American Defense, Letter to the Editor
Hank Phillips Austin, Texas
“I am also in favor of spending more on defense—as much more as we can afford.”
—Ayn Rand, April 26th 1981 (from The Objectivist Forum, June 1981, p. 1)
Ayn Rand is no longer with us, but her ideas and scholarly contributions to philosophy will live forever. The battle for freedom will only be lost if we fail to pick up those tools and forge the future ourselves. If we don’t, it will be a default on our part. The most useless and damaging tactic which can possibly be used is the appropriation of an opponent’s incorrect premises in an attempt to refute an argument which is in fact valid, but wrong because of its faulty premises.
This is the sort of travesty that emerges when libertarians hasten to agree that nuclear explosives are “fiendish” or “evil” weapons, but that they are necessary for a deterrent. The question I pose is: Evil? By what standard?
The so-called “moral” objections to nuclear weapons per se are always based on the Argument from Intimidation, in which the premises are never clearly stated but sort of assumed on an “everybody knows” basis, The trick, is successful when an opponent submits to the pressure and grants the premise without ever examining it closely enough to see what it really is….
The function of a proper government is the protection of individual rights. This is accomplished by means of an objectively defined set of laws prohibiting theft, fraud, violence, and their derivatives such as extortion and slavery. This function includes providing for the common defense as well as the establishment of justice. A capitalist government is not empowered to use force except in retaliation. Our government has moved some distance from this ideal but the potential to set it right back with laissez-faire exists. An amendment prohibiting the government from passing any laws restricting or abridging the freedom of trade and production is all that is needed to guarantee the process.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a socialist system. The documents on which it was built, and the philosophical framework from which those documents were derived are virtually identical to those upon which both Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Party and Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party were founded. Comparing the original documents shows that the terms “right-wing” and “leftwing” serve to connote infinitesimally small differences between what are all totalitarian systems founded in socialism using the philosophical premises of altruism. Each and every one of these statist systems relies totally on the initiation of deadly force in order to achieve its goals. Those same original documents also make very clear the fact that the protection of individual rights is no part of their plan.
We therefore have two entirely different systems to reckon with in planning strategy, one of which is retaliatory and the other of which relies tor its very existence on the initiation of force. The historic record bears this out, as the Soviet state dominates country after country by means of murder and coercion in general. It is this crucial difference which the submissivists seek to obscure when calling for cutbacks in American defenses. Those who remember National Socialism will never be fooled by these evasions,
The fusion bomb originated in the mind of Edward Teller, a Jewish scientist who has had his fill of both the Soviet Socialist and Hitler’s National Socialist governments. It is the tool which enables men of reason to maintain their freedom in the face of totalitarian mobs of whatever size. As such, it can only be regarded as a good thing. Still, Teller is attacked just as Prometheus was and the gift is made to look like something “fiendish and inhumane,” notably by those whose notion of the proper function of government is such that they have good cause to fear it.
Let’s dispense with the “moral” objection first. This was best summed up by Louis Ridenour: “Once it is decided that people are to be killed, the ‘moral’ question is fully settled; the instruments of that killing are not at all affected with any moral or humane questions.” (“The Hydrogen Bomb”, Scientific American, March 1150, p. 14) Ayn Rand reiterated this point when she stated that “morality ends where the gun begins”. Judging by the glee with which they use deadly gases against primitive tribesmen, we can expect the officials of the Soviet state to have very few qualms about using nuclear weapons as long as they think they can get away with it. Which brings us to the real moral question: the issue of Justice,
Whenever any altruist accuses an individual of being “heartless”, what he really means is that that person is just. In law, the function of justice is to provide restitution where possible and make good and sure that something happens to the criminal such that another will think twice before committing a like misdeed. If an American-launched first strike against the U.S.S.R. constitutes mass-murder, then the reverse is also true. It is the solemn duty of the U.S. government to disarm the aggressor and administer swift and effective justice in such an event. If both of these things happen in one fell swoop, so much the better. Submissivists who dress up in libertarian drag are fond of pointing out that this would affect innocent bystanders. The fact of the matter is that there has never been a war in which all non- combatants escaped all harm, Archimedes of Syracuse faced this issue when, unable to sink enemy ships without drowning the slaves chained to the oars, he sank them nevertheless. To have done otherwise would have constituted sacrifice: the substitution of that which you do not value, or value less, for that which you value.
Finally, there is the allegation that nuclear weapons could wipe out humanity. With a little arithmetic, anyone can verify that there are enough bullets (or hatpins, for that matter) in existence today to kill every man, woman, and child on Earth several times over. When this same exercise in pedantry is applied to nuclear weapons, the result is inevitably followed by a chorus of gasps. Since bullets and hatpins are ineffective defenses against slaver states, nobody seems too worried about them. With nuclear weapons, this spurious result is used as an excuse for claiming that the concept of a deterrent force is invalid and that any attempt to make our forces redundant enough to pose a formidable threat even after they have been hit, and hit hard, constitutes a “race to oblivion”.
In the real world, things are exactly the opposite. While it is true that an exchange of nuclear weapons would produce many casualties, the object of the game, at least from the capitalist standpoint, is to avoid the war in the first place. If we have only a few more weapons than the Soviet state has before they attack us, we stand to find ourselves in a real sorry position after their attack. In response to this, we end up adopting a “fire-on-warning” attitude which actually increases the likelihood of an accidental war. By making certain that there is no way that anyone can disarm the U.S., no matter how well planned the sneak attack, we will do away with the possibility of both intentional and accidental war.
So far, I’ve dealt only with the methods of argumentation which are used to disarm America by default. Neologisms such as the term “superpowers,” which blur the distinction between the different types of government are the most subtle, while bald-faced lies and invalid calculations serve as backups. One aspect which I never see discussed is the problem of secrecy.
In dealing with the threat from a system which is fundamentally irrational, it is in our interest to maintain secrecy, especially where our tactics and weapons are concerned. I once developed a tactic for nuclear weapons strategy and sought out a physicist for evaluation of the feasibility of the plan. He informed me that someone else had already thought of this particular trick and that it was classified information. Naturally, I forgot all about it. The lesson I learned, however, is that things are not as simple as the published information would lead one to believe. If push does come to shove, both sides are in for many surprises. The sad part is that those who know the most about the issue of modern war can contribute very little to the debate without running the risk of giving away secrets.
Because of this, and also because I trust their judgment and integrity, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to American military strategists in areas fraught with dispute. Still, the best guide is your own rational judgement based on as many of the facts, both historic and technical, as you can integrate. Some of the books which have helped me to understand the situation we face are: Fear, War and the Bomb by P.M.S. Blackett, Modern Arms and Free Men by Vannevar Bush, On Thermonuclear War by Herman Kahn, and Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson Kearney, The first three can be found at used book stores for very little (I paid $7 for all three). The last is a civil defense manual which is available by mail from the American Security Council Press, Boston, Virginia 22713 for $9, It may very well save your life in the event that we fail in our efforts to avoid war without giving up our freedom. (The old address was in Colton, California)
Find out the juicy details behind the mother of all economic collapses. Prohibition and The Crash–Cause and Effect in 1929 is available in two languages on Amazon Kindle, each at the cost of a pint of craft beer.
Brazilian Sci-fi from 1926 featuring the usual beautiful daughter of a scientist touting prohibition and racial collectivism in America’s Black President 2228 by Monteiro Lobato, translated by J Henry Phillips (link)
Tagged: prohibition, confiscation, asset forfeiture, initiation of force, blackouts, energy crisis, liquidation, liquidity, bankruptcy, Crash, Depression, communism, inviting attack, treason, girl-bullying,