Monday, May 18, 2009

The Real Rescuer, India, Israel, America

The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant.Mohandes K. Gandhi, 1938. “A Non-Violent Look at Conflict and Violence


We’ll come back to that fine-sounding quote and its moral bankruptcy later.

It is a bit dangerous to put forward a work of fiction as representing reality, for the author has control over the events and can make them demonstrate whatever reality he desires. Phillip Yancey makes a big deal in What’s So Amazing About Grace about the bishop’s act of forgiveness and protection of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. Yancey believes that this demonstrates how individual acts of grace can and do transform people. I was mumbling angrily at the page during that section: It’s a work of fiction, dammit. There’s no guarantee that this happens in real life. It might happen, of course. Hugo may have captured accurately something about human nature, or at least, the nature of some humans. Yancey may be onto an important truth here. But a work of fiction simply isn’t evidence. The author can make the characters and events do what he wants. If we believe that an author has got it right, it may only be that the author has told us what we wish to hear.

But I will rush in where angels might fear to tread, because of an irony. In “Slumdog Millionaire,” it isn’t the hero who really rescues the girl – ever. The gentle and persevering Jamaal is made to look like the person who saves the lovely Latika through his love and devotion. But it is actually his greedy, selfish, violent brother Salim who saves her every time. Worse, Salim saves her through violence, not by forgoing it. He throws acid in one bad guy’s face. Shoots two others. These are the events of rescue. They are, in the context of the plot, good acts, or at least justifiable.

Jamaal has his part to play; he is not a passive bystander. But it is Salim’s actions which ultimately do the job. Within the ethos of the movie, one might argue that Salim’s actions are mere vehicles to the foreordained end. It is written, and the rest is just detail. Had Salim not done these things fate, or destiny, or God would have accomplished them some other way. It has echoes of God’s promise to Satan in Paradise Lost: whatever evil you do, I will bring good out of it. Those who see violence as unjustified would certainly try and portray it this way. Jamaal is good and innocent and pure; Salim is violent, deceptive, and cruel. Jamaal must be going to heaven, Salim to hell. Therefore, it must be Jamaal’s goodness that ultimately saves Latika, right?

But there is no way to justify that formulation, either in the movie or in real life, without resorting to some mystical mechanism, some just-trust-me-goodness-always-works faith in, in something. Faith that goodness is secretly more powerful and will always win. It’s a nice way to leave God out of the picture, except at a distance, this idea that just being a swell guy ultimately conquers all. It is not even a milk-and-water theism, let alone anything to do with the God of the Bible (or Milton). The Gospel of Nice.

This hits me with particular force because I am reading Elie Wiesel’s Memoirs at the moment, and he, like most Holocaust survivors, is obsessed with the question of where God is in the face of great evil, why His children did not intervene with violence. When 10,000 souls a day were being processed at Auschwitz, how could the Allies not bomb the train tracks? Every day’s delay is ten thousand souls rescued. It was not violence that was the sin, but the lack of violence. There was not enough violence from the Allies.

Gandhi, in the essay quoted and linked above, counseled that the Jews should respond to the Nazis only with civil disobedience, not violence. My reading of Wiesel suggests that many Jews could not have been more innocent, could not have prayed with greater fervor or perseverance, could not have brought more holiness of life and good example to their martyrdom. But it didn’t work. Violence worked.

“Slumdog Millionaire” gives us Gandhi and the independence of India in miniature. Gandhi gets the credit with his innocence and non-violence. But it was the half-billion people behind him, unacknowledged, who had erupted in violence throughout the past decade, which earned independence. It’s a much more fun world where we can give Jamaal and Gandhi credit. It makes us feel all warm inside to think that the world works that way. But it was the few good acts of the violent Salim, directing his violence for a time to something other than his own fortune, that rescued them all.

34 comments:

nash said...

Wiesel suggests that many Jews could not have been more innocent, could not have prayed with greater fervor or perseverance, could not have brought more holiness of life and good example to their martyrdom.I'm probably commenting where I shouldn't, but isn't that idea contrary to the fundamentals of Christianity? Aren't we all flawed, totally depraved, and undeserving of salvation except through Christ?

I was listening to a podcast sermon that my girlfriend sent me about authority. The pastor stated that our purpose in life is to glorify God. He said even slaves should serve their masters well in order to glorify God in the eyes of others. He also said that we as Americans sometimes forget this because we are a nation that was born out of revolution. I'm not sure if I agree or understand how all this is supposed to work out but it was food for thought for me.

terri said...

