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20.11.10

Got My Butt In A Singapore Sling

If there is such a thing as a benign fascist st
Just arrived home from a two-day sojourn to Singapore, and the whole time I was thinking about my mixed feelings, both about Singapore, and about fascism in general. Granted, there are some advantages to vorporate-owned states. Everything is about making money, so if you want to make money, they are a great place to go...for a while. Granted, Singapore has existed for quite a while now, teetering on the brink of total, in-your-face fascism.

For instance, the cops aren't allowed to carry guns, BUT if you so much as drop a cigarette butt on the street, you are slapped with a S$1,000 fine and held until it is paid. There's a famous T-shirt that everyone buys as a souvenir (or maybe a reminder) that has twelve common infractions and the fine for each underneath. If you piss in a public toilet, but don't flush, S$1,000. If you don't clean up after your dog, S$1,000. The list goes on.

That probably seems mild by American, or at least Texan standards, where the police simply shoot you or TASER you into submission. Ask Joe Campos Torres. The average American would actually feel relieved to be in Singapore.

The streets are painfully clean. People don't step out of line. The public transport runs sharply on time. Everything is highly efficient and so clean, you start to feel like an infection after a while.

People are stacked in concrete hives. There are almost no private homes in the whole city/country. Everything and everyone operates with cock-work efficiency to the point where you wish you could make a mess just to feel organic again.

The minute you step off the plance, you are whisked from the gates to the duty-free shopping. It takes a minute, but you suddenly realize that there is no area for domestic flights. Every arrival and departure is international. Everything else is train, bus, taxi or private car. And there are precious few traffic jams, because most people use the cheap and highly efficient pulic transportation.

As you board the train for the city, you notice no trash, no grafitti, and everyone queues up nicely to the side so that arriving passengers can exit first. The people are all blank, self-absorbed in text messages, MP3 players and other electronic time-wasters. No one looks up or notices the rest of the world, although unlike New York, if you ask a question, people respond with police discourse rather than fear and loathing. The average obcessive-compulsive personality would feel right at home there, though normal people would feel naked without white gloves.

Now, the reason I call it a benign fascist state is because it is not intrusive into your personal space. It knows where to stop. Compare my experience with yours this holiday season:

I boarded in ZJakarta, where I beeped at the detector (if was actually plugged in that day). While being wanded, I engaged in polite banter with the staff and was even offered the phone number of the very nice young lady running the X-ray machine. When leaving Singapore, I passed through a metal detector at the gate and the only question was did I have a laptop. Since I didn't, I was passed through completely unmolested. The funny part was that zI was carrying a large bottle of bath/shampoo, which no one cared about, AND in my pocket I was carring a small knife.

You see, when I left the states, I went and got a few items at the local sporting goods store. At the check-out, there was a display of impulse items, one of which was a Swiss Army card. About the size of a credit card, it has a knife, pen, pin, phillips and flathead screwdriver, a magnifying glass, and a ruler. Probably the handiest thing I brought with me, save for the Sport Berkey water fliter. I carry that tool with me everywhere. Yesterday, i forgot to leave it at home and I still have it, after going through security in two countries.

Now, tell me about your experience being groped, molested, yelled at, humiliated, threatened, and fined for non-compliance back there in the Land of the Free.

Yeah, if it weren't for the flouride forcefully dumped in your dinking water and the 'anti-depressants' your doc gives you to cure the cognitive disonance, you'd probably be pissed.

But, as it is, you just tolerate it because, gosh, somewhere, sometime, a terrorist named Okel Sam may strike.

All in the name of safety, you know.

I think what really disturbs me about the whole 'safety' industry is that you let your guard down. You put your personal well-being off as someone else's responsibility. You become a mindless drone passing through life as painlessly as possible, hoping and paying that nothing will violate your personal space. The irony is that you give up your personal space to a third-party vendor so you can go about your business making money to pay for the vendor.

That's why I love Indonesia. You can't let your guard down. You, and only you, are responsible for your safety and well-being. You can't trust anyone without them truely earning it. I prefer that. I prefer having full and complete responsibility for my and mine. I feel alive here.

Most Americans I meet hate it here. They can't handle the daily contest for food and shelter. They can't stand the 'kill or ge killed' mentality. How far we have come from the people who built America. My great aunt travelled with her family, at the tender age of two, in a covered wagon from Kanasa to Texas. There were no state police, no rest stops or Stuckey's, no interstates, and nothing to eat or drink but what you carried and what you found.

That is life. That is living. When you give up the idea that someone else can protect you, you find a deep sense of power and self-satisfaction. You lay down at night knowing that whatever is in your belly and whatever safety you have, you EARNED it with your vare hands.

Talk about a sense of accomplishment.

There are precious few frontiers left on Earth for spirits like me. The 'Final Frontier' is, alas, still the realm of governments and militaries. If someone offered me a one-way trip to Mars, I'd take it for two reasons: one, I'd see and experience things precious few have before, and two, I'd live or die on my efforts, not some vague police-state that sees me more a threat than any outside force.

Singapore is cool, sure. For a day or two, it's a nice respite from the gritty contest of daily durvival in indonesia. But, if offered a choice, I'd take Indonesia any day.

Most Westerners can't hack it here. Good. I like being a big fish in a small pond. But, it makes me sad that my fellow countrymen have lost the spirit that created the country they live in.

Nothing makes a man feel more like a man than to have a good wife and children who depend on him, and to fight every day for them, so that the food on the table is a precious gift from Universe, not some bullshit nanny state.

Patrick Henry famously said, "I care not what others may say, but for me, give me liberty or give me death."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

When I comes right down to it, a real man feels like a man when he can difend and build despite all odds. No matter what the hardship, it feels so good to sit on a pleasant evening on your porch and watch the sun set, knowing that you have a roof and food in your belly because you really earned it.

And nothing makes a woman feel more like a woman than having a man who can fight the good fight.

So, you can have America. You can have Singapore. You can have all the fascist control nanny states. I like the feeling of being a real man. And I really like having a real woman who appreciates it.

Now fetch me my dinner, woman!

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