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- Henry David Thoreau
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[Note] This is part of a fictional story, but is a fair portrayal
of some of the characters dominating the human race on earth.

The "Pragmatic" Mogul

Taken from: Maxim, John R., Bannerman's Ghosts, Chapter 10, Avon Fiction, 10East 53rd St. New York, NY, 10022-5299

… (He) had dined alone in his study. He did not look up as is made clear the dishes and his mother placed a brandy on his desk. His attention was focused on a large well-thumbed atlas that he had been perusing through dinner.

No one, he reflected, seem to have much use for a big heavy Atlas these days. It's all on computers. CD-ROM discs. Nothing ever seems quite as real on a screen as it does in a handsomely bound volume. The world is not a videogame.

He enjoyed, of an evening, tracing his fingers over those countries whose economies he had influenced. twenty-two, to be precise. spread over three continents. In a few, he damn near was the economy.

in its margins he had jotted the key industries he own, the commodity markets he had cornered. He had 10 the names and titles of 100 officeholders who were, inextricably, in his pocket. Not named, but InVision, were the thousands of workers who trudged off to their jobs every morning. Tens of thousands. 1 million. He'd never troubled the count them. All secure in the conceit that their lives are their own. Well, they're not, he thought. They are mine.

Megalomania? No. Megalomania is delusional. There was nothing delusional about it. Hardhearted? No. It was realistic. Even on. He was not among those hypocrites who claim to act for the good of the common man, the employee, and certainly not the stockholder. They're the worker bees. They exist to be used. All that fuss in the media about Enron et al., As if it were news that investors get fleeced. Of course they get fleeced. It has been ever thus. Instead of whining about it, they should count their blessings. They're lucky to be living in this century.

In ages past he would've been a do 10 times over. Owning castles on the Hill. Con scripting armies of peasants. Sending them off to battle to enlarge his holdings. Executing any laggards among them.

These days, we field armies of lawyers and accountants. Not traditionally a criminal class in themselves, but a distinction that's becoming increasingly blurred. We still need to augment them with more overt malefactors… Those dukes, no doubt, had their own to deal with any who became inconvenient. They also had bishops to persuade all of peasants that suffering is good, the more brutish, the better. Each stroke of the lash adds a brick to the palace that awaits you in heaven, so shut up.

We've lost the romance of that era, thought he. We still confer knighthoods, but we call them vice presidents. We no longer have dungeons, torture chambers, the rack; we replaced them with unending litigation. Where that fails, we still execute the occasional upstart. That's the only part left that's exciting.

Oh, not true, thought he. It's all exciting. gets a kick. Even the annoyances like this business in Angola. They distract but they do wonders to stir up the blood. No, the world is not a videogame, but it is a great game nonetheless.

among his amusements, sipping brandy with his Atlas, was to contemplate national borders. Those on the African continent in particular, and its neighbor next door, the middle east. Every border was either a political fiction or the product of somebody's whim. Most were drawn by this or that colonial power. Whole countries created with the squiggle of a pan. Winston church role once created at least five dead he knew of within the space of about 15 min.

Churchill said, " you want borders? There they are. Let's move on." And those lines were drawn with utter indifference to the wishes and the claims of the people who live there. On the other hand, the people, the tribes that were affected, were utterly indifferent to those lines as well. " Call the country what you will, but it isn't our country. place your borders where you will, but they aren't our borders. These are our ancestral lands and you can have."

It was a recipe, certainly, for a eternal tribal conflict. All loyalties are tribal, not national. Territorial disputes would have tribe fighting tribe when they weren't fighting a central authority that they rightly saw as having no legitimacy. And when one group takes power by fair means or foul, they'll give all the best jobs to their fellow tribesmen because that's where their loyalties are; that's who they trust. Inevitably, everyone else feels left out and, voilà, we have the seeds of civil war.

The European powers saw this coming, of course. It was wonderful news for their arms industries. The central authorities would need lots of weapons. They wouldn't last a month without the wherewithal to keep the disenfranchised that they. The rebelling tribes would need modern weapons because without them all we get is a lot of wholesale hacking as we've seen in Wanda and elsewhere. We really don't mind them shooting each other. But we do tend to squirm when they hack.

The main thing, however, is to keep them all busy fighting and fearing each other. For all the pious mountings about peace and stability, no interested foreign government wants either. Most African governments certainly don't. Almost all are administered by minority tribesmen who would soon be sent packing by an honest election. Every era have regime along with them. Give them peace and stability in the first thing you know, they'll start noticing that they're being plundered...

We won't be piggish about it. They'll get their fair share. Or at least a few hundred of them will. If they didn't, they wouldn't be able to buy all those guns and tanks and landmines that we sell them. They need them to fend off Mr. Savimbi, who seem to feel betrayed for some reason. And we certainly can't sell US weapons to Savimbi. That might strike our coastal friends as duplicitous. So we'll have someone else selling someone else's weapons. The Israelis, for example. Let's let them make a buck. This way everyone comes out ahead...

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