The picture of an amorous Vancouver couple, locked in a kiss following the home team loss in the Stanley Cup Final, has been widely described in positive terms.
Against the backdrop of a destructive mob with a stoic riot cop in the foreground, the seemingly spatchcocked image of the couple has captured worldwide attention as perhaps the sole bit of sanity amidst the collective violence.
Writers at national newspapers have opined that they would take kissing over the mob violence any day.
My view is that this picture captures perfectly, in symbolic terms, a decline of individualism in ethics. I refer to an ethics that allows the self-governing conduct of private citizens. Instead, we have a culture increasingly governed from the top down by elites from whom ordinary citizens feel disconnected, even as they grow more dependent on the associated expanding bureaucracy.
A Word About Private Property
Private property and the right to its enjoyment extend from the nature of man. One has the natural right to his own body and mind by virtue of reality. Body and mind are an inescapable union.
It is through the exercise of his rational faculty that man has creative ideas and it is the union of mind and body that sets these ideas into action in cooperation and trade with others to create wealth. Wealth creation is what allows, among other things, the possibility of great cities filled with economic options, including the privilege of viewing costly sports events.
All of this is what the mobs and the young couple in the picture have turned their backs against.
The hooligans in the mobs clearly have no respect for private property rights; many of them were willingly caught on camera looting stores in downtown Vancouver.
Mobs run amok, destroying private property; they have no concept of private property. Everything is just there; members of a mob somehow divine that they are entitled to a piece of what is out there, not by virtue of reason and effort, but by the use of physical force.
There is no sense of self respect or identity in a thug who is so brazen as to proclaim his crime for the record. Worse, it is almost as if by this gesture he is tossing his contempt for the rest of us directly into our faces.
Criminals are immoral as well as stupid, traits which regrettably include a large swath of modern society containing many who may not have yet committed actual crimes against others. Some of these immoral souls have college degrees, no doubt. Many of them were on the sidelines at the riots, cheering on the destruction.
The Young Couple
The young couple committed no crime by their role in this photo. That in essence is perhaps what most observers took away from the scene and why it seems such a relief or element of sane behaviour compared to what was going on around them.
However, they have morally breached their own dignity and self-respect, if they have any. The couple is part of a collective. If your personal identity is subordinated to the collective it is small wonder that many lack any sense of self respect, in as much as they get their identity from the group or the mob; they identify with the collective and so anything they do is for public consumption or distribution.
The young couple, provocatively posed for the picture, have no regard for their surroundings, for each other and especially not for themselves. What possessed them to ever conceive that it was a good idea to lie down on a filthy, riot-torn street in full public display? They appear to be engaged in a prelude to a much more intimate union. Ordinarily, who could fault them for that? They appear to be young and attracted to each other; certainly, they must be full of youthful lust.
But, they have no regard for private property, which ultimately includes their own bodies. Their intimacy is for public consumption and is now all over the internet.
At one point in the chaos, as they lay in oblivious rapture on the filthy street, it was reported that a group of onlookers, temporarily distracted from the mob actions, stopped to view the exhibition for what it was potentially leading to—free pornography.
The policeman in the foreground literally represents the government’s police function.
At this stage of cultural disintegration however, he no longer represents a government chosen by the people to protect their rights and supply a justice system. No, he represents the State as distinguished from government.
The State is all powerful and the collectivist ethics allows that rights flow from the State or from the society at large as controlled by bureaucratic representatives of the top-down organization.
The sort of violence, looting, mayhem and disregard for rights that was on display in Vancouver and captured for posterity was beyond the ability of the State’s representatives to control. There was no prospect of the police being able to keep the peace among a population that has no regard for rights and the private property of others or even of themselves.
The cop stands by, helplessly, with his back turned to the mayhem and animal lust on display. There may be an individual in that uniform, quickly losing his self respect.
©Copyright 2011 Edward Podritske