quadibloc on December 21, 2010, 09:44:28 pm
But, reading the rest of your reply, I am curious at why the terrorists planning 9/11 didn't attempt to  crash an airliner in a nuclear facility. Sure, there are the reassurances of the nuclear community on the safety of reactors in the western world, but they (the 9/11 planners) didn't have to believe those to be true.
And, even given that those assurances are true, and a fully-fueled jet or three would not breach a containment building, if the rest of the nuclear plant is destroyed, there might not be a radiation release, but there wouldn't be any more electrical power generation for a while either.

Given the large power failure across much of the United States brought on by a hot day in New York City, losing Indian Point could well have involved some risk of making the city uninhabitable - that is, a big chunk of its population would have to move elsewhere in order to have electricity for work and food preservation and so on.

mellyrn on December 22, 2010, 06:08:06 am
There are a gazillion stories Sandy could be presenting.  This is the one he is presenting at this time.

It might be true that a tougher, grittier, downer-and-dirtier story would make a better "sell" for AnCap -- to the rational, thinking part of one's mind.  It might also be true that a story that is primarily an engaging story and only secondarily AnCap is a better "sell" precisely because the AnCap is background and has a better chance to do the ninja number on that same rational process.  Bwahaha.

Maybe Sandy will write one that is grittier and still a story first -- next arc, next graphic, next year.  Maybe he never will, because maybe (just maybe) that's not his story to write.

Maybe it's yours.



SandySandfort on December 22, 2010, 08:18:00 am
There are a gazillion stories Sandy could be presenting.  This is the one he is presenting at this time.

It might be true that a tougher, grittier, downer-and-dirtier story would make a better "sell" for AnCap -- to the rational, thinking part of one's mind.  It might also be true that a story that is primarily an engaging story and only secondarily AnCap is a better "sell" precisely because the AnCap is background and has a better chance to do the ninja number on that same rational process.  Bwahaha.
...

Mellyn has been paying attention. I write to entertain. To the extent I am trying to "sell" anyone on Market anarchy, it is just because it makes more sense to me than what we have. One should always write for one's self and I like stories that exist in a world that operates on market principles (or fails to work on collectivist ones).

I think anyone would be hard pressed to explain how I was selling market anarchy in the Mystery of the Martian Melodies arc. Of course, I did mention the anti-statism comedy, Ninotchka, starring Greta Garbo and Melvyn-Douglas. Wow, that's a hard sell.

Similarly, market anarchy had nothing to do with Leap of Faith, where Bert and Ernie had to escape from 243 Ida.

The Big Heads arc did use some government types as foils, but it wasn't particularly ideological.

And so it goes. I write humor, mystery, intrigue, action and so on. It is the statists among EFT's readers who are the true ideologues. They assume I have some hidden political agenda any yearn to expose and defeat it. To date, they have not done a very good job. That's because their premise is wrong. (Well actually their political premises are wrong too, but that's another story.) I write to engage, amuse and entertain my readers. If any of my work causes readers to think and question, well, that's just gravy.

jamesd on December 22, 2010, 06:32:29 pm
I think Chernobyl may have had an even bigger effect. They had a great big nuclear accident and they lied about it.

Let us look at the timing: They retreat in Afghanistan, and abruptly everything falls apart.

Before Soviet defeat in Afghanistan, Armenia, as a nation, stood aloof from the rebellion of some Armenians outside the official soviet set boundaries of Armenia

After Soviet defeat Afghanistan, Armenia, under the leadership of the Armenian soviet, immediately joined in as a nation.

in 1988 February Karabakh declared independence, a declaration similar to many past acts of rebellion against Soviet power, which was successfully repressed by the usual response to such past rebellions - martial law and occupation by interior ministry troops. Armenia did not join in, did not support that declaration of independence until after the fall of Afghanistan.  Immediately after the fall of Afghanistan, Armenia joined in.  Suddenly the interior ministry had more enemies, and more powerful enemies, and less will to fight them.

Before 1989 January, when things went pear shaped in Afghanistan, Soviet Union still conducted itself according to the Brezhnev doctrine, brutally and successfully suppressing rebellion in 1988 February, as it had previously suppressed rebellions by Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary in 1953, 1956, 1968, and 1981.

Before defeat in Afghanistan, we saw unchanged Soviet will and ruthlessness in suppressing rebellion, the last conspicuous demonstration of Soviet will to crush resistance being 1988 February.

