25 November 2008
Raico replies

Following on from yesterday’s posting on Ralph Raico’s article on Churchill, Professor Raico was kind enough to reply as follows:

There is no contradiction regarding the welfare state. The beginnings were in the early twentieth century, as set forth. The cradle-to-grave welfare state was initiated following World War II, also as set forth.  None of this is controversial among historians.

Neither is there a contradiction regarding the British empire. As a libertarian, I’m hostile to British imperialism. But Churcill wasn’t, to say the least. To the extent that participation in World War II contributed to the end of that empire, Churchill acted against his own deepest values.

Of course I did not say or imply that Churchill forced Hitler into implementing the holocaust. (You really should learn to read more carefully.) Again, it was a question of World War II, which, as Goebbels wrote, provided the necessary smokescreen.

The comment regarding the deaths of German civilians owing to the naval blockade is incoherent. Leaders of belligerent nations are morally required not to aim at the death of civilians.

Churchill’s embrace of Stalin during the war helped the Soviet Union to dominate Europe following the war.  Such dominance, however, did not mean that Stalin was aiming at limitless expansion or require a cold war.

David Irving’s earlier historical work was praised by Gordon Craig, among others. You might look up Fuller’s works in the catalog of the Library of Congress to get an idea why he is considered one of the great military historians of the twentieth century.

I am not really inclined to reply further as I think all it will achieve is the initiation of a flame war and flame wars are pretty pointless.  Suffice to say his comments leave me unmoved.

But I’d still like to hear from the commentariat. If you think I’m wrong then please tell me where and why.  And if you think I’m right then tell me that too.  I’m nothing if not vain.

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  1. I don’t have much of an opinion on Churchill one way or the other than the man was in the right place at the right time for most of his life.

    However, on the subject of the naval blockade of Germany during World War I.  Sorry, in war, limiting the importation of war materials, food and medical supplies is a valid tactic.  One of the things we modern people forget is what war really is about.  War is using military force to achieve a political end.  I draw your attention to the word force.  And there is no better way to disable an army than choking off it’s supply lines.  Tactics wins battles, Logistics wins wars and the lack of good solid logistics loses wars as well.  So preventing shipping from entering German harbors was only common sense from a tactical and strategic stand point.  The civilian casualties are incidental but help tear down the military infrastructure in the country being blockaded.

    Posted by Maldain on 29 November 2008 at 05:24am

  2. Prof Raico wrote:
    “Leaders of belligerent nations are morally required not to aim at the death of civilians.”


    Leaders are morally required to avoid war if possible, and inflict maximum devastation at minimum cost otherwise (the ideal is the obliteration of the enemy at zero human or financial cost to one’s own side). It is not the duty of one government to protect the enthusiastic enemy population from the consequences of allowing the enemy government from waging war.

    I suggest Prof Raico go and live among people who have recently lost a war and enjoy the fruits of his moral posturing. I’ll be happy to recommend a suitable hell-hole if he wishes. He could try living with a Serbian family in Kossovo or in a Zairan refugee camp. I’m sure the people he meets would really appreciate his ideas for how to treat an enemy.

    Prof Raico is a classic example of someone who has no idea what he’s tittering about. Un idiot savant.

    Posted by Antoine Clarke on 30 November 2008 at 05:11pm

  3. On Fuller and Irving, they’re still historians worth reading. Fuller’s ‘Decisive Battles of the Western World’ is excellent, and Irving (on Dresden) thirty year back was a favourite of those (usually but not exclusively lefties) who disagreed with Bomber Command’s campaign of area bonbing.

    (before Hitler, Fuller was a fan of another “great world leader”, the occultist Aleister Crowley. His ‘The Star in the West’ was the winning - and only - entry in ACs competition for the   best essay on ‘Crowleyanity’. But while that kind of thing needs to be borne in mind, and you can hear echoes when Fuller writes about ‘Economic man vs Heroic Man’, it doesn’t of itself devalue his work. Isaac Newton devoted far more of his life to alchemy and religion than to physics, but his work still stands)

    Posted by Laban on 02 December 2008 at 03:35am

  4. Interesting that as far as I can tell, Raico did not really answer any of your questions. For example - and I know that Sean Gabb has been saying this - Churchilll was at fault for hastening the end of the British Empire. But why would a libertarian worry about the loss of empire, exactly? (Ok, the Empire was in some ways less bad than some of the regimes that replaced it, but in general, I thought libertarians were against empires, conquest, etc.)

    Parts of the libertarian movement, such as Raico, really do get themselves into a mess on WW2, Churchill, etc, because they cannot face the horrible fact that there are regimes out there that are not amenable to reason. The idea that most actors are rationally self interested, which underpins classical liberalism and capitalism, does not always apply in relations between states. Rothbard got hopelessly confused on this point.

    Posted by Johnathan Pearce on 02 February 2011 at 05:32pm

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