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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sounds Familiar...

From wikipedia, about zealots: "The zealots were a... sect... founded against Qurinius' tax reform... [they] say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord".

...some things never change. Of course there are differences: the Roman taxes really were highly oppressive and the Romans, who famously did nothing for us, really were a government which, as far as Judea was concerned at any rate, was a government of "taxation without representation".

Is attachment to liberty a bad thing? Certainly not. But the problem is that love of liberty all too often is used merely as an excuse for sheer narcissism. The zealots, as is well known, didn't only fight the Romans; they were also terrorists who assassinated any Jew who they saw as a "traitor", which meant any Jew who considered war against Rome a bad idea. It wasn't "love of liberty" that was their motivation, it seems -- but love of themselves and intoleration to any opposite view. The result was as one would have expected: the zealots brought on the Jews an unmitigated disaster -- a war against the Roman empire, due to the belief that God is on their side and therefore they cannot lose, no matter what the objective facts are.

This sort of magical thinking -- common to many fanatical people throughout history, sometimes resulting in victory due to higher morale but, all too often, leading to catastrophe -- is typical of tax protesters, as well. Neither are real patriots, but narcissists who usually bring disaster on themselves and others, when reality stubbornly refuses to fit their ego-inflating fantasy of being one of the chosen.

Compare both groups to some real patriots, like the American founding fathers. First of all their goal was, however daring, realistic: they could, and did, actually defeat Britain. Second, their goal was liberty, not self-important revenge: no American was ever killed for being a British sympathizer, and after independence a general forgiveness of all those who were neutral or even wanted to remain part of the British Empire was declared. Just because they were relaistic moderates (well, compared to the zealots...) hardly means the American founding fathers were not lovers of liberty!

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