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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5955/ideology-still-matters/

Ideology Still Matters

November 29, 2006 by

At some point in the days following the November election, it became conventional wisdom that the Republicans lost control of the House because of the war. That is also said to be the reason that President Bush’s poll numbers have sunk lower than Clinton’s ever were, and are tending towards Nixon-level depths.

Can we take a moment to observe how remarkable this “conventional wisdom” truly is, and why it matters? I would like to explain why the results should make us optimistic about the prospects for liberty, even under the current system of politics, which seems so rigged against the triumph of ideals. FULL ARTICLE

{ 15 comments }

T.G.G.P November 29, 2006 at 8:49 am

Bryan Caplan has done a good job of demonstrating that voters are not self-interested. They aren’t rational either (the act of voting itself generally is enough to show that). Libertarian ideology is not going to rise again though. The people are statist and haven’t turned against interventionist war in general (though it might not be as popular for a bit), they’ve just gotten tired of the Iraq war. The success of populism in the last election (it doesn’t go together well with libertarianism) means liberty has slim chances, although I hope illegal immigration will be clamped down on.

Keith Preston November 29, 2006 at 9:00 am

The voters have turned against the war not because they’ve suddenly converted to Rothbard-Rockwellism but because the US side is losing. If the US was winning, they’d say, “Wow! We’re liberating the world and bringing democracy, Big Macs and pornography to those benighted ragheads! Ain’t we wonderful?!!”

Nobody wants to be on the losing team.

Brad November 29, 2006 at 9:39 am

I’d say we won the war IN IRAQ, we’re losing at nation building.

Simply if Hussein and Cabal were a threat, that could have been easily taken care of. If a void was left and civil war resulted because they can’t get their poop in group, what is it to me/us? If a new threat emerges, and war is considered necessary, prosecute it until the threat is gone. What the people left want to make of their lives and culture after Expansionary Dictator X is removed is their own business. Our mistake is trying to build Western “Democracy” where it isn’t wanted.

Not that I’m a warhawk or a dove. Simply if an outside threat is too great, remove it. It’s not up to others to settle what the new constitution will be.

Jack Maturin November 29, 2006 at 4:12 pm

I think the war in Iraq shows just how painfully useless the state is at everything it does. You take several hundred thousand heavily armed men, organized by the Iraqi state, and then crush them at the hands of several hundred thousand heavily armed men organized by the imperial American state. So far so good. This same imperial state, America, is then utterly humiliated by a few thousand lightly-armed guerillas, to the point where the massively-tooled and hugely expensive American Army has become a world laughing stock. Strangely, this is an exact lesson to these Americans of precisely what their forefathers did to free America from a precursive imperial power, the equally inept British empire. The war is lost. The American Army should get out and stay out before it is pushed into the Red Sea itself by these few thousand ‘rag-head’ irregulars. As well as the countless lives losts, the hated occupiers should also leave before their unwelcome presence causes an even greater likelihood of a nuclear weapon exploding in either London or New York to make the rest of us pay for the damage our tax pounds and dollars have caused in Iraq. Surely there are easier and less dangerous ways of foisting taxation into the hands of Haliburton and those other good friends of politically well-connected parasites in Washington and London?

mark November 29, 2006 at 5:32 pm

For example, it might be in your self-interest to steal a flowerpot off your neighbor’s porch when he is on vacation, but you do not do it, not only because you believe it is wrong to steal, but also because you do not want to live in a society in which property is not secure. That’s ideology at work.

Or this form of morality conflicts with sensiblities that are inherent in genes and those sensiblities vary between individuals as well as populations of individuals.

Sione November 29, 2006 at 8:37 pm

mark

What’s your point exactly? Are you saying that a man’s thoughts, his moral system, is determined by his genes? Gee whiz man! Next thing you’ll be claiming that certain “bad” genes (like the “theft” genes) correlate with certain other genes- like the ones that influence skin colour or shape of nose or distance between the eyes! Ah yes, that’s indeed what you are implying- “populations”. Hmmm. Where does this ideology lead?

