A Terrible Blogger is Born!

November 25, 2007

The Bourne Prophecy

"Ancestral voices prophecying war!"

"Ancestral voices prophecying war!"

Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone?

The Government, with no mandate from the people, without consultation of the people, conducts all the negotiations, the backing and filling, the menaces and explanations, which slowly bring it into collision with some other Government, and gently and irresistibly slides the country into war. For the benefit of proud and haughty citizens, it is fortified with a list of the intolerable insults which have been hurled toward us by the other nations; for the benefit of the liberal and beneficent, it has a convincing set of moral purposes which our going to war will achieve; for the ambitious and aggressive classes, it can gently whisper of a bigger role in the destiny of the world. The result is that, even in those countries where the business of declaring war is theoretically in the hands of representatives of the people, no legislature has ever been known to decline the request of an Executive, which has conducted all foreign affairs in utter privacy and irresponsibility, that it order the nation into battle. Good democrats are wont to feel the crucial difference between a State in which the popular Parliament or Congress declares war, and the State in which an absolute monarch or ruling class declares war. But, put to the stern pragmatic test, the difference is not striking. In the freest of republics as well as in the most tyrannical of empires, all foreign policy, the diplomatic negotiations which produce or forestall war, are equally the private property of the Executive part of the Government, and are equally exposed to no check whatever from popular bodies, or the people voting as a mass themselves.

That’s American writer Randolph Bourne, writing in 1918 about World War One. His analysis of how the ideal of the State caused supposedly freedom-loving America to be plunged into Europe’s senseless bloodbath, and how it destroyed any vestige of civil liberty at home, is uncannily resonant with George the Second’s crusade in the Middle East and the parallel “War on Terror” which is largely being conducted within our own borders and upon our own citizens. Read the classic essay, War is the Health of the State.

john_bull_-_world_war_i_recruiting_poster5

And if you dig that, check out Murray Rothbard on who got us into World War I, how and why they did it.

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