That quote by Ghandi is amazing if it's really from 1938. He obviously had some insight into the horrors that lay in wait for the Jews.

I don't know if I would call it morally bankrupt, because it assumes that Gandhi would have been able to do something to alter the course of a war thousands of miles away. Also, although many knew that Nazism was bad, I wonder how many knew how very evil and horrible its actions had been. I doubt even Gandhi imagined a massacre of 6 million Jews.

Even American soldiers liberating the camps and the German population nearby concentration camps were shocked to discover some of the things that had occurred under Hitler. It would be hard to know who knew what and when. Genocide on this level hadn't exactly happened in history before.

AS far as Slumdog Millionaire...I hadn't realized how brutal of a movie I was going to be watching when we brought that home. Opening with scenes of torture cleared that up for me!

Salim does help Latika through violence, but he is also the one who put her in almost every bad situation she was in....initially refusing to let her in out of the rain, being the "watchdog" for the first gangster, purposely letting go of her hand when they were escaping onto the train, raping her and giving her and to the gangster to whom he had promised his allegiance, finding her in the train station when she tries to escape.

He does ultimately redeem himself by freeing her and accepting death as a consequence.

Jamal isn't very heroic though he is nice. Slumdog Millionaire is, at its end, a love story of two "fated" souls.....Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending perhaps?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Both fair comments.

I was speaking loosely, nash, or from an earthly perspective, if you prefer. I agree with your thoroughly Calvinist correction. It is a favorite soapbox of mine that those who advocate a strict pacifism do so because they believe it works. That is the thought behind Gandhi's statement, that the civil disobedience would ultimately succeed. He wanted Jews to throw themselves on their attackers' swords as a strategy, an example of great righteousness. No earthly righteousness has ever been sufficient to turn all evil. In fact, neither has supernatural righteousness.

Terri, it is true that Salim creates her dangers as well, especially on that train incident, which I had forgotten. The other incidents seem more opportunistic. How do they decide to go with Maman to Hope Orphanage? Was it Salim that encouraged that, or did they fall into it mutually? Either way, yours is an excellent counterpoint.

Curmudgeon said...

"Violence is the last resort," goes the saying.

This doesn't mean that violence is not a resort, only that it's usually the last one tried.

Why is it the last one tried? Because it works and you don't need to go any further.

Sure, the optimum solution probably doesn't include violence, but if your last resort isn't violence then you tried violence too early or you don't actually have the confidence of your convictions.

Bram said...

Gandhi is a household name because India was a British colony. If India had been governed by the Japanese, Germans, or any type of communist, he would have had a bullet through the head.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Ho Chi Minh made the same claim: if Gandhi had been in a French colony he would long since have gone to his reward.

terri said...

Bram's comment had me thinking.

Non-violence is useful only in the hands of people who have some other type of power.

For the Jews under Hitler, their non-violence would have done nothing. Hitler and Germany had already decided they were dispensable and had robbed them of all their resources. They weren't even used extensively as slave labor because of the hatred people had for them.

In places where one group is oppressed, but is needed for the functioning of society, either through forced labor/cheap labor, especially if they are involved in the production of essential resources for the people in power, non-violence is at its most effective.

It's also most effective in societies which use violence, but have limits as to how much violence is permissible. So during the civil rights movement, some violence was perpetrated against the black population, by individuals or specific regions, but the country as a whole came to realize that the only way to deal with thousands of non-violent protesters is to either begin to listen to them, or resort to increased, systematic violence against them--something most people were reluctant to do.

Meta said...

'Slumdog Millionaire' was about the choices one makes with the hand they are dealt. It is about redemption. All the rest was story, narrative, and a big dose of hope. Agree much of the violence was gratuitous, but it was hardly the point.

"I was speaking loosely, nash, or from an earthly perspective, if you prefer. I agree with your thoroughly Calvinist correction." ... In response to Nash blithely saying too bad for the Jews, eh?... They don't accept Christ. And you agree with him, AVI. Six million dead because they were somehow 'flawed, totally depraved, and undeserving of salvation except through Christ. hmmm.

I know it's a pitiful number, 3,000, compared to six million, but what about the Christians who prayed in the Twin Towers? The jumpers especially bother me. I wonder if they prayed on the way down.

I find your post mentally violent. So violent, in fact, that my hands are shaking thinking there are people who think as you do walking this earth.

Meta

Cargosquid said...

