I recently read "The Scouring of the Shire" chapter from Return of the King. It was disturbing how much the Shire under (ultimately) Saruman's direction sounded like modern America. The country is being run by over-officious jerks, and the American people are putting up with it. Land of the free no more....And then:
We need more harlequins, fewer ticktockmen.A link goes to the Harlan Ellison story "Repent Harlequin!' Said The Ticktockman."
Professor, I believe you need some more tags. One for over-officiousness, and perhaps tags for harlequins (see Swartz, for example) and for ticktockmen (anything with Bloomberg).Ellison begins his story with a quote from Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience":
The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailors, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purposes as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the Devil, without intending it, as God. A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men, serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it.Ellison introduces that quote with: "There are always those who ask, what is it all about? For those who need to ask, for those who need points sharply made, who need to know 'where it's at,' this...."
That story was published in 1965, when the phrase "where it's at" was quite the thing.
ADDED: I just bought "Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the 20th Century," which contains "Repent Harlequin!"