From Night Watch, perhaps my favorite book by Terry Pratchett :
There was Rosie Palm, and Sandra, and Reg Shoe, and half a dozen others sitting around another table, in the middle of the street. As Vimes stepped out into the evening, a plaintive voice said: “You cannot fight for ‘reasonably priced love.’”
“You can if you want me and the rest of the girls on board,” said Rosie. “‘Free’ is not a word we wish to see used in these circumstances.”
“Oh, very well,” said Reg, making a note on a clipboard. “We’re all happy with Truth, Justice and Freedom, are we?”
“And better sewers.” This was the voice of Mrs. Rutherford. “And something done about the rats.”
“I think we should be thinking about higher things, Comrade Mrs. Rutherford,” said Reg.
“I’m not a comrade, Mr. Shoe, and nor is Mr. Rutherford,” said Mrs. Rutherford. “We’ve always kept ourselves to ourselves, haven’t we, Sidney?”
“I’ve got a question,” said someone in the crowd of onlookers. “Harry Supple’s my name. Got a shoe shop in New Cobblers…”
Reg seized on this as an opportunity to avoid talking to Mrs. Rutherford. Revolutionaries should not have to meet someone like Mrs. Rutherford on their first day.
“Yes, Comrade Supple?” he said.
“Nor are we boyjoys,” said Mrs. Rutherford, not willing to let things go.
“Er, bourgeoisie,” said Reg. “Our manifesto refers to bourgeoisie. That’s like bore, er, shwah, er, zee.”
“Bourgeoisie, bourgeoisie,” said Mrs. Rutherford, turning the world over on her tongue. “That doesn’t sound too bad. What, er, sort of thing do they do?”
“Anyway, it says here in article seven of this here list – ” Mr. Supple ploughed on.
” – People’s Declaration of the Glorious 24th of May,” said Reg.
“Yeah, yeah, right…well, it says we’ll seize hold of the means of production, sort of thing, so what I want to know is, how does that work out regarding my shoe shop? I mean, I’m in it anyway, right? It’s not like there’s room for me and my lad Garbut and maybe one customer.”
In the dark, Vimes smiled. But Reg could never see stuff coming.
“Ah, but after the revolution, all property will be held in common by The People…er…that is, it’ll belong to you but also to everyone else, you see?”
Comrade Supple looked puzzled.
“But I’ll be the one making the shoes?”“Of course. But everything will belong to The People.”
“So…who’s going to pay for the shoes?” said Mr. Supple.
“Everyone will pay a reasonable price for their shoes, and you won’t be guilty of living off the sweat of the common worker,” said Reg shortly. “Now, if we – ”
“You mean the cows?” said Supple.
“Well, there’s only the cows, and the lads at the tannery, and frankly, all they do is stand in a field all day, well, not the tannery boys, obviously, but – ”
“Look,” said Reg. “Everything will belong to The People and everyone will be better off. Do you understand?”
The shoemaker’s frown grew deeper. He wasn’t certain if he was part of The People. “I thought we just don’t want soldiers down our street, and mobs, and all that lot,” he said.
Reg had a hunted look. He made a dive for safety. “Well, at least we can agree on Truth, Freedom and Justice, yes?”
There was a chorus of nods. Everyone wanted those. They didn’t cost anything.
Heh. I read that and could not help but think of how beautifully this fiction reflected the Obama/Joe the Plumber moment.
Truth, Freedom and Justice.: We’ve got a press refusing to tell us the truth about Obama, while simultaneously refusing to look at the fact that perhaps as much as two-thirds of Obama’s half-a-billion dollar campaign finance chest was ill-gotten and deeply illegal. Meanwhile, the world yawns as Obama’s ACORN associations become plain, while states show more registered voters than eligible adults, and even while some Obama supporters in government positions abuse the power of their offices in order to defame and destroy a citizen who simply asked a question of The Anointed One, and got an honest answer from him. And then there are the “Harvard Research Model” head games.
Some Truth. Some Justice. Some Freedom.
Those things cost quite a lot, but if you read Night Watch to its conclusion, you know that the author, Terry Pratchett knows that. And eventually, so does Reg Shoe.
It’s a good book; funny, thought-provoking and imaginative. Night Watch was a birthday gift from my Elder Son, and I highly recommend it. A particularly timely read, too.
Lost post from 2008, found via the Wayback Machine