If Ghandi had tried his "non-violent revolt" against the Germans due to a British loss in WWII, we would never have heard about him.

Non-violence only works against basically good or at least principled societies that are sensitive to bad press.

Cargosquid said...

Oops, should've read the comments first before making the same points.....

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I made my way over here from The Common Room via Doc is In.

Firstly: There were Jews who resisted, especially after they learned what their fate would be. People who don't study the history of the Shoah don't know much about the Partisans.

Secondly: In Jewish thought, their resistance was proper. In Jewish ethics, a person is required to protect his/her own life against a murderer, and may do so by killing the murderer in self-defense. There may be Jewish pacifists, but pacifism is not Jewish. Pacifist Jews are getting that idea from outside Jewish law and tradition.

Thirdly: Wiesel's suggestion that many of the Jews murdered by the Nazis were innocent, and that they brought holiness into the world is good Jewish thought. We have no doctrine of original sin, we look askance at Calvinists who believe that humanity is depraved. We do not see martyrdom as something to be desired. Life is of extreme value.
Certainly the 1 million murdered children were innocent, and more than likely most of the adults had done nothing unlawful on a magntitude as to merit a death sentence. They were not soldiers. Ergo, they were innocent.
Also, Jewish self-undertanding is that it is the job of the Jew to adhere to the Covenant in order to bring more holiness into the world. (Not goodness, but holiness. These are different concepts for us).
Judaism has a very different understanding of sin and death than does Christianity. The origins of these differences are historical.

I don't know why the allies did not bomb the railroad tracks. Maybe it was a strategic decision. Perhaps it was the same latent antisemitism that also caused the US State Department to refuse Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis visas that could have saved their lives.

If so, then it was not the same kind of systematic evil that engulfed Germany, because America was the greatest rescuer of Jews, and of Europe itself, from the horrors of the Nazis. A close friend and survivor of the Holocaust (z"l) once told me that to her, the enduring symbol of peace would always be a dusty American soldier armed with a rifle and Hershey bars.

Sometimes violence is an appropriate response to deadly evil.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Meta, where the hell did you get that reading out of my post, or nash's? Neither of us said anything remotely like "well, too bad for the Jews." As for the idea that we think Jews expendable because they haven't accepted Christ, where in the world does that come from? If I play a single note but you hear a whole symphony, that's hardly my fault.

I will reread my post to see if I was not clear in some way, but I thought it was pretty straightforward. Gandhi, and many who follow his pacifistic beliefs, contend that the Jews should have willingly embraced a martyrdom in order to be a holy example. I, drawing on Wiesel's description of Jews who were slaughtered despite being innocent, rejected Gandhi's view. How much more innocent could they have realistically been? Nash objected with what to me is a technical theological point, that none of us are righteous enough to merit being called innocent. I responded that I was using innocent in a more comparative, everyday sense, while conceding the deeper truth that none of us is entirely innocent.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Elisheva - Thank you. I am aware of the partisans (though I am not the David Wyman who wrote the Holocaust books), but they were not figuring in Wiesel's writings about his peasant village. He does mention that word of the Warsaw uprising got to them, and that Moishe the Beadle tried unsuccessfully to rouse the Jews of Sighet to understand.

Meta said...

AVI,

It is difficult for me to come back here much attempt to answer 'where the hell I got my first response' because I am feeling the same adrenaline surge that kept me awake the night I read it. I am consumed with such loathing I will never be able to address all I could say, but I will address the most repulsive of the comments as best I can.

"Wiesel's description of Jews who were slaughtered despite being innocent, rejected Gandhi's view. How much more innocent could they have realistically been? Nash objected with what to me is a technical theological point, that none of us are righteous enough to merit being called innocent. I responded that I was using innocent in a more comparative, everyday sense, while conceding the deeper truth that none of us is entirely innocent."

First of all, why Ghandi? A useless insertion to whatever it is you are trying to say about violence. The skanky son-of-a-bitch slept every night of his life with a pubescent girl. He has nothing to do with anything righteous in this world.

