On imperialism: does “might make right?”

Scars of a whipped slave (April 2, 1863, Baton...

Scars of a whipped slave (April 2, 1863, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. Original caption: “Overseer Artayou Carrier whipped me. I was two months in bed sore from the whipping. My master come after I was whipped; he discharged the overseer. The very words of poor Peter, taken as he sat for his picture.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consider that the USA today is the dominant military force in the history of humanity, the pinnacle of globalist imperialism with roots going back to the Holy Roman Empire and long before that. With active duty soldiers in about 200 countries worldwide and permanent military bases in most of those places, is the military might of the US a major factor in the prosperity of the US, yes or no?

In the 1860s, when the Union invaded the Confederacy, was the military power of the Union a factor in the outcome? Did the Union’s “right” to invade the southern states arise to victory because of anything other than military superiority?

Map of the division of the states during the C...

Map of the division of the states during the Civil War. Blue represents Union states, including those admitted during the war; light blue represents border states; red represents Confederate states. Unshaded areas were not states before or during the Civil War. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We can get in to the detail of the European powers and how some favored the South and others favored the North. If someone asserts that the primary trading partners (in Europe) of the northern and southern states in the US had nothing to do with the initiation of the US Civil War, I consider that ridiculous. Vested interests foreign to the US promoted that “war,” created propaganda to justify that war,  funded that war, and directly participated in that war.

It’s just like when the US participates in a civil war in Bosnia or Africa or Vietnam or Korea or anywhere else. Some of those wars are in fact started by the US. Some are ended by the US.

But, in the case of Vietnam, let’s imagine that someone asserts that the US was a minor player in forming the rights of modern-day government and civil rights in Vietnam. After all, the US primarily involved itself through military force, like thousands of soldiers and bullets and bombs and so on.

This a picture of one of the survivors of Ande...

This a picture of one of the survivors of Andersonville Prison. Union Army soldier on his release from Andersonville in May, 1865. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Was the outcome of the “civil war” in Vietnam decided without any relevance to the military might of the various participants? Or, does might make rights?

When we talk about rights and justice and justifications, we are speaking with a presumption of a foundation of social order. Do the legally-recognized rights of slave-owners have anything to do with might? Do the legally-recognized rights of Israelis over Palestinians have anything to do with might? Does the right of a Union soldier to legally kill a Confederate soldier have anything to do with might? Did the legally-enforced right of a British colonist in North America in 1600 to kill a Native American have anything to do with might? What confusion is there about the sequence of letters of “legally- enFORCED” as it relates to military might?


This conversation started when JJ provided this picture (on facebook):

john locke- sovereign










JR replied:

Sure, if you can maintain that boundary…. Children are not sovereign in relation to their parents. Elderly people may not be sovereign either. Cats are not inherently sovereign. Ants are not inherently sovereign. The real issue is clarity about the nature of language. People do not even know what the word “right” means. It has the same origin as “regulation, regal, royal, rich, rex, ruler, rule” and many similar words.

So, if John Locke does not recognize the reality of slavery or indentured servitude or other assertions of one person to have a right “OVER” another, then he must not be familiar with war or prisons either. After all, what right does a person have to defend themselves from an invader, for the invader has an inalienable right to life, right? No, because rights are not tangible, but linguistic.

Further, the mere linguistic claiming of a right is just a claim in language. There must be a tangible military force to back up a linguistic claim of right, or else it is just like a 3 year-old claiming to have a right to stay up until midnight.

Flag of North Carolina (March 16, 1861–March 1...

Flag of North Carolina (March 16, 1861–March 1, 1885) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Then, JJ replied with this quotation about John Locke:

 “In his own time, he was famous for arguing that the divine right of kings is supported neither by scripture nor by the use of reason. In developing his theory of our duty to obey the state, he attacked the idea that might makes right: Starting from an initial state of nature with no government, police or private property, we humans could discover by careful reasoning that there are natural laws which suggest that we have natural rights to our own persons and to our own labor. Eventually we could discover that we should create a social contract with others, and out of this contract emerges our political obligations and the institution of private property. This is how reasoning places limits on the proper “

rudimentary map of the Confederate States of A...

rudimentary map of the Confederate States of America (circa 1864). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JR further replied:

A social contract presumes an economic equality which may or may not exist. The “duty” to obey the state is just a claim in language. The state threatens punishment for disobedience, but the state may be overthrown. What makes the private individual “sovereign?” Their might.

An unarmed (or out-gunned) indigenous population has rarely been able to effectively “assert” their right to property. When the Europeans showed up in North America with horses and swords, then said “let’s trade,” that was a treaty for military surrender.

Why did Europeans “purchase” Manhattan island for a few beads? Because the Europeans had military force and behind them and selected the “rightful leaders” of the natives “ON BEHALF” of the natives, JUST LIKE what Israel has done with Palestine etc. Is it really any shock that the leaders of the Native Americans that the invaders declared to be the rightful leaders (who had the legal right to sell Manhattan Island) were also very compliant with the demands of the imperialist invaders? Could their compliance be a factor in the imperialists recognizing them as the rightful leaders?

The error of most critics is that modern forms of imperialism are less imperialistic or more imperialistic than ancient forms. I find that assertion quite ridiculous- though an understandable lie of effective propaganda!

In the sporting event photographed below, does might make right? Well, within the confines of the rules of the Olympic committee or whatever imperialist groups sets the rules, it is possible that might (which is not just raw strength but the wise and coordinated use of power) has a major factor in the outcome of the sporting event. The one who has the right to the gold medal may have that claim to an exclusive right based primarily, if not solely, on might.

Byers set to wrestle world’s best Greco-Roman ...

Byers set to wrestle world’s best Greco-Roman heavyweights 090831 (Photo credit: familymwr)




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