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Rethinking Everything Lesson #6

No doubt there will be free societies in the future as there have been in the past,” writes the philosopher John Gray in Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals. But they will be rare, and variations on anarchy and tyranny will be the norm. The needs that are met by tyrants are as real as those to which freedom answers; sometimes they are more urgent. Tyrants promise security—and release from the tedium of everyday existence. To be sure, this is only a confused fantasy. The drab truth of tyranny is a life spent in waiting. But the perennial romance of tyranny comes from its promising its subjects a life more interesting than any they can contrive for themselves. Whatever they become, tyrannies begin as festivals of the depressed. Dictators may come to power on the back of chaos, but their unspoken promise is that they will relieve the boredom of their subjects.

—Chris Hedges in Truthdig

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