Archives for posts with tag: Divide et impera.

For those who have managed to conserve enough naivety, politics is a team job.

For them, ‘political power struggle’ is an oxymoron. A figure of speech.

Unfortunately, those who have lost their political naivety (innocence?, virginity?) have given up all table manners and have introduced the concept of ‘RealPolitik’.
At first in the international arena and then, using the back door, on the domestic stage.

To what consequences?

When Bismark had coined the concept of RealPolitik, the major players in the international arena were following an already ancient mantra. Divide et Impera.

If ‘naive’ politicians attempt to convince their partners, the ‘real ones’ have only one goal in mind. Theirs.
While the ‘naive’ start any interaction by listening to what the others have to say, in an attempt to learn before starting to build a solution – one designed to fulfill the widest possible array of expectations, the ‘realists’ will use every trick up their sleeves to impose ‘their’ solution. The one which best fits ‘their’ interests and which has been devised without/before any proper consultation with the rest of those who will bear the consequences of that solution being implemented.

Some of the politicians whose naivety has been chipped during constant contact with the social reality eventually ‘wise’ up and reach the point where they accept manipulation as a ‘valid’ political tool. They start to hid part of the truth, to promise a tad more than what would be realistically possible… but at least they continue to pay lip service to the notion of ‘liberal democracy’.
The hard core ‘realists’ are way more ‘straightforward’. They burn bridges and give up any pretense of ‘window dressing’. ‘Struggle’ is no longer understood as a figure of speech.

Political struggle descends into the ring. Or, more exactly, the entire Agora becomes a battle field. The whole ‘arrangement’ devolves into a ‘dog eats dog’ situation.

To the glee of the ‘realists’ outside the border. Who can hardly wait for those ‘inside’ to start fighting in earnest. So that the outsiders might, yet again, put ‘divide et impera’ to work.


Apparently, heretics are hated while nonbelievers are simply despised.

Does any of this make any sense?

Actually, yes.

First of all, faith is like riding a bike.
If you stop moving, you either fall or you  have to put a foot on the ground.
And, after you learn how to do it, you don’t have to think about it anymore.
All is fine as long as you keep on moving…

Secondly, some people need to learn how to curb their initial enthusiasm… which is not such an easy thing to do… and the more dedicated among them have the greater difficulties…
Let me give you an example from the world of the martial arts.
The corpus of knowledge pertaining to this domain includes a series of resuscitation and first aid methods. Very efficient ones.
Our current, safety above all attitude, would mandate for these methods to be taught first to every new student. Which doesn’t happen. Age old experience has demonstrated that ‘enthusiastic’ newcomers would hit/choke each-other far harder and take far less precautions when knowing that resuscitation is so readily available. This is why these powerful methods are taught only to the more experienced,  and self controlled, practitioners of the art.

Going back to the difference between heretics and nonbelievers, let me point out another less obvious thing.
Most of us are imprinted with a faith or another in our early childhood. Way before any of us was capable of thinking for their-selves. As a consequence, most of us are very relaxed towards something which is both very familiar and shared by most of those around us.

Until something happens, that is.
Something which contradicts our faith. Something which might force us to ‘stop the bike’. Which might cause us to fall. Or stop and reconsider.

And this is the real difference between heretics and nonbelievers.

As believers, we’ve always known about nonbelievers. That they’ll go straight to hell. There’s nothing unsettling for us about that. They are so different from us that, practically, they don’t count. We might bump into them on the street, we might even do business with them… but, in the end, they don’t count.
They cannot influence our ‘deep thinking’. The way we see the world.

Heretics are something totally different. They are people like us, who share most of our beliefs and who behave almost like us on most occasions.
If we don’t pay special attention, we might confuse them with ‘our own people’.
And by being so close to us, they constantly remind us that, maybe, it is us who are wrong. About that small thing which makes the difference between us and them.
I must add here that ‘fresh’ converts have the ‘worst of it’. They had already reconsidered their faith, reached a conclusion and are now under a more intense pressure to defend their ‘deliberate choice’. The ‘born again’ are in the very same situation, choosing to comeback to an erstwhile lost faith is no different from adopting a new one.

