Capitalism, Anarchy & War Part II


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar silentbeep says:

    My mention of Somalia, was an example of a place devoid of regulation by the nation-state – not necessarily a place devoid of some sort of authority. My objection was due to anarchy as being seen as a some sort of useful metric or aspirational idea because it is so incredibly idealistic, as to be meaningless, a fantasy.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to silentbeep says:

      @silentbeep, I hear you and generally agree. Anarchy is too Utopian by far.Report

    • Avatar Simon K in reply to silentbeep says:

      @silentbeep, I completely agree that anarchy is unrealistic. However I don’t agree that that makes it useless as a benchmark against which to measure real societies. The degree to which people organize themselves voluntarily, rather than being beaten, bullied, ordered, coerced or nagged into doing what other people want them to do is an important measure of both virtue and efficiency. This is the anarchist ideal – eliminating the state is only part of it, and to some extent is a distraction.Report

  2. Avatar gregiank says:

    In your last paragraph you dive completely headfirst against the point IOZ made. The point of the war on terror was not a power grab but as defense against a group which had attacked us. The power grab is what happened as a consequence due to the power of bureaucracy and actually honest beliefs of people on how to fight bad guys and plain ol fear. You are assuming the consequence was actually purpose not a side effect.Report

  3. Avatar Will says:

    Defensive wars or wars of plunder? Come on – do you really subscribe to such a simplistic notion? The Crusades were partly inspired by genuine religious fervor – contemporary accounts unanimously agree on this point. Unless you consider promises of eternal salvation “plunder,” your own example doesn’t hold up.

    Moreover, Afghanistan clearly started as a defensive response to 9/11. We can argue over the merits of our current strategy, but I’m hard pressed to identify the “plunder motive” behind the 2001 invasion. Or are we now seriously debating the analytical merits of “Fahrenheit 9/11?”

    This stuff on wars of plunder smacks of left-wing conspiracism. Wars are started by ideology, religion, nationalism, strategic miscalculations, and a host of other factors. To suggest otherwise is to deny history.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Will says:

      @Will, Nonsense, Will. The Crusades were sold by stoking up religious fervor, but do you really think they were anything more than wars of plunder? Hell, one ended up sacking Constantinople, hardly a bastion of Islam at the time. Furthermore, even if Afghanistan was a defensive war initially, what is it now? How can we possibly believe that the Iraq invasion was anything of the sort?Report

      • Avatar Will in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        @E.D. Kain, Dude, name me one mainstream historian who identifies “plunder” as the sole cause of the Crusades. Some Crusaders were avaricious bastards or penurious second and third sons of the nobility out to make a buck, but other prominent Crusaders GAVE UP estates in Europe to equip their retainers and join the pilgrimage. Outfitting a medieval army for a long journey was expensive. Godfrey of Bouillon – the first King of Jerusalem – actually sold off his estates to pay for the trip. Greed undoubtedly played a role in the Crusades, but it doesn’t come close to explaining the whole story.

        As for Afghanistan, do you really think Obama has decided to stay so we can plunder the country? Do you really think principled advocates of our military presence were bought off by the military-industrial complex? Hell, Daniel freaking Larison thinks we should stick it out. It’s not as if there aren’t sound strategic reasons to keep our troops in Afghanistan.

        And can’t we just say that Iraq was a mistake driven by strategic miscalculations and a dumb ideology and leave it at that? Attributing everything to “plunder” makes you sound like a high school Marxist.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    @Will, I’m trying to get my head around Erik’s quantum leap in his position on Afghanistan as well. As far as I can recall, in discussions here just last year he expressed support for the idea that we couldn’t disengage precipitously and that the effort was in some sense legitimate, while also cautioning about what we ought to think we are capable of achieving there. Obviously, the strength of this observation relies entirely on that recollection being accurate, but if it is, I’m not sure we’re left with much alternative but to conclude that E.D. Kain in certain circumstances supports the undertaking of wars of plunder, as long as they meet some test of limited military ends (as opposed to strategic ends, which would of course be plunder), and that he reserves the right to revisit with revisionist flourish his position on the same such wars a year later. I’ll accept for the sake of argument that the war in Afghanistan has morphed from one of defense to one of plunder sometime since 2001, and I’m perfectly willing to engage a debate about whether it was begun (and it did indeed have a discreet beginning — and only one, at least for the U.S.; it was in 2001; and it was not at any time ended and restarted since, though its nature certainly can have changed.) a war of plunder or defense. I will not, however, consider an argument that the same transmogrification of nature/rationale has occurred since this time last year. So I’m left with not much alternative that I can see (again, if my memory serves about the positions he’s taken) but to conclude as I describe above regarding E.D.’s attitude toward wars of plunder undertaken by his country. Perhaps E.D. would like to say where I’m confused.Report

  5. Avatar Sam M says:


    “… the ‘system’ has no intent – no grand conspiracy of the rich and powerful…”


    “These were wars of plunder… the direct plundering of American tax dollars to feed the ever-hungry military-industrial complex. Who has profited from these wars? Corporations like Halliburton; countless defense contractors; and so on and so forth.”

    Seems to me that “directplundering” requires some kind of intent.

    Which is it?Report