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Prabhat Sarkar and his social cycle
#1
Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar (1921-1990), an Indian philosopher of history, suggested a cycle of history Ia law of social cycle) whose basis was a sequence of elites. History goes through predictable stages of organization and the dominance of certain classes in sequence.

Thus, and I cite Wikipedia,

The law of social cycle is a theory of Varna, arising out of the Indian episteme (Inayatullah, 2002). This law states that while people in any society are all relatively similar, they have generally the same goals, desires and ambitions but differ in the way they go about achieving their goals. An individual's specific methods for achieving success depend on his physical and psychological makeup. Essentially, there are four different psychological types of people, warriors, intellectuals, acquisitors and labourers, who find basic fulfillment in four different kinds of ways.

Warriors, or Kshatriya in Sanskrit, have strong bodies, vigorous physical energy and a sharp intellect. Warriors tend to develop the skills that take advantage of their inherent gifts of stamina, courage and vigor. Their mentality is one that is not averse to taking physical risks. Examples of people in our society with the warrior mentality include policemen, firemen, soldiers, professional athletes, skilled carpenters, and tradesmen. They all achieve success through their physical skills and a deep understanding of their profession.


Intellectuals, or Vipra, have a more developed intellect than the warriors, but generally lack the physical strength and vigor. Intellectuals are happiest when they try to achieve success by developing and expressing their intellectual skills and talents. Teachers, writers, professors, scientists, artists, musicians, philosophers, doctors and lawyers, and above all, priests, are professions intellectuals tend to pursue.



Acquisitors, or Vaishya, have a penchant for acquiring money. If money can be made the acquisitors will find a way to make it. They are not considered as bright as the intellectuals, nor as strong as the warriors, but they are keen when it comes to making and accumulating money and material possessions. Such people are the traders, businessmen, managers, entrepreneurs, bankers, brokers, and landlords in our society.



Laborers, or Shudra, are altogether different from the first three groups. Laborers lack the energy and vigor of the warriors, the keen intellect of the intellectuals, or the ambition and drive of the accumulators. In spite of the fact that their contribution to society is profound – in fact, society could not function without them – the other groups generally look down upon and tend to exploit them. The laborers are the peasants, serfs, clerks, short order cooks, waiters, janitors, doormen, cabdrivers, garbage collectors, truck drivers, night watchmen and factory workers who keep society running smoothly by working diligently and without complaint.


To Sarkar, each age would run its course, with the social motivity going too far, causing much grief to the majority of people (Sarkar, 1967). The situation could go on unchecked for a long time, before things got so bad that a spontaneous revolution and overthrow of the system took place. In fact, as this was the reason for social change, it was clear that no single class of people could remain dominant indefinitely. Social power was destined to pass from one class to next in the prescribed order, or cycle. The 'age of warriors', which brings strict order to society and a return to fundamental values, essentially leads to excessive focus on strong man rule and warfare. It is followed by an 'age of intellectuals', which bring a sense of liberation in the mental sphere but soon replace that freedom with the yoke of newer ideas. Over time this age merges into an 'age of acquisitors', which brings progress in the material sphere, but this is soon replaced by increased physical and mental exploitation. The Servile Wars spelled the doom of the Roman Republic. Labour conflict could be the undoing of Capitalism, according to this theory. And so the cycle moves on its endless round, until the civilisation ceases to exist or is taken over by a superior or more powerful civilisation.

Groups of each type of people make up the social classes in society. Sarkar simplifies society into four classes, divided by inherent traits:
  • Warriors defend the nation and keep the peace;
  • Intellectuals develop our ideas about the world, in the form of religion, art, law and new inventions;
  • Acquisitors manage the practical aspects of life, including farms, factories, financial institutions and stores;
  • Laborers do the routine work, waiting tables, collecting trash, and other low-tech, low skill jobs.

