Living in a communist society I was submitted to ‘political classes’.
Besides being indoctrinated we were pressed to read ‘the classics’ and this how I ended up reading some Lenin.
One concept stuck to my mind. At some point Lenin was explaining that ideas are like axes: very sharp, able to do a lot of things but powerless without a handle to leverage the force with which they are wielded. With axes it is simple, just attach them to a wooden handle and you’re in business.
With ideas things are a little trickier. If you want them to take hold among the targeted section of the population you need to ‘seduce’/convince credible but gullible members of that group that those ideas are good, for the society at large and for them in particular. In theory this should be difficult since people are (supposedly) rational. In practice it is not so. Even ‘sophisticated’ intellectuals have allowed themselves to act as ‘ax handles’. And no, I’m not going to mention a long list of prestigious people who praised communism, fascism and other aberrations.
I’ll just make good use of my memories.
In 1983, while studying Mechanical Engineering at the Bucharest Polytechnic a Mathematics Professor tried to convince me that wearing a beard will be detrimental to my career. At least he was speaking in good faith and in the end he let me be.
Next year, 1984, I wasn’t so lucky. I had to shave, just for one day, because another Professor (?!?) stated, point blank, that he wouldn’t allow me to take the exam if wearing a beard. I showed him my IDs. In all of them I was sporting a lot of ‘facial hair’, including in the one identifying me as a army reserve officer (Military service was compulsory at that time and was almost the norm for college educated people to rise to the rank of officers). He wasn’t the least impressed.
Now it doesn’t make the slightest difference that one of them was sincere in the conviction that his advice was sound while the other was a plain rascal (and a communist party mid level boss), both of them were efficient ‘axe handles’ who helped transforming young people into obedient sheep. One would have expected differently. They were “Professors”!