Dear Ms. Sheehan,
You have recently written an entry in your diary which, if you’ll pardon me the metaphor, hands in your resignation to the anti-war movement. Even though I have not gone through the same experiences, I strongly sympathize with everything you say in it, and I think I may help clarify some things you might not yet be aware of.
Your thoughtful disillusionment with left-wing and right-wing politics echoes the feeling that other reasonable people, who desire change for the better but realize that politics is always the same song-and-dance, are eventually faced with. You are far from being alone.
To me, the most poignant passage in your entry is this:
The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think.
You, and at least three thousand other mothers of soldiers, as well as tens of thousands of Iraqi mothers, are justified in demanding justice. But such justice will never be granted you by the government, whether it be Republican or Democrat.
Sending young men to their deaths for the interests of the ruling class is a phenomena that has existed for as long as government has existed as a concept. Every empire, from the Roman Empire to the British Empire to the current “America, World Police,” has had its millions of youths willing to spill their own blood for their “homeland,” indoctrinated in believing in their “homeland” from day one.
You probably understand the impossibility of getting justice for the war through politics by now. Neither will the end of these unjust wars be granted, even when the Iraq War itself eventually ends. The fact of the matter is this:
Political means cannot give lasting freedom. All that can be achieved by political means is the sustenance of political means (in short: politics can only create more politics).
I do not blame you from not knowing this from the onset, as most people have been indoctrinated into believing that the only avenue for change is to “work within the system.” I also used to believe in “working the system.” However, no successful ideology or movement has ever achieved any lasting freedom through doing so, because the ruling class is always in control.
You say you want “peace with justice.” This is a laudable goal, and I agree with you. In your tumultuous association with the peace movement, have you found anyone who was actually willing to understand the root causes of war, and how to eradicate them? Or did you only find people willing to agitate against war, but with no binding force or principle?
I am sure you have thought about the causes of war. I can’t vouch for your reflexions on the topic. I will tell you what I know. There are many factors that cause war, and most of these are outside anyone’s reach. But I can point to one necessary and crucial cause that we can change: government power. And who says government, says taxation.
The 20th Century proved, if you were paying any attention, that taxation is the great enemy of civilization. How do you think Hitler paid for that army? With voluntary contributions? How did Stalin pay for the Gulag Archipelago? With baked goods sales?
Everyone is forced to comply and finance these wars, whether they like them or not, by taxation. By monopolizing the resources in a society, government has the power of waging war on a grand scale, in the name of interests which otherwise would not waste the money needed for such actions. Government has the power of luring our youth with free educations in order to do its bidding, or outright enslave them for a period of time (through the draft).
Activists love the government because they want to manipulate its power to their advantage. So it is a very hard fact to face for peace activists, but an inescapable fact, that government is necessary for large-scale war. Anyone who desires peace as a primary value of society must realize that lasting peace can only be achieved if there is no government.
In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.
Leo Tolstoy (Christian Anarchist)
As a Market Anarchist, I believe that government, as the monopoly on law and force in a society, exploits people’s resources, children and moral integrity in the name of wars that only benefit itself and its powerful friends. I also believe that the only way to prevent governance abuse is to have a free competition of governance, on the market.
Right now, those who govern us are held accountable to no one. They will never be held accountable unless they have equally powerful competitors able to use the law to get recourse for the victims. They will never be held accountable until we can choose not support them, and support someone else instead, leaving us free to live our lives the way we intend.
It would be absurd for anyone to cooperate with their enemies (the ruling class) in order to try to achieve change! And yet that is what most peace activists do. The ideology of peace, like any other ideology or movement, can only be achieved by disengagement and principled resistance.
All successful improvements in man’s freedom and understanding have been brought about by such means. No positive movement in history has ever succeeded by any other means. And disengagement and principled resistance against government and its criminal monopoly is what we advocate.
You may think that the concepts we advocate sound radical. However, I truly believe they are the only solution to the problem of war. Historically, Market Anarchist societies did not wage war on other societies, simply because war is too costly to wage if you have to bear the cost yourself, and you can’t steal from others or enslave them in order to wage wars for you. Until we understand that having a monopoly of force able to finance war by stealing from our own pockets and enslaving our children is a bad idea, we will never solve the problem of war.
I hope I have been able to clarify some things for you, and perhaps spark some interest in our growing movement. Either way, good luck to you in your future endeavors.