By Steve Davidson
On a recent visit to London I was surprised to hear that there was going to be an international conference on “conflict continuation”. I would think that the goal would be “conflict resolution”. An acquaintance of mine from the university in Bloomsbury said he could arrange an interview with the largely incognito organiser of the conference if I were interested. I was, if for no other reason than out of morbid curiosity.
The organiser, for security purposes, goes by the name of Joe K*. Though not widely known, Joe is the chairman of the CCC, the Committee for Conflict Continuation. This was to be their first really large gathering.
We met at the frumpy but friendly old Moriarty Pub near Piccadilly Circus. Joe showed up right on time. A bulky man, about five-foot nine inches, he looked like a rugby player, with thick, blondish hair carelessly falling across his forehead, quick-moving eyes, and an easy grin. He wore heavy work boots, baggy Levi’s, a faded gray t-shirt, a misshapen, black tweed sport coat, and a well-worn, dark blue wool newsboy cap. Grabbing his pint at the bar, Joe correctly guessed my identity, made a beeline for my table, and with a quick “Aye” and a sharp nod of his head sat down and introduced himself. Over pints I asked questions, and he shared the reasoning behind the movement to increase international conflict and, perhaps more interestingly, he shared the economics behind it.
I: Thanks for meeting with me. As you probably heard, I’m just curious. I have neither money nor assistance to lend to your activities.
J: That’s alright. In organising a conference, especially an international one, publicity can be useful.
I: Where will you be meeting?
J: Well, there are numerous hotspots around the world which would be fitting—Kosovo, Jerusalem, the border between the two Irelands, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, the Falklands. But we couldn’t agree on any one place. So, over four days we’ll be meeting on an old cruise ship that will just go round and round in the North Atlantic.
I: Is financing a problem?
J: No, no, not at all. “Divide and conquer” as they say. Social chaos works to the advantage of what I call the “Gilt Edge”, the really wealthy folks who create world-wide political and economic illusions, and who have guards standing at their doors. They provide us with all the cash we need. In fact, I’m a direct employee of those people.
I: You don’t give the impression they pay you all that well, if I may mention that.
J: Oh, this is just my “street outfit”. I have to look like a simple, trustworthy street organiser, a populist mate, to allay suspicions. My wife barely lets me out the door like this, but she knows it’s business. I have a nice house here, and a home and a yacht in Monaco. Of course, I don’t tell anybody at the office in London that I live in a minimum tax principality. They’d kill me, maybe.
I: It sounds like you comfortably work both sides of the street!
J: You’re right, right there. Whatever will bring in the cash, that’s what we say and do.
I: But aren’t you worried that the media will call you out, reveal your deceptions?
J: Oh, no. The media are in the hands of the Gilt Edge. They pretend to be on the side of the public, but they are with us all the way. Why wouldn’t they be? Who’s going to shoot themselves in the foot?
I: But the media routinely identify huge problems with the super-wealthy.
J: That’s just to give the impression of sympathy for the public—pseudo-fiduciary, as the saying goes. If you notice, there’s never any follow-up of those shockers they pass along.
I: Who is in this Gilt Edge, as you put it?
J: Very smart people. Clever, clever. And hard-working. They go to the best schools and shoot for the top of any group they join. Once they get there, they turn the whole thing around to their own advantage and secretly milk it. That’s where I get my paycheck.
I: Would I be rude to ask—whatever happened to character?
J: That’s something we completely avoid. Character is like scientific findings and government regulations—constrictions that get in the way of making money. You don’t want to “do the right thing”, and then find that it’s cost you ten thousand quid, and all you get for your trouble at the end of the day is somebody’s “Thank you”.
I: Some of the things you say are a little obvious. Aren’t you worried that the public will get wise to all this and rise up in rebellion?
J: Some worries, I guess, but slight, slight. The Gilt Edge has got a whole system of control worked out that’s blinking clever, thank you very much.
First, take control of the schools. Kick out the logic, the science, and the facts. Except for the schools attended by the Gilt Edge, or course. Get everyone else to be ignorant, emotional, and disorganized—so they’ll be easier to manipulate.
