glyph 373: war and peace ... Omnipotent Goverment, by Ludwig von Mises, 1944 ... political philosophy, doctrines, tendencies ... regimentation, the totalitarian mind, bureaucracy ... original and transformed liberalism ... transformation of meaning of the words "liberal", "liberalism", "progressive", "democracy" ... free trade . history


Liberalism: Old and New - Ludwig von Mises

the fundamental cause of war: movement toward omnipotent government

From page three of Omnipotent Government by Ludwig von Mises, 1944:

Within a world of free trade and democracy there are no incentives for war and conquest. In such a world it is of no concern whether a nation's sovereignty stretches over a larger or a smaller territory. Its citizens cannot derive any advantage from the annexation of a province. Thus territorial problems can be treated without bias and passion; it is not painful to be fair to other people's claims for self-determination. Free-trade, Great Britain freely granted dominion status, i.e., virtual autonomy and political independence, to the British settlements overseas, and ceded the Ionian Islands to Greece. Sweden did not venture military action to prevent the rupture of the bond linking Norway to Sweden; the royal house of Bernadotte lost its Norweigian crown, but for the individual citizen of Sweden it was immaterial whether or not his king was sovereign of Norway too. In the days of liberalism people could believe that plebiscites and the decisions of international tribunals would peacefully settle all disputes among nations. What was needed to safeguard peace was the overthrow of antiliberal governments. Some wars and revolutions were still considered unavoidable in order to eliminate the last tyrants and to destroy some still-existing trade walls. And if this goal were ever attained no more causes for war would be left. Mankind would be in a position to devote all its efforts to the promotion of the general welfare.

But while the humanitarians indulged in depicting the blessings of this liberal utopia, they did not realize that new ideologies were on the way to supplant liberalism and to shape a new order arousing antagonisms for which no peaceful solution could be found. They did not see it because they viewed these new mentalities and policies as the continuation and fulfillment of the essential tenets of liberalism. Antiliberalism captured the popular mind disguised as true and genuine liberalism. Today those styling themselves liberals are supporting programs entirely opposed to the tenets and doctrines of the old liberalism. They disparage private ownership of the means of production and the market economy, and are enthusiastic friends of totalitarian methods of economics management. They are striving for government omnipotence, and hail every measure giving more power to officialdom and government agencies. They condemn as a reactionary and an economic royalist whoever does not share their predilection for regimentation.

These self-styled liberals and progressives are honestly convinced that they are true democrats. But their notion of democracy is just the opposite of that of the nineteenth century. ...
February 7, 2007; edited/updated November 26, 2015

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