The Aurelian Column "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."

The Seductive Attraction of Tyranny

Few people seem to read much history these days. And when they do, fewer still seem to understand much of it.

Take the topic of “tyranny” for example. When one thinks of tyranny in a historical context, one thinks of massive killings; death camps; soldiers in gaudy uniforms firing guns into crowds of innocents. People being woken-up in the middle of the night by sinister-looking agents of the state wearing fedoras, and then being dragged off into the darkness screaming and pleading for their lives, never to be heard from again.

Yes. Tyranny has a reputation for being very dramatic. And sometimes it is. But in reality, oppression is seldom very obvious.

If you ask anyone who's lived in a nation where a handful of people at the top believe they know best how everyone else should live, the story you hear may surprise you. Such people will often tell you how pleasant and peaceful things can be. The average person tends to be polite to others, and very respectful to those in authority. Everybody gets along just fine.

You see, the objective of tyranny is to create an entirely benign environment where no threat exists to those in power. And this is done by completely cowering the population into a state of total non-resistance over an extended period. Eventually, everyone learns to live with a little bit of ever-present fear of doing something wrong. So everyone tends to be peaceful. Nobody wants to be offensive. Nobody wants to do anything not expected of them. Because nobody wants to get into trouble. All the rules are obeyed, and nobody wants to stand out by stepping out of line.

The truth — the horrible truth — about living under tyranny is that it feels good to most people. Fewer life decisions have to be made by the individual. Personal responsibility is minimized. You are told what is expected of you. And so long as you go along with everyone else you’re probably going to be okay.

If one watches an old newsreel filmed in countries we now think of historically as tyrannies, one will usually not find images of people who feel terrified or miserable. Quite the contrary. One sees crowds of citizens who are happy and cheering for their leaders. In most cases, this was not staged. It was sincere. Millions of people had given away their sovereignty and learned to love it. Life had become uncomplicated and relatively simple. Who cares about freedom and Free Will if there is enough food, physical comfort, relative safety, and sufficient entertainment? If you have all that, you have everything you need to be happy. And being happy is the one desire all humans have in common.

Thus, throughout the ages, all tyrants and want-to-be-tyrants have had the same message for those whom they seek to control: Happiness is Freedom

Only, it isn’t.

It has been said that freedom is the natural state of man. But tyranny has usually been man’s natural condition. Free societies of the kinds that have emerged from Western Civilization in recent centuries (the United States being the most notable) are rare exceptions to the rule. Except for a few short spans of years here and there, the rights of the average man or woman to live their life as they see fit, speak their mind, and pursue happiness by their definition of the word, has been virtually nonexistent in the human experience. Most people who have lived on this earth over the past 5000 or so years never knew freedom and personal sovereignty the way the average American citizen has for the past couple of centuries. We have been living through a tiny blip on the radar of the ages.

Tyranny doesn’t always have to mean poverty, either. There are many present-day countries considered peaceful and developed where folks have a very high standard of living. But being able to speak one’s mind, criticize the government, or be able to defend oneself with modern weapons is not permitted. And if you break the rules you could end up paying for the transgression with many years in prison, or even the loss of your life.

Just take a good look at the so-called developed nations of Europe and the Far East. Do a little bit of research, and this inconvenient truth becomes self-evident. Just because a country has a high standard of living and shopping malls full of goods doesn't mean the people have much control over their lives. Quite the contrary. The more one is dependent on a system; the less likely one is to go against that system. Dependency is, and always has been, one of the most effective tools of tyrants. Oppression is painless if applied gently over time.

Another repeated pattern of history is whenever tyrants are overthrown or die it is revealed afterward what horrible, sick people they were. Far from being near-deities of perfect words and deeds, all of them tend to be messed-up to such an extent that none of them could survive in a regular, civilized society.

Just take a good look at the would-be tyrants in positions of power in the United States today. They are there and easily spotted. And it is evident to all who are willing to see that they do not have the welfare of the average American as their primary concern. They demonstrate in their words and deeds that they wish nothing better than to arrange our lives like dolls at a child’s tea party or order us about like masses of little plastic soldiers on a lonely boy’s living room carpet.

Tyrants are all the same and always have been: Loners. Misfits. Privileged, grown-up children who have access to more money than wisdom. Whether they have gained political office by playing to the cameras or accumulated vast wealth while playing the numbers on Wall Street, these members of the plutocracy believe they know how to take care of us better than we can take care of ourselves.

But they don’t.

The same story is being repeated. The same disastrous outcome on the horizon unless the average citizen resists. There needs to be a collective “no” to the Siren Song of the tyrants before our civilization, like so many in the past, is smashed upon the rocks of history.

So beware the would-be tyrants who promise to keep you safe, to reduce your everyday burdens, and to make you happy if you give up some and eventually all of your freedoms. For they are not just an enemy of the people of today, they are an enemy of all of the people who have ever lived.


© 2017 Thomas Michael Caldwell. All Rights Reserved. This written work is not to be copied or reproduced without the permission of the author. Links to this page from other websites is permitted and encouraged.