War and demonization

It’s a commonplace of the right-wing thought that liberalism intensifies the destructiveness of warfare. In fact, this used to be a commonplace of liberalism, too. Michael Walzer was one of the earliest writers to suggest an explicit trade-off between ius in bello and ius ad bellum. The right to war infuses one side (the side which had a right to go to war) with an aura of purity that can be used to justify the pursuit of victory by any means necessary. But a standard of right conduct in an ongoing war presupposes some rule that neither side ought to break, and to apply such a standard we must not presuppose that one side or the other ought to win. So the attempt to replace gallant but senseless wars leads to judicious butchery. In an enlightened war, the belligerents begin with self-righteous posturing before war breaks out, and afterwards prove the strength of their principles by the shamelessness of their behavior.

Another commonplace: one aspect of this intensification is the demonization of the enemy. Nomadic herders who were nearly certain to die in one of their many skirmishes could view their enemies with respect (and aspire to fall before a worthy foe). Republican armies apparently won’t fight against anything less satanic than Big Cotton and the Evils of Slavery.

What is peculiar is that this demonization was not reined in but rather inflamed by liberalism’s own recognition of it! To blame governments rather than their peoples for wars appears to be a sound application of “don’t hate the player, hate the game”. But Woodrow Wilson’s doctrine, which became the orthodoxy of the liberal internationalist order, had strange implications. Hanging the Kaiser rather than the Kraut then became hating Hitler rather than his German Volk. From there, via the inner political logic of mass society, it became hatred of anyone “complicit in the Nazi regime”; and next, it became hatred of any and all adherents to the platform and principles of the NSDAP, or to any similar principles; and thus also hatred of all racists; which of course includes white people who don’t want their countries’ populations replaced by imported foreign labor. So in the end, loving the nations of Europe and hating only enemy governments has spread a venomous hatred, not only of the nations of our “enemies” (i.e., of nations we signed peace treaties with sixty years ago), but of the population of all white nations, within our ruling elite.

It’s a strange historical irony and I wonder whether it is logically connected to the Wilson’s “generosity” towards the defeated nations (heh), or was instead a contingent outcome of the political dynamics that spread anti-white ideology at each step.

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2 thoughts on “War and demonization

  1. Walzer’s apprehension of a “tradeoff” between ius in bello and ius ad bellum is a much less popular view than the simple _superiority_ of ius ad bellum. I was taught the latter in the military, from Jean Bethke Elshtain’s compendium.

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