The Enthusiastic Warbride by Bill Buppert

Publisher’s Note: I started this blog under another name, Hezekiah Wyman, almost eighteen months ago on 2 July 2009 two days before the 147th anniversary of the dual Confederate defeat at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in 1863 which doomed the Confederacy and smothered the Second American Revolution in its cradle ushering in the horrific Lincolnian era that sealed the fate of any freedom and liberty in America forever.  The first post was my former (and next to last) LewRockwell essay –“The Enthusiastic Warbride” – which I am posting again today to commemorate the birth of this journal of screeds and jeremiads.

Why would a libertarian write about war?  In 2003, I predicted the inevitable civil war and strife resulting from our destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan and am sad to say I was prescient.  I can write on war as a retired soldier with the perspective of someone who has seen the death and destruction of combat up close and personal.  It haunts you and never leaves you.  It marks you for life.

This is Post Number 200 and I wanted to offer a heart-felt thanks to all my supporters and detractors.  The latter simply stiffen my spine while the former make my heart sing.

I wanted to thank all the close friends and associates who have made this blog better over time, more thoughtful and always encouraged me to write even when I found it difficult to do so.  In the end, a blog can be a vanity project and nothing more.  I am seeking to make this better and more insightful than that.  I want to encourage dissent and even disagreement with me because cross-examination is the engine of truth.

My position on the Constitution, for instance, has found me written out of some “respectable libertarian circles” but I remain steadfast in my belief that the Constitution is not the answer and only a big part of the problem.

2011 is going to see a number of changes and improvements to include a producer who will be helping me make a fortnightly podcast that will be posted to the site.  I am seeking out new writers whose philosophy of ultimate freedom matches mine but providing their own unique perspectives.  I don’t want this to be an echo chamber but make no mistake; ours is the mission to abolish ALL slavery to include tax and regulatory and ultimately, to open people’s eyes to the monstrous fraud that is government.  I want to see Americans rise from the ashes of the inevitable government collapse looming on the horizon taking an oath to NEVER allow it to happen again on their watch.

How can anyone look into their child’s eyes and not make that oath?  You owe them that much. -BB

“War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties; the minorities are either intimidated into silence, or brought slowly around by a subtle process of persuasion which may seem to them really to be converting them.”

-Randolph Bourne

War is the health of the state.  Randolph Bourne arrived at this conclusion near the beginning of the 20th century.  Smedley Butler later wrote in War is a Racket about the baleful special interest vectors that drive us to war.  We hear again and again that we owe our freedoms to the conduct of overseas adventures in other countries whether the wresting of Spanish colonies into our possession or the invasion of Europe during the War to Save Joseph Stalin (1939-45) to the modern era of American armed dominion over the planet.  I would suggest these are poor assumptions.  The next time someone makes one of these specious claims, simply ask them how the defeat of one totalitarian regime while aiding and abetting another noxious regime made America free?  Is the Cold War representative of the halcyon days of American individualism?

Most libertarians agree that the American government is colossal, oppressive and a slayer of freedom and liberty.  There are certainly domestic influences and causes for the enormous growth in the statist tilt of American governance and concentration of power.  The metamorphosis of an agrarian republic birthed in the violent dismissal of British rule to the Sovietized monstrosity we labor under today is the result of both domestic dynamics and the creation of the national security/garrison state to project power and influence overseas.  I would submit that war is the unacknowledged silent partner of the leviathan state.

How does a militarized foreign policy create a less free nation at home?  Let’s begin with a conflict most Americans can name but few can even place a date to:  World War One.  I would recommend Niall Ferguson’s book Pity of War as a signal starting point to rip asunder the veil of historical illiteracy and propaganda that has surrounded that sordid conflict.  Woodrow Wilson, one of the worst and most evil Presidents to grace that august den of thieves in the White House, promised in 1916 to never enter the European conflict and promptly started the machinations to steer us into the conflagration and militarize American society.  The more you learn about Wilson, the more you see he is the point of origin for so much of our national grief.  I have previously mentioned the American Protective League and its un-American activities in stifling, fining and jailing dissidents against Wilson’s war. Wilson also inaugurated the Committee on Public Information which even gave instructions for cartoonists and signed into law the Espionage and Sedition Acts.

Among the many notorious achievements Wilson managed was the Americanization of a fairly decentralized and devolved society.  This was the perennial missing link in formalizing the ultimate project of the Hamiltonian ambition:  the establishment of a permanent central government for whom the individual states were mere agents and bureaucratic subsidiaries.

