Temple Illuminatus

Power and Corruption: The Matrix of the Master and Slave

By Ethan Indigo Smith

Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made. ~Oscar Wilde

Despite infinite variation in political thinking and being, there are four types of thinkers in our society; idiots, zealots, elitists and patriots. One can observe there are four types of institutions as well; government, religious, corporate and media institutions, of many shades of variation. And there are the four types of lies those institutions use, to corrupt and control our thinking and being.

Government institutions corrupt culture. Religious institutions corrupt spirituality. Corporate institutions corrupt trade. Media institutions corrupt thinking. Today, such institutional corruption is rampant to the point that it has become unspoken normalcy, and speaking up to it is quietly viewed as disruption; dissent.

In a just world where righteousness was the norm, police officers would be peacekeepers upholding just laws, and legality would run its course parallel with morality; government would govern for the people; media would share information accurately and freely, without bias; and religious institutions would promote spiritual individuation. But the level of corruption is essentially relative to the level of comprehension of the population. Corruption cannot flourish in a transparent, well-informed society. The more aware a community is of the functions of their institutions, the more the community demands that legality runs parallel with morality, etc.

Essentially, corrupt institutions, to one extent or another, enslave individuals to those institutions. Institutions first become corrupted by individuals, and over time, these institutions are used to further corrupt the individuals in that society. Our institutions are designed to limit our access to knowledge and therefore, our thinking, and promote zealotry and elitism as the new political ideal — and as a result, many in our society are unable to comprehend the difference between legal and moral much less why the two have diverged.

There really is no need to conduct extensive research or to formulate a vast “conspiracy theory” as it concerns the matter of corrupt institutions enslaving individuals. It merely requires objective observation of our present reality and a slight understanding of the past. As the Ice T song of the same name says, “everything’s corrupt.”  Whether the slavery is literal or mental imprisonment, or debt servitude, or spiritual co-option, or mass psychological manipulation, the result — terminology aside — is slavery.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever. ~George Orwell (O’Brien), 1984

Yes, institutions enslave individuals. Rather than point out legitimate observations by contemporary individuals unfettered by the said institutions, perhaps it is wise to take retrospect at exactly what great thinkers of the Western world have said.

Lord Acton

John Dalberg-Acton (1834-1902) was a writer and politician, and his words are part of a foundational thought pattern wherever people consciously desire to reform our institutions to serve liberty and fairness:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Of course the entire statement is even more revealing than the well-known snippet.

I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. ~Lord Acton

Finding truth in corruption is like finding clean water in an industrialized society. We know through evidence that governments and corporations will use everything up to and including science to lie, making it so that distinguishing truth among the presentation of statistics (etymology: state math), and scientific validation requires not only an understanding of mathematics and physics, but of politics and prejudice as well.

The best technique for finding truth amidst corruption is to eliminate preconceptions (as much as possible) and simplify the contemplation of reality (as much as possible). Mostly, the corruption that Lord Acton points out exerts control by distorting the perception and therefore the reality that manifests. Thus it is helpful to lose the preconceptions in order to penetrate the truth, otherwise we will see things as we like to, as we prefer to, or as our preconceptions hold to.

Take a new look with what the Buddhists refer to as the Beginner Mind. This technique approaches all things with the innocent questioning of a child. Another technique I believe is employable is to pretend you are blind. If you could not see images but only could only contemplate the story, your perception of situations can change though simplification. This can be helpful in providing clarity enough to then use other legitimate forms of observation.

The world was deeply divided during Lord Acton’s life, divided by a gulf between the haves and have-nots. The simple observation Lord Acton made – that those haves in power are much more likely than the rest of us to be corrupt, for they have the power to be so – as well as the reasoning behind it is as true today as it was back then. And the gulf between the haves and have-nots is wider than ever. Now today, beyond Lord Acton’s Rule is an even more troubling observation, that most of the world is partaking in, or stuck in, a sick system of Master and Slave.

Georg Hegel

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the Philosopher best known for conceptualizing the Hegelian Dialectic and the ‘Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis’ model of thinking, on which I expounded here, also formed The Master and Slave philosophy. In an extraordinary exploration of world history and the evolution of human consciousness, Hegel’s theory presents an extraordinary and compelling truth; the world is made up of masters and slaves and neither will ever become conscious unless this pattern is broken and remade. Moreover, the more conscious individuals are, the less likely they will enslave others, or accept enslavement. Indeed, observation with the Beginner Mind, or observing as though blind, certainly points to this dynamic.

The core presentation of the Hegelian Philosophy of The Master and Slave is that when one consciousness meets the other the stronger one will enslave the other. If the slave does not revolt this status quo will remain; and neither becomes conscious. If The Slave becomes conscious there is revolution. Only then is The Master conscious as well. Only when The Slave revolts is either The Slave or Master conscious. In summation, only in revolution is there a transformation of consciousness internally and externally. Only when someone stands up and curses “F*** the authorities”, like say, Jesus, is either party compelled toward the realization of consciousness.

