Friday, October 03, 2008

Today's Literary Lesson

from Memoirs from the House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Blood and power are intoxicants; callousness and perversity develop and grow; the greatest perversions become acceptable and finally sweet to the mind and heart. The man and the citizen perish eternally in the tyrant, and a return to human dignity, to remose and regeneration, becomes almost completely impossible to him. Besides this, example and the possibility of such arbitrary power act like a contagion on the whole society; such despotism is a temptation.

A society which contemplates such manifestations calmly is already corrupted at its roots. In short, the right given to one man to inflict corporal punishment on another is one of the ulcers of society, one of the most powerful destructive agents of every germ and every budding attempt at civilization, the fundamental cause of its certain and irretrievable destruction.

In the novel Dune, by Frank Herbert, the emperor uses his prison planet Salusa Secondus to train soldiers who will serve his will without question and deliver his punishments upon any population without remorse or pity. It can be argued that the purpose of a protracted and purposeless war is to prepare society to accept a new form of government and to train and dehumanize the relative handful of soldiers and police who will ultimately use terror to enforce the will of the lone despot upon a population of millions who could, if properly coordinated and motivated, overthrow him with almost no risk to life, limb, or treasure.

Nothing in politics happens by accident. There are always plans within plans within plans.

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