Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Peace and Democracy

Jerry Stratton, October 26, 2005

Reason’s Hit and Run blog links to two articles of interest to the question of when war can be right. Nick Gillespie addresses directly the question of How Many Dead Iraqis? Make sure you also read the comments!

Another interesting bit is Doug Bandow’s A Capitalist Peace? whose subtitle is “Markets, more than democracy, may be the key to preventing war.” That subtitle is a bit misleading, because while free markets may be what leads to peace, according to the article democracy leads to free markets.

But Gartzke argues that “the ‘democratic peace’ is a mirage created by the overlap between economic and political freedom.” That is, democracies typically have freer economies than do authoritarian states.

The wider issue is important, though: “There’s no panacea for creating a conflict- free world.” The article does not (though the book might) address the issue of whether sanctions, which limit economic freedom, are bad for peace, nor whether peace is more important than what sanctions are in response to.

The discussion reminds me of a course I took in college, and instructor Richard Rosecrance’s book, Rise of the Trading State. Rosecrance had the misfortune of his book coming out just before the Internet changed the ground rules of global networking. It, and Bandow’s article, call to my mind Bill Moyer’s statement about Marshall McLuhan’s global village.

It strikes me that Marshall McLuhan was right when he said that television has made a global village of the world... but he didn’t know the global village would be Beirut.

In line with that, Rosecrance has written a new “Rise of” book, The Rise of the Virtual State. With its subtitle, “Wealth and Power in the Coming Century”, it sounds a lot like Alvin Toffler’s PowerShift. Toffler’s vision wasn’t as peaceful as Rosecrance’s. Rosecrance’s next book, “What is this state thing, anyway?” will be available in 2006.

Back to Bandow, open markets may be more important than democracy in encouraging peace, but a more important question is, is peace more important than freedom?

“I don’t want no peace, I want equal rights and justice.”--Peter Tosh

In response to When is it right to stop mass murder?: The question about the war in Iraq isn’t how many people died. It’s whether or not we can ever be justified in removing another government that engages in mass murders of its own people.

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