Whither New Orleans?

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Email of the day (in response to Sept. 9)

If nothing else, I find that the absence of the realization, in less than a year, God (Nature) has shown us 2 things. Whether there is absolutely no warning, as in the Tsunami in desperately-poor S E Asia, or their is technological sophistication of warning, as in New Orleans, USA, it will not matter. God is exhibiting his true power. Whether man has 3-5 days/weeks of warning, or whether he has hours…. man is shown to be inept, unable to handle his environment, his fellow man, and it is irrespective of the measure he takes — Jon Garnant.

September 9, 2005

If I have George Will figured out, he and the retired Bill Safire, are libertarian conservatives. Both of them extremely well read, their insights into events are almost always enlightening even if not always persuasive.

George Will’s latest in Newsweek, “Leviathan in Louisiana,” is important and comes to a conclusion that everyone should try hard to understand. The reference to Leviathan is interesting:

In 1651, in "Leviathan," Hobbes said that in "the state of nature," meaning in the absence of a civil society sustained by government, mankind’s natural sociability, if any, is so tenuous that life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." Thoughtful conservatives—meaning those whose conservatism arises from reflections deeper than an aversion to high marginal tax rates—are conservative because they understand how thin and perishable is the crust of civilization, and hence how always near society’s surface are the molten passions that must be checked by force when they cannot be tamed by socialization.

Will obviously has his doubts about ultimate success in Iraq, and with the passage of time, I have my own. The war had to be fought, in my opinion, and the ongoing battle against the “insurgents,” better described as “murderers,” would have ultimately come to our shores, again. How easily people forget that just letting these people alone offers no security at all.

Iraq’s insurgents, the creators of an atmosphere of deadly suggestibility, are now attacking the power grid and other elements of urban infrastructure, an attempt, not unsuccessful, to create a Hobbesian state of nature. Their hope is that Iraqis will demand a Leviathan—any authoritarian regime capable of imposing order.

And this is precisely the objective. Because they are the one force in Iraq capable of the brutality required of a Leviathan, their objective is power – illegitimate power, but power nonetheless. But as to New Orleans, Will has this to offer:

In Katrina’s collision with New Orleans, the essence of primitivism, howling nature, met one of mankind’s most sophisticated works, a modern city. But what makes cities such marvels—the specializations and divisions of labor that sustain myriad webs of dependencies—also makes them fragile. Forgetting that is hubris, an ingredient of tragedy. So Katrina has provided a teaching moment. This is a liberal hour in that it illustrates the indispensability, and dignity, of the public sector. It also is a conservative hour, dramatizing the prudence of pessimism, and the fact that the first business of government, on which everything depends, is security.


Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Image Credits: Joel Montes de Oca