According to Batra (1978), the West is currently in the age of acquisitors, also known as Capitalism. This age succeeded the 'age of intellectuals', which gave birth to the Enlightenment and the British parliamentary system. Before that the West went through the 'age of warriors' and the age of discovery. Feudalism, an earlier 'age of acquisitors', reigned before that. It had replaced the 'age of intellectuals', with restrictions on religious thought and also gave birth to the Renaissance period. Before that, Rome ruled the West under the aegis of warriors.

Sarkar's essential view on the implications of each age was to develop a way to avoid the dynamic of exploitation, when the social motivity of one class goes unchecked and too far (Sarkar, 1967). In such cases, it falls on moralists to accelerate the movement to the next age to shorten the exploitative phase of each age.[6]


 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_social_cycle
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#2
So what can go wrong with a society of acquisitors? Let's start with what can go right. At first they are the ones who innovate in productivity and foster efficiency and invention. They are good at organizing the workforce to make things less expensively so in part that workers get things that they could not get when the intellectuals tell the common man who works the fields and chops the wood that Man does not live by bread alone". That's easy for a mystic or an ivory-tower intellectual to say if one gets all one's needs easily met and disparages the material life as corrupt and debased. The intellectuals may be good at writing lofty poetry and wondrous music, discovering mathematical theorems, or giving long-winded explanations of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Such does not deed people. Capitalists can turn unemployed people into industrial workers who get paid for their efforts with wages that can buy food and maybe some mass-produced shoes, crockery, and chairs. Capitalists can be like Josiah Wedgwood with his mass-produced dinner plates, John D. Rockefeller II with his cheap energy from petroleum, Henry Ford with automobiles that workers could pay for with their wages, William Levitt with houses in suburbia that offered more floor-space for the money than what people paid for in the awful urban apartments of the time, or retailers from John Wanamaker to James Cash Penney to the Skaggs brothers to Sam Walton who made shopping cheaper.

Those people cut the profit margins and costs and made things more affordable. The problem comes when capitalists are more effective at constricting supply and raising prices. Capitalists at their worst become rentiers who make easy money off people who have the dubious privilege in living in the midst of those capitalists. People may admire Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos but despise the slum-lord and the loan-shark. As capitalists become more adept at gouging and less innovative they try to turn the government into an enforcer of their will. Those same capitalists also restrict opportunity for workers, thus driving real pay down, and find ways to exclude small businesses attempting to fill niches that might draw away unsatisfied customers. Capitalism becomes depraved and cruel.

Note well that the masses start getting angry, and if there were no Karl Marx they would create an equivalent.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#3
Aren't we under a society of intellectuals now? Media, the academia, the NGOs, pop culture. Everything is led by boomer intellectuals.

Acquisitors had their big time in the Victorian age and early 20th century, but later they started to be more and more despised. Perhaps the last time they were really dominant was the era of Reagan and Thatcher.
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#4
(09-30-2018, 05:54 AM)Bill the Piper Wrote: Aren't we under a society of intellectuals now? Media, the academia, the NGOs, pop culture. Everything is led by boomer intellectuals.

Acquisitors had their big time in the Victorian age and early 20th century, but later they started to be more and more despised. Perhaps the last time they were really dominant was the era of Reagan and Thatcher.

Economic inequality is unusually high in America by world standards. This is with mass education even to college, without a legacy of groups being denied opportunities in education and work, without having a ruling family who controls the economy, despite the loosening of regional distinctions between 'poor' areas and 'rich' regions, despite a recovery from a serious meltdown of the economy, and despite free elections. Such is consistent with Acquisitors buying the political process as they did, with such front organizations for the economic elites as FreedomWorks!, Citizens United, Americans for Prosperity, the National Chamber of Commerce, and ALEC (all non-government organizations) doing much of the unofficial work of the Economic Right.