After defeat in Afghanistan, after January 1989, we immediately saw, within weeks or months, rebellions comparable to 1953, 1956, 1968, and 1981 all over the place, and Gorbachev unwilling to confront them.

We now know that the Soviet Union lacked the economic capacity to sustain the war on multiple fronts that Reagan forced upon it, and so it had to retreat, and, since the Soviet Union ruled by fear, retreat, once begun, necessarily became uncontrollable.

The evil empire was held together by fear.  When it suffered an unambiguous military defeat in Afghanistan, something that looked suspiciously like a defeat in Nicaragua, and assorted rats knawing on its fingers and toes in various countries around the world, people stopped being afraid, and one country after another, no longer afraid, shrugged off communist dominion, the dominoes falling closer and closer and closer to the center, until eventually Moscow itself shrugged off communism.

I don't think we can entirely credit Ronald Reagan with rollback.  It had been tried, indecisively and ineffectually in small ways before Reagan, and then invariably Washington would have cold feet, and abandon its allies to torture and death.

But containment had failed in Vietnam, and it seemed that the Soviet Union was on a roll, that history was coming to a head, that inevitable communist world domination was imminent, so something had to be done.  In place of the failed policy of containment, the obvious solution was a more vigorous policy of rollback.  I think any administration, republican or democrat, including a re-elected Carter, would have done much the same, but Reagan, the great communicator, had the moral confidence to claim the policy was right and just, to reply to those who claimed that the US was terrorizing the oppressed masses into disbanding their beloved collectives.   Carter would have done the same things, but would have acted furtive and guilty, would have himself half believed that the US was terrorizing the oppressed masses into disbanding their beloved agricultural collectives so that the US could steal the world's resources,and the resulting Nixonian furtiveness would have given confidence to the enemies of freedom.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 08:44:38 pm by jamesd »

mellyrn on December 23, 2010, 06:29:22 am
Quote
it seemed that the Soviet Union was on a roll, that history was coming to a head, that inevitable communist world domination was imminent, so something had to be done.

The Sovereign Individual takes a very interesting look at history. 

It seems to me that vast Illuminati-like conspiracy stories (no, you're right, that is out of left field, but don't worry, I'm not going there) are popular because people would rather have an evil overlord than no overlord (ref. today's stripBing!), that  it's less scary if bad, or stupid, things happen because someone meant to do them, than if they happened accidentally, out of anyone's control.  This makes The Sovereign Individual's thesis unpalatable since it discusses ways the best-laid plans go awry due to factors no one can control or, often, even anticipate. 

They make quite an excellent case that the demise of the USSR was "like watching one of a pair of fraternal twins die of old age".

One guess as to the remaining twin.

J Thomas on December 23, 2010, 06:44:06 am
I think Chernobyl may have had an even bigger effect. They had a great big nuclear accident and they lied about it.

Let us look at the timing: They retreat in Afghanistan, and abruptly everything falls apart.

Sure. So was Afghanistan the cause or one of the effects?

You point out that the USSR was ruled by fear, and you figure that the retreat from Afghanistan showed people they didn't have to be afraid. I say that after Chernobyl an increasing number of subjects thought of the Soviet government with contempt.

They cooperated 100% with the Soviet government when the alternative was being conquered by the Nazis. Sometimes Soviet generals would tell large groups of civilians to attack the German army with whatever weapons they could scrounge, as a distraction, and they did it and got slaughtered. They did whatever they thought they had to, and only a few of them tried to run away -- and survive -- rather than get shelled.

They put up with an incredible amount of government secrecy, to counter the threat of the crazy militarist Americans. They assumed the government knew what it was doing.

Then they found out that the same government tried to keep Chernobyl a secret, and was willing to expose large numbers of Soviet citizens to radiation pollution, because the government would look bad if the truth got out. And it was something that they couldn't possibly keep secret for real. There was no way to argue that they were trying to keep the secret to protect the USSR from the USA. They screwed up and then they tried to hide it.

Some crazy Americans had been arguing that the USSR had an effective civilian fallout shelter program, because they intended to survive a nuclear war which would wipe out the USA. Hahaha. All they had was lies and secrecy. Is it any wonder their people disrespected them?

Of course it didn't start with Cherobyl. Andropov tried to make serious reforms, and of course corrupt officials anonymously opposed him while the public got to see little hints of how bad it was. Picture Andropov singing the lumberjack song....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clPYfaTvHT0

jamesd on December 23, 2010, 05:05:56 pm
Let us look at the timing: They retreat in Afghanistan, and abruptly everything falls apart.

