How do we get Peace? (The Liberal Answer)

No one thinks highly of war.  It is destructive, costly, and murderous. The opposite of war, which everyone values, is peace; people always agree: peace is desirable.  To get to peace, then, we need to look at war.  If we understand what causes war, we could eliminate the cause, and then have peace.

This is one of three brief essays I am writing, on the three western political answers to the question “How do we get Peace?”  My hope is to get discussion to go beyond the issue-based conversation we have on our channel, and go a bit more in depth into “what do you actually believe?”  This first essay focusses on how political liberals believe we can achieve peace.


Total war, of all against all, is the dread “state of nature” to which liberalism was developed as a philosophical answer. Liberalism came out of the European wars of religion, where Catholics and Protestants fought with each other to a horrible bloody state for a couple centuries.  The 30 years war, the English Civil War, and the French wars of Religion devastated everyone, and marked the end of the medieval era, and the beginning of the modern era.  And the political movement that brought it in: was Liberalism.

(To be clear: this is “liberal” in the philosophical sense, not “liberal” in the strange American-conservative epithet sense.)

Liberals believe:

  • Freedom is the best and natural state of humanity, and each individual human.
  • Humans have ‘natural’ or ‘inalienable’ rights which must be recognized and protected for everyone.  The idea of a collective is a fiction, and it is individuals that matter.
  • The purpose of the state is as a neutral arbiter and protector of individual freedoms.
  • War comes from a conflict between “free” and “not free.”  In every war: either someone is trying to take away, or someone is trying to get, natural rights.
  • War will end, when all people are free.  That is how we get peace.


  • Liberals believe that war is a good thing.  That, expense in blood and treasure and time be damned, freedom is important, freedom for everybody!
  • Liberals basically invite getting involved in conflict as a chance to make people free.
  • Therefore, for Liberals the way to peace, is to keep going through war.

What do you think? Is this an accurate synopsis of the liberal understanding of how to get peace? How does it apply to famous conflicts? What does it fail to consider?