War; an ugly evil

Everyone would love to see the world and all its inhabitants peaceful, prosperous, and in harmony with all of creation. We would all love to see a peaceful and wealthy world. At least all the sane people would love to see that. What stands in our way of achieving that happy state of affairs? What stands in the way of ever-increasing social cooperation, wealth and a fuller development of civilization? Aggression, the initiation of violence, stands in the way. I mean aggression in all its various forms, but war is the worst of them all.

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I have always been anti-war. I have never seen a legitimate reason for starting any war. I think that state violence is a greater threat to social cooperation, liberty, and prosperity than private criminal violence or anything else that stands in the way of achieving an advanced, prosperous society. While a private criminal strikes you and moves on, the state settles down and robs you again and again, year after year. This domestic pattern of violence and aggression is also the blueprint for the nation-state’s relationship with other states. The U.S. Empire has been at war in some manner or the other for its entire history — especially if you include the hidden wars of the CIA in South America and around the globe. The state has an inherent tendency to grow in power and predation and as it becomes more powerful it becomes ever more aggressive. The very powerful Empires in history would not tolerate another nation that would not bow down in submission to its every wish. The U. S. is no exception.

I don’t see the state as primarily a protection from aggressors foreign and domestic as many of my fellow citizens do, but rather I see the state as the primary danger to our lives, liberty and property. It is the state itself that keeps voluntary society from organizing itself into the most beneficial mode of existence that it can. The state grows ever more powerful over time, but its growth rate really accelerates in times of war. Randolph Bourne’s observation that “war is the health of the state” is still true today. We should all recognize that states have an incentive to start wars. During wars the state is able to have the further justification of the war emergency it created itself to seize even more property, gain more power of its citizens, shred civil liberties, and generally grow in size and scope. All that plus the rich cronies to power get even richer off the blood, misery, and destruction of the innocent.

Is there any just war at all? Murray N. Rothbard argued that there were two American just wars in his essay “America’s Two Just Wars: 1775 and 1861.” Rothbard claimed that “a just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them.” I think it is just to resist aggression and that the defending side in an invasion is morally justified in its defense only if there is a chance of winning and if the defending side is not going to get many innocent people killed by its defense. This means that I am not as sure that the two wars were as defensible as Rothbard thought they were. After all, Canada became independent without a war.

There are thousands of excuses that states use to tell their own side that the next war is morally justified and absolutely necessary. These excuses always turn out to be lies piled on top of lies, but they continue to work to the state’s advantage. In today’s world we Americans are often told that some group of people are having “their rights” violated and so the U.S. must go defend them. Some group of people may have rights, but it is their responsibility to defend or safeguard such rights and not the responsibility of the young men and women of the U.S. (or any other country) to go get killed for their rights. Our first priority given the anti-social destruction of war is to avoid war at nearly all costs. Even if justified in defense, a people are better off if some option of negotiation can be used.

Since wars are the wanton murder of the innocent, especially women and children, as well as destruction of society, we must oppose all war. Even the side that is clearly defending against an immoral and illegal invasion will almost always commit war crimes against the innocent, so we must be against all war unless the aggression is clear cut and of such magnitude that the defending side was left with no other realistic option.

For the above reasons and others, it should be obvious that I can only see the U.S. and President Obama’s threatened destruction of yet another country that has done us no harm as immoral and illegal. It is brutal, ugly, and bestial that the U.S. government is complimenting a war of aggression against Syria. Mr. Obama claims that because some children were killed by gas by criminals unknown that he is entitled to murder civilians by the bus-load in a country half-way around the world. This is bullocks as my English friends would say. Obama looks to be wanting to help the very people who may have committed the crime in the first place. Certainly the rebels had chemical weapons and the will to use them to further their ends.

It is time to end the criminal wars of the U.S. — impeachment would be a good start. Unfortunately thinking that some politicians in congress are going to do the right thing is just wishful thinking. We must re-double our efforts to get our fellow citizens to withdraw their consent to be government by criminal gang writ large called the U.S. government.

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3 thoughts on “War; an ugly evil

  1. Another great post, Mark! Just as an aside, I always thought Rothbard’s wording relative to ‘just war’ was a bit odd. It uses the phrase ‘a people’, which he himself consistently rejected in other contexts. ‘A people’ does not and cannot act. Only individuals act, of course. Even in the case of 1775, not every individual wanted independence. Many people lost their British citizenship against their will. It’s not like all of the colonists acted as one ‘people’. In fact, the acting parties were the 13 States. They fought for their own independence from Britain but no colonists gained independence. They were still ruled by the same 13 States.

    • I agree. I always had trouble with the American Revolution example for the reasons you bring up. I think the colonists could have found another way towards freedom and liberty other than that war. Plus, as you say, freedom and liberty did not come to the people themselves anyway!

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