Tuesday, January 17, 2017

International Political Meddlers

     A scorpion, desirous of crossing a river, approached a frog and requested the favor of transport. The frog was dubious. “If you were to sting me, I would die.” The scorpion assured the frog that it had no such intention. Besides, the scorpion said, it could not swim and would drown if it were to harm its benefactor. Thus persuaded, the frog allowed the scorpion to mount its back, and their traversal of the river commenced.
     When they were at the midpoint of the river, the scorpion drove its stinger into the frog’s back, injecting a lethal amount of venom into it. As the frog’s life faded, it cried out, “Why did you do that? Now we’ll both die!” The other replied, “I’m a scorpion. It’s my nature.”

     [Origin and originator unknown.]

     Just this morning, an Australian lady I follow on Gab.ai posted this:

     For some reason, it seems that many Australians seem to think that they have a say when it comes to American politics There have been multiple protests against Trump over the last few months here.

     It pricked a memory, which I decided to post:

     In 2004 a gaggle of British writers (including David Cornwall a.k.a. "John Le Carre") tried to promote the notion that everyone in the world has a right to vote in American elections, "because America affects everything everywhere." Few people remember that.

     That election, you may recall, was Bush II vs. Kerry. It was decided by a single state: Ohio. The Britons arguing for international participation in our elections were, of course, on Kerry’s side and against a second term for Dubya. Had they gotten their wish, perhaps Kerry would have won. His politics were more compatible with European social-democratic notions than those of George W. Bush.

     It casts a strange light on the current foofaurauw over supposed Russian “interference” in our most recent election.

     It’s common knowledge, or should be, that the last time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood for re-election, the Obama Administration sent personnel and funds to Israel to aid Netanyahu’s opponent. What’s not common knowledge is how often the major powers of the world do similar things. If this should become more widely known as a consequence of November 8, 2016, it can only be for the best.

     Governments are both one another’s allies and one another’s competitors. When the government of Brux sees a chance to “improve relations” with the government of Wazznia by attempting to influence Wazznian elections, it’s more likely than not to do so. Of course, the “improvement” sought might not strike the citizens of Wazznia as such. Indeed, the desired “improvement” might not be to the taste of the citizens of Brux, either. That’s in the nature of government-to-government relations.

     The key to the mystery is a distasteful realization:

Every government on Earth is in business for itself above all else.

     "Government's a dubious glory...You pay for your power and wealth by balancing on the sharp edge of the blade. That great amorphous thing out there -- the people -- has turned and swallowed many governments. They can do it in the flash of an angry uprising. The way you prevent that is by giving good government, not perfect government -- but good. Otherwise, sooner or later, your turn comes." [Frank Herbert, The Godmakers ]

     There’s no comprehending the behavior of governments or the persons who rise to power in them without first confronting that simple truth.

  • Governments as institutions seek to perpetuate themselves.
  • Those who run governments seek to perpetuate (and if possible increase) their power.
  • Those subject to governments are sheep to be shorn: no more, no less.

     Governments face two threats: revolution and conquest. Governors face those plus (in some countries) the possibility of being replaced. Even in supposed democracies, the first consideration any politician addresses when confronted by some question is how the alternatives would bear on his future. Even in supposedly divided governments, the opposing parties will cooperate and collaborate to perpetuate or reinforce the status quo. By now Americans should have had ample evidence of that.

     Whenever one government attempts to sway an election (or any other method of determining access to power) in another nation, its masters have one of those considerations in mind. If any question remains, it would be the specific nature of the consideration: military, economic, sociological, demographic, or other.

     Just yesterday, a fellow I was interviewing for a job I have in mind mentioned offhand his belief that I’m an anarchist. I suppose much of what I’ve said and written will support that belief. But at the bedrock level, I’m a believer in and advocate of individual freedom. That is: in any particular place, time, and demo-sociological context, whatever form of social organization will best support the maximum degree of individual freedom for the persons involved is what I would favor.

     The recorded history of the world has known several anarchisms. Pre-Roman Empire Sumer. Medieval Ireland and Iceland. In a de facto sense, the frontier American West of the Nineteenth Century. While they lasted, they were pretty good at keeping their “citizens” free and unencumbered. Yet none of them lasted, because at some point their “citizens” either chose a government or were subjected to one and failed to resist it effectively.

     Were the anarchisms that preceded those points preferable to what followed? Why not consult those who allowed governments to displace their previous arrangements? Don’t their historically recorded decisions and actions answer us pretty clearly? But contrariwise, don’t the decision and actions of their ancestors, who threw off the States over them in an openly expressed preference for anarchism, give the opposite answer?

     I wrote in the Foreword to Freedom’s Fury:

     I’m horrified by politics and all its fruits. I consider the use of coercive force against innocent men the greatest of all the evils we know. But I try, most sincerely, to be realistic about the world around us. In that world, peopled by men such as ourselves, anarchism—the complete abjuration and avoidance of the State—is unstable. In time, it will always give way to politics. Hammer it to the earth as many times as you may, you will never succeed in killing it permanently. The State will rise again.
     However, as we’ve learned to our sorrow these past few centuries, the State is unstable, too. It always deteriorates and falls, though not always swiftly. What follows it varies from place to place and era to era.

     While there are States, they will meddle with one another.
     Sometimes the meddling will go unnoticed.
     Sometimes it will only elicit comment.
     Sometimes there will be reprisals.
     Sometimes, there will be war.

     It is in the nature of these inherently savage beasts.

1 comment:

Joseph said...

The theory that everybody on Earth should have a say in US elections because the US is a particularly influential state makes as much sense as a theory that everybody in the US should have a say in NYC elections because NYC is a particularly influential city.

Wait a moment... It's starting to make a little sense now...