Pax Meatheadia

Paul Hanley, the StarPhoenix‘s answer to David Suzuki except without the charm, takes us to Steven Pinker’s latest leftist dreamscape, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Professor Pinker’s argument, stated briefly, is that although violence exists in the world, violence is becoming more rare and less consequential relative to the growth of the human species in recent years.

Violence declining in late 20th-century Cambodia

I’m tempted to compare Pinker to Francis Fukuyama in that both men seem to have taken to the idea that the latest trends will go onto eternity. However, I haven’t read the book yet, so I’ll leave that critique to others.

That said, I have no problem with taking on Hanley, who cannot help himself in making yet another reference to the military-industrial complex in his quest for peace:

I argued last week that this happens because governments have been captured by vested interests, the most important of which is the military-industrial complex. I am betting the fixation on fictitious threats and war preparedness will fade away. We will gradually learn that overspending on a bloated military is a waste of precious, limited resources needed elsewhere.

We would be better off if the military was a fraction of its current size.

[…]

To solve environmental problems, including climate change, we will have to divert spending from useless activities, like war preparedness, to useful activities like conserving energy and the environment.

War is passe. Use the peace dividend to save the planet.

Crime is declining, so let’s get rid of the cops and buy some windmills. Building fires are getting rarer and rarer, so let’s get rid of the fire department and burn some biomass. The chances of someone dying from a gunshot wound are getting slim, so let’s shut down inner-city emergency rooms and replace them with community gardens.

One can quibble about the amount of money spent on the military and whether it is being used wisely, but to say that the military is now essentially obsolete — after trumpeting the successes of Pax Romana, Pax Hispanica, Pax Islamica (what?) — is stark-raving asinine. The Romans, for instance, enjoyed a few centuries of relative peace … except, of course, on their frontiers, where battles and wars were fought every year.

Pax Romana

In fact, it was only when Roman revenues went to supporting their bureaucrats and entitlement programs rather than their armies did the Pax Romana deteriorate and eventually see the end of the once-great empire.

Is that what Hanley wants? Perhaps. He has called for One World Government, after all. How does he propose to keep the peace across the his desired empire? Oh yeah, you just “mediate international conflicts.” Because the current United Nations has done so well in that regard.

"Okay. Never Again, starting ... now!"

Power, like nature, abhors a vacuum. So the West (read: the United States) cuts their military budget to the fraction of its size, withdraws from international conflicts, and you’re left with, well, an ascendent China, India, and Brazil, a crumbling Europe, a bellicose Russia, an increasingly fanatical Middle East, a despondent Japan and an incredibly more insane North Korea. Sounds like a recipe for stability, don’t it?

Even a dipshit liberal like Barack Obama, once in office, realizes that the West (read: the United States) can’t just leave everyone else to their own devices. Because, pace Pinker, humans just want to rip each other apart.We can’t help ourselves.

Thank goodness for capitalism and the nation-state’s monopoly of violence. If it weren’t for them, we’d all be living in a nightmare world — which just happens to be Hanley’s dream.

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