"Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles." ~ Ambrose Bierce
Column by tzo.
Exclusive to STR
If there is one message that must continually be broadcast to people in order to improve the quality of life on this planet, it is this: Politics is aggression. Until this simple understanding becomes widespread, we will all continue to bog down in the mud.
Politics is aggression.
Recently while driving I noticed that the car ahead of me had two bumper stickers. I read the first one, which said: The main cause of violence in society is ignorance.
And the other bumper sticker proudly proclaimed in a single word: Obama
Here we have a person who does not understand that politics is aggression. To wit:
The driver believes that if people were better educated, then violence would decrease. Her motivation for placing this bumper sticker on her car must be that she wants a more educated and thus, more peaceful society. With her other bumper sticker, she then endorses politics, a coercive institution that aggresses against individuals.
Now why would a peaceful person, concerned enough about violence in society to place a public service announcement on her car, endorse violent aggression?
There is only one logical response: Because she does not understand that politics is aggression. She has not yet received the message.
And what do we call it when a person does not understand something? Ignorance.
I do not use this as a pejorative term here—I am simply applying it according to its standard dictionary definition, which is “lack of knowledge or information.”
By proclaiming her wish for a peaceful society while at the same time endorsing aggression, she announces her ignorance to the world through her contradictory statements and confirms that she, in accordance with her first bumper sticker—by being ignorant—is the main cause of violence in society.
Think about that. A person who is going out of her way to express her desire for peace is announcing that she endorses aggression as the way to achieve the desired end.
Perhaps I could interest you in the People Like Me Are the Main Cause of Violence in Society bumper sticker over in aisle five, ma’am? No?
But certainly I am getting carried away over a trivial matter here. After all, I’m sure her heart is in the right place, and she is in all probability a good person who has nothing but the best of intentions…
Well actually, that’s exactly what scares the bejeezus out of me.
Soccer moms in their SUVs and university professors in their Volvos with their confusing and conflicting slogans pasted on their bumpers are out there trying to make the world a better place, and they believe the way to achieve that end is through political action.
These are truly dangerous people—dangerous precisely because they fervently believe they are doing good. But problems cannot be resolved in an ethical manner through aggression, and, well, …
Politics is aggression.
Isabel Paterson’s book The God of the Machine (published during the carnage of World War II in 1943) contains a chapter titled The Humanitarian With the Guillotine. This chapter eloquently explains why we should all fear the results of the well-intentioned individuals who choose to utilize government to “help people.” She begins:
“Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends.”
“ ... if the harm done by willful criminals were to be computed, the number of murders, the extent of damage and loss, would be found negligible in the sum total of death and devastation wrought upon human beings by their kind. Therefore it is obvious that in periods when millions are slaughtered, when torture is practiced, starvation enforced, oppression made a policy, as at present over a large part of the world, and as it has often been in the past, it must be at the behest of very many good people, and even by their direct action, for what they consider a worthy object. When they are not the immediate executants, they are on record as giving approval, elaborating justifications, or else cloaking facts with silence, and discountenancing discussion.”
“ ... there must be a very grave error in the means by which they seek to attain their ends. There must even be an error in their primary axioms, to permit them to continue using such means. Something is terribly wrong in the procedure, somewhere. What is it?”
What an astute question. As we have posited here, the answer to that question is that most people have not yet received the message: Politics is aggression.
Now that’s worthy of a bumper sticker.