Libertarian Jackass

"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer

Monday, May 31, 2004


Islamic fundamentalists or the U.S. government?

On this general subject, readers may benefit from Murray Rothbard's "The Real Aggressor." Its relevance to the "War on Terror" is astonishing. Consider this:
Here I think one point should be made and made bluntly. Some people may prefer death to communism; and this is perfectly legitimate for them - although death may not often be a solution to any problem. But suppose they also try to impose their will on other people who might prefer life under communism to death in a "free world" cemetery. Is not forcing them into mortal combat a pure and simple case of murder? And is not anti-Communist murder as evil as murder committed by Communists?
Just replace "Communists" with "Islamic terrorists" and add water. The argument works. Even if Islamic fundamentalists were determined to kill you, it still doesn't follow under the principles of libertarianism that you should be forced to choose fighting for your life over death from terrorists. The anti-terrorist warmongers are merely imposing their preferences on the rest of society. This is not freedom. More:
Sinking ever deeper into a war psychosis, these conservatives have failed to perceive that our whole problem today, broadly speaking, is ideological rather than military! If we carefully examine the facts we will find that the most commonly feared threat to peace - the Communist bloc - has been fairly scrupulous about not committing military aggression. All the Communist successes since the end of World War II have been through internal Communist rebellions. Korea itself was a civil war, and there is even there considerable evidence that it was begun by the South. Russia did not intervene directly in that war, and China intervened not only after the United States did, but only when our troops reached her borders.

Patience, plus sponsoring of Communist parties and philosophy abroad, seems to be the Soviet plan. In brief the Russian military menace is for the most part a bogey; the Commies are probably truthful in their assertion that their arming is meant in defense. The statement of Defense Secretary Wilson recently that Russian air production has been concentrated on defensive jets rather than offensive heavy bombers (such as we are building) would tend to bear out this point.

As a long term threat as well, we should have no fear of military conquest by the Russians, or by the Chinese either. They began as backward countries and, since we know communism to be a relatively inefficient economic system, we need not worry about their offensive military might - provided we let our own industries grow without the hamperings of a garrison state.

What we really have to combat is all statism, and not just the Communist brand. To take up arms against one set of Socialists is not the way to stop socialism - indeed it is bound to increase socialism as all modern wars have done. (Emphasis added)
Again, the same arguments apply to "terrorists."

Rothbard's application of gang warfare to international conflict is absolutely brilliant and deserves far greater exposure from libertarians:
Yet no matter how evil states are, we must accept the fact that they do exist, and that there is no likely prospect of their imminent disappearance. In a world of states and statism, then, what should the libertarian conservatives' attitude be with regard to international discord?

Municipal police have one rather appealing principle: they look the other way during a gang war. If one set of gangsters "aggresses" against another set, the police do not participate. Why waste the taxpayers' money protecting one gangster against another?

The Status Quo Might Not Be Moral

It is a version of that principle, I think, that ought to be applied to foreign affairs. For if any world police force were to be set up to punish "aggressors," the only result would be increased bloodshed and real aggression all over the world in an attempt to freeze the existing status quo, which might be a status quo no more moral, and perhaps less just, than any other possible one.

We could hardly blame those states which came late into the struggle for territorial influence, if they turned a jaundiced eye on the hypocritical moralizing of the entrenched aggressor states who would invoke world law to forestall new depredations. States have always gained their territories by force, and any given land area has probably been fought over and changed hands many times. In almost every case of "aggression" each party to the dispute, and often many parties, have some sort of historical claim to the disputed territory. New territorial wars are no more "aggressive" than the present continuation of old conquests.

What is more, there always arises the difficulty of spotting the "real aggressor" in any particular war. When both sides are armed camps, when there are many provocations, secret treaties, deals and frontier incidents, the question of unraveling the actual starter of war, let alone who is the more morally wrong, becomes a matter for the careful research of future historians.


If the people of Korea are being oppressed, we will recognize that the oppressor state is vicious; but we will at the same time recognize that it would be immoral for the United States government as such to interfere in any way. For in so interfering, the American state would commit those of its citizens who have no wish to be committed, to battle for Korean citizens.

Interference, moreover, would in no way insure that the foreign people thus "liberated" would be any the better off for it. Had the North won a quick victory in the recent Korean War, the Koreans might well have, been left less unhappy and even economically better off under communism than they are now under Rhee. Millions have been slaughtered by the weapons of both sides, and those remaining have been left to contemplate the utter destruction of their property.

If some Americans wish to liberate the people of China or Poland, let them raise a private expeditionary force and private finances to go over and attempt liberation – but let them not try to commit the United States, and as a result, myself, to any such scheme. For a second wrong simply will not make a right; we should not add to oppression at home in a hope to effect some sort of "liberation" elsewhere.(Emphasis added)

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