Challenging the Notion Men “Possess” Rights
Man does not “possess” individual rights, but should defend them because he is rational and has a sense of enlightened self-interest. Unfortunately, this is a rather high threshold, and the propensity for enlightened self-interest fluctuates according to the age; namely, it is likelier to arise after collectivist movements have engaged in wanton slaughter, or tyrannical regimes have oppressed men to the point that there is nothing rational left to do but rebel.
In the worst of these desolated conditions, men generally rebel in the realm of ideas. Invisible and hidden from prying eyes, men capable of abstraction and imagination of alternate existences begin scribbling. The man of genius, or divine fire, becomes possessed of ferocious ardor and insatiable escape into the world of “oughts.” Eventually, he becomes courageous enough to spread the word of his new plans for society. The ideas catch fire; and creating a sentiment of the possible, men are inspired to great revolutionary deeds. If successful, they establish freedom and a constitution to safeguard it to their posterity. If not, the trial degrades into violent and senseless debauchery, culminated by an even greater despotism.
The overcoming may indeed sow the seeds of destruction. Having convinced themselves of the rightness of their ideas, the founders of the new nation set forth their laws. The blessed then suffer under the delusion that these bold and noble ideals are self-evident, and therefore self-enforcing. Laziness wrought of overconfidence leads the country onward down the path to tyranny, ever so slowly. Men of learning, tending to be narcissists, are both inspired by the founders’ example, and dream too of their alternative existences. But these ideals are not born in misery, but in luxury and excess; they condemn the materialistic side of life, or the disparity in fortunes, no matter how truly well off nearly everyone has become. They rise to esteem in academia, and the universities, the fount of all professions, become the havens for vainglorious dreamers. The prior revolution dies in the minds and hearts of men, and a new vision, a dream that defies reality, is given life.
The resulting war is not one of man versus man at first; foremost, it is one of fantasy versus reality. The utopian schemers, failing time and time again, demand more resources, more manpower, to make it work, to jam the square peg in the round hole. They develop totalitarian plans to recruit every able bodied and willing man; and when it turns out that there are plenty able but not willing, civil conflict ensues. The results are indeterminate at this point, for they depend on local conditions. But the war has been determined prior on the battlefield of ideas, long before a shot is ever fired.