The intellectuals include business executives, corporate attorneys, 'trustworthy' academics at right-wing think-tanks, journalists at right-wing but influential news sources (FoX News, Breitbart, NewsMax), and corporate lobbyists. These are mostly dependent upon the Acquisitors. But intellectuals also include potential dissidents such as physicians, scientists, accountants, creative people, academics, and engineers. A software engineer who seems to be getting high pay is typically being gouged severely by a landlord who grabs a huge chunk of his disposable income for the privilege of living near his work. Class privilege is the cornerstone of American economic life.

The creative people are not in line with the ideology -- sure. The Acquisitors who own such entities as Disney, NewsCorp/Fox Television, Warner, Sony/Columbia, CBS/Paramount/Viacom, Disney, NBC/Comcast/Universal, and the many publishing houses recognize that people not so beholden to Corporate America are still a good market. Sacrificing sales volume for propaganda is unprofitable. 

Donald Trump is an Acquisitor, and about as pure as one could be as an Acquisitor -- and he is nothing more than a landlord and a purveyor of schlock entertainment. As such he demonstrates the vulgarity of Acquisitors at their worst. Americans trust the Armed Forces, the FBI, and the CIA more than they trust this Presidency. Obama was in line with them and they found each other useful. America has never been more vulnerable to a military coup or at the least military interference in politics or decisions of foreign policy as during the Trump Presidency.

Yes, the Acquisitor class has been corrupt, cruel, devious, and rapacious for some time. I look at Enron and the dot.com boom that imploded about as the George W. Bush took over and the putrid real-estate bubble and predatory lending that went very bad by 2008. I remember seeing an article in Business Week that related the fraudulence of the rating of packages of under-performing loans back in 2005, and I saw portents of another 1929-style crash and another Great Depression. Sure, Obama rescued the banks, but that was all that the Acquisitor class would let him do before they turned huge resources against him and his political allies. The Acquisitors cultivated populism in the form of the Tea Party, a cause that stopped at no vulgarity to attack a moderately-liberal President. Now we have (at least for the next three months) a government operating much like a single-Party dictatorship that treats non-constituents badly as punishment for not supporting it from the start.

Sarkar suggests that in Acquisitor societies toward the end, the proletariat bloats (Acquisitors need a great mass of proles to do the work and bid up costs of living, especially in rent; remember, Donald Trump is little more than a rent-collector) and gets angry as it is under-paid and gouged. Sarkar tells us that the proletariat never has the qualities (the stamina of warriors, the wisdom and creativity of the intellectuals at their best, or the canniness of Acquisitors). Proles want easy money (which explains the proliferation of lotteries and gambling casinos) without hard work, low-brow entertainment (enough said), and no risk of their consumerist objectives (thus they do not start businesses that might make Acquisitors, and probably better Acquisitors than what we now have) of them. As their numbers swell, they will be increasingly disappointed because the Acquisitors still rule because they will reshape the political order to disenfranchise them.

To seek hard or dangerous work as a  means of getting out of poverty is not proletarian. Even if one is sympathetic to working people, becoming a creative person who expresses sympathies toward workers makes one an intellectual. Starting a small business is not proletarian. A proletarian revolution usually leads to chaos that the Acquisitor elites choose to suppress, and for that they need the soldiers and police. To maintain survival as persons, the Acquisitor elites find themselves paying ruinous taxes and finding that the Warriors get control of economic activity to keep it from creating more problems with a rebellious proletariat. As in Russia in 1917, the Warriors may simply dispossess, expel, or exterminate the previous elite. The intellectuals who depend upon the Acquistors to bankroll their activity as flunkies get much the same treatment as the Acquisitors, and those that are more independent find themselves having to answer to the Warriors -- or else.


But in the Warrior era, life becomes more regimented... but more equal in results.

The United States of America is the purest plutocracy on Earth except for overt kleptocracies like Russia and Syria, and some countries whose royal family owns the oil wealth whose revenues go largely to that family. This Crisis might put that at an end.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#5
(09-30-2018, 05:54 AM)Bill the Piper Wrote: Aren't we under a society of intellectuals now? Media, the academia, the NGOs, pop culture. Everything is led by boomer intellectuals.