Sure. So was Afghanistan the cause or one of the effects?

Perestroika and Chernobyl and the rest had no significant effect, because, when push came to shove, as in 1988 February, the Soviets were willing to murder anyone who gave them trouble.

Defeat in Afghanistan had big effect, because, when push came to shove, as in 1989 March, the Soviets now found it difficult to murder everyone who gave them trouble.

J Thomas on December 23, 2010, 06:32:50 pm
Let us look at the timing: They retreat in Afghanistan, and abruptly everything falls apart.

Sure. So was Afghanistan the cause or one of the effects?

Perestroika and Chernobyl and the rest had no significant effect, because, when push came to shove, as in 1988 February, the Soviets were willing to murder anyone who gave them trouble.

To be able to murder anybody who gave them trouble, the Soviets needed a loyal core who would murder less-loyal subjects for not murdering on command. It required that the core have high morale and that the governed not object too much.

Both of those were gradually becoming less true. And that loss of morale drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan. They could have stayed longer if they had the will -- they left after 10 years while the USA is talking about staying for 15, for beyond the political horizon -- but they did not.

Quote
Defeat in Afghanistan had big effect, because, when push came to shove, as in 1989 March, the Soviets now found it difficult to murder everyone who gave them trouble.

That's a possible interpretation. Another is that a lot of russians had once had ideals. Some of them believed in the Communist paradise to come. Lots of them believed it was worthwhile to protect Russia from the Nazis. And some of them believed the USA was a terrible threat.  But they were starting to see through it all.
A bunch of clowns protecting their privileges. Idealists will do all sorts of things for their ideals, but it's hard to get people to suffer privations so they can stay in a privileged class....

They ran out of idealists. Andropov wanted reform, and he couldn't get reform without admitting the corruption he wanted to reform -- because if he tried to keep it secret then people who found out about some of it anyway would get all disillusioned. But when he admitted it, he needed more reform than he could actually do. It was all downhill from there.

The USA is in similar shape but later. It's taking us a lot longer to run out of idealists despite senseless wars and blatant corruption and failed attempts at reform.

terry_freeman on December 24, 2010, 03:00:26 pm
In 1990 or '91, A Russian professor explained the rapidity of the change this way: "We were all radishes ( white on the inside, red on the outside ), and we were just waiting for the right moment."

Although the USSR government had tight control for 75 years, eventually they lost the consensus which gave them a right to continue as they were. We observe a milder form of this in American elections; from time to time, the governing party loses its "mandate", and the base, the die-hard Republicans or Democrats, as the case may be, stay home or vote for the opposition, and an incumbent loses an election. In the former USSR, mass protests and withdrawal of support by armed forces and highly-placed figures signaled that the reign of the Soviets was at an end.

The USSA is approaching such a time. Dissidents who were laughed at or ignored are gaining traction. Academics who previously toed the line as court intellectuals are writing articles which challenge the fundamental premises by which we are governed. The Federal Reserve, the government schools, the military-industrial-complex - all are rapidly losing credibility. The other day, Pat Robertson, of all people, admitted that the war on marijuana is wrong. ( Robertson is an influential Christian Conservative - one of the last people you'd expect to come out for marijuana legalization. )

A research paper on science education in America revealed that American children are terrible at math and science, but American adults are better than most - and the difference is that American schools do badly, but adults are finding ways to educate themselves - TV shows, science centers, the internet. One of the reasons is the desire to educate their children; that is, to make up for the deficiencies of government schools.

Change is coming faster than you think. There is a very powerful current running deep under the surface of mainstream media and political mouthpieces. If the change is big enough to already be producing observable results on the level of adult knowledge, it is far too big to be stopped.

I recall when my libertarian ideas were entirely unfamiliar to most of my audience; today, just about everybody is unhappy with the Federal Reserve, the educational system, the high imprisonment rates, and so forth. "We are all radishes" nowadays.

jamesd on December 24, 2010, 04:53:12 pm
Let us look at the timing: They retreat in Afghanistan, and abruptly everything falls apart.

Sure. So was Afghanistan the cause or one of the effects?

Perestroika and Chernobyl and the rest had no significant effect, because, when push came to shove, as in 1988 February, the Soviets were willing to murder anyone who gave them trouble.

To be able to murder anybody who gave them trouble, the Soviets needed a loyal core who would murder less-loyal subjects for not murdering on command. It required that the core have high morale and that the governed not object too much.

