by Steven Saragian
I hope that everyone at Attack the System and all of our readers are enjoying the many feasts and festivals designed to stop people from killing themselves during this dark and dreary time of year. Not all that long ago one such celebration was crashed by a party spoiler in Kingston. This man ended up spending a night in jail for vociferously announcing that “Santa isn’t real.” If you are interested in learning more about the incident you can read it yourself, I will not bore you with details. I doubt that this is the first or last time that this will happen. Without even looking I already know that some will defend the man noting that our Santa Claus myth bears no resemblance of any historical person. Others will denounce him for his robbing children of innocence, or something along those lines. In any case I am not very interested in that debate.
Nonetheless, it did get me thinking, why would any of those people care? The Santa Claus myth is an interesting one in our society, it is different from any other impersonal story we weave into our lives. It is that one story we have that every last man, woman, child, etc. could publicly declare to be untrue and it would not change a thing. Santa Claus has, I think, no contemporary parallel in all of culture, science, politics, or any other area of myth. Other holidays have there mythic patriarchs or matriarchs but none of them are treated with the reverence of this secularized saint.
Now, Santa Claus is a fine patriarch for our sanitized sun worship festival. He exhibits a strange power that we should examine if we wish to grow into a successful vanguard. For those of you who are not aware Santa Claus is based on the historical person of the early christian bishop, Nikolaos of Myra. He is credited with many miraculous feats, some of which he is said to deliver today despite being long dead. He is not unique when it come to post-mortem miracles, but he is different in that his miracles retain power inspite of the fact that we all know they are fake. If a statue is shown to cry blood by use of a pump system significantly fewer persons will make a pilgrimage to see it. We all know that gifts are being purchased by parents under a pseudonym, yet NORAD still tracked our tundra dwelling super hero. If NORAD were to discontinue this public relations program I predict that it will be due, not from economic or social demands, but out of jealousy.
The reason for this is simple Santa Claus and his legions are a lie that embodies a truth, the state is a truth that embodies a lie. Santa Claus is used to stand in for the truth, that truth also goes by the name Christmas Spirit. I am not telling you anything new, it is the collective emotional state spoken of in the Sun Editorial and repeated in every dime store Christmas movie. Having no physical essence the commander of the unspecified number of elves is never in the position of having to defend his methods or ideology. He is a verb, posing as a noun.
Our enemy the State, on the other hand, is an actual group of individuals who form to stand in for the Social Contract. Santa stands in for a very real emotional state experienced by billions of people at one time or another. This group of actual-real-existing people stand in for a contract that no person has ever experienced. The State is similar to Santa Claus in a very important way. They both reward those that perpetuate the narrative. Children will often play along with the game long after they figured it out because by doing so they are reworded with presents and they do not wish to disappoint parents who have waited years to be on this side of the ritual. The State’s gifts can be of a similar nature both in terms of material objects and emotional satisfaction, but when it comes to the power over others a gift delving Elf King can only do so much.
Even if the child tells the truth, their parents will most likely still give them what they can afford to give, only under their own name. The State can give many names to the populations they give and take from, but it can only take what that population can bear at any given time. What it takes and how the activity is described is dependent on which group is benefiting and which group is exploited. For this reason it is very important that everyone pretend to believe in the lie that is embodied in a truth, even if no one holds the conviction. If everyone were to publicly disavow the lie, there could be no state. This poor policemen mistakenly thinks that the Elf King works the same way, but he does not for he is a truth in a lie. The only way that this Elf King could lose power is if Christmas or the Christmas Spirit lost their cultural relevance. Or if he should be displaced with a new figure to embody that truth.
While Santa my be the most power lie that embodies truth in our secular age, he is not the only historical person to have been transformed in this way. The plethora of Founding Fathers, Captains of Industry, and Civil Rights Leaders that the system must manufacture for the job are too numerous to recount here. Even when we know that the claims made of them are known to be untrue it makes little difference. Could it be that this is because they, like Santa Claus, are introduced to us in this way before we are developed enough to recognize the difference?
These system sponsored mythic heros have a problem though, they have to be believable. Their hero must not be so super-human that they tower over the system itself. They retain to much of what they were to be above reasonable criticism. Indeed the real man can never reach the level of his myth and will be criticized for it. Yet, who are we to point fingers at the ruling powers? Have our men of vanguard myth reached to the heights of Santa Claus? We have given a great deal of truth to people, but they do not drink, the pallet needs to be refined for it. If we could embody the truth in a lie as powerful as this christian bishop, then we can weather any direct attack from our cultural assassins. The party spoiler was wrong in the area that matters, a kingdom of arctic elves can wield more power then all the states of the world given the right myth-maker.