Unacknowledged Advantages of Geopolitics

May 27th, 2014   Submitted by Michael Hendricks

GTNWIn his article Government is Better (For Some) Aaron Bachman observes that there are a privileged few in the United States that benefit greatly from government programs. The article makes a sound point that not everyone would be better off with anarchy, but people have a tendency to lose sight of the larger picture while focusing on a small part that they are working on, and vice versa. Whether or not claims that the US is the best or freest place in the world are true, what is true is that the US enjoys a unique strategic position in the world. There are things that activists may not realize while engaging in their operations.

It is not a coincidence that the US is a super power, able to project influence across the globe. During the 19th century the US engaged in imperialism, and through diplomacy, and warfare was able to secure the entire breadth of the North American continent. Manifest Destiny gave the US access to warm water ports on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico.

The recent situation in the Crimea demonstrates the importance of warm water ports in geostrategy. The Crimea is strategically important to Russia because of the warm water ports there. Without Crimea the Russian Federation would be restricted to ports on the Pacific ocean.

On a planet where 70% of the surface is covered in water, it should come as no surprise that naval power is important for military and economic reasons. The numerous year round ports available to the US give it the power to trade and to support a large navy.

In terms of nation-states North America has three: Canada, the US and Mexico. These nation-states enjoy large amounts of trade. Canada has supported the US consistently in the 20th and 21st centuries, and Mexico has been friendly with the US since its sound military defeat in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

So, the US is friendly with its neighbors, is an economic powerhouse, and enjoys the benefits of a strong military. The fact that there are so few nation-states in North America directly contributes to this stability. The fewer players there are, the easier it is to maintain balance. In contrast, Europe with its many nation-states is far less stable, and has been the sight of numerous wars. Central and South America have been similarly torn by conflict, and Africa and Asia are still suffering from widespread conflict.

Geopolitically North America is an exception to the norm. Further, the long reach of the US is made possible by the stable domestic peace that it has enjoyed for the better part of a century. This peace has allowed the US to flourish economically, and has lead to the development of a trusting society.

However, new challenges present themselves. In Mexico an internal conflict rages. Alphabet agencies in the US have been assessing the significance of the cartels to national security, and some elements are suggesting military intervention as the cartels are powerful enough to challenge the Mexican State, and are destabilizing the country. Cartel operations in the US are numerous and continue to expand beyond border states.

Geopolitics affects anarchists as well as Statists. We need to consider the movements, motives and actions of nation-states in order to help us determine what actions we want to take. Additionally State action can create opportunities for activists to make progress.

Whether libertarianism and anarchism are a political movement or not, political events shouldn’t be ignored. The question is, do we stick our heads in the sand, or do we pay attention and formulate strategies to bring about our desired ends?

The geopolitical implications of anarchism are interesting, and there are risks to consider. One major pitfall is the decentralisation that would result from the dissolution of States. Decentralisation can be a good thing from an individual’s perspective as it gives a person more choices, and power over their life. However a potential consequence of decentralisation is stratification of communities. Isolationism is a precursor to war. Should differences between individuals become too great the risk is a refusal to trade. Could AnCaps and AnComs trade? Yes, but in life nothing is certain.

The US enjoys a stable geopolitical position allowing for the accumulation of wealth and investments, which increases global influence. People in the contiguous US can travel for thousands of miles, always speaking English, and only dealing with slight cultural alterations. This security allows for greater economic growth, which in turn leads to longer lasting peace. Per capita the rate of travel may be on the decline, but goods must be moved, and it takes workers to do this. They must travel and when they do having one currency, and one language, and one culture makes this easier.

Though having a single nation-state is no guarantee. When a European speaks of international events what they have in mind is much closer than what an American imagines. Liberty activists in the US should not lose site of the privileges that the government and the State have secured for us. Ultimately the Statist system is detrimental to individual liberty, however we shouldn’t ignore the successes that system has accomplished. Learning from these successes, and the way the means were connected to the ends, could grant us insight in how to conduct our struggle.

Today Russia is an emerging superpower, but it’s contained by the US and NATO to operating near its borders. China faces a similar situation in the South China Sea. The US is using its influence to contain potential competitors. They do this for their own good, but the action of the political apparatus, the power of the State and the stability it has brought, give activists better options and more opportunities than those available in weaker nations.

