Warfare

Why libertarianism is the only solution to war

While warfare is not the widespread problem it was during the last centuries, the World Wars have demonstrated just how deadly wartime use of technology has become. Libertarian Thought gained the capacity not only to generate power and make food for millions, but also to blow up millions.

The rich possibilities of terrorism have also brought a new dimension to warfare, by bringing it down to the common people. It has permitted a relatively small group like Al Quada to stalemate a war against the United States, with no more weapons than boxcutters and knowledge of piloting.

Physical technology alone is no longer enough to win a war, because mental technology is becoming as important. To wage war, and stop it, old, non-progressist ways of thinking are now more and more useless. Rather, we must properly turn to politics to understand the causes and remedies for war.

What are the main causes of war ? There seems to be two types of causes. The first type of causes is ideological – transgenerational race-based hatred and religious hatred. The latter has been sometimes said to be the cause of all warfare, but I don’t believe that : however, religion certainly seems to be a catalyst of most wars.

The second type of causes is political – interventionist policies that generate hatred (as in the case of the United States), fighting collectivism and other power struggles, collectivist and theocratic systems that help propagate hatred and assemble the resources necessary to do war (or even groups that motivate people to terrorisme). What all these causes all collapse themselves to is the capacity of a collectivist state to assemble the resources necessary to engage in warfare.

Why do people hate each other ? Obviously, there are many reasons. But why do people specifically hate other races or the people of another country ? Some of this is educational indoctrination – a little child does not get the idea that an enemy nation is the epitome of evil (whatever the nation) from thin air, but knows this because he was told again and again. It is a profound societal conviction which drives other people to similar thinking.

What political position will tend to hinder such hatred ? A statist economy will close upon itself, by protectionism and sheer isolation. This permits the incubation of hatred. As we know from cults, a mind which is isolated in a given context will tend to align itself with this context, as long as it remains untouched by exterior influence.

However, a capitalist economy is by definition opened to the world, since freedom to trade overseas is but another component of the freedom of trade. The dependence between individuals (and therefore between nations) becomes stronger. As free trade takes effect within a nation, people become specialized in order to maximize their utility to other people, and the same is true of nations within a geo-political system.

In such a system, what happens to the young individual ? He is exposed to other meme complexes – the other side of the story. Then he will be less likely to believe that, say, Jewish people are the epitome of evil, if they have contact with Jewish culture and examples of Jewish accomplishments, or have Jewish friends. While there are always exceptions – xenophoby doesn’t dissapear that easily in some people – opening up ideological barriers cannot be anything but beneficial.

That is part of the very nature of freedom of movement, be it of products or memes. Such a freedom tends to produce a higher degree of tolerence. A shopkeeper can hold prejudices against certain kinds of people, but if he does not sell to them, he loses money. Thus he will tend to discriminate only if the discrimination itself is valuable (such as not having to smell cigarette smoke). And in fact we do observe that governments tend to be more racist than private enterprise, as a general rule.

A large part of the movement against international trade is a movement against cultural tolerence. Societies with different cultures than the predominent paradigm tend to want to preserve that difference, and promote isolation (thru protectionism, cultural laws, and so on) instead of cultural freedom. But this is a collectivist tendancy which must be rejected. We have no need for ayatollahs. Capitalism would see that such a desire for closure would be thwarted, by stopping the use of quotas and censorship, and opening up communication to influences from around the world.

As Jefferson said, “friend with all, ally with none”. This is simple good sense.

On the political standpoint, the “world policeman” ideology seems to be predominant, as testify the popularity of the United Nations and armed American interventions. Some see the role of active peacekeeper as necessary. Yet, what does it accomplish, apart from making foreign countries hate the United States even more ? It seems every tin pot dictator or terrorist that rises up against American interests was once financed by the Americans. What do military bases in foreign countries accomplish, except for the occasional scandal and taxmoney spent ?

It is obvious that our current methods of resolving conflict are not working. Sure, politicians like these old ways because they are the most politically profitable, but we must eschew such motivations. Isolationism is one solution that libertarians have been proposing for a long time – the idea that we should not entangle ourselves in foreign alliances, nor make enemies. As Jefferson said, “friend with all, ally with none”. This is simple good sense.

Ending foreign aid would likewise be a positive isolationist measure. While there is nothing bad about helping people from other countries, it is not the government’s role to do so : when it does do so, it makes it seem like a show of support. Furthermore, this money often serves more the interests of local dictators rather than the people.

In my opinion, one area where the philosophy of warfare seems to have succeeded is MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). Not only is it obviously unwise to eschew nuclear weapons, it would seem like a good approach to try to implement MAD in other areas, like biowarfare. This is one area that seems to have been neglected.

Regardless of whatever military doctrine you want to adopt, war is perhaps one of the activities least conductive to a free society. Not only does it waste resources thru production of war machines and destruction of industry, but it promotes drafting, censorship, government control over the economy, high taxation, and is virtually always used to push the statist agenda.

The importance of taxation in this issue cannot be overstated. Taxation is power, including war power. Even the greatest dictators would remain impotent without their power of taxation. The end of taxation inherent to capitalism, the end of the menace of the draft, and isolationism, would all ensure that governments of all stripes would not have the power to raise and use considerable armies.

Some people argue that capitalism is responsible for some wars, including the conquest of North America. But this is bizarre, if only because there was still no capitalist country at the time. Furthermore, it would be difficult to demonstrate that it was done in the spirit of isolationism. Such statements serve as little more than inflammatory rhetoric.

While warfare is ultimately a product of xenophoby, and that instinct is not about to dissapear, it seems clear that the political system most conductive to the kind of context that gives us peace is libertarianism. With the open-mindedness of capitalism, and the temperance of civil libertarianism, world peace could be closer than we think.

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