― Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls
“Suddenly there was a loud crash and someone was shouting our names. A bright white light flashed through the dark. I thought the nuclear war had started. We’d finished our hideaway just in time!”
We pulled that passage from a page of a children’s book called, Nobody Wants a Nuclear War, published in 1987. The book taps into a fear which dates back to the 1950s. When everyone was terrified. When nobody knew what to do. When everyone knew the incredibly destructive potential of nuclear war because it’s all everyone ever talked about.
Humanity was on the brink of extinction — and the only contingency plan was to hide underneath your desk. If you were lucky, your dad was frantically busting through water pipes in the backyard to build an underground bunker.
The book is out of print and out of date. Not because the nuclear warheads have gone “out of print” or out of date. They’re still there. Looming. Still just as dangerous.
We just don’t tell our kids they exist, anymore.
Maybe it’s for the better. But we doubt it. Because kids are willing to ask the questions we aren’t — to challenge the stupidity and futility of endless warmongering. Willing to ask the kind of questions which cut to the core of the absurd.
Like, for example, “Why?”
And because the only people talking about world peace anymore are the people getting rich on graves.
Robert Spalding, a military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations called America’s nuclear weapons “instruments of peace.”
He explains: “The sensible path to peace starts with the realization that peace can be secured only through strength. Nuclear weapons represent that strength.”
Hey, maybe he’s right. Maybe entangling ourselves in peaceful acts of mutual benefit is really just a fool’s errand, a trap — maybe, big picture, all of this warmongering and incessant meddling in the business of other countries has been for our own good. Maybe it has kept us safe.
Wow. Maybe Orwell was right without realizing it.
But since we, the peaceniks, a dying breed, can’t seem to get anyone on board to build peacemaking warheads for our neighborhoods and cities and states (we’re told it’s just not in the budget this quarter), we’re forced to try other methods of bringing about world peace — namely, in the marketplace of ideas.
But don’t (mis?)underestimate ideas. Don’t discount their power. They are more than mere underdogs. They are infectious. And they do not die easily. And they are impossible to regulate out of existence.
They just need good minds to give them life.
To paraphrase the monster in Patrick Ness’ book A Monster Calls, ideas are wild creatures. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?
The wild and brilliant havoc of peace
Shoot for the havoc of peace. Fire without even aiming sometimes. The greatest thing about ideas, especially the peaceful ones, is it’s really hard to hurt people with them. Except, of course, if you spread them around at Evergreen.
Instruments of Peace
Good ideas don’t require force. But they do require attention. And if they don’t get it, well, heaven forbid, our “instruments of peace” may kill us all.
Enter Ron Paul.
To talk a little bit about how to fight for peace in the real world, we invite the ever-principled Ron Paul.
Ron Paul still talks about peace as a possibility.
Be like Ron Paul.
And read on.
How to Fight For Peace
As I’ve traveled around the country making speeches at college campuses, I’ve noticed that very few young people want war. In fact, I’d say that 90 percent of the people I come into contact with are opposed to new wars. So, the question is this: If so few people seem to want war, why do we keep getting so many of them?
The answer lies on how politics works in Washington, DC, and it lies in what kinds of people want political power.
Thanks to public apathy, combined with aggressive politicians, we get wars, even when so much of the population doesn’t want them.
The ordinary people — the ones who suffer the most from war and who pay for it — aren’t the ones making policy.
It may be true that a large majority of the people don’t want war. But it’s unfortunately also true that the minority that does want war is especially influential in Washington.
Why It’s So Hard to Oppose War in DC
I’ve seen a lot of people with good intentions come to Washington. They come thinking they’re going to support peace and freedom, and they’ll stand up to the people who keep pushing through new wars and who keep attacking our freedoms.
But, they soon came to believe that in order to do the good things they had in mind, they must become powerful in Washington first. And then they decide it’s necessary to compromise and to be “moderate,” and they end up going along with the pro-war policies of those who are already very powerful.
And this is one of the reasons that I’m opposed to the idea of being “moderate” in Washington.
I think that being moderate is a sacrifice of principle. When it comes to setting things straight in politics, a better strategy is to work with coalitions. There are a lot of people who may not be true libertarians, but they have a set of principles in which they’d like to see a lot less killing and a lot less war.
So, I see no problem with the Dennis Kuciniches of the world, because those people have principles that can help us forward our pro-peace views.
We don’t have to sacrifice our principles to work with other pro-peace candidates. But when the moderates come together, they often end up sacrificing any pro-peace convictions they might have had.
Electing the “Right People” Won’t Fix Things
In fact, the reality in Washington should make it clear to us now that simply “sending the right people” to Washington isn’t going to solve the problem.
I think the Founding Fathers tried to do that. They tried to set up rules that would keep evil people from gaining too much power.
But, I think the Founders basically failed. To have been successful, they would have needed to have designed a constitution that is much more powerful in limiting government power than it is.
Jefferson understood that the Constitution was too weak and that it didn’t provide ways for really fighting unrestrained growth in government power in Washington.
Relying on the Constitution and moral politicians hasn’t worked. Clearly, we need to do something different.
What to Do
Always, the most important thing we need to do is fight the battle of ideas. Ideas really are more powerful than any government, but we don’t even need a majority of the population to agree with us.
I’ve long believed that we really only need a minority of the population to actively agree with us because so much of the population will be apathetic no matter what.
But what can that minority do?
The first and most important thing to do is educate ourselves. Leonard Read always said that our first responsibility is to know the issues and be able to explain what’s going on. If we can’t clearly explain what’s going on, we aren’t going to convince anyone of anything.
Beyond that, there’s no one thing people should do. I did my thing, and we also have Thomas Massie here from Congress, and Lew Rockwell from the Mises Institute, and we have Bill Greene who voted for me in the Electoral College. Some ask me about running for office, and that can be good at times, but there’s so much more that can be done.
But it’s important to remember that we don’t need a national majority of any kind to press for two key strategies in preserving liberty: secession and nullification.
We must have a system in which states always have a right to secede. Does that mean we always have to have a pro-secession position? It doesn’t mean that. But the option to secede should always be there.
And when people tell me that secession is terrible, I ask them if they opposed secession of Eastern Europe from the Soviet Bloc and if they opposed secession of the United States from Britain. They’re of course fine with those secession movements.
We also need nullification, which Thomas Jefferson supported because he knew there must be a way for the states to act as a check on the federal government.
But you know what? All of this is coming whether we like it or not. As the world turns against us, and as the economy weakens, we are going to see more and more chances for nullification, and more demands for secession.
All of these strategies are important in bringing peace because, in the end, the best thing we can do to fight all these wars is to make government smaller and less powerful. Only when a government is huge like ours, can it go around the world telling everyone else how to live.
Right now, we see the US bombing other countries in the name of protecting civil liberties, but the US government should only be worried about protecting civil liberties here at home.
The government doesn’t have to be anywhere near the size it is now to do the one thing it’s supposed to do, which is protect our rights. And until we make government smaller, we’re not going to have peace.
The US government is doing a lot to self-destruct, but in the meantime, we need to continue to spread the ideas of liberty, to fight against the Federal Reserve — which makes so much of this war spending possible — and to do whatever we can to get in the way of an out-of-control government that brings so much killing, so much violence, and so much war.
[Ed. note: This article is adapted from Ron Paul’s talk at the April 2017 foreign policy symposium in Lake Jackson, Texas, hosted by the Mises Institute and the Ron Paul Institute. Reprinted from the Lew Rockwell blog here.]