Kant postulated ways to think about fighting wars ethically. They amounted to don’t do things that would give anyone reason to be angry or to not trust you after the way. Arthur Ripstein is pushing Kant’s theory about war even farther and examining this area of human life. Sun Tzu published one of the more famous books on war, which shares a lot of similarities about how to fight war with Kant. Kant and Sun Tzu were talking about physical war, the barbaric slaughter of humans for mere disagreements that have shaped all of our lives. Both these thinkers imagined a world in which it might be possible that we could not have war and live in peace, or maybe war occurs rarely like physical crime does in my hometown. I don’t think war will disappear, at least, the “essence” (I don’t know a word besides this to use right now) will disappear.
The first type of war we think of is something like Seven Samurai or 1917 or 13 Hours. War gets more technologically advanced, less people are needed for missions, etc. It would be great if we could stop fighting like this. Death is one of the most tragic parts of human life, war is death on a massive scale. It is why we cannot stop making movies about it and people still feel just as sad when watching. The final culmination of physical war may be the drone war, which would be the height of least human interaction needed to accomplish physical tasks.
This would be the second type of war people might bring up. Barring the regional proxy wars in the Cold War, the information war played a major role. Russia and the US stepped up spying and information sharing between allies around the globe. If the goal in physical warfare is to overpower the amount with physical force in some way, the goal in information warfare is to overpower the opponent by having more information. This could be done in multiple ways. One is that you just have more information. Another is that you destroy information for the opponent. You could also manipulate information to make what is true and false difficult to figure out, such as what China does internally on its citizens or Russia externally on enemies.
Warning - this is a rough understanding of economics but to be fair, economists have a rough understanding of it too.
Economic warfare is something that seems relatively new a concept, but it is an older ideology. The ole mercantilists in Europe, pre-Adam Smith, believed that the economy was tied tightly to the power of the state. The mercantilist did not want to import anything, even at if the competitive advantage was against their favor for doing so. They would rather have 10 dollars and their neighbors 5 than for them to have 100 dollars and their neighbors 10. The globalists (as Bannon screeches in every interview), the neoliberals, the laissez-faire worshippers, would screech in response that this is worse for us and for everyone to do this.
What if they were both right? The mercantilist seemed to view money almost as analogous to power, while the laissez-faire wanted to separate the two. We can be powerful and have a free, global market economy. I think both camps may have underestimated how intermingled and fragile global markets would become over time. I am talking 2008, where in 72 hours, the US economy would collapse. In 48 hours, the global economy would collapse. You have all of Washington and Wall St. running around like chickens with their heads cut off. If America could do this to themselves, does that not leave philosophical space to posit that someone could do this to us?
Steve Bannon with every chance he gets wants to warn us of China, of the globalists, the neoliberal con jobs, the establishment that is evil three way between big business, the media, and the Washington elites. I love listening to Bannon as horrible as that sounds, I disagree on his leanings towards things that are akin to trickle down economics and the lack of a theory of right that guides what the state should do. However, Bannon and Bannon’s monster in the oval office could be right about one thing: China. Part of the motivation behind the trade war has been that China is not an ally, it is an enemy. If we are going to trade with them, it should be conditional on certain policies and also that it should be weary of China’s growing power which is not contained by a theory of right. Xi is willing to make his people starve in the short term if need be for the long glory of China, his people might even be ok with it at this point.
This brings me back to my last point, which is, the global economy might need to be weary of enemies and view the economy still as just another potential battlefield. We should be open to trade with other republics unconditonally, since they are already bound by conditions of right. France is not going to try and conquer Africa anymore. China would instead give Africa a 100 year lease on its land if it could, to own it in the future. If we view 2008 as our economic civil war, what does the first world war look like in the global economy?
Maybe it is already happening? China is making imperialistic moves with funding projects in Asia and Africa and the Middle East. China is trying to build infrastructure abroad with state owned (any large corporation is state owned at this point). China is trying to steal patents and technology from the US. It is willing to use its billion person population as a training and test set for machine learning and computer vision. Who knows what else they are doing as well.
This would be one of the worst possible timelines then. Perpetual peace seems to be no longer attainable if this is so, at least if it is not contained. We do not have to be drafted anymore, we are all “soldiers” just by working. Viewing the US and Trump under this lens makes a lot of sense. Its why you want to hit the Chinese hard. Why you want hit the big corporations hard (well, Trump says this and might do it) since they weaken the economy long term if the working class has no wealth. The essence of war still exists in global economics here. China becomes the dominant one if they win, our countries power is weaked enormously without our massive wealth. Not only that, but our allies and the values we all stand for.
I fucking hate money.