Archive for January, 2014


Posted in Politics and Society with tags , on January, 2014 by melendwyr

I’ve heard many accounts of why groups of people will dwell on past incidents where they were oppressed, victimized, or made to lose, and generally the explanation is that it’s a sort of propaganda technique.  When people feel that they are in danger, or are being pushed down the status ladder, they push back.  If you want to motivate people to exert their strength, you need to create the perception that their strength needs to be exerted or else… something will occur.

What I realized, thinking about this a few days ago, is that if you look at people who are truly being kept down and oppressed, the rhetoric involved is truly different.  There’s a certain degree of overlap, of course.  But the emphasis on making people feel uplifted, courageous, and effective is much greater.  Rather than dwelling on fears of powerlessness, people seek to instill feelings of power in themselves and their listeners.

When people are outnumbered, when the odds are against them, they seek hope and affirmations of their power.  It’s only when people have power but aren’t motivated to use it does the rhetoric shift to emphasizing powerlessness – to create anxiety, and to convince people that they need to fight to maintain advantage.

“Remember the Alamo” isn’t a bad example.  Fighting forces which truly lacked the advantage (or at least perceived themselves to have lacked it) wouldn’t choose a defeat as a rallying cry.  They’d try to accentuate the positive.  Only a force which is secure in its power needs to be made less so, to induce people to fight harder with the advantages and resources they actually have.

This came up as I mentally reviewed some of the abolutionist / suffragist speeches I had once read, and realized how relatively little talk there was about how they were victimized.  Certainly it was a major thread – but it wasn’t exaggerated or as emphasized as political narratives so often are in the modern era.  I also considered some of China’s internal propaganda and its government’s tendency to bring up memories of past oppressions only when that nation is rapidly rising in power.

Powerless people need to be convinced of their power.  Powerful people need to be convinced not to be complacent.

I think this principle sheds a great deal of light on the political narratives of oppression I encounter regularly.

Who really killed Star Wars?

Posted in Blogging, Fantasy, Fiction, Reviews, Things You Should Read with tags , on January, 2014 by melendwyr

Stumbling blindly through the alleys and darkened streets of the Internet, I came across The Caffeinated Symposium, a site full of analysis and opinion on certain aspects of nerd culture, written by David Cesarano.

The tone is a bit more strident than I would prefer, but I found several of the articles quite thought-provoking and well worth the reading – not least among which is “On the Devolution of the STAR WARS Franchise“.  I also found his analysis of why he didn’t like D&D 4th Edition to be useful, if not nearly as polished or sophisticated as the above.

Take a look.

Regarding Star Wars:   I’ve heard many, many people complain about how the prequels (and elements of the original movies, such as the Ewoks) reduced the quality of the series and fell away from what they expected.  The point that they represent Lucas attempting to re-establish his original vision – one that the series moved away from starting with The Empire Strikes Back – is one I’ve come across before. Many people have noted that TESB is dramatically more sophisticated than the first film, and that this was in large degree due to Lucas getting other people to work on the screenplay.  But the link with the “secret history” establishes just what massive fame – and the resulting creative control – caused to go so terribly wrong, rather as happened with Steven Spielburg and his attempts to extend past franchises and even alter the existing versions of past successes.