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A Fortress Mentality

If there is one particular action that is put in place by every person or agency that feels itself in need of security, power or protection, it is the almost automatic implementation of their “Fortress Mentality”. This “organic reaction” by entire dynasties, empires and individuals can be traced even in the architecture of construction of towns and forts … from the Middle Ages particularly, where the genre was perfected parallel with the rise in capability of technology to bombard these siege towns.

We can see an interesting read of the evolution of this fortress mentality below:

“Several attributes characterized the new ruling class and distinguished it from those of earlier Islamic societies. First was a strict military hierarchy, expressed in clearly stratified ranks or amirs … amirs of ten, twenty, forty, a hundred and various tiers of soldiers divided by legal status (mamluk vs. free) or ethnic group (Turkic, Circassian, Kurdish, Armenian, or Mongol). This military order represented the only path to political power and its attendant financial and landholding prerogatives, and was closed to all but few exceptional local recruits. It defined the new ruling class and distinguished it from other social groups such as merchants, alama (no translation), artisans, and peasants, which, despite their periodic disapproval of particularly corrupt rulers, seem to have rarely challenged the system itself. Bedouin tribes, organized city riffraff, and other fringe groups that could potentially pose a security risk were either heavily suppressed through routine military campaigns or bribed by attaching them to the army as auxiliary regiments especially in times of external danger. A second characteristic was the fortress mentality displayed and expressed by the new ruling class toward their subjects. This was almost always a noticeable trait, despite the internecine fights that otherwise marked the rulers’ interrelations, especially during succession contests. The fortress mentality was initially engendered by the elite’s linguistic and ethnic differences from subject populations, and ultimately became embedded in a total system that stressed exclusion and segregation as means of control, As such, separation defined most details of communal life, like habits of socialisation, business dealings, and Marriage. It was also inscribed in the spaces of the city and its suburbs, and expressed in particular and distinctive nomenclature and insignia (rank) systems and intricate dress, dietary, musical. and ceremonial codes. The Mamluk sultanate in Egypt and Bilad al-Sham (1250-I 517) was the last and perhaps the most elaborate example of this exclusive polity, which nonetheless managed to penetrate the entire social spectrum and to modify it profoundly and in lasting ways.” (Muslim Military Architecture in Greater Syria, by Hugh N. Kennedy).

The above read is of profound significance if we want to understand how to overcome the rising tyranny of corporate control. For while the Middle Ages routinely fought wars against physical armies, we of the twenty first century have to contend with invasions by computer hackers and digital marketers invading our personal space and working lives to the point of political tyranny and idealistic subjugation by associated government inspired corporations taking control of prices, work, wages and weekends!

In Australia, we have even a morphing of our policing and security agencies into one big “corporation” of action and investigation … a sort of one-stop “shop ‘n’ strop” department … that is now under the command of just such a fortress mentality ministerial lunatic. Just like the same sort of lunatics as first come up with the idea of ‘one big wall’. Sure … that’ll work! And all this under a government itself implementing their own fortress mentality policies that are leaking like a sieve … perhaps because the idea in itself is so riddled with weakness that it never has held together in the ancient past as now.

So why do we do it? It is a lost cause at the best of times.

If we consider Jerusalem in the times of the Roman conquest of Titus: Old King Herod had reinforced the walls around the inner-city with strength and cunning, so that an invading force could theoretically be repulsed by an inferior number of troops … what he didn’t figure on was that the internecine fighting that took place between opposing Jewish factions inside the fortress, so that the defenders had almost to a man beaten the other factions up and Titus really only had to mop-up the leftovers. The fortress mentality had worked in just the opposite as was intended.

So it will be in this current mode of politics, where we can see conservative governance squabbling amongst itself and only a severely disciplined and maliciously opportunistic main-stream media is directing all attention away from the internal disputes of the LNP government. But even this turning away of eyes will not stop the divide as they continue to try and encroach into one another’s territory. As the city suburbs extend into the hinterlands, the more available material world of goods and services will extend ahead of the structured suburbs and make an influential inroad into those closer country towns that were forever conservative, bringing those metaphorical armies of fast-food outlets, cheap as chips shopping capabilities and social inclusion opportunity to the once isolated communities.

Social media will be the battering ram that will break down the last walls of those conservative fortresses. Which may explain the reticence of the LNP government to allow the citizens too much internet access speed … they do not want an “armed rebellion” within their walls of conservative security. For if there is one weapon that will free an entire population almost at once, it is information. Education, that other weapon that for a millennia was kept from the masses lest it too become “weaponised” against the ruling regime is still being denied by withdrawal of adequate funding to public schools in preference for private, elitist class education … another fortress mentality structure that, in my opinion must be torn down so that certain classes of elites cannot continue to hide their inadequacies behind fraudulent qualifications gained in the most part more from a financial advantage than meritorious application.

Now, with the inequality directed against indigenous, immigrant ethnic groups, creed, class and working peoples, we can gather together under a direct communication umbrella all these groups to form a voting block that will force the centrist Labor Party further to the left and hold to their creed of being there for the working people of the nation … by bringing the political players further into the realm of left-wing politics, the conservatives will be isolated in their ivory towers of their own doomed fortresses and be easy pickings.

The only obstacle I see in overcoming those anachronisms of conservative politics, is the innovative use of social media more as a platform of whinge and lament on the now bleedin’ obvious political situation rather than proposing new directions for social change. We are on the cusp, I believe, but the intrusion of a certain hardness of heart and the ever-present cynicism of doubt of good intention lingers.

I would encourage an optimistic approach of idealism … but with open eyes … a heart of innocence toward intentions … but with the step of caution. I don’t think we can go wrong.


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  1. Peter F

    Thank you Joseph, a wonderful post.

    I am encouraged by the fact that the citizens of this country have ignored the governments’ propaganda (and I mean all of them) about the cost of renewable energy and we now have power prices coming down because of renewables, rather than in spite of them.

    This is only one fact which gives me hope.

  2. helvityni

    Separate everything into Private and Public, the schools, hospitals…and keep the fortress mentality well and alive…

    I once mentioned that I believed all the monstrous Liberal politicians attended a special school before entering politics.

    Friend asked : do you mean Private schools. I didn’t mean that then but now I can see they have a part to play in fostering this fortress mentality.

    let’s keep those Westies, Muslims, refugees, homeless, dole bludgers away from our exclusive clubs, suburbs, country; we’ll listen riff-raff ,Hansons and the like, if they vote with us in the Senate….

  3. helvityni

    ..listen To

  4. Joseph Carli

    Could the possible win by Ged Kearney be also a success story for Labor’s more positive use of social media?

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