Tools for Tyrants: Hatred, AKA 'Divide and Conquer'

Column by Paul Bonneau.

Exclusive to STR


The next tool we are going to examine is the tyrant’s use and encouragement of hatred among those he wishes to govern. This is a part of the “divide and conquer” or “divide and rule” strategy.
Of the elements mentioned in the Wikipedia article, the most important are
1) creating or encouraging divisions among the subjects in order to prevent alliances that could challenge the sovereign; and
2) aiding and promoting those who are willing to cooperate with the sovereign.
Of course, the most obvious example of the first is the left-right political spectrum, a construct that, if not created for the purpose of “divide and rule,” was easily adapted to that purpose. The vast majority of people willingly accept this spectrum and the resulting hatred of those on the other end of it, despite its ridiculously poor ability to describe reality.
The latter is easily demonstrated. A person who is pro-life and supports the War on Drugs is usually considered “right,” while one who is pro-choice and opposes the War on Drugs is usually considered “left.” But what to do with people who are pro-life and oppose the War on Drugs, and with people who are pro-choice and support the War on Drugs? Even considering only two issues, the one-dimensional left-right spectrum fails. The two-dimensional spectrum sometimes used by libertarians fails by adding only a single additional issue (the separation between “personal” and “economic” freedom is completely arbitrary). There are hundreds of possible issues.
This construct does not serve our interests, although it certainly does serve that of the ruling class. It shouldn’t matter at all if different people have different political opinions, any more than it matters that they have different religions. What matters is whether people are simultaneously able, and determined, to impose their views on others. Your enemy is not some ordinary person on a different part of some ruler-contrived spectrum. Your enemy is the ruling class, the only people both able and determined to impose on us.
It is crucially important to correctly identify one’s true enemies.
Radical Muslims are not our enemies. While they may be determined to impose on us or harm us, they are not in any realistic sense able.
Mexican immigrants, including those designated by the rulers as illegal, are not our enemies. While they may be able to harm or impose on us due to their numbers and proximity, the vast majority are not determined to do so. In fact, it feels silly to write this because nothing important distinguishes “them” from “us.”
Of the second element in that Wikipedia article--aiding and promoting those who are willing to cooperate with the sovereign--the most famous (or infamous) example I can think of is the federal treatment of freed slaves during Reconstruction. These were put in positions of power over the former masters, and the former masters held down. This generated an intense hatred that took a century to abate. There are still echoes of it today with programs like Affirmative Action. The worst thing that could have been done to these “black” people was being “helped” by the federal government, and the worst mistake the “blacks” made was accepting that “help.” Contrast their plight with that of Chinese immigrants, starting in hardly a better place than “blacks” did, who did not get any “help.”
But this is getting off track. The point is, “whites” and “blacks” have long been separated for the benefit of the ruling class. It sure wasn’t for the benefit of “blacks,” who got a terribly raw deal out of it.
When you start to examine government actions, keeping “divide and rule” in mind, you realize that a large fraction of those actions are designed to pit some group against another--despite all the noise about “helping” somebody.
There are other examples, some that even libertarians are prone to fall into. Hatred of or sneering at religion is commonplace among libertarians. We (non-religious libertarians) should ask ourselves, “Whose interests are being served by sneering at the faithful? Is it likely we can convert the faithful to atheists by sneering at them?” Of course every person has opinions that are in error; no one has a perfect line on reality. It does not harm me if people have a belief in some god that I don’t have; it only harms me if they seek to impose it on me.
Another familiar example of “divide and rule" that libertarians fall prey to is the constant attack on statists and “sheeple.” If “statist” means those seeking to impose, then yes, they are our enemies. If “statist” means simply everyone other than libertarians, then again we are falling into the trap of serving the rulers’ interests. Most people, while often inconsistent on this point, largely do not seek to impose their will upon us, or can be talked into not imposing on us when they see it is an imposition.
How to counter “divide and rule”?
1) Keep this tactic in mind while reading news reports and stories. Always ask yourself if it might be a possible example of “divide and rule.”
2) Correctly identify your true enemies, those with both the intention and the ability to impose on you or harm you. Stop reflexively responding like Pavlov’s dogs to cues put out by the ruling class, dividing you from others who may actually turn out to be allies if you give them a chance.
3) Use the Internet to contact and interact with those you formally considered enemies. The primary thing you should bring to these exchanges is the question, “Would you impose on me if I decided I preferred living differently, under different rules and traditions, than you prefer? As long as I let you do the same? Doesn’t ‘live and let live’ sound like a good idea?” You will find that, even though disagreeing on particular issues, very few will be willing to force them on you, if they know you will not force your views on them. You have just converted former enemies into your allies. You don’t need to convert people to your views, and I’m starting to get the idea that it is counterproductive even to try. You just need to move them out of the category of “enemy.”
4) Stop evangelizing freedom. This will no doubt be controversial (not to mention, being difficult to restrain ourselves so); but is an extension of the previous point. Evangelism is the same as saying, “You’re wrong about X, and I’m right about it.” This is clearly going to generate opposition and shut down accommodation. Dale Carnegie has noted that “You cannot win an argument,” while strategist B. Liddell Hart has demonstrated the superiority of the indirect approach over a frontal attack. Instead of evangelizing, we should argue for freedom with a much more limited and attainable goal in mind: to generate tolerance in others. We want the statists we are arguing with to shed their reflexive disgust with our opinions to the extent that they will at least let us be. We can let our example do our evangelizing for us. A working example of a free society will make more conversions than any amount of argumentation ever will.
5) Stop reflexively hating others. When you are about to make some snide comment about some group, bite your tongue--if for no other reason than that people are individuals, not collectives. Stop using collectivist language. Stop being a collectivist. Success of “divide and rule” depends largely on having the mundanes thinking in a collectivist manner.
We have a lot more potential allies out there than we might imagine. 
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Paul Bonneau's picture
Columns on STR: 106


