Monday, June 24, 2013

But Then It Was Too Late

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.
"They Thought They Were Free--The Germans, 1933-45," Milton Mayer

Sunday, June 9, 2013

On Doing the Right Thing

“When faced with the prospect that we might have to give up some sin we have come to cherish dearly, we often say something like ‘I would rather die’” We’d rather die, it seems, because we see having our entire world collapse definitively as an easier task than the work of slowly reconstructing the world in fidelity to the call to repentance. Because life is work (the work to which grace spurs us), we’d rather give up our whole world than repent. But, as Jim [Faulconer] further notes, this is only because we don’t realize how much work we’re already doing in trying to keep our sinful world intact. We cherish a certain sort of work, the work of misery, and don’t want to give it up for a rather different kind of work. As Jim says: “One of the reasons God’s grace is required to save us is that when we are sinners, we cannot see life and death truly; we have distorted our vision so that life seems like death and death seems like life.”
--Joe Spencer on Jim Faulconer's "Life of Holiness"

Friday, June 7, 2013

On Doing the Right Thing

Once, I remember, I ran across the case of a boy who had been sentenced to prison, a poor, scared little brat, who had intended something no worse than mischief, and it turned out to be a crime. The judge said he disliked to sentence the lad; it seemed the wrong thing to do; but the law left him no option. I was struck by this. The judge, then, was doing something as an official that he would not dream of doing as a man; and he could do it without any sense of responsibility, or discomfort, simply because he was acting as an official and not as a man. On this principle of action, it seemed to me that one could commit almost any kind of crime without getting into trouble with one’s conscience. Clearly, a great crime had been committed against this boy; yet nobody who had had a hand in it—the judge, the jury, the prosecutor, the complaining witness, the policemen and jailers—felt any responsibility about it, because they were not acting as men, but as officials. Clearly, too, the public did not regard them as criminals, but rather as upright and conscientious men.

The idea came to me then, vaguely but unmistakably, that if the primary intention of government was not to abolish crime but merely to monopolize crime, no better device could be found for doing it than the inculcation of precisely this frame of mind in the officials and in the public; for the effect of this was to exempt both from any allegiance to those sanctions of humanity or decency which anyone of either class, acting as an individual, would have felt himself bound to respect—nay, would have wished to respect.

--Albert J. Nock's, "Anarchist's Progress"