Sione

T.G.G.P November 29, 2006 at 11:04 pm

Jack, you seem to hold a pretty low standard for military humiliation. So far the insurgents have done a piffling job when up against American forces. The casualties are well below what America has shrugged off in the past, they have not seized territory, caused retreats or routs, captured significant materiel or men, disrupted logistics or really accomplished anything strategically other than make life shitty for the citizens of Iraq and cause some grief for military families at home (and they’re supposed to push us into the Red Sea?). They have accomplished such things against Iraqi forces, but that’s a different story. For the most part they are just above urban gangs but below the level of a serious guerrilla force. On the Shiite side, Sadr’s Mahdi Army held out against US forces for a while but took plenty of hurt for it and chose the political route, and death squads (often extensions of police and military forces) have gained local footholds of power and accomplished some neighborhood cleansing, but that’s not insurgency and they’re closer to being allies of US forces than enemies relative to the Sunnis. The state organized army of Saddam Hussein that you mock so much held its own against the much larger forces of the Iranians for quite a long time and utterly crushed rebellions by the Kurds and Shiites, who make up the vast majority of Iraq’s populace. I’m not saying we should have invaded Iraq, as an isolationist I don’t think our government had any business getting involved with it, but ill-thought out stuff like that annoys me.

Sione, you might be interested in some of these: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/99/1/10
http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/002591.html
http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2006/08/maoa-maori.php
http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2006/11/schizophrenia-and-iq.php

Saturdaynightspecial November 30, 2006 at 4:30 am

Americans expected a quick victory; some are indifferent and simply want the US to pummel all who are not christian.

Democrats used Iraq as an excuse to gain power – more of the same is coming.

We are in a long term plague of Attention Deficit Democracy and no cure has been discovered, mostly because few are searching for a cure.

Lew’s claim of an ideology victory is an overly optimistic exageration. Those of us who can afford to speculate on gold should do it – it’s price (dependent on crisis) will climb. The future is dark, dim and cloudy. Libertarians are very accurate: conservatives and neocons and lefties (but mostly neocons) have performed the most destruction on the US I have ever witnessed.

If any of you believe Lincoln, Wilson and FDR did the most destruction, I believe you are all wrong (DeLorenzo); Bush will become the worst president in our history for having performed the most destruction.

Enough said ? If you knew what is occuring here in Chicago, Cook County Illinois (not that you might be surprised) you would wash your hands of any and all political change. Black power (Black monarchy) is on the rise. Soon we will be indentured servants to powerful Silverbacks (male and female). I’m going to rent a copy of the original version of ‘Jungle Book’ and see if I can learn more on Black power.

Everyday I swallow a libertarian pill – I always feel better, but the deep dark depression illness seems incurable.

Jack Maturin November 30, 2006 at 2:18 pm

Jack, you seem to hold a pretty low standard for military humiliation.

It’s not quite on the scale of the humiliation of Vietnam or the humiliation of Mogadishu, just yet, but it’s getting there.

So far the insurgents have done a piffling job when up against American forces.

In exactly the same way, of course, that the early Americans did a piffling job against the British, and the Viet Cong did a piffling job against American Army, but still highly effective nevertheless from the viewpoint of getting the enemy to get out and stay out.

