Tuesday, May 27, 2008

L’État c’est Moi.

"War has at last been stripped of glitter and glamour. No more may Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon lead armies to victory, ride their horses on the field of battle sharing the perils of their soldiers and deciding the fate of empires by the resolves and gestures of a few intense hours. For the future they will sit surrounded by clerks in offices,as safe,as quiet,and as dreary as government departments,while the fighting men in scores of thousands are slaughtered or stifled over the telephone by machinery." Winston Churchill.

The American understanding the of the nature of the state is that it exists to serve the needs of the people. That comes as a shock to most other people. They don't see the state as serving the people at all, but the state is the reason for the existence of the people, the state creating the people, giving them form, substance, meaning, life itself. Without membership in a larger entity, a family, as an example, one is not going to be born, or if so, one cannot live unless by chance as a feral animal having no understanding of life as a human, no walking upright, no speech, no thought, no identity. The feral being is a non-being. The stateless person is a non-person. To the state one owes ones own selfness. The smaller thing, the person as individual, cannot be greater than, (or good in the face of) the state. The lesser must give way to the needs or wants or whims of the greater. The debtor must pay. Individual owes his existence to the state; man must pay with his existence. It's not the American Way. It's the way of almost everyone else, but it's not our way. Our way is that the individual is prime, and the state exists to facilitate the ways of the individual-as-nation-of-individuals. Every man's Humanness is worth just what one finds in the worth of another. Every man is equal in terms of his humanness. Every man is equal before our laws. Every man has a right to live. And yes, some people are such arseholes that the state steps in and tries them, imprisons them, and eventually executes them. There are limits, and we live in a material world of practicality and need. But the state is still less than the individual. The president serves the people. He has his job because we decide to give it to him. Having given the job to a man or a woman, if the case comes up, we have decided in advance we will do as we must as individuals in support of our own individuality and that of others, the people through the state. Thus, we can't do just as we please in spite of others' wishes and wants and rights. As Oliver Wendell Holmes put it: "The right of my fist ends at the tip of your nose." Those who don't respect that right have to deal with an armed public-- in America. Sometimes.

We have police, and they are meant to mediate our violence and crimes and bring us to an impartial body who will decide the right and wrong, and from there we rely on experience of the ages to decide what to do in terms of reward or punishment. We decide that by being citizens of our nation. Already decided. We agree in advance to let our General Will, expressed in our laws, decide the right course of further action. We leave it to the police, to the military, to the state to decide what to do if we are attacked and the attack is over and we can sit back and wait for judgment. We don't become the police just because we wish it. Should we, as The People, not as the one angry man, we as the majority of the individuals who create the state for our mutual good, decide to act, then we act together for our mutual good, even if the state says no. WE don't like the state as it's run by our elected representatives? We toss 'em and find new people who voice our General Will, and that according to our previous agreements as citizens, as written in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights and so on. Legal, and based on what we do because it's the way we do things from the start. We obey ourselves. We do not have any requirement to obey anyone who tells us we have to be murdered. That violates any rational agreement we might have made previously. Even people on death row have right to resist death if they can. But when we make the decision to obey ourselves even if we know we face death, then we deserve death if we try to opt out later when it seems likely we might actually die after all. Don't want to fight for the nation? Then go away immediately and never return. No one will ask you to come back. There are rules to this game, and we have to follow them in step and in line with others. In that we are free and equal. No one has the right to murder us. We cannot go about murdering others if they murder our own. We agreed in advance to leave it to our state who are entrusted to do that for us so we are not savages killing at random. We have police, armies, courts, and prisons for those who do us dirt. If they fail, we have recourse to electing new representatives to right the flaws in the system. We are not the system. We are what the system is for.

The system doesn't seem to be getting the very clear message that the world of jihad is attacking us from outside and in. our fellows don't seem to be getting the sense that it's getting worse and needs a change. It leaves us to talk and make a convincing case that our fellows are failing us as a nation of self-interested citizens. Our own are letting us down here. Much of it we simply have to put up with till they do get it. As bad as it is, we have a duty to endure the idiocies of the majority who don't know or don't care that we are attacked by our enemies.

If a man pulls a knife on me, maybe I can shoot him. But I can't then go and shoot his buddies, not even if they are jihadis just like he is and want to stab me too. We have police and courts for that. Self-defense, yes; vigilante privateering, unfortunately, not so good a concept. Sort of.

I defend myself as I can in times of dire emergency; and I will defend my neighbour as he will defend me under those same conditions. Otherwise, we leave it to those we appoint to defend us all: the law, the police, the military, and so on. We live and the state stays out of it to the greatest extent, it being for us and we being it secondarily. The state is our combined creation, and we have a responsibility to maintain it. It's our mutual defense. We maintain the state and it protects us from our enemies abroad, from our hostile neighbours, from ourselves attacking the innocent in furies. And if we fail? If we fail our state and our neighbours and our selves? If we don't like our laws, we can vote in new legislators to change them. But we can't legitimately vote for new laws that violate the old laws. We can't vote for a dictatorship. We can't vote to deport Muslims. It's not legitimate, and in doing something like that we would offend ourselves, our communities, our nation. We can't rightly violate the Spirit of '76. Nor can anyone else among us, no matter the size of the majority. We have a duty to defend our nation in ourselves as expressed in our laws. We can't rightly attack our state without attacking those who are the makers of our state. Who attacks our state attacks us all. Who attacks our people attacks our people, and our state is needed and able to fight on our behalf as we are the ones who will fight in it as representative of our state. If our state and our people are attacked and our state, because of our people, does nothing? I read somewhere that the times of Alexander and Napoleon and adventurers is over, and that men will not act like men of old and take command of their lives and the lives of nations by force of arms and Will. It'll be about clerks and bureaucrats doing all the thinking and the planning and the committing of Will. Clerks! Not men who conquer and men who fight and conquer or die. I read that for the future they will sit surrounded by clerks in offices, as safe, quiet, and as dreary as government departments, while the fighting men in scores of thousands are slaughtered or stifled over the telephone by machinery. I'm sure I read it somewhere. And I know it's only true if we let it be so, if we let our state control us rather than controlling our state, if we exist because the state gives us life and meaning, our lives determined over the telephone lines-- if they work.

Stripped? That would be a matter of resignation and a giving of ones being to a state that exists as tyrant only in the mind.

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