June 22, 2021
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The Prophet, 2002

The Prophet of Undemocracy had waited 50 years in the city of Aryan for his proverbial ship to come in. Finally, it arrived...

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The Prophet, 2002
The Prophet of Undemocracy had waited 50 years in the city of Aryan for his proverbial ship to come in. Finally, it arrived. And the prophet said to himself: "Shall the day of rejoicing be the day of equivocation?"

And the people of Aryan hailed him and said, "Ere you buzz off on your ship, speak to us the truth of Undemocracy, and we will give it to our children, and they to their children, and so forth and so on."

And the Prophet answered: "People of Aryan, what can I tell you except that which is already in your corrupt little hearts and beady little eyes?"

And the people of Aryan said, "Speak to us of tax breaks."

And the Prophet gave a gigantic belch and said: "My people, the business of religion is the best business to be in precisely because of all the tax breaks. Besides which, you never have to worry about anyone asking for a refund on the product. When, for example, have you ever heard a dead Christian crib about not getting to heaven or hell because the warranty was bogus? When has a Muslim martyr gone to consumer court about not getting his 72 virgins? When have you heard a Hindu complain that he would have preferred to come back as Bill Gates the Third, rather than Laloo’s publicity handler?

Also, I'd like to point out that if anyone does criticize your product, you can always counter by accusing him of being a Foreign Hand, a terrorist, a false-propagandist, a bimbo-brain, or anything else that sounds bad."

And the people of Aryan said: "Speak to us of marketing."

And the Prophet answered: " Preferably you should target a populace with some IQ (so they will have enough to contribute to your coffers), but not too much (so that they will readily imbibe your dogmas). The ideal consumer is someone not too good with logical thinking, who is frustrated, who has never read the Indian Constitution or the words of the Mahatma, and who has disposable income. And, you should always take pains to convince everyone that your interpretation of the religion you are peddling is the only true one."

And the people of Aryan said: "Speak to us of recruitment."

And the Prophet answered, saying, "Do not forget to instill a code of conduct in your consumers that stigmatizes healthy human concepts such as Freedom of Thought, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of the Press. At the same time, you should subtly endorse Intolerance, Communalism, and the Pursuit of Absolute Power.

Once you have enough of a critical mass of consumers, you can reach out to the public at large by repairing thousands of potholes, signing MOUs with like-minded conglomerates, and hiring an extra 2000 cops to protect you and your interests. Also, take the example of the Prophet Hitler, may he rest in peace, and recruit cadres of the young.

Organize morchas and send them on Cox and Kings spirituality tours as incentive. If you get them when they’re young, they are yours for life. This is true not only of successful religions, but also of tobacco companies."

And the people said : "Speak to us of consolidating power and wealth."

And the Prophet replied: "For that you need an ideology. Any ideology will do. But I like to say that a good ideology is like a well-prepared pudding: light, palatable, and capable of holding the shape of any mold in which it is placed. Therefore, your ideology must be all things to all people.

And for this, you need a body of myths with an authoritarian flavour that offers to explain away all of life's trials and tribulations. Of course, you could make up your own myths as you go along like that Benny Hinn cult guy, but it is both preferable and easier to draw from sources already embedded into our psyche: such as Genesis or the Mahabharata. I realize that creating one's own myths might at first seem advisable from a perspective of total control, not to mention that you would gain the opportunity to reap enormous profits in book retailing.

However, I believe that view fails to take into account the advantages of using the large and already established body of mythology in the world over the past several thousand years. For example, over the past two thousand years, the Bible has been used to rationalize both sides of every human conflict. It has been used to support such divergent views as democracy, monarchy, science, superstition, fascism, slavery, freedom, and Slobadov Milosevic.

And imagine just how much more weight and credibility you will have with the Vedas, which are even older. Ay, it is like an ocean, which is to say: the possibilities are endless. Whatever religion you choose, it should be replete with an ample supply of previously accepted myths that can be twisted in a manner that will benefit you the most and consolidate your power base."

And the people said: "Any last words?"

And the Prophet said: "If you follow my marketing plan, you shall control the hidden purposes in all things. And you will prefer darkness to light. And we shall build our temple of Undemocracy."

(Margaret Mascarenhas is, inter alia, the author of Skin)

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