Concerning Conflict

We live in a world of scarcity. We will never know a time when a single thing, like an apple, can be consumed by more than one person at a time (i.e. not shared, wholly consumed). As a result, humans have developed methods of avoiding conflict over scarce goods such as through the development of, and adherence to, property rights. When conflicts do arise, those involved are directly impacted by the outcome of the conflict. As a result, the vast majority of people avoid conflict whenever possible. This is not the case when conflicts arise between states.

The bellicose leaders of the governments of the United States and North Korea have recently seen fit to rattle their nuclear sabres over the north Pacific. One is an elected bully accustomed to getting his way and the other is a self anointed “supreme leader” of a nation oppressed by his communist regime. These distinctions aside, their common penchant for conflict is increasingly on display. Conflict is far more easily entered into when the combatants have no skin in the game.

Kim Jung-un rules with an iron fist over a nation of people shielded from 21st century advances. Donald Trump commands the most powerful military force in the history of earth. Each willingly proposes to send people under their command into the nuclear breach. Neither will shed blood should bombs begin to rain. Neither will see his son or daughter’s flag-draped coffin return from a distant battle zone. It is this absence of direct consequence which makes each of these fools far more willing to enter into war.

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Principles Matter

Being anti-war has the potential for cooperation with strange bedfellows. This often changes with the political winds and, therefore, can be disheartening. For example, progressives across the country protested against the wars of George Bush yet fell silent when those same wars were carried out, and expanded, by Barack Obama. The same can be said about supporting small government: conservatives rally to the cause until the growth of government follows their wishes.

When we make decisions based on ideology, we are more likely to be swayed with a pretty face or some fancy rhetoric. However, if we base our positions on principles, we tend to be more consistent in our position. In the case of war, for example, my opposition is based solely on the right of self-ownership of the individual: wars are instigated and orchestrated by states where individual humans pay the price for the conflict. This position doesn’t change based on the ideology of those prosecuting the war because the definition of the term doesn’t change. Only a defensive war can be waged to protect people and rights.

This same principle can be applied to the size of government: if individuals own themselves, then any growth in government represents a further infringement on that right. The fact that some group of people have joined together and voted does not alter the basic human right of self-ownership. When the government resulting from such a vote determines that a portion of an individual’s property should be expropriated, that infringement is made manifest.

Confusing Morals

There are a number of hot button topics which periodically surface in the national consciousness generating discussion, debate, and conflict. In recent years, these include transgender issues, feminism, racism, and sexism. There are even a number of people who make their living poking at the scabs of some of these issues. When Milo Yiannopoulos, for example, shows up on a college campus, he’s just as likely to inspire violent protests as he is to spark an actual debate. Many of those who champion these causes seem to believe that acceptance of transgender bathrooms, for example, is the most important issue facing the world today.

What’s most perplexing about this situation is that there are clearly more important things to be exercised about. As an example, the U.S. government has been engaged in bombing many different countries over the last several decades. The Federal Reserve continues to generate money out of thin air, stealing wealth from everyone holding the currency and giving it to banks and the well connected. The death toll of U.S. undeclared wars continues to mount, be it directly or through mass starvation in impacted nations. The NSA and CIA have repeatedly been exposed for their continuous surveillance of nearly all U.S. citizens. Finally, millions of dollars are confiscated each year from innocent people across the U.S. by law enforcement officials through civil asset forfeiture. With all of this injustice available for protest, the greatest outcry has come over who might be permitted to use a particular bathroom.