Sunday, March 28, 2010

America’s Potemkin village
The commercial — entitled “A March to the Mailbox” — portrays an ordinary Joe getting off his couch (in a bathrobe) and marching out of his house — picket-fenced — where suddenly the streets fill with neighbors and friends, the names of whom he knows entirely. He states that by filling out the Census form, he’s helping Pete’s school and roads for his neighbors’ car pool and Risa’s health care and so that — I quote — “we can get our fair share of Federal Funding.” As I watched it (in growing horror), I saw it as the perverse fulfillment of Tocqueville’s analysis — that the very community spirit being portrayed in that commercial would itself obviate the need for that sort of ad. The ad portrayed a vibrant community of people who know each other and genuinely wish each other’s good, but in fact the need for the commercial at all was born of the widespread absence of any such reality. Rather, the reality is that each person is to fill out this form in the privacy of his own home in order to be relieved of the obligation to do anything further to help fellow citizens who are increasingly unknown to him. Having won the Cold War, our government is now producing and airing commercials that portray what can’t be described in any other way other than our very own Potemkin village — community for show in a nation of strangers, bound only by our common subjection to the State.
From Front Porch Republic via Jeff Culbreath.

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