In today’s war world, the only revolution is change through peaceful means; through understanding. The Philosophy of The Master and Slave is profound and worthy of further reading and research. But now to add to the idea, the world is never just black and white. The world may be primarily made up of the black-and-white condition of masters and slaves, but, as in all things, there are grey areas as well. Perhaps this is how people can so easily deny they are in either predicament.

Masters and Slaves — Worldlings and the Worldly

To understand this predicament, as with all comprehensive thinking, one must consider this situation using a matrix of four. Our divided world is made up not only of the Masters and the Slaves, but also of the Worldlings and the Worldly. The Worldlings support and eat off of the Master/Slave system, while the Worldly support the Slaves and seek to instigate revolt, in order to spark the development of consciousness of the Slaves and Masters both.

As much as possible, wherever it is, we must call out the Masters and the Worldlings for what they are; purveyors and benefactors of slavery. And at the same time we must make every attempt to inspire more Slaves to become Worldly and shake off the shackles — and their shacklers — from their backs.

Perhaps one of the most crucial adjustments to make and inspire others to pursue is to actively distinguish individuals from institutions, and more subtly, constructs of individuation from those of institutionalization. In order to accomplish this important recognition, focused examination is required. One need not a complex theory or philosophy, just a recognition of the institutions and individuals around us. Ask yourself:

Are the four types of institutions — government, religious, corporate and media — truly serving our society, or are they corrupting situations, or both?

Why do I accept it as normal that our nation’s leaders lie? That individuals are acting as if they are institutions, hiding behind the protection of institutional veils?

In a just world where righteousness was the norm, would corporations need to pirate the rights of individuals, of personhood? Would government take rights away from the people and grant them to corporations?

Would religious institutions, supposedly the bastions of charity, be among the world’s wealthiest?

Would the media fail to report on major world events while circulating others on endless repeat?

Government corrupts culture, religion corrupts spirituality, corporations corrupt exchange, and media corrupts thinking and intuition around you…

While institutional encroachment on our society continues, perhaps the most important distinction we can maintain today is always to differentiate between individuals and institutions. he Worldly may spark the consciousness that ends the Master/Slave cycle of corruption.

Peace on Earth.

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Comment by Cian Rhys on September 25, 2017 at 3:27am

One point I partially disagree with, is that, Government corrupts culture; I think what is more prevalent, is just the opposite, as politics is downstream from culture...

Our lives — indeed, our very species — has storytelling wound into our DNA. From the earliest cave drawings, man has expressed himself in terms of story. Ancient civilizations understood that stories are vital to understanding our place in the world, so much so that they codified storytelling and found base rules that form it. Oral histories are a part of every culture across the globe.

Stories instill moral and ethical values. They place joy and tragedy in context. They preserve cultures. At their best, they deliver the secrets and meanings of life.

As Dr. Neal Baer, the longtime showrunner of Law & Order: SVU tells in my book Inside the TV Writer’s Room, humans live story on a daily basis. What happens when your run into a friend? He asks what you’ve been up to. You tell a story.

What did you do today? You relate it in the form of a story. Doctors tell each other the story of a patient in order to diagnose her. Lawyers attempt to tell jurors a story through direct and cross-examinations, and opening and closing statements. Businessmen tell the story of their product. Stock investors try to suss out a company’s story to see if it is a good investment.

Most importantly, it isn’t only the text that is important. It is also a story’s context and it’s subtext that deliver messages. It’s those messages that are significant in this article.

Popular culture is delivered to us in the form of story via books, TV, film, music, video games, and new media. Obviously, most of us are there to simply be entertained. However, along with that entertainment comes messaging. It may not be intentional. Oftentimes, it isn’t (and the job of critics to tease out unexpected thematics or commentary).

So whenever we view a piece of popular culture, we should ask what messages it delivers. What values are espoused or rejected? What is the moral of the story? How did the characters change? What did they learn? What means did they use to their ends? Finally, how do you feel about the answers to these questions?

Because whether you like it or not, or believe it or not, the messaging of popular culture is resonating inside everyone’s conscious and subconscious mind. And if those messages are not consonant with the things you hold dear, then it is incumbent upon you to challenge yourself. First ask why it threatens you, and then, if appropriate, accept or reject the message. Never reject it out of hand. Do yourself the favor of letting yourself be challenged, in the event you make a discovery about something that never occurred to you.

Thus we come to politics. Given the influence that story has on our everyday lives, and that popular culture is barraging us with story on a regular basis, we must remain ever vigilant as to the messaging in those stories.

Regardless of one’s ideological, moral, ethical, or religious leanings, every person should be aware of the messaging of every piece of popular culture...  ~Lawrence Meyers

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