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Lew Rockwell on Rothbard and War

Lew Rockwell gave an important antiwar speech, discussing Murray Rothbard’s antiwar views, at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity’s conference on “Breaking Washington’s Addiction to War.”

I especially liked these passages, which describe Rothbard’s basic point of view on war:

War distorts our sense of what service to others truly means. Only to members of the military are we urged to say, “Thank you for your service.” Toward the great entrepreneurs who extend our lives and make them more fulfilling, we are taught to be envious and resentful. They are most certainly not thanked for their service.

The state is able to get away with its aggression thanks in part to its manipulation of language. A soldier who perished in the Iraq war was said to have been “serving his country.” What could that mean? The war was launched on preposterous pretexts against a leader who had not harmed Americans and was incapable of doing so. If the war was in the service of anything, it was the imperial ambitions of a small ruling group. By no means did such a mission, which diverted vast resources away from civilian use, “serve the country.”

War distorts reality itself. Schoolchildren are taught to believe that the American soldier purchased their freedom by his sacrifices. Blasphemous bumper stickers compare the American soldier to Jesus Christ. But in what way was American freedom threatened by Iraq, or Panama, or Somalia? For that matter, how could any 20th-century adversary have managed an invasion of North America, given that even the Germans couldn’t cross the English Channel?

But this carefully cultivated mythology helps keep the racket going. It increases the superstitious reverence people have for past and present members of the military. It puts critics of war on the defensive. Indeed, how can we criticize war and intervention when these things have kept us free?

In short, war is inseparable from propaganda, lies, hatred, impoverishment, cultural degradation, and moral corruption. It is the most horrific outcome of the moral and political legitimacy people are taught to grant the state. Wrapped in the trappings of patriotism, home, songs, and flags, the state deludes people into despising a leader and a country that until that point they had barely even heard of, much less had an informed opinion about, and it teaches its subjects to cheer the maiming and death of fellow human beings who have never done them any harm.

And I like the individualistic view Lew Rockwell gives here:

If we believe in the cause of peace, putting a halt to aggressive violence between nations is not enough. We should not want to bring about peace overseas in order that our rulers may turn their guns on peaceful individuals at home. Away with all forms of aggression against peaceful people.

The people and the warmakers are two distinct groups. We must never say “we” when discussing the US government’s foreign policy. For one thing, the warmakers do not care about the opinions of the majority of Americans. It is silly and embarrassing for Americans to speak of “we” when discussing their government’s foreign policy, as if their input were necessary to or desired by those who make war.(4) Never use “we” when speaking of the government.

But it is also wrong, not to mention mischievous. When people identify themselves so closely with their government, they perceive attacks on their government’s foreign policy as attacks on themselves. It then becomes all the more difficult to reason with them – why, you’re insulting my foreign policy!

Likewise, the use of “we” feeds into war fever. “We” have to get “them.” People root for their governments as they would for a football team. And since we know ourselves to be decent and good, “they” can only be monstrous and evil, and deserving of whatever righteous justice “we” dispense to them.

The antiwar left falls into this error just as often. They appeal to Americans with a catalogue of horrific crimes “we” have committed. But we haven’t committed those crimes. The same sociopaths who victimize Americans themselves every day, and over whom we have no real control, committed those crimes.

Now, it would be nice if he would apply such individualism philosophy to the immigration issue!

Published inAuthoritarianismIraq WarLew RockwellPropagandaWar Crimes