It’s very hard to live with cognitive dissonance: only a real cynic can believe one thing and say another. So whether it’s a totalitarian system or a free system, the people who are most useful to the system of power are the ones who actually believe what they say, and they’re the ones who will typically make it through.
So take Tom Wicker at the New York Times: when you talk to him about this kind of stuff, he gets very irate and says, “Nobody tells me what to write.” And that’s perfectly true, nobody tells him what to write—but if he didn’t already know what to write, he wouldn’t be a columnist for the New York Times. Like, nobody tells Alex Cockburn what to write, and therefore he’s not a columnist for the New York Times, because he thinks different things. You think the wrong thoughts, you’re not in the system.
MAN: But do you think things are ever going to change? Aren’t we always going to have people entrenched in power, left or right, who want to preserve that power, and will use all of the means at their disposal to do it—and all we can really do is just sit back and complain about it? That’s the attitude of people who thought that there was nothing you could do about feudalism and slavery. And there was something you could do about feudalism and slavery, but not by sitting and complaining about it. John Brown didn’t sit and complain about it.