"...as all history informs us, there has been in every State & Kingdom a constant kind of warfare between the governing & governed: the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less. And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the Princes, or enslaving of the people. Generally indeed the ruling power carries its point, the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more. The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes; the greater need the prince has of money to distribute among his partisans and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance, and enable him to plunder at pleasure. There is scarce a king in a hundred who would not, if he could, follow the example of Pharaoh, get first all the peoples money, then all their lands, and then make them and their children servants for ever." ~ Benjamin Franklin
After the Stone Was Cast
Two thousand years ago, if one believes the Bible, Jesus asked the Pharisees to 'let him who is without sin cast the first stone.' In the biblical story, the stone was not cast since no one was without sin. In the real world, however, sinners will not refrain from throwing stones: in politics the one who first casts the stone is also probably the greatest sinner. 'Attack is the best defense,' what is right or wrong is irrelevant. There is a great difference between fiction and non-fiction.
The irony is that the tale of Jesus is the very foundation of 2,000 years of stone-casting: the conflict between the West and the Middle East , or Christianity and Islam if you will'two distinctly different traditions in thought and culture. The conflict is, however, not simply a religious one; it is first and foremost a political conflict. It is a struggle of power ' of the mind, of beliefs, of morality, of a way of life. Both sides are led by the worst of sinners, violating individual rights on a day-to-day basis simply to get closer to their imperialistic aims.
Two stones of importance have been cast in this century: the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the following invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Both stones have had severe consequences, especially for the so-called open society of the West. The effect in the Middle East may be death and open conflict, but is a temporary problem. The effect on the liberal West is more long-lasting and wide-ranging: it is the end of society as we know it.
In an earlier STR column, I showed how Western society throughout the 20th Century has been 'falling prey to the terrors following collectivism and mysticism.' The stones cast in 2001 and 2003 are milestones in this quickening process; they are catalysts in the race towards totalitarianism. It may seem somewhat ironic that the forceful democratization of Iraq happens in chorus with the end of the open society of the West, but it could as well be part of the strategy. While the Western states are investing in democracy in the Middle East , they are at the same time, on their home ground, creating a modern day copy of the totalitarian states they strive to democratize.
We have just begun to see the extent and effect of the Orwellian policies following 9/11. The Patriot Acts in the United States are simply the beginning; further policies restricting the individual and unleashing the powers of the state will follow. In other parts of the world, the United States government is using its vast influence as superpower to make other states follow its lead.
All over the West, the values and ideals inherited from Ancient Greece, and realized through science and technology during the Enlightenment, are mercilessly crushed or abandoned for the sake of power and control (or, in Newspeak: 'security'). Anti-terrorist laws have been enacted all over the West, and in Europe the highly regulated 'security' aspects of the Schengen agreement fits nicely with the new policies. Furthermore, a new, 'safer' passport, including a computer chip with biometric data, has been introduced for citizens of the European Union along with a new I.D. card. The Union is also planning to record and store all communication via mail, phone, fax or computer for years in order to 'suppress terrorism.' In other words, universal surveillance.
What we are experiencing now are but the first rings on the water where the stones hit. It will only get worse from here; the rings will spread'and more stones will be cast, causing even more coercive rings on the surface of liberty.
So the world is going to hell at an ever increasing pace; where are the protestors we would expect when our liberties are compromised and restricted, and ultimately abolished? There are none. The left generally welcomes the abolished restrictions of the state, applauding the new 'possibilities' of public policy; and the right welcomes the increased efficiency in stifling crime. Meanwhile, libertarians in the U.S. are tied up discussing whether the invasion of Iraq was right or wrong, and libertarians in Europe are stubbornly clinging to their belief that freedom is only to be found through the superpower in the west clearing the road.
The anti-terrorist policies are the greatest threat to our lives and liberty in our time, yet no one seems to find time and energy to protest. This is an issue of great interest to everybody; it should be easy to create an intelligent resistance to the fascistic regimes of the western states. The states' simple tactic of creating a distraction through the 'democratization' of Iraq has worked beyond all expectation, taking people's attention from what is really important.
To stop this madness, we need to look to the core and what is really happening: the threat is not in the Middle East , it is in our western capitals. It is a joint attack on our lives and liberty. We need to stand tall and tell people what is going on'and cast back the stones aimed at our liberties.