This position isn’t an accident. For two centuries intelligent men have been planning and executing operations designed to turn the US into a superpower. Regardless of the morality of the State, it has benefited us. We shouldn’t lose sight of this while attempting to create a free and voluntary society. Ultimately the ability to do violence is a key source of power, and power is required to secure rights. What we need is trade and cooperation.

Even if you find nothing of use with the State, learning about your enemy is the key to defeating them. When the State is gone we don’t want chaos to replace it. When we look at a State we need to look at both its success and its failures. What exists and what we want conflict. Our means inform our effects.

Ports are key for fiscal success. When people trade they don’t fight. Are States necessary for the maintenance of ports? That is the question. States accomplish their goals by threatening, “or else.” If we reject the, “or else” by what power do we protect our ports?

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19 Responses to “Unacknowledged Advantages of Geopolitics”

  1. autonomousNo Gravatar says:

    “When people trade they don’t fight”
    Do you ever consult the real world? Trade and fighting have been co-existent throughout history. We never quit trading with the British during the revolutionary war. The North never quit trading with the South during the Civil war. We never quit trading with Germany during either World Wars. We never quit buying oil from Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan, Nigeria, etc, etc.etc.

    Further, we will never unavail ourselves of opportunities for profit while we bomb and otherwise aggress our way around the world (and at home.) Both our government and our businesses continue to profit from all sides of the war on drugs.

    As long as we have governments, fighting and trade will co-exist. Where the socialists of all stripes go wrong is in restricting trade instead of restricting government.

    • Michael HendricksNo Gravatar says:

      The traders aren’t the ones fighting are they?

      Americans traded with the British during the Revolution, and Americans fought the British during the Revolution but were these the same folks?

      I think not.

      • Michael HendricksNo Gravatar says:

        I suppose you could say double agents…

      • autonomousNo Gravatar says:

        No generals were likely trading, but their business is warfare. The king and most, if not all, royalty certainly continued business as usual. Almost all of American trade was, and continued to be, with Britain–with the king and his vassals. The market for tobacco and cotton and timber for shipbuilding hardly slowed during the fighting. France came to our aid with the goal of breaking in to the American market. And to preserve their business with the Indians (to no avail.) However, the Louisiana Purchase followed shortly thereafter (thank you founding father Thomas Jefferson.) The war was primarily for western land without the kings ransom having to be paid (to the king.) Instead, the ransom was paid to Hamilton and associates.

        • Michael HendricksNo Gravatar says:

          It seems extremely stupid to be fighting a war against people, yet continue to trade with them…

          If you’re a soldier, or a Royal Officer whatever trading with the people you’re trying to kill seems a tad counter productive to me.

          • Michael HendricksNo Gravatar says:

            Though I suppose the fighting men who obtain the wealth of their enemies will trade that for whatever it is they want. It’s called spoils for a reason.

            The point in my mind is that, if I’m a merchant killing a customer isn’t in my best interest. Do merchants fight wars?

            Perhaps some do somewhere but again seems a tad counter productive to me.

            • autonomousNo Gravatar says:

              Yes, it does seem counterproductive. But, especially for the British, only a relatively small percentage of their population fought. Their (and most armies even today) fighting force was almost all mercenaries. Democracies have a distinct disadvantage in having to at least appear to fight their own wars, although most of their officer corps are professionals.

        • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

          “Our aid”? Were you alive back then? The reason France got involved is because France and England were often at war with each other. France had recently been defeated by England in the French and Indian War and France saw getting involved as a an opportunity to get even with England for that war.

      • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

        Americans were not allowed to trade with any nation other than England prior to the Revolution unless the British government allowed them to. There was an occasion prior to the Revolution in which the British government allowed tea from the East India Company to be directly shipped from India to American which resulted in a reduced price even with the tax added onto it. During the Revolution trade between Americans and the British took place to a degree and in some cases it did not. In many cases Americans produced goods domestically without shipping raw materials to England to be shipped back in the form of finished goods.
        I would also point out that prior to WWII Japan was a democracy because they had an elected legislature and Prime Minister and that means the saying countries that are democracies don’t go to war against each other is not necessarily true.

  2. Elizabeth KibbyNo Gravatar says:

    Michael, this was a very interesting post. It is good to really step back and take a look at the state of affairs from all angles and as many viewpoints as possible. It seems hard to envision a future of trade without war and violence, but we are entering unprecedented territory, and we all get to decide what future we will take part in. Thanks for the article.

