Mittwoch, 18. Juli 2018

TRUMP vs. KANT. TRUMP wins.



Armaments make for jobs make for re-election. Trump knows.
Armaments make for crises make for war. Kant knows.
"Really great!", Trump says, "Wars make for reconstruction deals and for armament deals."
And so on…

Please have a closer look at Kant's “Perpetual peace” in a very fine translation. It is older than 200 years of age – but it is far more up-to-date we would wish it was: https://archive.org/details/perpetualpeacea00kantgoog
or, to be downloaded as a pdf file fit for cut&paste:
http://lf-oll.s3.amazonaws.com/titles/357/0075_Bk.pdf
By way of precaution right at the beginning an introductory remark to Kant’s title line “Perpetual peace”: This is a sort of grim joke of the author; it’s definitely not due to any philosophic dreams abstract from human reality as some blockheads could deride him for - and do have derided him over the centuries. The booklet’s headline is programmatically borrowed from the name of a Dutch tavern situated right besides a large cemetery.

Some parts of Kant’s work relevant in this context:
First section, containing the preliminary articles of perpetual peace between states (translation p. 107)
3. Standing armies (miles perpetuus) shall be abolished in course of time.
For they are always threatening other states with war by appearing to be in constant readiness to fight. They incite the various states to outrival one another in the number of their soldiers, and to this number no limit can be set. Now, since owing to the sums devoted to this purpose, peace at last becomes even more oppressive than a short war, these standing armies are themselves the cause of wars of aggression, undertaken in order to get rid of this burden. To which we must add that the practice of hiring men to kill or to be killed seems to imply a use of them as mere machines and instruments in the hand of another (namely, the state) which cannot easily be reconciled with the right of humanity in our own person.*)
*) A Bulgarian Prince thus answered the Greek Emperor who magnanimously offered to settle a quarrel with him, not by shedding the blood of his subjects, but by duel: "A smith, who has tongs, will not take the red-hot iron from the fire with his hands.”
The matter stands quite differently in the case of voluntary periodical military exercise on the part of citizens of the state, who thereby seek to secure them- selves and their country against attack from without, The accumulation of treasure in a state would in the same way be regarded by other states as a menace of war, and might compel them to anticipate this by striking the first blow. For of the three forces, the power of arms, the power of alliance and the power of money, the last might well become the most reliable instrument of war, did not the difficulty of ascertaining the amount stand in the way.

Second section, containing the definite articles of a perpetual peace between states (translation, page 121)
Now the republican constitution apart from the soundness of its origin, since it arose from the  pure source of the concept of right, has also the prospect of attaining the desired result, namely, perpetual peace. And the reason is this. If, as must be so under this constitution, the consent of the subjects is required to determine whether there shall be war or not, nothing is more natural than that they should weigh the matter well, before undertaking such a bad business. For in decreeing war, they would of necessity be resolving to bring down the miseries of war upon their country. This implies: they must fight hemselves ; they must hand over the costs of the war out of their own property; they must do their poor best to make good the devastation which it leaves behind ; and finally, as a crowning ill, they have to accept a burden of debt which will embitter even peace itself, and which they can never pay off on account of the new wars which are always impending. On the other hand, in a government where the subject is not a citizen holding a vote, (i.e. in a constitution which is not republican), the plunging into war is the least serious thing in the world. For the ruler is not a citizen, but the owner of the state, and does not lose a whit by the war, while he goes on enjoying the delights of his table or sport, or of his pleasure palaces and gala days. He can therefore decide on war for the most trifling reasons, as if it were a kind of pleasure party.*) Any justification of it that is necessary for the sake of decency he can leave without concern to the diplomatic corps who are always only too ready with their services.
*) Cf. Cowper: The Winter Morning Walk:
“But is it fit, or can it bear the shock
Of rational discussion, that a man,
Compounded and made up like other men
Of elements tumultuous, …

Should when he pleases, and on whom he will,
Wage war, with any or with no pretence
Of provocation giv’n or wrong sustain’d,
And force the beggarly last doit, by means
That his own humour dictates, from the clutch
Of poverty, that thus he may procure
His thousands, weary of penurious life,
A splendid opportunity to die?”

“He deems a thousand or ten thousand lives
Spent in the purchase of renown for him,
An easy reckoning.” [Tr.]

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