State and regional pride in the absence of a national highway system and a fairly localized culture dominated the discourse of the then loosely knit united States.  It still took nearly a week or more to travel from coast to coast.  The government in DC did not have the consensus or the reach to influence the minor and major muscle movements that each state and its subset elements exercised and therefore the flavors and nuances of the regions retained localized habits and customs.  WWI ended that with the unifying message of an America in peril from the German threat to European stability and the need to make the world more like America.  In the process, these united States made the same critical error the Confederacy made in the War of Northern Aggression; by centralizing the war effort, any state sovereignty soon was lost to the overweening tendency to dictate top-down command economy nostrums and the resulting loss of subsidiary integrity at the lower echelonments.  For the first time in American history, state-originated troops deployed overseas en masse as American-flagged forces in a unified organization representing the “forces of democracy”.

A victory unprecedented for the statists who now had not only the domestic Progressive bandwagon (thanks in no small part to conservative folk-hero, Teddy Roosevelt) to provide the impetus to expand the role of central government in these united States but the creation of an external threat to forever change the face of the political calculus in the country.  The bond to the individual states had finally been effectively broken and suborned to a national identity established to homogenize and formalize the loyalties of the citizens to their political betters in DC.  1917 marked the birth of the national security/garrison state and the inauguration of the two-pronged domestic and foreign policy nexus to expand the size and reach of central government.

In addition, the central state also managed to soften the other primary target of their will to power:  the family.  Statists have worried through the ages that the bastion of the family was a fortress they could not breech.  Once the state could find a way to penetrate the family unit and influence the outcomes of behavior at an earlier age and replace the parents with the state, ultimate power would be fulfilled.  With tens of thousands of husbands and fathers deployed overseas, unprecedented numbers of women entered the workplace and the state’s tax base found another form of revenue. To wit:

The entry of the United States into World War I greatly increased the need for revenue and Congress responded by passing the 1916 Revenue Act. The 1916 Act raised the lowest tax rate from 1 percent to 2 percent and raised the top rate to 15 percent on taxpayers with incomes in excess of $1.5 million. The 1916 Act also imposed taxes on estates and excess business profits.

Driven by the war and largely funded by the new income tax, by 1917 the Federal budget was almost equal to the total budget for all the years between 1791 and 1916. Needing still more tax revenue, the War Revenue Act of 1917 lowered exemptions and greatly increased tax rates. In 1916, a taxpayer needed $1.5 million in taxable income to face a 15 percent rate. By 1917 a taxpayer with only $40,000 faced a 16 percent rate and the individual with $1.5 million faced a tax rate of 67 percent.

Another revenue act was passed in 1918, which hiked tax rates once again, this time raising the bottom rate to 6 percent and the top rate to 77 percent. These changes increased revenue from $761 million in 1916 to $3.6 billion in 1918, which represented about 25 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Even in 1918, however, only 5 percent of the population paid income taxes and yet the income tax funded one-third of the cost of the war.

The income tax funded part of the conflict despite its relative infancy.  Note the velocity of tax increases in a short span of time and the end of the conflict did not lower the marginal rates significantly.  The fetters to government interference in all aspects of American life were now released and the unlimited state began.  On that day in 1917 when America entered the global conflict, Alexander Hamilton wryly smiled from his august office space in Hell, his dream at last consummated.

The Constitution had culminated in the logical extension of its organizing principle as an enabling mechanism for central government supremacy.  The Constitution is a brilliant document for liberty but the Federalists ensured that a doomsday mechanism was built into the document by empowering the government through an alleged impartial judiciary to have a self-selected stamp of approval on the march for bigger government.  Keep in mind that the Bill of Rights was a reluctant addition to the original Constitution at the urging and agitation of the Anti-Federalists and has acted as a minor roadblock to statist ambition, at best. The American Imperial Age had just slipped into high gear.

The United Kingdom in the 20th century is an historical demonstration project that whatever empire practices abroad, it all comes home to roost and individual liberties are extinguished to satisfy the collective needs of the state.  The lethal cocktail of Fabian socialism and imperial military foreign policy culminated in what is now the late and great corpse of England, both the birthplace and gravesite of the modern Western notion of individual liberty.  Ironically, America up until 1939, retained War Plan Red against the United Kingdom as an active strategic initiative against our alleged ally.

Despite the apparent historic isolationism of the American government during what is referred to as the Interwar Years (1919-1941), the American armed forces were rather busy implementing the weaponized portion of foreign policy especially in the Latin American realm.  This was, of course, prior to the formalization of clandestine regime change in the CIA and its offshoots.  On the eve of WWII, the US Army was numerically ranked well below the world nations in manpower.  RedDR was mostly likely rubbing his hands in glee at the prospect of taking over and controlling what was left of economy at the time after the disastrous attempts at socialism that had ensued and crippled the country in the 1930s.

