Monday, 1 December 2014

The Con Identity

In everyday life, if we overhear some con merchant trying to sell a pack of lies to the family next door, we would warn our neighbours and perhaps even threaten to report the con-man to the authority.

In politics, the tricksters may not be so easy to spot; some victims grow so attached to the false hope being peddled that they resent anyone trying to talk them out of it; and worst of all, if the con goes down without a hitch, the perpetrator becomes the authority.

But precisely because the stakes are so high, we must do everything we can to expose the con identity of politicians who pretend they want to look after our interests when all they are after is more wealth and power for them and their accomplices.

So how do we spot the political Con? Here are four unmistakable signs:

[1] The Pyramid Trick
Whatever the spiel, the deck is stacked to ensure that it is always going to be more pay, tax cuts, bonuses and dividends for the privileged few at the top of the towering wealth pyramid, while everyone else has to work harder everyday just to stay above rock bottom. Look out for the promise of a fast track ‘social mobility’ draw where if you are one of the very lucky, and decidedly very few, you may get to climb a couple of rungs nearer to the upper echelons. You will be routinely told that all the accumulated wealth will trickle down to you in time, when all you actually get is a relentlessly growing burden weighing you down.

[2] The Smoke & Halo Trick
Any notion that may have a positive connotation will be dazzlingly shuffled before you – ‘God’, ‘Country’, ‘The Flag/The Queen’ (depending if you’re in the US or the UK), ‘The Family’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Traditions’ – stirring up Pavlovian expectations of something deserving of your unquestioning reverence. And while your attention is distracted by the fancy shuffling, your pay packet shrinks, your children can’t afford the inflated house prices in your neighbourhood, the costs of necessities from energy to medicine skyrocket, and you are left with mass insecurity.

[3] The Isolation Trick
Every move is designed to isolate you. Any collective strength you may have from being part of something larger will be drained from you. Voluntary groups daring to campaign are starved of funds. Unions are bashed. And public sector provisions for ordinary people are cut back in every direction (though subsidies for corporations continue to grow). You are told that you’re better off keeping your money in your pocket even when it could buy you much more through a public scheme. The more things are privatised and deregulated, the more you are left on your own – easy pickings for tricksters with all the aces up their sleeves.

[4] The Scapegoats Trick
A simple sleight of hand and you see nothing of the manipulation that sucks out the gains from your increased productivity one day and leaves you redundant with a cut-up safety net the next. Instead your eyes are drawn to the supposed ‘cheats’ sitting next to you – the refugees, the immigrants, the low pay and jobless needing help to feed their children. You are goaded into resenting them, despising them, and channelling all your frustration towards them, while the double-dealer pockets everything in sight.

We hear much about the need to educate the public about the importance of democracy and the value of voting. One preliminary lesson for all citizens must surely be on how to spot these devious tricks and shun the politicians with the reprehensible ‘Con’ identity.

[If you’re interested in reading a story of how Con politicians trick their way to taking complete control over the lives of everyone in Britain and America, try the satirical dystopian novel, Whitehall through the Looking Glass]

No comments: