The Good Samaritan

Given that the survival of international order and international law hinge mainly on good faith, it follows that international order and international law are quite fragile, given that good faith is never a guarantee between individuals and states and is in fact rare to find amongst people. As Rousseau wrote:

“Positive law having thus become the common rule over citizens, there was room for natural law only as between the various societies where, under the name of international law, it was moderated by certain tacit conventions designed to make intercourse possible and to supplement natural compassion, which having lost as between society and society nearly all the force it had as between man and man, no longer dwells in any but a few great cosmopolitan souls, who, breaking through the imaginary barriers that separate peoples, and following the example of the Sovereign Being who created them, include the whole human race in their benevolence.”

As Aristotle argued in his “Nicomachean Ethics,” being good is difficult. Because being good is difficult, it follows that good people with good character are in short supply. Aristotle also said that once benevolence and good faith is destroyed, the result is that “you destroy the intercourse of mankind.” And as Rousseau said: “Here everything is restored to the sole law of the strongest, and consequently to a new state of nature…and this one is the fruit of an excess of corruption.” Also, the consequences of a dog-eat-dog world and lawlessness end up being dire for a free society. As Rousseau wrote:

“One would see the multitude oppressed inside society as a consequence of the very precautions taken against threats from outside; one would see oppression increase continually without the oppressed ever being able to know where it would end, nor what legitimate means remained for them to halt it. One would see the rights of citizens and the freedom of nations extinguished little by little, and the protests of the weak treated as seditious noises.”

And in fact, such a situation has arisen through Washington’s initiative since the beginning of the 21st century. To recount all the abuses and oppression over the course of the last few decades – which now include gassing and shooting worshippers at a holy site and having no regard whatsoever for anything that is holy and sacred – would go beyond the scope of just one essay. Now, with gas being cut off to Poland and Bulgaria and perhaps with more measures coming in the future as a consequence of more than two decades of abuse and lawlessness, the situation is such that:

“What a spectacle for [non-whites] would be the arduous and envied labours of a European minister! How many cruel deaths would not that indolent savage prefer to the horrors of such a life, which often is not even sweetened by the satisfaction of doing good?”

And after highlighting that such a European minister “lives always outside of himself” and that “he knows how to live only in the opinion of others” and that “it is from their judgment alone that he derives the sense of his own existence,” Rousseau topped it all off with the following home run:

“It is not my subject here to show how such a disposition gives birth to so much indifference to good and evil coupled with such beautiful talk about morality; or how, as everything is reduced to appearances, everything comes to be false and warped, honour, friendship, virtue, and often even vices themselves, since in the end men discover the secret of boasting about vices; or show how, as a result of always asking others what we are and never daring to put the question to ourselves in the midst of so much philosophy, humanity, civility and so many sublime maxims, we have only facades, deceptive and frivolous, honour without virtue, reason without wisdom, and pleasure without happiness.”

One would not err in assuming that these truths could not have been put forth in a better manner.

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