Thursday, November 8, 2007

Merlyn as antiwar libertarian

"The gross immorality of warfare is, as I mentioned before, an oddity in nature. We sit down, therefore, relieved by this fortunate coincidence of a bundle of data which might have proved too bulky, and we examine the special peculiarities of those species which do engage in hostilities. What do we find? Do we find, as badger's famous communists would postulate, that it is the species which owns individual property that fights? On the contrary, we find that the warfaring animals are the very ones which tend to limit or to banish individual possessions. It is the ants and bees, with their communal stomachs and territories, and the men, with their national property, who slit each other's throats; while it is the birds, with their private wives, nests and hunting grounds, the rabbits with their own burrows and stomachs, the minnows with their individual homesteads, and the lyre-birds with their personal treasure houses and ornamental pleasure-grounds, who remain at peace. You must not despise mere nests and hunting grounds as forms of property: they are as much a form of property to the animals as a home and business is to man. And the important thing is that they are private property. The owners of private property in nature are pacific, while those who have invented public property go to war. This, you will observe, is exactly the opposite of the totalist doctrine."

From The Book of Merlyn by T.H. White (University of Texas Press, 1977), 98-99.

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