Some Techniques of Control?

"The best laid plans o' mice and men oft gang astray"

Let us interpret the frustration and disappointment inherent in Burn's remarks in a more positive way -because presumably they apply to conspirators just as much as they apply to well intentioned people.

Is this then an excuse for complacency?

I believe not, because there are ways of developing complex systems, like a society or a computer programme, in ways that allow for unexpected things to happen without destroying the whole system.

Environmental programming:
One of these "techniques" can be called  "Environmental programming" -and is a logical consequence of Darwin's "Survival of the fittest". It is important to note in this context that "fittest" does not mean the biggest, the strongest or even the healthiest -it means the ones most adapted to "fit in" with the environment. If the environment changes then the dominant species will also have to change in order to fit in with the new circumstances.

Under normal circumstances, trying to change people's behaviour is very difficult: People know what they know and they believe what they believe. Trying to persuade them differently is a tricky job at the best of times -but change their environment and they will be forced to adapt. No need to re-programme them -because they will need to re-programme themselves -if they wish to survive in the new environment.

So what kinds of "changes" and how might some these work in practice?

Constant Change:
Apparently makes ancient knowledge useless -so one can prevent the youth from learning from the experience of their elders -so one can easilly exploit their energy, enthusiasm and ambition.
Ghettoisation of the Audience:
By segregating people they are unable to communicate with others who might think differently. By segregating the market one provides everybody with (more or less) what they think they want without bothering them with alternatives, by segregating the audience one can hold their attention and not distract them with potential conflicts with other viewpoints.

Truth, Lies and half-truths:
A downright lie is often easy to discover, but a half-truth often takes a lot of effort to separate out the truth from the lie. It generally takes a lot of careful fact-finding and a close reading of the small letters. Something which most poeple often have not the time, energy or inclination to do.

Feed people misleading or even irrelvant half-truths and the resulting confusion will probably keep them distracted long enough to prevent them understanding what is happening until it is too late. Read any modern "thriller" to see how this principle can be applied (at least within the realms of fiction).

Giving Rope:
Give someone enough rope and they will hang themselves, it has been said. In other words, it is a very clever person who, when given enough freedom will not get themselves into trouble. Put enough temptations in people's paths and they are unlikely to resist for ever. We are, after all human -and humans often fail because they succumb to their weaknesses.

Freedom and Equality:
De Toqueville (title) seems a little wary of the practical effects of "equality" -although intellectually, he seems to approve of the concept.

If two people are clearly unequal opponents (perhaps one is richer, healthier, better educated or stronger than the other) then is it "fair" to pit them against each other in an "equal" contest? (Philippine and hawaiian "parity laws" -WTO rules. etc.)

If a person has no idea of where to go or what to do -then is it "honest" to give them the "freedom" to go where they will or do whatever they wish?

Is it possible that the myth of "equality" (the level playing field) is actually a tool which allows the bully to beat up a weaker victim with impunity -simply becuase of the pretence of "equality"? Is it possible that the myth of "freedom" is actually a tool of oppression because those who agressively pursue their ends can easilly push aside those who still have to formulate their aims?