Tuesday, August 03, 2004

VILLAGE WEEK: The Texas Prince

[SPOILERS]
One of the 2 "twists" of The Village is the knowledge Ivy Walker (Howard) learns regarding "those we do not speak of." In fact they do not exist. As her father says, "it is a farce." The Elders of the village use bones, skins, and other natural materials to fashion boogeymen suits. Dressing up as the horrible creatures reinforces the myth of evil that lives in Covington Woods. The woods completely encircles the village. By using this fear through legend and eye witness reports, the elders ensure that no one will ever go exploring beyond the borders of the settlement. In turn, when those lacking fear have been so daring as to proceed beyond the boundaries, the boogeymen reek havoc (slaughtering the live stock), as retribution and reinforce the notion of fear.

In a tactic normally used by religion and often politico-religious positions, fear is used to acquire power and control of children, subjects, citizens, and worshipers. This tactic is completely antithetical to a "Free" society such as the one we have touted here in the United States (supposed separated from religion as well). Enter, the Texas Prince.

"Since it is difficult to join them together, it is safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking," Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1532)
In January 2001, the second non elected man (Gerald Ford was No. 1) took the reigns of our country. How did he do it? Well, money, power, connections, and pure manipulation seam to dominated popular will rather easily. For more details, watch Fahrenheit 911.
The economy was tanking and Bush was on vacation, then September 11, 2001 changed everything. Everyone, including myself, was frightened, confused, angry, grieving, and flooded with an entire host of emotions having witnessed a horror we never in our worst dreams imagined. And what did our President do? (After telling us to shop) He told us to be afraid... to be very afraid and ultimately trust in him. Soon I was being frisked and fondled in airports, but I didn't mind because it was in the name of conserving freedom, right? Then came Mr. Ashcroft, and the Patriot act. Not to mention small town hysteria where Muslims were being attacked and turned into the FBI for suspicious activity. Least we forget the rollarcoaster of color Red Orange and Yellow. And then, then there were the "retaliation" and weapons of mass destruction theories used to justify some good ol' fashion revenge in a family feud.
"There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others, " The Prince
In the early part of the 16th Century, and Italian man, Niccolo Machiavelli, wrote the equivalent of "Political Ascension, Power, and Retention for Dummies." It was called The Prince. In the piece, Machiavelli lays out his amoral, calculating, manipulative philosophy for ruling a city-state, country, or world. While a leader may attain love, love does guarantee respect nor does it loyalty. You only have to take a simple look at an ex boy or girlfriend to understand that. So where does the power come from? Machiavelli I'm sure had only to look to the Roman Catholic Church or the gods of antiquity to find the answer. FEAR. The number one tenet was fear... ALWAYS be feared (but never be hated). Hate inspires... You must scare and give hope at the same time to avoid hate. Oppressed people will kill and revolt and tear down the walls of aristocracy fueled by hate (Bastille Day, anyone?). That is in essence the tenets of communism (good in theory/bad in practice).
Needless to say, The Prince has been a required political read for centuries as well as The Art of War (especially in the corporate world). And why? Because, quite simply, it often tends to work because while civilization may grow and evolve, human nature stays the same.
Do I think Bush is intelligent enough to discern the principal and teaching of Machiavelli... I highly doubted seeing he doesn't read the paper. But, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Papa Bush, these are men who no doubt poise their puppet prince for person gains in power and wealth. President George W. Bush believes he assumed power through divine right and therefore is infallible. It's great to have a president steadfast in his beliefs... But, what if he's wrong? In the end we are all just members of The Village, some of us can see through the woods while others are cowering in the basements hiding from "those we do not speak of."
Will there ever be a situation so shocking that would lead President Bush to say "It's all a farce." In The Village, it was a literal matter of life and death. Since the body bags are flowing through Dover, the value of life seams not enough to quell the ambitions of The Texas Prince.

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