Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"'Politically, this isn't wise,' added the Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman of the
Traditional Values Coalition, which supports the president's call for Congress to approve tough interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects."

What part of 'traditional values' am I not understanding?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Love and war

It started when I was listening to my Barenaked Ladies CD, which I hadn't done in a while, and I heard the song "Enid." Most of it is just regular, average pop/rock stuff, but a few lines hit me:

"I can get a job I can pay the phone bills
I can cut the lawn, cut my hair, cut off my cholesterol
I can work overtime I can work in a mine
I can do it all for you,
But I don't want to."

Having known something of love myself, I was struck by this. When I was in love, I had a sense of purpose. I had a reason to do things, I had a phone conversation and ideas of the future to look forward to at the end of the day. Love triggers an intensely personal emotional bond.

The moral nature of war is the flip side of the coin. (Admittedly I have no personal experience here.) For the ordinary citizen, war triggers a singleminded devotion to a goal, the greater good as expressed in the war effort. Focus is on symbols and ideas - freedom or organization, Deutchland and lebensraum or Uncle Sam and G. I. Joe or Mother Russia. A popular war provokes, in short, an intensely impersonal emotional bond, focusing itself on an abstract unity rather than a concrete personal existence.

The popular connection is, of course, the saying "All's fair in love and war," and I hypothesize that the sentiment is a result of the fact that love and war are flip sides of a coin - that one is personal and one impersonal, but the fact that the individual loses or can lose himself in both makes all rules off.

I will close by quoting Hayek:
When there is one common all-overriding end, there is no room for any general morals or rules. To a limited extent we experience this in wartime.....where a few specific ends dominate the whole of society, it is inevitable that occasionally cruelty may become a duty, that acts which revolt all of our feeling, such as the shooting of hostages or the killing of the old and sick, should be treated as mere matters of expediency...or that suggestions like that of a "conscription of women for breeding purposes" can be seriously contemplated. There is always in the eyes of the collectivist a greater goal which these acts serve and which to him justifies them because he pursuit of the common end of society can know no limits in any rights or values of any individual. (The Road to Serfdom, p. 165)
Could not the same thing often be said, on a smaller scale, of love?