As I watched the impassioned exchange between Dr. Paul and Former Gov. Huckabee, as I'm sure most you also have, my jaw dropped at Mike Huckabee's "last refuge" of comments attempting to retort Ron Paul's ever-flawless logic: "Even if we lose elections [brave soldiers, national security, trillions of tax-dollars, and all national and international credibility], we should not lose our honor." Of course, Dr. Paul called it what it really was: "saving face."
I thought to myself, "The American people can't possibly believe now that we're killing ourselves for this u2018honor'; surely, we can't be back where we were as a species 5,000 years ago."
You see, historians and classical drama enthusiasts alike know that the same underlying argument here has been debated for thousands of years: "honor" versus logic and reason. Should we as a society value so highly the classical definition of "honor" when it compels us to do illogical, immoral, and terrible acts?
This past summer I took a course in Western Philosophy at Spring Hill College where I am enrolled as an undergraduate. The professor promptly gave our reading assignments the first day, including Aeschylus' The Oresteia.
First I'll note why Aeschylus is important to modern Western philosophy and try to give you a Reader's Digest analysis of the play (trilogy). Historians and drama enthusiasts alike consider Aeschylus the founder of the tragedy. Really, he is one of the few early (and by early I mean between 524–426 BC) Greek tragedians whose plays survive to this day, The Oresteia being the one play most intact, with only its satyr (or "intermission") play missing. I won't get into the plot of the play, for brevity's sake, however the message is ever the more important: Aeschylus was speaking truth to power.
Power, in this sense, was the accepted way of life, the taboo, of ancient Greece: a folkway that was never to be questioned. If someone in your family was attacked, raped, robbed, or killed, it was your undeniable duty to reciprocate the action against a member of the assailant's family (or the assailant him/herself).
Sounds reasonable and just, right?
Wrong. Notice how there are no situational analyses there. If your brother was stealing from someone's house and the homeowner killed him, you had a duty, according to custom of the gods, to "kill him back." Of course, now that you've killed him, his cousin will kill your cousin, you kill him, and so on, and so forth. You see the assured downward spiral of self- and societal destruction? Naturally, this view came from the Greek's mythology and religion, which if you've studied any of it, you recognized this storyline.
This system of cyclical retribution is commonly (at least by me and those I've studied under) referred to as the "blood rite" or "blood guilt" system. I think you know where I'm going with this. "We have committed to it ("terrorists" hit us on 9/11), therefore we must immediately attack the region from which they came, and even if we botch the entire war/world police action, we must stick with it, for honor's sake."
The foundation of the "blood-rite" system was honor. Honor of Kinship. Right and wrong, reason and morality, were irrelevant. Honor, doing the "honorable" thing (in the eyes of the establishment of course) reigned as a lord over the people. And still does.
Notice the applause after Huckabee's comment. I could really turn this into a pessimistic article about the nature of man, as Aeschylus did 3,000 years ago. However, the applause and post-debate polls, give me a little hope.
The American people (or I should say Republican primary voters) still have this baser instinctual blood rite pervading their minds and passions after 9/11, and our continual frustration in the Middle East. When if we just did a little of our own research and critical thinking, we would see the ramifications of 50-some-odd years of meddling in the domestic affairs of nations around the world, and one of them is anti-Americanism, see Osama bin Laden's fatwa, 1996.
This cycle perpetuates war, violence, and eventually leads to self-destruction for all parties involved (and some not involved). What am I proposing, you say? Defeatism? No, defeatism is dooming the United States to eventual defeat, as the Neoconservative Bush Administration is doing now. I propose we listen to the only man on Capitol Hill that has been consistently preaching the same message for decades and has likewise been consistently proven right. Don't believe me? Read Ron Paul's book. His opening speech in the book (given on the House floor in 1976) is not even about the Middle East yet preaches the same philosophy that he wishes to implement in his administration: Non-interventionism.
"It is unfortunate that our foreign policy has been so mismanaged that the American people now seem to equate a moral foreign policy with an interventionist foreign policy."
~ Ron Paul, The Death of Mao Tse-Tung, Sept. 15, 1976
Our interventionism abroad initiates this blood rite cycle. We depose their democratically elected leader, they attack our embassy and kidnap hostages. But the American people don't know about the first part of that equation and only see the second and call for more military action. Thus ensues a bloody cycle of perpetual war. Ron Paul today understands this, our founders hundreds of years ago understood it. Aeschylus, thousands of years ago understood it. When we will learn?
Hopefully the Paul administration will put the country back on the right track, but don't expect anti-American sentiment to be gone a day into his term. We must earn the world's respect back. And Ron Paul will lead the way.
I would like to thank Dr. Darrell Hamlin, without whose inspiration this article would never have been possible; Secondly, Congressman Ron Paul, for courageously speaking truth to power; And finally, to the long line of distinguished men and women at the Mises Institute in my home state of Alabama.
Kyle Jones [send him mail] is an undergraduate in the Honors program at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL, majoring in Political Science & Law and double-minoring in Pre-Law & Spanish. He is currently involved on campus with College Republicans, College Libertarians, Students for Life, Honors Program Committee and works as a Resident Assistant. He volunteers at Legal Services Corporation of Alabama, which provides free and low-cost civil legal services state-wide, as a paralegal assistant to the Domestic Violence/Divorce staff and is the pianist at Snow Road First Baptist Church in Semmes, AL.