You are about to read a story of the past, probably one of the most profound stories you will ever read.

When you covertly and overtly control people’s minds, you can control how they think and act. You can, therefore, have people act against their self-interest without them realising it. You can make people compete against their brothers and sisters. You can divide families and make people forget who and what they are.

How much do we have incoming with the slaves in this story?

The slaves walked slowly, one after the other, and each bore a polished stone. Four columns of slaves, each one and a half kilometres in length, stretched from the stone polishers to the spot where the construction of the fort city had begun. Sentries guarded the columns, with one armed sentry soldier assigned to every ten slaves.

At some distance from the walking slaves, on the summit of a thirteen-meter-high, man-made mountain of polished stone, sat Crazy, one of the high priests; for four months now, he had been silently observing all that transpired. No one distracted him. No one dared interrupt his reflection with so much as a glance. The slaves and guards perceived the man-made mountain with the throne at its summit as an integral feature of the landscape. And the person – now sitting motionless on the throne, strolling across the open area at the summit – attracted no one’s attention.

Crazy had set himself a goal: he would reconstruct the government, fortify the priests’ power for a millennium to come, bring all the people of the Earth under their control and turn all of them, including the rulers of governments, into slaves of the priests. One day, Crazy came down from the mountain, leaving his double behind him on the throne. The priest changed his clothing and removed his wig. Then he ordered the leader of the sentries to shackle him in chains like a simple slave and put him into the column behind a robust young slave named Nard.

Peering into the faces of slaves, Crazy noticed that this young man’s gaze was not wandering or distant like many others but rather inquisitive and calculating. Nard’s face was at turns focused and thoughtful or agitated. “That means he’s conjuring up some kind of plan,” the priest concluded, but he wanted to ascertain how accurate his observations might be.

For two days, Crazy followed Nard, silently hauling stones, sitting beside him at meals and sleeping in the bunk beside his. On the third night, as soon as the command “sleep” had been given, Crazy turned to the young slave, and in a whisper full of despair and bitterness, he uttered a question addressed to no one in particular: “Will it go on like this for the rest of our lives?”

The priest saw the young slave give a start and instantly turned his face toward the priest, his eyes shining. Even in the dim light of the barracks’ lamps, they gleamed. “It won’t go on this way for long. I’m working out a plan. And you can be part of it, too, old man,” the young slave whispered. “What kind of plan?” the priest asked indifferently, sighing.

Nard began to explain, heatedly and confidently: ” You old man and I and all of us – before long, we’ll be free men instead of slaves. Count them up, old man: one sentry for every ten slaves. And there’s only the sentry for the fifteen female slaves who cook and sew.

If we all attack the sentries at an appointed time, we’ll conquer them. Even though they’re armed and we’re shackled in chains. It’s ten of us to one of them, and we can use the chains as weapons, too, and use them to defend ourselves from the blows of their swords. We’ll disarm all the sentries, tie them up and take control of their weapons.”

“Ah, young man,” said Crazy, sighing once more. Then he apathetically replied: “You haven’t thought your plan through: it’s possible to disarm the sentries guarding us, but the ruler will quickly send new ones, perhaps even the entire army, and they’ll kill the rebellious slaves.”

“I’ve thought about that, too, old man. We’ll have to pick a time when the army won’t be around. And that time is coming. We can all see they’re readying the army for a campaign. They’re gathering provisions for a three-month trip. That means that in three months, the army will arrive at its destination and engage in combat. It will be weakened by battle but emerge victoriously and seize many new slaves. New barracks are already being built for them.

We must begin disarming the sentries when our ruler’s army battles with the other army. It will take messengers a month to deliver the message that they must return immediately. It will take the weakened army no less than three months to return. In the space of these four months, we’ll be ready to meet them. There will be no fewer of us than soldiers in the army. When the captured slaves see what’s happened, they’ll want to side with us.

I’ve planned everything out just right, old man.” The priest answered, now encouragingly, “It’s true, young man; with your plan and your thoughts, you can disarm the sentries and gain victory over the army.” And then he added, “But what will the slaves do next, and what will happen to the rulers, the sentries and the soldiers?”

“I haven’t given that much thought. One thing has occurred: all who were once slaves will be non-slaves. All who today are non-slaves will be slaves,” Nard answered tentatively as if thinking out loud.” “And what about the priests?

Tell me, young one, once you attain victory, will you count the priests as slaves or non-slaves?” “The priests? I haven’t given that much thought, either. But what I would suggest at the moment is this: let the priests remain as they are. Slaves and rulers alike listen to them. Sometimes, they may be difficult to understand, but I think they’re harmless. Let them go ahead and tell us about the gods, but we ourselves know the best way to live our lives.”

“The best way, that’s good,” the priest answered, pretending he was terribly sleepy. But Crazy did not sleep at all that night. He pondered. “Of course,” thought Crazy, “the easiest thing to do would be to inform the ruler of this plot and seize the young slave. He’s the main source of inspiration for others. But that wouldn’t solve the problem. The slaves will always have the desire to be free from slavery. New leaders will appear, and new plans will be developed, and since that’s the case, the main threat to the State will always come from inside the State.”

