Hope is one of those things which is an abstract idea but also one of your chief nemeses. It does its damage by encouraging your victims to struggle against you, thus slowing or quashing your evil tactics. Truly, however, hope has its limits in the real world, and one of the missions of evildoers is to bring that cold fact sharply into focus by rotten deed and by twisted word. This is no thankless labor; combating against hope and crushing it utterly is one of the true unappreciated pleasures of villainy.
One usually thinks about the process of crushing the last bits of human aspiration in the context of conquering a subject nation, but it is also a useful technique when whipping your own rank and file minions into submission as well. The only slight modification you may need to make is to leave a small shred of humanity, one which is bound tightly to your own ambition, so that they do not sink into an undesirable state of suicidal torpor.
- Boredom. One of the chief ways to extinguish the last sparks of hope is to encourage a sense of sameness, of hopelessness, in the guise of boredom on the part of your target. A flat grey reality that stretches on into an indefinite dull future is a hard setting to do anything heroic within.
- Sobriety. Teetotalers are notoriously dour folk. You really don't want to have to deal with random guy with Dutch courage who just might want to take a potshot at you with a hand grenade and might get lucky. Under the guise of magnanimity, let the strong spirits flow where you have dominion, then suddenly take them away at the peak of your power, and do the same for other chemical intoxicants (though we exclude those agents of a more narcotic nature which encourage passivity instead).
- Eliminate the youth. When you can deal with a population composed exclusively of oldsters, it is easier to convince them that there is no point in struggling, as they will soon be within Death's icy embrace anyway. And among those who are young in years it is worth cultivating those whose hearts have grown prematurely jaded: the hipsters, the nihilists, and the worldweary, who play a prominent role in current culture.
- Dehumanization. In your regime, one is valued solely on the basis of the value of his or her productive capacity, and one is interchangeable for any other performing the same role for you, and nobody is indispensable other than ourself. Treated with indifference, tolerated only as long as they submit to coercion, and so soon forgotten, your subjects will rapidly adjust to the diminishing horizons by believing that human potential was only an outmoded fantasy, and your task of oppressing them will be that much easier.
Strokes of genius
- Selfishness. If each is looking out for him or herself they won't have the time to band together and oppose you. Remind the victims
- Squalor. The victim of the hopelessness can barely scrape together things for subsistence. Also extreme comfort in a golden cocoon can paradoxically work in your favor.
- Tease. Stubborn cases might need actually to offer a glimmer of hope only to have it dashed. For instance, allow them to have a spoon to dig a tunnel from their mountain prison, only to have it fail after the first 50 m owing to a hidden defect.
- Madness. Deprive a human of their reasoning faculty and your work controlling that individual will become no more difficult than that of a simple herdsman. Those who have lost their wits are poorly equipped to undertake coordinated action, such as opposing your evil regime.
- Subversion. Try to offer them inducements (feigned, even) to have them come over to your side. This may stymie whatever plans they have come up with already enough to bring them to the desired state of inaction.
Traps for mere fools
- Birdsong. Along with butterflies, flowers, and anything else from the natural world which can be construed as having something to do with sexual attraction.
- Martyrs. The last thing you want is for the people to have something to rally around.
- Adrenaline. While exposure ultraviolence is useful for its dehumanizing influence, it also can re-ignite the ability to feel passion in the human heart, which can lead to a revival of the spirit.
- Strong coffee.
- Meddling superheroes.
Precious and needful
- Slogans. Printed in day-glo colors on huge posters, or holographically beamed into living quarters.
- Grey, clammy mist.
- Bland food.
- Sensory deprivation. Alternate with bouts of hyperfrenetic sensory overload.
- Sterile concrete architecture.
- How to avoid perfectionism
- How to control the governments of the world
- How to haunt an evil forest
- How to lie to someone's face
- How to worship an evil god
- How to oppress the meek
- How to run an institution of higher learning
- How to make the voices of your victims stop
- How to rule men's minds through sex
- How to plan a mass grave
- How to hasten the Singularity
- How to attract giant worms
- How to write a manifesto
- How to summon spirits of the dead
- How to rewrite history
- How to break up with someone
- How to kill people with a train when you are out of rope
- How to serve man
- How to lead barbarians to their doom
- How to give everyone their heart's desire
- How to run a virtual world
- How to blot out the Sun
- How to organize a death march
- How to clean a dungeon
- How to make a universe implode
- How to run a hotel
- Image credit death-by-presentation by HikingArtist.com
- Image credit FRAGILE. by Niffty..
- Image credit Breaking the ice by marcelgermain