have created a new horror: not genocide of the living, but of the
the time you read this, what may be the most ancient city on the
earth will have ceased to exist. The worst genocidal cultural atrocity
of the era will have happened while the established networks such
as ABC ran a feckless story or two on it, as if for laughs.
the time you read this, an ancient link to our past, a dazzling
place whose very name Zeugma, means Link, as if to accuse our generation
by its very name, will drowned under water by a damn project, for
all future time, destroyed. Government will have done it, as, so
certain economists prattle, only government with its vast resources
and compulsory powers surely, surely, can. Through efficient indifference,
careful calculation of social cost, the lack of planning of coercive
planners, and the desire to keep to a schedule a megalomaniac dam
project in Turkey, something precious will die. Something whose
sole worth was beauty. Something, by time, bequeathed to us all,
will die alone, not lost, as the poet sang, but gone, gone for ever.
resurrected Zeugma, the legendary city of Alexander on the Euphrates,
the winter home of one of Rome's proudest three eastern legions,
an early outpost of Christianity where perhaps James and others
preached, will be gone. The legendary western terminus of the Silk
Road to China, with perhaps numerous artifacts of that era, gone.
Shining with murals that put Pompeii to shame, itself possibly built
over the remains of Hagar, Haluf, Uruk, and other cultures, with
mysterious mounds hiding perhaps wondrous private libraries containing
the lost plays of Sophocles, the most ancient Old and New Testament
Cuneiform style libraries, telling alternate tales of the flood
that destroyed the world and all memory, gone. Perhaps precursors
of tales from which perhaps the moving story of Gilgamesh, the oldest
story of the human race, the man who left arrogantly to seek immortality
and returned wise to build a city of hope for the future, will dissolve
under the water, gone.
just Roman murals, which is bad enough, but a library of cultures
will dissolve, oblivion. Gone.
sometimes have trouble getting across their complex ideas on why
government inherently destroys. Now, when told that government is
needed, libertarians and those seeking non-coercive solutions have
a sad, simple answer, an answer they will wish were not so. They
can call to memory something, a beautiful and wonderfully preserved
city, whose full memory was erased. They can remember a city sunk
into silence. They can remember it may well have been on top of
more ancient towns dating back 14,000 years. They can try and help
the future remember it as holding wonders that neither we, nor the
endless links of our descendants that we have betrayed, will ever
know. And they will remember to say it this way: They will say,
teachings such as the Laws of Moses and the Confucian tradition
place the honoring of one's father as the first earthly law, before
the prohibition to murder, before the warning not to steal. They
do not say love your father, they do not say make pals, they do
not say your father must honor you.
say you honor your father. For without that honoring of those who
came before you, you have no heritage, no name, no history, and
no claim to honor in human chronicles.
work night and day to de-link us from our roots and promote manufactured
national histories. The French revolutionaries sought to obliderate
ancient holidays and institutions. The socialist theorist Gramsci
also called for the destruction of the past. Mao ordered family
libraries and shrines to be burnt. The United States and Turkish
governments, combined with UN aid, are obliterating the earliest
memories of the human race. They are flooding the ancient city of
Zeugma, and untold treasures underneath. A Link with those who are
ancestors of perhaps half of the human race in this multicultural
city, will be as if it never was.
incredible thing is that the "need" for the Turkish dam
was partially created by climate changes set in motion by a similar
multi-governmental ecological and archeological disaster, the Aswan
Dam. Aswan was so ill conceived it is by many accounts disrupting
the entire weather patterns of the East Mediterranean. Worse, similar
projects are taking a toll in China. Government interventions generate
disasters that are cunningly used to justify new ones.
have tried to stop the Zeugma horror. Informed Turks, unwilling
to have their country bear the shame of another destroyed Byzantium
library, have rallied in protests, only to be silently whisked away
by police. A brief news report tells of an old man from a neighboring
village who sits by Zeugma as the water rises and sings a threnody,
a death song telling his imaginings of the thriving city that once
had been. That is humanity; so sings a father; so weeps a man.
dam was denounced as ridiculous from the beginning, but pushed by
the US government to shore up support in Turkey for the now increasingly
questioned Iraq war. People who have called for government to seize
control of all archeological and ecological matters from private
hands as unreliable, suddenly defend the dam with references to
progress and social efficiency, like crazed capitalists from a Dickens'
story, or a bad Soviet novel. Above all, the press has treated the
story as a little silly, running buffoonish interviews with the
dam director, and maintaining a posture that such things are best
left, not to archeological experts, but surely government ones.