A task lay before Crazy: to develop a plan for enslaving the entire world. He understood that it would be impossible to achieve this goal through physical force alone. He would need to exert psychological influence on each person, on entire people. He would need to transform people’s thinking and instil in everyone the idea that slavery was, in fact, the greatest good. He’d need to set in motion a self-perpetuating program that would cause entire peoples to feel spatially, temporally and conceptually disoriented.

But most importantly, disoriented in terms of their normal perception of reality.

Crazy’s thoughts worked faster and faster, and he no longer felt his body or the heavy shackles on his hands and feet. And suddenly, the program arose like a flash of lightning. He didn’t yet know the details and couldn’t yet explain it, but he could already sense it, and it was astounding in its scale. Crazy felt like the absolute ruler of the world. The priest lay on his bunk, shackled in irons. He was delighted with himself: “Tomorrow morning, when they lead us all out to work, I’ll give a prearranged signal, and the head of security will see to it that I’m taken out of the column of slaves and that my shackles are removed.

I will lay out the details of my program, utter but a few words, and the world will begin to change. Unbelievable! Just a few words – and the entire world will submit to my thought. God did give a man a power that is not equal in the Universe – the power of human thought. It creates words and changes the course of history.”

“An unusually fortuitous situation has come about. The slaves have readied a plan for rebellion. It’s rational, this plan, and it could lead to a result that would be positive for them in the short run. But with just a few phrases, I will turn not just them – but the descendants of today’s slaves too, and even all the earth’s rulers, too – into slaves. I’ll force them all to be slaves for thousands of years.”

In the morning, when Crazy gave the signal, the head of security removed his shackles. And right away, the next day he invited the remaining priests and the pharaoh to his observation platform. Crazy began his speech to those assembled: “No one is to write down or pass on what you are about to hear. No walls surround us, and no one aside from you shall hear my words. I have conceived a way of turning all people living on the Earth into slaves of our pharaoh. This is impossible even with the help of countless troops and exhausting wars. Yet I shall achieve it with but a few sentences. Only two days will pass once they have been pronounced, and they will see how the world will begin to change.

Look: down below us, long columns of slaves shackled in chains carry one stone each. A multitude of soldiers guards them. The more slaves there are, the better it is for the government. That’s the way we have always seen it. But the more slaves there are, the more we fear their rebellion. We increase security. We are forced to feed our slaves well because otherwise, they’ll be unable to do this hard physical labour. Even so, they are lazy and inclined to rebel. Look how slowly they move, but the sentry has grown lazy. He’s not urging them on with the cat o’ nine tails, and he’s not beating even the strong and healthy slaves.

But soon they’ll be moving much faster. They will need no guards. The sentries, too, will become slaves. Here is how we can achieve this. Today at sunset, let the heralds issue the pharaoh’s decree, which will declare: “With the dawn of the new day, all slaves will be granted complete freedom. For each stone that he delivers to the city, each free man will receive one gold coin. The coins can be exchanged for food, clothing, shelter, a palace in the city, and the city itself. From this day forward, you are free men.”

When the priests grasped the full import of what Crazy had said, one of them, the oldest among them, uttered these words: “You are a demon, Crazy. Your conception will enshroud a great number of the earth’s peoples in demonism.” “So let it be said that I am a demon. And let it be, that in the future, people will call this conception of mine democracy.”

At sunset, the decree was issued to the slaves. They were astounded, and many could not sleep that night as they contemplated their new and happy life. The next morning the priests and the pharaoh ascended to the platform atop the man-made mountain. They could not have imagined the scene they now saw before them. Thousands of people, former slaves, were racing against each other to haul the very same stones as before. Many, the sweat streaming off them, were carrying two stones each. Others, carrying one stone, were running along, kicking up dust. There were also several sentries hauling stones. These people, who now thought of themselves as free – after all, their chains had been removed – were striving to acquire as many coins as they lusted for as possible to build their happy lives.

Crazy spent a few more months on his platform, gazing with satisfaction at what was transpiring below. The changes were immense. Some of the slaves had united into small groups and constructed carts. After loading these carts to the top with stones, they’d push them along, streaming with sweat. “They will invent more devices,” Crazy thought to himself with satisfaction. “Why, even now, people have begun providing domestic services: they deliver water and food. Some of the slaves eat on the go, not wanting to spend time going back to the barracks to eat, and they pay those who bring them food out of the coins they earn.

And look! Healers have appeared, too. They treat those who are ailing on the go, and they, too, receive coins. And they’ve chosen traffic controllers. Soon, they’ll choose bosses and judges for themselves. Fine, let them do that. After all, they consider themselves free, but what’s at the core of it hasn’t changed: they’re still hauling stones…” And they have been running this way through the millennia, in the dust, streaming with sweat, hauling stones. And even today, these slaves’ descendants continue their senseless running…