"Wiesel suggests that many Jews could not have been more innocent, could not have prayed with greater fervor or perseverance, could not have brought more holiness of life and good example to their martyrdom." So true. Did you read "Night"? Have you been to The Holocaust Museum? I took my students there for a decade, and the one thing none could get out of their minds was the innocence. What is a human being standing naked in front of soldiers with weapons but innocent? Read Victor Frankel for more enlightment about man and innocence. The Jews prayed with fervor. And Nash says oops.. that's contradictory to the fundamentals of Christianity. No salvation EXCEPT THROUGH CHRIST. Okay. Tell me what Nash means because you agree with him. The Jews aren't Christians.... but they are the first to worship the very same monotheistic God Christians do. But, but, they're flawed and depraved in their nakedness as they are marched to the ovens Christless and destined for their prayers to go unheard. Tell me differently, AVI. Tell me that's not what Nash very stupidly let out of his mind as his 'truth'.

How dare you speak of innocence when your 'deeper truth' condemns 500 billion to hell?

I am almost ill so will stop here.

Meta

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Holy crap, how strongly do I have to say something before I stop get accused of saying the opposite? I was criticising Gandhi's moral bankruptcy, Meta. Did you get that? I wasn't saying anything nice about him, I was drawing on the fact that he is considered a cultural icon of morality, which I feel is entirely undeserved.

nash's comment about depravity applies to everyone - Christians, Animists, Moslems. It is a theological doctrine you apparently only partly understand, or misunderstand. There is nothing in it that says that Jews or any innocent people are more lost than any other. Or that anyone deserves to be treated badly. Or that whatever happens to people doesn't matter because they aren't among the elect. Perhaps the key is in your connecting my statement "many Jews could not be more innocent" with nash's "isn't that idea contrary to the fundamentals of Christianity." He wasn't making a point that "Jews can't be innocent," he was making the point that "human beings can't be innocent" - including himself, me, and Joe Sixpack.

If you think the doctrine of general human sinfulness is objectionable, fine. You are under no obligation to accept it. But to accuse nash of pointing that exclusively at the Jews, or even at non-Christians in general, is just absurd. You are reading in what isn't there - likely because you are tying in some other things you don't like about Christians and weaving it all together.

I'M AGREEING THAT THE JEWS WERE INNOCENT VICTIMS OF THE NAZIS, GOT IT? Have I read Night...have I been to the Holocaust Museum...Meta, you haven't the faintest idea who you are writing to here! I'm a consistent Judaeophile who has been reading Shoah history for decades. You are reading the precise reverse into what I am saying.

Because of the scattered nature of your post and the fire-at-anything style, I suggest that you have some prejudice against Christian beliefs that you are projecting onto others.

Gringo said...

Meta has a reading problem.

terri said...

I think Meta was taken aback by Nash's comment which was a non-sequitur in regards to what the post was actually about. As such, Meta connected that non-sequitur to the idea that the Jewish people weren't "innocent" and thus must have been "guilty" in some sense or somehow deserved their fate....which isn't at all what AVI was saying, or meant.

Being about as far from Calvinism as possible at this point in my life, I will say that I winced when I read nash's comment....because however theologically correct he might think the comment is, it really has no place in being connected to a discussion of the holocaust, or any great tragedy.

That sort of dispassionate logic can be off-putting.

That being said....I'm sure nash may not have realized how it might affect those not from a Calvinist perspective.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

terri I wish I'd made my point as simply and winsomely as you made it for me.

Jonathan said...

Well, AVI, that's what we have terri for- to make your points, only more winsomely and succinctly :)

But yeah, Meta, I think you might have misread the note. The Calvinists are crazy tulip-lovers, but nash didn't say anything along the lines of Jews deserving the Holocaust. He is just making a point about the use of the term "innocent" as it relates to the topic of Christian salvation. Slightly off-topic, but not out of bounds.

Jonathan said...

Boy, I thought the Celtics post would generate more controversy than this one. This is exciting!

Meta said...

Thank you, Terri.

I am not outraged by the innocence so much as I am by "...and undeserving of salvation except through Christ."

How difficult is it to read that Nash figures the Jews' fervent prayers went unanswered because they did not pray 'through thy Lord Jesus Christ'? He speaks of the fundamentals of Christianity. Just Christianity. And you agreed with him AVI.

It really is that simple. What you agreed to, AVI, is that one can only receive salvation through Christ.

If I do not believe man is flawed, totally depraved, and undeserving of salvation except through Christ, that does not make me a poor reader, misguided, scattered, fire-at-anything ignorant, and it does not make me prejudiced. I am not prejudiced because I believe man is good. I can state unequivocably that saying people are undeserving of salvation except through Christ is, to put it politely, extreme. Now I can put the outrage about innocence back in: 500 billion human beings on this planet do not believe in Jesus Christ as the savior, son of God. According to your agreement with Nash, you have those people condemned to hell. That is the violence that leaves me speechless.