No, they required that the governed be afraid.  Before defeat in Afghanistan, the governed were afraid, as demonstrated by the fact that in 1988 February, Armenia did not come to the aid of the rebel province of Karabakh.  After defeat in Afghanistan, unafraid, as demonstrated by the fact that Armenia promptly came to the aid of the rebel province of Karabakh.

The Soviet occupation of Karabakh in 1988 March succeeded.

In 1988 April, Soviets announced withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In 1988 August Soviet troops begin withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In 1988 November, Armenian forces furtively start operations in the rebel province of Karabakh and in territories between Karabakh and Amenia

In 1989 January, Soviet troops receive substantial reinforcements, successfully regain control of Karabakh - you will notice that each "success" involves ever larger numbers of fresh troops.

and, to cut the long story short, by 1990 August, the Armenian regular army is piling in wearing their own uniforms and flying the Armenian flag, and the Soviet army is nowhere to be seen.

Defeat in Afghanistan had big effect, because, when push came to shove, as in 1989 March, the Soviets now found it difficult to murder everyone who gave them trouble.

That's a possible interpretation. Another is that a lot of russians had once had ideals. Some of them believed in the Communist paradise to come. Lots of them believed it was worthwhile to protect Russia from the Nazis. And some of them believed the USA was a terrible threat.  But they were starting to see through it all.

Cynicism and doubt were slowly increasing.  But between 1988 and 1990 something dramatic changed, and that dramatic change was not a decline in the willingness or ability to murder opponents, but rather a that they were now facing a lot more opponents, opponents that were now using tanks rather than protest songs.  There was no a big battle, because when their opponents switched to tanks, the Soviets switched away form tanks, and that they switched away from tanks, avoiding a bloody civil war, no doubt reflects the cynicism and disbelief you describe.  But first, their opponents had to get serious about killing people, and they got serious about killing people after the fall of Afghanistan.

J Thomas on December 24, 2010, 06:42:18 pm
Let us look at the timing: They retreat in Afghanistan, and abruptly everything falls apart.

Sure. So was Afghanistan the cause or one of the effects?

Perestroika and Chernobyl and the rest had no significant effect, because, when push came to shove, as in 1988 February, the Soviets were willing to murder anyone who gave them trouble.

To be able to murder anybody who gave them trouble, the Soviets needed a loyal core who would murder less-loyal subjects for not murdering on command. It required that the core have high morale and that the governed not object too much.

No, they required that the governed be afraid.

I don't want to argue this subtle point too much because we simply disagree and there is no evidence either of us could point to which might convince the other.

But my opinion is that most Russian citizens were no more afraid of the KGB than Americans are afraid of the IRS. And most citizens of Poland, Czechoslovakia etc were no more afraid of the Soviet army than most Panamanians or Salvadorans are afraid of the US army.

Most of the people were ready to put up with their government, and they didn't think too much about how they had to put up with it whether they wanted to or not. Just as few Americans even think about ways to reform the system. When it became obvious that the American system needed reforms, they settled for voting for Obama.

Quote
The Soviet occupation of Karabakh in 1988 March succeeded.

In 1988 April, Soviets announced withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In 1988 August Soviet troops begin withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In 1988 November, Armenian forces furtively start operations in the rebel province of Karabakh and in territories between Karabakh and Amenia

In 1989 January, Soviet troops receive substantial reinforcements, successfully regain control of Karabakh - you will notice that each "success" involves ever larger numbers of fresh troops.

Kind of like the USA keeps putting more troops into Afghanistan? But we don't have so many "successes" to point to.

So anyway, was the withdrawal from Afghanistan the cause or merely the first completely visible effect? I think of it as the latter, but I don't see any way to prove it one way or another. There's no way to repeat the experiment. But imagine -- if the Soviet government had decided to stay in Afghanistan to the bitter end, would that have saved them? What do you think?

jamesd on December 25, 2010, 03:50:56 am
To be able to murder anybody who gave them trouble, the Soviets needed a loyal core who would murder less-loyal subjects for not murdering on command. It required that the core have high morale and that the governed not object too much.

No, they required that the governed be afraid.

I don't want to argue this subtle point too much because we simply disagree and there is no evidence either of us could point to which might convince the other.

But my opinion is that most Russian citizens were no more afraid of the KGB than Americans are afraid of the IRS. And most citizens of Poland, Czechoslovakia etc were no more afraid of the Soviet army than most Panamanians or Salvadorans are afraid of the US army.

