My initial thoughts were 'This is the end of the nation-state as we know it'. When Colin Powell argued against that position, saying that rogue actors make nation-states even more important than ever, I held that initial thought in abeyance. As I became a geopolitical necon, I truly believed that a proper nationalism could right things. But what I didn't realize is how small the old hierarchies are, and now I realize their ability to monopolize talent is very weak. The decentralized cat is out of the bag. The Man is now just an old man, and he cannot even. In the argot of the young 'cannot even' doesn't require an object. A universal placeholder is elided. The Man cannot even X, where X can be basically everything with the exception of 'be The Man', who doesn't matter any longer. The Man doesn't matter any longer because the The Man lost institutional touch with the common man in places where society was once solid, and never bothered with the common man elsewhere. And so now men grow up everywhere in a kind of social anarchy that doesn't discipline them to be the men their fathers strove to be. Nations and patriarchies are broken and the wildlings are inside the gates.
The irony of course is that we need some kind of compromise. We need to be a society of laws rather than a society of men, but a society of laws that does not allow men to be men is everything wrong with the extreme abstraction of today's post-modern communications. Men in fact do cobble together frameworks of autonomous authorities into which people become entirely dependent with no recourse to the men who did the cobbling. The dons of the EU are our examples of homo frameworkus, and those frames will work us out of our autonomy. It seems that very few men can be trusted with liberty. Those who once had it treated it like lyrics to a Sting song, loved it and set it free, thinking perhaps now that they never deserved it.
And now I cannot get that idea out of my head. We don't trust ourselves. We don't trust ourselves with liberty. So we just give up, let it go and hope it will come back and establish itself on its own.
I just finished watching the television show that has more deftly illustrated the nomadic Noman that is todays American post-nationalist. He is a man at war with himself unable to conquer his inner demons, believe in God, our country or anything beyond the suffering of the common man against his own pain and suffering. He believes he can change the world be eliminating all the confidence and trust anyone has in anything beyond their own shadow. He is Mr. Robot, the man that cannot belong.
When you cannot belong to humanity all you can do is outsmart them and sell your soul to those you think have. It is the temptation of any arrogant mind. I myself have the frustration. But what I know that Mr. Robot doesn't is that anonymous power is the most corruptible kind. What I know that the EU bureaucrats and UN functionaries don't is that your name has to be out there and you have to answer to your critics. And you have to fail in public. You have to pledge allegiance in public. It is the only thing that can save you from the force of nature that is the public. Sometimes. But that is the risk you have to take. At least it will be the case until there are no more knights who swear oaths to be the long arms of the law in defense of justice. Or until such men can never ever find you.
So what we must learn from 9/11 is that there is a limit to every conspiracy and you cannot hide. But we are in a world where men have lost faith in national identity and the public spirit, in which the rule of law is seen as some sort of contingency because there are always more clever rogue actors. One day, we will be a nation of laws, liberty and free men again. The idea will never die. And when it comes to fruition, then we will stand together under colors and necessary laws in unity and respect. Let us crawl towards that day.
For the moment I am under the influence of Martin Cruz Smith's fiction. His Arkady Renko is my latest Lovecraftian hero. Smith has made me feel the slow dripping rusting melancholy of the Russians who thought they were Soviets. It is achingly pathetic, and I feel it. I feel it as I drive north and south down Hooper Avenue in Los Angeles which is not so much a boulevard of broken dreams but one where only the simplest might be entertained in the first place. These are common men dwarfed by the mechanisms of influence, whose economies of desire are never funded, who can be persuaded or pushed off a cliff. I don't see it. I don't see liberty in the city. The cosmopolitain fiction's melody runs in 7/4 time and the people just want to dance a two step.
Can we crawl? Can we two step? Can we just move naturally and keep liberty? I hope nothing has to burn. I hope I don't go from stoic to cynic. I hope somebody can teach me how.