  3. KeithNo Gravatar says:

    The numerous year round ports available to the US give it the power to trade and

    By that logic, Switzerland, present day Austria, San Marino, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, and Andorra, should all be poor, due to their absense of any ports, and Fiji should be prosperous, with its numerous warm water ports.

    The fact that there are so few nation-states in North America directly contributes to this stability.

    How many million were murdered and disposessed, and how many treaties broken for one state (one criminal gang) to achieve hegemony accross the continent?

    Europe with its many nation-states is far less stable

    Interestingly the wars were usually by statist “unifiers” Charlemagne, Frederick the Great, the various Philips, Louis XIV, Napoleon, the houses of Hohenzollern, Savoy and Hapsburg, and the ideologues Hitler and Stalin. They sought to “unite” Europe, under their particular gang.

    It is far easier to skip over a border when it is less than 100 miles away, compared to more than 2000 miles away, and far easier to find a free-er place to live when you have a couple of dozen to choose from – and better still, several tens of thousands to choose from. similarly, a would be tyrant finds it far harder when all of his productive tax cattle leave him standing.

    Africa and Asia are still suffering from widespread conflict.

    Post colonial Africa has only had a hand full of wars between states and most of those were proxy wars with one side supported and egged on by the united state, the endemic warfare in Africa, is for control of the apparatus of theft and coercion – it is war within a state for control of it.

    Ports are key for fiscal success. When people trade they don’t fight. Are States necessary for the maintenance of ports? That is the question. States accomplish their goals by threatening, “or else.” If we reject the, “or else” by what power do we protect our ports?

    In a stateless society how will people ever manage to tie their shoe laces?

    Sorry Michael, I know I’ve been harsh, however provision of defense and defense of trade are areas where the meme was propagated that states were necessary.

    Molinari (production of security 1849 http://mises.org/Literature/Author/704/Gustave-de-Molinari ) very clearly sets out that a monopoly cannot produce goods or services of better quality or at better price than competing providers. Security is another good/service.

    even now, in the case of sea piracy – present day states are worse than useless – so owners of ships about to pass through areas where pirates operate, take on temporary crew who have some long pieces of luggage… Private defenders of trade.

    If the state had been operating a monopoly on provision of shoe lace tying – of course some people would be worried about all of the tragic untied shoe lace accidents which a free market in shoe lace tying might result in.

    Many of the points which you appear to offer as advantages of states are actually problems caused by states: In statist europe, I have difficulty using English in statist France – because of numerous statist laws protecting and enforcing the use of french language – by contrast in the more [classically] liberal Holland, Belgium and Switzerland, Ask a question in French, German, Flemish or Italian, and you are likely to be answered in perfect English – the language is useful, so people learn it and practice it.

  4. Michael HendricksNo Gravatar says:

    I’m trying to figure out ways to get rid of the State that will actually work. I think it’s extremely foolish to think we can ignore it away.

    Part of that is examining what the State is and why they do the things they do.

    That’s not a value judgement at least not to me. \

    Moly is a fucking moron sorry.

  5. Michael HendricksNo Gravatar says:

    Keith does make good points though.

  6. Michael HendricksNo Gravatar says:

    There is a reason anarchy doesn’t exist yet, because the theory on how to get there doesn’t make much sense. So I’m embarked on a quest a journey to figure out a Way.

    Who knows what I’ll find but I’m trying to understand this world, I’m trying to figure it out.

    Grasping at straws? maybe. But seeing as other folks aren’t really offering anything in the way of solutions I think I’ll keep at it.

    Maybe one day I’ll figure something out.

    Or maybe I’ll die before I do. I wouldn’t be the first.

    • KeithNo Gravatar says:

      One of the ideas I’m playing with at the moment is for people to behave like sheep.

      a sheep isn’t very bright, but it is also one of the nastiest critters around, they are so awkward and passive aggressive, they are absolutely psychologically toxic to work with.

      When dealing with sheep, every single one of them will try to be awkward, to waste your time and to frustrate you, and while you are dealing with one, all the rest have buggered off.

      • autonomousNo Gravatar says:

        Appropriate! Except that the only likely result will be a superabundance of mutton. The current reach and cruelty of the state is such that civil disobedience is very nearly impossible. And any collective action is absurd for an anarchist–that precludes a revolution. The self-immolation of Buddhist monks, suicide bombers and mass shooters don’t even capture the attention of pajama-clad Wal Mart Americans any more. Maybe someone (other than the NSA) will find a way to disrupt transmission of selfies.