The value of freedom is to die for the state which grants it Ruthless Criticism

The value of freedom is to die for the state which grants it

[Chapter VII. of Karl Held and Theo Ebel, The Free World Wants War! (Resultate Verlag: Munich, 1986)]

Democratic politicians who, in the name of the people, administer the accumulation of the nation's wealth, increase their armament and order the population to be thrifty, leave no doubt as to the costs of freedom which payoff for the nation. The people's elected representatives daily reaffirm that the free world is worthy of being defended and remind everyone of its loftiest values. Their reward for the people empowering them in the elections is the duty to defend this order - no matter what it costs. No price is too high for freedom, democracy, the social market economy, the family, faith - in short, for a "life worthy of a human being" which only one's home country guarantees. The only "values" the majority of people possess - their homes, their families, their incomes and their lives - must be sacrificed for those of the nation.

"People's material interests always thrive best as long as they remain in the shadow of heroic virtues; as soon as they attempt to enter the first circle of existence, they destroy the precondition for their own existence.

Democratic leaders have taken this maxim of Hitler's to heart and are constantly recommending it to their followers. They do not simply call up a catalogue of heroic virtues when they want to define the subordinate status of material interests, but rather a catalog of values whose existence is at stake and must be defended:

"We will not allow people to see only the danger of self-destruction and not the danger of self-subjugation." "Anyone who declares defense in the nuclear age to be ethically unacceptable is demanding nothing but the capitulation of the peace-makers to the brutes, of freedom to unfreedom, of right to wrong." (typical utterances of Western politicians)

Those in government remind their citizens of three harsh civic truths when they assure them of how worthy of defense the Western system is.

1.

What are the things those in charge say are worthy of being defended? What is supposed to make life worth living, or even possible in the first place? One thing is certainly not worth being defended, to start off with: the few material achievements an ordinary citizen can call his own. You are of course welcome to imagine your daily life in danger, with its large and small pleasures and annoyances - but the purpose is not to critically take stock of what you actually get out of life, especially as you have to pay for it yourself. When it comes to work, you are not supposed to think of the burden, when it comes to buying, not of the prices, and when it comes to saving money, not of the privation. Then, you can consider life "worth living'" Everything you do to serve "society" you are allowed to reinterpret as a service provided by your society"!

Democracy's administrators do not dwell on the question of all the things it bestows, or "cannot" bestow, on the majority of citizens. Instead, they keep harping on the one idea that democracy, with all its commands and prohibitions beneficial to the state and the economy, with all the economic constraints regulated by law and with their accordingly tough political administration, grants an orderly life in precisely this society. They cite the "democratic consensus" that people's forced compliance with political decisions and economic "imperatives" is the very opposite, i.e. a service the democratic masters perform for them. This service may not always satisfy the people but it is, in any case, always in their interest, at least fundamentally.

This is why your cozy home and healthy food are never defended, but rather the advantages of being governed properly by the right people. Politicians agitate for defense by appealing to the obedience they have already welcomed in their subjects' labor and political consent. They act as if their people, whom they appreciate for their going along with what is required and their submission, had the loftiest ideals as their general motives for such behavior; these ideals, of course, also oblige them to be ready for defense. Freedom, law, democracy and life, the "American mission" for "humanity" - these loftiest political values of a rule desired by the people are supposed to be what you should worry about.

But this again does not refer to those philanthropic details an upright democrat so likes to imagine and urge his chiefs to pay attention to. The Western value-administrators want to be measured neither by the torture methods, military dictatorships, poorhouses and mortuaries supported by Western arms and credit, nor by the unemployed and poor in their own cities. They will not have these conditions run down by the criticism that the ideals of the West are at stake. Instead, citing the truth that this is the free world, they plead for the opposite idea: if all living conditions are allowed by the state, all demands must be measured by the rights and duties the rulers lay down. They demand from their subjects under the name of "realism" nothing less than the insight that justice, freedom, etc., are identical with the existing conditions and their preservation by the national leaders.