That is crazy.  The Soviet Union was a totalitarian terror state.  The Soviet Union had a great big wall with guards with orders to shoot to kill.  The Soviet Union killed millions of its own citizens.  The Soviet Union still had loads of political prisoners in 1989.  Not many political prisoners in the US, though you can lose your job for political incorrectness, particularly if it is a government or quasi government job.

J Thomas on December 25, 2010, 04:35:33 am

But my opinion is that most Russian citizens were no more afraid of the KGB than Americans are afraid of the IRS. And most citizens of Poland, Czechoslovakia etc were no more afraid of the Soviet army than most Panamanians or Salvadorans are afraid of the US army.

That is crazy.  The Soviet Union was a totalitarian terror state.  The Soviet Union had a great big wall with guards with orders to shoot to kill.  The Soviet Union killed millions of its own citizens.  The Soviet Union still had loads of political prisoners in 1989.  Not many political prisoners in the US, though you can lose your job for political incorrectness, particularly if it is a government or quasi government job.

You could maybe mark it up to the human capacity for self-deception. Or maybe the mammalian capacity. Most of the time, cows on farms are not afraid of farmers even when they are being raised for meat.

People were not afraid of the KGB until they thought the KGB had noticed them. Just like Americans are mostly not afraid of the IRS until the possibility gets raised that they might be audited.

Alexander Dolgun, a US citizen who worked at the US embassy in Moscow, wrote about traveling with his Russian girlfriend to her uncle's dacha. He was nervous that they crossed a soviet internal border and neither of them had the internal passport that would make that OK. She said it was a technicality. When they got to the dacha he saw a pair of her uncle's pants that had the special purple stripe and he got afraid then. He could be arrested for espionage and her uncle was a KGB agent, and he marveled at how the fear just popped out of nowhere, like an instinct. As it turned out, her uncle welcomed both of them and there was no trouble. But later when Dolgun was arrested the interrogators already knew about the incident -- apparently it had come out when the uncle was arrested and interrogated.

mellyrn on December 25, 2010, 02:30:16 pm
Quote
If the change is big enough to already be producing observable results on the level of adult knowledge, it is far too big to be stopped.

Thank you, terry.  I think that just made my holidays!

I wonder what form it will take.  In Romania, things were tense but essentially normal, and then boom!  Two weeks of rioting and then Ceaucescu's dead.  Very differently, the USSR took its own flag down.  I'd purely love to know more about how that came about, who they were who made that decision and what they said to each other and to themselves.

In '06, I made a bet with a generally sensible and well-informed young friend that the US as we know it would not exist in 2016 (he bet that it would continue).  We have one US dollar riding on it.  A few weeks ago, he emailed me saying he thinks he may already owe me that dollar:  "This is not the US I was born in," he wrote, and he's only just past 30.

jamesd on December 25, 2010, 04:29:28 pm
Quote
If the change is big enough to already be producing observable results on the level of adult knowledge, it is far too big to be stopped.

Thank you, terry.  I think that just made my holidays!

I wonder what form it will take.  In Romania, things were tense but essentially normal, and then boom!  Two weeks of rioting and then Ceaucescu's dead.  Very differently, the USSR took its own flag down.
Not so differently - it looked to me that they were on the very edge of winding up like Ceaucescu and made a strategic retreat at the absolute last minute.  Gorbachev had lost power, power was lying in the street, and they were wondering who would pick it up.

In '06, I made a bet with a generally sensible and well-informed young friend that the US as we know it would not exist in 2016 (he bet that it would continue).  We have one US dollar riding on it.  A few weeks ago, he emailed me saying he thinks he may already owe me that dollar:  "This is not the US I was born in," he wrote, and he's only just past 30.

Since 1992, (during a visit to Cuba) I have been predicting collapse in 2020-2025 or thereabouts.  Of course, what constitutes collapse is not well defined, and what follows collapse is not necessarily an improvement.  

n 1992 I visited Cuba.  Thereafter, I argued it was a totalitarian state, because when I asked certain questions some people fled, fearing that merely hearing the question would result in them being punished for the thoughts it might elicit, and others answered furtively.

Yesterday, I asked someone very close to me a question apt to have a politically incorrect answer (I cannot identify him further, for he swore me to secrecy)

He looked around furtively.  We were on top of a hill overlooking the Coral Sea in a semi rural area, the other side of the world from his workplace.  He lowered his voice.  He then proceeded to utter a series of politically correct platitudes, with gestures and grimaces reversing their meaning, his grimaces implying the opposite of the ostensible meaning, the same sort of communication coded against possible eavesdroppers and hidden microphones that I encountered in Cuba, where they would swear loyalty to Castro and communism, while making a gesture of their throats being cut.

