Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Welcome to the State of Nature: Bring your gun.
New Orleans, Aug. 31—Little food, scant water, no security—welcome to the state of nature, the consequence of political breakdown, an ever-present human possibility inherent in any organized political society. No commerce, no common law among men—in short, chaos and continual fear of violent death. As some commentators have recognized, New Orleans has slid back in time, not back to Mediaeval times, but rather into a sort of pre-political condition, a reversal of time. Life in such a state, as Hobbes famously remarked, is solitary, nasty, poor, brutish and short. Witness the looting (in the face of the police) and gun fights, dead bodies and violence in the streets of New Orleans. Thankfully, owing to the swift deployment of state and federal troops, the situation won’t slide into civil war (for it’s only a mitigated version of the state of nature after all). But it might get worse before it gets better. As we know from Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the state of nature makes nearly all persons evil, including children. Welcome to the state of nature: you’re lucky to get out alive.