"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question."
John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (1863)
I suspect that most Americans take for granted the freedoms and Constitutional protections a few of us are always on about. Perhaps that explains, at least in some people, why clanging alarms about an Administration positively run amok are met with yawns and blank stares.
But it is now much worse than that. I think a growing segment of our population has moved to a much more dangerous stage in the descent into totalitarianism. Rather than assuming that freedoms are safe, they have reached the stage at which the very value of those freedoms is no longer, to coin a phrase, self-evident.
Think it can't happen?
Many Americans assume that China’s internet users are both aware of and unhappy about their government’s oversight and control of the internet. But in a new survey, most Chinese say they approve of internet control and management, especially when it comes from their government.Ten years ago, I would have argued that a story like this was completely inapplicable to the American experiment -- that all men were Socrates, as it were. If you still believe that now, I have a used (though not recently) Constitution to sell you.
According to findings from the fourth and most recent of a series of surveys about internet use in China from 2000 to 2007, over 80% of respondents say they think the internet should be managed or controlled, and in 2007, almost 85% say they think the government should be responsible for doing it.
I have ranted before about the dangers that flow from what could be thought of as the "pig happy" industry. I see it all as part and parcel of our pursuit of the model now prevalent in China, in which ideas are pre-screened for our own protection.
By the time we get there, and it won't be long now, the pigs may well realize that their happiness is as passe' as Socrates but it will be too late to go back.