in the policies and practices of independentrnnations, including those of thernUnited States.rnWhat has occurred in the two majorrnpolitical parties, then, is what the apostlesrnof Cold War containment policiesrnalways prophesied would occur betweenrnthe United States and the Soviet Union:rnconvergence. Each political party seeksrnto emulate the more successful rhetoricrnand ideologies of the other, and eachrnknows full well that the real politicalrnconflict is not determined so much byrnserious discussion of political principlernand policv as by the manipulation andrnmanagement of “voter behavior.” Therntrick by which electoral victory is won isrnnot to persuade citizens to support onernor another of the two parties so muchrnas it is to hang on tightly to those blocsrnand clusters that, for reasons of habitrnand interest, constitute one’s electoralrnbase, while mounting media cavalry sortiesrninto the opponent’s base with thernhope of carrying away some of his maidensrnto one’s own camp, where they willrnendure a fate worse than death. He whorngets the most maidens while keeping hisrnown wins the election.rnIt is all very well to blame the politicians,rnmanagers, media wizards, and incumbentsrnwho profit from this system,rnbut the truth is that it is the citizensrnthemselves who permit it to flourish andrnendure. It is a universal characteristicrnof modern mass organizations that theyrnencourage dependency and passivity,rnthat most of the individuals who arernmembers of these organizations cannotrnpossibly understand or acquire the highlyrntechnical skills that enable the organizationsrnto exist and function, and thatrnthe role of most of their members is entirelyrnpassive and subordinate while powerrnand responsibility are centered in anrnelite that does understand and performrntheir technical operations. Lacking anyrnreal power or responsibility, the membersrnmerely do their jobs and behave asrnthey are told to behave.rnThis is why you usually receive suchrnterrible service in government officesrnand larger stores (it’s not the clerks’rnstore, and it makes little difference tornthem whether the customer is satisfiedrnor not), why so few customers complainrnabout it (they are told not to expectrncourtesy or help because the store isrn”self-service”), and also why televisionrnsitcoms have to play recorded laughterrnto let the mass audience know whenrnsomething funny has been said or donern(the members of the audience are alsornpassive and will respond to whatever signalrnis sent to them). In mass politics,rnthe role of “citizenship” is largely confinedrnmerely to passive voting forrnwhichever of the two organizationalrnmonoliths the citizen has been enticedrnto support. Comparatively few citizensrneven do that today, and the number whornhand out petitions or work for candidatesrnor run for office themselves is arnminiscule part of the population.rnThe result of this inculcation of passivityrnis that even populist revolts such asrnthat of the Perot movement last springrnand summer cannot survive apart fromrnmanipulation and managed leadership.rnDespite all the enthusiastic support Mr.rnPerot’s phantom candidacy attracted, nornsooner had he withdrawn from the racernthan the whole bubble popped, usuallyrnin tears and whining at the “cowardice”rnand “betrayal” of the leader, and the onlyrnquestion asked of his followers, thernonly c[uestion they seem to have askedrnthemselves, was which of the other tworncandidates would they support. It neverrnoccurred to any of them to assert activernleadership of the movement themselvesrnand fill the void that the Texas billionairernhad pretended to create.rnIndeed, the inculcation of passivityrnby the managerial system and its elite isrnan essential foundation of its power, notrnonly on the political level but also onrnthe social, economic, and cultural levelsrnas well. The entire structure of thernsystem depends upon manipulating itsrnmembers into believing (or not challengingrnthe assumption) that thev arernnot capable of performing the simplernsocial functions that every human societyrnin history has performed as a matterrnof routine. It is the constant instructionrnof the propagandists of the system thatrnwe arc not capable of educating our ownrnchildren, taking care of them withoutrnbrutalizing them, providing for our ownrnhealth or old age, enforcing our ownrnlaws, defending our own homes andrnneighborhoods, or earning our own livings.rnWe are not capable of thinkingrnour own thoughts without ubiquitousrnand self-appointed pundits to explain tornus what we see and hear, nor of formingrnour own tastes and opinions withoutrnadvice from experts, nor even of decidingrnwhen to laugh when we watch television.rnWhat is really amazing about Americanrnsociety today is not that there is sornmuch violence and resistance to authorityrnbut that there is so little, that there isrnnot or has not long since been a fullscalernviolent revolution in the countryrnagainst the domination and exploitationrnof the mass of the population by itsrnrulers. A people that once shot governmentrnofficials because they taxed tearnand stamps now receives the intrusionsrnof the Internal Revenue Service politely;rna society that once declared its independencernon the grounds of states’rnrights now passively tolerates federalrnjudges and civil servants who redraw thernlines of electoral districts, decide wherernsmall children will go to school, let hardenedrncriminals out of jail without punishment,rnand overturn local laws that arernpopularly passed and have long been enforced.rnIs it any wonder that the two politicalrnparties and all their repulsive leaders,rnmanagers, speechwriters, image-makers,rnofficials, fundraisers, vote-catchers, andrncandidates are frauds that are less convincingrnthan street-corner card sharks?rnWhy shouldn’t they be frauds? Who isrnthere to expose their racket and holdrnthem to account? “If God did not wantrnthem sheared,” says the bandit leader inrnthe movie The Magnificent Seven aboutrnthe Mexican peasants he is robbing andrnkilling, “he would not have made themrnsheep.” The peasants in the moviernprove they aren’t sheep not by hiring thernseven gunfighters to protect them butrnby finally taking up arms themselves.rnSheep don’t fight back; they wait forrnothers to fight for them. If there remainrntoday any Americans who are not sheep,rnthey’ll stop trying to hire phony populistrngunfighters to save them from thernwolfish bandits who run the country,rnand in the next four years they’ll startrnlearning how to shoot for themselves.rnNOVEMBER 1992/9rnrnrn