This pressure is unbearable. Having to nurse such a huge doubt is like a devil constantly whispering in our ear… A culprit must be found, blamed for the torment we had to endure and punished for their arrogance. For their audacity to exist. To constantly remind us that there are alternatives to what we’ve been led to believe.

And this is valid for all kind of faiths. The phenomenon is not restricted to the religious world.
People who had vaccinated their children actually hate those who had chosen not to.
Well, some of them… I’ll come back to this…
Atheists hate the faithful.
The progressives hate the conservatives and the conservatives respond in kind.
Those who believe the Earth is round hate and/or make fun of those who are convinced  the Earth is Flat… and so on…

In this situation, people might ask themselves ‘how come we hadn’t yet slit each other’s throats in sleep?’

‘well, some of them…’

The point being that, most of the times, the haters are a small minority. Most of the believers have either understood that the main tenet of all ‘faiths’ is ‘don’t harm anybody unnecessarily and respect all other human beings/opinions’ or actually have better things to do than to split hairs.

Which brings us to the present situation.
When various ‘con-artists’ have learned to inflame hate and to prod the haters to fight each-other.

Only both the haters and the rest of us – the silent majority who, until know, have been too lazy to intervene, have forgotten that ‘divide et impera’ had always ended up disastrously. Usually for those who allowed themselves to be divided and, quite often, for the ‘imperators’ themselves.

Both Alexander the Great and Cesar, two of the most acclaimed generals and political figures, had ended up both prematurely and in an undignified manner. After causing enormous suffering to both the conquerors and the conquered.
Let’s not forget that Greece had practically disappeared from the world stage after Alexander the Great and that Cesar had been the first – well, the second, of the long list of Roman dictators who had led the empire to its eventual demise.
This might have been a ‘natural’ occurrence. ‘Natural’ as in ‘then inevitable’.

But why repeat it, now that we’ve already learned how it invariably ends?




For more than a year now I was struggling to understand the circumstances that have produced the current political mess in America.

I finally figured it out.

Confusion and dissatisfaction!

If you have enough people that are both confused and malcontent then all kind of ‘strange’ things will happen.

Only one of them won’t be enough to explain the whole gamut of what’s going on and that’s why I wasn’t satisfied by any of the many articles that pointed out one reason or another for the ‘popular discontent that brought the Donald to the White House’.
In fact no amount of ‘unhappiness’ can explain how two mature parties can nominate such lousy candidates. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump fit, not even loosely, the profile of a decent President. That’s why the voter turn-out was the lowest in the last 80 years or so.

But if you add ‘confusion’… things begin to clear out.

And no, I’m not speaking here about the regular people being confused as a result of the ‘politicos’ having misbehaved horribly.
I’m afraid things are way deeper than this.
Even those who believe themselves to be educated in these matters seem to be swimming in a sea of thicker and thicker fog.

Take, for instance, the current debate about the differences between ‘republic’ and ‘democracy’.

A republic is a representative type of government, and its goal is to simultaneously control the majority while protecting the minority. For example, in the republic of the United States, the government is limited constitutionally, and power is divided between the three branches of government.

A democracy is a type of government that grants eligible citizens the right to equal participation. This right is provided directly through the creation and development of laws or through elected representatives. The interest of the majority is the most important aspect in a democracy.

A republic is a representative form of democracy. A republic has an elected head of state, such as a president, that serves for a specific period of time. In a republic, the interest of the majority rules through its elected representatives. However, a republic has a constitution that protects the minority from being entirely overruled or unrepresented.

See what I mean? Adding insult to injury this definitions were published by a site which calls itself ‘‘ …

I’m not going to pick truth from fiction in that quote, that would only add to the already too thick confusion.

Enough for me to say that ‘republic’ is indeed a manner in which societies are organized (a.k.a. ‘governed’) while ‘democracy’ is a manner in which societies decide for themselves. Yes, these two things have a lot in common but we should not confuse them.

There are republics which only pretend to be democratic – like the late Soviet Union or the current Democratic Republic of Korea, some which are democratic in a rather strange way – Iran for example, or which are slowly ‘loosing’ democracy behind – like Orban’s Hungary or Putin’s Russia. History has also a few examples of republics which had given up democracy all together. Hitler’s Germany, for instance.