John deLaubenfels's picture

Right on target. People will make up their own minds about every issue, and the worst way to approach them is with a "holier than thou" attitude. Though it's maddeningly slow, the only way to nudge people is in small steps, making respectful suggestions for other ways a particular conundrum could be viewed. If we lose sight of the humanity of those we consider wrong-headed, we will never bridge the gap between us.

Suverans2's picture

Very good, Paul Bonneau, "he that is not against us is on our part".

wkmac's picture

Good stuff! I've watched the OWS movement as many have and found things to agree and disagree with but when I saw the vid of Peter Schiff with the OWS protester, I got this feeling that Schiff was there not to expand truth or open dialogue but instead for some personal PR sake. Sorry, the video camera present and how it's been spread around the "so-called" freedom and liberty movement was just too convenient for me.

Not that Schiff didn't have some points and not that the protester in the vid wasn't the best at making her case but I just questioned the whole motive and this piece above by Paul helps to express in my gut what I was feeling as I watched it. The OWS movement is rightly pointing at crony capitalism so why didn't Schiff approach the protesters on that level while understanding that on other levels there may be disagreement? What if doing so could draw a line from Wall Street to Washington and thus make the OWS folks rethink some of the public demands they've made by bringing another POV? Schiff IMO has only made them dig in deeper and what does that accomplish?

Now we're right back to the construct of division Paul laid out so I had to ask myself was Peter's real motive something else indeed or was he an unwitting tool of the tyrants as we've all been at times I'm sure? Thanks again Paul for a thought provoking piece.

LadyLaLa's picture

Excellent article finally we are discussing moves that are steps ahead of the game.....
The dissection of their strategy and laying blame exactly where it almost revolutionary.

However, I do think the comparison between the Chinese who emigrated to America of their own free will and African slaves brought against their will, bought and sold and forced to work with no hope of ever being free -- cannot be compared.
Even Native Americans have their Reservation as a refuge.
The Chinese were never perceived as slaves [animals] to be bought and sold.

