Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Imperative of Self Defence

The Theory of Objectivism has an interesting take on violence and coercion, specifically in the context of distatorships. Force is meant to paralyze an opponent's mind, to numb the brain, stopping an opponent from thinking; it forces him to act against his better judgment, disabling him to judge, choose, and value thus rendering him morally impotent. It is an interesting idea worth pursuing, specifically in the light of Alexander Solzhenytsin's assertion that the lie is invariably accompanied by violence. Of course, how else would you enforce it?

Struggle and violence are never far off in consciousness first thought. The Hegel and Marxist dialectics are based on strive and struggle. The Marxist dialectic goes a step further and justifies violent agitation to bring about the revolution on the ashes of which the proletarian Utopia is to be built.

Furthermore, the objectives of consciousness first theories are separated from the mind, their values are divorced from reason. This implies that people can be coerced into conforming to it. From coercion to active violence and dictatorship, possibly justified by 'for the sake of the greater good', is but a step away. The frequent argument is that force is necessary, because man does not listen to reason; enforcers remain unmoved by the practicalities of their coercive actions, the consequences are subordinated to the noble goal that is all 'for our own sakes'.

As the Bolsheviks asserted, bourgeois squeamishness doesn't built Utopias - upon which the village headmaster was made an example of after volunteering to take the role of the 'local aristocrat' so that others might be spared. As one form of institutionalised terror invited another, Nazi Germany piled the corpses on the altars of Right-wing collectivist Socialism in order to avert Left-wing collectivist Socialism, after which the process repeated itself in reversed order.

Although they may not be aware of the philosophical mechanism as outlined above, for consciousness first admirors who truly abhor violence and coercion and seek to avoid it, radical pacifism might offer a way out. Regretably it lands them in another moral backwater: the denial of the right - indeed the duty - of self-defence and the impunity of evil.

Utopian pacifism posits that all violence is bad, no matter its intent or cause. Period. This is in effect an amoral statement. Pacifism is one of the ideologies that claims taking the moral high ground, but is in effect preempting impunity on a get-out-of-jail card, should the good intent lead to disaster.

Truth implies morality, which implies the existance of the good as well as the bad. This being the case, we have a duty to retaliate to protect the innocent. Those innocents were recently hang out to dry when Western politicians - unwilling to lump them with the terrorists, abdicated their moral choice and refused to condemn those who are overtly siding with the guilty. Consequently the radicals are allowed to get off on a free pass, while the innocents who are also combatting radicalism, are left in the lurche.

Passiveness and abdicating the choice for the innocent and the good in the face of evil is not a moral highground. It is excusing, appeasing, aiding and abetting evil. The moral inversion comes full circle as those who do take a stance against it, are demonised as fascists.

Nobody in his right mind doubts that fighting Nazi aggression was a good thing. Indeed I am thankful that the generation of my parents didn't look upon the Allies who liberated them as 'agressors' or 'occupiers'. The increased willingness to bargain with evil-doers to avoid war at all cost doesn't constitute man's finest hour, let alone a moral highground.

Sir Winston Churchill is his memoirs paints the pacifist wave passing through Europe after the Great War that allowed Hitler to re-arm Germany, flouting (check - what's touting?) the terms of the Versailles Armistice, by arming himself to the teeth. The British Parliament and the successive Governments stood by watching, calling for yet more unilateral disarmament. An anecdote elsewhere records that mayoresses called upon women to refuse to darn as much as a sock if it helped the war effort.

In 1937-38 British military expenditure of all kinds reached 234 million Pounds Sterling, in 1938-39 the figure was 304 million against Germany's 1500 million Pounds; in 1939-40 British figures topped 367 million. Churchill considers it probable that in 1939 - the last year before the outbreak of the war - Germany manufactured at least double, and possibly treble the amount of munitions, of Britain and France put together; also that Hitler's plans for tank production reached full capacity by that time. When the attack came Britain was "hideously unprepared for war". "All our vulnarable points were unprotected. Barely a hundred anti-aircraft guns could be found for the defence of the largest city and centre of population in the world, and these were largely in the hands of untrained men."

Reminiscent of today's logic, the Chamberlain call on Munich was seen as a policy by which "war had been averted". The Angelo-German Naval Agreement stipulated that the two peoples would never go to war with each other again. Hitler's "jumping at the idea" didn't cause any alarm bells to go off. Nor that he "signed the Agreement withour demur." "The passions which raged in Britain about the Munich Agreement" proved "Mr Chamberlain's overwhelming mastery of public opinion." On arrival back in London Chamberlain said: "This is the second time in history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time." Churchill of course famously replied"You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war."

The pacifism and 'neutrality' of Holland and Belgium resulted in those countries being in no better shape than Britain. "Even with the recent overrunning of Norway and Denmark in their minds, the Dutch Ministers seemed unable to understand how the great German nation, which up to the night before (9th May 1940) had professed nothing but friendship, should suddenly have made this frightful and brutal onslaught."

"Earlier in the year I had, in a published interview, warned these neutral countries of the fate which was impending upon them (...) My words has been resented." Today Mr Churchill would have had the honour of being painted a 'hawk' in the newspaper headlines. The Dutch and Belgian claim to neutrality is perhaps the best example how abdicating a choice for the good in the case of two mutually exclusive moral choices, results a total loss to evil.

A passage in Churchill's memoirs is worth extensive quoting as it sums up what was successively accepted and squandered through amoral pacifism that held Europe in its grip:

"a Germany disarmed by solemn treaty; a Germany rearmed in violation of a solemn treaty; air superiority or even air parity cast away; the Rhineland forcibly occupied and the Siegfried Line built or building; the Berlin-Rome Axis established; Austria devoured and digested by the Reich; Czechoslovakia deserted and ruined by the Munich Pact, its fortress line in German hands, its mighty arsenal of Skoda henceforward making munitions for the German armies; President Roosevelt's effort to stabilize or bring to a head the European situation by the intervention of the United States waived aside with one hand, and Soviet Russia's undoubted willingness to join the Western Powers to go all lengths and save Czechoslovakia ignored on the other; the services of thrirty-five Czech divisions against the still unripened German Army cast away, when Great Britain could herself supply only two to strengthen the front in France; all gone with the wind."
He accounts of an incident which nevertheless was "proof of how powerful the combined influence of Britain and France would have been upon the mood and policy of the Dictators, if expressed with conviction and a readiness to use force." That such a policy would indeed have prevented war cannot be ascertained with hindsight. Churchill opines it might certainly have delayed it: "It is a fact that whereas 'appeasement' in all its forms only encouraged their aggression and gave Dictators more power with their own peoples, any sign of a positive counteroffensive by the Western Democracies immediately produced an abatement of tension."

Anyone who has ever stood up against school bullies would subscribe to this statement without abrogation. It is a fact bullies are testing their power against any countervailing strengths. It is therefore good policy to retaliate with overpowering force at the first opportunity.

- Filed on Articles in "The Dystopia of Paradise", cat. Postmodernism -


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