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Friday, February 25, 2005


on freedom

at reason, michael young is again banging on for revolution, using hariri's killing as a reason to agitate for syrian withdrawal.

the thing that really destroys me about mr young and others of his mind is this:

The killing of Hariri removed all the stops, dissolving fear and allowing the pleasurable indecorum of the incanted insult. And while many in the United States might today be jaded when it comes to liberal impulses in the Middle East, increasingly there are those in the region who see recent elections in Iraq (and democratic movements in Ukraine or Georgia) as deeply relevant to their own fate.

Like Ronald Reagan in Eastern Europe, Bush has shown in the Middle East that simple, indeed simplistic, ideas can go a long way when expressing the frustration and anger of populations afflicted with tyrannies refusing to accord them even minimal respect.
you'll note nothing of these comments addresses specifically the problems of a post-syrian lebanon, which are sure to be many. syrian troops were there in the first place to end lebanon's 16-year civil war and keep the resulting peace. little realism, then. there is only the praise of uninhibited self-expression -- insult, frustration, anger -- and the "simplistic idea" that makes it right: freedom.

i boldface those sections of young to highlight the implication is that unrest is good. riot is good. war is good. and not good as a means in the pursuit of some end -- no, an intrinsic good, a moral end. for that is what freedom is, is it not? the right to the prerogative to change all that is to suit you as your reckless fancy dictates. schiller said best what mr young means: "law has reduced to a snail's pace what could have been an eagle's flight." therefore law, tradition, inconvenience must go.

what this view of the world advocates is not the end of tyranny as it was once conceived. few elizabethan englishmen saw in their queen a tyrant. burke loved freedom, but mourned the death of aristocracy in france: the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded.

no, tyranny has been recast to mean anything that is not the rule of the mob. it is the final triumph of sturm und drang, overwhelming and destroying our inherited british ethic of lawful compromise and self-restraint. and if violence is what comes then love it -- for it is the sting of freedom. as herder exclaimed, "i am not here to think, but to be, feel live!" this is naked schwarmerei.

the danger of this should easily be seen. again burke: "They made and recorded a sort of institute and digest of anarchy, called the Rights of Man." what rule, what law is to stand in the face of freedom? clearly, when not law but freedom is the virtue, none long can.

mr young further says, on the lebanese shock at hariri's killing:

This suggested the extent to which the Lebanese today understand (as many should have, but not so long ago didn't) that autocracy is the triumph of the aberrant and the promotion of the inferior.
i submit that many lebanese -- many sensible people the world over -- understand that autocracy is neither aberrant nor inferior nor evil a priori, though it certainly can be. people in lebanon long understood this because they endured a civil war between parties who each acted without restraint for the pursuit of their freedom. they understand -- as americans have forgotten -- that the pursuit of freedom without law and limitation is lawlessness and endless war and the basis of tyranny.

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