Principalities & Powers: In Thrall to the Dragon (3/4)

Notes from Walter Wink’s award winning 1993 book ‘Engaging the Powers – Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination‘.

(Pg. 96-98). Liberation from the Delusional System

The perception that the delusional system runs deeper than propaganda leads to a further important insight: those who are victims of the delusional system are nevertheless responsible for how they have been shaped (emphasis mine). And if they are responsible, then they can choose to be liberated from it.

People are socialized into their roles by means of the delusional assumptions from the earliest age – and this includes oppressors as well as the oppressed. They will further have learned to deny to themselves and others the fact that this misinformation causes them pain. We can hold out hope for the transformation of oppressors because to some degree they too are victims of the system and at some level have felt conflicted, as in the case of white boys in South Africa when they discover that they must kill the love they had for the black maids who cared for them since birth. (Some of those who have refused conscription have actually given this as a reason: they could not go into black townships and shoot at those who had nursed them.)

Both oppressors and oppressed have often attempted to resist the system that malformed them into their roles and assumptions, and have only given in because of the material reward offered by the system and the terrible penalties attached to resistance. Society continually reinforces and justifies the mistreatment of the oppressed group, so that the oppressed tend to “misbelieve” the same misinformation about itself that the social system as a whole teaches.

The rulers of the earth do not know that they too are held in thrall by the Domination System (emphasis mine). They do not know whom they serve. They probably believe that the delusional assumptions are true. They are being “played with” (delusi) every bit as much as their victims, though they are, of course, highly rewarded for playing. They may even be good fathers and mothers, contributors to charity, attenders of churches, and upholders of “traditional morality.”

And yet, for almost fifty(!) years now these rulers of East and West have kept the Damoclean sword of nuclear omnicide poised over the heads of humanity, rationalized under the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD – though what the United States really had was a policy of first strike). That they were quite prepared to destroy virtually all sentient life on the planet, possibly forever, is an index of the degree to which humanity has been irrationally captive to the delusional system. And both sides were agreed on these values. Neither side had sufficient confidence in its own people’s commitment to their national identity and ideology to consider nonviolent national defence as an option. Folly on such a colossal scale is almost supranatural. Credit to the Dragon (emphasis mine).

It was fine men who tortured the woman we spoke to in Argentina. One insisted to her, “But I go to Mass every morning too.” Another proposed marriage (they had tortured her husband to death two years before). These men were not sadists. They had merely surrendered themselves to the idol of the state. Once they had crossed that line, any evil was good if it served the idol. So their position was coldly rational and logical on their own premises. There is a form of madness, Chesterton remarked, that comes upon those who have lost everything else but reason. The Beast creates an atmosphere that blinds people to higher human values and turns perfectly nice people into beasts. These men were in thrall to the Dragon, to serve the Beast. But they gave themselves to be captured.

This is the paradox of moral maturity: we are responsible for what we do with what has been done to us. We are answerable for what we make of what has been made of us. Our capitulation to the delusional system may have been involuntary, but in some deep recess of the self we knew it was wrong (emphasis mine). We are so fashioned that no power on earth can finally drum out of us the capacity to recognize truth. However long it must lie buried, or however severely it has been betrayed, the truth will out.

Next: Part 4 – Principalities and Powers: The Dragon’s Strategy

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