War abroad has always been the last refuge of the state when all other options have met with failure when seeking to consolidate domestic power. America discovered that the surest path to increased monopoly on power is perpetual war.  Witness the motifs in the War on Drugs, Poverty and Terror and the concomitant expenditure of untold hundreds of billions resulting in the eradication of none of the former but a tremendous increase in government power over citizens.

Whatever you learned in the government schools and university, on the History Channel and the ninety plus years of Hollywood celebrations of American war on the world…you have been lied to.  War is the health and the wealth of the state.

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?

– Mahatma Gandhi

Notes in the Margin: Fred Reed is one of the best writers and observers on the political scene…ever.  He has the wit and verve of Mencken & Twain and the knowledge to deeply bolster what are in the end cogent but, in this mortal coil, exotic conclusions like the controversial notion that war is bad and cops aren’t much better.

He just published this gem and here is an excerpt:

“And of course we are herd animals with a formidable tendency to attach ourselves to groups—it doesn’t much matter what groups—and fight other groups. Thus football teams, bowling clubs, political parties, and wars. Patriotism is exactly the instinct that makes people cheer frantically for the Steelers against the Packers, and armies are just Crips and Bloods with more elaborate switch-blades.

All of this I suppose explains why so many are either flatly uninterested in the war or, a la Fox, very interested but without knowing anything about it—where it is, who is fighting whom and why, how the place got that way. Emotionally it is the Bulls vs. the Lakers. Intellectually it is an empty jar.

And yet it remains, or seems to remain, that the public, almost all of it, has not the slightest grasp of the war—and, by easy extension, of anything else outside the borders. When I listen to Bill O’Reilly, I want to hold up a placard behind him, asking his audience: Where is Yemen? What is the capital? Have you read a single book on Afghanistan? Read any book on anything? Heard of Eric Margolis? Can you distinguish Sunnis from Albigensians?

This of course is why the US is not a democracy: a country whose population consists chiefly of baffled gerbils cannot be a democracy in more than form. Instead we have the televangelists of ersatz patriotism shilling for policies of benefit to remote lobbies, while a catastrophically ignorant public shrieks approval. Gorgeous babes on Fox counsel war. The audience roars. Ricky, Ricky, he’s out man, if he can’t do it nobody can. Show your support for Central High. God almighty.”

Read the rest:

The following is a comment responding to an earlier guest essay on the Constitution, it is so good I wanted to ensure it gets some attention today in case anyone missed it.  I met Roy Fox at the Freedom Summit in December 2010 and he is truly a man who thinks on his feet and has deeply examined why his philosophy looks like it does.  Please read and enjoy. -BB

I find it somewhat humorous and ironic to find commenters on a website entitled “Zerogov” defending the concept of government at all, even the false advertised version embodied in the US Constitution. But it’s good to hear those comments, because the last thing voluntaryists should be doing is wasting their time preaching to the choir. Besides, just about every one of us zero gov “extremists” have been there at one point in our lives. But we hope that everyone who believes in libertarian principles will continue to follow them to their natural conclusion, which is anarchy. What it all boils down to is–are your principles strongly enough grounded to allow you to take a leap of faith in your fellow humans? After all, for you to enjoy freedom, you must allow everyone else to enjoy freedom.

With all due respect to the defenders of that “sacred writ”, George Bush was correct when he (allegedly) said that it was nothing more than a G-D piece of paper. There is no such thing as “We the People”. That is a fiction, a mental construct. There are only individuals. There is no “social contract”, since legal contracts are mutually agreed to between two or more people, with due consideration and a full and complete understanding of what goods or services are being exchanged. One cannot bind others to a contract without their consent. And one cannot bind future generations to a contract without their consent. The idea of “collectively” spending money and leaving a debt burden on children and future unborn generations is one of the most immoral concepts ever conceived by the human mind.

