Here Thar Be Monsters!

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I Have Slipped The Surly Bonds

The one myth that has most bedeviled me for most of my cognitive life is the story of the Tower of Babel.  I use the biblical name for it, but the same or similar story exists in dozens of different forms in dozens of different cultures.  However, the gist of the story is the same in every case.

There is a group of elites, also known as the gods, and there is the rest of humanity.  The gods are in a position of superior technology and able to control and enslave the rest of humanity, and they like it that way.

Humanity, though, has a different view of things.  Through some medium, whether its architecture, economics, science, or whatever, humans were able to come together and challenge the position of the elites.  The Bible puts it this way: humans will be able to do whatever they imagine through the use of the "tower".  Whatever the tower is, it represents mankind's ability to become gods through unified effort.

So what happens?  The gods embark on a decidedly non-religious campaign to scramble and divide humans to prevent them from achieving elite status.  Depending on the version you are reading, the elite split the science, the system of weights and measures, or the languages, thus dividing mankind into warring and irreconcilable factions.

In other words, this is a classic example of 'divide and conquer'.  It is also the playbook by which the contemporary elite continue to keep humanity from uniting in common cause and challenging their exclusive positions as rulers of all.

This is a fascinating phenomenon, because the very tactics and reasoning of the elite has been literally shoved in front of our faces for thousands of years, yet no one seems to get it.  In its simplest form, the Tower of Babel is a story of powerful elites creating conflict among humans in order to prevent them from challenging the status quo.  It is the prototype for the Middle East medling by the West.  It is the foundation of mutually combative religions.  It is the earliest known example of social engineering and psychological warfare.

We see this same tactic restated in Sun Tsu, or Machiavelli, or any of several dozen other thinkers on the topic of social control and manipulation of mass humans.  What's more, this singular event establishes a moral dichotomy between the elites and the rest of us.

By virtue of superior technology, the elite have pounded into our collective mind that they have a separate and superior moral code.  Since they are more advanced, they must also have a higher view of basic moral behavior.  Therefore, humans must adhere to one set of moral standards, while the elites/gods follow another...and theirs is unquestionable because of their superior technology.

At this point, we seem to hit upon the very heart of the problem in the world today.  For us mere mortals, murder is wrong and punishable by draconian methods.  But if you are a member of the elite, then you can slaughter on the most horrendous scales, and it is justifiable because of your higher moral stance.  If you are a mere human, it is wrong and punishable to steal.  Yet, if you are part of the elite, you are justified in helping yourself to the productivity and possessions of whomever you please without recompense. 

The list goes on, but the dichotomy is apparent in every case.  You can't dodge taxes, but the elite can.  You can't get out of speeding tickets, but the elite can.  You can't get a decent education for your kids, but the elite can.  You can't pass on you life's savings to your family, but the elite can.  In every case, might makes right, and we mere mortals are not allowed to question it because the elites live by a different and superior moral code.

Meanwhile, humanity is constantly manipulated to become more and more factionalized.  Whether its religion, economics, rivalries, or wars, we are endlessly steered towards smaller and smaller groups that are mutually exclusive with greater numbers of other groups.

Some examples?  The Batman shooting has set gun-grabbers against gun-owners.  The Chick-fil-A bullshit has set fundmentalist Christians against gay rights groups.  In the Middle East, it's Sunni against Shi'ite, fundamentalists against secularists, democracy against monarchy, male against female.

Support the troops, no matter how egregious their moral transgressions.  The Olympics is nothing but setting nation against nation, with endless accusations or not following the rules in the name of national glory.

All of this strife and division is tailored to any given region.  It is unimportant what the division is.  It is the division itself which serves the elites' purposes.  Whether it's political parties, or who you sleep with, or what name you call your god, the whole purpose is to keep us masses from finding our commonalities and, in doing so, challenging the privileged position of the elite/gods.

Whatever the real story of the Tower of Babel, it is the first recorded use of division and the superior morality argument to subjugate humanity to some self-appointed elite group.  For our part, we play right into it despite having the motive and technique embedded in our favorite holy books.

We are horrified by some drugged-up patsy shooting up a theater full of people, but put him in a uniform and point him at whatever target is dictated to us by the elite and we celebrate the slaughter.

We are angered and indignant when some strung-out junkie breaks into our house and steals some knick-knacks to buy his next fix.  But give that junkie an ID card, some nifty forms and call him an IRS agent, and we'll fork over our hard-earned wealth to him with nary a whimper.

So we've replaced, in our oh-so-advanced society, the gods with the State, but the same playbook is in use.  The State still possesses higher technology and bigger fire-power, so by virtue of that, it must have a superior moral code that we mere mortals cannot question in our miserable and degraded state of being.  So we prance merrily along at the heels of our new gods, doing whatever they bid us while never raising even the most basic moral questions about the acts and motives of our gods.

Might makes right, so we cower behind the State and take pot shots at whatever target it dictates.  We spout off mindless jingoisms like, "My country, love it or leave it."  We "support our troops" and "our athletes", never once asking what part of all that is "ours".  We hate these groups and support those because we are told we must identify with one or another.

The lesson planted in the books in front of our very eyes is that if we put away these rivalries and hold the elite to the same moral code we all believe in, then we could do anything we imagine for ourselves.  We would, in fact, become the elite...the gods.  We would rise above all this bickering crap and turn our attention to far more noble and lofty goals.  Humanity would rise up out of its enshackled squalor and enter a truly Golden Age.

All we have to do is reverse the Tower of Babel.  To do that, we must first understand its true meaning, and how it is burdening our species even now.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred thing
You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
== John Gillespie Magee, Jr.