A Non-Pacifist Syllogism
By Arnold Kling
A few weeks ago, Bryan wrote,
Premise #1: Wealth makes men cowards.
Premise #2: When all men are cowards, there will be no war.
Conclusion: When all men are wealthy, there will be no war.
Here is my non-pacifist syllogism:
Premise 1: There will always be individuals and groups whose comparative advantage is plunder and extortion. Call them pirates.
Premise 2: Private property ultimately depends on the willingness and ability to use force to defend it. Capitalism that is not backed by the force of arms cannot survive. Peace only prevails where and when the absolute military advantage of the armed capitalists is sufficient to suppress the pirates.
Premise 3: Pirates will always find places, circumstances, and methods with which to challenge armed capitalists.
Conclusion: War is not going to disappear.
Life is complicated by the fact that pirates may turn into armed capitalists, and vice-versa. That is one reason that pure and simple ideologies fail.
Some of this thinking is stimulated by reading Power and Plenty, which I am about 1/4 through. I will say more about the book when I am finished. Meanwhile, you should would wait to buy it–I’m not sure whether I’ll recommend it.