The Welfare state to my mind is only wrong in that it does not [intentionally?] strive to teach, rehabilitate or support an individual's self-sufficiency...
Interestingly enough... neither does the penal system, which in a more normal society might not even exist.

One very striking reason is because this society is predominantly ignorant of how to rehabilitate or help anyone... much less ourselves.

Paul's picture

It's not ignorance. It's that it is not in the interest of people working in government to solve problems - which would put them out of work - but to manage problems. It's simply not an accurate reflection of reality to think there is something wrong with the welfare state. It institutionally is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing - degrading its "clients" and providing work for those in government. Anyway it makes no sense to say "society is... ignorant". Society is not a sentient being, but a collection of individuals. Society cannot be ignorant, or intelligent, or anything else that applies only to individuals.

As to Chinese and slaves, I didn't write clearly enough. What I meant to say was that at the point immediately after the War of Northern Aggression, they were in roughly similar positions. They were looked down on, thought shifty and not to be trusted, and did not enjoy equal legal rights. For example a Chinese could not testify against a "white" in California, IIRC. I did not mean to imply that the way the Chinese got over here could be compared to the way "blacks" got over here.

If anything, the position of American Indians at that point was worse, since the slaughter and starvation and destruction of their culture was about to move into high gear.

Paul's picture

By the way, in "Up From Slavery", Booker T. Washington wrote, "I felt that the Reconstruction policy, so far as it related to my race, was in a large measure on a false foundation, was artificial and forced. In many cases it seemed to me that the ignorance of my race was being used as a tool with which to help white men into office, and that there was an element in the North which wanted to punish the Southern white men by forcing the Negro into positions over the heads of Southern whites. I felt that the Negro would be the one to suffer for this in the end."

Samarami's picture

Good essay, Paul. Especially items 4 & 5. As I look back, within each level of my 75+ years I see how I have acquired "new truth" -- long prior to ever hearing the term libertarian. In each case I felt a compulsion to evangelize -- and inwardly denigrate anyone who would not or could not pick up my torch and run with it.

If there is one thing anarchy has achieved for me it has been the recognition that my freedom and your freedom are different concepts. My beliefs of today are quite different from the beliefs I had just ten years ago -- about the time I first experimented with the internet and free communication with folks around the world whose backgrounds and beliefs were at variance with mine. I hope to be alert and open to new ideas and concepts 25 years from now at 100.

Writers like you and many others here and at other forum sites I visit are constantly challenging my "unquestionable sacred ideas" (to use a Delmar England phrase).

This is a good encouragement for us "on fire anarchists" to mellow out and let others achieve liberty and freedom at their own pace and in their own time. Sam.

Suverans2's picture

G'day Sam,

I find that most "on fire anarchists" are technically not "anarchists" at all, that is to say, they are not "without ruler", they are virtually all "card-carrying-members" of one man-made-STATE, or another, thus technically they are only "proponents of anarchism", or "advocates of anarchism", and not "anarchists", in the purest sense of the word; kind of a "do as I say, not as I do" bunch, it would seem.

And, God help the man or woman who heeds their advice and tells them that they have thrown away all these "cards" and have manifestly withdrawn consent to have any man, or group of men, as their ruler(s)...for these "proponents" and "advocates" will either attack them, screaming, "That is not POSSIBLE! My master doesn't 'legally recognize' your right to withdraw consent", or they will, for the most part, patently pretend that these Individual Secessionists do not exist. They most certainly will not support them in any meaningful way. So, why on Earth should anyone listen to them?

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Evan's picture

My understanding of terms is that an "anarch" is one who lives without external rulers, whereas an "anarchist" is one who advocates anarchism. They don't necessarily overlap, that is, one may be an anarch without being an anarchist, and one may be an anarchist without being an anarch.

Am I using these terms incorrectly?

Suverans2's picture

G'day Evan,

Noah Webster apparently believed that those two terms were interchangeable.

AN'ARCH, n. [See Anarchy.] The author of confusion; one who excites revolt. ~ Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language

AN'ARCHIST, n. An anarch; one who excites revolt, or promotes disorder in a state. ~ (Ibid.)

