Monday, 4 August 2014

The Prototype Neoconservative Military Intervention, by David Lindsay

It is a very strange thing to commemorate the centenary of the start of a war, rather than, as is usual, the centenary or other anniversary of its end.

The First World War was a Liberal war, the prototype neoconservative military intervention far more than the usually cited Second World War was. Why, throughout the First World War, Britain still had a Liberal Government. It stood alongside the French Radicals against the German National Liberals.

British Liberalism, French Radicalism and German Liberalism were not, and are not, exactly the same thing. But there was, and there is, a pronounced family resemblance. And they all have the same enemies, just as they did a hundred years ago.

The principle of National Liberalism, of the singular mission of a particular Great Power to conform the world to the Liberal vision even by the force or arms, was not in dispute. The only dispute was as to which Great Power had been entrusted with that mission.

But there was a Germany before Unification, and even as part of Unification Germany had to retain many decidedly pre-Enlightenment features. There was a France before the Revolution, and anyone may still see all manner of aspects of her. We all know about the United Kingdom and her predecessor-states.

In the end, of course, only one Great Power, and arguably only one political entity at all, has ever been founded specifically as the Liberal one, expansionist and interventionist accordingly. It is not mine.

1 comment:

  1. Which liberal ideologue ever held to war as a means of propagating liberalism, or even of the state doing it within the nation?
    Liberalism was a movement in the 1830s against war and it advocated political isolationism towards that end. It was indeed a selective reading of Adam Smith’s 1776 book. No Cobden and Bright then no liberalism in the House of Commons, then no split away from the Tories, as Peelers, then no later Liberal Party either but the whole thing was rolling back the state, mainly owing to the great danger of war. Cobden’s writings are not quite pacifist but only as he thought they would be dismissed if he made that a principle. He got Bright to risk being thrown out of the Quakers as he thought that pacifist principles would not be given a proper hearing.

    Liberalism clashed with politics, even if Cobden never quite saw that fact, but the statist liberal solution of Dilke and Chamberlain only emerged in the 1880s. J.S. Mill had been attempting to be fair to Tory and socialist ideas in the 1840s.
    Liberalism has no enemies. The Romantics, who hate the Enlightenment but fit in with politics and current common sense way better than the Enlightenment ever did, can never quite grasp that up till now; nor can many liberals. For romantics it is all about having enemies; ditto for anti-social politics. But liberalism is anti-politics, the sin not the sinners, who, presumably, can be converted to liberalism. It is the assumption that the propagandist makes.
    It is silly to look for differences of nationality in liberalism. As for a great liberal power, power is exactly what liberalism seeks to dissolve, especially by tax cuts. The means of liberal propaganda is in free speech. It aims at one and all: no enemies! Hence a liberal war is quite absurd. Liberalism is out to convert the world but to get rid of rule and replace it by paid service.