Sunday, April 13, 2008

Controlling People by Imposing Differences by Louis Evan Palmer

Visible differences in one's appearance can act as a powerful means of isolating a given person and the community to which they belong. These differences can extend to social interaction, to languages, to meals and food, to types of entertainment, to rituals and the use of symbols. It serves paradoxically both to make one stand out from the majority and to make one clearly fit into a given minority. When members of that minority are together, they all look the same, they conform.

Differences in appearance and behaviour can used to distinguish an elite military unit or a religious sect or even an entire culture. It can be used deliberately in the knowledge that it will generate group solidarity by inviting hostility from outside the differentiated group. It also serves as a means of recognition.

By controlling with whom one socializes and marries, a group can create its own "world" that tries to operate and survive and prosper within the larger human society but, at the same time, tries to minimize contact.

If a group has a belief system that arrogates to themselves, special privileges and rewards and authorities, then its method of recognizing its members becomes more important as the value of membership increases. It's a dangerous game though as the fortunes of any such self-distinguished group will wax and wane with various circumstances and obvious membership can then become a liability. It's also dangerous to society if a given self-isolating group becomes powerful in that it can wage "war" on the larger society either as a pre-emptive strike, as a taking of what's is by right theirs, or, often enough, as an act of beneficience and cleansing.

The deliberate imposition and acceptances of differences, some ostentatious, is a hostile act in disguise. It is a blatant means of social control. It serves to solidify and perpetuate in defiance of the impermanance of all things. It looks to magnify and project the group ego both within to the group and without to the world at large.

If there are no meaningful differences between people then why go out of the way to use them in a manipulative way? This is beyond fashion statements or as a method of rebellion against oppression. This is an act of creation of a "group", typically founded on dubious or unproveable claims of divine intercession, with clear and deliberate differences to foster its identity and mission, feeding a sense of superiority and danger, again to support group solidarity against anyone outside the group.

This cannot lead to a happy ending.
Controlling People by Imposing Differences, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


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