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Tyranny of One, Tyranny of All

The Yellow Brick Road

Written by Darrell Anderson.

Many people have argued about Lyman Frank Baum’s original book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Those contentions describe how the book is actually an allegory about the monetary struggles of the late 19th century. According to those assertions, the Yellow Brick Road represented gold interests, Dorothy’s slippers represented silver interests, and the Emerald City was paper currency (Greenbacks) and Washington, D.C.

I have no idea if those conjectures are true and to my knowledge Baum never admitted any such intent. However, I have read the original book. The book actually provides a much simpler allegory — a story about the falsehoods of humans ruling and empowering other humans.

The Cowardly Lion sought courage, but unbeknownst to him, he possessed courage all along. Likewise, the Scarecrow wanted a brain, but the questions he asked throughout the book demonstrated an inherent ability for thought and abstract ideas. The Tin Woodman wanted a heart so he could love, but he already knew how to love as affirmed by his actions and words in his travels.

The Munchkins represented the mindless masses, and the witches represented powers that were easy to blame for various problems and challenges.

Of course, everybody believed the Wizard of Oz could solve all of these problems. Yet, the Wizard confessed to having no powers at all (can you imagine a politician admitting as much?). The story reveals that the remedies the characters sought rested within themselves.

If there is an allegory in the story, the parallel is how humans tend to refuse responsibility for their own actions, how they tend to refuse to think for themselves, to take action, to be accountable, or to step outside the box.

Eric Hoffer, author of The True Believer, a book about the psychology of mass movements, wrote:

Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves. To most of us nothing is so invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats — we know it not.

Someone once said that during their lives most people occasionally bump into the truth. Most jump up, brush off, and hurry about their business as though nothing had happened.[1]

People today place such great but false faith and hopes in the “benevolent state.” Various politicians represent the Wizard. Just like the Wizard those politicians are incompetent, powerless, witless, ignorant, without courage, without heart, without wisdom. An illusion. Yet, like the Wizard, a voice can be heard, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” And the people obey.

Finis.

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Endnotes

[1] Author unconfirmed, although often attributed to Winston Churchill.