• Someone tell me what to do

    (Photo by Grant Durr)

    The world already had ‘strong leader syndrome’. And now this… Behind all the shock at the sudden curtailment of freedoms (in countries where they existed), how many of us are secretly relaxing into it?

    A few years back, I read Witold Szablowski’s book Dancing Bears: True Stories of People Nostalgic for Life Under Tyranny. Its basic premise was this: even after rescue and recuperation, dancing bears will still dance whenever they see a human. It’s hardwired into them. 

    Szablowski argued that the same goes for humans. Even after the chains of Communism were removed across Eastern Europe, give people a strong leader who tells them what to do, and they’ll still dance for them. 

    Who’s dancing now?

    There was much disapproval of the rise of leaders like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Then democracies like Hungary and Brazil voted in Viktor Orban and Jair Bolsonaro. Westerners shook their heads some more. 

    Then mature democracies like the US and Britain began voting for a bigger, culturally narrower, more intervening state. In Britain, they even voted voluntarily to curtail their own freedom of movement. 

    “The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”

    George Orwell

    I want to be free

    But with freedom comes pressure. If what comes next is up to you, then on your head be it. Suddenly we are confronted with the tyranny of (almost) infinite choice. 

    As soon as I limit those choices, things get easier. I can be anything! No, I can be male. I can be anything! No, I can be heterosexual. I can be anything! No, I can be British…

    I can do anything! No, I can’t leave my country. I can do anything! No, I can’t leave my house. I can do anything! What are we current allowed to do? 

    From one perspective, it looks like a prison, from another, it looks like the happiness of someone else telling you what to do, so you don’t have to think about it anymore. 

    Talking of freedom, Is It Your Right To Migrate?

  • Why does America love a jail?

    Prison bars casting a shadow
    Send that boy to jail! (Photo by Uriel Soberanes)

    ‘Lock her up, lock her up, lock her up!’

    Remember the Trump rally chant? Well, Hillary Clinton isn’t the only American they want in jail. Incarceration is a top US pastime. Why?


    The figures are genuinely amazing. 2.3 million people – the equivalent of the entire population of Botswana. America’s prison population is larger than any other country in real terms and per capita.

    That’s ANY OTHER COUNTRY. Not just where you live, which is probably the UK (4.5 times lower) or maybe Europe or Australia, if my blog is really starting to fly. No, anywhere…

    Let’s face it, there are some pretty populous and pretty repressive places out there. But none of them – not China, not Russia, not El Salvador, not Turkmenistan – can touch The Land of the Free. How the hell?


    The US government is not to blame. No, the federal government locks up people at a lower rate than France or Italy. It’s the states and local districts.

    Individual American states love jailing people. It hasn’t reduced violence or crime rates in America. It costs Americans a lot of money. I’ll leave the ‘Why is America so Violent?’ debate for another day, just soak up this stat:

    If US states were independent countries, they would take the Top 20 spots in the league table of prison populations per capita globally.

    A full deck. Slam dunk. You can’t get near that.


    For more, read this article in The Economist