Monday, October 31, 2011

Government's role is to protect and serve, or to dominate and control? Some say we're all slaves and say government control is the cause ..

Are you a slave?  How much free will do you really have?  These may sound obtuse being asked by someone who lives in Modern America, the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, etc.  We have lots of freedom here in the U.S.A. as well as many of the modern countries around the world.  We have freedom of speech, freedom to live where we want, many freedoms.  Yet there are many who say we're actually slaves, and the freedom is an illusion created to keep us docile while THEY control things to their own benefit.

Government protect serve

On my social media stream this picture popped up today which strikes on that meme.  Policemen beating people up, and tying the picture with their mantra "To Protect and Serve".  Ideally that's one of the roles of Government, to protect and serve the people.  But instead the picture reads "The Government: Protecting and Serving the Shit Out of You".

This obviously is trying to touch on the "We're Slaves" meme, that the Government is really a dictatorial dominating force squashing the life out of us.

This may strike you as odd.  There is little evidence around you that the modern governments in free countries like the U.S.A. are doing anything like this.  That is unless you're an OccupyXYZZY protester such as the recent attempted squashing of the Occupy Oakland protest.

This picture may represent a form of police conduct many of us in modern western countries are unaware of, have no knowledge about, etc.  But it reminded me immediately of statues I saw in Prague - Matthias Gate at the entry to Prague Castle.  The imagery of this gate is eerily reminiscent of this picture but that gate was created in the 1600's.  We should note that Prague Castle has been the seat of Czech government for hundreds of years.  The Kings of Bohemia, the Holy Roman Emperors, the Presidents of Czechosolovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices in Prague Castle, and it's the biggest castle in the world.  In 2009 when Obama gave his speech calling for a Nuclear-Free world, the setting was this exact same courtyard.  Which is to say this isn't some out-of-the-way artwork at an obscure location with no meaning.  It's the entry gate to a castle complex with immense historical significance.

The Matthias Gate is a "triumphant arch," built in 1614, named after Emperor Matthias connecting the outer courtyard (Castle Square) to the inner courtyard of Prague Castle.  In effect it's the front door of the castle.

Matthias Gate, Prague Castle

Very nice and pretty, eh?  It was a beautiful weekend day in the summer of 2008, with throngs of tourists crawling all over Prague.  Nobody seemed to notice these two statues very much.  The symbolism will be a little clearer if we zoom in.

Matthias Gate, Prague

And

Matthias Gate, Prague

 

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any reference discussing the symbolism of these two statues.

If we take them literally - I'd say they are from the viewpoint of those who dominate, and threatening their population with essentially "this is what will happen to YOU if you step out of line".  Given the setting these statues clearly were not created by the downtrodden to complain about those who are doing the downtrodding.  Its setting is the seat of government and seems to be a threat.

The relationship structure here - government deploying force that's theoretically used to "keep the peace" but which sometimes beats up its own citizens - that structure has been with us for millennia, right?

The gate was named after Emperor Matthias, who was Holy Roman Emperor from 1612, King of Hungary and Croatia from 1608 (as Matthias II) and King of Bohemia from 1611. He was a member of the House of Habsburg.  He gained the throne after a series of political maneuvers that included aiding "rebels" in the Netherlands until they deposed his uncle, King Phillip II of Spain, then later he imprisoned his own brother Rudolf, then the current Holy Roman Emperor, until is brother capitulated and gave the crown to Matthias.