May 24, 1990


"Comes the revolution, we'll all be eating strawberries and sweet cream."

"But I don't like strawberries and sweet cream."

"Comes the revolution, YOU'LL LIKE strawberries and sweet cream!!"

Depression joke.

I've been so busy with the fanatics on the right, that I've neglected the left wing lunatic fringe. I guess that's because, in contrast to the monied right, they have no real power and don't constitute a threat to us middle folk. If I lived in a communist country, I'd probably be on the left winger's backs and maybe in jail. I wonder if they have small newspapers in Siberia.

As you might have guessed by now, I consider fanatics to be a plague; a carbuncle on the tail of progress. I feel this way about all kinds of fanatics, including baseball fanatics at World Series time and football fanatics at Super Bowl time. The word "fan" is a contraction of the word "fanatic".

I can put up with the sports fans cluttering up my TV set. It only lasts for a couple of weeks and then it's over. The loosers get exactly what they deserve and the winners will probably be hung over the next day.

I suppose that a fanatic poses no particular problem as long as he doesn't have any real power. Unfortunately, there have been times in history when fanatics have controlled whole nations.

Political fanatics take over when the middle force fails. The Russian revolution would never have succeeded but for the dismal failure of both the Czarist regime and world capitalism, which was busily engaged in a war to end wars. The Russian middle-of-the-roaders were just too late with too little. It has taken almost two generations of relative peace for the moderates to re-establish themselves in Russia. Most of the radicals had to die first.

Radicals of the right and left truly believe that if their side was in control, things would be better. Yes, everything would be better for them; but for everyone else --the other wing and those in the middle-- it would be lots worse. When powerless people gain power they invariably use it in the same abusive way as did the people they replaced.

What happened to our radicals of the sixties? Where are they now and what are they doing? Are their lives very different now from the lives of the people they were fighting? The leaders are still grabbing for power and the followers are still following.

Fanatics are fairly easy to recognize. Just make a joke about what they are fanatical about. They don't laugh. Usually, they don't even smile politely; they scowl. I have never met a fanatic who had a sense of humor about the thing that he was fanatical about. He may laugh at a comedian, but never about the subject of his fanaticism. Tell a rabid football fan how funny it was when the receiver on HIS team slipped on some doggie doo and fell on his face just in front of the goal line and see how he reacts.

A sense of humor indicates a sense of proportion. Fanatics don't have that. They take themselves very, very seriously and are also devoid of that wonderful ability to laugh at one's self.

One of my favorite jokes is one that came out of Krokodil, the Russian humor magazine: The difference between communism and capitalism is that under capitalism, man exploits man; while under communism it's the other way around. Try telling this joke to a fanatical communist or capitalist. He won't even crack a smile.

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