Sunday, February 19, 2006

White Sheep

George Orwell understood tyranny as deeply as did Churchill. How strange, for a journalist. But then Churchill was a journalist too. Hmm. Ah. There must be some evolutionary force at work, here, where the crude, rough few are being bred out of the gene pool. Some sort of striped-sheep deal going on, like with Jacob and Laban. Someone forgot to set out the branches, though. All we're breeding nowadays is albinos, who cower from the heat of day. So, somehow, all Orwell is remembered for is "Big Brother," which, weirdly, seems to signify the American system in the minds of the e-literati. That's what a university ejumikashun will do for you. Hopfuley .... youl'l: lern how too splell; and - punkshuate!

Orwell wasn't writing about the West. Duh. It's about Totalitarianism, and it isn't a cautionary tale, but an allegory of the reality of his time. He had once, if memory serves, been in thrall to the Communist ethos - even if I'm wrong, he was a socialist. Perhaps that's what focused his ire - seeing his own dream turn nightmare. But he understood a great deal about corruption from the Left. A fair broker.

Strength is necessary. Laws operate through coercion. I don't need a law telling me not to rob banks. Some do. And it is only through the threat of violence - socially prescribed violence - that laws are enforced. Obey this law or we will hurt you. I never had to spank my son, but I would have. And it really would have hurt me more than him. But I would have. Society, government, is not a paternal entity - not as a conservative sees it. It is a compact, a mutual protection league, where we band together to ensure the general, the general welfare. And a big part of that is the fact that the collectively agreed-upon rules are not only obeyed, but that their breach is punished. Force. Coercion. Violence.

This is one of the reasons that corruption in offices of trust is so hated, in America. In Mexico, it is expected - la mordida. But here, well, we used to have the idea of being tarred and feathered, of being ridden out of town on a rail. It's not likely to come as a huge surprise to anyone who's read my postings here, but I'm all for bringing back the pillory, the stocks, and public flogging. Truly. Not televised. Caning is a perfect punishment: quick, harsh, expiating. You've been punished, now go and sin no more. But when those in power themselves need punishment, it's the courage of that quaint and dated concept, the little guy, that makes things right.

Alas, consider: Our mass morality is offended, so we ... riot? Burn embassies? Burn effigies? A quick survey of American history finds Puritanical repression and Leftist anarchy. I should say, isolated repression and anarchy. This, to head off any ill-conceived attempt to compare any characteristic of America with, oh, say, Islam.

Here's the point: we are a moderate and balanced people. Our founding documents are idealistic and practical, embodying hope and providing for reality. All men are created equal, but they are not equal. Because corruption is a birthright, we were given checks and balances, and separation of the branches of government, and decentralization. The strong protect the weak. How lovely and how fair, this land.

Reality is ugly though, and ideals are imperfectly realized. We are not children, to be discomfited by this. Instead, we resolve to be strong. If not in body, then in intellect. If not in intellect, then in character. If not in character ... well, that's the end of the matter. Which brings us back to journalism. Orwell, a journalist, said, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." He's not the last man to understand that fact, but those of his now-degenerate tribe retain not the meaning of his words.

Americans are not sheep, to need shepherds. There is to be no guiding human hand, casting sticks before us that we should take on this or that characteristic. Rather, we may take up a big stick and wield it in our own defense. It is by the strength of our own hands that we prosper or fail. I speak as an idealist, of course - and thus as a fool - but as an idealist who works toward achieving his end. To be a fool to such a purpose is a fine thing. The purpose? Well, who wouldn't agree: to be faithful to what we hold true, to be gentle in both weakness and power, and to be ferocious in the defense of what we love. Somehow this comes out as wisdom and moderation.


No comments: