The greatest lie you’ll ever hear, is that you’re ‘special’.
Anti-democratic propaganda isn’t easy. The obvious target would be the incumbent government, whatever that may be. But propaganda against the ruling party just as easily benefits the democratic opposition party as it benefits the totalitarian forces seeking a way to raze the structure entirely. There isn’t enough power for the flak machine to smear every individual democrat or Democratic Party rising from every corner of the nation.
Such propaganda has short-term benefits, transforming the establishment into a revolving-door of civilian leaders that spins faster than a ceiling fan. Democracy persists as the political blow is absorbed by certain political organizations rather than democracy itself. Effective propaganda against involves more than inducing acute political turmoil; it demands that the propagandist smears the very foundation of a democratic system: the people.
It’s in the anti-democratic forces’ best interest to dehumanize the ‘people’ – portraying them not as a collection of men and women such as yourself, but a low-functioning, illiterate hive-mind that espouses the worst of humanity. The public is a ravenous, unintelligent bio-mass that is always too heavy for the production centers to support.
“When I say public, I don’t mean you!” the propagandist may assure you. “No, no, you’re a smart, educated, and decent individual. You are a shareef, hard-working, productive, God-fearing, patriotic citizen heads and shoulders above everyone else. Alas, you are an island of intellectual brilliance in an ocean of lazy, ignorant, barbaric, immoral, imbecilic, dumb countrymen. You are special.”
Yes, you are unique in terms of the combination of skills and traits you possess. You embody a special experience and are capable of offering a special service that others may not. That is not the same as being misguided into seeing yourself as an eminent being that happens to be better than ‘the masses’.
Neoliberalism is a regressive ideology that betrays the fundamental principle upon which the human civilization is built: there is no such thing as a one-man civilization. Everything that you are all that you possess, is a product of everyone and everything else around you. Every task you have ever accomplished, has been completed in direct or indirect collaboration with a thousand other people who built the roads you drive on, designed the building you inhabit, taught you the skills you have, and produced the sustenance you need. Every bank note in your pocket has been passed down to you along a chain of citizens as hard-working as you are. And not a single one of those notes was plucked from a tree.
All your intellectual accomplishments have been made enabled by the courtesy of the jahil masses; the same people you casually denigrate in your drawing rooms. If you don’t believe me, imagine restarting your life in an igloo in the middle of the Antarctic. Convince me that you’d be able to use your bare intellect and hard-work to rebuild your life into what it is right now.
The public, we’re encouraged to believe, makes monumentally ignorant and wholly unreliable decisions. Imran Khan once argued that Musharaff’s dictatorship was better than Nawaz Sharif’s democracy, which is not an uncommon opinion. People are indoctrinated to doubt whether they should remain at least loosely in control of their own futures, and wonder if a benevolent dictator may be needed to steal their country from them at gunpoint.
The demographic most vulnerable to such propaganda is, of course, the upper class. The top 10% of the country has always felt besieged by the ‘jahalat’ outside their dependable gated communities; never once stopping to think that it is the politicoeconomic desperation of the poor that provides them cheap labour, and allows them to bypass most of the country’s weak rules and regulations.
The upper class leans heavily towards ‘meritocracy’, which is a more socially acceptable way of saying that only the upper class may be permitted to rule. Those with ‘merit’, are naturally those who have able to afford private schooling and have acquired higher education abroad at £8,000 per semester. Once in power, they are accountable only to other elite houses, swapping favors with fellow sahibs and begums. ‘Meritocracy’ is essentially an exercise in keeping power from being shared with the country’s underprivileged majority which, we are led to believe, is composed of unintelligent savages.
You are not special. Do not voluntarily dissociate yourself from the public. Do not allow neoliberalism’s rhetoric of hyper-individualism isolate you, so the plutocrats can rule over the divided pockets of the country virtually uncontested.
You are not a distinct, higher entity. You are the society. You are the public. Do not punch downwards at the underprivileged and the disenfranchised; punch upwards at those who aim to atomize the democratic movement and make you hate your own rights.