Building my empire: respect for imperialism, imperialists, and anti-imperialism
Building my empire
Before I define what I mean by empire, note that empires have been around for a long time. Some current imperial institutions have roots going back thousands of years. So, the words “my empire” can simply refer to my participation in an existing operation of imperialism (in contrast to starting an entirely new empire).
In building my empire, I can respectfully recognize the larger social empire in which I operate. I may even have several alternatives in regard to how to ally with the larger empire(s) in our midst.
First, empires involve a central beneficiary receiving benefits from the activities of a variety of participants. We tend to think of empires as spreading across many continents and lasting many centuries, although we can also think of operations on a much smaller scale that resemble an empire. Outside of the human species, we can even notice even how many different groups of tiny bees all cooperate to benefit the queen bee.
On a small scale (though not quite as tiny as a bee hive), the owner of a business can employ several people and that owner will receive benefits from the activities of the entire group. We do not usually call that an “empire,” although if one business owner receives value from the labor of a few crews, then opens a few branch offices which each manage a few crews, and then buys some shares of stock to own a portion of several other businesses and receive dividends from the labor of all those other people, then that starts to resemble a small version of an empire.
On a larger scale, think of taxation. One regional tax collector can take 5% or even 50% of the taxable profits of many businesses (even many thousands of businesses), and then the central recipient (such as the Queen of England) can receive massive amounts of wealth from several tax collection programs: Canada, Australia, England, Ireland, and various other colonies across the planet).
A similar system is a church such as the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Local congregants give tithes and a portion of those tithes will be sent to the regional bishop, then a bunch of bishops send huge amounts of wealth to the archbiships, then all the archbishops send even larger concentrations of wealth to the central bureaucracy at the Vatican.
So, I may notice one or more empires operating in my midst. I may notice that a few of them are exceptionally successful and stable, with some lasting thousands of years.
However, in building “my” empire, the ultimate duration of what I create is not a primary concern. In my own case, I greatly value the opportunity to “groom” my offspring and kin to inherit and manage the empire that I build. I value growing a solid, stable, and strong empire.
So I begin with motivation as well as humility. I respect the imperial operations in my midst. I notice that some of them have vast amounts of military capacity (such as the local police department or a neighborhood chapter of a gang). Others seem to have tremendous social influence even without any overt military strength.
I am motivated to operate effectively within the empire that is here, plus to successfully build my own small empire. So, I am curous about how empires form, grow, and even dissolve (or at least withdraw from public notoriety).
While many seem anxious and distressed about how empires should operate, I am not interested in defending or ridiculing any particular presumption. Naturally, I operate with occasional presumptions (either formed by me or inherited from others) and some of those presumptions will inevitably contrast with my later observations.
A primary factor in the building of an empire is being motivated to the point of favoring observations over presumptions. This could also be called humility or respect or even just curiosity. I favor direct observation of what is now relevant and effective over merely repeating presumptions about what should be effective (or has been in the past, etc).
Of course, presumptions can be useful when an issue is not currently deemed relevant enough to actually test or examine. However, if the presumption seems relevant to a current priority, then measuring that presumption converts the mere presumption in to an actual observation.
Also, it can be useful to promote a particular presumption in various other people. A group of people may conspire to deceive those deemed to be gullible and naive, such as children. The most obvious case of that in my life is the story of Santa Claus.
In my youth, I was trained to be attentive to a variety of behavioral standards that certain adults wanted to encourage or discourage in me. One method that they used to increase my motivation to conform was by rewarding compliance, such as with a treat to reinforce compliance. Or, there could be a promise of a very big reward. Rather than constantly reward me to reinforce conformity, adults could constantly remind me that if I conformed then I would eventually be rewarded with a big gift.
Is Saint Nick watching for good or bad behavior even when I am alone? Does Saint Peter keep score of my thoughts to determine if I am agonizing about perfectionism enough to earn my way through the pearly gates?
I was intrigued to find that the legend about Saint Peter is similar to many other legends outside of the realm of the Holy Roman Catholic empire. Some similar teachings even precede that empire (and that legend) by thousands of years.
So, back to the general issue of what works in empires, one of the most universal ideas is “our network is favorable over all other networks.” Related is this one “the policies and rituals of our hierarchy are favorable over the policies and rituals of all other networks.”
The modern expansion of global imperialism has presented a new kind of diety or savior, called “science.” A distinct issue is how scientific the empire’s “science” really is, but the social value of the imperial ideology about science reminds me of Santa Claus again:
“If WE conform to the holy principles and doctrine of science, then the salvation of humanity is inevitable. Contrary to a famous line from the movie Star Wars, the great jedi Obi Wan is not only our hope. Science is our only hope.”
Briefly, empires program the attention, perception, and behavior of their participants. For simplicity, consider the example of a bee hive.