On the other hand there are monarchies (OK, constitutional monarchies) which are perfectly democratic. The British Commonwealth, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Belgium…

What can explain the current confusion?
‘The interest of the majority is the most important aspect in a democracy’?!?
A major lack of understanding about what democracy really means?

A terrible confusion between the formal aspects of democracy – freedom to vote for what ever candidate accompanied by a fair account of the ballots – and the really important tenets of democratic behavior – honest, open and mutually respectful exchange of ideas about the current state of affairs between the interested members of the society?
My point being that true democracy is about the opportunity to rationally convince those around you/making yourself available to be convinced by rational arguments, not about the majority imposing its view on the minority. That is nothing but mob rule, a horrid perversion of what democracy was meant to be.

Basically, what happens – under all forms of social arrangements/forms of government: republic, constitutional or absolute monarchy – in a society is that people need to know where that society is headed to. Authoritarian societies are run by the ruler – and the people, willingly, unwillingly or with mixed spirits, agree for the time being – while the democratic societies entertain a certain ‘effervescence of ideas’ which bring forward the important problems that need to be resolved and what would be the socially acceptable manners for those problems to be fixed.

But in order for that ‘effervescence of ideas’ to be efficient, the ordinary people have to contribute in earnest to the exchange and the politicians need to pay close attention and to cooperate among themselves and with the rest of the society towards solving those problems.

That’s why I’d like you to remember when was the last time that people on the different sides of the political divide have actually talked together?
Why do we have a ‘political divide’ in the first place?

Aren’t we supposed to be ‘all together’ in our respective countries?

What’s gotten into us that made us fight each-other so bitterly?

Why do we succumb so easily to ‘divide and conquer’?

Why are there still so many politicos who keep using this method, despite the ample proof that has been provided to us, through out the history, that ‘divide and conquer‘ inevitably ends up in disaster?

When your own rhetoric gives you license to commit mayhem. And worse

Modern technology has produced some rather perverse ‘side effects’.

What used to be called ‘democracy’ has slowly been driven into ‘mob rule’.

It is hard to determine whether this is the desired effect of some (un) ‘intelligent design’ or an unforeseen consequence of the callous machinations of the ‘power hungry’ but it doesn’t matter much, does it?

Let me first clarify some concepts.

For me ‘democracy’ is way much more than what happens in and around the polling stations.
Fairly counting the votes is indeed important but even more important is what takes place long before the ballots are cast.
A really functional democracy is that where every stakeholder has the opportunity to voice their concerns and where the rest pay attention to everything that is said in the public square. By both their political friends and by their political adversaries.
In fact no ballot can be cast efficiently unless the voters have developed a fair image of what is going on in their society. While no one can develop an actually complete understanding of anything, let alone one regarding such a complex system as an entire society, we must jealously keep in our minds that ‘not entirely complete’ is one thing and ‘heavily biased’ through a severe lack of pertinent information is quite a different one.

On the other hand ‘mob rule’ is a what happens when voters’ passions are so high that enough of them are no longer able to think with their own heads and allow themselves to be ‘led by the nose’. Into voting for a specific somebody or, alternatively, into not voting at all ‘because it doesn’t matter, anyway’.

At first democracy actually meant first hand, person to person, meetings in the public square.
The Ancient Greeks solved their ‘state affairs’ in the Agora, the Romans in the Forum while “Althingi” (the name of the oldest parliament that is still in existence, that of Iceland) means ‘General Assembly’.

Slowly, as the constituencies grew larger, the stakeholders needed some more sophisticated manners of keeping in touch. Luckily for them, Gutenberg had already invented the printing press. The American Founding Fathers – who had made good use of this first instrument of what was going to be the mass-media – had insisted passionately on the ‘freedom of the press’. And for good reasons. As I pointed out a little earlier, access to information is paramount for an efficient decision. Further more printed material is a very handy tool when it comes to conveying information from one person to another. Its rather stable nature allows it to survive unadulterated, at least for a while. So it can be handled around or kept for further reference since it is relatively easy to organize. And searched at will. All these discouraging the ‘communicators’ from lying – blatantly, at least. Since lies where relatively easy to pin-point and prove those who needed to maintain their credibility refrained themselves from ‘exaggerating’ too much. The fact that the general public was rather particular about this kind of things also helped in this matter.

