April 27, 2011
Some things that helped to bring humanity out of the times of barbarism and treachery included the Enlightenment and the American Revolution. Those were periods that emphasized reason and that encouraged an understanding of the differences between peace and violence, and included the assumption that individuals have inalienable rights, among them the right of the individual to one’s own life and liberty, the right to be free from the aggression of others.
In particular, Thomas Jefferson and other similar liberty advocates emphasized the individual’s life and person as one’s own property, not to be violated by others, and the right to own oneself, one’s justly acquired property and one’s labor. The individual’s self-ownership right would include the right to be free from involuntary servitude and from expropriation of the fruits of one’s labor.
Much of the Industrial Revolution was achieved through individual initiative and risk-taking, the profit motive and the fulfillment of serving others voluntarily by making use of one’s own person, abilities and labor, and property. That is what raised the standard of living of most in the new “civilized” world. Progress was directed outward from the individual, and was NOT directed downward from some command or authority, or from State powers or controls.
But gradually, more and more people saw how State power and authority could be used as a means to empower oneself over others and enrich oneself with the fruits of others’ labor and with the property of others.
Coinciding with the 19th Century-early 20th Century Industrial Revolution were the American “Civil War,” State-usurpation of education, taxation and State regulation of private industry and State usurpation of money and State-interference in voluntary exchange. People who had a compulsion for intruding into others’ affairs, associations, contracts and businesses were (and are) those most attracted to State power.
The philosophy of “I have my stuff and you have your stuff and we leave each other alone” became, “I have my stuff but I want your stuff, so I’ll take it from you by force, coercion, deceit, fraud, etc.” Example: the discovery of oil in Middle Eastern territories, and the West’s expropriation of it. More examples: Socialist redistribution-of-wealth schemes, including welfare, Social Security and Medicare, military-industrial-complex-welfare, and corporatist, anti-competition regulations.
So how “civilized” is it when some people use the armed power of the State to expropriate the wealth, earnings and property from others, either to redistribute such wealth and property to favored constituents or to keep for oneself to fund one’s favorite State bureaucracies? If the victims of such thefts and bondage choose not to comply with their aggressors and assailants, these victims will be thrown in a cage. That’s “civilized.”
Much industrial progress from the 19th and early 20th Centuries that raised the standard of living for many in the U.S. and other Western nations – a period of huge growth, creativity and progress – was countered by the destructive compulsions of those with State power, such as Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill. To turn so much civilized growth and prosperity backward, they employed the means of destroying wealth and property. Wilson and his cohorts gave us the destructive income tax and the Federal Reserve.
And Churchill loved war. And State control. I think politicians love State control and compulsion over others. The Western government leaders chopped up and divided parts of the Middle East like those territories were toys to be played with, as though they owned the lands in question. One could argue that the British and other Empires took lands by conquest or their control was enabled by League of Nations mandates. Internationally, the first half of the 20th Century was not a period of heavy promotion of liberty and property rights, that’s for sure.
While it may not be politically correct to assert this, during the first half of the 20th Century, Western governments exploited early Zionists’ calling to create a “safe haven for Jews worldwide,” to serve the elites’ desire to realize Biblical fables. The elites’ emotional, mystical interpretations of Biblical scriptures drove their obsession over Palestine to be the one and only territory for a “Jewish State.” The activists would not consider any other territory but Palestine, solely for Biblical – not practical – reasons.
By use of deceit and State-initiated land expropriations, the British Empire, the U.S. and other Western governments displaced indigenous Palestinians throughout the 20th (and 21st) Century. Throughout that time, didn’t it occur to any of the Zionists or government agents that maybe their displacements and ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Palestine might result in angering Arabs and Muslims in the surrounding territories, and might have created an unsafe haven for Jews? (Ya think?)
And the out-of-place Western government of Israel, since 1948, has been acting aggressively, expanding its power territorially, and treating its Arab population less civilly than it ought to. This includes the 2008-09 war between the Israeli military and Hamas, the ruling government of Gaza, during which the Israelis severely damaged the Gazan water and sewer treatment facilities, followed by the blockade against the Gaza population’s ability to repair that civilian infrastructure, thereby forcing that population to use unsafe, untreated water.
It is as though the Israeli government followed the playbook of the U.S. military in its 1991 war against Iraq, in which the U.S. military destroyed the Iraqi civilian electrical and water and sewage treatment facilities, followed by sanctions and no-fly zones to prevent the Iraqis from making repairs and thus forcing them to use untreated water. Those uncivilized actions of the civilized West led to a huge increase in cholera, typhoid and cancer, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.
And that was before the U.S. government’s second war against Iraq starting in 2003, that led to hundreds of thousands more innocent Iraqi civilians, and the unnecessary deaths of 5,000 U.S. military personnel and tens of thousands of wounded American soldiers.
Since the Enlightenment and so much human progress and prosperity that sprung from the recognition of the rights of the individual and the sanctity of private property and voluntary contracts, the violence committed by States and their agents had steadily increased the more compromises people made of their own rights, as they allowed their governments more and more access into the people’s wealth and property, more power to expropriate from them, and as the people accepted fewer choices, less liberty, and more government control.
I believe that, in his Declaration of Independence, by “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” Jefferson meant all of humankind, not just Americans. Unfortunately, some people seem to think that the Declaration’s statement is referring to “only Americans,” and therefore implies “but not Asians, Muslims, Iraqis, etc.”
Should we be surprised that the agents of Western governments who engaged in the dehumanization of “foreigners” would also start to dehumanize their own people, and unwittingly encourage populations of the “Third World” to dehumanize populations of the West?
Should we be surprised that U.S. soldiers assault each other, as well as kill for fun, and be surprised by Mexican drug gangs murdering and beheading Americans thanks to U.S. government drug war socialism?
The Federal Reserve’s inflation causes worldwide food shortages and riots, and U.S. government support for foreign dictators causes revolts and uprisings. But in the U.S., the Wall Street elites are getting rich off the Fed’s illicit counterfeiting, and Americans continue to reelect professional politicians who have never had a real job, and all this just continues.
Violence, bloodshed, chaos, economic depressions, impoverishment, and soon, martial law and worse. Back to Lincoln, as the president turns the guns on his own fellow Americans. So much for “Western Civilization.”
Is it possible to undo the damage that the State’s loyalists and apologists have wrought?