Really, there is no “government”, that is only a fiction as well. There are only individual people who make decisions or take actions based on false beliefs that a piece of paper:
* gives them authority to initiate the use force on their fellow human beings and call it “law enforcement” instead of assault
* allows them to take the property of others and call it “taxation” instead of robbery.
* allows them to kill people in faraway lands and call it “war” or “police action” instead of murder
* empowers them to put people in cages for violating arbitrary rules with no identifiable victim and call it “justice” instead of kidnapping and slavery
* authorizes them to interfere with free and peaceful trade between individuals and call it “regulations”, “treaties”, “legal tender laws” or a hundred other euphemisms
* grants them the moral authority to teach these lies and other falsehoods to your children and call it “education”

Since each of us has grown up in a world where “government” is assumed to be a universal truth, it is difficult for us to see what life would be like in its absence. Now if one researches, there are many brilliant authors and lecturers who have proposed free market solutions to roads, education, charity, justice, environmental protection and even military defense. But how things would sort out in a world without belief in government is irrelevant. Those of us who believe that civilized life can exist on a voluntary basis are under no obligation to prove how society will operate in an environment of complete liberty. It’s not even possible. Only a truly free market can determine that, and we have never experienced a truly free market in our lifetime. If enough people come to understand the most basic principle that the initiation of force against their fellow human beings is always morally wrong, then we’ll evolve into a healthy civilization grounded on true freedom. If we continue down the path of accepting that “government” is a “necessary evil”, then we will continue down the de-evolutionary path toward a totalitarian police state that we are currently on. When one begins to see the horrific consequences of this false belief in the Constitution, is it really hyperbole to call it “evil incarnate”?

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8 thoughts on “The Enthusiastic Warbride by Bill Buppert”

  1. Bill,
    I hope you might count me as a supporter, though a somewhat qualified, one, rather than a detractor. I daily lament the loss of that old agrarian republic, and war was its greatest enemy.

    One question—you stated:
    “In addition, the central state also managed to soften the other primary target of their will to power: the family. Statists have worried through the ages that the bastion of the family”

    Knowing a bit about the history of Scotland, the growth of the rule of law there was largely to subdue the influence of clans; Borderers in the 17th Century and Highlanders in the 18th. In spite of Victorian Romanticism, it was not a good place to live for average folk. Many highlanders were property of the chieftain and those without powerful backing were every mans’ prey. It seem to me in this historical context, government extending the rule of law (while very imperfectly) did slowly result in more protection of person and property. the previous rule of families tended towards tribalism, one of the banes of humanity.

  2. Bill,
    many thanks for the Allan Calson link-he is my homeboy. We are in definite agreement about universal compulsory schooling and militarism/jingoism. Many of my ancestors spoke German from the time they came to Pennsylvania until WWI when Wilson demonized all things Germanic. This was in spite of the fact that my people had been here since the 1730’s and had no political or emotional connections to the Kaiser. The German language was part of a three legged stool that kept an agrarian culture alive in the shadows of corporate industrialism. Wilson loaded the gun and Dewey pulled the trigger. Wilsonian militarism destroyed a great agrarian culture in the same manner that the Civil War destroyed southern agrarianism. He did not even have the pretext of slavery as Pennsylvania Germans never owned slaves (with a surplus of kids, who needs slaves).

    If circumstances ever bring you east, come by for some good food, target shooting and Straub’s beer.

    Jesse Mathewson,
    It seems that all societies impose some organized confinements on thinking, labor or goods. It may be through various forms such as taboo, mild community social control, or government and law. Anarchy only seems to thrive for short times on the edge of society, like a backcountry or frontier (as were the Scottish borders), and then often only until that frontier either spills into civilization or the civilized world wants something from it (or the inevitable strongmen or warlords arrive). So, what are the controls that are least arbitrary, yet create a society strong enough to resist those warlords who want to abuse the human chattel? To me the answer is strong localized government. A political scientist once said something to the effect that Hitler in a Vermont Town meeting could become no more than the village jerk.

  3. Jesse Mathewson,
    “In theory” are two of the scariest words I know.

    However, the scenario you describe is not a whole lot different than the New England Town Meeting system, or the strong Township system in my Commonwealth. They do not control our lives, they do our bidding. They are also very easy to get rid of. My Township has three chief elected officials and maybe 400 voters.

    At least some government is a necessity where there is a concept of private property. The best immediate example I can give of this are inheritance systems. The government exists as a neutral keeper of records so when the survivors start fighting over the family silver, somebody can minimize the possibility of bloodshed. I only know I own my farm because I can go to the county courthouse and prove it. If anarchist squatters move in, the Sheriff will help me kick them off. Without that, we would need to try to kill each other.

  4. Jesse Mathewson,
    I am enjoying your insights as well 🙂 I find most libertarians are uncommonly intelligent as well as nice people to be around. Maybe one day I’ll convert 😉

    To answer your questions:
    Would the justice dispensed with a 30-06 be excessive for squatting? Perhaps an indecent landowner would kill the male squatters and keeps the women and children for slaves?

