Monday, August 4, 2008

Second 'Operative' Principle

The Power of the Sword

This gets me to the other unspoken, operative principle. You seem to have an almost pacifist repugnance toward the threat of harm—implied or otherwise1.
"We must remember that the power of the State is the power to utilize violence to achieve its ends. Behind every law is the implicit threat of violence. It is this understanding that separates the Libertarian from the Conservative. "
Oh, no. To the contrary. Conservatives are well aware of the coercive menace behind law. I fail to see how you think Conservatives don’t know this. Neither do I see why the “implicit threat of violence” in itself is so dispositive toward the open availability of abortion.

Conservative “Anthropology”

Perhaps part of our differences on this score is Conservative “anthropology” —that is the Conservative observation on human nature2. Men are not just a rational being—not even primarily a rational creature. He is also an emotional and instinctual being. He does not live in two different modes. Instead, he is all of this in one whole in every instant. In surveying actual human historical behavior, Conservatives do not think violence, conflict and war are aberrations. Instead, violence and war are inevitable. The miserable fact is the world is ruled by the aggressive projection of force or threat of same3.
Especially after taking stock of human history, Conservatives believe in the existence of radical evil—a malevolence that cannot be appeased nor reasoned with. Others, while not evil in the extreme, will harm and steal from the weak, defenseless and peaceful if they can extract some advantage for themselves without challengers. Therefore, to preserve civil peace and maintain justice, force and the threat of violence are unexceptionally necessary for self-defense and coming to the aid of another. To protect civil society and punish crime, Conservatives do not mind occasionally showing the bloody axe.
1 Surely this can’t be right. It doesn’t seem all together likely that the Libertarian ranks are filled with pacifists. If a Libertarian society ever were established, how would such political rĂ©gime be preserved? How would the Constitution be upheld and defended? Something, some qualifier, is missing here.
2 There is no denying that “Conservative Anthropology” is decidedly Augustinian. It should be noted that no Conservative believes this violent world is the way it should be nor should it be the way anyone should want. What we have is a tragic state of affairs. It’ not the way we want it; but there it is.
3 The mistake many of us make is thinking we share the same interests. Nation states rarely do. Even in the hope for “world peace”, such a goal exists in different priorities among countries. That is to say those interests are frequently asymmetrical. Nation States have their own internal logic in seeking and then pursuing their national interests. For “Machiavellian” reasons, international unrest may serve a nation better than stability.

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