Sunday, January 8, 2012

Crocodiles And Government

John "Pondoro" Taylor was an Irishman who went to Africa to become a big-game hunter and ivory poacher.
He wrote several books on his exploits. In one of them he mentions how it used to puzzle him why the natives would go down to the river after having seen a crocodile erupt from the water the previous day or hour and drag one of their fellow villagers under.

Finally, it was explained to him that the natives believed that the crocodile was an incarnate soul of someone who had been wronged by the victim- sort of an avenging angel. They reasoned that since they hadn't cheated or killed or otherwise wronged anybody they had nothing to worry about.

To most Westerners this seems like an obvious superstition, but many people entertain a similar idea about government. Any time someone expresses apprehension about some government program he can be sure that somebody will accuse him of being "paranoid." Fifteen or so years ago I coined the term (which strangely has not been adopted by the Psychology profession) "sanguinoid" to describe a mental disorder that renders the sufferer subject to delusions that everybody is out to help him. It seems that many people entertain this notion vis a vis government.

Many people in totalitarian societies had no fear of the secret police because they knew they hadn't done anything wrong. They didn't worry about the submerged saurian because they were innocent of any crime, real or imagined.

Every day there are stories about some TSA outrage; cops bursting into the wrong house and killing an occupant or two;  feds raiding a farm selling raw milk, or seizing the computers of a guitar maker. Anybody who reads news stories has heard of at least a few of these, but most think that the victims "must have done something or they wouldn't be after them."

I have had someone tell me personally that he "hadn't had a problem" with the TSA even though he is aware of the agency's antics such as groping six-year-old girls or making eighty-something year-old women in wheel chairs remove their diapers. This is the American equivalent of going to the river after a croc attack.

"I'm from the government and I'm here to help"
It seems as though the average person has an infinite capacity to think that government abuses are never going to be directed at them. From drone attacks to planting drugs to detention without charges to roughing up demonstrators of various persuasions, it's never going to affect them. Besides that, "We" are the government, so there's another reason we have nothing to fear.

Japanese and Italian Americans found out just how much "We" are the government when the government concentrated them in internment camps during WW II.

Americans have forgotten - or never been taught - that government is a very dangerous tool. It is organized, monopolized force and should be kept on a short, securely anchored chain. St. Augustine wrote that the devil is a chained dog. He cannot hurt you unless you go within the radius of his operation. Government was set up to be something like that, but it keeps increasing the length of its own chain until its radius of operation encompasses all human activity.

Those who don't see the government for what it actually is are like the woman in the children's song who thought she could ride the crocodile:

She sailed away on a sunny summer day on the back of a crocodile,
"You see," said she, "he's as tame as tame can be;
I'll ride him down the Nile,"
The croc winked his eye as she bade them all goodbye, wearing a happy smile,
At the end of the ride the lady was inside, and the smile was on the crocodile!


  1. I like your invention: sanguinoid. Very funny. Instrustive government coheres with a restless soul who has not found peace in doing nothing but appreciating what we have and enjoying God's unforced providence as it comes. Big government is restless because it can't stop; it is unlike Augustine's soul that finally said, here I am enough of this folly. You make a good point about the fact that even if you don't have a guilty conscience and you are acting reasonably you can still be eaten by this restless beast. Excellent article

  2. i really enjoyed that you cited one of my favorite Paul Simon songs, and a song I learned in grammar school about the lady & the crocodile. I had not thought about that song in years.
    And BTW, you are absolutely right about the nature of government. but I think the chain should be longer on it... then said chain should be wrapped around its hideous neck, and the beast strangled completely to death.