Skip to comments.Government Against the People
Posted on 09/24/2001 12:49:15 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage
The American Constitutionalist
By: Aaron Armitage
Government Against the People
As the United States prepares retaliation aimed at Osama bin Laden's network of terrorists and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan there is a temptation, already succumbed to rhetorically by some people, to treat the Afghan people or all Middle Easterners as the enemy in a total war. George Bush, in his address to Congress, has rejected this, and he was right to do so. Acting on that impulse is exactly what bin Laden wants, because there's no other way his dream of uniting Islam against the West can happen. Beyond that, such a total war is simply misdirected. The Taliban are, in many ways, an alien force within Afghan society. The Taliban gained power in large part because of the sponsorship of Pakistan, although Pakistan is currently siding with the United States (no doubt under compulsion). Many of the supporters of the Taliban, including bin Laden himself, are from foreign countries, especially Saudi Arabia, and these are some of their best troops in the war against the Northern Alliance. Were they not disarmed, starving, and otherwise oppressed many Afghans would resist. Some, especially women, already are, but not in the open.
In a more important sense, though, all tyranny is a force alien to the organic society it rules over, because tyranny is government against the people (or some of the people), as opposed to government for the people. A non-tyrannical government exists to protect the persons and property of everyone inside its jurisdiction by punishing domestic criminals and defeating foreign attackers, and as such is an ally and supporter of the people. To the extent that a government exists for any other purpose, especially a purpose which aims to force human nature to fit an artificial ideal, it must treat the people as an enemy to be subdued.
In order to make Afghans fit their concept of what a Muslim should be, the Taliban has outlawed music, kite flying, shaving, pictures, smoking, television, access to the Internet, leather jackets, chess, and even brown paper bags. The restrictions on women are, as I'm sure most people know, even harsher. Women aren't allowed out of their houses unless they're wearing a burqa, which includes cloth in front of their eyes that's difficult to see through. Incidents of female pedestrians being hit by cars have greatly increased, even though the vast majority of the people are too poor to have cars. Women are prohibited from working, and aren't allowed to receive an education. Some particularly brave women have set up secret girl's schools. The Taliban are an extreme example, in competition with North Korea for the "honor" of being the most oppressive dictatorship on Earth. Even these governments, though, maintain police and military, and thus provide at least some sort of protection for the rights of the people even while devoting most of their efforts to violating those rights.
There lies the ambiguity of the real world. The masters of the wretches of the world protect them, if only the way a farmer would protect the livestock he intends to sell to a meat processing plant. Closer to home, even governments founded to be for the people have their original principles compromised and admix tyranny with otherwise wholesome government.
America is not exempt. The prohibition of drugs, for example, cannot be enforced by means fit for a free people, and rather than ending it the government resorts to means unfit for a free people. That the majority of the people currently support the war on drugs does nothing to make the means of enforcing it, which still don't work, any less like the measures of an occupying army. Our government has declined from its original position under the Constitution, but our old liberty can be restored or even improved upon, if enough people have the will to do so.
The United States is nevertheless one of the freest countries in the world, and we should keep it that way by not allowing opportunistic politicians to rob us of our patrimony using the conflict we're now in as an excuse. The parts of our government that are most hostile to the people are the ones furthest away from them, the agencies nominally answering to the president. The most tyrannical regimes, the communists of North Korea and the Taliban of Afghanistan, got that way by being as separate from and hostile to the people as they could. We should keep that in mind during upcoming events. It is neither in our interests nor is it moral to gratuitously attack Afghan civilians.
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