Thursday, July 22, 2010
Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori
In my conversation with Dr. David Friedman, the main point I have been stressing is that part of what allows government to function is that it is perceived as having inherent authority. I can choose on a casual whim to be a consumer of Nike or Reebok sneakers. I do not sit around thinking whether or not I feel like submitting to the authority of the United States government. In this spirit I thought it worthwhile to share with you a quote from Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.
Dying for one's country, which usually one does not choose, assumes a moral grandeur which dying for the Labour Party, the American Medical Association, or perhaps even Amnesty International cannot rival, for these are all bodies one can join or leave at easy will. Dying for the revolution also draws its grandeur from the degree to which it is felt to be something pure. (If people imagined the proletariat merely as a group in hot pursuit of refrigerators, holidays, or power, how far would they, including members of the proletariat, be willing to die for it?) Ironically enough, it may be that to the extent that Marxist interpretations of history are felt (rather than intellected) as representations of ineluctable necessity, they also acquire an aura of purity and disinterestedness. (Pg. 144.)