Every age and all cultures tend to accept certain statements as self-evident and, therefore, as true. The term, “crutch” comes to mind. One possibility is that the allegation is correct. Even for agnostics, the Ten Commandments might fit the category. Frequently, however, we find a force that, through its control of the media and pulpit, can keep dubious claims alive. Thereby the pretention serves as a “law” even if, to those in the know, it is merely a useful fallacy. Insisting on a geocentric universe after Kepler or the Divine Right of Kings in the 18th century, illustrate the case. Lastly, the wrong “truth” can be an “agitprop” forgery. As such it is a hag pulling the cart of an inventive beneficiary. That case is the subject of this piece.
Manipulated truth is costly. Its embedded distortion can prevent timely actions. The so affected will suffer misfortune caused by the “Ersatz” truth which cannot replace reality. In that case, the truth that is falsehood has results that, translated into deeds, will be devastating. Even worse, it defines the credulous victim as naïve.
A typical contemporary example of such cheating, always paired with self-delusion, is the profession that “violence does not settle anything”. If examined, the phrase is actually a verbal fifth column of aggressors and aids them along the highway of interstate relations.
Sham, masquerading as truth, faked to draw attention from the reality of a rational world, can enjoy durable acceptance. This is because the average contemporary cannot examine the substance of the teaching. The conspiracies attributed to abstract groups, such as the “Jews” or the “capitalists” come to mind. Another example is the treatment imposed by elites, the “good society”, upon those that are discounted as “populists”. Frequently, such populists are the “insolent” ones who question agreed upon beliefs. Furthermore, the uppity often dare to challenge the manicured results of the elites’ policies that are to prove their right to lead. Fitting cases abound. This writer admits to his earlier support of such “remedial actions” to cure common colds by replacing them with the cholera.
Obviously, not every non-conformist is sane just because he questions what is generally accepted. Critics, even those that partially share our views, can be located where the nut filling of the political cake is mixed.
Recent elections for the European Union’s parliament demonstrate the danger of pretentions. Eurocracy; a term that fuses a fictional Europe’s government with the tag of an unelected bureaucracy, justifies itself with fantasy’s allegations. One of these is that peace since 1945 is to be attributed to it. The reality is that American protection and the Soviet threat have created conditions in which capable statesmen could shelve an antiquated German-French enmity. Second: prosperity is a consequence and not a symptom of stability and of reindustrialization facilitated by the American “hegemon’s” investment (Marshall Plan). The protection-for-free enjoyed for two generations, slants contemporary perceptions.
The example of a distorted view that relies upon faked data about how the word works, is the claim that “war does not settle anything”. If that is true, we should mind the principle. In case we discover it as snake oil, the wisdom is poisonous. Göbbels, a master of propaganda, told a despised world that repeating a falsehood makes it true. This makes it imperative that we deal with the postulate.
When one considers that thesis and our time’s popular lies, one is made to think of two things. The first one probes the motives of the propagators and their identity. The second tests the accuracy of the claim.
Let us start with the “who are they”. The claim tends to come from a closed circle of self-confirming elites. The network of the privileged operates in a cell that protects it from contamination by rational critique. This milieu shields aberrant pretentions through the respectability conferred by the clan that populates it. Insiders of this Shangri-La network hold their pulpits with the help of forces that are independent of effort and achievement. The resulting bias distorts perspectives.
The “power-backed” defense of a way of life or of a state sounds out of tune in such a postulated environment. An additional consideration lurks behind the principal of renunciation of force. It so happens, that might mean armies, and armies demand sacrifice and disciplined personal service.
For those that have been products of permissiveness, such service suggests a synonym. It is “servitude”, as in “involuntary”. An inconsistencey exists. Those who enjoy personal immunity and reject violence in their own defense, admire triggermen such as Che Guevara and his ilk. Finding a noble cause as an imperative of these to fight is paired with the inability to find a reason to defend their own system. The dichotomy betrays an otherworldly and selective morality.
Lastly, we have the practical aspect of the rejection of violence as a last resort. (If they can be had, sanity tells that peaceful solutions are the best solutions.) Even in the service of self-defense, resistance is deemed as unnecessary as aggression by other cultures is classified as a response to provocation and past exploitation. This makes “sharing” and not striking back into the best defense.
As we test the proposition of the unconditional negation of war, we might ask for the testimonies of the defeated whether wars, “do not settle anything”. Alas, the Roman Empire does not respond to surveys. Byzantium answers the phone in Turkish. Those overrun by the Mongols are silent; the Templars are as forgotten as are Godwinson’s Saxons of 1066 fame. Who can hear the Carthaginians, or those that resisted in Warsaw? What “persuasive diplomatic measure” could have replaced D-Day? What about the “problems” created by capitulation, such as extermination, deportation and subjugation?
The claim that violence is inconsequential, holds water only if its advocates are ultimately protected from the folly of their self-willed weakness. That defender needs to be a mighty entity. Additionally, it had better be one that does not abuse power by its over-use or by its non-use. Short of finding a state that fits this rare profile, the misjudgment of reality imperils its practitioners. The error’s deadly magnitude will not be realized until after self-chosen debility muted into servitude. That being so, the thesis cheats those that apply it. Before that happens, they deceive themselves into a state of paralysis because they are asking tricksters to cheat them in exchange for a transitional moment’s peace and its sham security.