“More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginning of all wars – yes, an end to this brutal, inhuman and thoroughly impractical method of settling the differences between governments.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
Poor RedDR, he could not even follow his own advice. Politics and politicians are awful. It comes down to nothing more elegant than one group of humans having violent control of another. They are nothing more than harvesters. Contrary to the tens of thousands of tomes devoted to everything from statecraft to diplomacy to election theory to praise singing for the Constitution; when stripped of the patriotic gore and bunting, politics is the institution of threats of or actual violence to force people’s obedience. It is nothing nobler than that.
Intellectuals often describe the taxonomy of these relationships as a Left to Right spectrum. Like the word ‘unconstitutional,’ that spectrum has no descriptive quality whatsoever. What is the difference between a neo-conservative and a National Socialist? How is the “conservative” George W. Bush different from the “Marxoid” Obama? Some have characterized Obama’s performance in office as Bush’s third term! They all have one goal in mind: the consolidation of coercive power to compel people to obey or face fines, jail, maiming or killing. There is nothing elegant or even civilized about government, it is quite simply an implementation of the idea that might makes right.
A far better descriptor of the competing world views is collectivist versus individualist and the prefix of non-interventionist and interventionist. In this world, I would be a non-interventionist individualist. The lion’s share of all political creeds tends to be interventionist collectivists from the traditional Left to Right. Excepting the blink of Harding and Coolidge in the 20th century, the American Presidency has been the Western bully pulpit for steadily increasing collectivization of human life.
There are several defining characteristics of the interventionist collectivist creed that they share in common, be they Marxists, national socialists or neo-conservatives. The locus of responsibility and accountability for the individual shifts from the person to the hive; this is a complete surrender of self-ownership and autonomy, with an assumption that this surrender serves the common good. Violence becomes not only acceptable but the single greatest force for civilizing the residents of the given tax jurisdiction more quaintly referred to as a nation-state. Defensive violence is characterized as barbaric, and initiated aggression through force and fraud is championed by the government and its politicians and their collaborators. Official fraud, you say? If I have to explain that, you are too far gone: move along, citizen, nothing to see here. Additionally, we are always told that Maslow’s hierarchy must be served and those who cannot provide for themselves must be provisioned from the stolen assets of those who can. No muss, no fuss.
The wretched David Horowitz started an interesting project in 1987 called the “Second Thoughts Conference” which turned out both articles and CSPAN broadcasts that were amazing testaments to folks who traveled from Communism to what is generally acknowledged as the Right. This was when some of the New Left had gotten older but when stalwarts of Communism could still support the Stalinistas in Nicaragua with a straight face. What was fascinating to watch was that the fluid movement philosophically from Left to Right was rather easy with sober reflection, but a movement in the opposite direction was far more difficult, at least if one prized intellectual honesty and a clear historical eye to what Communism had wrought in the 20th century.
In order to embrace and advocate collectivism, you must:
- Dispense with intellectual honesty because the historical record militates heavily against you otherwise,
- Possess a blind moral compass to initiated aggression,
- Dismiss individual accountability and responsibility for action,
- Refuse to acknowledge self-ownership and surrender yours to others, and
- Dismiss self-determination as an outrageous bourgeois pretension.
Politicians, with rare exceptions, are moral monsters. The history of warfare is chockfull of the likes of Winston Churchill,who is held up as an icon of Western civilization despite the fact that he advocated and acted on the mass bombing of civilians, the ravaging of India during WWII, Operation Keelhaul and many other atrocities. This worthy achieved all this in the space of five years and then proceeded to set the brick and mortar for British socialism after the war. Yet he is regarded as a great man and a beacon of freedom. A statesman is merely a politician who keeps his gun well hidden and does not discuss it in mixed company.
Even more revealing about the true nature of this great politician:
“It is impossible to continue to argue, for example, that Franklin Roosevelt was merely naïve about the true nature of Stalinism during the Yalta Conference of February 1945, whereas Churchill was much more nuanced and doubtful. In fact Burgis records Churchill telling the first War Cabinet after his return from the Crimea that, ‘Stalin I’m sure means well to the world and Poland. Stalin has offered the Polish people a free and more broadly based government to bring about an election; I cannot conceive any government has the right to be treated like that. Stalin about Poland said, ‘Russia has committed many sins about Poland – pacts and partitions – it is not the intention of the Soviet Government to do such things but to make amends.’ Stalin had a very good feeling with the two Western democracies and wants to work quite easily with us. My hopes lie in a single man, he will not embark on bad adventures. Re: Greece – Stalin was jocular.’ Words that would have embarrassed Churchill deeply by the time of the Berlin airlift three years later were to stay hidden for six decades.”
In the end, politics is about the savaging of human beings through violence, misdirection and the glorification of the physical boundaries of tax jurisdictions. Nothing less and nothing more. It is about the wholesale forced appropriation of wealth, time and resources from vast swaths of humanity through either chicanery or implied and explicit use of violence. It is involuntary surrender to thuggery on a mass scale.
The reason the truly honest man cannot arrive at libertarianism and ultimately the vision of a stateless society and turn back is that he knows there is no path to virtue by reversing course and steaming toward collectivism. The virtuous man would surely lose his way if he were to do so.
“It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own.”
– Albert J. Nock