|14A017 War's Vortex by Jim Davies, 6/11/2014
It's awesome: the grip that government forms when it wages war. No wonder that activity is its "health." I'm thinking here of its grip over the emotions of those who fight.
D-Day this year was unusually poignant because all the veterans of the invasion are aged 90 or more, and they are dying at the rate of 400 a day. A decade hence, it will be amazing if any are left. All those elderly gentlemen shown on TV were, clearly, deeply affected by the memory of that awful day. It was the day that defined their lives.
The cold statistics don't reflect the reality. About 150,000 men were landed in Normandy that day, and 2,500 were killed. That's 1.7%, or 1 in 60. Not bad odds, for the most famous invasion battle in history. They were all incredibly brave, no question. So were the defenders. From the moment they saw the size of the invasion fleet on the horizon, at about dawn on June 6th 1944, they must have known that they were facing their last day of life, with odds a great deal worse than 1 in 60.
One of the most remarkable people it's been my privilege to know was one I'll call Sam, with whom I did over a million dollars' worth of business on the strength of a handshake. That's not the basis recommended for the coming ZGS - a written contract is always preferable - but Sam's spoken word was his bond. He was that kind of guy. From school, he was drafted into the US Marines. He helped storm Japanese-held islands in the Pacific, where the chances of being killed were closer to 1 in 10. That was his life-defining experience.
Sam later became a successful businessman, and learned what a crock government is in its interference in trade, with its ruinous taxes and regulations. He even came to the point of rewarding his customers who had done a sufficient volume of trade with him with the gift of a gold coin! - these were the 90s, when an ounce went for under $300. He donated generously to libertarian causes, and approved of my writings, and on all subjects except foreign policy we were pretty well in sync.
But whenever I asked him how he could with consistency disparage the Treasury and then cross the street and approve the Department of State, he would not be drawn; he changed the subject. If the FedGov did it to some other country, it was good. I have no doubt that his Pacific experience was the reason. Something had hard-wired him there, to secure his loyalty in that respect; to place Uncle above all rational criticism. The contrast was astonishing.
Sam died a few years ago, and one of his last actions was to arrange for the posthumous mailing of the gift of an electronic desk calendar clock to each of his business associates. Mine still sits before me, to tell me the time and date, and inspires thoughts like tempus fugit and carpe diem. Sam was unforgettable, but the memento makes sure of it.
I hit a similar obstacle in The Guardian, upon whose on-line forum I like to stir things up a bit. The readership is left of center, and I'm often able to get quite a few thumbs-up when posting comments about KerryBama and their ilk, creating mayhem in Syria, Iran, Ukraine etc. But even there, last week the prevailing sentiment on the D-Day subject was one of uncritical approval for the bravery of the invaders. But for them, where would we be now, etc.; they saved the world for freedom and democracy, we thank them and all veterans for their service, and so on. Yuck; so I raised a few rational questions. It was like poking a hornets' nest - and these were, predominantly, left of center. Had I managed to post such questions on a Fox News affiliate, my scalp might, by now, be dangling from some stake.
The indoctrination or brain-washing begins in kindergarten (is it just coincidence, that they never even bothered to translate that word out of German?) and progresses through school enhanced and surrounded by media and traditions - cementing in every youngster's mind the idea that he or she belongs in a "we", a people (a Volk in the world-view of Hitler) or a tribe or state. This entity is quite separate from organizations and groups within the state. One can disagree with other members passionately, but when the drums roll for God Save the Queen, or for The Star-Spangled Banner, or for Deutschland Über Alles, all differences are put on hold and people stand with hands on hearts. It's a religious thing, a loyalty to a supreme myth. It's fostered further by military training; marching bands and boot-camp humiliation and "Unit, Corp, God, Country," which code is in ascending sequence of loyalty. So when the training comes to fruition in a real war, the individual is totally subsumed in the state; one's very life itself is willingly placed on its altar of sacrifice. My friend Sam could and did oppose almost everything about the American state, but never the state itself. By war, the state had sucked him in.
I can see the problem. Someone surrenders his very life to the ideal, then gets told it's all a lie. How can he live with such knowledge, that he's been fooled all his life, right up to the moment he offered it on the altar? No wonder it's hard to deprogram people so deeply absorbed into the Cult of the Omnipotent State. It seems like a black hole. But those who do make it out, having seen the monstrous evil right up close and yet having broken free of its suction, are among the finest who work to abolish government, that ultimate source of all evil and mayhem.