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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 80-81 of Tom G. Palmer’s important forthcoming collection, Peace, Love, & Liberty; specifically, it’s from Tom’s chapter, “The Political Economy of Empire and War” (footnote excluded); this passage appears immediately after Tom quoted the early 20th-century scholar Parker T. Moon:

It is at best an abbreviation of the complex activities behind a war to say that “Country X made war or sent soldiers to invade Country Y”; in fact, some group of people in Country X made choices with serious consequences for others and the task of a serious social scientist is to understand how and why those choices were made and why others complied with them.  War is a choice, at least on the part of the aggressor.  The attempt to aggregate all of the people, all of the interests, and all of the opinions found in a country into one organic choice-making agent is not only an example of mystical nonsense, but worse, it conceals from us all of the important questions of political science.  Yet that is the approach taken by too many commentators, analysts, and ideologues of war and conflict.  They fail to understand the issues involved because they are collectivists not only in morality, but in social science methods as well.  They think that a country, which is made up of huge numbers of diverse individuals and their complex relationships (families, networks, political parties, enterprises, religious affiliations, and on and on and on) is an individual just like the individuals who comprise it.  That is sloppy thinking with serious consequences.


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