Can you fix a Warfare State?

Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

The Center/Left says the federal government is failing the people and becoming too corrupt. They say “We must save Our Democracy!”

The Right says government is too corrupt and too big. They say, “We must restore The Republic!”

I have a different perspective.

The reason things look bad now is the growth of technology that makes the country wealthier. The money influences policy, and the technology is employed for all kinds of police, military, surveillance, and bureaucratic purposes.

But the politicians haven’t gotten worse, and neither have we the people. We’re just richer. Government was less powerful in the past only to the extent it lacked wealth and technology.  If the system seemed less corrupt, it’s only because there was less money to pass around.

And, if government seemed to serve the people, it’s because politicians bribed voters with entitlements. Today, they don’t have to, because most voters have reached such a level of affluence that Culture War issues, not economics, determine elections.

To “save Our Democracy” and serve the people, everyone must be poorer.

To “restore The Republic” we must go backwards technologically.

Comforting to know that these undesirable options are also impossible.

You might ask, “So what is the solution?”

My answer, “What is the problem?”

The “federal government,” does what nation-states do. It taxes us to prepare for and wage war. Any other thing it provides – roads, old-age pensions, etc. – keeps the population loyal or the tax revenues flowing.

Even if it’s at peace a long time, war is at the heart of any nation-state.

Even a nation-state too small to start a war will still maintain a military as a deterrent or to “do its part” in an alliance.

And no variation in the form changes the nature of the The State. Representative democracy doesn’t change The State’s purpose to one sounding more benevolent. If a State is stripped to the bone, the military infrastructure will remain. It is the bone.

Under the Articles of Confederation, the United States didn’t have much of a system to tax and wage war except in an ad hoc fashion. The Constitution corrected this “deficiency” and made America “like the other nations” as Israel did when it demanded and got a King in 1 Samuel.

And the United States has been warring against somebody, somewhere, virtually non-stop since the Constitution was enacted.

I, for one, have no desire to save Our Democracy nor to restore The Republic, because I oppose a system that was established to wage war, and refuses to stop.

It might seem impossible to abolish this system externally. But one can at least divorce from it emotionally. To realize and express that these institutions don’t deserve your loyalty is a step forward. Others may or may not follow, but at least you are free.


James Leroy Wilson writes from Nebraska.

He blogs at Independent Country and is the author of Ron Paul is a Nut (and So am I)

Twitter: @JamesLWilson
Email.

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Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan