Letters to a Dictator: The practical idealist

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.” Minister of Propaganda (ret.) Silas Kent seeks to mentor the newly inducted dictator of the SSL, Representative Rufus Conway…

~ ~ ~ ~

Dear Representative Conway,

In my previous letter we discussed the various types of people, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the greatest threat of all. He or she may linger in any group previously mentioned except for your innermost circle (assuming you chose your friends wisely, and my sources say that you have), and they can spring into action at any time. When you find such filth traipsing around one of your cities or screeching across your airwaves, you ought to make it your mission to have them immediately defeated, discredited, and/or destroyed.

Beware the practical idealist.

There are many self proclaimed idealists out there running about, printing pamphlets, sending mass alert texts to swaths of random phone numbers, or uploading various rants and raves onto the state-net only to have them removed soon after. These are impractical idealists, people who play at my game of propaganda but simply fall flat on their face, and who act like fools as they scream to a wall when no one is really listening.

A practical idealist speaks less and may be harder to spot — a quiet rat among a throng of blithering rats will not be the first one to catch your eye. Still, they are someone with the ridiculous values of a heart-throbbing teenager, but the skills and knowledge to actually enact change as they see fit. There is no ‘dealing’ with these sorts of people in the sense that they cannot be bought, their minds cannot be changed, and they are already deferring to a morality higher than you.

Before the SSL was the SSL we have today, I came across such a man. He was a middle-aged governor with a military background in a militia in southern Michigan. He saw that the people had demanded the SSL protect them from themselves, and would have none of it. He was a lover of freedom/self-destruction, I suppose.

We discovered that in his youth he had cheated on his wife, several times. We were lucky enough to obtain very explicit evidence of his indiscretions, and threatened to show both his wife and his children. And so what did he wind up doing? He told them, not ten minutes after we made our threats. I even had an amicable compromise to offer him, and yet he didn’t give me time to offer it. He simply spat out the truth and continued onward, snatching the cards from our hands, ending the game of propaganda in its tracks.

Unfortunately he and his family tragically perished in a boat fire not two weeks after. But had he survived, he would have posed a serious threat. His ideology coupled with a practical knowledge of our political system, not to mention his seat in power, would have made him a menace quite tedious to deal with.

Thankfully these people are not common, and if you do your job correctly they will be even more scarce. Most people are too afraid to actually act, as it may land them in prison, or out of favor in some social circle — and of course that’s not “practical” or “realistic” for them. Others are too lazy, too caught up in their own routine to make any significant action a realistic addition to their lives.

The people have a tendency to idolize these men and women, and such idolization can spread like wildfire. Of course, you can act punitively, catch the practical idealist and make a violent example of them, but you know my style by now — nip it in the but. Attack the ideology that builds the practical idealists in the first place.

And it comes back to this: the people must idolize you and the system you have provided for them. They must do it without question, so much so that they yearn to give you more power every day, so in all your benevolence and glory you can do what’s best for them.

If you do this successfully, any deviation from your agenda feels like blasphemy to their religion. The people will do your work for you, stamping out idealists as they rear their ugly, self-righteous little heads.


Silas Kent


Read letter one here.

Read letter two here.

If you like this series, check out my book The First Marauder here on Amazon. It’s set in the same universe!


Featured image courtesy of Adobe Stock, edited by the author.
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”

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