Was any Roman ever gullible enough to believe that Romulus and Remus founded Rome after being suckled by wolves? Given the gullibility of humankind, perhaps, but if so, a revelation about human nature emerges that the policy elite would prefer to keep secret—for the most part, human beings are dumbos; they can be led by their noses to believe anything. And so they have.
That Romulus and Remus were ever suckled by wolves is absurd. But is it more absurd than that people should defend a country which they own not a single square inch of? Isn’t that like defending some far off country, like Luxemburg, to which you have no relationship? Would you volunteer to defend Uganda? Why do people volunteer to defend the U.S.A.? Why defend what’s not yours? Let those who own it defend it. But they won’t; they never have. Jefferson knew that merchants have no national loyalties.
We pretend we’re not defending land we don’t own. We claim we’re defending our beliefs, but beliefs don’t need defending. Just try to kill one, even an absurd one.
Perhaps institutions founded upon those beliefs are being defended? But why defend institutions that don’t work for you? What are we defending when we defend “our country” anyway? You likely have no idea; yet many believe they should, that it’s the right thing to do. Ever ask yourself why? No? Why not?
Somehow or other there have come to be “truths” that are never examined but which are thought to be “unquestionably” true. Almost no one questions these beliefs that are too strong to be altered by evidence even though believing them leads to horrid consequences.
There are a lot more of these than you suspect. Whole civilizations are built on them. Romulus, who never existed, still influences human actions. How in the world did human beings get into this condition?
In 1789, the French revolted, and the monarchy was overthrown. The royal nations across Europe were threatened and led a counter revolution that by 1814 had restored the old order. The restoration also destroyed the basis of everything a civilized culture could be founded on. Along with the monarchy, reason, the basis for civilization, was also discredited, The baby went with the bath. Human beings cannot be treated irrationally by rational people.
So it had to be. Civilization depends upon standards. Differences exist between right and wrong, truth and error, kindness and cruelty, honesty and fraud. Everything is not the same. But these have all come to be the same in the world we now live in. By putting down the French revolution, which was a result of the Age of Reason, reason itself had to be discredited, so a plethora of standards emerged. We now have mythical standards, scriptural standards, institutional standards, personal standards, but no rational standards. Rational man no longer exists; mankind is now almost entirely creedal. Everyone’s varied opinion is as good as truth and we’ve become willing to kill each over those creeds. Political action, in fact action of any kind, pits opinion against opinion. Americans do it, Muslims do it, Hindus do it, Sikhs do it and no search for truth ever takes place because there is no standard that can separate the true claims from the others.
When this occurred, honesty disappeared too. Everything became a lie. Politicians and the government lies. Vendors lie to consumers. Brokers lie to investors. The culture is a total fraud.
Sectarian standards are not the only standards being adopted. If the Bible can become the source of a standard, so can Mein Kampf or Qutb’s Milestones. When the values in Milestones go head to head with the values in the Old Testament all that can ensue is violence. The Israelis, when they adopt the diasporic myth and reject the findings of Shlomo Sand, are being primitive Romans who believe in Romulus. Ignorance has become today’s standard of veracity. Is Israel really the only nation with a right to exist? Just exactly does that mean? Who conferred this right?
But scripture is not the only source of these “standards” although religion is a major source. In fact, religion has such a strong hold on humanity that one cleric has founded a church that embraces all religions. Some people just can’t give it up even stripped of all its content. But religion isn’t the only source of standards, Consider for a moment the view recently expressed by a prominent television commentator that only constitutional governments are legitimate. Really? What if the constitution allows the government to do horrid things to its people? Is it still legitimate? Consider the view that democracy regardless of its form is the best type of government. Really? The U.S.A. was a “democracy” when slavery was legal. Consider the widely held view that science and technology will save mankind from its depredations? Really? Science and technology have mainly provided the means to kill vastly more people that it has enabled anyone to save. Not much hope in salvation there! Can anyone claim that providing government with a means to track and eavesdrop on the conversations of every human being is a good thing? Rely on science to your own detriment!
This lack of a standard has consequences that few recognize even though they surround us. Ignorance (crime, violence, hatred, dishonesty, just plain evil, the uncouth) can easily overwhelm society, Instead of teaching people to live together, western practice has been to force compliance by the use of law and punishment instead of conviction. But it usually takes more than one official to capture one criminal. Sooner or later the number of guards will be insufficient for the task, the number of prisons too few. At that point evil will predominate. Human beings are rapidly approaching that state. The Earth is being overcome by evil.
In the U.S.A., for instance, thanks to the wonders of technology, a young person makes a mistake and commits a crime. If convicted, s/he serves a sentence and his/her name is placed in a permanent database of offenders which employers and others are encouraged to check for background information. The class of “criminals” thus increases continually. One day it will outnumber the “law abiding.” This policy, along with many others, can only have been instituted by people dumb enough to believe that Romulus and Remus founded Rome after being suckled by wolves. Such policies are countless.
Violence can not be controlled by punishing the violent; punishment requires that the violence has already occurred. The elimination of violence requires that people be convinced that force and violence are wrong . Jim Crow cannot be eliminated by outlawing expressions; it requires the elimination of the desire to use them. But conviction requires a rational basis, not just heads full of opinions.
In rejecting the enlightened values of the age of reason, European conservatives were forced to reject reason itself, In rejecting reason itself, they enshrined a Babel of Opinions without providing any way of evaluating them. The result is that everyone’s opinion is equally true (false). (Examples can be heard on any 24 hour news channel at any time of day.) These opinions are now the basis of human action, and they are leading us to perdition. Instead of punishing people, we need to perfect them.
The problem here is that bad ideas based on big errors do not get filtered out of the public debate. In fact, the opposite happens. Politics is a marketing exercise in which the media and politicians pander to public prejudice with the result that bad ideas are actually adopted. What no one seems to realize is that we cannot kill our way to goodness or even salvation or security. One and a half billion Muslims cannot be killed without killing ourselves.
John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on http://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage.