Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
Kansas City 2004
When livelihoods are threatened, men organize themselves into hierarchical command structures to confront the perceived enemy. For instance, the terroristic organization called the Ku Klux Klan attracted poor whites who envisioned a White Utopia without competition from blacks.
Throughout history we observe the eventual consolidation, usually by conquest, of such local antagonists into a universal structure where there is a direct relation between a central power and its subjects, thereby overruling local antagonisms which would threaten the superstructure. One such great organization, built on the crumbling foundation lain by the Hellenic Civilization, was the Roman Empire.
Edward Gibbon, however, attributed the decline and fall of the Roman Empire to its centralization. He then praised his own civilization as the End of History, i.e., the end of war, because of its decentralization. He held the view that international anarchy tends to dissipate local troubles among fractional national conflicts, leaving the whole civilization, in the absence of central despotism, to progress in good behavior. He wrote his optimistic interpretation of former decline and fall during a brief interlude between general wars. The brief self-satisfied, complacency of his period was projected onto the future, in denial of thousands of years of history. When the French Revolution broke out, Gibbon made a run for it, returning to England and his pen fell silent: he never recovered his former optimism.
The same gross error was made before the Great War. While pleasant tracts were being penned about International Peace and how Free Trade or International Exchange precluded the possibility of war, German generals were polishing their old invasion plan and teaching it in military schools.
The Great War caused most people to lose faith in peace through Free Trade, Liberal Capitalism, International Anarchy, and like mental Idols: witness World War II and its drives to centralization of power.
More recently the fat cats were pleased again: their hired apologists, the intelligentsia, were rewriting the book yet again (The End of History), thinking their statistically insignificant period of peace and prosperity was the end all, the precedent to Utopia instead of yet another luxurious forewarning of international terrorism.
Today’s self-styled anarchists also extol “anarchy,” the pure form of which is chaos or incomprehensible nothingness, with its decentralization of authority, as conducive to peace; yet all the evidence speaks to the contrary. Pseudo- and quasi- hyphenated-anarchists speak about the utopian Good and how it would somehow magically preside over the Earth if only people were left to their own devices. They would purportedly be as one in their differences and enjoy a gigantic orgasm.
But war occurs because people cannot agree on the particulars of Good. Values people swear by are plural; and when a particular value is presupposed as a Universal Good and someone acts on it in a certain way, the presupposition is bound to find opposition in the world. Thus Confucius said he would be satisfied if only he could meet a wise man, for a wise man is he who knows the difference between good and evil.
Today we see the anarchical non-principle at work in disparate terrorist “cells,” which, despite their different and often contradictory views (even mobsters show up for ill-gotten gains), cooperate loosely to wreak havoc and panic on the world. We hear anarcho-philosophers (another oxymoronic term, for where philosophy begins anarchy ends) waxing eloquent on utopias while authentic anarchists engage in propaganda by terror. Left to his own devices, and unrestrained by terror, the genuine anarchist terrifies others by murder and mayhem. Bomb-laden anarchists seem to have various aims in mind and have incoherent manifestoes in their greasy pockets and in the drawers of untidy rented apartments, but when we try to generalize those aims the result is destruction in general. The true anarchist’s heaven on Earth is hellish in fact, for it precludes the existence of any authority except his own.
Genuine anarchists have naturally been useful to political organizations, for, regardless of the size of an organization, whether the organization is an individual person or a nation or a world, it is both a terrifying and a terrified organization. Its organization is graced under “fear of the rod”, a fact much resented by juveniles who, even when physically mature, deny the relation between fear and love. Fortunately mother-love does assuage the painful fact of life, but never deletes it until the bitter end. But once the anarchist has served the cause, he will be betrayed; that is, if he has not already been blown to bits, perhaps counted as a convenient martyr for the cause at hand.
Now we witness the United States, the most powerful terrorist nation the world has ever known, attempt to bomb the world into pacific submission after its attempt to impose neo-liberal capitalism and its money-god on the globe failed. Once again the trend is towards the colossal centralization which Gibbon saw as the very cause for the decline of a universal empire, a cause bound to attract the ire of under dogs against top dogs. And those under dogs will sympathize with and spawn authentic anarchists who will, for the sake of a Paradise that does not exist and an indefinite god, be orgasmically delighted to bring down the twin towers of Babylon.
Horror of horrors! Ironically, we all have good cause to fear the Frankensteinian globalization effort even more than we fear the monstrous terrorists who demand, for example, that the U.S. get its military bases off Muslim land and stop funding a terrorist state in the Middle East.
“Who elected terrorists to speak for Islam?”
“Why does the U.S. support non-democratic regimes in other lands?”
If the U.S. were to conduct a War For Democracy instead of a War Against Terrorism, one might think it would overthrow the despotic governments it now supports; the people themselves would rule; U.S. citizens would know what was really wanted of them and would, if they truly had faith in democracy, get out of other people’s homes if not welcome.
Neither centralization nor decentralization is the solution to terrorism nor is either dystopian structure the form of Utopia. Like it or not, not matter what the form may be, the end of history is death. The most we can hope for is a natural death, a notion that flies in the face of militants who believe that a man who does not die for his cause is not a man at all.
Yes, some say human violence is natural and necessary in order for there to be progress from evil to good; every moral advance is from evil, else why bother to move? Fortunately, we have evidence in the real world of a natural harmony of universal and particular interests; it may have its discordant periods, yet the marriage can enjoy them for what they are and revel in its happier moments too while life goes on.
Appearances can be deceiving and reason is cunning not wise in itself. Beware lest your leadership be extremely unwise. It appears to be just that: be left to your own devices not theirs.
From: THE TERRIBLE TIMES by David Arthur Walters