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by Neville Kennard, veteran preaching and practising capitalist

Dictionaries define “obscene” as “repulsive, disgusting”.

Pictures of naked bodies are sometimes considered obscene. In the 1960’s there was a stage show called Hair in which actors stood naked on stage for a short while. It was labelled obscene by some, particularly religious types.

In films what was considered risque and obscene a few years ago is now commonplace. Nakedness and lovemaking is seen in various degrees of explicitness in many films. Explicit sex is available on the internet in all its graphic forms and with close-up details. Child-sex is definitely obscene.

With language, too, what was considered obscene a decade or two ago is now seen in print and heard in movies. In my childhood if Dad said “Damn” it was quite bad, “Bloody” was heard only in extreme situations, and if he said “Bugger” — well, we knew something was seriously wrong.

The “F” word — Fuck — is now commonplace, in the streets, in print, in films. And the “C” word — Cunt — well now even that is heard in movies and seen in print. These words are less and less “repulsive and disgusting”.

So obscenity is, it seems, a moveable feast, an evolving taste, and little can change that as writers and film-makers follow society practice.

Religious edicts are waning, and we are less influenced (and scared?) of the disdain of the local priest — especially as some of their own behaviour is often quite “obscene”.

But what is most obscene, in my view, is War.

War must be the most obscene of all acts, where people set out to kill each other, destroy property, take prisoners, maim and hurt, yet the word “obscene” is seldom attached to this most vile and violent of acts.

At one time in history wars were between armies and kings, and civilians were not expected to fight. The advent of the Nation State, where The State regards the people and the property in its jurisdiction as its own, changed this. The idea of conscription of the population in times of war is considered OK, normal even. Such an idea of forcing people to do what they may not otherwise choose to do, is a form of slavery. We do hear of Sex-Slaves, and abhor such a behaviour. We do not hear, however, hear of War-Slaves, especially when it is the victors who write history. Sometimes we may hear of citizens forced to fight, for one side or the other, in a way, but seldom is such labelled as slavery. This may be because in times of war, such behaviour, such slavery or involuntary servitude, is common.

War is mostly perpetrated by States. Sometimes it is perpetrated by Religions. Sometimes the Religion and The State are one and the same. Often it is one side, one State, imposing its belief system on another. Sometimes wars are for material and territorial gain.

Civil Wars are between one tribe, one territory, or one belief system or race, and another.

Seldom are any wars labelled obscene. After all it is The State that does the labelling (with books and TV and films) and so it is not likely to label its own activities as obscene. Conscription is legalised, mandated slavery, but it not labelled obscene.

Collateral Damage is the sanitised name given to the inadvertent killing and maiming of children and civilians; perhaps when the enemy does it, it gets called obscene, but when our side does it is, well, an unfortunate unintended consequence of this “just and necessary war”.

Governments like wars. “War is the health of the State,” stated radical writer Randolph Bourne, about the First World War. When there is an outside enemy to fight, attention is drawn away from the government’s own failings and shortcomings. Governments, and States, need some bad guys.

We now have wars in just one country (Afghanistan) going on where the government, for one reason or another, see it to be politically advantageous, especially when there is little immediate threat to its citizens at home. Recently I heard a mother lamenting the loss of her son, a soldier in Afghanistan, and she felt better by being able to say it was “for the greater good”. I’m not sure who does such labelling. Probably the same statists who rationalise some action as being “in the National Interest”. Or who call such a silly and immoral invasion as a “Just War”. Or “Making the World Safe for Democracy”.

The War on Drugs is an example of the government’s liking for war. (How do you fight a war on a substance?)

War on Terror — a stupid expression — how do you fight a war on an act? Terrorists are simple criminals, murderers, and so if there is to be a war it should be a war on murderers and criminals. But Terrorists are some Bad Guys from the other side, easily labelled and branded.

War on Poverty!!

War on Tooth Decay? War on Obesity?

They love it, our politicians with small brains and other people’s money.

War on “Obscenity”?? But this may include a War on War! So where do they go then?

Next time there is a word or sexual act, or depiction of nudity that is labelled obscene, ask about the obscenity of crippled babies, of maimed mothers, of crippled and amputated civilians, of slaughtered soldiers and other “collateral damage” as a consequence of some government choosing to spend our taxes and our people’s lives on a war which is none of our business.

Unlike depiction of sexual acts, of language, of nudity where the definition of obscene shifts and changes, war and its consequences always has been, always will be: obscene.

(in order of appearance on
  1. Welcome from Neville Kennard
  2. Think Tanks Don't Work
  3. "Market Failure": Just what the government ordered!
  4. The Tragedy of the Tax Pool Commons
  5. Corporate Welfare
  6. Citizenship for Sale?
  7. I Don't Vote
  8. Voting: Right or Privilege?
  9. Stockholm Syndrome and our Love-Hate Relationship with Government
  10. Civil Disobedience: The Rules of Engagement
  11. Should Respect for Law Extend to Bad Laws?
  12. Jaywalking as a Demonstration of Individuality
  13. Government Likes War
  14. Collusion is Our Right
  15. Why Not the Drug Olympics?
  16. Unconventional Wisdom
  17. Tiger Farming: An Alternative to Extinction
  18. Looking Backwards: Mont Pelerin Society Conference, Sydney, 2010
  19. Tax Avoidance is a Patriotic Duty
  20. Kennard Writes to IPA Review Editor
  21. Genocide by Welfare: A Tragedy from the Aboriginal Welfare Industry
  22. Separating Sport and State
  23. Your Home is Not an Investment
  24. Dick Smith, Celebrity Philanthropist
  25. A Libertarian's New Year's Resolution
  26. Extend Politicians' Holidays to Create Prosperity
  27. Entrepreneurs are Disruptive, and Bureaucrats Hate It
  28. What is a good Australian?
  29. Governments Like Employment But Hate Employers
  30. The Market Failure Industry
  31. Neville Kennard: The Tax Avoidance Imperative
  32. Wot if ...?
  33. The Tribal Chief and the Witch Doctor
  34. The Tannehills
  35. Democracy versus Property Rights and Prosperity
  36. Government Doesn't Work, and That's the Way They Like It
  37. Minarchy vs Anarchy
  38. Euthanasia and Self-Ownership
  39. The Right Policies to Fix a Depression
  40. Is Howard Our Best PM?
  41. Tax Producers vs Tax Consumers
  42. Where There's a Queue, There's a Business Opportunity
  43. Authoritarian Freedom
  44. Why Classical Liberals Should Debate Anarchocapitalists
  45. The Tyranny of the Majority
  46. If you could choose to whom you paid your tax
  47. Business Should Exploit Boat People
  48. The Immorality of Trade Unions
  49. "America" vs "The United States"
  50. Sweet Anarchy
  51. The Illusion of "Job Creation"
  52. Gold Is Money
  53. Guilty Capitalists
  54. Bureauphobia
  55. Prosperity vs Growth
  56. Capitalism vs Democracy
  57. More people = More fun
  58. Self-Ownership - the very idea!
  59. Government will murder Neville Kennard if he doesn't back away
  60. The Australian Dollar Has Been Cowardly and Criminally Devalued, Harming the Poor Particularly
  61. Is Taxation Theft and Government a Tax Cheat?
  62. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  63. Government Needs Bad Guys –
    that's why they like wars
  64. What Is Obscene?
  65. Traffic Economics
  66. Wayne Swan stands on the shoulders of other intellectual pygmies
  67. Neville Kennard Obituary
  68. Neville Kennard in 1979 proposes new alliances to end penalty rates
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