Front Page Titles (by Subject) War, State, and Nation - Literature of Liberty, October/December 1979, vol. 2, No. 4
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War, State, and Nation - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, October/December 1979, vol. 2, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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War, State, and Nation
“War and the Nation-state.” Daedalus 108(Fall 1979):101–110.
There has always been a close, symbiotic relationship between the state and warfare, since a major part of the state's power is based upon its claim to legitimately use force. European history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was increasingly military, and the emergence of the “nation” concept meant ever more total and violent. Nationalism was characterized by militarism and most nations were born out of war. The idea of the nation gradually merged into the biological concept of race which was inculcated by the growing state schools and sanctified by the national religion: State and Nation were fused into one!
The excesses of the First World War saw some reaction against this nationalism, and after the Second World War there was sober reflection upon the moral aspects of strategic bombing and the use of nuclear weapons. More recent protests have grown out of the state's acknowledgement “that it could protect the community from total annihilation only by posing a threat to inflict comparable destruction on the civil society of its adversary.”
Beyond theproblems of command and control of nuclear weapons, democratic states have been faced with the problem of legitimatizing constitutionally the use of clandestine forces, such as the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States. As a result, the state apparatus has become isolated from the rest of the society: “a severed head conducting its intercourse with other severed heads according to its own laws. War, in short, has once more been denationalized. It has become, as it was in the eighteenth century, an affair of states and no longer of peoples.“
The result has been a growing sense of alienation between the actions of a state and its citizenry, of which the American protest against intervention in Vietnam was but one example. Where people are free to express their views, the military is increasingly seen, as it once was by nineteenth-century English-speaking liberals, as a professional group with values and interests different from the rest of the nation. Some argue this “robust Whiggery” is the basis of a free society. What is viewed by the conservative pessimist as a disintegration of order is for the radical optimist the beginnings of a new order which might transcend the war system.
There are some problems with this optimism. Despite its problems, the old nation-state did have some sense of community. There is no real sign that present European society is, however, growing any more unified, but rather that the contrary is occurring. The erosion of the state's monopoly on force “can only lead to chaos” as “very few militant activists are in principle anarchist.” In the Third World and in Communist societies, the state is still a long way from withering away. The denationalization of war found in the West is not typical of the world as a whole. It may be that a strong national myth is necessary for a viable society to function. “Wars have arisen at least as often from the disintegration of decadent states as from the aggression of strong ones. The decline of national loyalties, in spite of all the hopes placed upon it by generations of liberal thinkers, will thus not necessarily enhance the prospects of world peace.”