Tuesday’s exchange of firepower in Korea is what happens when international political maneuvering starts to get out of hand. Two groups, each trying to deter the other from encroaching on their turf, rattle their sabers and people die.
As with any contest between politicians, the people ruled by the politicians are expected to join the conflict. National leaders will make belligerent statements from heavily-guarded mansions, with armored cars and specialized aircraft reserved for them. Those who will not be led by such people to kill and die will be labeled cowards.
While rulers claim the ruled need them, the truth is that rulers need the ruled.
Undoubtedly, the North Korean government is particularly outrageous. Accounts from its few Western visitors describe slavish cults of conformity and adoration of the leader which mask the impoverishment of the masses. But another government will not liberate them. At best it can be a more benevolent master.
Fortunately government is not the only option. Subversion of especially tyrannical states is friendlier to liberty than invasion by another state could ever be. By involving the North Korean people, encouraging them to lead themselves instead of choosing new masters at the command of foreigners, a popular struggle is created instead of a government war. Autonomous information warfare and technological warfare by individuals who value freedom do not extend the reach of government hands into the lives of people in conquered territory, but can instead empower people against all conquerors.
Even the most authoritarian rulers depend on the acquiescence of the multitudes they govern. What are they going to do if numerous people receiving commands say “no” and sabotage whatever weapons they can’t take with them?
Unfortunately imperialists and state communists largely destroyed the anarchist movement that thrived in East Asia during the first decades of the twentieth century. The anarchist traditions of direct action and internationalism remain valuable tools for establishing freedom across all lines of latitude.