A web search turns up little, as if the press too were speaking
common law position on these things is simple – respect the graves
and monuments of the dead. All things, all activity, must stop in
reverence when such things are discovered, and in a libertarian
society simple economic mechanisms would exist to insure for that,
and trusts exist to gather and preserve these things. Libertarians
study with great interest constitutional history; they understand
that the past is the theater of things to come.
and other lovers of Liberty understand property. The very term property
means what is close to you. What closer than your parent's grave,
and of their parents to distant time? Ancient authors tell us clearly
that property began when men desired to stay in one place and preserve
the artifacts and graves of their ancestors. Anthropologists in
the Amazon have noted that tribes with little sense of property
burn the dead and all their belongings. Engels was very explicit
in tying property to the sense of family and individual preservation
that he thought stood in the way of his plans. Conquerors have known
that the greatest and simplest way to break the back of nations
was to have them hang their writers and artists and desecrate their
ancestral graves and buildings.
of coercive government point to the myriad regulations that make
it very difficult for a private entity trying to preserve an archeological
find. A man in the US was recently prosecuted for trying to preserve
dinosaur bones from government ruin; any American Indian will tell
a tale of tears over government disrespect for their sacred lands
and places of retreat. The problem is this: by definition only private
entities and trusts can be held accountable for these things, and
it is a snare and a delusion to believe that coercive governments
can – protected by sovereign immunity and legal unaccountability – act
with responsibility. And with their coercive resources, when a mistake
is made, whole regions are destroyed, as this dam that floods a
whole region parched by another dam. By setting these systems in
motion, the result is an accident that was waiting to happen.
thus what conquerors could not do to us with weapons, we allow to
be done by indifferent decrees.
live as dandelions on the earth. When their glory is done, they
go in a moment's breeze. But memory is there if we preserve it,
a trust from those who came before us for those of future times
who even now gaze upon us in trust from their cribs. Gold and diamonds
are tools, simply tools; but the wealth of memory from the past,
that is something. In art, science, and simple daily artifacts – a
coin some Caesar or Epictetus held, a forgotten manuscript, the
mural in the study of an ancient thinker, a basin where a mother
thousands of years ago bathed her little child in every hope – these
are not antique junk or garbage, not some obstacle to Leviathan's
are a true inheritance that helps us stand proud in moments of defeat,
wise and tall in moments of victory. Without these, you have no
heritage that is psychologically yours; and liberty is not needed
to preserve and extend a heritage you do not realize is there. How
many people can name their great-grandfather and sing of his deeds?
How many of us seek to do what our great-descendants will remember,
even if it is only a letter or a thought that gives them strength.
We are told in one breath that child-abuse is the worst thing, then
claim fathers are not needed. But we do not live in an age of honoring
the father. We talk of preservation like sentimental grannies, the
object of our affection fuzzily seen and remembered in Alzheimer's.
We grasp for a new Kodak Moment to preserve, and throw away the
album bestowed by those who loved us.
of our children, the politicians say. We should say to them, Let
me tell you of a city of dreams lost, the city called Link, like
Atlantis beneath the waves.
was destroyed. But not by time. http://www.arts.uwa.edu.au/Classics/archeology/Z2.html
Michael Gilson De Lemos, known as MG, is Coordinator of the Libertarian
International Organization. He believes with Jefferson that,
along with Gibbon, Cicero and Tacitus should be read by all grade-schoolers.