This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Institutionalized bribery

Before we move away from topics relating to money, I wanted to add a note about bribery. Have you ever wondered why bribery, that heinous crime once punishable by death, is something you never really hear about anymore? I can tell you.

During certain periods in history, a society’s moral compass will shift in such a way that it will begin to allow certain behaviors that, until that moment, it had always considered illegal, unpleasant, immoral, or taboo. When this happens, it faces a serious problem. It now accepts something that it knows is a crime. Going back is not an option, or at least not an acceptable one. By this time it has become unthinkable to simply stop doing it. This being the case, I have found that the solution which society turns to is just to rename the behavior. Simple, effective, and best of all, requires no actual changes in behavior.

As an example of what I mean, let’s take the term ‘individualism,’ as in ‘the rugged individualism of the pioneers.’ In America this term is used as if it were a virtue. We take the goodness of individualism for granted. However, there was a time when that term was not in use. Instead, there was a term called ‘egoism,’ and it did not refer to a virtue. It referred to a vice. But we never hear of ‘egoism’ anymore, do we? Why not?

Let’s turn to Alexis de Tocqueville for an answer:

“Individualism is a recently coined expression prompted by a new idea, for our forefathers knew only of egoism.

“Egoism is an ardent and excessive love of oneself which leads man to relate everything back to himself and to prefer himself above everything.

“Individualism is a calm and considered feeling which persuades each citizen to cut himself off from his fellows and to withdraw into the circle of his family and friends in such a way that he thus creates a small group of his own and willingly abandons society at large to its own devices. Egoism springs from a blind instinct; individualism from wrong-headed thinking rather than from depraved feelings. It originates as much from defects of intelligence as from the mistakes of the heart.

“Egoism blights the seeds of every virtue; individualism at first dries up only the source of public virtue. In the longer term it attacks and destroys all the others and will finally merge with egoism.”[1]

In the section on propaganda, we labeled this technique ‘renaming our vices,’ and it happens often. It helps us live with ourselves while at the same time acting against our better judgement.

We got rid of it by replacing it with a new term that means essentially the same thing. We called it ‘lobbying.’

What this really says about us, though, is that we’ve become so comfortable with money running our politics that it no longer even strikes us as odd.

[1] Democracy in America (London, 2003), p. 587-588.

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