In the wake of another monstrous act of politically motivated murder on London’s streets, I find myself reflecting on the impossibility of the government protecting us from religious maniacs with no regard for their own life or anyone else’s.
No matter how well-funded or armed the UK government’s police and security forces are, no matter how many police we have on the streets or how many of our freedoms we give up, there is simply no defence against someone who wants to indiscriminately kill people and then commit suicide by cop.
The best we can hope for is that the number of people killed or injured is small and that the murderer is taken out quickly. Thankfully, in this week’s Westminster attack, relatively few were killed as the man was only armed with a knife and he was swiftly shot dead by armed police. Of course, he may have been shot sooner by an armed citizen if the UK didn’t have gun control laws, but that’s another point.
The Westminster attack was sickening enough, but it sickens me further to hear the UK’s political leaders publicly offering their ‘thoughts and prayers’ to the victims. The deluded grand thoughts and plans of previous generations of this class of power-seeking parasites is what propelled London into this vicious circle of violence in the first place.
And the prayers of these sociopaths and egotists mean less than nothing. They should keep their empty rhetoric to themselves. The only thing politicians should be offering to us after such tragedies is their silence and, ideally, their resignations.
As Voltaire once wisely observed, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” It could be that Khalid Masood (aka Adrian Elms) was made to believe absurdities, perhaps by someone else’s monstrous interpretation of a religious scripture, and then he ended up committing atrocities.
Then again, given that he has some history of violence, perhaps he had always possessed an urge to go on a killing spree. Perhaps the death, destruction and human suffering wreaked in Muslim lands by the UK government over the last decades served in his mind as sufficient stimulus to act upon it.
And when you see a central Authority and its people as a single entity, and refuse to see that individuals are responsible for their own actions, then everyone is morally responsible for the actions of men wielding state power and thus everyone and anyone in sight is a viable target. Men, women, children.
Anyone who thinks like Khalid Masood may have done, that everyone must believe the same things and act the same way in order for peaceful and good society to exist, will forever fear human freedom (i.e. liberty bound by property rights). Because individual liberty is what enables people to disagree with each other and to act differently (without precluding peaceful coexistence). Thus liberty will always be either a repulsing or terrifying prospect to religious and political extremists.
This aversion to legitimate human freedom is not exclusive to the parts of the world under Islamic rule. To a lesser extent and to varying degrees, it is the foundation of statism and interventionism in the western world. It underpins most government policy. Although in the western world it is mostly economic freedom that is restrained by authority whereas in the Middle East it is mostly social freedom.
Alongside the timeless human lust for power and control, repulsion to or a lack of faith in freedom is still one of the major driving forces behind most of the poverty, human suffering and death happening in the world. Whether done by individuals believing it is their duty to do ‘God’s will’ or by well-meaning politicians and soldiers wielding nation-state power and believing it is their duty to enact ‘the will of the people’ or to act towards some imagined ‘greater good’.
Having said that, it’s worth acknowledging MP Tobias Ellwood’s attempts to save the life of the stabbed policeman. As he acted instinctively out of empathy for another human being, he abandoned his lofty political perch within the coercive apparatus of the state and showed a level of regard for human life that it is impossible for the State to show, which as an institution bestows upon one group of men the right to steal and kill.
Unjust military invasions and political interference in Middle Eastern countries by our own democratically elected leaders led to the formation of Islamic State and continues providing motivation/inspiration to the relatively few men, who combine their sociopathy and their Islamic extremism to deadly effect to serve IS’s cause. And it will do so for some time to come.
The totally misguided and inevitably immoral use of state power in attempts to make the world a better place was the starting point of this vicious circle of violence, which is threatening to send freedom in the UK and the rest of Europe into a death spiral.
If we are to avoid descending into a police state and giving religious extremists what they want, then we must abandon our blind faith in state power and the class of people who seek to wield it and embrace a rational faith in the power of liberty.
The solution to any problem is its opposite. Rational faith in human freedom is the opposite of irrational faith in a centralised Authority, whether it be a religious one like IS or a secular one like the UK state, and it’s the only escape from this vicious circle of violence. We cannot defeat those who seek to control our lives by relinquishing what remains of our freedom to those who already do.