This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Individual need

We have identified an individual need, but this need can be divided into many aspects, each of which exerts an incessant pressure, an affliction for which propaganda is the most efficient source of relief. The aspects are as follows:

The citizen of today, more than ever before, takes a very serious interest politics. He feels, at the same time, responsible for every event that takes place in the political world and helpless to alter these events. This fundamental disharmony—the sense of having responsibility for something that is completely out of one’s control—is enough to drive a person mad.

The citizen, by subscribing to the notion that the people rule, and acknowledging that he is one of the people, then he feels the pressure that in previous ages only statesmen and kings might have known. This pressure, moreover, is multiplied a hundred times over by the fact that his world is exponentially more complex than what was experienced by the kings of old. The man of today is confronted with unprecedented complexity in his surroundings, combined with unprecedented responsibility for whatever happens, and this creates a constant sense of anguish and alienation from the very political system of which he has been assured that he is a part. His mind buys into the notion of participation, but reality is constantly refuting it. One moment he is flattered and the next he feels reduced to a cog in a machine he knows nothing about and could not hope to influence. He is divided against himself. Like Prometheus, he took possession of things beyond his state, and his prize is to be torturously consumed by his successes.

As a culminating blow, there is no longer a public religious presence to assure him that God is ultimately the one who will control the fate of the nation. On the contrary, God is a thing for the private space, which is a very small compartment indeed, while the public space is under the direction of his peers, without the bothersome interference of religious dogmatizing. Thus, even religion cannot offer solace when it comes to the problems of daily life.

Confused, overwhelmed, frustrated, the man arrives home from a twelve-hour shift to hear that an election is approaching, and it is up to him to choose wisely, lest the nation be obliterated when the wrong party comes into power. Where is he to turn? We all know the answer. He turns to the television. He watches the news. The news informed him, disturbed him, and then eased his mind by telling him precisely what to think about the matter. He votes accordingly. The circle is complete. Everything will start over in the morning.

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