Fighting WHOM for Freedom?

I've often thought, in recent years, that if I were a young man, I would do whatever was necessary to avoid being drafted into Uncle's Army, to be sent to some exotic locale to fight and possibly die for reasons that I did not understand, against an enemy that seemed to pose little danger to my country. Of course, if an enemy force were to come marching down my street, that would be another matter! Then it would obvious that I would need to fight, join the resistance, etc.

Or would it? Of course, the emotional tie to one's own place makes resistance to an armed invasion seem as natural as breathing, but what, in fact, would have changed?

The invaders would be a replacement for the former government. They would have defeated it militarily, and were now in command. But the same was true of that former government: it had replaced the pre-existing government, and was henceforth in command. I didn't rebel against that!

Of course, the first, original, government, which had been defeated by the prior government, was of the same people, speaking the same language. Maybe that makes a difference. Still, if America were invaded by Canadians, or English, wouldn't we fight to repel them? I think so. One doesn't like being conquered, whether by a similar people with the same language, or foreigners who speak broken English.

The new government would not be legitimate, having obtained power by force. But that illegitimacy would be in the eyes of the remnant of the defeated government, not the new one. The new government would quickly establish itself in the palatial structures to which governments accustom themselves, and declare itself the legitimate and only government. Isn't that always the source of a government's legitimacy? They're legitimate because they say they are. Who is going to dispute it? Remember the tanks and the bombs! And notice the soldiers everywhere!

And, naturally, the new government would give orders, and expect us to obey them. Again, what's new? The old government did the same. Does it really matter who gives the orders?

I am not saying that if America were conquered we would easily accept that fact, and offer no resistance. On the contrary, we would almost surely resist in any way we could. It would be the most natural thing in the world. My point is that if we recognize the horror of having our lives directed by some new strangers, we should recognize the horror of having it regulated by the old, established, strangers.

Whether they seized power yesterday, or ruled for centuries, matters little: they still claim sovereignty over us, and base their claim, ultimately, upon the use of force, or the threat of it. If they are modern rulers, in tune with all the modern psychological concepts, their rule will be as gentle as possible, because they realize that the most productive slaves are happy, contented slaves, hardly aware of their condition. For the majority of men, the illusion of freedom is accepted as the real thing. You're not a slave if you don't have the whip's marks on your back!

At one time, it was a capital crime in France for a shopkeeper to so much as ask a customer how he planned to pay: with the government's paper assignats, or gold. And in the "glorious" French revolution, the tyranny of the monarch was replaced with the greater tyranny of the mob. Yet the French cheered hysterically when American troops entered Paris in WWII. No longer were Frenchmen under the rule of the Germans! No, American troops restored them to the rule of Frenchmen, who could oppress them in their own language, without an accent. Thank God!

Should revolutions be directed only toward foreigners?

March 24, 2003

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is a semi-retired ophthalmologist in St. Louis, and the author of All Work & No Pay.