The casualties are well below what America has shrugged off in the past, they have not seized territory, caused retreats or routs, captured significant materiel or men, disrupted logistics or really accomplished anything strategically

You seem to shrug off the lives of your fellow Americans fairly easily there, T.G.G.P., not counting of course all the lost limbs, burned faces, and destroyed lives all flown into Dover Air Force base in the middle of the night to keep them out of sight. And the American state hasn’t shrugged it off, has it, otherwise Rumsfeld would still be in his post and Bush would be soaring in the polls. Also to win a guerilla war you don’t need territory or materiel, you just need to make the life of the hated occupier miserable, and keep his men confined to barracks or put them in fear of their lives every time they dare take off a helmet outside the heavily guarded base perimeter. No, the defenders of Iraqi freedom may have accomplished nothing in terms of what the state defines defines as military success, but the American state forces will still be forced out of Iraq within the next one or two years, nevertheless, just as their overwhelming military power was similarly forced out of Vietnam. It’s damned unfair, you know, when the enemy won’t come out and be slaughtered and resort instead to tactics which will win instead. What’s most surprising about American history, of course, is why the confederacy didn’t do the same as the current Iraqi irregulars, i.e., let the Union forces march in and then torment these Union forces from the hills and make their lives a misery until they retreated back north of the Potomac due to sheer endless irritating attrition, in the same way a massive British occupation army was forced out of Eire by the original IRA. Instead, the state-trained confederate West Point generals got their natural guerilla forces to come marching out in regular formation to then get mown down by Gatling guns, just as mass-American-murderer Lincoln wanted.

and they’re supposed to push us into the Red Sea?

Ok, what’s your betting on when your glorious boys are going to be out of Iraq and scuttling down the Red Sea on Navy transports, with their tails between their legs, or scuttling across the Kuwaiti border? I give it two years. It could be less; it could be five years, but if you’re seriously suggesting the American Army can win this war against these few thousand Iraqis, then I can only admire you from afar for your superhuman confidence. The American Army, along with its British auxiliaries, has lost. It should get out now before one more plane flies back into Dover, or Northholt base here in the UK, with another load of coffins on board and another tranche of limbless victims. It is not wanted in Iraq and it was never wanted in Iraq. It went in on the basis of a manufactured lie and it will leave in the middle of the night, like a whelped cur. The longer it leaves its inglorious exit, the worse the humiliation will be when it goes. Did you Americans learn nothing from your bloody lesson in Vietnam?

Saturdaynightspecial November 30, 2006 at 3:36 pm

Amazing when neocons still go on and on about holy crusades that return only gloom and more gloom. It’s the democrats turn to manage Iraq – and fail they will – worse than neocons. Can anyone imagine blaming one person, Rumsfeld, for all the failure.

Sending in large groups of troops, heavily laden with gear, into a superbowl of Arab patriots easily willing to commit suicidal attacks against these highly visible troops. Americans don’t study their past.

T.G.G.P November 30, 2006 at 5:52 pm

Jack, you really have no idea what you are talking about. In the American revolution the Americans had a uniformed, regular army that fought the british face-to-face on the battlefield. We didn’t always win, but even many of the tactical losses achieved strategic objectives and permitted organized retreat so that we could continue to fight those battles and achieve victories. Iraqi insurgents have not done that. In Vietnam there was the North Vietnamese Army. Those are the people who invaded and conquered South Vietnam after we stopped fighting. There is no North Vietnam in Iraq. When we leave it will be Shiite death squads that take over. Your incredulity at the behavior of the Confederate forces is typical of people with no understanding of military matters. Such people laugh at the British for their tactic of wearing red coats and forming lines to fire at the enemy without aiming and then charging in with bayonets. Oh how funny that was, except that it was effective. It’s not the case that everybody in the past was much dumber than you, it’s that they had experience in that kind of war and knew better than just about anyone today what worked. Today, especially among a lot of libertarians it seems, there is a fetishization of guerrilas. Nobody in their right mind who can avoid guerrilla war will not do so. Robert E Lee was not prepared to chuck bodies in the meat-grinder like Grant was and did not want his home, the South, to continue to suffer. The “total war” of the North targeted southern infrastructure to destroy their ability to fight, and the adoption of guerrilla war marks the population as a military asset, and prevents the enemy from easily discriminating between civilian and soldier. The inevitable result is civilians being caught in the crossfire.

