War… and plague… is the health of the state

Readers may recall this quote: “War is the health of the state,” made by radical writer Randolph Bourne, as the Great War ground its bloody way across Europe. We saw then, as the European empires went to war in 1914, their governments flourished. We also saw how patriotism bloomed, the so-common European class struggle was silent, and men (and civilians) died horrifically and in staggering numbers on the battlefield – often for little or nothing.

In 2020, more than a century later, we find a corollary of this horrible but accurate saying. Plague – specifically, Beer Flu or the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is indeed “the health of the state.” Despite the social distancing, the self-quarantines, the forced closure of schools and government offices and businesses of all types, the power of government is growing before our eyes. Growing like a weed fed the best of fertilizers and soil amendments, watered with things horrible to contemplate.

Wendy McElroy, 21 years ago, wrote an essay (published in The Freeman), that examines the quote and the effects that the Great War (WW1) had on the American FedGov (and the state and local governments). I take the liberty of quoting her conclusions:

Bourne’s essays written in opposition to World War I while he was on the editorial staff of the New Republic are not typical of anti-war literature. He provides very little in the way of critiquing specific policies. He does not dwell upon the ‘Butcher’s Bill’ of dead soldiers and civilians. He does not rail against the profits reaped by the military-industrial complex, which was collectively called ‘the munitions makers’ in his day. The thrust of Bourne’s essays is to attack the sanctity of war by showing how it leads to the moral collapse of society by kicking out the props (the principles) of peaceful interaction upon which society rests.

In essence, Bourne addressed the moral consequences of war upon a post-war society which had abandoned individualism in favor of “the herd-machinery.” He eloquently argued that post-war America would be morally, intellectually, and psychologically impoverished. By this observation, Bourne did not mean that peace time America would struggle under the increased bureaucracy that never seems to roll-back to pre-war levels. Many historians have made this point. Bourne addressed the less tangible, though arguably more significant, costs of war. For example, post-1918 America would be burdened by intellectuals who had “forgotten that the real enemy is War rather than imperial Germany.”(13) In converting World War I into a holy war, the intellectual and psychological groundwork was being laid for future instances of what he termed “the sport of the upper class” — global conflict.

A fifth of a century later, her words eighty years after the Armistice that ended “the war to end all war” should give us pause. They demand careful contemplation for those who love life, liberty, and prosperity.

We are already hearing, on news and talk shows, about the predictions from “reputable scientists” that Beer Flu will be a permanent feature of life in the future. That many – even most – people will NOT develop immunity. That there will be no “herd immunity” after the first several waves of this disease, COVID-19. Even after vaccines are developed and produced and distributed.

Why is this important? Because that justifies the indefinite extension of the crisis through which we are presently suffering. And therefore the extraordinary powers which government has grabbed, “for our own good and the good of society.” As soon as the prohibitions and restrictions are relaxed, we are told, there will be a fresh wave of infections and contagious people will again threaten their families, friends, neighbors and strangers. Therefore, they explain, we must not only keep the tyrannical, totalitarian (my words, not theirs!) enactments now being expanded worldwide, but we must FURTHER expand them. Or, the hidden panic-mongers in our hearts tell us, we’re all gonna die. Even before manmade global warming kills us. Or before our nuclear weapons are used to incinerate the earth, or an asteroid strike wipes out all life above a beetle.

What tyrannical, totalitarian measures? Here are a few:

  • Martial law – already effectively in place in China, Italy, France, Germany, and many parts of the Fifty States.
  • An economic military dictatorship here in the Fifty States, as Tom Knapp describes it in Freedom Net Daily.
  • Lockdowns (euphemistically called “shelter in place”) of millions. 6.7 million people are forbidden to leave their homes in the San Francisco Bay area, except for essential food, medical aid and “exercise.” Reports are already circulating that police have gunned down violators. Even places like filthy-rich elite playground Telluride, Colorado (ski area) have locked-down their entire county.
  • “Voluntary” closures of places of worship and other gathering places, private and public.
  • Mandated closures of schools (public and private), restaurants, recreation facilities, and even hotels and motels (example, Moab, Utah).
  • Closure of government facilities which we have been told time after time are “essential” and indeed “critical” to modern society and even our future survival: things like recycling centers, government food programs, and regulatory offices.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media continues to push the panic button – an entire keyboard of panic buttons. And more and more people eat it up. Not thinking about short-term OR long-term impacts. Far worse than the 9,000 dead and 220,000 with the disease (as of 1000 hrs MT, Thursday 19 March 2020). The panic continues to grow and plays into the hands of government, while too many people claim and demand that we must obey every “guideline” and every “suggestion” that comes from those in authority – or those running against them to grab that authority.

More, later.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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