There’s a simple sound bite that tells a leader all he needs to know about holding on to power: unity, not community. On the surface, they appear to be one and the same. In reality, they are like oil and water.
Community accepts diversity; unity deplores it. Community needs neither symbol nor slogan; unity clings to both. In a community, people see things they’d rather not see, hear things they’d rather not hear, and smell things they’d rather not smell; unity is scrubbed clean of all that is offensive. Community is comfortable with debate and dissent; unity demands that we stay on message. Community is consensus that ascends from the ground up; unity is ideology force-fed from above.
Under no circumstances should a leader allow the public to coalesce into a community. He must keep the drones fragmented. He must bombard them with wedge issues, imaginary threats and empty platitudes about “freedom”. Nothing destroys a community faster than angry patriots asking God to bless America as we rape, pillage and torture. Every flag flapping from a car antenna is a nail driven into democracy’s coffin.
Both symbol and sign reduce life to a question of who’s for us and who’s against us. In doing so, they sound the death knell on the process of compromise and conciliation between conflicting groups in a pluralistic society that is the foundation of community. It is this pluralism that must be crushed beneath the dead weight of ideology.
However, there is one thing great leaders must remember: Destruction is grounded in hubris. When the wind is right, you can smell this hubris wafting from the Beltway. Therefore, the sole goal of the leader is not to achieve victory, but to stave off disaster.