Love Casts Out Fear
A Rationale for Democracy
A Strategy for Global Administration
The Principle of Belonging
Place of Residence
Small is Beautiful
Love in Action
Return to:World Views
Ardue Site Plan
The Individual and the World
"War" on "Terrorism"
I begin by defining a "terrorist" as anyone who seeks to gain his own ends by making other people afraid. Fear is the great enemy of human progress because it inhibits individual action. First, it deters individuals from doing worthwhile things on their own account, whether because of some perceived personal risk or merely because of "what other people might think". Second, fear on the part of individuals or groups makes them try to restrict the pleasures or entrepreneurial activities of other, more courageous, individuals — even when such activities involve no risk to anyone but the participants. Third, fear of pressure groups, however motivated, persuades legislators to coerce people into behaving in ways which can only be described as "unnatural" — as when they seek to outlaw activities which do no demonstrable harm to third parties or to the common environment. When fear is used as a weapon, it makes no practical difference whether it is used by parents, school bullies, do-gooders, criminal gangs, marketing organisations, governments, regulators, enforcement agencies, or anarchists. The result is always to curtail personal liberty and thus to stunt individual spiritual growth. Let us never forget that courage is a spiritual, not a physical, quality.
Fear is endemic in all countries of the world in which there is any form of dictatorial coercion which relies on fear of arbitrary punishment for non-compliance with unnatural laws and regulations. As I can think of no country to which this does not apply (if only in the administration of compulsory taxation) it seems reasonable to assume that fear is pandemic and that no country in the world is altogether devoid of people who are ready, willing, and able to exploit fear as a means to selfish ends. Terrorists occur among all sorts and conditions of men. The school bully is, for his or her victims, just as much a terrorist as the member of a highly organised gang that kills people while robbing a bank or destroys a densely-populated high-rise building at the behest of a malevolent master-mind.
The logical conclusion from the foregoing is that terrorists can be eliminated from human society only by eliminating fear and distrust among all members of the human race. It's a big job which cannot be accomplished by mouthing political slogans or dropping indiscriminate bombs on arbitrarily delineated stretches of landscape. Fear will never cast out fear. It can be done only by persuading the responsible men and women in the world to consider how fear may best be eliminated from their own neighbourhoods and countries. This may require us to employ our God-given liberty to challenge the comfortable concepts by which we have tamely allowed ourselves to be governed and to think in terms that many people will find revolutionary.
Democracy means government by the people. This implies that political power must start with the individual person. By voluntarily grouping themselves for particular common purposes, individuals empower the leaders of such groups to act on their behalf within prescribed limits. Groups may themselves form larger groupings for purposes common to the constituent groups, and so build a hierarchy of groupings which ends with one final group or "national administration" which has only a very few purposes that all the people of the "nation" have in common and which have actually been delegated "upwards" through the hierarchy. It seems likely that for most nations thus constituted, the only function left to the national administration would be the co-ordination of national defence against invasion.
I have put "upwards" in inverted commas because I wish to emphasise that the single group which represents one end of the hierarchy is in no way superior in authority to the many groups making up the rest of the hierarchy; it is, rather, subordinate to them, because authority ultimately comes from the individuals in all groups who are the agents of the One God of the Universe. The group at the "top" only has greater responsibility for co-ordinating whatever administrative functions have been passed to it by the level immediately below. For this reason, a "higher", more remote, "authority" is never morally justified in abusing the power of sheer numbers to ride roughshod over the preferences of a "local" or "primary" group. It is anticipated that co-ordinating authority in matters concerning such personal interests as education, health, and the administration of justice for individuals would drop out of the delegated package by about the fifth step from the "many" end of the hierarchy.
For the sake of illustration, if a primary group of ten "families" or "households" appointed a leader, that leader would represent the group on the level 2 group (consisting of, say, 10 primary groups) and also on the level 3 group (consisting of, say, 10 level 2 groups). The "governing body" of a level 3 group would then consist of 100 members, each representing a level 1 group. To prevent each "governing body" from getting too unwieldy, the governing bodies of all subsequent levels of grouping could be limited to 100 members appointed by the governing bodies of its constituent groups. Working on powers of ten, a level 5 group would represent up to 100,000 families, equivalent to a large town, and a level 8 group would represent up to 100 million families, equivalent to a very large nation. [See, e.g., A Democratic Recipe. — Ed.]
Under a system such as the above, in which every representative has been "pushed up" from below as a person well fitted and trusted to represent the interests of one or more of the constituent groups, something approaching true democracy could be established. There would assuredly be less opportunity for self-seeking adventurers to make their murky way into public administration through the machinations of political parties.
Readers who agree that the foregoing paragraphs constitute a promising basis for further advance in democracy are requested to take the initiative in attempting to form primary groups in their own neighbourhoods and organise themselves to resist compulsion by fear whether it comes via burglars, terrorists, or some form of existing government.
