Oct 17, 2011

The Rule of Law and Civil Society

The recent killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and his son Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki, both US citizens, have set on the table for discussion the notion of the rule of law when it applies to terrorism.  The State has proclaimed if you are deemed a terrorist by the President, it can kill you.  This has come to the delight of the neo-cons and the scattered applause of the progs, but many in the political spectrum have called in to question the impact on the concept of the "Rule of Law."

The impact is nothing short of devastating:  Consider a game of basketball, where the referee starts to show obvious favoritism to one of the teams, allowing them to foul, travel out of bounds with the ball, and have six or seven players on the court at a time.  The other team is abiding by all of the rules we are accustomed to, and loses mightily!  What are we to expect the fans to do?  Would they allow such a flagrant disregard for the established rules of the game?  Certainly not...but how long until these same fans are getting searched from the ankle up under the guise of "preventing terrorism" like their NFL brothers and sisters?  Not long, I predict...

Are you at least going to take me out to dinner?

Predictable, also, was the State defending the executions and the subsequent effect on the "Rule of Law"  as "we got the bad men....I mean did you read their names?!"  This tribalistic "logic" has been used over and over to constantly change the way life is in America, and in also places that many have never seen on a map since high school!  The effect will be, of course, the same for the State as it was for the boy who cried "Wolf!"- the complete and total destruction of legitimacy.

It is never more important than in a time of war to preserve liberty- for wartime is when the citizens are most likely to let go of their rights to be patriotic (for the common good) and because they are terrorized (in case the enemy is among us.)  When the State is at war, liberty is most at risk.  However, when it comes to preserving rights- sacrifice should be sacrelige.

In contemporary society, the State is engaged in the "War on Terror."  Terrorism is a concept- not a person, not a nation.  When the war is "on" an idea, this is naturally a perpetual war, as ideas are bulletproof, and enemies of ideologues are endless.  The "War on Terror" will be as wildly successful as the 40-year "War on Drugs."  Unfortunately, the effects on civil society since 2001 have been much worse than the previous thirty years.  We have regressed from people having relative privacy and, if accused of a crime, a day in court to a society where you will be literally executed on the whims of the State.

The "Rule of Law" defines civilization.  Therefore, if the State is acting against the "Rule of Law," it's actions can only be characterized as "uncivilized."  This regressive path toward despotism leads to further dehumanization, enslavement, death.

Indeed, as the contemporary "model" State, the US, has ignored human dignity, caused unbelievable death and destruction, and buried its citizenry in debt that could never be repaid.  The concept of "American Exceptionalism" insists we never stop until all nations share our "values."  If these people are looking for "civilization," they had better look elsewhere.

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