Letters to a Dictator: Divide and Conquer

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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Representative Conway,

I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase used so frequently by Julius Caesar: “Divide and Conquer” (or “divide and rule”), and I would like to reiterate that to you now.

Of course, like Caesar in his day, this philosophy applies to military strategy. You could use it against the dissident tribal groups in the Pacific Northwest; force the savage groups to fight among each other, then swoop in and clean up the scraps. Or you could use it among the more powerful neighbor of ours who claims to be reinstating the United States as it was before The Red – I know General Corrigan has some interesting and innovative ideas in that regard.

But I’m no general and I’m not here to advise upon such things. What I mean to say is that you must “divide and conquer” your own people, just as you would a foreign entity.

We have been blessed to find ourselves neck-deep in conflict since The Red. Conflict generally keeps the enemy easily defined as those outside your own borders, and makes life easy for everyone around the throne. Need to rally the people behind a cause? Start a war.

And yet the Singular State of Liberty is becoming more stable by the minute, thanks to you and others like you. And when people begin to become stable, they become uneasy (yet another testament to their unreliability). They need to fight — they want to feel like their lives matter, and how can their lives matter if they’re not the center of some epic, Biblically important battle? How such a lie gets in their heads, I’m not sure, but nevertheless it’s always there, convincing them that the things they do actually matter.

You must understand, Representative Conway, that the people will have an enemy. They need an enemy, and if they cannot find one then that enemy will be you. And so if you find yourself in times of peace, don’t let it stand. Don’t let the people relish and enjoy the peace, even if they sent their children to die on its behalf. You must turn them against one another.

For whatever reason, human beings deeply want to be on a side of a thing. They want to say they stand in the obvious right while others stand in the obvious wrong.

What you consider “right” and what you consider “wrong” is irrelevant. The trick is to continuously have them jabbering at each other, with such fervency and vigor, that they forget to actually accomplish anything. They will be so busy defining where everyone stands — who is right and who is wrong — that they never actually accomplish bringing anyone to their side. This will be even more effective (and somewhat comical) if you can get them to blame the division on the other side, thereby deepening the divide.

The state-net is a great place to do this. For example, you want people to feel good about themselves if they write a lengthy post about how they are in the right and another is in the wrong. Let them feel like calling someone a liar or a cheat is an accomplishment in and of itself. This satiates the desire for tangible action without them having to commit to real action (which has consequences), and yet keeps their sights fixed on the other half of the people instead of you. Encourage this sort of behavior in your interactions with the people, and stoke the flames every chance you get.

Do not mediate or moderate. Allow them to feel superior over the others who disagree with them, though of course feeling that same superiority from the opposition will really rile them up (it’s hilarious). A truly moral person might attempt to correct others out of empathy; we want to stay away from empathy entirely. Understanding and empathy lead to resolution, and then we’ll just be back at square one. Superiority is the goal, empathy is not.

The feeling of superiority leads me to my next point: dehumanization. People will turn quickly on one another; they will turn quicker on each other if they don’t consider the other person human at all.

I can hear your objections already: Ridiculous! Of course they know they are dealing with other human beings, how could they not? Well, just wait a minute. Of course they know that the other person has two arms, two legs, two eyes, and perhaps they even think they have a soul, whatever that means. But you can get ordinary people to dehumanize other ordinary people without them even knowing it.

Judging by your previous letters, writing is not your strong suit (whoever writes public notices for you must be doing an excellent job, no offense). Well, when you’re writing you can often use “personification” to help describe various objects. “The rain-clouds wept” or “the mountain stood” or “the fireworks danced” are all uses of personification to help us define a thing. We know that fireworks don’t literally dance, but hearing it helps us imagine what the author is describing.

You must encourage the opposite in regards to these two groups of people; you must “depersonify” them. Release press and media statements from both sides that depersonify their “enemy.” The opposition aren’t “wrong,” they’re pigs. They’re not human beings, they’re fragile glass or thick pieces of rubber. They aren’t people who need correcting, they are weaklings, bigots, trash, or my simple favorite: animals. Vulgarity works well here, too, as well as racial slurs or other insults. And if any of them object, tell them that the other side does worse, or that it’s really not all that bad or offensive and they just need to lighten up. Get them to do anything but retract their statements.

Get them to give each other animal or at least subhuman qualities – though both sides will surely have doctors, lawyers, and simply all-around intelligent folks, make them believe that anyone who subscribes to an ideology is stupid in every way. As dumb as a dog, you might say.

And how do you divide them up? What sides will you choose for them? I really don’t give a damn. Political parties, one religion over another, atheism versus religion, geographical location, race or gender – I don’t care. Divide and conquer.


Silas Kent

P.S. You must know that this can be a dangerous game. If one side zealously supports you and another one opposes you with that kind of vigor, then you might have a problem on your hands. However, this is certainly more ideal than a united group of people who could threaten to turn on you at any given moment. Allow a little dissidence in their controlled box, but ultimately don’t let it amount to anything substantial.

~ ~ ~ ~

Read letter one here.
Letter two here.
Letter three 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.
Inspired by C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters”


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