Same with the news. Kick out the real information in the popular press, and put in scary, splashy, foolish stuff, so the public is uneasy, but doesn’t quite know what’s going on, and after a while, don’t even care. Burned out. The truth seems irrelevant to colourful excitement. The real story becomes boring and stays hidden.
Trash the people on the right, on the left, and in the middle. Set everybody attacking everybody else so no opposition to the Gilt Edge can ever get organized or funded.
I: But some people are going to bravely stand up to the injustices, aren’t they?
J: If anybody looks like they’re a problem, private investigators follow them around to dig up dirt. Sue them, and hire PR people to smear them. And track everything they say with computer technicians who can hack into their privacy. Push them out of their jobs and their schools. Destroy them socially and economically.
I: And the government? Doesn’t it defend the public? Does that get twisted around?
J: The government is easy to control if you have the money. Trash the government with PR across the board because the government interferes with making money, with its regulations and all. Weaken the government every step of the way. Get the “Left” and the “Right” hating and fighting each other until the voters and their government are useless. Then the Gilt Edge can do what it wants in the shadows.
Lobby hard for anything you like, and lobby hard against anything you don’t like. Fund the people you like, and smash everyone else.
I: But individuals do have a right to speak up, don’t they? They can’t really be suppressed forever, can they?
J: Well, you just make sure you have good contacts, personal and digital, with helpful gangs of thugs, true and willing believers, so if problem people don’t get the idea with blackmail and extortion, they can be attacked directly, and taken out.
It’s all in place. And it’s mostly hidden. Mysterious folks, behind the curtains, with one hand on the levers of power, and one hand on a pistol. Great fun.
I: But the public, as a whole, can take back control any time it wants by massing in parks and plazas, can’t it?
J: That’s just a pretense. You don’t see really powerful people out in the streets, in the rain and the dirt, dodging cars, waving handmade signs at the cameras. The real dominators are all behind their desks, calling their lawyers to sue all and sundry, their PR and media people to run smear campaigns, accountants to pass out money, and their investigators and tech people to spy. That’s real financial, political leverage.
I: Why then are the media forever saying the public is empowered by its right to protest in the streets?
J: The media encourage protesters to go out in the streets because that’s a good way to get rid of them. Sooner or later one of them will break a window, the media will be shocked, the police will go clear the violent protestors out, and the public will approve of the return to public order. Have you seen any serious change come out of mass protests? Not much, right? It’s usually a showy drama, which makes people on one side or the other feel better, as if something is happening, and then it fades away.
I: But nations are powerful, sovereign. No self-respecting nation would allow itself to be grossly manipulated and exploited by a tiny self-interested minority the way you describe.
J: Nationality is another appearance, a fiction to calm the public and make it think it’s in charge of what’s going on. The Gilt Edge rides above all nations all around the world. It’s a hidden super-government and answers only to itself. They all know each other. They’re all friends. They meet regularly, privately. Private jets, private parties, private entertainment, and private plans.
Their first and only intent is to get power and keep it, and that means to get rich and stay rich, way richer than everyone else, to keep that leverage. Machiavelli and Genghis Khan can’t be all bad! My kind of people, as long as they pay me.
There’s an old joke that says—the meek shall inherit the earth, but the will shall be a million years in probate.
I: So, this conference you are organising, what’s the purpose?
J: The one thing that really scares the Gilt Edge is that people will calm down, get smart, get real educations, demand solid, informative media, and demand that elected officials respond to the public, not to lobbyists, and then govern on behalf of the public. In other words, the big fear is that the public will get organised in a smart way.
As long as everyone stays ignorant, confused, upset, and at each other’s throats, the Gilt Edge will be in control. So, this conference is bringing together some of the finest minds, globally, to figure out how to keep national publics off-balance, how to keep the world terrifying and chaotic.
I: Wow. Does any of this finally lead anywhere justifiable, in your view?
J: Not necessarily. It’s your basic slave-master situation. It works for the masters, and it works for me. What’s not to like?
*Joe K. refers to Joseph K., protagonist of the allegorical novel The Trial (1925) by Franz Kafka.
Steve Davidson is a psychologist from California, the author of the clinical textbook “An Introduction to Human Operations Psychotherapy”.
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