The aftermath of the riots in England last week is still evident on many streets and in the faces of residents whose peaceful lives were shattered during the violence. Massive cleanup efforts and long-term economic effects are still being evaluated while politicians posture before taking their first definitive actions. Well, the history forgotten is what the government bureaucrats are dealing with now.
A contemporary of Aristotle once said that ” a person’s life persuades better than his word.” I couldn’t agree more after watching the hooliganism unleashed on the communities of Hackney, Camden, Peckham, Stratford, and others. Despite media assertions that the riots were caused by a questionable police shooting, I find that to be merely an excuse.
Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy. – Aristotle
How we react to the challenges and difficulties of life mark what kind of society we have become. When tens of thousands of TEA Party activists can gather in cities all over America without incident the media calls it “incitement”. When paid union thugs beat a black activist in public they are vindicated. When government attempts to pull back from fiscal catastrophe it is called “terrorism” or “moronic”. When eco-terrorists can stalk women and children or destroy millions in property it is hailed as freedom of expression. What indication do these incidents give as to where western society stands today?
“Tipping point” is a phrase popularized not too long ago that feels very appropriate to the emerging civil unrest. The welfare class created by politicians and bureaucrats to ensure their own power is a smoldering engine with barely leashed destructive potential. By allowing – even encouraging – citizens to stay out of the productive process of society and rewarding their indolence, the governments of these “liberal democracies” have attempted to leash the dependent to their will. They hope to ensure that those on the dole will continue to listen to and vote for those that grant them their sustenance at someone elses expense.
He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god. – Aristotle
In fact, what the politicians have wrought is not a welfare class but an entitlement class. This group sees the world through a prism shaped by self-indulgence, greed, and rights without responsibility. They desire to attain all the benefits of a wealthy society without contributing to the formation of that wealth. They seek to consume and reproduce without any regard to the prospects of others and the government rewards them for making these bad choices. This is called a moral hazard (def: the tendency of people who are insured against a specific hazard to cease to exercise caution to avoid the hazard – Encarta World Dictionary 2009)
Jealousy is both reasonable and belongs to reasonable men, while envy is base and belongs to the base, for the one makes himself get good things by jealousy, while the other does not allow his neighbour to have them through envy. – Aristotle
But when the politicians beat their drums and shout that others want to take from the dependents what they now believe to be their right, they unleash an angry mob. This mob, though they have no true claim on the freedoms or produce of others struck out last week at those they had been told for years the obstacle to their desires.
The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal. – Aristotle
All people are not equal in all ways. We should hope that they never are. Without our uniqueness we would never enjoy as a society the gifts of music, science, innovation, or discovery. Likewise, we should seek to be dissatisfied with our current situation and seek to improve it through honest work and virtuous living.
Those who excel in virtue have the best right of all to rebel, but then they are of all men the least inclined to do so. – Aristotle
There are great and weighty problems facing our world today. Economies are in disarray due to profligate spending, compounding debt, and undeliverable promises. Famine, poverty, and disaster stalk the world yet the most generous nations in the world are denigrated and attacked. Extremist ideologies seek to gather power and influence; taking advantage by fomenting societal unrest.
We praise a man who feels angry on the right grounds and against the right persons and also in the right manner at the right moment and for the right length of time. – Aristotle
We have reason to be nervous and uncertain in today’s world. Uncertainty causes fear and fear is a great driver of human passions. However, by remaining steadfast to our principles and faith, the world can right itself. Reasonable men can forge a path through the turbulence and put us back on the path equality of opportunity for all. The promise of equal outcome for all is what got us here today.
Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms. – Aristotle
All should hope that this last observation of Aristotle’s serves as sufficient warning for us to avoid its dreadful outcome.
(See my Friday August 12th post “On Riots And Self-Defense…” )