Later, when radio and television were introduced, things had become more complicated. Given the fleeting nature of spoken – rather than printed – words, the ‘talking heads’ felt less compelled to stick to the straight and narrow.
Things were compounded by the advent of the ‘political-marketing specialists’ and of the ‘bean counters’.
The latter kept insisting that the mass-media venues have to be as profitable as possible – hence publish more and more of ‘what the audience asks for’ instead of bona-fide information while the former kept telling to the politicians that they have to ‘get under the skin of their constituents’ – by, again, telling them what they were more likely to believe instead of treating them as the grown-up adults they were.
The consequence of all this merchandising was that the erstwhile more or less compact public has been gradually carved up into discrete, and growingly separate, ‘publics’. Otherwise known as ‘echo-chambers’.

The apparition of the Internet/social networks has further deepened the already existent divides. People no longer know what the others really think or feel. But their ignorance doesn’t keep them from having opinions. Or from voting about things they do not really understand. So they vote how they are told by their trusted ‘analysts’/’experts’.

Now, is it of any use for us to blame anybody for what had happened?

Or would it be a lot better for all of us to grow out of this before the ‘whirlwind’ makes a ‘hard landing’ on top of our heads?


Islam Europe

I’ve just found this cartoon in my e-mail.
It was captioned: “The Winning cartoon in an organized competition.”

I instantly remembered some very wise words I’ve read long time ago:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

“Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will, I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against that person on the Day of Judgment.”

All religious teachings, all of them, maintain that ‘a man reaps what he sows’. It doesn’t really matter if the ‘result’ will come as a sentence delivered by a divine judge or if it will be just another bead in the string representing the life story of an individual.
I, for one, don’t see much difference between ‘fate’ and ‘karma’.

Then how come we keep acting as if we’ve never been warned?

“In my two visits to Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp in Poland, I learned that holocausts and genocides do not occur in a vacuum. Rather, there is almost always a vicious campaign of incitement directed against the target group preceding them. What is troubling today, with the recent uptick in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents worldwide, is that extremists and zealots are not the only ones inciting their followers. In a number of Arab countries, Muslim children are taught ideas that distort the true meaning of the Quran and hadith too.”


Love, more powerful than hate.

Sau poate ca da?!?

Povestea asta cu evacuarea Antenelor incepe sa devina un fel de test cu turnesol.

E adevarat ca cei de la Antene au contribuit decisiv la incingerea atmosferei din media – nu stiu cati dintre voi tin minte cu cata ‘lipsa de eleganta’ dadeau pe post cifrele audientelor si ce misto faceau de ceilalti – dar nu cred ca asta este un motiv suficient pentru  valul de satisfactie care se simte prin redactiile multora dintre televiziunile concurente.

E la fel de adevarat ca exact acelasi tip de indarjire domneste si printre multi dintre cei ‘de-acasa’ – asta ca sa folosesc un termen ‘drag’ specialistilor din marketingul de media.
O parte dintre spectatorii fideli uneia dintre parti sunt aproape gata sa se repeada la beregata celor din tabara adversa – si asta este valabil pentru ambele tabere.
Daca vreti sa va convingeti deschideti orice pagina de pe Internet care are cat de cat de a face cu subiectul asta si cititi cateva dintre comentarii…


Unii duc ‘divide et impera’ pina aproape de ultima consecinta iar ceilalti – adica noi – se lasa manipulati.
Prea multe dintre televiziuni au devenit ‘portavoci’ si prea putini dintre spectatori si-au facut publica nemultumirea fata de actuala stare de fapt.

Poate ca dupa ce corbii se vor fi chiorat suficient unii pe ceilalti ne va veni mintea la cap, tuturor, si vom reveni fiecare la ce avem de facut.

