The State and Us

There’s been a quite discussion going on elsewhere on this blog about pacifism and the question of whether there is a public/private distinction in how we should behave. Does the magistrate get a free pass where the individual would not? The problem though is that the agents of the state are always individuals too. You look at the toll in terms of psychological damage inflicted on soldiers and the like in executing the actions of the state. I cannot imagine that a few nasty fire-fights don’t entirely cleanse most soldiers of whatever ideals they might have (those that retain them are exemplary individuals to be sure) and replace them with enmity toward the Other. The state’s use of violence inflicts a toll on those who are agents of the state they are inevitably fractured by their duties and it is done in our names. Maybe this does not wound the magistrate, but it wounds his agents to be sure.