Monday, March 18, 2013

I care nothing for nations...

You just never know where something to make you smile will crop up.

I was watching an episode of "Poirot" on Netflix.  A bankster had murdered a few people, but when found out, was claiming he was too important to "the nation" to face punishment.  Hercule Poirot said something to the effect of "Poirot is not concerned with nations. Poirot is concerned with private individuals."  Awesome.

My thoughts exactly.  "Nations" are nothing; individuals are everything.  It's why every "law" imposed to protect any "nation" at the expense of the individual's liberty is evil.  And it doesn't matter which "nation" claims the individual- murder by drone is wrong.  Anti-gun "laws" are wrong.  "National security"- which invariably comes by violating individual liberty- is wrong.  Any "law" that seems to pretend that the "nation" is more important than any individual anywhere in the world is disgusting and wrong.

I care about "nations" to the identical extent they care about me.



  1. I have seen this episode of David Souchet portraying Poirot but did not catch the significance of the statement at the time. An almost contrary attitude very definitely registered on my attention however in a different episode; perhaps Agatha Christi’s most famous Poirot story, Murder on the Orient Express. In a closing scene he is leaving in disgust after berating the group that has conducted a private vengeance and retribution upon the "victim" who has managed to escape punishment for the murder of a kidnapped child from the hands of State official “law & order”. While reluctantly refraining from bringing these people to task for what he clearly regards as a usurpation of the State’s prerogative, his visceral contempt for them is undisguised. And this in spite of the fact that State law & order is in most cases no better than bald retribution itself rather than real justice, as restitution to the victim is supplanted by its satisfaction alone. Such “private justice” was the original and sole source of it provided by the informal community or wronged individuals themselves for millennia before the existence of the State. Poirot’s attitude struck me as arrogant and sycophantic submission to the abrogation of authority for justice that is typical of the nation State even when it is unwilling or unable to provide it itself.

  2. If only fictional characters were inconsistent...
    Unfortunately, I see worse in real life all the time.

  3. Exactly!
    I have never actually read Christi's stories so I don't know how rigorously these adaptations adhere to her characters original depiction. In light of my experience of such second party dramatizations, these attributes could be the invention of the director rather than the original author. Like you, I agree it is a bit of a superfluous condemnation to complain of ethical inconsistency from a fabricated character when such a thing is all too common from flesh and blood tangible persons.So perhaps an example of literary "realism" rather than "license" ?

  4. Someone is having trouble getting a comment to post, so here it is:

    "The state ('nation') is the central abstraction by which a catastrophically wrong idea is placed into practice. It is the organized system for employing violent action (or its threat) on the part of individuals, for as noted before, only individuals act. This rationalization occurs on two levels, first by diffusing responsibility to a fiction and second by inducing a group-think inversion of standards..."

    So stated David Calderwood in "A Demon in Need of Exorcism"


  5. RRS- I have read her "Miss Marple" stories, and one or two Poirot stories, but nothing really jumped out out me either way. I suspect the characters may behave however suited the story (or A.C's mood) best at the moment.