Televiziunile sa informeze in mod cat mai onest iar spectatorii sa foloseasca in mod judicios telecomenzile. Si creierele din dotare, bineinteles!
Adica sa aleaga.

Sunt naiv?
Nu cred.
Si asta pentru ca alternativa este groaznica!

Mai bine spus nu-mi mai place.

A fost o vreme cand ma uitam la cateva dintre emisiunile lor.
La Mircea Badea, de exemplu. La inceput era interesant. Obraznic, proaspat. Obraznicia a ramas numai ca de vreo cativa ani incoace se cam repeta. Asa ca …

Singura lor emisiune care merita atentie in continuare este “In Premiera” cu Carmen Avram. De fapt aceasta este emisiunea lor fanion, cea care castiga premii internationale si care i-a facut cunoscuti peste hotare.

In rest… s-au coborat si ei la stilul tabloidizant care face ‘breaking news’ din orice si unde la ordinea zilei sunt exagerarile si can-canurile.

Dar faptul ca au coborat stacheta nu inseamna ca trebuie desfiintati. Ci doar ca noi, spectatorii, nu pierdem nimic daca nu ne mai uitam la emisiunile lor.

N-am sa ma apuc sa discut acum despre actiunea ANAF-ului sau daca interventia Senatului reprezinta o imixtiune, sau nu, in mersul justitiei.

Ce ma intereseaza pe mine este reactia publicului.

Care, din nou, s-a lasat impartit in tabere. Atat de distantate incat nici nu-si mai vorbesc intre ele. Ba chiar unii isi retrag like-rile date lui Iohannis pe Facebook pentru ca a indraznit sa spuna ca nu este de acord cu evacuarea fortata.

N-am sa va ‘plictisesc’ acum cu ‘libertatea de expresie este esenta democratiei’ si cu ‘actul de justitie s-a incheiat atunci cand cladirea a intrat in posesia statului iar ce se intampla in continuare are de-a face doar cu modul in care niste functionari gestioneaza aceste proprietati in numele nostru’.

Am sa va intreb insa cat mai avem de gand sa ne lasam manipulati?
Impartiti in gasti pentru a fi dusi de nas cu si mai multa usurinta?

Chiar asa? Doar Moise Guran s-a prins ca victimizarea Antenelor poate fi extrem de folositoare pentru unii si extrem de nociva pentru ceilalti? Doar Patrick Andre de Hillerin a avut curajul sa ne spuna ca nu e bine sa ne bucuram de raul altora?

Si totusi dracul nu este chiar atat de negru.

Sunt multi cei care nu se lasa orbiti.

Presedintele Tarii, primul ministru, presedintele Senatului, ziaristii pe care i-am mentionat deja precum si inca multi altii. Nu doar ziaristi.

Si inca ceva. Foarte multa lume ii atribuie lui Basescu ‘meritul’ de a fi bagat zazanie in clasa politica romaneasca. Din pacate fenomenul a inceput mult mai devreme. ‘Meritul’ acesta nu ii apartine, in nici un caz, in totalitate.
Mai tineti minte Mineriadele? Manifestatiile si contra-manifestatiile din 1990-1991?
‘Noi muncim, Nu gandim’ si ‘Moarte Intelectualilor’?

Poate ca, sub valurile facute de ‘agitatorii’ de profesie, oamenii care conteaza, adica poporul, au inceput sa isi dea seama ca nu are rost sa astepte ca politicienii sa-si faca datoria singuri. Ca acestia trebuiesc impinsi de la spate.
Asa cum a facut multimea indignata de ce s-a intamplat in ‘Colectiv’.

Si uite ca cei aflati astazi ‘in fruntea bucatelor’ nu mai afiseaza nepasarea suficienta cu care ne obisnuisem pe vremurile lui Nastase si ale lui Basescu.

Daca vom continua sa stam cu ochii pe ei, lucrurile vor merge din ce in ce mai bine.
Bineinteles, cu conditia ca pana atunci noi sa nu ne luam, unii pe altii, de beregata.

Bloody Caesar


Did you know this maxim was attributed to Philip II of Macedonia and was heavily used by both Caesar and Napoleon?

Also, did you know that it covers a lot more than ‘divide and conquer’?

