“The art of government is to fill that void beyond death with threats of a rather unspecified nature”

I saw Chris Morris’s “Four Lions” last night. Very, very funny film, but also clever, quite moving, and thought-provoking. Don’t want to say too much beyond that, other than “Go see it!”. Its a comedy about Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombers, so Morris has to juggle the dual balls of laugh-a-minute comedy, and well, suicide bombing. Although the film is mainly just about the suicide bombers, and the act of suicide bombing with very little in the way of political commentary, it also features a subtle context relating to the states reaction to terrorism. As the sun sets on New Labour’s reign in the UK, the post-mortems are kicking in. One of their legacies, no doubt, will be one of promoting a paranoid, Big Brother-esque nanny state in response, they say, to the threat of terrorism. The death of Jean Charles De Menezes is referenced briefly in “Four Lions” as well as the looming spectre of state surveillance. As I digested all of it this morning, I thought of the following quote:

Alan Watts:

At anytime the world is full of threats, mostly from other people. And there are monsters. There are all sorts of things that scare you, but beyond every monster is death. Dissolution is the end of it all.

And by and large the art of government is to fill that void beyond death with threats of a rather unspecified nature, so that we can rule people by saying if you don’t do as I tell you, i’ll kill you. Or you’ll kill yourself. And so long as we can be scared of that, and so long as we can be made to think of death as a bad thing we can be ruled.

Not sure which lecture this was taken from, I’m getting two books of his transcribed lectures this weekend, I think its in there. I found it via this clip, which is the longer quote set to Godspeed You! Black Emperor…