Acquisitors had their big time in the Victorian age and early 20th century, but later they started to be more and more despised. Perhaps the last time they were really dominant was the era of Reagan and Thatcher.

That depends entirely on who you include in the category of "we".  In the coastal elite community, you are undoubtedly correct.  As you  move away from those areas and demographics, that becomes less true.  Eventually, you get to the anti-intellectual fringes, and it's all downhill from there.  And fwiw, there is still a large contingent of wealth worshipers who have none themselves, but idolize those who do.  Why the do may be a mystery, but they're out there and not in small number either.
Intelligence is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom, but they all play well together.
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#6
pbrower2a Wrote:Economic inequality is unusually high in America by world standards. This is with mass education even to college, without a legacy of groups being denied opportunities in education and work, without having a ruling family who controls the economy, despite the loosening of regional distinctions between 'poor' areas and 'rich' regions, despite a recovery from a serious meltdown of the economy, and despite free elections. Such is consistent with Acquisitors buying the political process as they did, with such front organizations for the economic elites as FreedomWorks!, Citizens United, Americans for Prosperity, the National Chamber of Commerce, and ALEC (all non-government organizations) doing much of the unofficial work of the Economic Right.

The intellectuals include business executives, corporate attorneys, 'trustworthy' academics at right-wing think-tanks, journalists at right-wing but influential news sources (FoX News, Breitbart, NewsMax), and corporate lobbyists. These are mostly dependent upon the Acquisitors. But intellectuals also include potential dissidents such as physicians, scientists, accountants, creative people, academics, and engineers. A software engineer who seems to be getting high pay is typically being gouged severely by a landlord who grabs a huge chunk of his disposable income for the privilege of living near his work. Class privilege is the cornerstone of American economic life.

The creative people are not in line with the ideology -- sure. The Acquisitors who own such entities as Disney, NewsCorp/Fox Television, Warner, Sony/Columbia, CBS/Paramount/Viacom, Disney, NBC/Comcast/Universal, and the many publishing houses recognize that people not so beholden to Corporate America are still a good market. Sacrificing sales volume for propaganda is unprofitable.

Donald Trump is an Acquisitor, and about as pure as one could be as an Acquisitor -- and he is nothing more than a landlord and a purveyor of schlock entertainment. As such he demonstrates the vulgarity of Acquisitors at their worst. Americans trust the Armed Forces, the FBI, and the CIA more than they trust this Presidency. Obama was in line with them and they found each other useful. America has never been more vulnerable to a military coup or at the least military interference in politics or decisions of foreign policy as during the Trump Presidency.

Note how Trump (acquisitor) was considered an anti-establishment candidate, while Clinton (intellectual) was an establishment candidate.

There are still acquisitors, and many people who idolize money and adhere to the ideology of the "yellow sector" of my political pentagon, and the power of money is still tremendous. But I don't see it lasting. Power of the intellectuals will probably rise, because the markets are more and more regulated, and the intellectuals are the ones behind the regulations. The question is: which intellectuals? Countercultural liberals (purple sector) or nationalists (blue sector). Outside of the Western World's greatest cities like London or New York, the nationalists are probably more influential. And the common people who support them are more prepared to fight. So, if the 4T ends in something brutal, the nationalists beat effete countercultural hipsters in no time and the future looks like Steve Bannon.
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#7
Steve Bannon advocates dismantling the administrative state, which is the protection put in place for the people from the excesses of the business elites. So as a nationalist, he talks a good game about economics for the people, but he really belongs in the yellow free market sector. That is the effect of his policies, whether he specifically references Ayn Rand or not. These free market dogmatists are phony intellectuals.

