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PC's Opinion: Who Kills the Innocents?

This opinion piece is the second in a new series of "PC's Weekly Opinion" - a pithy, heavily-spiced editorial from Peter Cresswell that can be delivered to your in-box once a week. If you like what you read then feel free to forward it to everyone you've ever met, and to subscribe at http://www.libz.org . And if you don’t like what you read, you're probably not alone.

PC's Opinion

Who Kills the Innocents?

We are at war, and have been since September 11. Even Prime Minister Helen Clark agrees, saying: "I think the whole international community has to mobilise against terrorism. It is like a war against civilisation."

Indeed, when one identifies the enemy it is clear that this is not like a war against civilisation - this is an actual war against civilisation. It is a war of civilisation against barbarism.

So who declared war against whom? And who is responsible for all the innocent casualties?

Good question, and to answer it I’m going to have to take you all the way back to the Civil War. The English Civil War.

The Civil War ripped England apart - thousands were killed, King's heads rolled (well, one did), and the world's first police state was formed and eventually overthrown. Many lessons were learnt from this bloody conflict, the most pertinent for us being what constitutes a state of war.

Writing shortly after the bloodshed, Thomas Hobbes declared that war was the natural state in which men find themselves, our only hope for safety being to find a big friend to protect us - a big police state. Fortunately for those of us unwilling to forgo all our liberty in favour of a little temporary security, John Locke pointed out his error.

A state of war, said Locke is un-natural. Our natural state is actually "a State of perfect Freedom to consider our actions and dispose of our Possessions and Persons as we think fit, within the bounds of the Law of Nature, without asking leave or depending upon the Will of any other Man."

Now, I grant you that twentieth-century America is far from that state of perfect freedom, but most New Yorkers leaving for work on the morning of September 11 still felt themselves remarkably close to that happy, civilised state.

That feeling unfortunately didn't last the rush hour. "Men living together according to reason … is properly the State of Nature," said Locke. "But force, or a declared design of force upon the Person of another, where there is no common Superior on Earth to appeal for to relief, is the State of War." War was declared when that first plane hit the Trade Centre tower.

When that plane hit, we all entered a State of War, a war declared by the scum who committed the atrocities of September 11 in a declared design of force against all civilised life. Every person who wants to go peacefully about his daily life must now realise that he cannot be safe until the scum who have designs on civilised life are destroyed. As Locke advises: "He who attempts to get another Man into his Absolute Power, does thereby put himself into a State of War with him; It being understood as a Declaration of Design upon his Life; for I have good reason to conclude that he who would get me into his power without my consent would use me as he pleased when he got me there, and destroy me too when he had a fancy to it."

He's dead right, and the destruction of the World Trade Center was just such a declaration of war. To avoid our own destruction we must do all we can to destroy those who declared that war, and who have designs on the civilisation that sustains our lives - and only then can we return to our natural, civilised state. To paraphrase 'W.,' you are either with civilisation in destroying the destroyers, or you would leave civilisation at the mercy of the terrorists.

In this sense, the bombs raining down on Taleban military positions have been sent there by Osama bin Laden himself, and any innocents killed in the attempt to root him out are his responsibility; for until bin Laden and his terrorist network are destroyed - and every other terrorist and everyone in every country who harbours terrorism - then we, all of us, can never again enjoy our natural, peaceful state.

We are in a state of war. It behooves us to kill our destroyer before he destroys us.

COLUMN ENDS

Reaction to last week's column

(See... Scoop Feedback: Cresswell, Klein And NZ’s Defence)

There has been much reaction to my first column. That’s as it should be - strong views should get a strong reaction.

I have been accused of "peddling racist claptrap" and told I need a "slapping" for it. Well, I did say it was unfashionable to point out that one culture is superior to another, and now I guess I have a slapping from a blind fashion victim to look forward to.

I am apparently guilty of unpardonable sins, so let me briefly unburden myself.

The most focussed criticisms are neatly summarised by two Scoop readers. One opines: "When you are considering other cultures, things aren't better or worse, just different." (She's dead wrong, as I'll explain in a moment). My other Scoop critic suggests I need "a history lesson. The Western Enlightenment," she says, "would never have happened without the contribution of Islamic culture."

Now, she's right to say that western Enlightenment would never have happened without the contribution of Islamic culture, but that doesn't contradict any part of what I wrote (as I invite her to re-read 'The Heart of the West' and find out).

The western Enlightenment would never have happened without Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas was indeed relying on the excellent work of Arab scholars, who had nurtured the reality-focussed philosophy of Aristotle for centuries, even as the West endured its own church-induced Dark Ages.

But both western and Arab scholars eventually realised that Aristotle's this-worldly, reason-focussed outlook posed a threat to the faith-based supernaturalism of their respective religions.

Aquinas chose to limit faith to make room for reason, unwittingly liberating western thought from the mystic ramblings of theology - it was he who let the Enlightenment genie out of the bottle. Arabic scholars (despite their excellent start) instead rejected reason and this world, and their world retreated into mystical, metaphysical meanderings and the Dark Ages in which their feudal societies remain today.

The lesson I say we should be learning from history - and it is open to any race, culture or creed to learn it - is that the reason-focused culture of the west is an infinitely better place in which to live than any other culture in history. The evidence is all around you, if you only have eyes to see.

Which brings me to the criticism from the blind fashion victim, that it is wrong to call one culture superior to any other. Speaking frankly, this criticism is politically correct bullshit.

As Thomas Sowell points out: "Cultures are not museum pieces. They are the working machinery of everyday life. Unlike objects of aesthetic contemplation, working machinery is judged by how well it works, compared to the alternatives."

Frankly, if you can look at the lives of the non-elite serfs in the feudal Arab oil states, or the dirt-poor existence of many people in Sudan, Libya, Egypt. Morocco, or Algeria and then say that Arab culture is working for them, then it is clear that respect for reason and the facts of existence are not high amongst your values.

In which case, I suggest that Western civilisation has been wasted on you.

© Libz.org 2001

- This column may be reproduced anywhere, anytime, by anyone - just as long as it is reproduced in full, with attribution to libz.org, and that you let Peter know at organon@ihug.co.nz .


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