We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The modern bestiary of comparative belligerency

The traditional bestiary of belligerency is inhabited by two feathered beasts: the Hawk and the Dove. However, that is a very crude and misleading way of looking at things for there is a third beast to be found. The Ostrich.

The Dove constituency is essentially pacifist: whilst such folks are largely found amongst the ‘soft’ socialist left wing, there is also a small conservative constituency that is profoundly dovish on religious grounds. A few libertarians also fall into one or both of those categories of dove as well, though actually very few libertarians are true pacifists.

Hawks can be found on the left, particularly the communist left. Many of the anti-war left are far from pacifists, they are just opposed to all American use of force, rather than objecting to force per se. On the conservative right there are also many hawks of several different sub-species, such as the Jeffersonian ‘aggressive defender’ who was quite prepared to send the US Navy to shoot it out with Muslim pirates in the Mediterranean, and Teddy Roosevelt style ‘predators’ who dream of Pax Americana and an American Imperium. Most libertarians fall into the ‘aggressive defender’ category despite what antiwar.com would have you believe.

The Ostrich is largely found within both the paleo-conservative right and the surrealist areas of libertarianism. This is a school of thought which is certainly not pacifist but regards the instances under which force can be legitimately, at least by America, Britain and Israel, used as being so narrow and constrained that many make the mistake of calling them doves, but this is quite incorrect. Amongst conservatives Pat Buchannan is a member of this flock and he is joined by quasi-surrealist libertarians like Lew Rockwell and full-blown psychedelic surrealists like the totally barking Justin Raimondo. Rockwell is a largely pukka and worthwhile commentator but who seems to become unhinged when the issue turns to military matters. Mr. Raimondo on the other hand is more florid in his views generally: imagine a version of Noam Chomsky but with at least some grasp of how economics actually work.

The essence of the ostrich is that of huddling behind national borders and refusing to use force against anything short of a homeland invasion of Pittsburg. The more florescent surrealist ostriches like Raimondo also take this view but adds some interesting touches, such as a fondness for authoritarian and totalitarian regimes under which he does not live himself, provided they dislike the United States.

I must confess I have occasionally wondered if he is ‘for real’. He is a peculiar sort of libertarian, as he seem to view mass murder as being just fine provided it is confined to within national borders. Raimondo is an apologist for the Chinese massacre in Tiananmen Square, contending that in fact it was a triumph of capitalism over communist counter-revolutionaries. The non-Euclidian geometry of his logic is hardly worth the effort of trying to follow; suffice to say Occam’s Razor does not feature prominently in his thinking. He also seems to be of the view that the press in China is as free as in the west, so I look forward to someone directing me to the Chinese publications and websites within China taking critical views of Chinese policy in Tibet and towards Taiwan (I have a Chinese reading friend). As for his contention that:

“Today, government-sanctioned “patriotic” churches, including Catholics and the various Protestant denominations, function openly”

…rather misses the point that the ‘patriotic’ catholic church is an adjunct of the Chinese Communist Party (which he thinks is actually a capitalist party)…the real Catholic church operates underground at great risk and I personally know a French priest who is a member of it in China. To put it bluntly Mr. Raimondo does not know of what he speaks. Typical ostrich.

Many ostriches are strongly anti-Israel due to its repeated projection of force beyond its borders. Now defending Israel is something of a novel experience for me as I am highly critical of their behaviour: a case in point being the disgraceful bulldozing of 50 Palestinian houses in the Gaza Strip last Sunday as collective punishment for the actions of a few: collectivist Israeli psychopathy at its most typical. And yet, I also argue that just because Israel frequently behaves criminally, Israeli society still has a right to defend itself from the clear and present dangers it faces. To do this effectively requires more than the reactive use of military force within Israel itself. An extreme example being the destruction of the Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981 by the Israeli airforce.

What many ostriches refuse to acknowledge is that if the IAF had not destroyed the Iraqi reactor, Saddam Hussain would have developed either nuclear weapons or at the very least ‘dirty bombs’. Of course I am sure Mr. Raimondo probably refuses to believe that Iraq was in fact ever trying to develop nukes or might have stuck plutonium dust on a Scud. To see an ostensible libertarian acting as an apologist for yet another mass murderous regime is curious indeed. Surreal in fact.

One theory I have to explain the ostrich mindset (as found in libertarians, rather than paleo-conservatives) is that they are so reflexively hostile to the American and British states that anyone the American and/or British states opposes must therefore be one of the good guys. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Now anyone who has been reading my articles on Samizdata.net for a while can hardly have failed to notice I am hugely distrustful of nation states generally…yet I try to base my views on critically rational analysis and not just reflexive anti-statism. I realise states lie. They lie a lot. But that does not mean that everything a state says is automatically false. Yet I suspect that in reality that is what ostriches think, leading them into pretzel logic apologias for Chinese, Middle Eastern and Balkan tyrants under whose regimes the likes of Mr. Raimondo do not actually have to live and therefore do not reflexively distrust. Keeping ones head in the sand is not conducive to a realistic view of the wider world.

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