St. Augustine on Pirates and Government

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Writes Ralph Raico:

Somali pirates being in the news, this great passage from Noam Chomsky comes to mind:

In the “City of God,” St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great. The Emperor angrily demanded of him, “How dare you molest the seas?” To which the pirate replied, “How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a small boat, I am called a pirate and a thief. You, with a great navy, molest the world and are called an emperor.” St. Augustine thought the pirate’s answer was “elegant and excellent.”

UPDATE from Chris Sullivan:

This is the same passage where he says that states without justice are “robber-bands enlarged.” Anything by St. Augustine is worth reading. He is the most common-sense guy you’ll ever run into. He also is not a know-it-all. In one of his letters, he replies to a friend that had written asking about some question. He tells the friend, “I don’t know everything as you seem to think I do.” I once read his treatise “On Music”, which I didn’t understand and wasn’t too interested in it, but that’s the only writing of his that I thought unprofitable. If I knew anything about music, it might have been interesting.

6:43 pm on April 10, 2009