So I watched The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. I also read all the reviews. I’m obsessive like that. When Atwood wrote the book, she pointed out she only used situations that had occurred in the past, in other societies. She wanted to make it clear how easy it would be that something like this could happen in our society. It was a powerful political message.
I tried to do the same thing in this guide because I think as well meaning as Atwood was, her story was limited and blinded by discrimination. Reverse discrimination is still discrimination. All people are victims of it. Whenever there is a dictatorship, the dictator always seeks a group to hate. Stop hating that group on their behalf.
If you really want to be a dictator, the best bet is to just start hating everyone who isn’t you. Atwood’s story wasn’t one that entirely translates to anyone who hopes to create a dictatorship in today’s capitalist society. So, let me go over what they did wrong, in the hope that you can do it right.
#1. They fucked up the finances.
My mother convinced me to watch the show by pointing out how realistic the first episode was. She said to me, ‘They made it so all they had to do was shut down every bank account where a woman was the owner. That could happen!”
No mom, it couldn’t. Also, for the thirty-fifth time, all you have to do to send an attachment via email is fucking click on the paperclip!
Sorry, off topic. But no, in 2017 you can’t just shut down any bank account with ‘female’ in the gender field. I don’t know much about finance in Atwood’s 1985, when debit cards didn’t exist and your money didn’t have to go through a clearing house while moving from your pocket to a vendor’s. But I can tell you this of finance in 2017.
There’s no giant switch in some building somewhere that will allow you to essentially turn off all the bank accounts of a specific gender immediately – or even within a few weeks. Banking is segmented. That means that your $8 Starbucks, that you put on your debit card, doesn’t come directly out of your bank account, even though it looks like it does. It goes to a clearing house. That clearing house turns that money into data and sends that data to another clearing house. That will happen at least 6 times during your average financial transaction before finally hitting your bank account, at which point your financial institution will be charged.
Different banks use different clearing houses. Many banks use overseas clearing houses. There is no one switch you can use to turn off a bulk group of bank accounts based on gender. That would require the cooperation of thousands of companies.
No, if I was smart dictator, I’d target my financial attacks. I’d get creative.
I’d use a government institution to focus my attention on those who may be a threat to me. I’d create a law that allowed me to collect all their money if said money came from an alleged commission of an illegal act. I’d also make sure to smear that person in the news, so the public wouldn’t care when I took all their assets without providing proof. I wouldn’t target a gender or demographic. I’d target high-value people with no political allies. That way, I wouldn’t have to worry about discrimination claims. I could use government entities to seize all their assets and no one would care. Best part is, I’d never have to prove a thing. The accusation would be enough. I’d be able to freeze all their assets just by getting one government entity involved and never filing criminal charges where their constitutional rights actually applied.
I think I’d call it civil asset forfeiture – but I’m just spit balling names here.
#2. They managed the angry people wrong
I watched the Handmaid’s Tale episode where they showed the protesters getting fired on by police and running away, with my drug dealer. During that, my drug dealer turned to me, utterly lost and said “why didn’t they fire back?”
Like any normal person, I said, “They didn’t have guns, maybe?”
My drug dealer, who is a normally chill dude, responded. “Bitch, I haven’t walked out of my house without a gun since 1998 and I’m from Connecticut. This shit is supposed to be in New York. NY motherfuckers are hard.” He pointed to the TV. “I once saw a NY dude shoot a guy for stealing his parking space. You think a mother fucker like that would be afraid to start blowing people away when he thought he had nothing left to lose?”
That statement brought up two valid points to me. One, New York is terrifying. Two, he’s right. I know a lot of gun owners and a lot of very angry people who are just looking for a reason. If you think any one of them couldn’t take down some idealistic senator, when said Senator had literally no experience with hands-on violence, you’d be out of your mind. I don’t care how smart you think you are. The stupid and violent will always win when the contest is brute force.So yeah, they did the whole protest scene wrong.
In my dictatorship, there would have never been a violent protest in the first place.
First, I’d just give people what they wanted. Food, drugs and a place to sleep. I wouldn’t give them more than what they need. Too much, and they’d start getting political. Too little and they’d want to rise up. Nope. I’d give them just enough. I’d give them just enough so that they were afraid of losing it. Possibly through a government program.
At the same time, I’d find a way to drug them on a mass scale. Maybe convince some pharmaceutical companies to get on board. Get them to convince people they had a lot of illnesses they didn’t have and get them to take mind altering drugs for those illnesses. I’d give the companies who provided those drugs massive government grants and a wide berth when it came to FDA approval.
Fuck religion being the opiate of the masses. Just opiate the damn masses and cut out the middleman!
The outliers, the ones that stayed angry? Well, I could handle them with misdirection. I’d create imaginary problems with no solution that led to constant infighting. Both sides would have ridiculous opinions that no one would ever really get behind. While they were fighting with extremism. I’d rule the world with benevolence.
#3 They had a cliched end game
Every dictator wants to better the world, recreate it in their own image. But that’s just more misdirection. Part of the Handmaid’s Tale is that everything is justified through declining birthrates. If birth rates had declined that much – according to the show, the declination rate is well over 1000%, I’d take that as a sign. Not a sign that I need to change things. No, I’d take it as a sign that my species was done.
And I’d embrace that end by enjoying what little time I had left.
Too many people think the end of the world will come in a bang. Zombie Apocalypse, fire, brimstone. Really, it’s probably going to come as a whisper. A slow, steady reduction of our population. Those reductions will come first in the advanced societies, where individuals capable of solving high mortality rates in less advanced populations stop having children. Less advanced societies, where birth rates are high and mortality rates are higher will die off as a result. Slow and steady ends the race.
Now me, I’m not a doomsday prepper. I’m a girl who can take a hint. I see the end of the world coming, I don’t try to stop it. Life, any kind of life, whether it’s a cell, or a human being, or an entire society, will always end. It will eventually become something else. If my only other option is the Handmaid’s Tale – I’m going with a “balls to the walls, nothing left to lose” apocalypse.
And I promise you get on my side, you will like my dictatorship so much better. Want in? Bring beer and rock on until there’s nothing left to rock for.