"I cannot accept, your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power....Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." ~ Lord Acton
Reflections in the Stream
Exclusive to STR
My wise friend and mentor Anthony I. S. Alexander makes the analogy of a smooth-flowing stream, peaceful and beneficial to all in its proximity and fostering all manner of productive life in its waters. He supposes that at a point in its history, some hooligan tosses in a boulder, after which all the waters below are disturbed; eddy currents develop and hew out new paths through the earth, generating lower-order eddies and generally causing chaos. Not anarchy, notice, but chaos.
A hypothetical but foolish stream-tender might rush to rectify the problem by adding other stones and artificial deflectors downstream, to try to correct the errant flows--but such additional intervention only makes the problem worse, and at great expense; the intentions may sometimes be noble, but (in the elegant words of Harry Browne) it "doesn't work."
The correct and obvious solution is to remove the original rock and throw it away, and until and unless that is done, things will only get worse. No other actual solution exists.
I apply this excellent analogy to what is probably the biggest disruption of smooth-flowing life and commerce in our age, the one usually called fanatical Muslim terrorism. I hardly need to elaborate on how ruinous it is. What, though, was the "upstream boulder" that caused it?
The media, hopelessly entangled in the silly premise that government has some useful role to play in society, has hardly even asked the question, let alone proposed an answer; but a first approximation can be found on my own mini-site which I constructed within a week of 9/11. It wasn't hard; I had only to ask the simple question "Why?" and the answer came leaping out of well-known recent history: for six decades the US government has outraged Muslim sensitivities by repeatedly favoring and supporting the State of Israel and, in desperation and lacking any other recourse, fanatical Muslims struck back with suicide and mass murder. Far from being an "unprovoked attack," it was an act of vengeance.
I stand by that answer still, but not long ago another smart friend suggested an alternative. He is Elmo Zoneball, and his remarks are well worth reading here. Elmo attributes the ideas to the British iconoclast Christopher Hitchens and others. In essence, he suggests that the fanatics' core motive is not so much direct revenge on the FedGov, but rather to rally more of the world's 1.5 billion "ordinary" Muslims behind them in a bid to theocratize the entire neo-Muslim world--by showing how they can bring the Great Satan to its knees. It is, Elmo says, in other words purely a piece of theater, produced for an audience of non-fanatical Muslims and with an entirely domestic purpose in view--to acquire political power, in the name of Allah, over a quarter of the planet's population.
Were they to succeed, Elmo concedes that then, the religious fanatics ruling those 1.5 billion would use the power of their several States to mount a merciless attack on infidels like you and me; so in the end, our perceptions may not be far different--it's a matter of time. However, I do see one way--just one--in which that bleak scenario could be prevented from taking place. It is--did you guess it?--that the US government, the State, should go out of business; that the rock in the stream should be plucked out and thrown on the trash heap.
Here's how that would, even at this very late stage, help prevent the looming disaster.
First, the "theater" play could no longer be performed, for the Great Satan would have evaporated along with its relentless support for the Israeli State and for everything else. Now, on Elmo's thesis, that's not more than a minor part of the problem--an excuse; the core problem for Islamic cultists is that the non-Muslim world is vastly more successful than they are, by every relevant measure. And of course, if the FedGov went out of business, that success, that differential, would not shrink but would greatly and rapidly increase. So it could be argued so far that an anarchist solution--dissolution of the American State --would make the threat worse, not better.
My response to that lies in the waters off New York Harbor , though within the territory claimed by the state of New Jersey . She is known as the Statue of Liberty, and her French designers foresaw that she would hold out the Lamp of Liberty to enlighten the rest of the world.
Those designers were mistaken to suppose that America (then, previously or since) truly exemplified real Liberty --but they were partly right: America is, even now, the least UNfree society on Earth. And yes, that is a terrible indictment of every other State.
That aside, grasp their concept: that of proclaiming a vision, presenting an example. We, she says (only partially truthfully, but never mind) we are free! And look, how we prosper! Do as we do, and prosper too! Throw off your chains!
Now move that vision to the place where at long last we really have thrown off our own chains--or to use Alexander's analogy, tossed the boulder on to the trash heap. Very rapidly, our prosperity will explode. That will not go unnoticed abroad. The news of it could not be concealed from the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, among others.
Now, what do you suppose might be the resultant appeal, to those 1.5 billion, of the Taliban-like morons who compete with 14th Century tales of hell, damnation and sacrifice?
Right, they will not win their elections. Therefore, the threat above will evaporate. "Terrorism" will follow. The future will hold peace and prosperity as far as the eye can see--not just for the already-prosperous "West" but for everyone else too. And the Muslim fanatics will disappear into the hell-hole they have created for themselves, and good riddance.
All we have to do is to toss out that boulder. Ready? - H-e-a-v-e !