Saturday, 17 February 2018

Aux Armes, Citoyens

Of course Emmanuel Macron is bringing back compulsory military service. In the mercifully unlikely event of a restored Thatcherite or Blairite Government in Britain, then that would happen here, too. A century after the First World War, there is no excuse for a continued failure to see that Liberalism is inherently militaristic.

Throughout the First World War, Britain still had a Liberal Government. It stood alongside the French Radicals against the German National Liberals. British Liberalism, French Radicalism and German Liberalism were not, and are not, exactly the same thing. But there was, and there is, a pronounced family resemblance. And they all have the same enemies, just as they did a hundred years ago.

The principle of National Liberalism, of the singular mission of a particular Great Power to conform the world to the Liberal vision even by the force or arms, was not in dispute. The only dispute was as to which Great Power had been entrusted with that mission. But there was a Germany before Unification, and even as part of Unification Germany had to retain many decidedly pre-Enlightenment features. There was a France before the Revolution, and anyone may still see all manner of aspects of her. We all know about the United Kingdom and her predecessor-states.

In the end, of course, only one Great Power, and arguably only one political entity at all, has ever been founded specifically as the Liberal one, expansionist and interventionist accordingly. The expansionist and interventionist wars of recent decades have brought out strains of both conservative and left-wing opposition in that country, often alongside each other. But they need to acknowledge that they are fundamentally opposed to that country's founding ideology itself.

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