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Over the past two weeks The Ruxted Group has demonstrated that the current war is a ‘good’ war in that it is both just and necessary and that it is a global war, too – a world war.

The current global conflict is characterized as the war between Civilization and Barbarism. The secular, liberal West and its institutions are under global pressure from radical Islamists who hate and despise the western civilization and all its manifestations. What we need to realize is the outward signs of our civilization which so excite the ire of the radicals reflect our deepest cultural roots, and if we are to win this conflict and remain as a vibrant, free community we need to understand our cultural heritage and harness its strengths against all challengers both at home and abroad.
The West’s scientific, economic, social and cultural strengths are based on our heritage of individual liberty, property rights and limited constitutional governments. History shows that the greater the range of personal liberties and property rights available to citizens the greater their nation’s scientific, economic and cultural range becomes as well. The role of government is to protect these liberties and rights at all times and in all places, allowing the citizens to enjoy the outcomes of their own pursuits. Historically, nations which have gone farthest down this road have always been wealthier and more capable than neighbouring nations which restrict their citizen’s rights and freedoms. Comparing classical Athens to Sparta, Elizabethan England to 16th century Spain, Republican Venice to the Ottoman Empire, or the four contemporary Asian “Tiger” economies to present day China we see small states with limited access to resources successfully outperforming rivals many times larger with vast reservoirs of human and material resources. When property rights, human liberty and limited constitutional government are combined with vast reservoirs of human and natural resources, we get the United States, the most powerful military, economic and cultural nation in history.

How can we, Canadians, use our cultural legacy to defeat the jihadis at home and abroad? We must strengthen our cultural underpinnings and harness them to deflect the appeal of radicals at home, and provide the resources we need to defeat barbarism abroad.

Individual liberties are best expressed by free speech. Canadians need to remove limitations on the free exchange of ideas, knowing and trusting from experience ranging back to classical Greece that the best antidote to hateful and harmful speech is more speech, allowing good ideas the ability to grow, spread and displace bad ones. Efforts to restrain free speech only work in our enemies’ favour. Indeed the ability to arbitrarily suppress ideas is one of the aims of the Islamic radicals. To this end we need to remove politically correct “speech codes” on campus, remove so called “hate legislation” from our criminal codes (criminalizing speech is always the mark of a dictatorship), remove restrictions on political discussion embedded in election acts and more. We also need to encourage truly balanced discussion on the issues of the day by all members of society, and discourage the current trend to suppress dissenting views on the issues of the day by powerful media elites. We are stronger when all Canadians exercise their free speech rights and join in debating the issues of the day.

Abroad we need to encourage the same free flow of ideas in the societies we are assisting. Freedom of thought and speech is not, somehow, a uniquely Western attribute; both liberal and conservative societies thrive when thought and speech are free; only illiberal societies benefit from authoritarian control over ideas. In Afghanistan we should be looking for a local Conrad Black, and helping him – or her! - establish as many newspapers and news outlets as possible. Where the infrastructure permits, we should be establishing ISP’s and providing Internet cafés and blogging software, so local people can interact with the wider world. Even establishing chains of coffee shops across the land for locals to congregate and discuss the issues of the day would be a tremendous step forward for encouraging free speech in their society.

Property rights are the practical expression of our political rights, and the basis of our prosperity. Canada needs to ‘free’ the wealth of its citizens from the heavy, inept hand of the bureaucratic collective – all the real wealth there is – to ‘work’ for the common wealth of all. Canadians currently pay out more in taxation than they do on food, shelter and transportation combined, yet our personal wealth is our own property, and the basis of how we can decide to live our lives. Understanding that our wealth is our property, and ours by right, means we as Canadians will have more choices in all matters, and more resources to carry out the choices we make as individuals. The release of our wealth back into the productive economy will provide jobs and increasing prosperity to all Canadians, and provide the Government with greater resources to devote to the “Three D” strategy of Defence, Development and Diplomacy when dealing with the rest of the world. When service members, aid workers and diplomats have access to a wide range of tools and resources, then missions like Afghanistan can be conducted much more quickly and effectively; and governments may choose to undertake many peace support operations throughout the world without worrying about burnout or over stretch.

When we work to rebuild a nation like Afghanistan, property rights need to be codified and formalized. Part of our aid to Afghanistan should be to encourage farmers and small business owners to own their land and property outright, and to ensure their tax code is fair and efficient, allowing people to keep their earnings so they may invest in their future, which is also the future of Afghanistan.

Finally, we need to understand the role of government. The growth of government in Canada has come at a price of reducing our liberties and property rights; inhibiting our prosperity and the resources needed to protect our society. The growing gap between our personal incomes and those of our American neighbours is the most visible sign, but the inability of governments to match deeds to words in this conflict or in stability building ideas like “Responsibility to Protect” is also a negative outcome of government growth. Governments exist to protect these rights, not to establish arbitrary limits to speech, or grasp property from our hands through taxation and regulation. We as Canadians must work to ensure our politicians and the Bureaucracy are limited in size and extent, that each level of government knows and respects their jurisdictional boundaries, and that we roll back government intrusions against free speech and property rights.

When we work to rebuild nations like Afghanistan, we need to ensure that the organs of government like the Army, Police and Judiciary are as efficient and honest as possible, but also to limit the power of these institutions so the inevitable corruption and mistakes of human beings does the minimum of harm to the institution and the greater society it is part of. We must also recognize that this is the work of generations – Afghanistan, like most of its neighbours, struggles under the heavy hand of an illiberal social and political order. Allowing the people to develop into free, functioning liberal or, much more likely, conservative society will take much time and effort on their part and time and sacrifice on ours.

This formulation is not to suggest defeating Islamic Radicals at home and abroad will be a matter of a few easy adjustments. Free speech requires constant effort and attention by all citizens to listen, analyze and participate in order to refute bad ideas and spread good ones. Property rights imply that citizens are responsible for the consequences of their use of property. Ownership and use of property requires constant attention by the owners to ensure positive outcomes. Re-establishing limited constitutional government requires major efforts by citizens at all levels, since arbitrary government power over our lives is not only the goal of the enemy, but also the goal of many other individuals and groups in our society. The ability to feed off the resources of the taxpayer is a great incentive to increase the powers and privileges of all levels of government and the bureaucracy, and many individuals and groups which benefit from the growth of government will use all available means and resources to maintain their power and privilege.

This is the great struggle of the 21st century, the struggle between Civilization and Barbarism. Our cultural inheritance of individual liberty, property rights and limited constitutional government provide the tools we need to defeat the capricious and arbitrary societies the barbarians of all stripes wish to establish. All that is needed now is for us to pick up these tools and put them to use. The work ahead will be long and difficult, but the rewards along the way will make it all worth while.

The Ruxted Group reminds readers of the words of Martin Luther King: "If you have not discovered something you are willing to die for, then you are not fit to live."

Canadian soldiers are engaged in a 'good' war, it is also a world war, and it is a war they can win. They are willing to fight and die for their country; is their country willing to get behind them and reaffirm the strengths which made us mighty and victorious in past good, world wars?


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