Ed Driscoll

Power Precedes Politics

Matthew Continetti explains “What liberal internationalists don’t understand” — an impossibly large task in only 1300 words at the Washington Free Beacon, but this passage is key:

It is one of the oldest tenets of modernity: The state must establish a monopoly on violence before civil society can develop and politics can thrive. Read your Hobbes: “And covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all.” Or read the Founders, who, in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, argued that rights had to be secured before they could be exercised. Power precedes politics.

Something liberals too easily forget. Raised in material abundance, groomed in institutions of higher education, living and working in safe city precincts, liberals are susceptible to the mirror-image fallacy: the belief that, at the end of the day, all human beings are basically alike, basically good, and basically want the same things liberals want—autonomy, diversity, peace, H&M, inexpensive yoga classes, outdoor brunch.

Which leads them to suppose that international politics operates in the same way as domestic politics, through consultation, debate, negotiation, pleading, trading, log-rolling, and compromise.

If only it were so. The affluent societies of the West may be at peace, but the rest of the world remains a Hobbesian environment where there is no monopoly on violence, no global Leviathan. And where there is no overwhelming and dominant power, where there is no deterring balance among equals, there is war.

Read the whole thing.