But it should be clear that the destructive methods of the terrorist merely accelerate the conversion of natural resources into waste, and that the indiscriminate application of technology increases the risk that all human life on the planet will be extinguished by accident.
In what way can it be "loving" to keep people artificially alive when they are no longer naturally viable and have nothing to look forward to except increasing pain and disability? Are the spiritual interests of the individual and the financial interests of the tax-payer not being sacrificed to the selfish interests of the potentates of the political, religious, legal, pharmaceutical, and "caring" industries? Do we not conveniently forget that the poisons generated by our wasteful Western lifestyle are inevitably distributed by atmospheric, oceanic, and commercial pollution to the rest of the world and all of its inhabitants, including our fellow humans in less "advanced" countries? Is it "loving" to salve our consciences by "distributing aid" by way of surplus food or money to "poorer" countries, thus fostering a dependency culture that makes their last state worse than their first? Would it not be better for the world as a whole if we re-defined "advancement" in qualitative instead of quantitative terms, and put the emphasis on improving our spiritual development instead of increasing our wastelines (pun intended)?
The following is an attempt to outline a few principles by which the responsible people in the world might be guided to set an example in self-control and co-operative self-government, and thus wage a spiritual war with non-destructive spiritual weapons.
Because nearly everybody likes to have a "home", those who share one's home neighbourhood constitute what is perhaps the most important community for most people. Long-time dwellers in rural areas will readily agree: they live their lives closer to Nature than city dwellers and are rightly suspicious of newcomers until they have demonstrated by their demeanour and conduct that they are ready, willing, and able to become "acclimatised" and to live by long-established local customs.
Although city people are accustomed to the anonymity of social and business intercourse in city centres, even they like to have friendly, dependable, local neighbours when they come home to rest and recuperate; and they feel uncomfortable, to put it mildly, when their neighbourhoods are occupied by people whose behaviour and dress do not conform to local norms and who may not even speak the local language. They rightly perceive that this dilutes what for them constitutes the quality of local life, and they naturally resent it when the proportion of immigrants in the community increases beyond ordinary levels of tolerance. Resentment is exacerbated by central governmental legislation designed to "shoe-horn" unwanted strangers into local communities. That is why large-scale migration of people is by far the most de-stabilising effect of globalisation, and why there will be no peace in any neighbourhood, let alone the world, unless and until the Principle of Belonging is accorded the importance it deserves.
Hence, for the purpose of public administration, it is obvious that geographical neighbourhood is the optimum basis for the formation of the primary groups described above.
The fundamental ground for establishing a proper tie or 'title' is 'belonging', i.e. a long-standing, preferably undisputed, association between the custodian and the property in question. It may reasonably be assumed that the value of real estate is compounded from the intrinsic value of land by reason of its structure, content and location, and whatever a series of 'custodians' might have done to it by way of development, improvement, care, and maintenance. It would be helpful if the current custodian recognised that his or her tenure was only temporary and accepted responsibility for passing the property on to the next generation in good order. But it would be equally helpful if our notions of "good order" were based on well-proven traditional concepts rather than those canvassed by mercenary johnny-come-latelies.
Title may be passed on by inheritance when the property is passed from one generation to another, most commonly to a close blood relative of the previous custodian whose custodianship has been naturally terminated by physical death or incapacity. Long-standing possession by the members of a family is often indicated by the names given to topographical features. "Title" may also pass by purchase, when the current 'custodian' of a property sells the custodianship to another person or group.
A fourth ground is conquest, by which custodianship of a property is forcibly wrested from one person or group by another person or group. When this happens, it may take a very long time (possibly spanning several generations) before ensuing disputes about the legitimacy of the transfer have been forgotten. The psychological consequences are much the same whether the conquest comes about through act of war, colonial expansion, or "peaceful" infiltration by immigrants.
The above paragraph will probably give offence to many well-meaning people who sympathise with the privations suffered by "refugees". But love sometimes has to be "tough" to be effective, and we should all do well to consider that if the hordes of Afghans currently trying to leave their country and settle elsewhere chose instead to unite in courageously endeavouring to sort out their own troubles, their country might become more humane and less attractive as a haven for international terrorists.
Hence there is good reason why every nation in the world should now review its criteria for granting citizenship to natives of other countries, and to abrogate any international treaties which seek to limit its power to do so. In a world which is already overcrowded, uncontrolled migration of people threatens civilisation everywhere.
Diminution in trade and tourism has its not inconsiderable compensations. The pollution associated with transportation is reduced. The trend to global monoculturalism is retarded and cultural diversity is preserved, refined, and increased. There is less occasion for commercial competition and so less reason for strife between nations.
It will obviously be necessary to retain effective sanctions against people who behave irresponsibly in the local social context: but such sanctions should be designed as loving aids to correction rather than as mere vengeful punishment. For any society which aims to maximise personal liberty, imprisonment would be a desperate measure of last resort.