The Silent War against the Human Spirit, and the Outlier Who Stands Alone


EspañolBy Joel D. Hirst

It seems that the world has yet again resigned itself to the haunting specter of violence. After the tremendous optimism with which ended the 20th century, humanity has fallen back on old habits. Always using the excuse of security, nationalism (not to be confused with patriotism) and even pro-poor grandiloquence, the governments of the world have again found the answer in more violence.

I am somewhat surprised by the return of the bloodshed; yet I often wonder if it ever really left. Watching the brutality meted out by the pro-government thugs, aptly named “collectives” in revolutionary Venezuela; or by groups of military and para-military against groups of extremists in Syria; or by Cuban storm troopers against old women dressed all in white, I am struck by the renewed vigor of world power at the hands of those who only see in groups and think in coercion.

Bassil de Costa died at the hands of the Chavista regime in Venezuela on February 12, 2014. Source: PanAm Post.

Weren’t we done with this? Haven’t we learned? It seems to me that the only thing groups of people can agree on is brutalizing other groups. They divide themselves up by ethnicity, or by color, or by religion and then fall upon each other – the violence deemed necessary for the larger collective cause.

What worries me maybe even more is the silent violence. The violence that does not announce itself in bright red gashes or clouds of noxious smoke. The war waged against the human spirit. And this is the creeping violence that we seem to prefer, even to choose, in an age of government. We see the mayhem in the world around us and we submit. The specter of the unknown is reason enough; or so we are told. “What if they come back? Is it safe? Could today be the day?”

Claiming superiority, the authority then tells us what we can and cannot do. The endless rules placed upon our citizenship. The daily humiliations to our privacy, to our identity, to our beliefs. To be told what we cannot think; much less say. An uncivilized civilization supervised by our betters; always at the service of another, whoever that may be…

These are societies where the words equality, distribution, and tolerance are used cynically to disguise privilege, theft and bigotry. Societies not run by the men of the mind — the titans who built our world with sweat and energy and ingenuity — but instead societies carefully balanced by planners and policed by the bureaucrats, who regulate the power of the creative man, siphoning it off to fill voids real or imagined; always using the suave threats of a more sophisticated violence.

The outlier in this new world, a world he didn’t ask for and doesn’t want, is the man who stands alone as he rejects the violence; wherever it comes from. To him is meted out the worst of the whipping. He is called naïve, utopian, foolish and sometimes just an idiot. Always, he is called dangerous. Perhaps he is; for he alone dares to look at a system that is sustained only by the violence and declare it impracticable.

And never is he called meek; not ever.

Never is it explained or accepted that he rejects violence not because he is weak; but because he is strong. Not because he would live in a lawless world; but because real laws require no violence. The spontaneous order that governs these — like gravity — do not need policing, for they are inevitable. A man who knows that to live at the expense of others — even to control them — is not worth the hastle. This man is cast aside.

And so the violence goes on. In a bait and switch, the man with the answers is labeled an idiot; the man of the mind is labeled an imbecile; the man of character is labeled a libertine — in order that those with none of these may rule by using always violence.

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist, author of The Lieutenant of San Porfirio and its Spanish version El Teniente de San Porfirio: Cronica de una Revolucion Bolivariana. This article first appeared on

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