Divide, Conquer, Rule
Junious Ricardo Stanton
Today’s ruling elites are extremely adroit at using an old strategy called “divide and conquer” or “divide and rule” to maintain their domination and advantage over the masses. This strategy was implemented in modern times by the British who used it effectively to maintain their global empire by fomenting discord amongst various ethnic, religious or resistance groups, to keep them fighting amongst themselves thus rendering them unable to unify, marshal or galvanize their resources against their colonial oppressors.
Today the plutocrats use their ownership and control of media programming, government, indoctrination (education and religion), state sanctioned violence and intimidation to create and maintain their domination of the world. Their two pronged strategy is to: create psychological, socio-economic, racial and ethnic conflict, division and enmity so their subordinates are so preoccupied trying to win arguments, promoting ideologies the 1% had a hand in creating or using hot button issues the elites know will distract, consume and derail any possibilities of insurgence, resistance or revolution against them.
We are witnessing this today in the red state blue state division, the left-right dichotomy, the progressive-conservative schism and the generational and class “culture wars” that dominate conversations and foster bunker and silo mentalities. We see it in the gender wars, (a reaction to oligarchic male patriarchal power) and identity politics. This is all by design and very deliberate. It is being purposefully exacerbated by the mainstream media which is owned lock, stock and barrel by the 1%.
In the US, divide and rule goes back to colonial times when the monarchs’ and monopoly trading company (the forerunners of today’s corporations) surrogates withstood rebellions by white bond servants and enslaved Africans (and in isolated cases Native Americans) against the colonial administrators.
Actual rebellions occurred in places like Gloucester County Virginia in 1663, Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia in 1676 and a rumored revolt by whites and blacks in New York City in 1774. While the issues that sparked the rebellions differed by location, the common thread was they united the lower classes against the colonial rulers because of the way the authorities treated them and because of their system of governance.
The response by the status quo was swift, violent and vicious. Any suspected leaders were captured and killed, their mutilated bodies were allowed to fester and rot as public examples; while others were expelled and sent to different colonies.
But these rebellions put fear in the hearts and minds of the colonial administrators. The colonial 1% feared for their lives, property and status. They could not allow the rabble to take control or exert authority lest their profits and status be diminished. So they devised means to prevent European, African and Native American unity, their solution was, divide and rule.
The British colonizers used the concept of race as the medium to prevent poor whites, who were little more than slaves themselves, from uniting with the Africans and where possible Native Americans. The colonial legislators passed laws consigning Africans to permanent slavery and “the other” status. These laws kept Africans on the bottom of the socio-economic ladder while the Europeans waged relentless wars of extermination and land expropriation against the indigenous population.
The colonial administrators and legislators granted poor white males a modicum of status by recognizing them as “white” (meaning acceptable) and if the were able to secure property they could gain respectability in the eyes of the colonial gentry and administrators.
Of course in return, white males were mandated to participate in the defense of the colony by being part of regular militia duty and slave patrols to make sure no enslaved Africans escaped or congregated without supervision or a pass and as canon fodder in European intercolonial wars and extermination campaigns against the Native Americans.
With the transition from an agrarian to a mixed agrarian- industrial then mechanized industrial economy, the ruling class violently resisted all organizing attempts by farmers, miners and factory workers. The owners and their government allies worked assiduously to stamp out all forms of unified, organized labor.
When that failed, ownership begrudgingly granted concessions to various unions but used racial and gender division to prevent organized labor from being a universal counterweight to unbridled capitalistic exploitation.
This arrangement still exists today. The ruling elites create rigid class stratification but cunningly promote the perception anyone can move up, out and improve their lot, despite the fact today’s wealth inequality is almost as bad as it was in the 1920’s and prospects for social elevation are declining rapidly.
The fact is the deliberate deindustrialization, the off shoring of capital and jobs and the ruling class’ financial policies have created massive debt peonage, wage stagnation and disaffectedness. The increase of immerging technologies that are replacing workers are making the “American Dream” just that, a fruitless fantasy.
A sense of anomie is permeating this culture. This is why the frustration and depression levels are so high and addictions and suicide are on the rise. This is why people fall for slogans and political sound bytes like “Hope and Change” and “Make America Great Again”, they know they are being squeezed, they see their wages, savings and lifestyles dissipating before their eyes and they want genuine relief. But the system is not designed to provide justice or relief, only profits.
The fact is, any attempts to resist other than the prescribed channel of voting (which in itself is a form of divide and rule) will be co-opted just like the original Tea Party or smashed by the state like The Occupy Wall Street movement. Unless we are willing to raise our consciousness, unite and truly challenge the 1% things will only get worse.
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