Bertrand de Jouvenel once wrote: “A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.” Czar Nicholas’s society of sheep produced V.I. Lenin. Weimar Germany’s society of sheep begat Adolf Hitler. Appeasement begat World War II. I wonder what the French philosopher (he died in 1987) would say today as we mourn the innocent dead and wounded in the Underground and above ground in New York, London, Tel Aviv, Washington, Madrid, Istanbul, Bali, Moscow, Kenya, Casablanca.
I think de Jouvenel would say our ovine society had been taken over by a governing pack of wolves who, tragically, kill not as hunters after food but as suicide killers performing what they define as acts divinely inspired. The bombers define their slaughter of the innocents as an ambition to restore a rule of virtue as defined in their Koran and by the new messenger from heaven, Osama bin Laden. In short, al Qaeda has taken over our sheepish lives.
There is something familiar about those who kill in the name of virtue. There is Maximilien Robespierre whose proclamation during the French Revolution justified the Reign of Terror. “Does any man tremble as I speak?” thundered Robespierre to the Constituent Assembly. “Then I say he is guilty.”
President Bush didn’t appeal to the American people to engage actively in the fight against terrorism. He didn’t have to. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon didn’t have to appeal to the Jewish people to engage actively in the fight against terrorism. But this is exactly what London’s police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, felt impelled to do the other day after four British-born Muslims were identified as perpetrators of last week’s attacks in London, which left at least 56 persons dead. Sir Ian appealed to Britain’s Muslim community to engage actively in the fight against terrorism and to accept the stark fact there are British-born Muslims in their midst who are — gasp — terrorists.
Pathetic, humiliating, disgraceful, that a democratic government must appeal to a sector of its residents to get with it. Which, of course, means that as of now, the bombers’ co-religionists have been sitting on their hands.
What a reflection on Britain’s Muslim community that a British policeman must plead with a sector of society to help the police to close in on their co-religionists
The burning question is why England’s elite leadership pleads with resident Muslims for help. After all, in indiscriminate bombing, co-religionists are killed along with everybody else. For the suicide bombers, human beings are not being killed, but descendants of the Crusaders, “Zionists,” “enemies” of the Koran. Like the Bolsheviks who slaughtered the Romanovs in a Yekaterinburg basement, it was not Nicholas II and the Romanov family who were executed, but “the representatives of feudalism,” “bloodsuckers,” “parasites” or “lice.” The word for this transformational process is called brutalization. By their cruelty and inhumanity, suicide bombers and their silent Islamist supporters exemplify brutalization.
For Lenin and Hitler and today for the Jihadists, human beings, regardless of age, creed, color or religion, became enemies, or in Lenin’s favorite expletive, “vermin.” Mao called his “class” enemies “running dogs.” For Hitler, the Jews were “race” enemies, therefore Untermenschen, unpersons, so killing them was like stepping on cockroaches.
What would the suicide bomber, under orders to blow himself up in the London Underground, do if he noted a friend, a relative, a sibling in the same subway car? Is there any question? The suicide bomber would follow orders from his special god and press the button of death.
This is an extraordinary scenario and we can no longer behave as a society of sheep doing nothing when, as in the words of Byron, “The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold.”
“The essence of liberty,” said de Jouvenel, “lies in our will not being subject to other human wills: in our will ruling alone over our actions, only being checked when it injures the basic, indispensable requirements of life in society.”
The essence of liberty is under attack in Britain today. Who’s next?
Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.