By Charles Hugh-Smith and cross-posted from OfTwoMinds blog,
The sense of having a real say, and possessing actual agency, is very empowering, and very rare, for members of the lower-middle class and the working class today.
The premier strategy for retaining power is to give the powerless a carefully managed illusion of decision-making and autonomy. Having a say over one’s life and choices is called agency, and it is the illusion of agency that makes democracy such a powerful tool of control.
The second most effective means of maintaining power is to limit the choices offered the powerless. Offering the powerless false choices, i.e. the choice between two functionally equivalent options, provides the comforting illusion of agency while insuring that the status quo Power Elites remains in charge, regardless of the choice made by the powerless.
For example, give the powerless a choice between Tweedle-Dum (Republicans/Tories) and Tweedle-Dee (Democrats/Labour). Whomever they elect, the self-serving Power Elite of entrenched interests and wealth remains firmly in charge, for the Power Elite speaks with one voice through two mouths, one Establishment Democrat/Labour, the other Establishment Republican/Tory.
If the powerless get restless, make them fearful. This is easily managed via external threats and dramatic predictions of economic doom should the Power Elite be threatened.
If fear has lost its edge due to over-use, then whip up social controversies that divide and conquer the powerless. Divisive, hot-button social controversies are easily staged and media-managed; these serve to distract and fragment the powerless in endless culture wars.
The powerless get very few opportunities to express their dissatisfaction with their gradual impoverishment and powerlessness, and few opportunities to register their disapproval of the Power Elite. They know complaints go nowhere, petitions are ignored, and demonstrations accomplish nothing.
So when a rare chance to stick a thumb in the eye of the Power Elite comes along, they take it. The Brexit vote was just such an opportunity…