In your average third world country, the ruling class feasts while the regular folk struggle to provide food for themselves and their families. The top class has several palaces and mansions, while the lower classes are lucky to have a roof over their heads. The rich don’t have to work, while those who do can’t find jobs. When the top 1% of your population owns a third of the wealth, and the top 20% of your population owns 85% of it, you will be well on your way. Make sure all policies are driving towards this end, not the least of which being tax law. Not only will only the wealthiest folks have access to quality housing, education, medical care, and the best politicians their money can buy (which is, of course, their due), but the remaining 80% of “citizens” (as if they count as such) will be so busy scrabbling over the remaining, and shrinking, 15% that they will have neither the time nor energy to complain about the situation, or, more importantly, recognize your culpability in it. If you can also convince them that they, too, could be one of the top 20 if they just worked hard and long enough at Jack in the Box (which will give all the other masters of the universe a good chuckle), so much the better; they won’t stand in your way and will in fact support your plutocracy, with visions of the BMW-driving, Fiji-vacationing lifestyle they’ll have “some day” blinding them to the lifestyle they’re living every day.
An educated populace is a dangerous populace. People who know and understand both history and the current moment they’re living in (and their place in it) are invariably disruptive to the ruling class’ agenda. Any despot with an eye towards total domination of the citizenry to his/her own ends knows that first you have to silence the educators, burn the books, close the schools, defund the libraries, and control the airwaves. Otherwise, people will recognize when they are being oppressed, and very likely will start griping about it, which is all kinds of inconvenient.
If you kill public education, of course, only the wealthy will have access to education, which will prevent social and economic ability, furthering your efforts in #1 above. As everyone knows, life is simply just better when the rich ruling class continues to be a small, select group who know all the lore, plus the secret handshake, required to stay that way. If everyone has that information, they are a threat, because they might just think they have a right to the same privileges you think you have a right to. Which is preposterous, and must be prevented by all means.
Why shut down access to education? Because an ignorant citizenry is easily steered and controlled. They’ll believe what you say, and they’ll do what they’re told. This is all to the good, because it’s really damn difficult to get educated, thoughtful folks to strap on a suicide vest, real or metaphorical, and volunteer to do something inimical to their own well-being. Like voting Republican.
The lack of reasonable public education options will lead to two desirable outcomes for third-world status-seekers: a minimal number of crappy schools staffed by a few crusading (and dwindling) diehards and a lot of people who have no other options, teaching the next generation of same. And it will create room for people who wish to educate with an agenda. Madrassas only flourish where other educational opportunities are absent, so we must clear the way. How else are you going to create an adequate number of ignorant, compliant, malleable, and gullible drones who will continue the work of keeping God’s anointed in their rightful place at the top?
3) Revoke workers’ rights
Money makes the world go round, and for most people (at least 80% of them), that means people have to work. And in an economy that has left family farming long behind, most people will have to work for someone else. If you’ve already moved to service-based consumer economy, well done! You’re ahead of the curve. However, to keep worker bees adequately under control, it is imperative that individuals have little control over the employment relationship. Key to this is dividing and conquering. The ugly truth to consider is that there are more workers than capitalists, more of the have-nots than there are of the haves, and if they were ever to truly comprehend the strength of their numbers, the ruling class would be seriously fucked.
Therefore, you have to create an environment of fear and competition especially cultivated to ultimately make workers constantly terrified that they may lose their jobs, and grateful for whatever they’re given. First of all, you need to foment distrust and dissension between unionized workers, who recognize their collective power, and non-unionized workers, who don’t feel like they have power in the workplace and are jealous of those who have managed to gain ground for themselves. This will make it a lot easier to destroy the unions, which is the ultimate goal. People recognizing the power of numbers and gathering together to exchange ideas and create a united front against a powerful enemy is bad for people who make it their business to exploit such folks. It makes it difficult to pay them barely subsistence wages for dangerous work with no regard to their personal safety and well-being. Profit before people, always, especially if they’re people the ruling class doesn’t know personally. If they weren’t clever enough to be born wealthy, or to the wealthy, at least, how is that that anyone’s problem but their own?
