THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 874, May 29, 2016
Conservatives are collectivists—right-wing
socialists—to whom there are many issues
(national security, for one) more important
than the health, well-being, and rights
of the individual.
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
Last week, a local radio host, Michael D. Brown, a former federal bureaucrat with whom I agree more frequently than with many other right-wing pundits, for reasons I only learned later, launched into an hour's rant about the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, some seventy-one years ago, in 1945. I had no idea what had triggered this tirade. Unconsciously, I assumed it was an anniversary of some kind, but that's August. "Fat Man" fell on Nagasaki on my late mother's birthday, August 9th.
Later I learned that His Paramount Cheesiness, Barack I, was on another of his trips abroad to apologize abjectly to the world—for us—for being the most successful and humane society ever conceived. Brown and his lot were primarily concerned that it was going to be about those nukes again (which it wasn't), and were loaded up with justifications for the bombings. Only a crazy, liberal revisionist, Brown maintained, at great length, would question that they were the right thing to have done.
Unlike Brown, I was born and grew up deep in the shadow of World War II. My dad flew B-17s for the 8th Air Force, where he was, of all things, a bombardier. For the rest of his life he pondered the ethics of what he had done, and never came to a conclusion that satisfied him. I inherited the question from him and finally found an answer in another question: of the quarter-million individuals who died in those two Japanese cities, how many were active in the attack on Pearl Harbor or any other Imperial effort against the U.S.? Probable answer: next to none, which also means that we were deliberately initiating force against tens pf thousands of innocent human beings. It means, too, that, despite Brown's vehement protestations to the contrary, Harry Truman was a war criminal for ordering the attacks. You'll have to make your own mind up if I'm crazy, Anyone who reads my stuff knows I'm no liberal,
Revisionist? Call me an "Atomic Truther".
Of course Brown pulled out all of the ancient, threadbare excuses for waging our two-second Holocaust against the Japanese people. Given the well-known fanaticism that the Japanese military exhibited in the Pacific Island War, it may have saved the lives, Brown maintained, of thousands more, Americans and Japanese alike—perhaps as many as a million—who might well have died in a physical invasion of the Home Islands. Perhaps. To tell the truth I have never seen that number presented as anything more than a politically-motivated guess made well after the fact. At the time, some thinkers wanted to demonstrate the vast power of the A-bomb in some way that wouldn't cause thousands of deaths.
What I have heard is that the Japanese were already eager to surrender before the two atomic bombings, and were desperate to surrender after the first, but had no way of communicating with the Washington establishment that couldn't be buried in exactly the same way that the warnings about Pearl Harbor were in their day. I have also been given to understand that the real reason we dropped two bombs was because the nauseatingly pro-Soviet Roosevelt/Truman Administration didn't want to be seen by the Reds as building an atomic arsenal against them the way we would just a dozen years later.
Whatever the sordid details, and whatever the cost in human lives, this episode is useful in illustrating the critical differences between conservatives and libertarians. First and foremost, as the great Libertarian philosopher and teacher Robert LeFevre taught us, conservatives are collectivists—right-wing socialists—to whom there are many issues (national security, for one) more important than the health, well-being, and rights of the individual. If a mere quarter million Japanese had to die, many of them horribly, to give the Democrats their victory, then small price—the Japs didn't vote, anyway.
To a real libertarian, there are no groups, in any moral sense, and only individual human beings s have rights. No group, no matter how many kittens or puppies it is comprised of, no matter how many blue-eyed babies, has any more rights, to life, liberty, property, or the "purfuit of happynefs", than a single human being. All else is suicidal sentiment and explains exactly what we're going through right now.
Let's make it as simple as possible: the very heart and soul of libertarianism is the Zero Aggression Principle, which is all about the fundamental human right not to be physically attacked—or threatened with attack—if you have not attacked anybody else. Compared with that, everything else in libertarianism is trivial. Without it, what you have is not libertarianism. but some pale, sickly imitation. Put succinctly, within the ethical bounds of the Zero Aggression Principle, you cannot drop atomic bombs on people's cities without harming thousands who haven't harmed you. Nuclear weapons are not special in this context. Even massive fire-bombings, like those of Dresden or Tokyo, are out of the question.
Real libertarians (as opposed to various phonies and poseurs do not recognize the concept of "collateral damage". You cannot hurt someone—some individual—who hasn't first hurt, isn't hurting, or isn't preparing to hurt you. Otherwise, you're the bad-guy. And you can guess wrong about the "preparing" part (slap leather on a guy getting out his Kleenex) and end up in the other guy's moral debt.
So be careful.
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