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After reading Anna Morgenstern’s Memorial Day: Remembering the Dead, I was struck by a common (though understandable) error that even the most ardent anarchists and voluntaryists make. Though Anna’s description and analysis of war gangsterism is dead on accurate, I find her views on the (misnamed) Civil War and WWII surprisingly statist.
I’ve come to believe that it is useful to not only analyze present day events from the point of view of a free born, sovereign, stateless, anti-collectivist individual, but also to scrutinize historical events from that same viewpoint.
Anna presents the case that the above mentioned wars may be two rare examples where US state-approved wars were justified as “fighting for its citizen’s freedom.” First off, I find it laughable that any state, an organization that maintains its power by physically and financially enslaving its subjects, can legitimately claim the moral stand of freeing anyone.
That said, the (misnamed) Civil War was never conceived or executed in any way as a battle against slavery. Not until Lincoln (an avowed white supremacist, indifferent to anyone’s bondage) grasped the abolition cause to rally back from impending military defeat, did the anti-slavery cause get mentioned. At the time of the battle of Fort Sumter, there were more slaves living in the North than in the South! Many Northern slave owners, when seeing the error of their ways, did not outright free their slaves but merely sold them!
Though abolition was a moral and necessary cause, it was never necessary to initiate total war, the destruction of entire cities, and the killing of over 600,000 people. The US and Haiti, as far as I’m aware of, are the only two states that found it necessary to kill on a massive scale to end slavery. The solution to offer was the same then, as now, for any sovereign, anti-state individual: peaceful persuasion and financial incentive. Educating individuals, one by one (as anti-state, pro-life individuals do to fight abortion) on the evil and immorality of human bondage would have been the peaceful and productive approach rather than to fight a devastating war--a war followed by state-sponsored Reconstruction that created enmity between the races that remains to this day.
Offering financial incentives is also a very effective approach--by illustrating how labor is more efficient and productive if it is a voluntary work force. Slavery does not make economic sense and can be proven to hinder widespread prosperity. I’m sure many slave owners would have been content to having their slaves purchase their freedom by way of private benefactors. This may be a distasteful option to many, but it would certainly prevent the deaths of many to liberate a few.
Even if the only way to end slavery was through violence, the best way would have been through privately financed and operated militias to assist a slave uprising. The loss of life would have been minimal, compared to Lincoln’s abomination.
This brings us to WWII. Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, at first look, certainly seems a justified reason for the US state to initiate war. But when seeing the US blockade of Japan (a terrorist act, usually resisted by military action) and FDR’s unquestionable provocations towards that country, it makes it difficult to be surprised that Japan, or any other state, would not retaliate. Consider it state-to-state blowback. Both parties share guilt in this dispute. It’s a shame that FDR’s complicity was not exposed at the time. US involvement in the Pacific may have been shortened or even prevented entirely.
Admittedly, overcoming the war fever afflicting the US state’s subjects would have been difficult to counter with peaceful reasoning and damning information against their deceptive masters (as it still is today with the public’s war furor created by 9/11). The point to be remembered is the US state was partly responsible for escalating this conflict with Japan and “protecting” or “freeing” anyone was certainly not its inspiration for doing so.
Fighting Hitler and defending Europe was absolutely no concern of the US state. Yes, its involvement did help “protect” and “free” Europeans, but that is not the supposed function of the US state. Its involvement was illegitimate. It had absolutely no moral or ethical basis to tax, plunder, and kidnap (through the military draft) its subjects, forcing them to support its military actions against Hitler and his allies. If any Americans wished to assist with the military action against Hitler, they should have grabbed a rifle, traveled to Europe and joined the resistance. Or individuals could have manned and financed private military units to ally with European state militaries or any other worthy resistance organizations.
In the absence of a state, I honestly cannot see such destruction as in WWII occurring. Sure, there might be small skirmishes between various groups or militias. But they would be short lived, as those involved quickly realize it is not in their best interest to continue. And it is doubtful that any of these organizations would have the means to finance the massive firepower characteristic of even small states. States don’t need to ask for the means to purchase their arsenal, they merely take it.
It’s never the purpose of any state-created and executed war to free, liberate, or protect anyone. Its purpose is to expand the power of the state over its own subjects and any new ones it can enslave. Its purpose is to benefit the military contractors and bankers who profit from war’s carnage and return the favor through political patronage and graft.
Whether you’re viewing the state of war in present day or examining those of the past, war is always unnecessary, devastating and with long lasting consequences (including creating even more wars). With every new war a new precedent is set. With the (misnamed) Civil War, the idea of total war and war on civilians became an acceptable practice. With WWII (an expansion of war on civilians) came the idea that the use of any weapon or method, no matter how horrible, can be justified against an enemy. Recall the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo and the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Creation of states (criminal syndicates) is the ultimate failure of human reason. War is the ultimate extension of the state’s hypocrisy, illegitimacy, and moral turpitude. Ironically, war is also the greatest source of its power. Humanity and civilization is impoverished and weakened while servitude and collectivism is nurtured and strengthened.
Whether analyzing present day events or evaluating the past, war is never justified. There is always an alternative. The state’s existence and actions (including war) can be shown to be just as unnecessary and illegitimate 150 years ago as they are today.