Archive for December, 2014

A Monopoly on Violence

The tribal urban protests happening in American cities bring most forcefully to mind this simple question:

Who, if anyone, is to have a monopoly on violence?

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The Western provides the archetype:

A small town on the prairie, full of good, hardworking folk, is being terrorized by a roving band of horse and cattle thieves, or perhaps by a land baron forcing the community under threats of violence into selling their farms for well-below-market value. What are the good townspeople to do? They are not violent by nature, and even if one can find a few strong men to fight the good fight, everyone knows the dark truth: a defensive blow from their side would simply result in an even stronger blow from the cattle thieves or the land baron. Thus would be initiated an ever-escalating battle, with uncertain ends. Too much to lose.

In rides the Man With No Name. On horseback, six shooters at his side. He hails from nowhere and nothing. He takes up the cause of the townspeople. He rides out to confront the roving band of thieves or the land baron. Not only does he fight the enemy, he kills the enemy. He wins not only the one fight but all future fights, so that the town might live in peace even once he has gone.

And he must go. The Man With No Name must ride into the sunset. He cannot become part of the community he has saved; there is too much blood on his hands. He has saved the town through viciousness. He has saved it with bullets and with mortal wounds, the only way to save it, but luckily, The Man With No Name has saved the town not only from its physical threat but also from the moral threat of guilt. Thanks to the Man With No Name, the town did not have to summon its own monstrous viciousness to confront and defeat the monster. 

The Man With No Name is a sin-eater. He has a monopoly on the violence which is necessary to save the town, so that the town needn’t deal with the truth, that moral terror is necessary to combat moral terror.

One of the central questions confronting any society is how to deal with the threat of violent individuals or groups that exist within it. The answer has generally been to give the state or some other centralized power a complete monopoly on the violence necessary to ensure protection against internal threats to harmony. Generally speaking, this monopoly is to be Nameless, hailing from nowhere and nothing, which is why the horseman in the Western has No Name and why the executioner wears a mask when he beheads the criminal. The executioner, like the horseman, is a sin-eater. He combats terror with terror so that the community or the individuals victimized do not have to, that they might remain innocent.

The alternatives to monpolized violence slide quickly toward vigilantism or mob rule, scenarios in which any community or individual may be called upon to resort to violence in order to combat violence.

Neoreactionary law would be minimal, protecting negative rights. The only acts punishable in a neoreactionary society would be acts that materially harm or that intend to materially harm body or property.

What, then, does the neoreactionary society do with a Michael Brown, or even a Tamir Rice? (A neoreactionary society would not have bothered Eric Garner, because a neoreactionary society would not decree laws against the free trade of cigarettes.)

What does the neoreactionary society do with internal threats? It is not enough to answer “Exit” for every internal threat, for there is no escaping the problems of internal criminality and violence. We must address those internal threats. How do we address them?

Do we give some central power a monopoly on the violence necessary to combat internal violence?

Do we outsource the violence?

Do we distribute it?


Torture

According to ThinkProgress, which would surely paint the worst possible picture, the CIA held 119 individuals for torture. The Torture Report itself tells us that only 39 individuals were actually tortured. These individuals were tortured in the following way:

(1) the attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap, (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) waterboard, (10) use of diapers, (11) use of insects, and (12) mock burial.

With the exception of (9) and (12), there’s nothing in this list that doesn’t occur in military training or during fraternity hazing. And unlike the Japanese, who buried people alive for real, the mock burials conducted by the CIA did not result in actual burial. That leaves (9), waterboarding, as the only technique that could possibly be defined as “torture,” unless one is willing to apply the designation to military training and fraternity hazing.

The “dungeon” in which these “tortures” occurred was not a 5 star hotel, according to ThinkProgress, and this is cause for alarm:

Detainees at the COBALT detention facility were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste.

According to the Washington Post, however, such interrogation never lasted longer than 2 weeks. According to the Report itself, only 39 individuals went through these interrogations.

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I’m of the opinion that enhanced interrogation, torture, or whatever you want to call it is probably ineffective 90% of the time, which may or may not mean that it is worth doing for the sake of the 10% of the time that it produces valuable intelligence.

I am not going to defend the CIA because the CIA is an arm of the Cathedral, and its psychotic operatives, who follow whatever commands trickle down from the White House and the Pentagon, would just as soon waterboard a dissident blogger as a jihadist. However, because the majority of the 119 “tortured” individuals were enemies of my country, men who would kill me if they had the chance and who were involved in a movement to kill Americans, I see no reason to be angry that the CIA roughed these men up. I’m not even angry that one of them died of hypothermia, although I do think someone should have been dishonorably discharged over that fuck up.

There is an appropriate level of moral distaste that one might feel upon reading the Torture Report. War is a dirty affair, the men who volunteer for it may not be the best of men, and whatever occurred during these enhanced interrogations is certainly not a war story about which the soldiers and operatives can be proud. However, those on the Left who are rending their garments over this report have shown themselves, again, to possess moral compasses that are broken beyond repair. Consider it: here are a mere 119 men, degraded, surely, but who are alive today and did not receive any permanent injuries at the hands of their captors. If Abu Zubaydah is any indication, most of these men have been high ranking members of para-military groups involved in para-military action against the U.S. and her allies—in other words, they have attempted, successfully or otherwise, to blow things up and take American lives. And yet roughing them up, keeping them in dark rooms, pouring water over their faces, these are actions for which America is to be deeply troubled and ashamed. These are actions which show us to be, indeed, the Great Satan that the jihadists (rightly) believe we are.

Of course, very few people rending their garments over the fact that 119 jiahdists had to shit in buckets for a few weeks have ever made a show of rending their garments over the many atrocities that occur across the world on a daily basis, atrocities that leave headless children, limbless men, and deflowered women in their wake. Sandra Fluke has piped up to say she is “horrified by the torture report,” but spend time scrolling down her Twitter feed to find how many times she has commented on horror at anything but the gender pay gap. You will be scrolling quite a while. ISIS beheads four children, but 39 jihadists getting water poured over their faces is “the horror! the horror!”

We are familiar with the motivation on display here. There is one standard of behavior for white Westerners and another standard of behavior for everyone else. Abu Zubaydah commits his life to jihad, helps plan the 9/11 attacks, all par for the course, can we really blame him, but here now, you pour water on his face and make him piss his pants, it’s time for the European Court of Human Rights to step in and award him 30,000 Euros for being submitted to such horrors. We have to show these Arabs who are their moral betters.

The only other possible motivation for rending one’s garment over 39 jihadists shitting in buckets for a few weeks (while not rending one’s garments over dead American soldiers) is that one sides with the jihadists. Such a motivation has precedence in the history of the Left.