Saturday, February 09, 2008

De Re Libertas

(Hat tip to frequent Blondesense commenter Tom for this. This picture was made from 18,000 US soldiers standing in formation at Camp Dodge, near Des Moines Iowa. From the uniforms I will presume it was made back around the Great War.)


Society is a constant tension between liberty and control. I know, I know, that's a very trite statement, but one can't expect deathless prose all the time, not so?

In this country, this Republic with its federal system of representative democracy, liberty is usually translated as freedom. Freedom to express yourself, freedom to arm yourself for the protection of yourself and the greater society if called upon, freedom from ... well, you get the idea.

Now, there are constraints on these freedoms. Such constraints are the rules of the game, folks; a society would be totally unworkable if there was complete freedom, so we limit ourselves to about 75% or so. This harks back to a Jeffersonian ideal that says that your freedom stops where it interferes with mine. For example, you don't have the freedom to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater; you don't have the freedom to shoot your guns off indiscriminately, and so on.

The current conservative meme (one that has been going on for about thirty years or so) is that we have too much freedom, and not enough control. For all the happy talk-talk about less government and less governmental intrusion, many conservatives have bought into the idea that while you may be free:

Your privacy must be curtailed;

Your uterus is not your own property;

Your bedroom sports must be monitored, censored and punished if necessary; and

Your ability to express yourself should be met with a Taser's electrified fishhooks.

Now, according to a small group of psychologists, many conservatives are perfectly happy to impose this authoritarianism on others, and live under it themselves. This is because they feel a deep-seated need to live under the thumb of Authority.

Fine, you may say, but what does this have to do with the price of tea in Schenectady?

Nothing at all. I am deliberately wasting your time.

This is what popped into head as I studied the picture Tom asked Liz to send me.

The Statue of Liberty.

Made up of 18,000 soldiers.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Tom said...

This seems to be the silliest season for politics in a long, long time. Everyone is voting for Blind Faith, and that band is long gone too.

What strikes me the most about this photograph, is the great care and detailed planning, production and execution that went into it. It is far more than a marching band half-time formation. It would have been so much easier and more efficient to just do a normal perspective and photograph it from directly overhead with an airplane, or blimp.
This was calculated very precisely to have a normal perspective from that exact camera position. With only 64 men making up the foundation, at first I did not believe it could have taken 18,000 total, until I started estimating the exponential increase to maintain perspective to the farthest point.
Nice illusion.
That is the specialty of the military and politics though.

Like Barack Obama claiming he was morally right to deny the enforcement of Human Rights, UN sanctions, and international law in Saddam's Iraq, before anything ever happened. Americans just can't be bothered with details bigger than a sound bite.

9:06 PM EST  

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