Thursday, April 10, 2014

david, goliath, and the state

ask any reasoning, well-meaning person, "do you do the right thing because the state instructs you to do so, or of your own accord? do you know the right thing because of something inside of yourself, or because some professional crooks who profit from violent coercion told you what is right? who could have a more relevant and understanding opinion on what is the most right thing for you, if not yourself?"

"yes," they may say, "but i cannot trust that all others will listen to that voice of truth. in fact the very world outside my door bears witness that the masses of humanity don't listen to that voice. for that reason, then, we have the state." the implication then would be that the most effective way to uphold the force of truth and morality is to use force. that is a foolish assertion though, as anyone who witnesses the modern world and has half a wit understands that the one whose will triumphs is simply the one with bigger muscles and better technique.

let's look at the story of david and goliath. the story gives a picture of someone who initially would appear to have only minute chance of winning; however, he is on the side of morality, the side of god. the story suggests that he won against the evil goliath because he was the moral party, and further suggests that although the immoral may seem to triumph for a time, the moral and right party will always come out on top.

looking at the story again however, we can see that david, although small in stature, had at least average intelligence. when he found himself face to face with a giant, he thus did not engage in hand-to-hand combat, but employed a tactic he knew he had the upper-hand in. that is, ranged weaponry. he won because of his skill and his sensibility, not because of his morality.

which raises the question: which party truly stood in the moral ground on that famous day? the israelites or the philistines? surely, the israelites were certain that they were in the right and that their enemy was in the wrong. but what did the philistines say? did they not also believe that they were in the right and that the israelites were evil? looking back, it is dec almost unanimously that david was the moral party, because he was the winner. and as an old burmese proverb says, the winners get to write history.

the question that arises is, what if goliath, in addition to his enormous size, had enough wit to counter david's methods? what if goliath ended up blocking the stone with his shield and charging david, and the story ended with david's head impaled on a stick in the midst of a bloody battleground? well, then the story would go that the philistines were chosen by god to bring goodness to the earth by destroying the evil israelites. the question of who was in the right then is not at all objective, but is determined by brains and mostly braun.

the state, by definition, is always the greatest aggressor and the most frequent victor. it is not determined by any god or moral code, but by the iron fist. if the people rebel, they are first considered to be the immoral disruptors. but in the case that they win their struggle against the current order, their ideals are compromised, incorporated into the entity of the state, and become the new standard for morality.

what then does morality mean? within the current order, it means nothing more than 'champion', 'most oppressive', 'most gifted in manipulation and coercion', 'wealthiest'.

so you say that the state is necessary because your opinion of what is right often differs from others'? the question of differing morality is indeed a very important question that should be asked, thoughtfully discussed, and it should be determined how to give freedom to every individual though they may differ in opinion. however, will the force of the state, the aggression of the aggressor, ever contribute to the discovery of the greater good? alas, there is no way it ever will.

we must do what we know is right from within ourselves. others must do what they know is right from within their selves. there will still be problems, many of them. there will still be conflicts, often. but, at least we will be working through these conflicts in constructive ways rather than merely pushing the moral opinions of the stronger upon the weaker by use of coercion and violence.

what is life but conflict? contrary forces are continually acting against each other in nature, comprising all we've ever known as life. conflict is nothing to shirk from. oppression, domination - these are the things we need avoid.

the state has nothing to offer us but blood. let us offer it our fire.