A deadly smallpox virus known as “The Red” has swept the world and wiped out a significant portion of the population. Society as we know it crumbled, but from its ashes new city states and even small nations began to arise. Some in the North American areas attempted to resurrect the old ways and rebuild a democracy in the new world; others sought control, security, and power at any cost.
The Singular State of Liberty (SSL) thrived off of control. Off of subservience and a strict class system. They prized power over all else.
The following is a series of letters sent approximately 50 years after “The Red.” Former Minister of Propaganda (ret.) Silas Kent seeks to mentor the newly inducted dictator of the SSL, Representative Rufus Conway…
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Dear Representative Conway,
I noticed that you made quite the spectacle of the execution of SIA Administrator Daniels. Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying, I agree that he needed to die and it needed to be known that you weren’t going to stand for his actions. While I don’t care if the SSL’s intelligence agency officials use their resources to appease the wants and desires of the intelligence heads, Daniels made the fatal error of getting caught. He knew the consequences.
My concern was not with your punitive actions, it was with the brutality in which you had the sentence carried out. Daniels held the loyalty of many within the Singular Intelligence Apparatus, and I worry that it will bite you back.
Had it been me, I would have put a bullet in his head myself (a sign of great responsibility), and then lamented the fall and eventual loss of a friend and loyal companion in the SSL.
This may turn out well for you, after all, luck is a factor you cannot rely on but is to be enjoyed when it surfaces.
This thing with Daniels has got me thinking – before we really get into how to control the people, I need to clarify some things. Every science class begins with defining its various terms; every math class with understanding its most fundamental equations. Today I aim to define the various “circles” to understand when it comes to those who are subject to your power.
You cannot control each of these circles with the same methods; a man does not control his wife the same way he controls his children. If he does, she’ll be off with the lot of them in the middle of the night, and why wouldn’t she? Similarly, if you treat one of your most capable generals the same way you treat the people at large, you are bound to find the thousands of rifles that belong to him pointed in your direction.
So let’s take a look at who is who.
We will start with the obvious, the group that I am constantly referring to as “the people.” This is the most diverse of groups, and in it you will find those with similar mentalities to your own, zealots for anarchy and chaos, and every type of human being in between.
Within these swaths of bodies, you have some quite stupid people who ought not to register as human at all; you also have surprisingly intellectual fellows in all fields and of all political beliefs. Do not underestimate your enemies within the people – many a President or Representative have fallen because they assumed that anyone who opposes them must be stupid simply because they are wrong. This silly notion is born from hubris, and while pride in oneself is natural and deserved in your case, it will destroy you if it supersedes simple logic.
That does not mean you must assume all of the people are intelligent, “just in case.” This would also be inaccurate, and if you do not have an accurate picture of a problem you cannot attack it correctly. You must handle people as they are – for example, the smart ones need emotional persuasion to overcome their intellect; the rather dumb ones need to be fed a stream of facts that they can recite without truly understanding to make them feel intellectual.
You can replace smart and dumb with any other category out there – rich or poor, religious or non-religious, etc. (this isn’t a rule book, it’s a philosophy to apply to your leadership). Just don’t ever make the mistake of thinking one group is silly and incapable of great harm to your administration.
At the end of the day, the people are what give you power but they are also those who will overthrow you at the drop of a hat, if they are given the chance. Because of this, they are to be considered a sort of enemy. Of course, you don’t crush them in the way you crush your enemies, as then you would simply be a ruler of a pile of ashes. And of course you also want to reward loyalty as necessary alongside other deeds in support of your administration.
But anyone who can usurp you needs special attention, and the people will be the first ones to do it. The people are constantly toeing the line of revolution and immense bloodshed, and they don’t even know it, like a child dancing on the side of a highway. They must be treated accordingly.
The Military (and like organizations)
The next major circle is what I like to call your “hands.” They are the practical circle, tools which you use to exert and enact your policies in the physical world. If someone punches you, this is the hand that you use to punch back. If someone screams, this is the hand you use to cover their mouth. Of course, I mean the military first and foremost, but certainly law enforcement, emergency medical services, and other “rubber meets the road” type professions under direct control from your government institutions.
It’s important that you maintain control of these organizations. They must ultimately defer to you, and you alone.
My job was to use information to control the people. This is the most effective way of doing so, because if done properly then the people will never even know they were being controlled. It’s hard to rebel against something if you have been convinced that it is the correct path. And yet, there will still be those who cannot be controlled by information alone. Dissident weeds will always grow, even in the most well kept gardens.
