' voluminous blog posts are a vast invective against the foul enemy of 'experts'. He riles against "intellectual elite" who "cut themselves off from understanding", against the "better educated" who are "irrational" even the whole medical profession which "unnecessarily kills and injures people on a vast scale". Experts "typically provide signal, noise, and bias" they "do not understand statistics properly", and are "prone to political hysteria".
This taught lawmakers that the reason their astonishingly clever ideas repeatedly didn’t work wasn’t because they were no good, but because they had an enemy, the so-called ‘experts’ - who really didn’t understand - kept holding them back. So Mr Cummings got a vastly paid job to advise, and vast power to seemingly direct, the British Conservative Party. The parliamentarians loved it, summed up in Minister Michael Gove’s "people in this country have had enough of experts". The result was not just a willingness to ignore those daft 'experts', but an assumption that if an expert said it, it must be wrong, leading to a series of preposterous policy decisions, including Brexit (see above) and the eventual, inevitable, collapse of a Cummings who directed that the silly 'experts' on viral pandemics needn't be heeded.
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