In observing a bee hive, it may be challenging for humans to identify the specific mechanisms of influence. However, it is easy to observe that bees (and other social insects like ants) move in swarms. The behaviors of the majority of the organisms in the hive are highly consistent. Even just through scent trails, each organism influences the attention and behavior of the others.
With human empires, we create rituals to program the attention of the masses. That includes training the imperial priesthood of instructors, such as in seminaries and in colleges to train teachers. Even the professors who will train medical doctors are themselves trained and regulated.
Starting a few hundred years ago, there was widespread publishing of books, weekly devotional guides, semester curriculums, and then magazines and newspapers. The audience is directed to focus on particular subject and in particular ways.
A primary instrument in all of these forms of governing the attention of the masses is language, including written words but also oral instruction. Oral instruction is not just about conforming to the scripts created by the central curriculum committee. The disciplining of the students (or even their parents) is also essential to the job of the classroom teacher.
Back to the indoctrinating of the masses about science, here is how it works. A central committee decides what topics to present as science and how to present them. The teachers are programmed to deliver the curriculum, to maintain classroom discipline, and then to conduct testing rituals for use in determining which students to reward the most for conformity.
The students memorize the doctrines about science then repeat them back on a test, generally without examining or verifying those doctrines. If the curriculum says that cholesterol is a very dangerous poison that is manufactured in large amounts by thousands of species of creatures, then memorizing and repeating that can earn someone a high grade in a class labeled as a “science” class. The textbook clearly has a title of “science” written in big letters on the front cover of the book, so whatever is in the book deserves to be worshiped as highly important plus beyond question, right?
In regard to the subject of me building my empire, I do not have much more to say just yet about actual scientific inquiry or any specific popular doctrines about science that are programmed in to the public. For now, I simply pause to focus on the importance of indoctrination in general in all empires. We can respect the presence of indoctrination as well as the effectiveness of many forms of indoctrination, from programming small children about Santa Claus to programming others about “science.”
Of course the rituals of imperial indoctrination are conspiracies. Large groups of people intentionally influence others to be presumptive about specific things, including some things known to be generally false as well as some things known to be at least far beyond the personal expertise of the officer of the empire who is conducting the instructional programming.
Next, big empires involve massive operations of indoctrination. People will even be indoctrinated about indoctrination.
“Indoctrination is manipulation and exploitation, which is wrong. Our holy empire of scientific justice is completely different from all other empires because our indoctrination is not indoctrination. In fact, our empire is not even an empire and empires are oppressive, which is morally shameful. Our passionate condemnation of oppression is why our empire is more holy than all of the others, which are nothing at all like ours.”
So, through indoctrination programming, the masses are trained to relate to certain things as shameful or even dangerous: naked bodies, imperialism, cholesterol, indoctrination, scientific inquiry that questions a popular presumption about science, etc…. Almost everyone in the congregation or classroom reinforces the holy presumptions programmed by the social authority.
What about those who are the least enthusiastic in their celebration of presumptions (and of the programming rituals which promote them)? Those people may be allowed to remain present, but may also be disciplined or expelled for interfering with the orderly execution of the program / programming. What is so disruptive about these rebels? They may raise questions of scientific inquiry right in the middle of science class. In small amounts, that can be tolerated and ignored (or even channeled in to acceptable topics).
However, imagine the disruption to the programming rituals which would manifest if children were allowed to scientifically examine the major doctrines of classroom programming about science. Students might question the assertions of causality (even showing evidence of no positive correlation where popular scientific doctrines teach that a correlation exists). Students may find research which tests various popular medical interventions against a placebo. Think of the social disruption that coiuld be produced if such explorations were not only allowed but encouraged.
Indoctrination is not designed to promote inquiry in general, but to very carefully channel the natural tendency for inquiry. Not only will certain subjects of inquiry be rewarded, but certain conclusions. Further, certain subjects of inquiry may be punished or at least socially ridiculed.
This is not a problem. This is the fundamental purpose of institutions of indoctrination and of their programming rituals.
Of course the central committee will consider the interests of the empire when selecting what content to present to the masses. Of course it is deliberate when the tests for advancing in school are written tests rather than tests of vocational mastery, like assembling a rifle from its compenent parts in 90 seconds.
The first phase of indoctrination in the empire is simply the rewarding of blind compliance in general. For those who do well enough in that stage of the empire’s social competition to be the most compliant, they may be allowed (or forced) in to the military.
The investment of the empire in its soldiers is far greater than in its students in general. Military trainees will be given a series of tests involving physical performance (like marksmanship) and those who fail will either be retrained or excluded from the next level of training. Further, military officers not only are trained in how to indoctrinate their subordinates, but some branches of the US military actually use the specific term “indoctrination” as the label for those activities.
Through schools and mass media, people are programmed in regard to what topics to think about as relevant, how exactly to think about those topics, and then what actions to take based on the programmed interpretations of the programmed topics. Ultimately, the entire structure relies on the perception of military supremacy (of the empire over the individual organisms).
