Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Economics as a Subdiscipline of War

The Banking Crisis is Just the Beginning

Mar 21, 2023

Yarvin is really unfashionable these days as a “reactionary” who couldn’t quite shed his lolbertarianism. And there’s a great truth to this. His takes since returning to activity in the Trump era have been ice cold, and he’s made a reputation in recent times as an edgy regime apologist. But there’s a saying that “Moldbug was better than Yarvin” and this too is true—his pre-2014 work is still insightful, and still in many ways undigested in the radical right.

One of his insights that he takes straight from Clausewitz is that there’s a continuum between economics and violence. The supposed “laws” of economics that support free trade (such as comparative advantage) are based on abstracting away violence; they’re based on drawing a hard line between coercive and uncoercive relations between nations. But this is an artificial distinction, and once you get rid of it free trade and open borders make no sense, even putting aside for a moment how destructive these things are to ethnicities.

But how exactly is it “violence” to remove a tariff? To answer this, we have to examine the nature of war in the 21st century.

We outlined this briefly in our article Out of the Barrel of a Gun, and we went into depth on it in the latest Kulture Dads episode. If you look at how war has changed over the centuries, you notice two main trends: a) the battle front grows less and less distinct, and b) violence grows more and more abstract.

In the beginning, war was a chaotic affair but the battle lines were clear and the violence absolutely concrete. At some point it became professionalized and involved mass conscription, which means formation and discipline. Wars were won by complex battlefield maneuvers requiring a whole military culture, and we get line and column warfare. With the industrial revolution, mass production put more emphasis on the home front. War involved the whole society more than ever, which had to mass produce materials, weapons, etc. Technology and economy become more of a factor, and we get trench or industrial warfare. With the development of the internal combustion engine this is amplified, and now women must enter the factory or risk losing the war—here we have blitzkrieg warfare, and nation-states are king.


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