Ghosts of Liberties Past

William Gibson. Spook Country. Chapter 29 "Insulation". The character Milgrim is speaking.

"Are you so scared of terrorists that you'll dismantle the structures that made America what it is?


"If you are, you let the terrorist win. Because that is exactly, specifically, his goal, his only goal: to frighten you into surrendering the rule of law. That's why they call him 'terrorist.' He uses terrifying threats to induce you to degrade your own society."


"It's based on the same glitch in human psychology that allows people to believe they can win the lottery. Statistically, almost nobody ever wins the lottery. Statistically, terrorist attacks almost never happen."
I like how the theme of gambling is woven into the theme of the degradation of the rule of law. It makes it as concrete as holding onto a lottery ticket. And as equally deflating.

And so for day 697