Saturday, June 07, 2008

Wall? Head. Rock, Paper, Scissors

...You know what's worse than violent disagreement? Violent agreement, when both parties are saying just almost exactly the same thing in different ways -- but so used to disagreement that each delivers rants and never quite hears one another.

Here's the thing: I believe all government is inherently flawed. Government has a built-in bias to perpetually increase its scope, authority and pervasiveness. The very best governments the minds of men have been able to devise only manage to slow this progress; I do not think it can be halted.

I would argue that the folks who write of sinister conspiracies are seeing patterns as one might see familiar shapes in clouds: that thunderhead might look like Mickey Mouse but let's be real, Disney didn't put it there. Nevertheless, the other fellows over there under the banner of "Progressive" are indeed progressing; not to some carefully-crafted socialist world state, not under any Master Plan and not alone: anyone out to "do good" using government for a tool, from "free" universal health care to "defending" marriage from same-sex couples is part of the problem. What business has government to meddle in such matters? None.

Barry Goldwater said it for me: "Any government powerful enough to give you whatever you want is also powerful enough to take it all away." The general version of Ugol's Law tells me that if such power exists, eventually it will be used. --Probably, in our clean, well-lit Western Civilized world, in a nice way, for our own good, with a touch so light and gentle...! But used, nevertheless.

And that's why it's so easy to wrapped around one's own axle over half-witted comparisons to Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. Ain't gonna happen here that way, gang: never that fast, not that crudely-executed, and not that obviously. Sorry, those "mysterious fenced compounds" and the wilder rumors of unpunished battlefield atrocity are just agitprop.

Conversely, only a blind fool believes we -- the West, or our nation, or our State government or our friends and neighbors -- are so especially special that we could never ever possibly comprise the sort of totalitarian system of which history has seen so much; those so sure it could never happen here have no more wit than the Chicken Littles of the Left and Right claiming Der Tag is right around the corner. Sorry; there aren't any sharp corners left, wickedness is easy and evil banal, especially when it becomes widespread, even more so when the spread is gradual.

We are neither devils nor angels and neither is our government. While I am mostly convinced that liberty as the Founders saw it is a lost cause for Western Civ, I believe there is a lot left, centuries yet to go; and fighting a valiant rearguard action in defense of liberty is a matter of education, not "shooting the bastards."

Rome did not fall over a long weekend and our age has had a lot more history to learn from than did they. The ramparts you must man are the most difficult sort: metaphorical ones. Far less blood and thunder, far less thud and blunder and even the most heroic incur but little physical risk and garner little recognition. But if these battles are not fought -- or if they are engaged too foolishly, with the wrong weapons and on unfavorable terrain -- future generations will pay the price.

That's why I'm not "voting from the rooftops" and why I am voting in the more-traditional manner. And it's why I bother to blog.


Anonymous said...

first time in a long time i have read something i said not just an hour ago! and i didnt write it...


Nice post.

and i agree 100%!


Anonymous said...

I agree.

BUT. (You knew there was a but.)

Consider this: the power to meddle in men's lives exists. I don't believe it can be entirely walled off from the hands of men.

A system like ours, which attempts to fence off the inherent power of any monopoly-coercive entity such as the political state, necessarily therefore leaves a power vacuum at the top.

And power, as we all know (pace Lord Acton), attracts the corruptible.

Power is manifest through strength. Strength in this case consists of the ability to move masses of people, and to project violent force -- or the threat of it -- against points to be influenced.

Thus is the rhetoric of rebellion made necessary.

The People must have a credible appearance of the ability and willingness to use countervailing force against the corrupt power-seekers, or there is an imbalance, and the People will inevitably lose.

Like the nuclear deterrent, it may never -- praise God -- be used. But it MUST exist, and the threat of its potential use MUST be credible.


New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Nicely put.