Furthermore, the definition of the suffix -ist from the online English dictionary from Macmillan Publishers Limited is, "used with the names of some skills and professions to describe a person practicing that skill or profession" [emphasis added], not "advocating that skill or profession".

Samarami's picture

Anarchy means "absence of political authority".

That's it.

It does not imply lack of governance or the means by which to enforce contracts.

But the Websters of the world, along with many who claim libertarianism and/or anarchy, simply cannot envision a society without political authority. That is a concept beyond the borders of their capabilities, or mindsets. Thus their references to revolt, or chaos, or confusion when attempting to define "anarchy".

It makes up the center point of ideology -- the thaumaturge -- of the slave-master. It allows the "ruling class" to pilfer and suck the productive capacity from the producers, who will never in a hundred years believe they are being beset with parasites.

In fact "democracy" is a form of mysticism that gives rise to the belief that each can be part of predation with immunity. The mindless masses are convinced they MUST have rulers for mutual "protection". The individual is incapable of self governance.

John Hasnas wrote an excellent treatise on anarchy. I've posted the link before, I'll post it again here:


Samarami's picture

I tried to post a link:

It did not "fire" as a hyperlink. When I copied and pasted to browser it worked. Sometimes they do, other times they don't.

Who knows??


Chaeros Galt's picture

It is a very interesting way to approach the issue on a free society building the one you propose, and in certain way I do agree, but I must point, that it is hate while you ignore your enemy, and that is what the RULING JERKS instill on the herd... sometimes I've heard CNN refering to certain latin governments and its people as Drugaddicts, for chewing Coca that has a certain purpose given the regions, or to us Argentines for drink Mate which is moreso like your coffee, but simply the most of US populations does know nothing of our social uses, they simply are outraged by what our governments say against your exterior politics, and are driven to zealotry and this is an example of hate, or the Argentines hating the UK for Falklands, and that is stupid, is the blind hate of the masses driven by politics to absurd extents, my point is that if I know my enemy I don't hate him, just his behavior and that behavior is what most of us attack, for example a Catholic is very well known to be lead by bigotry and phisically violent most of the times that his/her credo is put in question, and most of us don't even be concerned by their slaughter upon many of us for centuries, we always were more tollerant than them and them as the Rulers later did, always manifested through force... so if they evangelize, why don't we??? Some buddhist schools may say that a demon might be combated as a demon, if well is not bad that what you suggests, it sounds me as put the other cheek, maybe I got it wrong, and i can't do just that. To respond in kind is not hatred, to say what you think is TRUE is not attack either way, that is the only way to fight the LIES that they are, to break the psychic yoke that they imposed on us two millennia ago, because part of this discurse to which to certain extent I adhere is that a remnant of the yoke above mentioned, to go easy on people who never went so is naïve. And we are RIGHT and they are WRONG because we think and they feel, we rationalize and are able to see and they are blind with faith... a mystics tool. I am much more inclined to Sam's view of it, we still stick ourselves by concepts created and developed by the slave masters. Kind regards!!!

Paul's picture

Well, I think the first thing we should realize is that most people are victims of the system; most are hosts to the parasite class. The parasites profit from various groups fighting amongst each other. There is no profit for us in this fighting; although occasionally the fight is unavoidable, we must always remember who gets the benefit from our doing it.

You write, "we think and they feel". Perhaps that is so. Still, the best way to deal with that is to disengage, or find some lower common denominator that will take you out of conflict with them. And I am suggesting giving up evangelism not to be nice, but because giving it up yields a better outcome in the long run.

I of course disagree completely with your point, if I understand it correctly, that no Catholic is to be trusted. Treat people as individuals. Don't be a collectivist. Every time you fight with someone not a member of the ruling class, when that fight is reasonably avoidable, it is as if you are a marionette with strings manipulated by the rulers.

