Caligula’s blood-bolted mitt
We are an adaptable species and this adaptability has enabled us to survive. However adaptability can also constitute a threat; we may become habituated to certain dangers and fail to recognize them until its too late […]
You exist at the whim of people whose power does not derive from your own consent and who regard you as expendable, disposable. You merely failed to notice the moment at which you were conscripted. A ‘normal’ life consists in living as if this most salient fact was not a fact at all.
I tell myself every day that I do not recognize the legitimacy of a government that puts me in this position. I do not grant my ‘elected’ leaders the power of life and death over all present, future and indeed past forms of life, all of which they arrogate the right to extirpate at an instants notice. Nor was I ever asked if I would grant that power, even supposing for a moment that I had the right to grant it on behalf of others, which I do not for a moment believe that I do.
However, when meeting a minister or senior functionary of this regime, which is a privilege I quite often enjoy, I do not act as if I am shaking Caligula’s blood-bolted mitt (I do sometimes content myself with thinking that if they knew what I was in my mind and heart, they would shrivel as if cursed and blasted) So I practice cognitive and emotional dissonance. The most I can claim is that I do it consciously while waiting for better days.
Try your hardest to combat atrophy and routine. To question the obvious and given in an essential element of the maxim, de omnius dubitandum.
-Christopher Hitchens. (Probably from Letters to a young contrarian, I copied this from my journal and I am notoriously bad at annotating that particular device)
‘Caligula’s blood-bolted mitt’. Ha! I do love Hitchens. I seem to remember this paragraph was about nuclear proliferation. And how no-one was ever asked if they wanted these planet killing weapons. It just sorta happened. People with no mandate to decide whether or not they should produce and then hoard the weapons to end all life on the planet, just did it. Which when you think about it… is quite insane.
Our governments just do these things… and ‘we’ having abdicated to these people… hardly ever stop to say ‘Woah, what are you doing?’ anymore.
I mean you can argue the minutiae of ‘mutually assured destruction’… a concept in-of-itself… so utterly crazy… that in order for us (as humans) to live peacefully and share a planet we have to have weapons that could end us all pointing at one another as a deterrent…
… but its all seriously kooky stuff