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Politics

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

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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.

In our time, to be one who  “stands athwart history, yelling Stop” is to be doomed to perpetual disappointment. In the Unprecedented Era, change is a constant. The only way to stop one track of change is by forming another, so if one manages to stop Change X, it will cause Change Y. Either way, change wins.

The only way conservatism has managed to achieve any victories in the Era is by allying itself with capitalism. But capitalism is a fearsome champion of change, a universal solvent. No past can maintain itself where capitalism prowls. A fire might as well try to win by allying itself with the ocean. Thus the conservative becomes a tool of his own disappointment.

If we now see movement in the West toward actual constructive action in Syria, it will be a glass-case illustration of something I have long believed:

Moderates are the only people who actually get anything done in this world. But moderates require radicals because to get traction moderates need to be able to point to radicals and say “If you don’t deal with us, you’ll end up dealing with them. And those guys are crazy.”