Letters to a Dictator: Distracting the people

A deadly smallpox virus known as “The Red” has swept the world and wiped out a significant portion of the population. Society as we knew 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…

~ ~ ~ ~

Representative Conway,

I noticed that you have been coming across some problems in the south-eastern regions of the Singular State of Liberty. I know that the conflicts down there have a particular way of riling up the people, giving them a direction toward which they can toss their garbage opinions. Time and time again the Floridian dissidents hold the border between us and the southern half of the former state, and each time they emerge victorious it seems to arouse a sense of rebellion among the people across your empire.

Knowing you, I would imagine your initial reaction will be that of an iron fist. You will hammer down voices of dissent, presenting yourself as a strong and decisive leader. The survivors (those loyal to you) will laud you as a hero, and the other voices will be forgotten with the coming winter.

However, if I may, I would like to submit an alternate route. I believe that violence ought to be a last resort, and it threatens to only upset the established order. It is a fire that can disintegrate our enemies, but it can also serve to fuel their dangerous ideologies. As I always say, controlling people is much easier if they don’t know they are being controlled.

If you head down to the archives (I’m guessing old Gaumond is still rattling around down there, keeper of all things digital), take a peek at the way news stories were told prior to the Red. I still remember the ways people moved from topic to topic like they were eating a spread of appetizers.

Many of your people don’t care about the business south-east — not really. They will loudly lament a homeless person on the street but do nothing about it when they see them. They will loudly lament the growing disparity between the classes, and yet grovel at the feet of their upper class boss in person, or (hilariously) bow down and worship rich celebrities, the very epitome of the disparagement they complain about.

And yet they still appear to have an obsession with the sound of their own voice, and they will demand the government fix all of their problems, even though they probably know that we have better things to do than to run around fulfilling their every whim.

So how do you keep them from really sinking their teeth into an issue you’d rather they just move away from?

If you can distract the people long enough, they will move on to another issue. And another, and another. They will do this so frequently that nothing substantial will be accomplished in any one field, and yet they will satiate their own desires for action with hollow words and silly platitudes.

So what am I saying here?

I’m telling you to be patient and shift the attention of the people to the next thing. If they get stuck on one issue for too long, you might find them doing substantial damage in that area, actually making effective (unwelcome) change to your own agendas. For example, we don’t want our lower level politicians flipping under the constant pressure from those in their communities — those snowballs can roll uphill. Keep them bouncing from one thing to the next. Shed light on a political drama. Focus their attention on something to the north, or bring up the dirt on some popular politician who is now completely irrelevant (and no, my name will not work. Very funny).

The beauty is this: even those that hate you will still listen to you. They will still dive into the argument you take a side in, simply to take the other side. And you’ll see that we have moved onto the next thing entirely.

Before you write me back asking me how long this can really go on for, the answer is a very long time. I did it for my entire career, and I would say this method mitigated well over half of the problems I may have had with the people interfering in our business.

I once had a group of SSL citizens upset that the late Representative Denecke was doing deals with the Texas Oil families — well, they were particularly upset that he was doing deals with the infamously brutal and territorial Holbrook clan. About a week after Denecke began the proceedings with Jessie Holbrook, a fire erupted in a bakery in a small town in upstate New York. After a little research, I realized there was a moderate uptick in fires in that region. The reason? I’m not sure, it wasn’t a large enough number to really say, most likely it was just a coincidence.

Still, I pushed the story across the state-net and throughout all our media outlets. We “leaked” information and all of a sudden, what was the issue on everyone’s lips? Denecke’s policies on fire codes. People were borderline rioting in the streets about it, saying he was “unable to build the pre-Red society he had promised,” or that his “administration couldn’t even enforce the most basic of standards, let alone complex problems in the upper echelons of government.” Others even came to our defense! And somehow all parties involved were magically experts in fire codes.

At best, they completely forgot about the oil deal; at worst, they were split between two issues and could not adequately address either. The point is that the Denecke-Holbrook deal went through with relative ease, and it wasn’t long before I had the people jabbering on about a celebrity who had taken a public stance on government-funded heating in the north-east (I don’t remember what side he took).

You will always find resistance among the people. After all, their agenda is not the same as yours. Yours is one of control and order; theirs is one of chaos and hardship. However, it’s silly to think that you can one day stifle all resistance among them, and it’s folly to try. With this method you can successfully subvert the peoples’ ability to effectively change anything.

And it works splendidly with the ease at which information travels these days.


Silas Kent

~ ~ ~ ~

Read letter one here.
Letter two here.
Letter three here.
Letter four 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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2 years ago

Very good Luke. Distract the masses and control them like puppets. Interesting how well that works.

2 years ago

I really enjoyed this, Luke. Well…except for the fact that it hits pretty close to the bone in today’s culture of click-bait and fake news dispersed to the masses. It’s obvious you are familiar with C. S. Lewis’ work and you credited it for your inspiration. Have you read any other of his works? He definitely has a lot to offer. It is getting more and more apparent that you do, too. 🙂

2 years ago

Yikes. Too close to home. I myself try to stay focused on what I consider relevant, but will spend hours a day, consuming the smorgasbord, and sometimes carry the flag for something that burns out a week later. Nice reality slap.

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