Terry Pratchett Knows Everything*

“Some had been ordinary people who’d had enough.  Some were young people with no money who objected to the fact the the world was run by old people who were rich.  Some were in it to get girls.  And some were idiots… who were on the side of what they called ‘the people’.  Vimes had spent his life on the streets, and had met decent men and fools and people who’d steal a penny from a blind beggar and people who performed silent miracles or desperate crimes every day behind the grubby windows of little houses, but he’d never met The People.

People on the side of The People always ended up disappointed, in any case.  They found that The People tended not to be grateful or appreciative or forward thinking or obedient.  The People tended to be small-minded and conservative and not very clever and even distrustful of cleverness.  And so the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem:  it wasn’t that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people.

As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn’t measure up.  What would run through the streets soon enough wouldn’t be a revolution or a riot.  It’d be people who were frightened and panicking.  It was what happened when the machinery of city life faltered, the wheels stopped turning, and all the little rules broke down.”

That’s from Night Watch, which Pratchett wrote in 2002 (so he’s both a genius and a psychic).  Worth re-reading, especially right now.

*Part eleventyteen

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