Ultimately, a brutal fight will involve militaries. Only an organized alternative state can hope to put up a credible fight against an establishment. If in the meantime, the true liberals (more than "effete counter cultural" liberals, but the much vaster sector and range of liberals and democratic socialists) are able to take power democratically, they will have the military at their disposal. Whoever controls the state, will control the military, and they can clear out and put down rebels easily, just as they cleared out the congress this week, and went on after the sit ins in Wisconsin or the occupation of Wall Street. If the true liberals and intellectuals are reduced to mere people power occupations, the established hard right state which we have now will clear them without too much trouble. Conversely, if the liberals attain power, they will be able to put down the rebellions by the unorganized Bannonites, no matter how prepared to fight they are. If either side is able to organize alternative or seceding states to fight against the established state, then all bets are off in the ensuing civil war. But in that case, it won't matter which side the nationalists and the effete countercultural hipsters are on. It will be a battle between organized armies and states.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#8
(09-30-2018, 05:54 AM)Bill the Piper Wrote: Aren't we under a society of intellectuals now? Media, the academia, the NGOs, pop culture. Everything is led by boomer intellectuals.

Acquisitors had their big time in the Victorian age and early 20th century, but later they started to be more and more despised. Perhaps the last time they were really dominant was the era of Reagan and Thatcher.

Since when did the era of Reagan and Thatcher end?
We are still under their thumb. Nothing has replaced them in the last 3 decades. We have had nothing but more regression and stagnation ever since. The last 3 decades are practically an empty page in history.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#9
(10-02-2018, 07:40 AM)Bill the Piper Wrote: Note how Trump (acquisitor) was considered an anti-establishment candidate, while Clinton (intellectual) was an establishment candidate.

Which proves my point that being in power does not change whether you are liberal or conservative, a rebel or an enforcer of order and establishments. When Hillary and Obama were in power, the liberals were in power. Being the "establishment" only meant that they were in power. They may have trimmed their ideals, since having power does that to people when they run up against real obstacles. But they remained liberals, and a liberal is inherently anti-establishment. So, the anti-establishment was the establishment.

The establishment had been the anti-establishment, then. Since the 2016 election, under Trump the establishment is the establishment again. The conservatives are in power, and they are conserving their power.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#10
(10-02-2018, 07:40 AM)Bill the Piper Wrote:
pbrower2a Wrote:Economic inequality is unusually high in America by world standards. This is with mass education even to college, without a legacy of groups being denied opportunities in education and work, without having a ruling family who controls the economy, despite the loosening of regional distinctions between 'poor' areas and 'rich' regions, despite a recovery from a serious meltdown of the economy, and despite free elections. Such is consistent with Acquisitors buying the political process as they did, with such front organizations for the economic elites as FreedomWorks!, Citizens United, Americans for Prosperity, the National Chamber of Commerce, and ALEC (all non-government organizations) doing much of the unofficial work of the Economic Right.

The intellectuals include business executives, corporate attorneys, 'trustworthy' academics at right-wing think-tanks, journalists at right-wing but influential news sources (FoX News, Breitbart, NewsMax), and corporate lobbyists. These are mostly dependent upon the Acquisitors. But intellectuals also include potential dissidents such as physicians, scientists, accountants, creative people, academics, and engineers. A software engineer who seems to be getting high pay is typically being gouged severely by a landlord who grabs a huge chunk of his disposable income for the privilege of living near his work. Class privilege is the cornerstone of American economic life.

The creative people are not in line with the ideology -- sure. The Acquisitors who own such entities as Disney, NewsCorp/Fox Television, Warner, Sony/Columbia, CBS/Paramount/Viacom, Disney, NBC/Comcast/Universal, and the many publishing houses recognize that people not so beholden to Corporate America are still a good market. Sacrificing sales volume for propaganda is unprofitable.

