War as SpoliationSubmitted by Forever Liberty on Wed, 01/23/2013 - 14:21
Feel like having your mind blown? Highly recommended reading from Bastiat:
A man (and the same thing may be said of a people) may procure the means of existence in two ways,—by creating them, or by stealing them.
Each of these two great sources of acquisition presents a variety of methods.
We may create the means of existence by the chase, by fishing, by agriculture, etc.
We may steal them by breach of trust, by violence, by force, fraud, war, etc.
If, confining ourselves to the circle of one or other of these two categories, we find that the predominance of one of these methods establishes so marked a difference in the character of nations, how much greater must the difference be between a nation which lives by production, and a nation which lives by spoliation?
For it is not one of our faculties only, but all of them, which the necessity of providing for our subsistence brings into exercise; and what can be more fitted to modify the social condition of nations than what thus modifies all the human faculties?
This consideration, important as it is, has been so little regarded, that I must dwell upon it for an instant.
The realization of an enjoyment or satisfaction presupposes labour; whence it follows that spoliation, far from excluding production, presupposes it and takes it for granted.
This consideration, it seems to me, ought to modify partiality which historians, poets, and novel-writers have displayed for those heroic epochs which were not distinguished by what they sneer at under the epithet of industrialism. In these days, as in our own, men lived, subsisted; and labour must have done its office then as now. Only there was this difference, that nations, classes, and individuals succeeded in laying their share of the labour and toil on the shoulders of other nations, other classes, and other individuals.
The characteristic of production is to bring out of nothing, if I may so speak, the satisfactions and enjoyments which sustain and embellish life; so that a man, or a nation, may multiply ad infinitum these enjoyments, without inflicting privation on any other man, or any other nation. So much is this the case, that a profound study of the economic mechanism shows us that the success of one man’s labour opens up a field for the success of another’s exertions.
The characteristic of spoliation, on the contrary, is this, that it cannot confer a satisfaction on one without inflicting a corresponding privation on another; for spoliation creates nothing, but displaces what labour has created. It entails an absolute loss of the exertions of both parties. So far, then, from adding to the enjoyments of mankind, it diminishes these enjoyments, and confers them, moreover, on those who have not merited them.
It gets better...continued: