I apologize for the brevity of this column: I’m getting my tri-weekly anti-cancer treatment at a hospital in San Francisco. Yet I didn’t want to leave my readers in the lurch, so here I am, trying to explain why I do what I do – because it requires some explanation.
After all, why write about foreign policy at all? Why is it so important? And what does it have to do with libertarianism, the philosophy of limited government, free markets, and individual freedom?
The answer is fairly simple: we can’t have an empire and a republic at the same time. It is one or the other.
There is no way to limit the power of the government when it aspires to global hegemony. Such an entity demands a huge proportion of its subjects’ income: high taxes are a prerequisite. A would-be imperial power also requires a large degree of domestic control over the behavior of its citizens: after all, how can “national security” be secured and maintained if “sedition” is allowed to fester in the heart of the homeland?
This means extensive surveillance, as well as controls on speech and communications: the former are here, while the latter are coming. We see, already, the collaboration of the government with “private” companies like Facebook, Twitter, etc., seeking to clamp down on the internet, which has been the biggest factor in unleashing populist sentiment against the political class, which is just another name for the War Party.
When our clueless President imposed tariffs on steel, aluminum, and other products coming into the US, he invoked “national security.” “We don’t have a country unless we have a steel industry,” he warbled, as if we’re defending the country with swords. President Harry Truman tried to nationalize the steel mills under the same ridiculous rubric back in the day. Every statist turns to this pretext as a last resort because there are no economic arguments giving government control over production that make any sense.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt rounded up tens of thousands of American citizens and herded them into concentration camps on “national security” grounds – shortly after he manipulated the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor.
The US government persecuted thousands of innocent people during the cold war, spying on them, harassing them, and jailing them in the name of “anti-communism.” Yes, there were real spies, especially in FDR’s administration, but the reality is that the witch-hunters utilized the hysteria to build up the power of government – and instituted their own brand of authoritarianism while “fighting” the leftist variety.
The post-cold war era ushered in the “unipolar moment,” when America stood astride the globe and imagined this hegemonic power was anything but a temptation that would lead to disaster. The Iraq war was the result, and we are still suffering the consequences of that blinkered hubris as we rush into a confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia and a new cold war.
It’s no coincidence that, in the interval between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the present moment, the growth of government power has metastasized. We are subjected to a system of universal surveillance, with political actors using the Spy State to persecute and destroy their opponents: this is the meaning of the Mueller “investigation,” and the “unmasking” of Trump campaign operatives that led to it.
“War is the health of the State” said the great liberal Randolph Bourne: what’s telling is that his statement is totally unintelligible to today’s “liberals,” who glory in the health of the State. That’s how far we have come down the road to serfdom.
As our liberties are chipped away at and destroyed, one by one, constant warfare acts like a corrosive, eating away at the vision of the Founders until there is nothing left.
This is why we fight: this is why we, here at Antiwar.com, labor day and night to bring you the real story of how the US government is betraying the Founders’ proud heritage every day and in every way. Our heroic staff – director/webmaster Eric Garris, news editor Jason Ditz, executive director Angela Keaton, opinion editor and Antiwar Radio host Scott Horton, office manager Michael Austin, and all the rest – are working pretty much without a break, 24/7, and don’t get the recognition they have earned a thousand times over. My thanks go out to them, and so should yours.
And of course we couldn’t do it without you, our faithful readers and supporters, who have supported us for over twenty years. That’s loyalty: the kind you can’t buy, and it’s worth its weight in gold. Thank you all so much: and thanks especially to all the readers who have sent sympathy notes to me wishing me well in my fight against cancer. My fireplace mantle is festooned with your lovely cards: your support inspires me and holds me up even in my darkest hours.
Again, I apologize for the brevity of this column: my illness makes me pay a price, but I try to keep that down as far as my readers are concerned. However, I can’t always control that, and this is perhaps the most frustrating thing I’ve ever had to face. Yet I have no choice but to soldier on – and that is exactly what I intend to do.
A special note: To make up for the shortness of this piece, here’s a link to my latest article for the brand new American edition of The Spectator, Britain’s oldest conservative magazine: check it out.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.