A slave is punished by paddling. Picture from here. See also Paddling: A History.

Why this post? When I was reading Dancing on Herman Cain’s Grave? (insanitybytes2.wordpress.com), it occurred to me to wonder why we would be so malicious.

The dead are at the bottom of the “pecking order“. They have no way of defending themselves.

Ecclesiastes 9:4-5 New American Standard Bible

For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten.

Whom can we most persecute among the living? Those we call our slaves. Who wants to be a slave driver? Who wants to be a slave? The answers to those questions would seem to be nobody and nobody. Are we not basically good? We would like to think so except we know that that is demonstrably untrue.

Why would anyone want to be a slave driver? To glorify me, myself, and I? Think about what being a slave drive entails. We get to make someone do something they don’t want to do. Some call it playing God. Doesn’t God insist upon obedience? Yes, but slave driving is not what God does. God insists upon obedience the way a good parent insists upon obedience, for the good of the child. A slave driver insists upon obedience for the sake of his ego. His control over a slave makes him feel powerful. Without the grace of God, most of us are malicious enough to enjoy the feeling of unrestrained power over another.

Why would anyone want to be a slave? So they can be beaten? No. Without the grace of God, we like to watch someone else being beaten. Think about that expression, “pecking order“. In a hierarchical society, relatively few people are at the very bottom of the pecking order.

Consider a modern example.

The Gulag was a system of forced labor camps established during Joseph Stalin’s long reign as dictator of the Soviet Union. The word “Gulag” is an acronym for Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, or Main Camp Administration. The notorious prisons, which incarcerated about 18 million people throughout their history, operated from the 1920s until shortly after Stalin’s death in 1953. At its height, the Gulag network included hundreds of labor camps that held anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 people each. Conditions at the Gulag were brutal: Prisoners could be required to work up to 14 hours a day, often in extreme weather. Many died of starvation, disease or exhaustion—others were simply executed. The atrocities of the Gulag system have had a long-lasting impact that still permeates Russian society today. (continued here (history.com))

If you were in a gulag, of course you would not want to be there. There you were virtually dead. A live dog had more hope. However, if you were not in a gulag, you could point to the prisoners and condemn them as fools for opposing the almighty regime. Even if we are not slave drivers, even if we are slaves, we can still claim to be better than the slaves at the bottom of the pecking order.

Slavery, bossing others about, making people do what they don’t want to do, and watching others suffer, is what makes big government attractive. So long as we are in the sacred ruling class, we get to convince ourselves that it is the right thing to do if we can help beat some sense into those bad, disobedient people and make them behave. And so the privileged vanguard of the proletariat gets to choose who to beat, the enforcers get to punish and beat slaves, and the “workers” (more privileged slaves) get to watch the enemies of the state — those at the bottom of the pecking order — get their supposedly well earned beatings.

Why do those at the bottom of the pecking order get enslaved, punished, beaten, and murdered? Perhaps for being virtuous and perhaps not. God knows. In an authoritarian state, the regime chooses who will be at the bottom arbitrarily. Race? Economic class? Ethnicity? Doesn’t much matter. Expedience drives the choice. How does an authoritarian regime gain and hold power? With fear. None want to be at the bottom of the pecking order. So, the regime finds a way to make the threat being at the bottom of the pecking order real and hold it out to all.

Fear of man leads to a miserable life.

Proverbs 9:10 New American Standard Bible

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Unless we fear rightly, we will live wrongly. We will be a party to slavery, both the enslavement of ourselves and others.


  1. Good post, Tom. Good point, too. It really is a hierarchy and there are people in the world who really do want to keep you in your place, which is going to be in subservience to them and dependent.

  2. Tom,

    Interesting application of the Ecclesiastes verses.

    You post reminded me of an explanation a friend of mine who had a wife who loves birds including some noisy parrots. The birds always seemed to be squawking and fighting with each other for the top perch in the cages

    He said the reason why they always were fighting for the top perch. His answer was because the birds on the lower perch’s fear having the poop on the highest perch drop on them.

    Also reminded me of some executives I worked with were always competing with each other to sit in the top corner office.

    The explanation can also be applied to your story about slaves pecking orders.

    Sad how some people have to endure living in the pecking order of governments.

    Fear is a great motivator to want to avoid being on the bottom of any pecking order.

    As you stated though, even in a Democracy, we need to fear being on the bottom perch when we allow government legislators to position themselves on the top perch. That is not what our founders intended the way our Democrat Republic was supposed to work.

    Seems Ecclesiastes verses observed the same scenario and choice a lot of people have to decide when the vote. That is unless of course they want to be slaves or don’t seem to mind government legislators’ positions to be on top of them instead of the other way.

    Of course, some people have no other choice because they don’t live in a Democratic Republic.

    As for the politicians, same as the parrots, they seem to always squawk a lot more with each other and louder whenever election times near, in my opinion.

    If Doug reads this, he will accuse me of being cynical. If interested read my final comment to him in a post to explain the differences of critical thinkers and cynics.


    Regards and goodwill blogging.

Comments are closed.

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