I’m not suggesting America can WIN, we already won. We’re not going to WIN the war on crime with the crips & bloods, it is entirely a question of how shitty will life be. There is no force that can rival us for control, so nobody else for us to win against or to win instead of us.

RogertheK December 1, 2006 at 1:46 pm

Keith Preston wrote

The voters have turned against the war not because they’ve suddenly converted to Rothbard-Rockwellism but because the US side is losing. If the US was winning, they’d say, “Wow! We’re liberating the world and bringing democracy, Big Macs and pornography to those benighted ragheads! Ain’t we wonderful?!!”

Nobody wants to be on the losing team.

Point taken,but don’t you think we Austrians,should take what we can get ?While I am too young to remember it at the time,from reading Rothbard,I see we are once again,at a point where we were right after Watergate.We have been handed a golden opportunity,to advance our cause especially among the left.Let’s do what we can,to try to stave off the effects of another Reagan, from either party,to draw away potential Austrians.we have a powerful too,that we didn’t thirty-three years ago…the internet,although it is not always easy to get a receptive audience.For example,I have written some excellent pieceshe last one was only read four times.,for Daily Kos,covering various stories,from an Austro-Agorist viewpoint,aimed at introducing newbies.They only get a few hits.T

Jack Maturin December 1, 2006 at 6:34 pm

Jack, you really have no idea what you are talking about.

Oh dear, T.G.G.P, I really do seem to have hit a nerve. Having served in the British Army, and being one of the few Britons who has actually stood on Bunker Hill (on a ridiculously freezing day in February, worse luck), I may know a little more than you realise, but let’s press on.

In the American revolution the Americans had a uniformed, regular army that fought the british face-to-face on the battlefield.

And it was this use of a uniformed regular army which nearly lost you your war against the British government, following that fool, Washington. If the American insurgent terrorists had stuck to a guerilla war against the legal power, and refused to take any battlefields against the British, they would have had the British going home a lot sooner, and with a lot less dead American casualties paying for Washington’s vanity, as he tried to prove himself against the army which had spurned him for being such a useless officer.

We didn’t always win, but even many of the tactical losses achieved strategic objectives and permitted organized retreat so that we could continue to fight those battles and achieve victories.

All the victories did was cause a tremendous loss of life and later sustain a serious of myths which the American State has since used to sustain itself in times such as now. What did for the British is what will do for the Americans now, and that is a terrible press back home, an unwillingless to slaughter civilians, and an endless loss of taxation propping up an unwinnable war. Unless you are willing to slaughter any civilian you suspect as supporting insurgents, an eventual defeat is guaranteed. Indeed, all you have to do is look at British history (or Roman history, take your pick.) When the Normans were challenged, in their early years, they scoured the North, slaughtering tens of thousands, and thereby successfully created the modern British state. When the Hanoverians were challenged by the Jacobites, they slaughtered tens of thousands of Scotsmen in the Highland clearances, and thereby preserved the Hanoverian British state. But in America, the nerve of the Hanoverians failed. They could not bring themselves to slaughter the American farmers in the same way they had done only a generation earier against the Jacobite Scots, and their defeat was thereby guaranteed. All that grandstanding by Washington almost managed to snatch British victory out of the jaws of American secession, but fortunately the fool was such an inept general, even he couldn’t manage to cock it up sufficiently to enable the British to win a statist-style victory. The only way possible to win any war against a guerilla army supported by a sizeable minority of the population is to kill that minority. Unless the American Army do that in Iraq, their defeat is almost guaranteed unless the Iraqis are stupid enough, as Washington was, to engage the American Army in open battle. Fortunately, being the descendants of those who gave us the alphabet and algebra (both Arabic words, you’ll notice), I don’t think they’ll be so stupid. Five body bags a day, ad infinitum, should see the American legions recalled home sooner rather than later; so why risk open battle?

There is no North Vietnam in Iraq.

