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The Dangerous State
by Scott Shore
25 March 2003

Here man's true nature is discussed, focusing on mankind's excesses and godlike aspirations, which are epitomized in the State.

Read Chapter I here
Read Chapter II here
Read Chapter III here
Read Chapter IV here

Chapter Five:
The Dangerous State

The existence and longevity of benign or benevolent States that have uplifted the souls of Man upon the Earth can be likened to the dancing flashes of a single sparkler on a long dark evening. With all the technological progress of the last three millennia, the eras of liberty, moral responsibility and broad prosperity stand out as beautiful and rare exceptions in an otherwise lamentable tale of cruelty, bloodshed and oppression stretching across cultures and continents. What is this “Man” and in what ways does he resemble the “image of G-d?”

It is precisely to the degree that Man looks into the mirror and sees not “the image of G-d” but becomes confused into thinking he sees the image of a god that the Evil Inclination has found his way into history of mankind. Perhaps no other vice is greater than when a person sees himself as the Master of his Destiny and the rightful ruler of all he sees. Man’s most primary drive is to be a god. The domination of other men is a primal desire. The fantasy that others can be put into one’s service. The fantasy that others life are dependent upon oneself and that the life, death or other dispositions of other humans and all that humans crave can be at one’s will is an Evil in the heart of humanity that shall not be vanquished in pre-Redemption history. To control what other have (their labor and the fruits of their labor, their wealth, their luxuries, and their bodies) pretty much quenches the thirst for murder, theft, envy, lust, cruelty and all the rest of Evil’s derivatives.

No one has perfected Lord Acton’s famous maxim “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” While our discussion in this chapter is principally on political power, this is equally true of economic power. Given the ability to exploit, it is the natural condition of an unchecked economic enterprise to do so. The truth is political and economic exploitation is almost invariably intertwined. There are good men who seek power and some that exercise it. The problem is that it takes almost a superhuman man or truly humbles sage not to be slowly morphed into a dangerous and predatory Political Animal. The governance of humanity is too important to depend on the appearance of saints. In free societies, the evil propensities of Political/Economic Power are held in check by some form of checks and balances in which equally ambitious men are enabled to keep the game relatively honest. The only true and uncorrupted politicians are the Don Quixote’s who never actually anticipate victory or those who have given up all ambition for future power.

A defining feature of conservatism is the reality of Evil as a force in the human psyche and in the world. Nothing attracts the Evil Inclination like Power. It is for this reason that Liberty can only exist when the domain of potential human power is limited. Only by constraints on Power can the Good Inclination be given room for expression. Any consolidation of Power leads to an essentially inhuman condition. In modern times we have seen this in totalitarian regimes from Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union, China, North Korea and Cuba. As of this writing North Korea stands as a perfect example of one dictator intoxicated with power to the point of utter madness that runs a nation armed only for aggression but whose people are starving.

The Torah discusses the archetypal tyrant:
“8.Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a hero upon the earth. 9. He was a crafty hero before G-d. The beginning of his kingship was Babel, and Erekh, and Akkad and Calneh in the land of Shinar. (Modern day Iraq). Let us consider Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch’s commentary on this passage. Although the English translation uses the term “crafty”, the actual Hebrew word is Tzaid (hunter)“Although the term is usually used to denote a hunter of animals (it) is frequently used to refer to the hunting and entrapment of human beings…Nimrod began to oppress his fellow man ‘in the name of G-d.’ He was the first to misuse the name of G-d, to surround brute force with the halo of Divine approval, or, rather, to demand the recognition of his might ‘in the name of G-d.’ In later antiquity this was to extravagant dimensions: kings not only regarded themselves as rulers in the name of G-d, and ‘Nimrods’ not only adorned themselves with Divine majesty, but they assumed divine status themselves. (Think even of Emperor Hirohito in World War 2!) …In this way Nimrod became the prototype for all those dynastic rulers who craftily crowned themselves with the halo of pseudo-sanctity and whose power, politics and hypocrisy were characterized by the saying ‘Like Nimrod, a crafty hero before G-d.’”(The Pentateuch, S.R. Hirsch, Judaica Press, 1997, p.52)

The story of the Tower of Babel goes even deeper into the psychology of community and true versus tyrannical rule. The verse in Genesis continues “11.4 And they said ‘Come let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top shall reach to heaven, let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered all over the earth’”(ibid. p.55-56). In considering the deeper meaning of this passage and its contemporary meaning, I shall defer to the insights of the great Rabbi Hirsch.

Hirsch comments:
Now if mankind as a whole declares “Let us make a name for ourselves,” that declaration can be directed only against one or both of two powers: either against G-d, Who is above mankind, or against the individual who is subordinate to mankind as a whole. For mankind as a whole has no equal….

