27 April, 2009

What must daily life under totalitarian rule have been like?

Ever wonder what it must have been like to live in Fascist Italy, Maoist China, Falangist Spain, or even Oceania? I've read some histories, memoirs, seen films of the period, and I've got some notion.

For instance, the state would constantly be telling you what was best for you, where your interest lay, what you should support. There would always be the nagging notion in the back of your mind that something about the message was being left out, that there was an hidden agenda, that some other interest were being served.

The effort to control the thoughts of the people would have to be unceasing. Every medium would be used: radio, television, newspapers. Huge rallies would be held. The issue would never be discussed, only boosted. Film stars would stand next to leaders endorsing this benevolent program. Sports stars would make visits to schools to tell your children to support the measure. Businessmen would harangue you about how this or that measure was absolutely necessary for continued prosperity. Straw-man arguments would be set up and demolished in sham debates. Slogans would be repeated until they numbed the ears.

Posters would appear overnight in a coördinated campaign. A new symbol would suddenly be everywhere. On each street, on ever block, on each lamp-post.

There would simply be no getting away from it.


Silex said...

Why do you hate Chicago? That's double plus no good. Seriously though, aside from "gentrification" I haven't heard anything negative about it, do you have any other negatives?

The Dutchman said...

In late August 1978 I went away to college in Virginia. I didn't come back until Christmas. The first thing I did was take the Blue Line downtown from O'Hare. Suitcases in hand, I walked to the lower level of the Michigan Avenue bridge, where I stopped in the middle, and looked West down the River. I could see the bascule bridges over Dearborn, Clark, LaSalle, I could see the Sun Times Building, the Lincoln Tower, and the Wrigley Building. A light rain of sleet was coming down, but I stood there for some time, just looking.

Then, out of the night, a bum came up to me and asked, “What you lookin’ at?”

“I been away. I’m just looking at my city.”

“Well —“ He shrugged and commented, “You can go away, and you can come back, and they change it while you are gone, but it’s still old Chi’ Town.” Then he shuffled off into the night.