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If the people are barely aware that the government exists,
they are happy.
When the government is felt to be oppressive,
they are broken.
Good fortune, alas! builds itself upon misery.
Good fortune, alas! is the mask of misery.
What will come of this? We cannot foresee the end.
Order is upset and turns to disorder, good becomes evil.
The people are confused.
Is it not so, day in, day out, from the beginning?
The wise man is therefore angular, though he does not injure others;
he has sharp corners, though he does not harm;
he is upright but not gruff.
He is clearminded, but he does not try to be brilliant.
–Laozi (??), Daodejing (???) (4th century BCE)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
Estimated chance, worldwide, that a father is unknowingly raising another man’s child:
A Spanish design student created a speech-recognition pillow into which the restive confide their worries, which are then printed out in the morning.
The mayor of Sacramento filed for a restraining order against the City of Sacramento.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”