For instance, a rather successful computer game and a problem solving methodology  that recommends the original problem be divided into smaller, and hence easier to manage, sub-problems.

Going back to the original meaning I must admit that both the ancient Macedonians and the ancient Romans made ‘good’ use of it. Alexandre the Great had conquered everything between Greece and India while the Ancient Rome had been, for a while, the most powerful empire known to man.

In more modern times the same strategy had been used by Germany, among others. Again, with relative success. During WWI the Kaiser had facilitated Lenin’s access to Russia and by doing so he had split the coalition he was trying to defeat – as a result of this manoeuvre Russia had asked for a separate peace treaty, eventually signed at Brest Litovsk. During WWII Hitler took great care to keep Russia at bay while he conquered the Western part of Europe.

Now the same strategy is being used by Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the current Czar of Russia.

On Sunday, March 22, 2015, Sankt Petersburg – Putin’s birth place and political trampoline – hosted the Russian Conservative Forum. It was attended by a “a motley crew of representatives of fringe right-wing political organizations in Europe and the United States” which “including Hitler apologists, Holocaust deniers, apartheid fans, and a Russian skinhead who once decapitated a puppy as a publicity stunt, gave it an air of dark surrealism. Speakers condemned the U.S. as the enslaver of Europe and sang the praises of Russian President Vladimir Putin, holding up Russia as the last fortress of Christendom in the war waged on it by liberalism and multiculturalism.
“In the West, we are brainwashed to hate Vladimir Putin,” said British anti-abortion-rights campaigner Jim Dowson. He went on to say that Russia is blessed to be ruled by “a real man” while the U.S. is led by the “feminized” Barack Obama.”

On Tuesday, March 24, “The UN General Assembly’s budget committee … rejected a proposal submitted by Russia that called for withdrawing a July 2014 administrative ruling by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He ordered the world body to recognize same-sex unions of any of its 60,000 global staff who wed in countries that legally recognize such partnerships.
The dispute turned an internal UN personnel policy into a microcosm of the differences that pit the U.S. and EU nations against more socially conservative countries over recognizing rights of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

If we put two and two together and then add the result to what has already become evident – that the Russian (more exactly Putin’s) Propaganda machine has been revved up in a massive way for quite a while now – the pattern becomes visible.
Putin is ‘doing his worst’ to convince those uncomfortable with the spread of ‘liberal values’/globalization that if they want to ‘preserve their national traditions’ they have to ‘unite closely around’ the only leader that can save them from being engulfed by the ‘decadence of the West’. Around him, that is.

In fact this is exactly what the ’emperors of old’ I mentioned at the beginning of the post used to recommend. Instil as much fear in your opponents, individually, as you can and try to rekindle the smallest differences that ever existed between them.

There is a small problem though with this line of thinking.
No matter how much we respect/admire some of them or hate/despise the others none of those who had used this strategy ended up in a ‘comfortable’ manner.
And all of them had brought great misery to the people under their rule. Including Caesar. A civil war is no small thing, not now, not then!

While we ponder what to do in order to counter this nefarious propaganda, we need to keep in mind that Russia is not Putin and that the Russian people has never had a taste of what real democracy feels like. Blaming the entire people, wholesale, for what Putin does in their name ‘is worse than a crime, it’s a mistake’.

PS. Same counter-strategy should be applied to all would be ‘dividers’ who try to become ’emperors’.

“Make your subjects fight one another and this will make it easier for you to rule over them”.

Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe election victory was a ‘masterclass in electoral fraud’

With banter and blankets, Zimbabweans make their choice.

Hunting in Harare: Zimbabwe’s elusive voters’ roll

The only problem with this is that ’empires’ tend to be remembered mostly by the loudness of the ‘bang’ they produced while crumbling:

How many of us remember when Rome was founded? The legend has it that its birthday was on the  21st of April 753 BC…Yet most of us remember it was a long list of marauding barbarians that conquered Colina Capitolina before the final touch-down was scored by Odoacer: 476

How many of you remember how Ceausescu rose to absolute power in 1965? Yet his demise made the first pages of most newspapers during the 1989 Christmas

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