Chaeros Galt's picture

Yeah, I understand perfectly what you suggest Paul, even though you speak as if the thing were that easy, I don´t know exactly how is it in US though how do you treat as individuals those who need to pertain to a group, for as far as I know Christians in general speaks of themselves as a collectivity, it is like treat a self oucasted person as a part of something he does not believe he is or might be... to me it sounds oximoronic at least, have you tried to reason with a hooligan, and tell him that the Manchester United is not his life??? Believe me that he will smash the individuality out of you... A collective exists because the Slave Masters sold them the need to pertain you can try all that you think, but in the end it will take years, or generations and I don't know if do we have such a luxury of time. In Southam things are a bit different perhaps, but let me remember you all that the Filliation sense or collectiveness is a bound almost unbreakable, despite of what you see in the North. I'll wait for your response Paul, regards!!!

Paul's picture

Perhaps it is different in the US than in most places. For example, I was in a homeschool support group with some atheists, some general Christians (not sure their exact faith), a Muslim and a Mormon. It was simply unremarkable, no religious conflict at all.

I spend a lot of time in Wyoming enjoying the company of my neighbor, an old cowboy with whom I have almost nothing in common. He is a devout Christian. I'll even go along and say "amen" after he prays over breakfast. Why not, since he is cooking for me!

I am ignorant of Manchester United and such things.

Keep in mind a lot of the criminal behavior that has increased to epidemic proportions in England is simply impossible in most parts of the US, since the criminals would end up being shot.

John T. Kennedy's picture

"Radical Muslims are not our enemies. While they may be determined to impose on us or harm us, they are not in any realistic sense able."

A lot of people think 9/11 was somewhat realistic.

Criminals and terrorists may not be my most dangerous enemies but I think it's fair to identify them as enemies.

Political movements, like progressivism for instance, certainly have some ability organize violence against me, so what's wrong with identifying members of such amovement as enemies?

Chaeros Galt's picture

John, I would like to remind you with all due respect, perhaps you did not even noticed, but as plain as I see it 9/11 was exactly a bait to create such Hatred... think what your American Rulers had achieved through that... we all know that economies are the first damaged in a case of impending WAR and with that shrewd maneuvering the powers of US had gained the control of the biggest Petrol reservoir, not to add the simple fact that as well it cutted off the impending risk of the all growing Euro coin... why do I say risk? Because for the economy of US it was such, a threat, and threats must be dealt with. How do I can be certain??? Let´s put it this way, when you know how a criminal works you become a great profiler, thus a great CSI right? Well my point here is: Your family and mine has an issue of mutual hate and all of our neighborhood are well aware of it, right? And let us suppose that with one of mine gone I have the chance to get ridden of you as well, so I kill one of my sons(internal problems) and leave him in the middle of the street to be found by a third party... who will be the first implicated??? The answer is simple, all of your family, and let us entertain that I plant certain evidence around you, not to say certain money to the purpose of cover the truth, who benefits and who gets lost??? That is what I think that happened that day, may we someday know the truth of it. Take a look to certain evidence for instance, the temperature was enough to melt metal and concrete but could not melt the parts of bodies and clothing and weapons which indicated that were muslims??? Do not take it bad, nor personal but it seems a joke to me that none be able to see it, perhaps an external look to this was needed. Kind Regards John!!!

John T. Kennedy's picture

So in your hypothetical case if A and B hate each other and A's son is killed your natural assumption is that A killed his son to frame B. That doesn't strike me as investigation.

Is it your theory that the 19 identified terrorists were not on the four planes on 9/11? That they did not hijack the planes? That they were not muslim radicals?

Chaeros Galt's picture

It is so, in the first stage of any investigation to assume so, and what I say is that it never reached further because of your governemnt have the power and tools to cover the truth, that Tool is called Media Press, and about the 19 "identified" I don't know if you remember that power structure aparatus are based on torture when need is to obtain data at any costs... what else will you suggest??? The Videos where Osama Bin Laden proclaims he is the one responsible behind these crime??? Let me remind you that given the technology and resources everything can be forged, let alone the fact that most of common people might know aarbic languages... maybe you come to think that I am a bit of a paranoid, but get out of your nationality ID and try to see the US as is seen outside your borders, and of course I don't mean the individuals for I don't know all of them, but I see it that way even today ten years after. It is nice to debate with you folks, for at least you are open to argumentations!!! Kind regards

John T. Kennedy's picture

"Let me remind you that given the technology and resources everything can be forged..."

