Engines of Domination
In Engines of Domination, filmmaker Justin Jezewski and author Mark Corske lay out a historical and philosophical argument for anarchism – a stateless society people run themselves via direct democracy.
They begin by comparing class society to sheep herding. The latter began around 10,000 BC. Class society began around 5,000 BC when institutions of power (initially kings and priests and later nations and corporations) began domesticating people as well as plants and animals. The goal of this kind of domestication is to capture the energy of an entire community. Initially chattel slavery was the primary mechanism employed to domesticate human beings.
Since no one agrees voluntarily to being treated this way, this has to be done through a combination of force and deception. The methods employed were developed over centuries through a process of trial and error. “Engines of domination” are the historical institutions that make this domination possible and which keep it in place.
The process begins with the confiscation of communal land by force (this happened to Europeans via the Enclosure Acts between 1500 and 1850), forcing the inhabitants to work for the ruling elite by depriving them of the ability to feed themselves. In Corske’s view, this denial of life support is a fundamental act of violence.
Maintaining control of confiscated land requires a command structure, i.e. a monarchy or its equivalent, the rule of law and weapons. Without weapons, domination over other human beings is impossible. Finally the ruling elite creates upper and ruling classes and provides them a range of privileges for keeping the working class in line.
Deception and Thought Control
This is the true structure of modern society. However it has to be concealed via deception and thought control. The working class vastly outnumbers the elite, and human beings would never submit to forced labor voluntarily. Prior to 200 years ago, this thought control was disseminated via state religion (it still is in Israel and Muslim countries). In so-called western democracies, it’s disseminated via compulsory public education and the mass media.
Replacing the Engines of Domination with the Engines of Liberation
At present, the very biosphere that supports human life is being destroyed by a ruling elite whose sole focus is to amass more wealth. The only way to halt this ecological destruction, according to Corske , is to abolish political power, central authority and the institutions that support it. The engines of domination must be replaced by engines of liberation. This may seem like an impossible task, but this is because we are all conditioned to accept our captivity, much like domesticated animals who stay in the cage or pasture even when the door or gate is opened.
Corske believes we must employ the same trial and error process to walk back the layers of institutional domination that enslave us. Although the ruling elite is intensively organized, we have both superior numbers and human nature on our side. Contrary to contemporary mythology, human beings are basically freedom loving and incline towards cooperation rather than violence towards our fellow human beings.
Building a mass movement to take advantage of our superior numbers is essential. Corske feels the best way to do this is to organize for specific reforms with the ultimate goal of abolishing central authority.
This short documentary is based on Mark Corske’s book Engines of Domination, published in 2013.