A Sage in Time
As we begin further (ill advised, in my view) intrusion of handguns into public life in Texas, I came across this by Edward Abbey in his book Desert Solitaire, A Season in the Wilderness (1968).
Suppose we were planning to impose a dictatorial regime upon the American people – the following preparations would be essential:
- Concentrate the populace in megalopolitan masses so they can be kept under close surveillance, and where, in case of trouble, they can be bombed, burned, gassed, or machine-gunned with a minimum of expense and waste.
- Mechanize agriculture to the highest degree of refinement, thus forcing most of the scattered farm and ranching population into the cities. Such a policy is desirable because farmers, woodsmen, cowboys, Indians, fishermen and other relatively self-sufficient types are difficult to manage unless displaced from their natural environment.
- Restrict the possession of firearms to the police and the regular military organizations.
- Encourage or at least fail to discourage population growth. Large masses of people are more easily manipulated and dominated than scattered individuals.
- Continue military conscription. Nothing excels military training for creating in young men an attitude of prompt, cheerful obedience to officially constituted authority.
- Divert attention from deep conflicts within the society by engaging in foreign wars; make support of those wars a test of loyalty, thereby exposing and isolating potential opposition to the new order.
- Overlay the nation with a finely reticulated network of communications, airlines and interstate autobahns.
- Raze the wilderness. Dam the rivers, flood the canyons, drain the swamps, log the forests, strip-mine the hills, bulldoze the mountains, irrigate the deserts and improve the national parks into national parking lots.
Idle speculation, feeble and hopeless protest. It was all foreseen nearly a half a century ago by the most cold-eyed and clear-eyed of our national poets, on California’s shore, at the end of the open rode. Shine, perishing republic.
Visionary or curmudgeon? Read Abbey at your peril.