Donald Trump is an Acquisitor, and about as pure as one could be as an Acquisitor -- and he is nothing more than a landlord and a purveyor of schlock entertainment. As such he demonstrates the vulgarity of Acquisitors at their worst. Americans trust the Armed Forces, the FBI, and the CIA more than they trust this Presidency. Obama was in line with them and they found each other useful. America has never been more vulnerable to a military coup or at the least military interference in politics or decisions of foreign policy as during the Trump Presidency.

Note how Trump (acquisitor) was considered an anti-establishment candidate, while Clinton (intellectual) was an establishment candidate.

There are still acquisitors, and many people who idolize money and adhere to the ideology of the "yellow sector" of my political pentagon, and the power of money is still tremendous. But I don't see it lasting. Power of the intellectuals will probably rise, because the markets are more and more regulated, and the intellectuals are the ones behind the regulations. The question is: which intellectuals? Countercultural liberals (purple sector) or nationalists (blue sector). Outside of the Western World's greatest cities like London or New York, the nationalists are probably more influential. And the common people who support them are more prepared to fight. So, if the 4T ends in something brutal, the nationalists beat effete countercultural hipsters in no time and the future looks like Steve Bannon.

Donald Trump posed as an anti-Establishment type, but all he did was to turn a large part of the proletariat (including the people that he lauded for being 'low-information voters') against a well-educated middle class, especially minorities -- on behalf of the Acquisitor class. The class struggle is not always the Marxist stereotype of downtrodden workers against oppressive plutocrats. Donald Trump exudes bad taste of the sort that one would expect of those people (proles, surely) who buy the winning ticket from the Super-Duper Megabucks Lottery. The educated middle class, which generally recognizes lottery tickets as a losing proposition (if you do the math you would never buy one, and I never have except at a charitable event)... well, doesn't buy them.

Trump won the votes that he got in part by adopting a combative and vulgar style. It worked in part by debasing politics and wearing down those who might have wanted to vote against him. Will it work in 2020? I doubt it.

I would not be certain that people more pugnacious in normal times are more likely to put up a good fight. The United States proved the worst enemy that the Axis Powers could face even if America had shown the least belligerence in public life during the 1930s. One can loathe war and wage it well; the American attitude in World War II seemed to be "fight hard, and get it over with".

Sarkar sees power passing from Acquisitors (think of the nobility and the capitalists in Russia) through the proletariat, and then to the military (the Soviet Commies created a very militarized system) as the proles show that they lack the stamina and courage of Warriors, the cleverness of the Intellectuals, or the canny risk-taking and organizational talent of Acquisitors. Some of the proles become warriors in some times -- but if they make rank, they are no longer proles. Some become creative people or skilled administrators - in which case they are no longer proles. Making shrewd investments in small businesses? If so, then they are no longer proles. Sarkar suggested that the reign of American Acquisitors was approaching an end, and I can see that in the vulgarity of display of Acquisitors, the economic elites imposing a class structure characteristic of an aristocratic society in a country with little aristocratic heritage, the consolidation of commerce and industry into fewer corporate unites, intensifying inequality, and the difficulty of forming small businesses in such areas as manufacturing, banking, and retail. When the capitalist order serves only capitalists and their retainers, the game is nearly up for Acquisitors.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#11
Vipras? Why not Brahmins?
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#12
(11-14-2018, 10:12 AM)Hintergrund Wrote: Vipras? Why not Brahmins?

Good question. The Brahmin class consists of a hereditary priesthood within Hinduism, which would not thrive without a class of well-trained priests  indoctrinated from early childhood to be what they are. This class has kept Indian society together from before Rome was an Empire.

This is not the whole of the intellectual class that includes physicians, attorneys, scientists, professors, teachers, engineers, accountants, etc.

It looks as if the Brahmin class has remained credible in India by not becoming a self-indulgent, exploitative, tyrannical, reckless, and ruthless elite. Castes may remain in India, but some classes become more powerful at times -- in the sequence of warriors, intellectuals, entrepreneurs,  and (for a short time) laborers, only for the laborers to create a quick opening for warriors again.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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