Saturday, October 17, 2015

A blogger explains why historians like Dale Schlundt falsely believe slavery was the cause for the Civil War

War apologists, particularly progressives and neoconservatives, like to talk about war as if it is a fight for a cause. A fight for (or against) democracy. Or communism. Or slavery. Or national honor. States rights. Terrorism. etc.

But this is only true for violent ideologues who form a tiny minority of combatants. The others are either territorial aggressors or people fighting those aggressors.

War happens because people fight back*

In all cases, initiating aggression is evil. This is true even if the defenders are ruled by evil men. Why? Because self-defense is a universal right. Anyone who brings war upon peaceful people (the majority of a society even during wartime) should not assume people are fighting back on account of ideology. If people largely fought on the basis of "causes", as progressives and neocons believe, you would not expect to see people in oppressive regimes defend themselves.

Uncle Joe's government perpetrated some of the worst crimes in all of history against its people; it is telling that when the Nazis invaded, few greeted them as liberators. The Russians fought ferociously. Why? Because the Nazis had initiated the aggression.

But don't the people living in a nation owe responsibility for the aggression promoted by their government? No. At least not as a collective. That's one of the fatal conceits of the nation state, that southerners had it coming because of Jeff Davis, that Iraqis deserved it because of Saddam, that Dresden was okay because of Hitler, My Lai because of Ho Chi Minh. Because the conflation of a nation with the nation-state is so pervasive, people tend to accept it by default.

The best way to undo this conditioning is conduct a thought experiment reversing "Us" and "Them". That is, always think in terms of the Golden Rule.

Does the average American deserve death because the US Military killed a lot of innocent people during an airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital?

There can be no escaping the fact that it was mass murder and would be a good pretext for an international coalition to bring regime change to the US through an invasion. Wars have been declared on far less noble grounds.

I suspect that most Americans would defend themselves against such an invasion, not because we support the bombing of hospitals, but because most of us had nothing to do with it.

Most southerners did not own slaves, most Germans weren't Nazis, most Vietnamese weren't Communists. This isn't to say that slaveowners, Nazis, and communists (and supporters of American foreign policy over the past decades whether the Commander In Chief had a D or R after their name) weren't perpetrators of aggression because they absolutely were. Those are ideologies based on aggression and violence.** But no one should delude themselves into thinking that the people fighting the Union armies in the South, Nazi armies in Russia, Allied armies in Germany, or the American army in Afghanistan are doing so out of some ideological struggle.

When you stop thinking of people living in an area in terms of their government's policy, it's easier to understand that most are living peaceful lives who are being forced, via taxes, to support their government right or wrong.

While it is admirable to want to liberate others, it is hypocritical to push for or idealize war as the means to accomplish it. Freeing others through increasing state violence against foreigners, i.e. war, not only perpetrates violence against peaceful people in other countries, it also perpetrates increasing violence domestically through suppression of civil liberties and higher taxes.

War is the health of the state.

* Otherwise it would be simple annexation

** Yes, if you voted for Obama or any of the politicians who supported continuing the American presence in Afghanistan, then you share responsibility for those deaths.

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