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If I were to subvert a culture ...

By P. Andrew Sandlin
Published February 1, 1994

If I were given the ignoble task of subverting a culture, I have a fair idea of what my agenda would be.

First, I would trivialize its religion. Since religion is an essential ingredient of culture (the word’s very root betrays its indissoluble link to religion), I would assure that the civil government discouraged religion by banning it from any place in government itself, and especially in education. I would be shrewd however. I would not state plainly I was trying to eliminate the traditional religion; instead I would appeal to the fact that civil government should not be in the religion-promoting business in the first place. If schools in this culture were the province of the government rather than of private citizens, I could excise religion much more easily.

I would argue loudly that the rights of children would be violated if some were forced to watch others pray or talk about their religion. I would declare in the most altruistic and moral tones that religion has its place in church and nowhere else. Since youth are more moldable than adults, I am convinced this tactic would be especially effective. In this way I would convince naive but fair minded people that I was being neutral, when in reality, I would be using neutrality as a guise to promote my hidden agenda. In the literature and acting of that culture I would depict the culture’s traditional religion and its followers as hypocritical, bumbling and unsophisticated. I would render it likely that the youth would consider the traditional religion a panacea for foolish old women and emasculated men, the mentally and emotionally unstable.

Next, I would sever the foundational associations of the culture, voluntary or otherwise, since these, like religion, are the adhesive that holds cultures together. I would devalue the importance of the idea of family in that culture. I would assert that nobody has a right to say which family is the “right” family, all the while knowing I was concerned only that one sort of family, the traditional one, be weakened or destroyed.

I would try to transfer the dependence on the traditional family for livelihood in difficult financial times and in old age to the civil government, which I would increasingly control. I would make it easy for families to break up by keeping the members away from each other most of the day and by allowing one parent to renege on the marital oath for the most trivial reasons. I would persuade the citizens that they themselves, and not their children, are most important, and that they should entrust the bothersome children to the daily care of me and my subversive friends, who would ceaselessly inculcate into the children’s tractable minds our own subversive ideas.

Afterward, I would undermine the money system of the culture by stressing instant gratification and government interference. I would convince the citizens of the culture that wealth and possessions are the most important things in life, and that they can have both before they earn them by work. I would encourage them to borrow wealth and possessions on the promise to pay back the lenders, and then push the citizens to borrow beyond what they can reasonably repay. I would do this quite easily by displaying a certain “standard of living” as normative, inciting peer pressure to cause the recalcitrant to conform if they are to expect to be treated as “normal.”

I would assure that the government, in addition, spends more money than it raises by taxation. The way I would accomplish this would be by persuading the government leaders to promise free wealth, possessions and services to the citizens (who would already be satisfied with nothing less than more wealth and possessions) if the citizens would let them become (or remain) leaders. As a result, the citizenry is tied to debt by leaders who must spend into debt in order to please them. Consequently both the citizens and the government would suffer from severe debt.

Then I would insist to the leaders that the only way to survive debt would be to inflate the currency even more so citizens could pay off some debts, an action that would make debtors happy but creditors and investors angry since money invested and lent loses value just like money owed. Investors would have no incentive to reinvest. This factor would eventually and inevitably cause the economy to collapse.

Then I would debase the arts, a staple of culture. I would convince artists it is chic to compose or perform senseless, nihilistic works of art. I would insist they deal with cheap, bawdy and sensual themes, calculated to drive the youth to both fantasy and despair. I would do everything imaginable to obscure the traditional music of the culture. By various media I would have performers display bizarre behavior and tout it everywhere as normal. This would cause people to abandon the type of living that shaped the culture in the first place.

Finally, I would encourage all forms of countercultural deportment, especially countercultural morals and defy anyone to restrict me. If they did, I would accuse them of trying to limit freedom. I would use freedom as a means to subvert freedom. I would appeal to noble themes like freedom and equality in order to crush freedom and equality and enthrone my own subversive agenda. For instance, under the guise of personal freedom I would restrict the freedom of local areas to legislate against moral evils in their community, evils whose proliferation would enhance the subversion of the culture.

Moreover, under the guise of economic freedom I would limit the freedom of some citizens by confiscating their property in order to limit the freedom of other citizens by keeping them dependent on the government for subsistence. Under the guise of equality I would render the culture radically unequal by tipping economic advantage in favor of those who are likely to preserve my subversive program and shouting down those who appeal for equal time against my agenda. I would operate allegedly on the assumption that all are deserving of the policies of equality, but some are more equally deserving than others.

Gratifyingly, attempts of such subversion are highly unlikely to happen in our United States.


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