Lauri Vahtre: Extreme humanism, anti-humanism and a fully loaded lifeboat

Lauri Vahtre.
Lauri Vahtre. Source: IRL

While the state is a tool for terrorizing and blackmailing neighbors for some nations, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians are not among them. Therefore, by protecting their country, they are protecting themselves and every individual member, Lauri Vahtre writes.

Perhaps anti-humanism and extreme humanism really do make up the ends of the spectrum, as proposed by Karmo Tüür (Link in Estonian) in a recent piece on events on and around the Lithuanian border. The issue at hand concerns conflicting attitudes toward illegal immigrants where one side is calling for "involvement, understanding and tolerance," while the other would like to ward off the invaders using the toughest possible measures:

"The moral of the story is very simple: Neither side has the right of it. The extreme humanist approach (glorifying human rights) is working to cancel the system of statehood that is the last thing capable of maintaining even a semblance of recent international order. While the anti-humanist side gifts power to the state in its entirety, rendering a single human life worthless. Both mentalities lead to a dead end if taken to the absolute."

Therefore, we are left with the good old judgment of the truth lying somewhere in between two unfavorable extremes. And that is often the case. However, despite its seeming sensibleness, such a conclusion is misleading in this context. The problem is that we are not dealing with two extremes.

We are dealing with only one of them that has taken on the form of an invader, beating their chest and yelling, "I'm a human being! I have rights! Give me my phone and let me go!" That other supposed extreme, the anti-humanist one, even if it actually exists in someone's head, is not screaming that the people behind the fence do not have rights or that they're not human into a TV camera. Of course, they have rights, of course, they are people – even the most entrenched opponents of mass immigration are not contesting that.

But that does not mean invaders get the right to pick a fight in our back yard. There is no such human right. Therefore, those who demand invaders to be turned back on the border or detained until they can be expelled in other ways do not in any way represent an anti-humanist extreme.

Standing up for one's country, community, family and home is not nor could it ever be anti-humanist. For the simple and brilliant reason that Man can only exist as a group and can only be human through the culture of said group. Protecting that group and culture, for example, a nation or family, equals protecting the individual.

The state is no goal in itself here. The state is a self-defense mechanism created by a group of people or a racket created by the local mafia in less fortunate examples. And while the state can also be a tool for terrorizing and blackmailing neighbors for some nations, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians are not among them. Therefore, by protecting their country, they are protecting themselves and every individual member.

That is indisputably humanist. What Tüür refers to as extreme humanism in connection with events in Lithuania is neither extreme nor is it humanism. Instead, it is egoism and hypertrophied individualism that is gradually morphing into anti-humanism.

Incidentally, the invaders themselves are not suffering from an overdose of individualism are rather of the collective persuasion. They are simply wielding the dumb European's own weapon against them. You are preaching all manner of senseless freedoms? Rights you cannot realistically guarantee? Okay, let's have them then – here, now and in bulk!

What to do in such a situation. Karmo Tüür provides an answer one would be hard-pressed to best: "The crew of the lifeboat must have an idea of their vessel's carrying capacity and the right to decide who gets to board." Meaning as the lifeboat the European Union as a whole and Lithuania specifically.

I have been trying to communicate this simple truth since at least 1993 when I published my book "Europe – Lifeboat or a Sinking Ship?" We are looking at dry, pragmatic and passionless considerations and facts. But we are ourselves emotional. It is, therefore, difficult for the crew of the lifeboat to decide. However, a decision needs to be made eventually, right?


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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