Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 763, March 23, 2014

We have arrived at a crossroads in history, and
the country stands on the brink of civil war.

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Are You Ready for War?
by Paul Bonneau

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, during the Nuremberg Trials, had this exchange with a biographer:

Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

Mark Twain also described the process, in more detail, in his unfinished book The Mysterious Stranger:

"The loud little handful -- as usual -- will shout for the war. The pulpit will -- warily and cautiously -- object... at first. The great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded, but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the antiwar audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

Before long, you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men...

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."

All through history, the rulers have orchestrated this process. Humans for some reason are susceptible to it.

One may speculate why: for example, in tribal societies there was a need at times to repel encroachments by other tribes; and first the people had to work themselves into a frenzy, and shed their normal inhibitions against killing, before getting the job done. One can imagine the war dance of Plains Indians, for example.

Although the process at the tribal level did not involve a lot of reason or logic, in the big picture the thing did make sense. The territory that sustains a people has to be defended, after all. Even tiny birds understand this fact. I don't know if birds need war dances to shed inhibitions; but they do sing, and it is a war song they are singing.

But again, the rulers understand all this and have taken advantage of it -- even when there was no defense needed, and aggression instead was on the menu. Or imperialism, if you prefer that word. Just dress it up as defense, and people get on board. We have wars almost entirely because war is in the interest of the rulers.

But these days, things are different. There is an Internet. If you observe what is going on in New York and Connecticut and New Jersey, it looks as if people are in a war dance. They are mentally preparing for war.

But the rulers are not orchestrating it this time. It is happening spontaneously, via the Internet and informal gatherings, and the enemies to be defended against are those very same rulers and their enforcers -- many of whom now have the sense to distance themselves from the rulers, as much as possible. Strangely, the rulers don't seem to notice the corner they are painting themselves into.

This is new. It is amazing to see what can happen when the rulers lose control of the gateways of information. We are in uncharted territory, here.

Good luck and Godspeed, warriors!

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