Like Havel's green grocer, the truth would destroy his career.

This is the behavior that in 1992 I saw in Cuba and thereafter used as evidence that Cuba was a totalitarian state, a state of omnipresent fear.

So if Cuba was totalitarian in 1992, America is totalitarian in 2010.   We have arrived at the end of Hayek's “road to serfdom”.

In America, unlike Soviet Russia, we don't send dissidents to Alaska, and although lots of American psychiatrists are eager to diagnose political deviation as mental illness and treat it with electroshock and lobotomy, government has as yet declined to employ them in this capacity.  But what government does do is ensure that political deviation blights your career.  If a company knowingly employs political deviants, it is apt to be sued by quasi governmental organization for a "hostile work environment", in which lawsuit, no evidence will be presented of anyone saying unkind things to those for which the work environment was supposedly hostile, but evidence will be presented that employees had subversive thoughts – often evidence that they expressed subversive thoughts far from their workplace, as perhaps on a hill overlooking the Coral sea the other side of the world from his workplace - so the company will be punished, for failure to punish subversive thoughts.

Hayek, in “the road to serfdom”, argued that regulatory welfare state must inevitably become totalitarian.  Lo and behold, totalitarianism has arrived.

And what is totalitarianism?  Hayek's totalitarianism seems to be pretty much Havel's totalitarianism, and here is Havel on totalitarianism

As Vaclav Havel tells us:
Quote from: Vaclav Havel
The manager of a fruit-and-vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: “Workers of the world, unite!”

Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world? Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals? Has he really given more than a moment’s thought to how such a unification might occur and what it would mean?

I think I can safely assume that the overwhelming majority of shopkeepers never think about the slogans they put in their windows, nor do they use them to express their real opinions. That poster was delivered to our greengrocer from the enterprise headquarters along with the onions and the carrots. He put them all into the window simply because it has been done that way for years, because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be.

If he were to refuse, there could be trouble. He could be reproached for not having the proper decoration in his window; someone might even accuse him of disloyalty. He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life. It is one of the thousands of details that guarantee him a relatively tranquil life “in harmony with society,” as they say.

Obviously the greengrocer is indifferent to the semantic content of the slogan on exhibit; he does not put the slogan in his window from any personal desire to acquaint the public with the ideal it expresses. This, of course, does not mean that his action has no motive or significance at all, or that the slogan communicates nothing to anyone.

The slogan is really a sign, and as such it contains a subliminal but very definite message. Verbally, it might be expressed this way: “I, the greengrocer XY, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace.”

This message, of course, has an addressee: it is directed above, to the greengrocer’s superior, and at the same time is a shield that protects the greengrocer from potential informers. The slogan’s real meaning, therefore, is rooted firmly in the greengrocer’s existence. It reflects his vital interests. But what are those vital interests?

Let us take note: if the greengrocer had been instructed to display the slogan ‘I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient,' he would not be nearly as indifferent to its semantics, even though the statement would reflect the truth.

The greengrocer would be embarrassed and ashamed to put such an unequivocal statement of his own degradation in the shop window, and quite naturally so, for he is a human being and thus has a sense of his own dignity. To overcome this complication, his expression of loyalty must take the form of a sign which, at least on its textual surface, indicates a level of disinterested conviction. It must allow the greengrocer to say, “What’s wrong with the workers of the world uniting?”

Thus the sign helps the greengrocer to conceal from himself the low foundations of his obedience, at the same time concealing the low foundations of power. It hides them behind the façade of something high. And that something is ideology.

As Bruce Charlton points out:
Quote from: Bruce Charlton
If you go into an institutional environment - a government office, a school or college, a hospital or doctor's surgery, a museum, public transportation - and you observe posters adorning the walls on politically-correct topics such as diversity, fair trade, global warming, approved victim groups, third world aid - remember Havel's essay, and that the correct translation of such posters is as follows:

"I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient"

Such posters are a coded admission of submission to ideology - except in the rare instance where they advertise genuine corruption by ideology.  

The frequency of such posters nowadays, compared with a generation ago, is a quantitative measure of the progress of totalitarian government.




« Last Edit: December 25, 2010, 04:34:08 pm by jamesd »