The /Crunched\ Bottom


The unfortunate people at the compressed bottom of the hourglass are the hardest hit, as their democratic ambitions are crunched like hell under the weight of the tyrants’ control. Sure, they can elect a mayor or governor, rally, or even hire a lobbyist, but no matter how hard they try to be heard, there always seems to be a much more powerful voice whispering to the politicians out of their earshot. Instead of elections providing any kind of meaningful expression, the people find their votes separated, steered and undermined by politicians’ ambitions and their voices circumnavigated, drowned out, silenced, spun, evaded, conveniently forgotten or condemned to obscurity.

One reason corruption is able to gain a foothold and remain in place is that when those living in the bottom half of a tyranny hourglass look around at their immediate surroundings, they see what still appears as a right-side-up, healthy pyramid! Only it’s crunched, and unable to build meaningful power platforms, people are forced to rub against each other, create friction instead of momentum, and compete for the attention that’s due yet never comes. So even though they feel a squeeze coming at them from somewhere, they are unable to trace its source and, in frustration, turn on one another with accusations of not doing enough, interfering, or voting the wrong way. In quieter moments they blame themselves, and paralysis, impotence and self-imposed shame set in. (We’ll talk about this in detail in the last chapter of the book.)

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