    While I might have the personal ability to deal with this, and abhor the idea of slavery, the widow Sankey up the road would need the Sheriff if she had squatters. I would gladly help her, but: What if I do not like the widow Sankey because I believe she bewitched my cattle? Nobody else in town likes her, so they let the squatters have their way. The Shibboleth of democracy has been served, but not justice. The blindness of good law grants the weak widow the same recourse I have as a dangerous old man.

    No. I do not want fairness and niceties, I want blind Justice. Blind Justice is a reasonable expectation that protects the weak. I am physically strong, a fine rifle shot, and and kind of sneaky in the woods. By the law of the desert, the squatters would be toast. The law protects them from me in this case. The squatters gain a reasonable expectation of decent treatment at the hands of the Sheriff. When they go to trial, they have the ability to show a property survey that may prove me wrong. A judge might grant some mercy for extenuating circumstances.

    In the case of inheritance or private contract, What happens when the private arbiters are ignored? The community as a whole may pick one side and enforce some ruling through social control, but what if they pick the popular side, rather than the just side? What happens when the private arbiter is corrupted? I think what will happen is that the weak, the female, the child and the stranger and sojourner will be the loser.

    I would not equate theory with historical support for an idea. Marxists were great theoreticians, and their theories resulted in a good man I know having his teeth pulled out with a pair of pliers by secret police. Hence my perhaps undue fear of the term. My belief in the necessity of some government actually rests on a historical and anthropological case. Somebody has and will always bear the sword of force. The ideal is lots of little swords in many hands, rather than one big one. Law (when it is the king) also creates a way to take the power of the sword from those who abuse it.

  5. Certainly human justice is imperfect in all its incarnations. I will also spend no time defending the current system which largely results in only widespread injustice.

    However, I have no more trust for a society at large than big government in the distribution of justice. Lots of technically illegal and nasty things are permitted throughout the world due to social sanction, namely slavery. It may be illegal to trade in children, but it is socially sanctioned and accepted in large parts of Asia. Without the help of government, societies create castes, tribes, and inner circles.

    Can you give me some historic or anthropological examples of stateless societies free of slavery, cannibalism, or human sacrifice?

    1. Richard,

      Wilberforce was asked something of the same question on the floor of the Parliament during his anti-slavery debates where his opponents inquired as to how the world could function without slavery. And, frankly, he had very few historical examples of societies that did NOT have slaves. The crux of his argument was that slavery was an abomination (despite the use of the Bible, for instance, to justify it) and should be eliminated at all costs because it impoverished everyone’s moral imagination and virtue. It was simply intolerable to own another man. I am making the same point. Those who believe in limited government wish to beat their wives only on Thursday and let them be the rest of the week. It is not the frequency of the maltreatment, it is its existence.

      We live in anarchy everyday. With your neighbors, your family and commerce on your word. You don’t do these things under compulsion but free will. I would submit to you that government is an aberration of free will where most folks rationalize their imprisonment in a system that sticks a gun to their face to provide goods and services, their obedience is to the lash and not virtue.

      BTW, if you go to my page on About Zero Gov, I make it pretty clear in my preamble that mine is a dystopic vision not utopian. I know there will be failure, mistakes and danger in a free society but I accept that risk.

      Per illegality, has our government ever passed laws and imposed them on the population but freely flaunted them when applied to themselves? Who watches the watchers?

      As always, Richard, insightful comments and I appreciate that you stir the pot. It keeps us intellectually vital.

  6. Free debate like this helps me stay sharp too, and I really appreciate your approach to dissent on this site. I always was somewhat nonplussed that Lew Rockwell does not allow any comments.

    Wilberforce represents an interesting support for my case for limited government. He used the power of government force to free men from a long standing and socially sanctioned practice. I believe that the sailors and ship owners were unhappy enough that Thomas Clarkson (An Anglican Deacon and Wilberforce’s man on the ground) had to be always armed, due to death threats. To them it probably looked like big government sticking their noses in their private business. So at least in this one case, the power of the sword in the hands of the magistrate resulted in an unqualified good that no society before had accomplished.

    I would have no problem returning to the Articles of Confederation or even the British Constitution as understood in 1790, over the modern managerial state. My fear remains that a stateless society will inevitably revert to some form of tribalism. Tribalism often crushes even an individual’s identity, and is the antithesis of individual liberty.

    If our shared predictions for the future are correct, why not try for the soft landing of localized governments responsive to the people and where the watchers watch each other?

    Do you believe all governments are inherent police states, or that all governments eventually decay into police states?

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