The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Controlling The Masses

I know what you are thinking... but this is not about the diet I mentioned yesterday. It's about cults of personality and dictatorships.

Most Americans have never lived under a dictatorship and haven't even visited a nation under such control. That may be behind the fascination with North Korea. It's so strange, so alien to our thinking that we cannot imagine life like that. And, if we cannot imagine it, then it must not really exist, right?

Celebrities travel to dictatorships and declare them benign, even wonderful places, and praise whatever leader is behind it. But, just as in the U.S., these celebrities live in a world rarely even glimpsed by ordinary folks and are kept shielded from the realities of life. We used to laugh at Thurston Howell III and his wife "Lovey" and their detachment from the reality of their predicament. They tried to live as they always had; above the riff-raff, insulated and in comfort. But they were no different from these dictator-fawning celebs I mentioned. Just caricatures of them. I see similar behavior in the Dennis Rodmans and Sean Penns of today. They go to Cuba or Venezuela or North Korea, stay at a posh hotel (or even the palace of the dictator) where they are treated in the manner they wish they could experience in the States and believe they understand the country and its leaders.

I have been to a couple of countries that were under iron rule at the time. I was not the guest of the leader(s), just another sailor in Uncle's Navy. But there were things I noticed through not rose-colored glasses because I was just another schlub allowed to wander about on my own. The cops with Tommy guns strolling the streets of Olongapo in the Philippines, the sand bags covering the entrances and fronts of political candidates' campaign offices, the reticence of the average person to speak of his government, the dirt floored jail cells stuffed full of people.

In Taiwan, a bar girl and I went to a movie where we were first treated to a film (about 15 minutes worth) of military strength and patriotism before the French movie with dubbed in English and two forms of Chinese subtitles played. Then there was that incident where a sailor took a picture of some big shots in a limo and had his camera smashed by a Taiwanese soldier in Taipei.

And I wondered... How would I behave in such a place? The answer was simple and obvious; I would blend in. I would keep up the appearance, I would do as millions of black people did in the early part of the 20th century in the U.S.; I would smile and pretend I was happy with the way things were (just as I did in the Navy; a dictatorship of its own) and only reveal my true feelings when and where I knew it was safe to do so.

The masses control themselves. It's a matter of survival and acceptance.

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