|"Luke, I am your father."|
I don't know if "the dark side of the force" was considered in ancient times, but it has been considered from time to time in this series, and, as we will discuss later in this post, has been considered by at least one current and well known intellectual.
This series deals with a dynamic, a product of our culture, a common yet generally sub-surface concept: "a common metaphor, shared by conservatives and liberals alike -- the Nation-as-Family metaphor, in which the nation is seen as a family, the government as a parent and the citizens as children" (The Nation-as-Family Metaphor).
It has quite a direct impact on us, yet, it is not a part of everyday consciousness: "Directly, but not consciously. As with other aspects of framing, the use of this metaphor lies below the level of consciousness." (The Nation as Family, PDF).
The idea has been around for quite a while:
The family as a model for the organization of the state is a theory of political philosophy. It either explains the structure of certain kinds of state in terms of the structure of the family (as a model or as a claim about the historical growth of the state), or it attempts to justify certain types of state by appeal to the structure of the family. The first writer to use it (certainly in any clear and developed way) was Aristotle, who argued that the natural progression of human beings was from the family via small communities to the polis.(Wikipedia, "Family as a model for the state", emphasis added). Remembering, of course, that "the structure of the family in ancient times was generally far more hierarchical – and patriarchal – than today".
Many writers from ancient times to the present have seen parallels between the family and the forms of the state. In particular, monarchists have argued that the state mirrors the patriarchal family, with the people obeying the king as children obey their father.
Aristotle often describes personal and domestic relationships in terms of different forms of government.
Confucius believed the child should be subordinate to the parent, younger brother to the older, wife to husband, and subject to the sovereign who is to be regarded as the father of the nation.
Anyway, let's consider the good side of this metaphor:
The Nurturant Parent Model. The family is of either one or two parents. Two are generally preferable, but not always possible.(The Nation-as-Family Metaphor, cf. The Common Good series). Now, let's consider the dark side by asking "what if the state, the nation, the powers that be in a civilization go stark raving mad?"
The primal experience behind this model is one of being cared for and cared about, having one's desires for loving interactions met, living as happily as possible, and deriving meaning from one's community and from caring for and about others.
What if government becomes a mass-murdering, warmongering, propaganda driven engine of destruction like Darth Vader, Luke's only living parent?
This was discussed in yesterday's post in the sense of some of that being the case now:
There is, in fact, a strong case to be made that a prime concern of government is the security of state power from the population. As those who have spent time rummaging through archives should be aware, government secrecy is rarely motivated by a genuine need for security, but it definitely does serve to keep the population in the dark. And for good reasons, which were lucidly explained by the prominent liberal scholar and government adviser Samuel Huntington, the professor of the science of government at Harvard University. In his words: “The architects of power in the United States must create a force that can be felt but not seen. Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.” [cf. The Ways of Bernays](New Continent Found - Garbage Gyre II - 8, quoting Chomsky). That nation as family metaphor or model becomes useless, or at least limited doesn't it?
Too scary to be real?
These simple truths are rarely acknowledged, but they provide insight into state power and policy, with reverberations to the present moment.
State power has to be protected from its domestic enemy [the people]; in sharp contrast, the population is not secure from state power.
Let us turn to another question: What about the security of the population? It is easy to demonstrate that this is a marginal concern of policy planners. Take two prominent current examples, global warming and nuclear weapons. As any literate person is doubtless aware, these are dire threats to the security of the population. Turning to state policy, we find that it is committed to accelerating each of those threats -- in the interests of the primary concerns, protection of state power and of the concentrated private power that largely determines state policy.
Consider global warming. There is now much exuberance in the United States about “100 years of energy independence” as we become “the Saudi Arabia of the next century” -- perhaps the final century of human civilization if current policies persist.
That illustrates very clearly the nature of the concern for security, certainly not for the population.
Should we as children, or could we, change all that by having Darth Vader change political parties?
If he is a democrat urge him to become a republican, or vice versa?
Can we treat madness with the medicines of political correctness, prescribe better politics as a cure for a sociopath, psychopath, or another demented type?
Or can we treat them with a better education, better poetry, more guns ... or what?
Think about it, is it a stretch and a bit too far to expect that a rogue nation will, like Darth Vader in the movies, come around to help Luke and Princess Leia at the very end, just before becoming immortal?
I will close with this quote:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."(A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee). Take care and have a great Fourth of July.
The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.