Words of wisdom or the mumblings of an unhinged mind? In the run-up to the Dutch general elections, I found the following tirade on the mechanics of politics and power by narrator JR Deo, which will feature in my upcoming novel.
(Mr Deo’s missive comes to us from the Institute for Forensic Observation, where his degree of insanity is being ascertained.)
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could give our leaders, the politicians, a swift uppercut to the chin or a cudgel to the skull every time they do something stupid or dishonest? The world would be a much better place if we could.
Long ago, when the groups were smaller and the leaders accessible to all, it was far easier for underlings to set matters straight. But the clever politicians resolved this risky situation by sharing responsibility – with their party, their coalition partners, their bureaucratic apparatus – which were all put in place so that the big boss could quite easily say: ‘He is to blame. Give him the uppercut.’
Meanwhile, the puppeteers who pull the strings were taking things further. They got their henchmen to draw up big books full of laws and rules, which are enforced by men willing to accept a handful of florins and a uniform in exchange for beating the living bejesus out of anyone who steps out of line, who take pleasure and pride in ridding society of its most deviant and capricious elements.
But the best trick the puppeteers ever played was to convince you that you were pulling the strings, that you have control over your own actions, that the laws and rules were written to protect you, to ensure that justice prevails.
And that is why the men here despise you so. You swallow every lie you’re fed. The truth is that the rules are there to shackle you, to suppress you, to subjugate you to the will of the richest and most powerful, by reminding you incessantly of the possible penalties, by making you mindless minions and consumers who sit nodding their assent, waiting for a wise word from your leaders. And when they cry: ‘The enemy is upon us!’ – you eagerly take up the weapons that they have bought with your money and rush blindly into battle.
I once read a piece of graffiti on a cell wall: ‘Obedient men have the blood of millions on their hands.’
Fortunately, obedience is one burden that we, the purportedly insane, do not have to carry. We acknowledge no authority, except our own. We feel no need to display our goodwill, we do not have to adhere to all sorts of rules, we do not have to make a good impression.
But the puppeteers don’t like that, because before you know it, everyone will be wanting to live without strings attached. So they round us up and put us on these islands, far from the ordinary world, so that we cannot infect you with our free spirits, so that we can slaughter each other because we are unaccustomed to living in close proximity to one another, like solitary predators, leopards, thrown in a cage together to prove just how savage and unpredictable we are.
Are you still with me? No? That’s because you don’t dare to see the truth for what it is. You have been programmed, brainwashed. Your strings are constantly being pulled: colour inside the lines, buy this, buy that, look there, do this, live here, hate them, this is pretty, choose me, give money, follow me and ye shall have eternal life. You choose to remain blind. And then you have the audacity to call us mad?”