"People have often been willing to give up personal identity and join into a collective. Historically, that propensity has usually been very bad news. Collectives tend to be mean, to designate official enemies, to be violent, and to discourage creative, rigorous thought. Fascists, communists, religious cults, criminal 'families' — there has been no end to the varieties of human collectives, but it seems to me that these examples have quite a lot in common. I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob." ~ Jaron Lanier
A Hornets' Nest
Column by Mark Davis.
Exclusive to STR
A man showed up at my door one day not so long ago and said that he was from the Departmental Official Office of Motherland Security (DOOMS) and I was in danger of being stung to death by hornets. I told him that I did not fear hornets and, though I occasionally noticed one, I did not think that they were a big problem. As a matter of fact, I found that if I didn’t bother them, then they didn’t bother me. But anyway, I preferred to defend myself in this circumstance and did not need to pay him for protection. He said that I was naïve because I didn’t understand that hornets hate people because we have bigger houses and can fly without wings and people are so superior to hornets that they have become so jealous that they would all commit suicide just to take some people with them. Besides, he was elected by the majority of people in my country to provide for collective security against any and all threats that they determined to need defending us against, and I really needed him, and he would prove it in time. Of course, I was not privy to secret information about the crazy hornets and I must trust them because they were better informed and better understood the giant threat before us. Further, he stated that he could charge (tax) me what he determined was appropriate to provide for my defense. Also, there were a few new regulations concerning what I could do, when I could do it, who I could do it with, where I could go and little things like that. Of course, I had to follow these new rules restricting my freedom so that they could better protect me from the hornets that wanted to take away my freedom to move about. How free would I be if hornets killed me? All of this was for my own “good” and the majority of people must be “right.” If I resisted joining “voluntarily” then he would have no other choice but to use his monopoly on the use of force to help me to understand the real threat.
As I wanted to be a good citizen, I too assumed that any individual could not hope to understand this big complex world and acquiesced to the desires (fears) of the majority and went along with the surrogate monopoly security force. Apparently, the threat was so big that “our” forces needed to go on the offensive against hornets everywhere or they would just breed and we couldn’t protect our borders against so small a creature. So DOOMS went about the world destroying hornets' nests wherever they might hide. Then the hornets started getting very agitated, and when I saw them, they tried to sting me. They even killed a lot of “innocent” people. When I suggested to DOOMS that they might want to stop stirring up hornets’ nests in order to accomplish their stated goal of making us safer from the potential threat of hornet stings, I was accused of being soft on hornets and even siding with the hornets. I said I had no problem killing hornets that attacked us, but wasn’t it going to be impossible to kill all of the hornets so as to eliminate the threat? Wouldn’t that just make them madder than hell? They said not to worry, as they would use nuclear weapons if necessary. They would do “whatever it takes” to protect the people even if it met killing every hornet on earth. And this was war, so it is reasonable to expect some collateral damage. Finally, if I didn’t agree, then I, too would be considered a danger to the collective and be dealt with accordingly. With a wink and a sparkle in his eye he mentioned, “You know, torture is legal now.”
Who protects me from the monopoly protection force, though? The democratic process? The Constitution? My elected officials? God help us.