As far as knowing who you are, AVI, I don't: But you are responsible for what you write knowing that many people who don't know you will read your words. You agree with Nash and tear me up. I know you better now..... I am no longer innocent of your intent.

Meta

Meta said...

One minor addition:

"Meta connected that non-sequitur to the idea that the Jewish people weren't "innocent" and thus must have been "guilty" in some sense or somehow deserved their fate..."

This is not what I think at all. The opposite, in fact. No human deserves that fate. I love the Jews and read extensively about Israel and pay very close attention to their current fate.

No human deserves to be told he will only find salvation, succor, peace, or comfort 'except through Christ'. It's the 'only' that bothers me.

Meta

Buz said...

Your original post reminds me a bit of an old "Get Smart" line. After killing off a bunch of assassins, 99 looks at Max and asks, "we're no better than they are." To which Max replies, "oh yes we are. The kill in the name of all that is bad and evil, but we kill in the name of all that is good and nice."

I guess sometimes in our twisted world, you have to kill in the name of what is good and nice.

Buz

Jonathan said...

"It really is that simple. What you agreed to, AVI, is that one can only receive salvation through Christ."

Meta, I'm not being flip here. But if that is a huge stumbling block for you, this may not be the blog for you. Not that you're not welcome, but you're not likely to find a lot here that shares your worldview, and it will likely just make you deeply unhappy.

As for the part about condemning 500 billion folks to hell if they don't believe in Christ- I don't think we've been really strong proponents of the "Dante-style" hell. I at least would define hell as eternity without Christ. I assume that doesn't sound so bad to you. And trying to convince you of Christianity's truth based on a fear of punishment in hell is fundamentally flawed. Unless you really like the artwork style of the Chick tracts.... :)

terri said...

Gee....thanks AVI.

What can I say?

you "winsome"

you lose some

.....that's right, folks.....I'll be here all week.....*tap, tap*...is this thing on?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Jonathan, not to worry. Meta, in her minor addition, has misunderstood the winsome terri as well. Anything further I might add will certainly be misunderstood.

Meta said...

Jonathan,

You made my day. You told me I was a troll and were so nice about it! :) I've read Yancey's book, too, and you're it. My best friend is an evangelical Baptist lay preacher and he gave me the book. It's a fine book but when I was reading it, my mind's cinema kept flashing a handsome man in a baby-blue polyester suit talking to a huge crowd via television. You rid me forever of that picture, and best, rid me of the visceral reaction I've felt since I linked over here from the blog where I first read AVI. The hosts of that blog are fundamentalists, but oddly enough, I did not realize AVI was. Yes, despite your genuinely kind invitation to stay, I fear I have made enemies in my first foray into comments and doubt I could redeem myself to be a valued contributor.

Before I leave, I feel the need to explain something, though am not sure if it's exoneration I seek by explanation or just to get it off my chest so I can go and shed the deep sadness I feel about that 'stumbling block'. I was raised believing Presbyterian's predestination and recall questioning how it worked when I was quite young. It didn't make sense to me that I could do bad things and it didn't matter. It also didn't make sense to me that a person could spend a lifetime doing bad things and on his death bed receive Christ and go to Heaven. I was losing my religion long before I realized I could have God without the dogma.

All of my comments on this blog were to comments, not to AVI's original post. The very first comment by Nash destroyed me. It still does though I've read similar for years. It was his juxtaposition with the quote by AVI that sent me reeling, and followed up by AVI's acceptance and agreement to that pretty much blew my mind. I had seen AVI as someone else for a long time.

I'm trying to sign off with one last address to the stumbling block: "Except for Christ" and the use of 'only'. I guess I'll just say I believe God does not approve because He knows not everyone has access to Him. He made us. Why would He allow anyone to be excluded from His grace? It takes man to do that.

Perhaps you understand. Perhaps not. Nonetheless, I bow to you and your calm, kind response to me.

Meta

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Uh, Meta? Jonathan's my oldest son, and probably the person most like me in the world. He is admittedly, a much nicer version. Less blunt, certainly (my second son fits that picture more).

As I am not calvinist myself, I won't suggest that if you understood that doctrine you would like it. But I do find that everything I have hated about some other Christian group's perspective turned out to be something I didn't understand very well. I don't think you've grasped the meaning. I don't know where you should look.

Jonathan said...

