“First they came for the Communists… and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Socialists… and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists… and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews… and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me… and there was no one left to speak out for me”
This lament by Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller is much quoted. The general assumption is that the powers that be (here, the Nazis) are corrupt. It’s a tidy assumption, and often correct, but not always.
Let’s flip all this and say that the operative mechanism is that somebody committed a crime, and no one reacted. That’s how evil tends to creep. It is opportunistic. It’s the phrase attributed to Edmund Burke who, watching the progress of the French Revolution said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.” He was right, and we are watching the folly of history repeat itself again, as if we have not learned any of its lessons.
It always starts with the small stuff.
I read in the papers, how the Liquor Control Board of Ontario has suffered record thefts this past year. I am not talking about people slipping a bottle into their purse. I am talking about people coming in, loading up a cart wholesale and just walking out of the store. This, because when it happened once, the policy of the LCBO was, “please, no one step in”. The wrong parties hearing this, it became a free-for-all.
Also in the same year, the Toronto Transit Commission including GO transit, has wrung their hands over those who either jump the turnstile, fail to validate a pass, or simply walk past a ticket booth and brazenly refuse to pay. Like the first piece of litter on a street, all it takes is the first one, for such things to proliferate.
Let’s keep going. The schools have been rocked by the anarchy of the Teacher’s unions, set against Ontario (elected) Premier Doug Ford. Their fight has gone long and hard, and like a shell game, it seems that no one knows just what points they are bargaining over. The real picture seems to be one where the trade union is a parallel power that wants to overthrow the interests of the state to maintain order, by force of anarchy.
Last week, a diminutive older woman from Scarborough was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. She was a random victim. The police upon investigating, quickly upped the charges from simple murder, to terrorism. It seems her assailant had been going to the mosque where he somehow developed the idea that for his religion to prevail, he must terrorize innocent people. All that was necessary for his dream to prosper, was a bit of murder.
Let’s just say these are interesting but not good times. We have a national leader who for lack of bespoke bloodline might have ended up as a snowboard instructor, or in a jail cell over issues of wandering hands. An erstwhile drama teacher and fop, we have been treated to a vale of tears over the sins of the state (none of them his personally of course) and in the latest fashion, blaming history, particularly white colonial history.
Hence, he has prostrated himself at the feet of many interest groups, as if the state has no power, no authority, and no mandate to rule despite being duly elected by the majority of citizens. He has won power in a free election, and presumably, he can go on to do great things. He has been empowered by the masses. It’s political theory 101 from Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, whereby people grant the state power to maintain order. For this, they pay taxes and give up certain freedoms by collective assent. The lack of such a system leaves us with a world that Thomas Hobbes described as the necessary alternative… a life that is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. It might be where we are headed, yet.
This last month has seen coast to coast rail transit shut down by protestors claiming “solidarity” with the Wetsuetin Indian band in British Columbia, who are back and forth over whether it benefits their people if a pipeline carrying oil goes through their territory, and they get to profit from the oil. Last word, a la Greta Thunburg, oil is evil and all must capitulate, even if you must drive a car or heat your home. We are a principled lot. Therefore we throw away any legitimacy we have, and cast it over in great faith to the anarchists who are (of course) pure of heart unlike the rest of the human race throughout history. They are suddenly going to get it right because they are so darned pure.
Our boy leader instead of enforcing the law, has looked to another world body as custodians of our national interests. He is appealing to the United Nations and their Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which cedes the entirety of colonial history to the present bloodline of those who lived here a long time ago. It’s not whether you are right, it’s if you belong to the right group. It’s a fairly racist concept... rule by virtue of ethnicity is what I thought they were complaining about in the first place.
Trudeau has failed to step up and show any leadership, in the hopes that the UN declaration will make it seem as if his hands are tied and it does not really matter that he was duly elected by citizens to maintain order and to run our affairs in trust. He has abdicated his sworn duties over issues of ego. He doesn’t want to look like a mean guy, wielding all that authority. He would prefer to hand over the reins to those we did NOT elect, making me scratch my head why we are paying taxes and having elections in the first place.
We are lacking a model in which to proceed, it would seem. Whatever gains western civilization has enjoyed since the time of the enlightenment is being fast abandoned, by those rich and connected enough that it will not affect them personally. It’s easy to look like a tolerant and nice guy if anarchy is something you can simply move away from, insulated from the circumstances of the world you accede to.
