As a very brief follow-up to the last post, I wanted to add a separate observation. Mr. Rummel’s simplistic theory of “democratic peace” reveals something about democrats and democratists that is not often commented on. There is in this theory the naive faith that there is a type of regime that guarantees an end to war, which is to seek a mechanistic and institutional cure to something that originates in the sinful will of man, man’s boundless acquisitiveness and the finite resources of the world. It is what Voegelin might have called a gnostic faith.
It is the magical thinking that a change in the organisation of the government, which is nothing other than the concentration of power, will fundamentally alter human behaviour. It is the nonsense that we can remake our nature by rearranging the political furniture or by improving the social or economic ‘environment’ in which we live. It is not only that reorganising government or altering social policy cannot do this, but that no government, no matter how it is constituted, will accept a future in which there is no possibility of using force to change the political landscape both at home and abroad. The incentive of increased power in going to war for those in government is simply too great–the ire of voters after the fact hardly matters and will not dissuade any government from going to war if it deems it useful or simply “doable.”
Indeed, not only has democracy not acted as a brake on starting war in the last several years, but now we have an entire ideology dedicated to the proposition that it is morally imperative to start wars either for the sake of democracy and democratisation or for the protection of “human rights” or both.
Most other democratists, keenly aware that the “democratic peace” idea is either an embarrassment while there is a democratic war of aggression going on or that it is simply false, have taken a very different approach and begun openly defending the morality of aggression for democracy. They are perverse and rather frightening people, but at least they seem to know that they are not going to make war redundant by their efforts. I suspect that if they thought they were supporting a policy that might one day make war impossible they would change sides in the debate immediately, because it is war, and by extension power, that they desire more than anything–the nature of the regime in which they exercise that power is really of no consequence. Eliminating war would be to eliminate new opportunities for gain for these eternal parvenus. Even if democracy could ever somehow remove the need for war (which it can’t), the democratists would do their best to make sure that this never happened.