That's one of the things about this whole 2A rights fight. If we win that are we gonna ninja up and march on gov't buildings? No. Not ga happa. But the idea that it is possible is present, on both sides of big gov/lil gov debate is there in the back of everyones mind. 300 million rifles that never leave a safe, and never would DREAM of violence is a mental deterrent, and it keeps everyone polite. Just like sleeping ICBM that are never used in a anger kept the Soviets a bit more polite.

What a nightmare, those ICBMs, and the necessity for a 2nd Amendment right, all for what it implies at the extreme conclusion of its purpose. It drips with death and suffering. But the alternative is a worse nightmare, with slavery and worse suffering added on to all that death. Better to contemplate the first nightmare, politely, and thus avoid the second.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I wrote that without reading alger's comment. Hmmm. Interesting in the parallels.

Roberta X said...

Fascinating, in fact. I agree with the need for a deterrent -- and the need to keep that sword sheathed as long as possible.

Bonnie said...

I JUST wrote a Tweet yesterday that said this, in 140 characters or

"I can totally see where political disillusionment comes from. People won't talk to each other, but they're saying the same things. GAH!!"

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a Canuck,I imagine that you can't see many parallels between our countries. However, at its most basic level, what you said applies to all Western political efforts.

The only omission I saw was that our so-called representatives do not represent us. They serve only to devote their efforts at riding the public teat forever. Every now and then, I suppose, a worthwhile one comes along.

Good essay, Roberta. Thanks for posting it.


Anonymous said...

"Fascinating, in fact. I agree with the need for a deterrent -- and the need to keep that sword sheathed as long as possible."

Exactly. The trouble being, everyone has a different vision of the correct time to unsheath the sword.

Anonymous said...

True, Og, true and yet, much as I'd like to wear a colander for a face mask and ride in blood to Samarkand, in my heart of hearts I'm in no hurry to see it all go smash. It's a bug and a feature of the system. :|

George: there are many parallels; and some differences. That's what makes it fun, right?

phlegmfatale said...

Elegantly stated, my dear.

Don M said...

Milton Friedman suggested that there are 4 kinds of spending.
Class 1; you spend your own money on yourself. You care how much it costs, and you care about the value of the purchase.
Class 2; you spend your own money on someone else. You may have a target for your gift, (Uncle Fred gets a $40,00 present) but you don't really care how happy he is.
Class 3: you spend someone elses money on you. An expense account, where you work hard to be sure you are happy, but you don't care how much it costs.
Class 4: you spend A's money on B. You don't care what it costs. You don't care if B likes it or not.

Government spending is almost all Class 4, with all the inefficiency that goes with it.

Drang said...

So, is the proximity of this to the link to the Letter From Cthulu significant...?

Kevin said...

An excerpt from this post is tomorrow's Quote of the Day at The Smallest Minority. Good stuff. Damned good stuff.

Roberta X said...

Thank you, Kevin. High praise indeed!

Anonymous said...

You are young enough, Roberta, that you will very likely live long enough to have this immutable truth put before you by events, and the question is whether you will face it:

No nation in history has ever voted its way out of straits like these.

We won't, either.

Mark my words.

mousestalker said...

Good stuff. Thank you for writing what needs to be said and read.

Earl said...

Some how, American citizens aren't in charge of their government - maybe we should have instituted a new Constitutional Convention every generation - but we haven't, and the people have drifted into thinking they aren't responsible but should be in the pursuit of Happiness at all costs. Forgetting Life and Liberty were first and foremost.

Roberta X said...

Amen, Earl!

Billy, that's pretty much what I was after sayin'. Voting can, however, change the rate of decline and the direction things slide.

Way I see it, I'm too old to enjoy things going smash and the actual process is nearly always long and slow anyway.

Anonymous said...

"Way I see it, I'm too old to enjoy things going smash..."

Me too, and I wouldn't have enjoyed it as a young man, in any case.

"...and the actual process is nearly always long and slow anyway."

Perhaps, but that is no necessary rule in this sort of thing. Ayn Rand once pointed out: "This country cannot -- as yet -- be ruled, but it can explode." Over thirty years later, that's more true than ever.

Our best intentions will probably not be enough.

Watch out.