A National Myth

Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Independence Day, all these holidays prompt the honoring US Military members, living and deceased.  As an anti-war libertarian, I tend to struggle with my emotions during these state holidays.   On one hand, it is the politicians that begin the wars.  They decide which world events warrant sending young men and women into harms way knowing death and destruction will ensue.  On the other hand, if people weren’t willing to go overseas and fight, then the US politicians could not wage wars of aggression. I don’t particularly feel like I should honor people for fighting in wars that I deem inappropriate.

Is there a just war?  I have my doubts.  However, we are all brought up to believe that the Revolutionary War was just.  If there ever was a just war, we think that was it.  Clearly the Crown was wrong to impose such taxes on the colonies without them having any say in the matter.  Clearly the British were wrong to come in and try to confiscate weapons and ammunition.   Based on these events a National Myth has come into being.

The National Myth is very obvious. The National Myth says that we are only free because are military is out fighting on our behalf.  Is this myth true?  It is obvious it is not when you look at all the wars in retrospect.  There is a lot of denial of the obvious, though.  For instance, I still hear people say things like if we hadn’t joined in WWII and defeated the Germans, we would all be speaking German right now.   Is that not the most ridiculous claim?  Germany was able to sweep across Europe, but there is a big difference between a blitzkrieg rolling into Poland and dealing with the formidable strength of the US that is an ocean away.  It blows me away that people recite that kind of thing like it is the truth.

I am somewhat open to the idea that helping defeat Germany was the right thing to do because of all the atrocities committed by her.  At the same time, we joined with the USSR to do so! The Soviets were committing their own amount of atrocities, which, we just let that slide, and this exposes the hypocrisy of atrocity being a reason to go to war.

Whether or not joining in WWII was just or not, it can be safely said that it was not about protecting US freedom, because the US was never in danger of being conquered during that war.  Yet the myths persist. We would all be speaking German….

If we want peace, we need to  break down this National Myth and expose it as the lie it is.  None of the wars or time-limited, scope-limited, kinetic military actions of this or the 20th century were about protecting the homeland, and thus our freedom, in any other than the most contrived and convoluted sense.  To break down this myth, we need to become knowledgeable about these wars, their causes, and their outcomes.  Knowledge and discussion and making people think is key to overcoming these oft repeated untruths.

Will it work?  Who knows?  The state has the benefit of having created holidays that encourage everyone to venerate soldiers as heroes.  All the anti-war people have is the power of reason and persuasion.  It’s a tough gig.  No one likes to be disparaged as un-American or ungrateful to men who fought bravely for a cause they believed in.  The emotions around the myth are strong.  Shouldn’t promoting peace be worth coming out of your comfort zone?



Justice: Beyond Pro-life & Pro-choice

I have long struggled with being pro-choice.  Abortion is wrong because it takes a human life.  I was pro-choice anyway.  I said it was all about bodily autonomy.  Since you own your body, you have a right to treat it in any manner you so choose.  Since you are sovereign over your body, the state should not be able to tell you what you can and can’t do with it.  I said that while abortion is a violation of the human right to life, the state has no authority over your actual body, so it can’t compel you to carry to term against your sovereignty.

I still believe this.

However, one day I looked at it from a different perspective when I acknowledged that most abortions occur because someone performs them.  So while a woman has the right to do that what she pleases with her own body, what in any sense of justice gives someone else the right to kill a child in utero that is not an immediate threat to the life of its host?

The answer suddenly became clear to me.  Surgical abortions should be illegal.  If it is illegal to kill another unless self-defense is claimed, then abortion should only be permitted if death of the woman who is pregnant is a material threat.  There are exceptions to this, in the case where there is no chance of a fetus developing and it threatens the health of a woman, like in the case of a tubal pregnancy.  I think it is acceptable for a doctor to terminate a pregnancy in such an instance.  However, I think it has to be formally documented that there was no chance of survival of the fetus and the woman’s health would suffer materially from continued pregnancy.  The doctor must be able to account for why the decision was made.

How, then, is a woman to exercise control over her own body if surgical abortion is to be illegal when she simply doesn’t want to carry to term and there is no material threat of death and the fetus is developing normally?

Medical abortion is the answer here.  A woman can self-administer an abortifacient.  This would be consistent with self-ownership and sovereignty over one’s body.  It is true that the child’s right to life will still be violated when the life is terminated. Since everyone is sovereign over their own bodies, the state has no jurisdiction to interfere with this human rights violation.

I see this as a Justice issue.  I think it is bizarrely blind to deny the humanity of a developing child.  Life clearly begins at conception because that is when a unique human comes into being.  To claim that life begins at any other point is arbitrary. As a matter of human cooperation, we acknowledge human rights. One of the rights we acknowledge is the right to life, so it makes no sense to deny the right to life for a human just because it isn’t fully developed yet.  There is no point when it magically becomes human because it was a unique human from its creation.

Justice demands that we grant the developing human the same rights as every other human, unless they are not under our jurisdiction.  For instance, we can’t go into China and force the government to do our bidding regarding human rights because we don’t have jurisdiction there.  China is a sovereign country.  Following that example, we don’t have jurisdiction over a woman’s body because that is her jurisdiction, so we stand by and do not prosecute if she denies the child with-in her the right to life through medical abortion.

What we do have jurisdiction over, theoretically, are actions taken by individuals governed by the state.  We say murder and theft are crimes, and we all agree those should be prosecuted.  Providing an abortion, in the vast majority of cases, is causing the death of a human simply because they exist and it is not wanted for that human to exist.  If they were a born child, we would all consider this abhorrent.  Since there is no magic time when a fetus becomes human, it should be considered by all to be abhorrent to kill the child in the womb as well.  Justice demands that it be illegal for a 3rd party to kill a child in utero.  It is the right thing to do.  It is the consistent thing to do.

It would be better if submitting to government was voluntary, but that is not the world we live in right now.  Dealing with life as it is, being in favor of outlawing performing a surgical abortion is the correct position.

I don’t think the position I propose can be considered either pro-life or pro-choice because it incorporates elements from both.   It incorporates bodily autonomy while rejecting that surgical abortion should be legal.  I call it Justice.