Okay, do you believe two planes crashed into the World Trade Center?

Chaeros Galt's picture

To that I never questioned, the buildings are no more, and that is a fact. But all the rest was at least debatable and highly controverted, I knew from the start that to speak my mind was to walk into thin ice. It seems than the rest of it (regarding who profitted on it)at least seemed clear enough in brief. Untill the next argument

Paul's picture

The 19 consisted of one Lebanese, one Egyptian, one from United Arab Emirates, and all the rest Saudis. We did not invade any of these countries, strangely.

If you play at Empire, you would be naive to expect no consequences at all from it.

Our ruling class does not care about the 3000 dead Americans, other than as tools to advance their interests. That's all we ever are to them.

John T. Kennedy's picture

"The 19 consisted of one Lebanese, one Egyptian, one from United Arab Emirates, and all the rest Saudis."

Yes, and what I've contested is the assertion in the article is that such people are no position to do me real harm. Well I wasn't in the World Trade Center on 9/11 but I had been working there a few months earlier. And on the morning or 9/11 my wife was flying from the east coast to the west coast on a flight with exactly the profile of the hijacked planes.

So like I said, these people do pose some real danger to me and mine and it's reasonable to consider them enemies.

Suverans2's picture

Speaking of "realistic", you might want to check this out, John T. Kennedy.

John T. Kennedy's picture

"Most people, while often inconsistent on this point, largely do not seek to impose their will upon us, or can be talked into not imposing on us when they see it is an imposition."

That's saying that most people can be talked out of condoning government. Not on this planet, from what I've seen. Do you really find you have a great batting average at persuading people to eschew state coercion? Because I would be astonished to see that demonstrated. If you can do that then libertarian victory is imminent.

Paul's picture

Ask your neighbor, "What if the government ran out of tax dollars and had to shut down the government schools? Would you come over, put a gun to my head and take the money to school your kids privately?" I'd be willing to bet he would say "No."

John T. Kennedy's picture

But most would vote vote to have someone else put a gun to my head to extract money to reopen the government schools. You can't reason many people out of statism.

Paul's picture

That is normally so. But, these are not normal times. An awful lot of people are already losing their faith in government, and that trend will continue as government is seen as more incompetent and unreasonable, and as it ruins the economy.

But you are making my point, really. That's why I say "stop evangelizing freedom". We don't have to convert people into freedom lovers. We just need to get them to tolerate freedom lovers, a much smaller job. Most people are naturally tolerant. It takes a lot of indoctrination to make them act otherwise (e.g. in the voting booth), and that indoctrination is pretty fragile these days.

John T. Kennedy's picture

There are many people who want different government, far less than 1% desire no government. As the economy breaks down people will call for more government.

Suverans2's picture

I didn't "like" this, John T. Kennedy, because I think you are right. A vast majority of individuals have become so dependent on government that they no longer have any confidence in their own power to solve problems. And, I believe history also proves out what you wrote.

Paul's picture

No historical examples had the Internet. Clearly, communication is important to the issues we are talking about. Cynicism is not uncalled for, but one can go overboard with it, or be immobilized by it.

John T. Kennedy's picture

"There are other examples, some that even libertarians are prone to fall into. Hatred of or sneering at religion is commonplace among libertarians. We (non-religious libertarians) should ask ourselves, ..."

As an atheist libertarian I would simply ask what libertarianism has to say about religion. The answer is nothing. So if you're criticizing people for religious beliefs it must be for a reason other than libertarian principles. Which isn't to say such criticism cannot be valid, it's just that there is no valid libertarian criticism of religion.