So yesterday, for those who haven’t dug through the comments, we suffered an infestation of the troll who speaks in single sentences, doesn’t make much sense, avoids answering questions, misreads everything you said, and responds with unearned superiority. Oh, yeah, and hails from Boston. I know, until that last you thought it was a normal troll. But it’s not. He distills the essence of trolldom to such an art form it’s like playing chess with a pigeon.
He’s now gone, but his opening gambit was actually interesting. Should you compromise your principles to stand with your homeland when it is at war?
Now, that’s not how he put it, or what he meant, and when he said he’s loyal to “principles” not a country, it makes me wish very much he’d immigrate to Venezuela already, where his principles are in obvious display.
But are we loyal to the USA or the constitution? For which would you fight? Does the land mean anything.
Different order problems. Yes, I’m a constitutionalist and the Earth and Sky shall pass away before they dim a single letter or punctuation mark of that immortal document.
And of course I will fight for the Constitution. I took an oath and meant it, and I do keep it. Part of what this blog and the inevitable hit on my career are all about. I fight for constitutional principles where it matters: in the land that is already supposed to be devoted to it.
Even there I compromise — more on that later — because politics and culture is not a “I shout the truth and you believe it” but a give and take, a slow turning. It’s more akin to sailing in a storm than to a race to the finish.
But once you bring in “war against another country” you are in a wholly different territory.
I’ve told you before, and it’s my perennial fear, our internal divisions which are amplified by the fifth column press might encourage a foreign power to attack us. And that’s a problem. If it were just us in the world, sure a civil war might be a fine idea to clear forever some of the crud that has crept into the national gears. (It’s not a fine idea, but never mind that, it might be DOABLE and the result better than worse.) But the problem is that a continent-sized nation though we are, we are not alone in the world. If we start going at each other, other nations will start going at us, breaking us up, partitioning us off, and the end result is more likely to be the disappearance of anything vaguely “USA-like” or even capable of bringing back the constitution. For centuries.
But surely, you say, if our internal regime is utterly despicable, it still behooves us to work for the enemy, right?
I don’t know. Note the best known case of resistance to the Nazis was not internal, but a country that had been OCCUPIED by another country, and even there I have read that the only effective parts of the resistance were the communists, who were effectively working for yet another foreign power.
BTW if you read first hand accounts in occupied France the “dance with the devil” aspects of survival become very stark, from those who saw the occupation as a means of advancement to those willing to do the most soul crushing things just to keep their loved ones alive another day.
And in the end, whether to support your country “right or wrong” boils down to that. Those of us who read history know what happens to occupied countries. It’s not a fate we want for our relatives, friends, or even, frankly, casual acquaintances.
In the US add to that “which polity can I possibly bring about to the founding principles after the storm passes.”
So, say Hillary had won. By now we’d probably be thinking of Obama’s years as that golden age of respect for civil liberties. Now imagine that her normal fine-tuned sense of politics got Russia or China to attack. Nuke a few cities. Perhaps land troops or get cat’s paws to.
Would you fight for the US in those circumstances?
Look, it’s not even a question. Hillary as a leader would be utterly despicable, and her rule would probably destroy what remains of the constitution. But the enemy is equally despicable. And besides, it would be coming in as a victor.
Okay, okay, so what about if the enemy was semi decent? Posit a weird universe in which we’re invaded by England.
Uh… still no question. We won’t go into the fact that the things we object to in the US are more so with boots on in England, from restrictions on free speech to the disarming of the populace. Instead, let’s just keep in mind even decent nations behave very badly as victors. And most of us have people we care for, whom we’d not see killed or worse. Also, most of us want the US kept as a territory where the constitution can be brought back.
So the order of business would be: fight for my country, THEN reform it. Because trying to reform it in the middle of an existential struggle would be death for the nation, and bringing a nation back from the dead — in the only case we know — takes thousands of years.
But Sarah, you’ll say, this started out as being over Von Braun’s decision to fight for Germany even though his father at least loathed Hitler. Surely a regime under which they fed people a paste made of cellulose and old clothes as a way to test what people could live from (and killed 98% of the people fed this) not to mention a regime that killed six million of its citizens cannot be something you fight for AGAINST ANYONE.
Uh… True on the regime, except that amid the allies was good old uncle Joe — and talk about making a deal with the devil there — who went on to kill 40 million of his people and whose engineered famine engendered families swapping children FOR EATING in the 20th century. I’ll note here in passing that Von Braun’s family land was in the East, the part everyone pretty much knew would go to the USSR’s sphere of influence if not outright occupation.
And then there’s being there, at that time, and not having the advantage of hindsight. One thing it’s obvious from his correspondence was that Von Braun was half in love with America from reading YA adventure stories about it. But if you’re in the middle of a war and you know your side is despicable, no matter how inclined you are to believe/welcome the invaders, when you realize these countries you THOUGHT you liked, like the US and England, are allied with the horror that is the USSR which is as bad as the regime in your country, but foreign and disposed to hate you (particularly if you’re a nobleman) well… how are you going to fall?
Again, I’m not defending Von Braun’s choices. I’m not sure he, himself, would, in later life. I’m just saying his choices were all too human and necessitate neither a grand plot or psychopathy to explain.
Which brings me to what I said above about fighting to bring the constitution back but compromising, even when you hate to.
Look, you’re never given a choice of cake or death. Choices in life tend to be more “small pox or black plague” particularly in the political realm, for a libertarian.
And then you go “Small pox might not be easily curable, and it might spread from me to the entire area. Black plague, if they put you on an IV drip is trivial to beat.”
Or as I said “this is how I ended up attending a demonstration in support of the socialists in Portugal.” I knew what the socialists were. “On the way to communism” seemed to be their motto “just slower” and I was not under the illusion their leader was anything but a power hungry moron. HOWEVER they were the most freedom-minded party available while the state was dominated by straight up Maoists. It was a matter of “surviving to fight another day.”
Which must stand as my excuse for voting for the loathsome McCain. Because I knew the disaster Obama would be. (And for those who say he wasn’t, I”ll be surprised if his so called foreign policy doesn’t get us bombed, and I suspect most of us will die of his messing with the health system because it’s so embuggred that no rationality can be restored for decades.)
Sometimes it’s all about preserving as much of the republic as we can, while we fight the culture war and try to bring our country back to the constitution.
Do those choices stain the soul? Possibly. I’m just hoping we’re graded on a curve, otherwise which of us will escape a whipping?
While I would prefer the choice between cake and death, because it’s easy, that is not how life works.
And while I would prefer to fight for our principles in splendid isolation, that’s not how the WORLD works.
In the end, all the other sides get a vote, and sometimes the best we can do is fight a rearguard action and not give way.
And sometimes, it’s enough.