However the community can prosper and attain perfection only if it assumes the same attitude toward G-d as the individual should; that is, if subordinates itself to G-d, if it uses the totality of its energies only in the service of G-d and if it sees its mission as nothing else but the employment of its combined forces to carry out, to the fullest extent possible, the tasks to be performed in the service of G-d…

In view of the foregoing, we can now understand the meaning of “lest we be scattered.” If a community is what is should be, then, even if it has millions of members, it will require no artificial means to hold it together; its bonds are inherent in the consciousness of each individual member and its rallying point is G-d Himself. If, however, a community does not regard itself as existing for the individual, but vice versa, if it declares “Let us make a name for ourselves” then, of course, the individual members must be compelled or enticed by artificial methods, to submit to it command and to sacrifice themselves for it…(The community) introduces a spurious patriotism, when it unleashes that lust for glory which is regarded as a vice in an individual but as a virtue in a community, the moral mission of both the community and individual is undermined. All passions have a saturation point but the lust for glory has no such limits. This is not he only instance in history where lust for glory has inspired the erection of a tower and the indiscriminate destruction of all else in order to obtain building blocks for the rearing of its own triumphs. All of subsequent world history tells of towers of imaginary glory, which Nimrods knew how to entice or force their nations to build. But as for the purely human life, the simple life of ordinary men in their humble homes—of such things history has only little to relate. Such things in the beautiful metaphor of our Sages are recorded only by G-d, to be witnessed by Elijah and the Messiah, those messengers and agents of mankind’s ultimate redemption.

Is Nimrod not the precursor to all tyrants? Do they all not make their “nation” an end in itself and the glory of the nation equivalent to a god? We can certainly say that the nation states created in modern times and the power of the State has become the contemporary Idol Worship. The only just State is one which is “under G-d.” How revealing that in our times there is secularists who wish to remove those words from the American pledge of allegiance? America is distinctly a G-d fearing nation. Our currency states “In G-d We Trust.” This is clearly the basis of American greatness. It is this quality which has kept America from falling into the moral abyss of secular socialism of continental Europe. It is the G-d fearing quality that abhors the tyranny of totalitarian states whether they are Communist, socialist, or Islamofascist.

The American Constitution is clearly an inspired document and a source of great wisdom for the governance of a free people. The Founding Fathers clearly recognized the Evil Inclination for power and established a nation in which political power is limited and checked. An independent judiciary was established to ensure that the passions of legislatures or executives were curbed by the constraints put on the government itself. There can be no doubt that some judges and justices have allowed for the elephantiasis of modern American government. Most government activities today are not enumerated in the Constitution. The ninth and tenth amendments to the Bill of Rights have been almost completely nullified in reality. The Ninth Amendment reads:
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The Tenth Amendment reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Clearly the Federal government was to be circumscribed in its powers and the initiative for communities and self-government was to remain sovereign. While certain public services are required in modern society, it does not follow that government monopolies are the way of providing those services. To the contrary, it often makes sense to make provisions for the private sector to meet public needs.

If any part of our Constitution needs amending it would be the nullification of the Sixteenth Amendment. This amendment reads: The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration. In one bold action, the Congress laid the foundation for class warfare and the creation of an endless source of revenue for government growth and the consequent granting of favors and privileges to politically empowered constituencies.

Are government programs for the “poor” truly compassionate vehicles for empowering the multigenerational underclass to become productive members of society? In fact, they are programs of continuous dependency and distinct disadvantages to work. Has America become a haven for the oppressed or merely a welfare magnet for the world’s poor to live off the productivity of American workers and enterprise? The answer is clear. There are politicians with a vested interest in promoting these dependencies to the constituencies, which these programs benefit. This can not be the nation of industrious and honest communities conceived by the founders and idealists of the American Dream. This dream of opportunity supported by incentives to work, create, and take risks and to dare to change the world is not just the American dream but the dream of all freedom loving people. It is the Global Dream. If the “light” goes out in America, the world itself will be in great darkness.

As we speak about dangerous government, we have discussed perhaps the most benevolent government in the world—the U.S. government. One can only imagine the horror of living in African or Latin American countries. The brutalities of the governments tyrannizing the Muslim world are beyond the imagination of most Western readers. Here we have true “Nimrods” ruling imaginary “states.” One can only be disgusted at those who see dollar signs when they look at the Chinese market, but look the other way at the Stalinist oppression of that barbaric regime. One can count perhaps 20 to 30 states out of nearly 200, which are not the incarnation of evil. A tiny minority of humanity lives in countries with even fundamental human freedoms. It is amazing to think that at the dawn of the twenty-first century, the majority of mankind lives in utter darkness and oppression.

In the next chapter, let us discover the differentiating factors between the Dangerous States and those that offer the hope of human freedom.

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