This was a dream I had back in 2016. What with the continued protests against the regime, it seems appropriate to post it now.


I dreamed I took political action. I drank a glass of water in the Tehran library.

Why this was political, I don’t know. For some reason, “drinking a glass of water at the library” had acquired overtones of opposition to the Iranian regime, and become a gesture of protest. So there I was, wandering around the stacks, a plastic tumbler full of water in my hand, waiting for someone to notice and wondering what would happen when they did.

Sure enough, a virtue monitor quickly pegged me. “Is that yours, too?” she asked, pointing to a crystal punch bowl of water, complete with ladle, that someone had left on one of the shelves. “No, no, this is all I have.” “Well, come with me.” She didn’t sound brutal. A little harried, actually. I guess there were a lot of us making this action.

As we went down to the processing room, I started to think what was going to happen to me, and how this was going to affect my wife and kids, and having second thoughts in general. Was this really the most effective means of protest?

We came to a window with a desk behind it, and another virtue monitor carefully recorded my misdeed, in pencil in an ordinary notebook. So far nothing bad had happened.

Then I woke up.

The Soviet Union based Russian society on egalitarianism, and the result was a nation ruled by kleptocrats.

The Third Reich based German society on nationalism, and the result was a nation terrified of its own flag.

The Islamic Republic based Iranian society on God. When it falls, the result will be a nation of more die-hard, full-throttle, make-Sam-Harris-look-like-the-Pope atheists per square meter than anywhere else in the world.

If you attempt to base your society on a principle, the result will be a bloodstained mockery of that principle, and a vast discrediting of the purpose of your showcase.