If you know how to capture wild pigs, you know how to subdue a country.
"Farouz Farzami," a pseudonymous journalist who is forbidden to publish in Iran, writing in Tehran:
I live in a country where alcohol is officially banned, but where the art of homemade spirits has reached new heights. Sharing my astonishment about the cocktail book with some friends with better connections to the Islamist regime, they explained the government has a silent pact with the educated and affluent in Iran's big cities, who render politics unto Caesar, provided that Caesar keeps his nose out of their liquor cabinets.Which reminds me of the story of how to capture a herd of wild pigs.
In other words, the well-to-do Iranian drinks and reads and watches what he wishes. He does as he pleases behind the walls of his private mansions and villas. In return for his private comforts, the affluent Iranian is happy to sacrifice freedom of speech, most of his civil rights, and his freedom of association. The upper-middle class has been bought off by this pact, which makes a virtue of hypocrisy.
Once you find out where in the countryside the pigs roam free, you locate a flat spot big enough to hold the herd. Then you pour a couple of buckets of feed corn on the ground. Bye and bye the pigs find the corn and eat it. The next day you repeat. And the next and the next, until you have trained the wild pigs to go to that spot every day and eat free corn.
Then you build a single fence next to the corn spot. The pigs notice the fence but ignore it - after all, their free corn is still there. Once they have gotten used to the fence, you build another to the side, connecting both fences at the end at right angles. Pour more corn. The pigs will learn to ignore that fence too. The free corn is still coming, so what's another fence?
Then the fence on the opposite side goes up. More free corn. Then the final fence, but you leave the gate open. This will confuse the pigs, but only momentarily. They'll smell the free corn and that will be all that matters. So they'll go in to eat the corn. You shut the gate.
Now the pigs realize they are trapped and they try to break through the fence. But it's too strong. Besides, to calm them down you just pour more buckets of corn into their new prison. Shortly the pigs lose interest in the fence and settle down happily to eat free corn.
Back to Tehran. From time to time the authorities raid neighborhoods and confiscate satellite dishes. A dish owner simply pays a fine; after all, "erecting another satellite dish is as easy as refueling his car."
"I can afford yearly two or three months' vacation in Dubai, Europe or even America," my friend said. "Why should I bother to organize a protest against seizing our satellite dishes? We may be forfeiting our freedoms, as you say, but when the price of avoiding the authorities is so affordable, why would we risk everything to take on the regime? We have to wait until society itself is disillusioned, and the masses open their eyes."Farzami concludes, "How can you have a revolution when everyone is watching TV?"
But this post is not really about Iran, is it? Nope, it's about the United States of America.
Alexis de Tocqueville foresaw the end of the American ideal in Democracy in America, published in two volumes in 1835 and 1840. As Michael Ledeen recently essayed, de Tocqueville knew that "we will not be bludgeoned into submission; we will be seduced."
He foresees the collapse of American democracy as the end result of two parallel developments that ultimately render us meekly subservient to an enlarged bureaucratic power: the corruption of our character, and the emergence of a vast welfare state that manages all the details of our lives. His words are precisely the ones that best describe out current crisis:A thought from Jeff at Occupied Nashville:
That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?
My wife was telling me that some people she works with still believe that they will receive a check from the government at some point after the stimulus bill is signed into law. We were trying to figure out why they thought this. All we could come up with was that that they were relating the word “stimulus” with the stimulus check that they got last year. That and the fact that many tv news stories about the stimulus bill showed clips of government checks rolling off of the presses. Truly these folks aren't paying attention. For some, the idea of freedom can't compete with a check from the government.Remember Peggy Joseph?