Shannon Love of The Chicago Boyz had an interesting post on 'greed for money v. greed for power.' I thank Ms. Love for the post, which gives me a moment to say a couple of things that I've not quite had the right words for before.
The particular thing that sparks my thinking is a phrase she uses to describe the power that the state wields to enforce its laws. She names those who serve the state, which can draw upon force up to and including lethal force, "the caste of killers." She has a painting of Hitler done in the style of a knight on horseback.
That's not quite right. John Wayne can explain the difference, as he does here: "I see you don't wear a gun, so I guess you always hire it done."
The ones who 'hire it done' are the problem, in my opinion. The actual 'caste of killers,' which we at BlackFive normally refer to as the American Warrior Caste, are pretty good folks by and large.
That does, however, point to one reason why the military in America is admired to the degree that it is: in America, the military is always pointed outwards. The remarkable degree of trust and love that Americans have for their military comes from a true faith that the military defends the nation, and will not be used to divide her. That trust is a rare and special thing in human history.
Last, there is a broad strain of thought that holds that the state should have "a monopoly of force." Many thinkers believe that the best way to ensure peace is to ensure that the state is not only more powerful than any who may oppose her, but is alone in having the right and power to bring force to bear. I think Ms. Love's argument shows why this strain of thought, though broadly held and by many intelligent thinkers, is entirely mistaken.
The whole and only point of having a state is to ensure a space for human liberty. A state with a monopoly on force may have the power to do that, though it very well may not; but it certainly has the power to be tyrannical.
Thus, it is good that America is a nation born in rebellion. It is not that revolution is desirable as a state of affairs. That birth, however, allowed the Founders to understand the importance of the individual having the right and the power to stand up and resist a tyranny. Whenever possible we try to preserve that in the courts of law, so that a man may even call the state before the bar and command justice. Should corruption prevail, though, a man should be held right who resists with arms as well as with laws. The Founders understood that, and our system is based on their wisdom.
That hypothetical man, resisting with arms as well, is perhaps also one of 'the caste of killers' -- certainly he may be required to kill. Many of the Founders did, in the cause of a greater justice. Yet, if he kills, that man is not the problem. The problem, again, is 'those who hire it done.'
The wise preserve the right of the individual to use force even against the state, even if we expect to call on that right very rarely. As G. K. Chesterton wrote:
When God put man in a garden, He girt him with a sword,
And sent him forth a free knight that might betray his lord.
Or, if you prefer Patrick Henry, we believe in the right of that final appeal: "An appeal to arms, and the God of hosts." To participate in that appeal, a man has no choice but to be one of the 'caste of killers'; but from such men, liberty was born, and on such men, she depends.