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Monday Morning Matrix Meme: Wars and Rulers

 

People generally don’t want war.

In fact, the natural resistance of human beings to kill one other is so strong that even when being paid and forced at gunpoint to do so, soldiers can still be found making peace with their (alleged) “enemies.” The Christmas truce during WWI is one of countless examples. The perspective from a peaceful infantryman on the battlefield is telling: Why does the random person in front of me deserve to die? How do I know he isn’t like me—fighting a war he wants nothing to do with, pointing a gun at me just because someone else is pointing a gun at him and telling to shoot? What gives other people the right to hire me to kill people I don’t even know? (And for Christians: how is this “loving one’s enemy”?)

War is the greatest public means of legitimizing the state. What do presidents and dictators do when people doubt their authority? Start a war. Then the citizenry remembers why they ‘need’ the politicians after all. This strategy purposefully confuses the dynamics of war altogether. Murray Rothbard said it best:

Since most men tend to love their homeland, the identification of that land and its people with the State was a means of making natural patriotism work to the State’s advantage. If “Ruritania” was being attacked by “Walldavia,” the first task of the State and its intellectuals was to convince the people of Ruritania that the attack was really upon them and not simply upon the ruling caste. In this way, a war between rulers was converted into a war between peoples, with each people coming to the defense of its rulers in the erroneous belief that the rulers were defending them. This device of “nationalism” has only been successful, in Western civilization, in recent centuries; it was not too long ago that the mass of subjects regarded wars as irrelevant battles between various sets of nobles. (Anatomy of the State, 24)

 

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