Why don't we all just agree that I'm a vastly improved version of AVI, and leave it at that? One might almost say I was ordained by God to be better....

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Ouch. Unfortunately true.

James said...

Hi Idiot,

I trust you don't mind if I call you that. Its actually sort of affectionate, I think.

Since your comments aren't dated, I can't tell if I'm entering a cold thread - sorry if that's the case.

Like most critiques of non-violence, your post discusses the big events of world history. It then uses them to try to argue that non-violence doesn't make any sense.

There is a certain point to doing that, I've seen it in other places. But I've never seen a critique of non-violence in micro events. Events which I think hold our world together.

I had a girlfriend once who was an enforcer for the IRS. She had all the training and equipment to be violent. She worked in various locales where she would raid houses because the people were distributing literature on how anyone could not pay their taxes.

Of course, if anyone in the house was interested in fighting back, they would be on the receiving end of quite a bit of violence.

All of this makes we wonder:

1) Do people who consider themselves followers of the non-violent tradition take these sorts of jobs? You know - police officer, prison guard, IRS enforcer?

2) If not, then do they think that a society can live without them? Do they call in violence when they need it - such as calling the police when they witness a crime of violence or property?

3) Lastly, criminal enforcement involves violence by police (sometimes) which is sanctioned by politicians. Do they vote for politicians who allocate laws and money for police to be violent when they need to be? Or do they vote for politicians who tell the police to run away if anything bad ever happens?

All of this seems so ridiculous to me, that it puts me in sort of conspiratorial state of mind. Could the theory of non-violence be put forward as a way to hide the inherent violence of government? That is, pretend government is just regulating, not violent. After that pretending is done, then claim that government can cure all of our ills and take all of our money for the common good.

It seems that socialism pretends to be non-violent, when it really uses violence for everything. The non-violent philosophy is just a cover for that belief.

James

Assistant Village Idiot said...

James, the thread may have just gone cold, but it has been active late into the week. We'll see, eh?

A remarkable theory. I have seen all the parts of it before, but I don't think ever put together into a connected package, as you just did.

If, indeed, progressives are in favor of government management of a great deal of our behavior, then the implied violence of that is rather inescapable, isn't it? We all desire to live peacefully, so the taxes and regulations that are put on us we submit to fairly voluntarily. The compromises and even onerous duties are part of the price for living in such a nice society. But one cannot really opt out. Gradual increases in force are applied to those who try, and the unspoken implication is that arrest, confinement, and confiscation are all possible.

As there is some degree of force behind all governance everywhere, statists of all stripes can rationalise that we are merely being forced to do good things rather than bad - that we would pay taxes and obey laws in Malaysia or Cameroon as well, so we should gratefully go along with whatever they hand us.

But each additional dollar, or regulation, or limitation is an additional threat of violence - or even an application of violence. If 90% of us agree that the government should regulate A, B, and C, then as a practical matter, there is little difficulty. The statist rationale holds. Yet what happens when we add D, which only 80% support, or E, F, and G, which only 51% support. Eventually, what does it mean when we are required to do X,Y, and Z, which only 10% of the people support? Are not all those additional requirements gained merely by violence?

That certainly does make socialism an ultimately violent form of government, then. The Scandinavians might willingly sign on to government control up to P in our regulatory alphabet. But beyond that, there is the implied violence of the state (which they are now learning).

It's not just the socialists, of course. We see the same thing in reverse when liberals want to withhold war taxes or otherwise civilly disobey the government. They are quite aware of the violence behind government then, though they forget or overlook it when it is their plan being imposed.

James said...

Hi Idiot,

Thanks for the compliment.

I've always wanted to find a pacifist, and ask him how to vote when it comes to criminal enforcement. Should threatened police fight back or run away? Its a stupid question - but then their philosophy begs it anyway.

As far as your progression of coercion argument is concerned, I think the question is more basic:

When we vote, we ultimately decide when violence is used and when not. Acceptance of the pacifist philosophy essentially makes it impossible to decide how to vote. So now what?

Most pacifists probably don't know it, but the answer to that is:

Ignore the violence behind law enforcement, then give whatever power is necessary to "well meaning" people to solve problems.

This solves two problems at once (for them).

1) We can remain pure at heart when we vote.

2) We don't need to think about unwanted side affects of government power. Doing so would require developing a theory of how power/violence interacts with free will to make society better or worse.

Left/Liberalism is essentially a lie for solving these two problems in this way.

James

The Count said...

Terrific post, AVI! You remain an inspiration.