No, just porous borders with Iran and Syria, plus endless planes flying into Jordan and Saudi Arabia carrying a self-sustaining horde of suicide martyrs into the war against the invading infidel.

Your incredulity at the behavior of the Confederate forces is typical of people with no understanding of military matters.

Errr… correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t they LOSE?

Such people laugh at the British for their tactic of wearing red coats

Errr… Didn’t they also, you know, LOSE? Yes, the thin red line in Crimea may have worked against an utterly useless statist Russian cavalry charge, and against nincompoop statist French columns, filled with untrained drafted peasants, in the Iberian war, but the reason the British army now wear green camouflage has a lot more to do with the success of guerilla war than it does to looking dashing in front of the ladies. BTW, those red coats are a bugger to keep clean, after the occasional rowdy mess, but I digress.

It’s not the case that everybody in the past was much dumber than you

I always think it’s such a shame when Mises.org ask people to respond with intelligent and civil comments and get comments instead, such as yours above. I think I’ve wasted enough time with you now, T.G.G.P. Goodbye. I wish you and your gun collection the greatest of luck in the future.

T.G.G.P December 1, 2006 at 11:53 pm

RogertheK, it’s generally considered proper to allow others to call your work excellent rather than doing so yourself. You don’t want to sound like Don Robertson. It would be nice if you linked to your articles, as long as you aren’t like Don and advertise your site in your signature in every post.

Jack, congratulations on standing on top of Bunker Hill, a fortification defended by Americas as long as their supplies lasted, by definition marking them as not guerrillas. I note that you imply that the defeat of the British in the war is evidence that their tactics were flawed. Bunker Hill would support that, but most battles went very differently from Bunker Hill. The worth of a tactic is shown by the outcome of a battle rather than a war, and the British did quite well in most battles. It was their strategy that was bungled. The battles they won were not decisive enough, while ones the Americans did were. It was those decisive battles of Trenton and Saratoga by conventional forces that won the war for the Americans, not guerrillas. Partisan raiding forces really only played a role in the south, but even there the actions of Francis Marion are less significant than Cowpens (notable for the militia performing like regulars) and of course Yorktown.

I’m not quite sure what you mean when you say that Washington was so inept he couldn’t lose. Does that mean if he was a better commander he would have lost? You take defeat in war as evidence that the tactics of the British and the strategy of the Confederates were flawed, but you don’t see victory as vindicating Washington’s ideas. That strikes me as inconsistent. To me the clearest example of Washinton’s worth is during “the times that try mens’ souls” when the weekend warriors had gone back to their homes and families and he led his men to tough it out. His decisions to engage in battles are vindicated by the fact that he never had to surrender and on enough occasions his opponents did. I’m not going to go into much detail as to why I think Robert E Lee was the best general of the civil war, as all his opponents in the North would readily admit as much, as the Roman generals did with Hannibal despite his eventual loss. I will also note that Washington, Lee and also Hannibal were all the highest ranking on their sides for the duration of their wars, while their opponents had to keep replacing lousy commanders. The latter two should not and did not have any shame for their ultimate defeats, because of the large pre-existing advantages possessed by the countries opposing them.

I don’t know how serious you were about the Arabs being smart since they are the descendants of the inventors of algebra (actually from India) and the alphabet (didn’t the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and even Goths have alphabets?), but I found it quite funny. The heyday of the Arabs was a long time ago, lately it has been European peoples inventing most things. The average in IQ in Iraq is rather low, in part this is due for the extremely high rate of cousin marriage. On the other hand, the Persians of Iran are by and large more intelligent than Arabs and were the civilizational rivals of the Roman empire back when the Arabs were nomadic and illiterate, but that didn’t stop them from willingly slaughtering themselves in huge numbers when up against Iraqi troops commanded by Saddam.

Saturdaynightspecial December 3, 2006 at 7:23 am

That’s it, I’m outa here…

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