Politicians thus propagate the supreme convictions they voice in their Sunday speeches only in order to keep on reminding people of one thing: politics is legitimate along with all its interests. It has the people as its client. Everything a democrat "takes for granted" is used to pin people down to the fact that the only thing being enforced is their right to a proper rule, that the only demands politicians fulfill are those of all decent citizens. Thus, every decent citizen has his democratic home in this state, and this obviously entails an obligation.

If someone constantly tells his people that it is not only some state interest or other which is important, not merely the intentions or calculated advantages of some party, and certainly not the arbitrary will of a megalomaniac leader, but rather all the sacred values of the nation, i.e, the people's own political will which their elected representatives administer, he is insisting on his right to lead and be responsible, and on his people's duty to support their administrators in doing so.

2.

What do the gentlemen who decide on war and peace mean when they keep on publicly invoking the nation's worthiness of being defended?

According to the official statement, our whole fine state, with all its values you are supposed to cherish as blessings, is in danger. And those in charge do not leave the decision on this to those who are supposedly endangered. Whether, and why, the Russians want to rob good citizens of the homes they may not even have, of their work, their unemployment, the free state press, their life and their peace-loving leaders, is decided by the instance on which all life in liberty ultimately depends. And this instance has evidently long since made the decision for its electorate. If the communists are not willing to install our best of all possible worlds in their country voluntarily, the Western peoples, i.e, the Western nations, are in danger; it is then up to the Western peoples to worry, not about themselves, but about their nations; after all, the nations are their elected basis for existence. If all of life is an act of license by the state, everything revolves around the license or, especially when it considers that its interests are being hampered - this is the tough demand made clear to everyone publicly.

Someone who constantly tells his people that their democratic home is threatened is suing for his right to make them answer for the nation's interests; he only knows of one interest good citizens can have: the duty to defend the nation.

3.

Therefore, what does it mean that the nation's worthiness to be defended is an undisputed fact?

It must mean that the nation's defense is a harsh but peremptory necessity for serving the people. When the preservers and expanders of the free world point out how difficult it is to secure the threatened peace, they want more from their citizens than that they go on simply getting obediently settled in peace, as if peace could be taken for granted. Politicians invoke the peaceful wish of good citizens to make do with their democratic rights and duties, only in order to reject it. They make sure it will only be fulfilled on one condition, i.e. that the order which "makes it possible to live like a human being" is protected.

When this order is what is at stake, you must no longer measure it by what it specifically allows you to do, but must sacrifice for this "basis for existence" all those things you are allowed to picture as a reason for defense in better times. Politicians, raised to the status of "peace-securers," never tire of spelling out the new content of "peace": it is such a lofty and endangered good that the only question permitted is how much it costs to preserve it. They do not fail to answer the question themselves: if the worst comes to the worst, it costs everything. The harsh logic that sacrifices are supposed to be worth it thus leads necessarily to the conclusion that you must not ask about the price when the makers of democratic politics regard their freedom in the world as being confined.

Someone who constantly emphasizes how worthy "our" democratic homeland is of being defended is making his people familiar with the price of the sacrifices which payoff for the state. He is insisting that it is time for the harsh national necessity of defense to put an end to their private day-to-day calculation of an advantage which has never materialized within the most humane order on this earth.

4.

Thus, it is no coincidence that everything included in the democratic paradise of values, from freedom to human dignity, is aimed at only one thing: the unity of the people with their state as the latter demands! After all, the ideals of all the things the state grants its citizens are, from the very start, the granter's legal titles for helping itself. Politicians therefore know no problems of conscience but instead pin the citizens down to one moral reason for war after the other which, as the public is informed, have priority over the protection of life, peace at any cost - and certainly over any real or moral calculation of one's own "survival." This is why values immediately call for virtue. Virtue today no longer only means "heroism" or "valor," but is known as "service for peace in freedom."

If someone objects to "forty years of NATO peace" on the grounds that the citizens have got settled in it, take it for granted and have forgotten how to engage themselves for it, he knows only one virtue: defense readiness. If someone wants to "overcome" the fear of war by corroborating the nation's loftiest values, he wants a people ready for war. He plans to use them for more than just peaceful exploitation and elections. He wants them to fall in line - "in the name of the people" - to defend the nation's interests, which are known as freedom, democracy, justice and the market economy.