Blogs > Liberty and Power > Reject the Proposed Statement of Historians Against the War

Aug 16, 2009 10:43 am

Reject the Proposed Statement of Historians Against the War

I also posted this at the HAWblog of Historians Against the War. Please post any comments there:

It would be a disastrous strategic mistake for HAW to adopt the proposed new statement. The statement’s assertions on domestic policies will only weaken the anti-war movement by driving away anti-imperialist libertarians and conservatives who have been among the most committed opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Whereas the original statement wisely avoided making domestic policy prescriptions, the proposed new statement calls for “a drastic reduction of national resources away from military spending and towards urgently needed domestic programs.” This is an attack on the politics of libertarians and conservatives who have campaigned tirelessly against the wars but who object to spending on both the warfare and the welfare state.

Similarly, the claim that “the current, rapidly escalating crisis of global capitalism, which is creating suffering worldwide, will lead to escalating wars abroad and intensifying repression at home,” is rejected by many anti-war libertarians and conservatives who believe that the source of the current crisis is too little, not too much, reliance on free-market “capitalism.” Several scholars sympathetic to HAW’s original statement, such as distinguished economic historian Robert Higgs, author of Crisis and Leviathan, attribute the current global economic crisis to governmental actions such as deficit spending, bailouts, Federal Reserve inflationary credit expansion, various stimulus plans, and vast military spending.

Three years ago, there was another attempt to make similar changes to HAW’s statement of purpose. David Montgomery, a founder and leading member of the organization, eloquently gave cheer to those of us who favor the strategy of uniting all anti-war historians when he wrote the following: “I remain cautious, however, about taking organizational stands on some of the other issues mentioned as possible targets of HAW activity, especially the socio-economic impact of imperialism. From the outset HAW has encompassed historians with divergent political views, among them quite a number of conservative libertarians. We must try not only to keep our ranks diverse but united. We should welcome open discussion of such issues, but limit the extent to which we take organizational stands. There are, after all, other organizations that quite properly represent their particular analyses and viewpoints. HAW's aim should always be to involve as many historians as possible and to make them feel at home, without in any way prescribing or stifling particular analyses of US power or interpretations of what is now called 'globalization.'"

Montgomery’s words apply equally today. Let’s not weaken the antiwar cause by adopting positions on domestic and economic issues that will only alienate us from potential allies.

In solidarity against the empire,

David T. Beito
Department of History
University of Alabama
Thaddeus Russell

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More Comments:

Aeon J. Skoble - 3/6/2009

I'm afraid it's already closed. The so-called progressives of the left just are not going to be interested in the concept of individual rights. See Matt Welch's column in the new issue of Reason magazine. They're just not that into us.

David T. Beito - 3/6/2009

Pissing in the wind might be right. Last night, the blog master at HAW took down our blog post there and buried it in the comments section. Despite this, we are not going to give up on HAW yet. It still represents a rare possiblity for actual libertarian/leftist dialogue....though that window might be closing.

William Marina - 3/6/2009

I agree with you about the HAW resolution. The issue is not "War," but Empire. I irritated Justin Raimondo and others at several years ago by suggesting here at the L&P Blog that that was the case, and that a name change of that web site was in order.

It is too early to tell if Obama might be pursuing a long range policy of Quigleyian "Circumvention," but at present it appears to be, both in foreign and domestic policies, what might be called, "Empire Lite!"

Anything short of a real critique of Empire is on the whole rather a lot like what I titled this Comment above.