Saturday, September 21, 2013

Governments React Badly to Truths That are Really Inconvenient

1945 photo by James Gaussman, Army Pilot
I saw a post yesterday about efforts by the Chinese government to hide the fact that there are pyramids in China, complete with mummies, many of which have inconveniently Caucasian features. The Chinese government has planted forests and briar thickets over them and knocked parts of the structures down in order to obscure them.  The party line for ages has been that they do not exist or that only a few of the more "Chinese" ones - emperor tombs covered in the official histories. The photograph to the left was taken in 1945 by an American pilot, James Gaussman, of one very large pyramid that no one has quite been able to find since.  There are a lot of esoteric theories about the Chinese pyramids.  The Chinese government only says they have not been studied yet. Despite evidence of their existence, the Communists aren't much interested in talking about them.

Someone who read the post I saw had the temerity to ask, "Why?"

Since that person was an avowed progressive socialist, I thought I might answer the question and perhaps provide enlightenment as well.

So what is the point of the Chinese government hiding their ancient pyramids? Wouldn't it be a great archeological find and gateway to the door of their past as a nation?


Aerial view of Chinese Pyramid network
That's precisely why they're hiding them.  The reason is simple. The existence of pyramids and Caucasians in ancient China, perhaps even as partial ancestors to the Chinese people, does not fit the narrative of the Middle Kingdom, an idea fostered in Chinese culture. Unforseen new "history" could be extremely inconvenient for the government and such governments as that which runs China have an almost pathological need to control the flow of information. China's bosses have a solidly set narrative about how things are and ought to be and they don't like surprises, even archaeological ones.

Henry Kissinger called this narrative "The Middle Kingdom Syndrome".  Chinese civilization has evolved into something like The Matrix.  While China is notorious for stealing ideas from other nations, they do so without any guilt about it. They don't see it as stealing. The Chinese do not merely copy external ideas or even external realities. They use these ideas and resources to create an ongoing reality that serves the notion of the superiority and privilege of the Middle Kingdom (China). The Middle Kingdom believes they have a right to anything they want or need, whether it be stolen satellite technology or a permanent trade imbalance in their favor. They believe the universe supplies the Middle Kingdom with what they need be it goods, technology, money, land or opportunities and see no problem with reaching out and taking these things when they obligingly present themselves.

Chinese leaders, the rightful rulers of the Middle Kingdom as they see it, believe this implicitly.  This is not propaganda, it's an article of faith with them.  China does not, for instance, see itself as "catching up" with modern technology.  Modern technology is simply providing itself to China in service to the Middle Kingdom's rightful destiny - as is only right and proper that it should.

Such delusional thinking is a problem with ANY large and intrusive government with vast power. Aldous Huxley and George Orwell both covered this problem in their books, "Brave New World" and "1984".  When you concentrate power in the hands of a few, those few, in order to cling to that power, must create a narrative - even a false history if necessary - to justify their continuing hold on all that power. This narrative must support their right to intrude on the lives of their subjects.  Anything which does not "fit" the narrative must be suppressed. 

The problem for them in the modern world is that people are not naive enough to let them get away with setting themselves up as gods with the divine right to tell the rest of us what to do.
Stalin and Mao were probably the last to get away with doing so. President Obama's supporters would like to make him a Messiah figure, but most Americans are having none of it.  We know too much. We have too many different faiths for any leader to misuse religion to bolster his own power as the pharoahs and the Roman emperors used to. 

An alternative path to god-like power, then, is to destroy faith in anything except government and its more charismatic leaders.  They may allow a few religions which make a minor deity of government, but faith in something greater than themselves must be beaten down and made a mockery of.  As I've said many times, the problem with this world is not religion.  It's government.

These pyramids loom unmistakably real over the Chinese landscape
The first thing a government which has achieved great power must do is either suppress or co-opt any existing system of faith which does not acknowledge the government as supreme.  Any theology or philosophy which might ask awkward questions about the government must be suppressed or ridiculed into impotence.  That's why communist governments are so militantly atheist. If there is no God, then there is no one greater than themselves and thus, none to challenge the powers-that-be.

So it's no surprise the Middle Kingdom would react badly to the news that history might be rather different than the historical doctrine taught in their carefully constructed textbooks. Nations like the Soviet Union and Communist China, as well as WWII Japan and Germany, had to act as ruthlessly as they did against anyone who challenged the right of their leaders to exercise power as they did - no matter that it might be their own citizens they had to ship off to gulags, internment camps, "mental" hospitals and prisons.

A government serves its people so long as its power is limited.  As well-meaning people try to extend the power of government in order to make the lives of all citizens "better", the process inevitably reaches a tipping point - a point of no return if you will. You can see it approaching. The signs look something like this:

  1. A movement begins that promises to change the world for the better - usually to make the lives of a powerful bloc of citizens better.
  2. True believers in the movement worm their way into public office with promises of rewards for "the people" if they support them.
  3. The movement co-opts the universities and turns them into propaganda machines, teaching students how to think properly; training more true believers who train more true believers and on and on.
  4. The media, trained in pro-movement universities, chooses sides with the government which is by now heavily pro-movement.
  5. The media supports government programs and initiatives uncritically. 
  6. Education is altered, textbooks revised to support a pro-government narrative.
  7. With the support of the growing number of pro-movement voters, vast new programs are initiated that promise to end hunger, to conquer poverty and to give everyone a job.
  8. The number of poor does not decrease, unemployment climbs and hunger and homeless become rampant.
  9. A segment of citizens are vilified, singled out as "the problem", in order to focus attention away from the fact that the government is failing. 
  10. A lot of speeches get made about duty, service, collective action and collective responsibility.
  11. Internal "security" forces are beefed up.
  12. Pretty soon, it's off to the gulags for anyone who points out that the emperor has no clothes.
As we look around us and see a heavily biased core media in this country, the federally mandated "Core Curriculum" movement, a faltering economy, polarization of our country and the president making state of the union address calling for "collective action", I fear we are rapidly approaching a tipping point.  It will be interested to see what a nation, built upon the principle that all men are created equal, does when it becomes apparent that their government not only no longer believes in that principle, but actively is working to insure the permanent superiority of and rule by a privileged elite class.

When they start telling you that you're not smart enough to understand why the government is doing to you what they're doing to you, and to shut up and go along with it, you'll pretty much know the tipping point has been reached. Unless I tip over face first in my soup pretty soon, I fear I'll live to see it.

© by Tom King

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