Secondly, you need to simultaneously NOT hire while cutting public assistance of all kinds. The benefits of this are two-fold: Profits skyrocket, and homeless, hungry people are so grateful to have a job at all, their expectations are significantly lowered. Minimum wage? Unpaid overtime? Lack of safety equipment? 80-hour work weeks? No problem. And if they die of that hunger and homelessness, well, then, you’ve got yourself some real third world bona fides then.
Of course, there’s always the option of moving all the jobs to a foreign country to engage in actual slavery where people work all day in questionable conditions for a pittance. But a home-grown approach saves all that travel and transport of goods.
4) Subjugate women
All of the above is a lot easier to accomplish if you take 50% of the population out of the equation. The easiest way to do this, with the added benefit of being the most traditional (and therefore reasonably well tolerated and thoughtlessly reinforced by the population at large) is to negate the personhood of female persons. The fact of the matter is, women have grown uppity in the last hundred years, and are constantly yammering on about their rights as human beings, personal safety in a rape culture, and something about having control over their own bodies, when everyone knows that they are merely wombs with legs, and should be treated as such. Nothing that goes on above their waists is of interest to any thinking person, and therefore need not be respected by anyone. And everything that goes on below their waists is naturally controlled by strangers; primarily male strangers who are clearly the only ones who can be trusted to know what’s best for women. Not much that a good beating or a good screw (or both) won’t sort out.
It’s helpful to start by beating them down mentally. Women need to be told that they should be available for sex at all times and that they are abhorrent sluts if they are. They need to be told that their beauty is their paramount virtue, and that they are vain and shallow if they believe it. They need to be told that their bodies and their sex are public property for everyone and anyone to comment upon, paw, or attack, but they are totally responsible if any of the above happen and they should have known better. They need to be told that there is no greater calling than motherhood, and that the life of a child, even one that isn’t born, is far more important than their own, but they should certainly not have too many children (especially if they’re not white and rich), and they’re almost certainly doing motherhood wrong regardless of what they do. Once again, a frightened, confused, victimized populace is a compliant one.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to get official. Women need constant, legal reinforcement of the idea that they have no rights of their own, and any they have managed to obtain are subject to change or revocation at any time, or any legislative session. They need to be denied access to health care, unbiased information, and education. They are also to be denied equal protection under the law so that when they are discriminated against in the workplace, beaten, raped or killed, no one has to worry about it too much. Do this long enough, in word, deed, and act of law, and it won’t even occur to the majority of women to question it, and they will teach their children the lessons they’ve learned, until their oppression is self-perpetuating and your privilege is secure.
5) Neglect infrastructure.
Infrastructure costs money. Money is earned through taxes. Nobody likes taxes. Therefore, infrastructure is a loser’s bet. Who needs safe roads, bridges, air travel? Dirt roads and geographic isolation were good enough for the founding fathers, right? Besides, if you’ve accomplished #1, #2, and #3 above, people won’t know enough about the world beyond their small village to want to travel, or be able to afford to if they did.
6) Become very religious.
It is to your benefit to encourage religious folks to become more devout, and to marginalize the non-religious (or other-religious) as monsters. People like religion, and they like believing that their religion is the correct one, so it will help you win supporters. In addition, religious people are used to rules that may or may not make sense, and that may or may not benefit them; and they are used to seeking and obeying authority outside themselves. As a bonus, they’re generally willing to do anything in the name of their god(s)/goddess(es), if you but couch it in moral terms of good and evil, even it if it’s nothing of the sort. What more could a would-be despot ask for? Plus, the most religious countries in the world are generally also the poorest. You kill two birds with one stoning.
Just by following these six easy steps, you, too, can create a nation of ignorant, impoverished, impotent peasants over which you may rule benignly. Or not. Either way, by the time you’re done, they won’t be in any position to stop you.