To Stave Off the Long Dark Night


I recently read a copy of The Communist Manifesto. I don't think that it worked. I just don't feel any great urge to participate in a proletariat uprising, seize the means of production, and set up a dictator to pass the laws required to completely transform modern society. A lot of the things that Marx was hoping to achieve, like better wages for workers, seem to be happening already, and, anyway, the abuses that made him so angry seem to be pretty much gone around here. I actually ended up thinking that, although many of his goals seem to be noble, there was a better way to achieve them. It wasn't the first time that I've thought that.

The Western response to the terrorism scare(s) in the last few years provides a good example. The motive is clearly good: To ensure a world where people are not in danger of being blown up at unpredictable moments. The methods, however, are a bit more controversial. In the US, things like airport security and phone taps come to mind. Although things like this are carefully justified, usually by the fact that they can catch terrorists before they can actually destroy anything, they can be worrying at times. This all seems awful close to what we so diligently defended our countries from during the Cold War.

I don't believe that the people who put such laws into effect have some hidden plan to set themselves up as dictators; in fact, they are probably trying to protect our rights. Nevertheless, in time it is entirely possible that someone else will take advantage of such things. This person will likely also think that he is acting for the greater good of his country, or at least profess to, but, to misuse a well-known proverb, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I am not saying that something like this is going to happen, only that it could, and that the existence of such a possibility is dangerous. The most insidious evil comes from what is thought to be good.

In a way, we also seem to have forgotten something important. Terrorists are not blowing things up for the sake of blowing things up. They are trying to scare us and damage our culture. This, of course, is also not the final end, but I, personally, don't know what that is. You are far more likely to be in a car crash than a terrorist attack, and the terrorists can't kill you any deader. On the other hand, merely attempting to destroy something has an enormous effect on our society. The precautions that we take to stop the terrorists often do far more damage then the terrorists themselves, and given how well organized these terrorists are, they must have some pretty smart people in the back running things. These people wouldn't volunteer to become suicide bombers themselves, of course, but they could probably talk someone else into volunteering. They will almost certainly also be able to find their way around any security we set up, as they just need to think up one idea first, while we need to think of everything first. And even if they fail at that, they can always blow up the checkpoints we set up to find them. Personally, I think that the best thing we can do is ignore them, because they will realize that they are not setting off the panic they so desire and try somewhere else, but that's just my opinion It easily could be a complete failure. We just don't know.

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