Friday, March 31, 2006

Existential angst

Crispin Sartwell:

In the words of The Rascals and George W. Bush, people everywhere just want to be free. The point seems almost trivial: We want to be able to do what we want, and we don't want people stopping us.

But many events give me pause as I stand to mutter my Bushy cliches about the universal love of liberty. Here's one: Tens of thousands of people gather to mourn the death of their beloved dictator. One might think it difficult to regard the regime of Slobodan Milosevic -- featuring war, ethnic cleansing, rape camps and other hijinks -- with affectionate nostalgia. And yet, after his richly deserved croak, people were sobbing on the streets of Belgrade.

In St. Petersburg, a group of Russian communists renamed a scenic boulevard "Slobodan Milosevic Street." This made sense, as the Russian people responded to the chaotic Yeltsin administration with an explicit nostalgia for forced collectivization, one-party elections, hilarious show trials and the gulag. And now that they've got a good, strong leader in Vlad Putin, their desires are well on the way to realization.

Lest one think an enthusiasm for personal subordination is limited to the Slavs, let me assert that it is a universal feature of our admirable species. Indeed, since the development of the political state, human history is incomprehensible on any hypothesis other than that people hate and fear their freedom. On the hypothesis that everyone aspires to freedom, it is difficult to explain why we are continuously subordinated.

In France, hundreds of thousands of students are protesting or rioting. What do they want? Anarchy a la mode? No, no, no. They want the state to guarantee them a job, no matter how badly they perform. The last thing they want is to be responsible for themselves.

[..] We want the government to guarantee our health, deflect hurricanes, educate our children and license us to drive; we want to be told what to eat, what to smoke and whom to marry. We are justly proud of the fact that no enduring society has ever incarcerated more of its people. Noting that the policeman has a pistol, a club, a stun gun, a can of pepper spray and a database that includes us, we feel happy and secure.

Our submission is absolute: We want to be operated like puppets and provided for like pets.

The terrorists hate our freedom. But we should be comfortable with that. We hate our freedom, too.
HT: Hammer of Truth