In a previous post of mine, Fire in the head, peace in the heart, several commenters stated the "necessity of violence" and things of this sort, but when I posed the "what war has made men more free?" question, there was again silence.
In another post, Myth of War (and "Fighting for Freedom"), I linked to one of Stefan Molyneaux's videos where he dismantled the myth of one of the "Good Wars" (WWII). Josh and I had a little conversation in the thread, but again, no one tried to make the argument that any nation emerged from WWII more free than it entered it. On either side.
In yet another post, The Failure of Democracy, I linked to a video of Hans Hermann Hoppe dismantling the historicist position that democracy (or a representative republic, which is still democratic no matter how hard you try to deny it) had anything to do with the increased prosperity and freedom of the 20th century (which in fact is a myth in many ways). I also went straight for the throat of the "The Revolution made America free" argument and linked to Gary North's article "Tricked on the Fourth of July" where he briefly outlines the coup d'état that was the American Revolution.
Today, I want to share another interesting article that is excerpted from Murray Rothbard's comprehensive history of the founding of America, "Conceived in Liberty." Here are links to Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, and Volume 4.
The title of the article is, "Generalissimo Washington: How He Crushed the Spirit of Liberty." There are many interesting aspects to this account of how the Continental Army was transformed into a traditional European type army and how the individualistic rag-tag volunteer spirit was crushed (which probably actually made the army far less effective against the British). Sure to be unpopular with some "Patriots," but it again brings to mind the question, "What war made men more free?"
My favorite part or the article however, is at the very end where Rothbard points out the main strategic error made by the British when they came to wage war in the colonies:
For Britain, the character of the war had now unpleasantly changed; from trying to teach a lesson to revolutionaries, Britain now faced an international, trans-Atlantic, even a worldwide conflict.
The first thing to do was end the occupation of Philadelphia, which at best had been a waste of time. Howe had thought of Philadelphia as equivalent to a European capital: the hub and nerve center of administrative, commercial, political, and military life. But in a decentralized people's war such as the Americans were waging, there was no fixed nerve center; indeed, there was scarcely any central government at all. All this gave the Americans a flexibility and an ability to absorb invading armies in a manner highly statified Europe could not understand.
I wonder if there is a lesson for modern day America to be found here? Perhaps not only in the types of "enemies" the U.S. government's imperial forces are waging centralized war against, but in the very way we think about political structure. One of the themes of "Patriotic movements" everywhere is to establish alternative political systems (continental congress, any of the ridiculous "sovereign citizen" plans to reestablish so called "de-jure" government, strengthening of state power in order to resist federal power, etc). Don't all of these ideas cling to the fundamental idea of a fixed nerve center? Don't they all on some level call for this so that force can be centralized in order to resist force? Don't they all make the only mistake that can make any sort of movement extraordinarily easy to co-opt and/or defeat?
What if all of this effort to centralize resistive force is effort that has been taken from our ability to create totally alternative solutions that simply make the existing system redundant? In every aspect of civilization save one, old and unsustainable ideas disappear not because of protest, violence, or revolution (in the sense that we normally think of it) but simply because forward progress makes them redundant. Henry Ford did not wage war with the horse drawn carriage industry. The Wright Brothers did not advocate that people vote against the pony express. Advances in science, engineering, medicine, art, philosophy, everything except politics happen because specific individuals make the decision to pursue excellence in the field they are passionate about. The pursuit of excellence is a positive and creative use of energy. New ideas, new ways of living, new paradigms spring fourth. These are the forces that shake old political establishments to their core not through threats of force, but through a much greater threat; the threat of making the political establishment redundant.
What if the most effective strategy for achieving liberty is simply making the state and all the "services" that go with it redundant? What happens when we simply walk away from "Philadelphia" instead of trying to hold on to it or re-take it? What if it is both realistically and logically impossible for war to make men free? What could we create as individuals if all our energy wasn't focused on resisting? I think the most important part of these questions isn't answering them, but simply asking them.