The Inevitability of Terrorism

Yesterday I had my day in court. Today the TV is full of the subway bombings in London. I conclude: terrorism is inevitable.

Well, it wasn’t exactly a day in court; more like a half hour waiting around outside the courtroom, while my attorney negotiated with his opposite number. The resulting compromise was, like all compromises, bitter-sweet. I was counseled to accept the compromise, because if I didn’t, I’d almost certainly lose everything. My opponent was the State of Missouri, you see, and my frustration with the compromise was that the State didn’t have a legal leg to stand on. Indeed, in years of threats and bluster, the State had never once cited any statute that made me liable for its demands. The information on which its case was based was obtained unlawfully. That fact was utterly clear and undeniable. The procedures it had employed were either outside the law, or prohibited by it; and in years of correspondence, it had never once answered my requests for information with intelligent or responsive replies. But, of course, that was routine, and thus not to be questioned.

While waiting around outside the courtroom, I overheard snatches of conversation between lawyers and clients. One fellow was apparently in litigation because of an auto accident. His attorney said that the other side would claim that a certain legal obligation had been performed within the 180 days time frame for its accomplishment; they would deny it. The case, I assume, hinged upon this detail of the law. Another lawyer was on his cell-phone, discussing with his client the withdrawal of driving privileges by the State. They were, I think, going to use some "loophole" in the law to try to get around this. I have no doubt that had the client suggested that the state was without authority to limit, via licensure, his ability to travel, the attorney would have collapsed in laughter, or exploded in indignation. The law, I am convinced, is about quibbling over details. Broad, sweeping, fundamental issues are not and will not be tolerated, at least when the state itself is a party to the case.

But what would you expect? In a courtroom owned and operated by the state, with jurors almost certainly receiving some benefits from the state, before a judge who is an employee of the state, with your own lawyer bound by the rules written by the state, and owing his living to a license issued by the state, are you apt to prevail when you challenge some basic and commonplace infraction by the state?

If the bombings in London were the work of Arab terrorists, as assumed, those terrorists would point to the British involvement in the ravaging of Iraq as justification. They would likely believe that their own governments, deeply involved with Britain in mutually lucrative deals, mostly involving oil, could only raise a limp wrist in opposition to British policy. If the oppressors were to be driven from their countries, the Arabs would have to fight independently. That is what seems to distinguish terrorists from ordinary soldiers. Soldiers fight governments on behalf of their own government; terrorists fight governments because their own government can’t or won’t. Governments today are the "muscle" for special interest groups; their original purpose, of protecting the rights of the citizens who created them, is forgotten, irrelevant, and obsolete. If the battle between the tyrants of country A and the tyrants in country B result in harm to the people in those countries, to whom can they turn for safety, and protection? The well-being of the people is considered to be against public — i.e., government — policy.

It is obvious that governments cannot protect the people from terrorist attack, although they can greatly expand their power and influence over the public by claiming that they will do so, if only the people will yield just a little more sovereignty. Perhaps, eventually, it will be widely realized that government policies themselves give rise to terrorism, and the organization created by the people for the protection of their lives and property constitutes the gravest threat to those lives and property. And the legal system, except in cases in which the state has little or no interest, exists not to protect the rights of the people oppressed by the government, but rather, to protect the government from the people, and clothe its actions in the color of law.

So terrorism is inevitable.

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