However, how are people programmed to relate to topics of bullying and intimidation and extortion? We are trained to consider these patterns of activity as shameful. The empire punishes bullying and intimidation and extortion, right? Not always….
Observe that many empires are operations that extract wealth by force from their occupied populations or human resources. The wealth extraction process may be directly performed by the armed soldiers of the local law enforcement priesthood, such as court orders for the armed officer to go to a certain bank and physically present a demand letter for the bank to remove wealth from one party’s account and present that money to the court officer. In other cases, governments have seized or frozen entire banks (rather than just one person’s account).
In 2013, the government of a small European island called Cyprus seized all of the assets of all of the banks operating there. Why did that happen? The government was under pressure from the EU to make payments beyond the assets of the government. So, the government needed to access some more assets.
What could have happened if the government of Cyprus did not pay the EU? Maybe the EU would send in an army to install a new government.
So, governments extract wealth by force. Further, they have very specific rituals for extracting wealth. They regulate the activity of extortion. They monopolize that activity and punish those who perform extortion outside of the government’s own extortion operations.
Further, governments define what is extortion (officially) and what is not (such as “taxation”). Case by case, government authorities assess whether or not a particular pattern of activity is required, allowed, or prohibited for anyone without a government license. Even those who are conducting extortion operations with a government license must either keep their practices within certain rigid guidelines or else they can face severe consequences.
On the other hand, taxes are simply debts that governments invent. They have rituals for declaring that various people are debtors who owe them various amounts of wealth.
What if people do not pay the invented debts? That can result in asset seizure, imprisonment, and, in some empires, public rituals of human sacrifice.
Governments create definitions of crime (using rituals for the creation of crimes / criminal regulations). Governments also perform rituals for investigating crimes and prosecuting them.
In some cases, an individual may be indicted for several crimes, then convicted, then pardoned. The ritual of pardoning a criminal is another clear indication of the fact that governments govern crime. Only a member of the highest levels of a government priesthood can issue a pardon (or overturn a conviction).
Governments program the masses to be ashamed and hysterical about various realities. People are indoctrinated to experience contempt for certain people, such as “someone who does not pay their fair share of taxes.” If the local warlords are forcing everyone else to send 50% of their profits to the local warlords, then why should anyone have the massive advantage of an exemption from that wealth extraction program?
However, when a person who committed major tax crimes, such as Marc Rich, was pardoned by US President Bill Clinton, that event might not get much attention in the news or in future textbooks. Indoctrination rituals are designed to promote the interests of the empire, which include compliance (AKA “loyalty to the common good”).
Who defines “the common good?” A small elite group defines it and then the network of indoctrination publicizes their doctrines through schools and media outlets.
The masses are not to be distracted by facts which might confuse them and cause them to question the holy presumptions about how our empire is the holiest ever. Instead, schools and the media define certain issues as important, certain issues as important controversies or scandals, and certain issues as problems that require a particular government solution.
The media and schools universally promote the government as the savior of the masses who will provide solutions to the most important current problems. It is relatively rare for the media or government-operated schools to present governments as the ones who define problems and who even cultivate circumstances that can be defined as a problem in order to justify a particular solution.
However, imagine that an external group had the purpose of creating a demoralization of a certain population. They could publicize scandals (or at least accusations) that trigger shame and dissent and animosity WITHIN a particular collective.
A schism can be created within one political party. Or, a new level of division between opposing parties can be cultivated. Once the internal stability of a society is sufficiently weakened, then a crisis can be cultivated and a new solution can be promoted (or simp[ly imposed).
Is that a new strategy? Did I just invent the idea of “divide and conquer?” Were the ancient Romans the first to conceive the idea of “give them free bread plus circuses to amuse them?”
Or, are the basic practices of empires more ancient than any single empire? Is it essential to study the practices of how to effectively build an empire? If not essential, is it at least relevant or even just ideal (as in your preference)?
Those who build empires know the difference between what is essential and what is merely ideal. The worship of ideals can, ideally, be promoted in the masses so as to distract them from what is essential. Their dependency on the empire will be cultivated.
However, in contrast to the potential benefits of promoting of idealism, the essense of an empire is that the labor of vast numbers of people benefit a centralized elite. Like when someone owns thousands of dollars of stock in dozens of companies, they are investing in those stocks in order to receive dividends (the passive, unearned cash flow) from the labor of others. Further, some investors are even programmed to presume that ownership of stocks is likely to result in an appreciation of the value of the stocks.
An empire tends to promote what benefits the empire. If certain presumptions can be promoted in the masses so as to promote certain behaviors in the masses, the empire will tend to prpomote the behaviors that benefit the empire. One of the most favorable of developments is for the empire to promote a dependency on the empire. Another is for the masses to relate to the empire as the one and only possible savior from a state of dependency.
“We must all join together to vote our way to freedom and prosperity! It is not just our privilege but our responsibility and duty and obligation, so anyone who does not vote the right way must be sufficiently pressured and intimidated in to promoting freedom from blind compliance.”