Let’s be frank. We are talking about hooligans and bandits here, people who would thumb their nose at the power of the state, always claiming their own cause is more virtuous and makes them the exception to any rules. It’s not a great way to run a country. In the case of Aboriginal issues, we have seen this already spiral out of control in Caledonia, a situation a few years back where native bands contested a development in an area called Douglas Creek Estates, moved in with all terrain vehicles and high powered weapons, and took over. Those directly affected had followed the current rules, paid taxes, arranged mortgages and legalities required by the very state who betrayed them. The police presence did nothing to protect citizens. In the end, the government used its deep tax base to buy away the problem. They simply purchased the land and handed it over to the indigenous protesters. Last word was that there was much infighting among the thugs to determine who got what house, illustrating the well known saying that there is no honour among thieves.
Since power ceded to the state is an agreement people make in a democracy, it seems democracy has been ruled out as an option. If people want their rights, they will have to ignore the state, and like the hoodlums, take up arms and fight. It’s the war of every man against every other man, that Thomas Hobbes warned about. Its where political theories now popular in universities lead us. Notions like those of Michel Foucault would have us believe that power is never legitimate, only a battle over control of interests. There is never a greater good to be served. Power therefore must be wrested from the state through banditry. Such groups do not want parity, only power. They will unapologetically use it to their own ends. It is a cautionary tale.
Power is an interesting thing because it has the ability to create order. Order being when you feel free enough to pursue your trade in faith that you will prosper from the work of your hands. Great civilizations like Elizabethan England, and Rome, prospered for a long time when there was no immediate threat from factions. Corruption cannot take control by force. Wrongdoers would be punished. In such an environment, every boat is raised on a high tide, people make money, and the arts flourish. It’s when power used judiciously can serve the interests of the majority. It’s the great things that happen when one rule of law is applied to all. It allows for the greatest commodity a society can harness to take root. Trust. It can easily get broken when betrayed, or when overrun by the illegitimate power of corruption and graft.
How to move forward? A show of force by the state might be welcome at this point, as a means of restoring order. When the powers that be wring their hands and go “oh my, there is nothing we can do”, they go against their duly appointed duties to steward the wishes of the masses. Democracy is not being held to account. The state has legitimate power to govern, at least if we are to pursue the dream of a collective that is buoyed by the wishes of the masses.
All that is required for evil to prosper, is that good men do nothing. I have seen it come to fruition in my lifetime, an abdication and dereliction of duty by elected officials and it is sad. We may be in for some vigilante justice, and it may come as a surprise to bandits when good people stand up for their own rights, having been failed by the state.
When I was sixteen, I had a part-time job packing groceries at Food City in Peterborough. It did not pay me a princely sum, but it gave me some pocket money. I was there to pack groceries and collect my pay.
One day, I went up to the break room, and two figures burst past me on the stairway. They had come from the staff washroom. I went in, and saw they had done a good job vandalizing everything. Instinctively, I ran out and pursued them. What they had done was senseless and illegal. I tackled the first guy, and had him in a head lock until his friend came back and kicked me in the head. They ended up getting away, but given the law of averages, people who commit such silly acts of vandalism are likely already known to the law. I was able to identify the pair via mug shots and they were arrested for vandalism and destruction of private property. The law prevailed, because somebody did something. I bet those two idiots thought twice, the next time they wanted to give sway to their worst instincts.
“Dieu et mon droit” is the motto displayed on the coat of arms that appears in any British, Westphalian court room. It translates as “God and my right” and it acedes to the idea that issues of right and wrong must be adhered to, and follow a chain of hierarchy from Kings on up to God’s own authority. It presumes that the state enforce one law for all without prejudice, maintaining its authority over national boundaries for the benefit of its citizens. It recognizes the necessary power of goodness to prevail, and it is something to be welcomed in matters of running a state.
Power can be legitimate. Serving the ends of peace, order and justice is a good idea to be respected. No one should prosper outside of the law. It’s an inherently racist idea to imagine that your particular group gets some kind of exemption. Sooner or later people get tired of the rhetoric and it gives way to an energized citizenry.
I may welcome it. People doing something, can sometimes be a pretty good idea. Politicians, please take note.