Democracia, Guerra e Paz

HH Hoppe: "...democratic-peace theorists have of conflagrations such as World War I must be considered grotesque, at least from the point of view of someone allegedly valuing freedom. For them, this war was essentially a war of democracy against dictatorship; hence, by increasing the number of democracies, it was a progressive, peace-enhancing, and ultimately justified war.

In fact, matters are very different. To be sure, pre-war Germany and Austria may not have qualified as democratic as England, France, or the United States at the time. But Germany and Austria were definitely not dictatorships. They were (increasingly emasculated) monarchies and as such arguably as liberal — if not more so — than their counterparts. For instance, in the United States, anti-war proponents were jailed, the German language was essentially outlawed, and citizens of German descent were openly harassed and often forced to change their names. Nothing comparable occurred in Austria and Germany.

In any case, however, the result of the crusade to make the world safe for democracy was less liberal than what had existed before (and the Versailles peace dictate precipitated World War II). Not only did state power grow faster after the war than before. In particular, the treatment of minorities deteriorated in the democratized post–World War I period. In newly founded Czechoslovakia, for instance, the Germans were systematically mistreated (until they were finally expelled by the millions and butchered by the tens of thousands after World War II) by the majority Czechs. Nothing remotely comparable had happened to the Czechs during the previous Habsburg reign. The situation regarding the relations between Germans and southern Slavs in pre-war Austria versus post-war Yugoslavia respectively was similar.

Nor was this a fluke. As under the Habsburg monarchy in Austria, for instance, minorities had also been treated fairly well under the Ottomans. However, when the multicultural Ottoman Empire disintegrated in the course of the 19th century and was replaced by semi-democratic nation-states such as Greece, Bulgaria, etc., the existing Ottoman Muslims were expelled or exterminated. Similarly, after democracy had triumphed in the United States with the military conquest of the Southern Confederacy, the Union government quickly proceeded to exterminate the Plains Indians. As Mises had recognized, democracy does not work in multi-ethnic societies. It does not create peace but promotes conflict and has potentially genocidal tendencies."

Hoppin' Hans, of course, exaggerates to make his points.
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