Never be so overconfident in your strategy in one area (propaganda, for example) that you aren’t bolstering your plans B and C. The use of force can be an ultimate secondary or tertiary plan.
Now, do not make the mistake many of your predecessors have made. Do not assume that the military is on your side. Our three year mandatory service is full of voices of dissent – after all, we’re literally recruiting from the people at large. But even our higher ranks, who are there by choice, are not necessarily loyal to you by default. You must win their loyalty – most of them stay in because they are obviously aligned with your ideals and manner of leadership to some degree, so while the chances of those in your own military rising against you are slim, know that such an uprising will be nearly impossible for you to overcome. The risk is low, but the consequences are severe.
So, like the people, they pose a potential threat to your administration and must be controlled as such, and you do this by winning their loyalty. You can push the people to the brink, but if you push the military in the same ways then eventually they will realize that they are the one holding the physical power.
And make no mistake, physical violence supersedes all political maneuvering, moral pandering, and petty dialogue.
Within this group, you have the power to reward (promote, give awards, etc.) the worthy and punish the unworthy quite clearly and with ease. Use that to your advantage, take an interest in who is rising through the ranks of law enforcement, the military, and other pertinent government institutions, and build for yourself a governmental entity that serves you and your agendas.
When it comes to loyalty, ensure that loyalty to country equals loyalty to you. Disloyalty to you equals disloyalty to country. Don’t let them get any ideas that the country and the people in it are more important than you and your agendas.
On that note, most people will not get on board with blindly following an all-powerful leader, so you have to blur the lines between patriotism and your own rule. Make them one in the same, difficult to distinguish from the two.
The SSL military is an elite force the likes of which the post-Red world has never seen. Once you have control of them, use them to your advantage. Keep them busy; a busy army will not have the time to think about you and your right to power.
The Political Arm
Next you have your political arm. Fortunately, our system is much simpler and less convoluted than pre-Red countries, which makes it easier for you to control. And as I made clear before, control is the one thing keeping the people from hurting themselves – that is why they built the SSL, so we could keep them safe as a whole. The political institution is what defines the rule of law in order to make that happen.
Always remember this basic rule of thumb: The more laws you write, the more control you have. It’s that simple.
And it’s the politicians who write these laws. Now, this may sound strange coming from a career politician, but I’m not cut from the same cloth as many of those two-faced snakes. You came from the military, and while many Generals have transformed into politicians themselves, you do not seem like such a man.
Make no mistake, these politicians are all climbing the same ladder you are. Even those on “your team” are climbing the same ladder, and you’re in the one spot on top. And they all know it.
As if I didn’t need any more reasons to dislike this group, traditional methods of propaganda and control will not keep these sharks at bay. They know the game as well as you do – some even know it better than you.
However, their hubris typically blinds them to their weaknesses, and that’s where you can exploit them. If they are exceptionally adept at playing the game of politics, they may respond well to (covert) physical threats. A man of great political power and nuance will be deeply humbled by a crowbar.
If they are a career military man who thrives on volatile situations, then perhaps mire them in blackmail and attack their reputation – let them watch as their precious honor disintegrates before their eyes, and they may come crawling back to subservience. A man of action and strength can be strangled by bureaucracy.
Be careful here. These snakes live, breathe, and touch themselves to the political game.
The Inner Circle
The final circle is the one you build yourself. It is the small group of people that you have groomed and molded into trustworthy advocates of your agendas. Your inner circle.
However, a man in your position cannot even trust the trustworthy. It is this group who will toss you off the throne, because they are the ones who truly know your weaknesses.
I know a few names in your inner circle. I know your wife is one of them. I do not mean to say that she, in particular, is not to be trusted; rather, I am saying that every move your inner circle makes, consider it with a moment’s pause. And then continue forward.
And always, always have a method in place to defeat, discredit, and destroy them.
I don’t need to say much more on this subject. I know who you had to eliminate in order to earn your position. I know you understand that even those closest to you must be sacrificed in the name of power and achievement.
I hope I didn’t draw this out too long. You could add a fourth circle of influence and add rambling old men to it. Give them the death penalty, lest they talk you to death first.
Featured image courtes
y of Adobe Stock.
For the love of god, if you think these views are expressed by the author then you aren’t quite picking up what I’m putting down.
Inspired by C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters”
If you like this series, check out my book The First Marauder here on Amazon. It’s set in the same universe!