No 700 Posted by fw, March 19, 2013
Tragically, the American people are unwittingly complicit in the evil their government does in maintaining its military-industrial-finance complex. Ironically, they are complicit in the sense that they would probably be unwilling to commit to the huge sacrifices, violence and bloodshed it would take to build a non-violent society.
The title, sub-title and opening paragraph above form the essence of an argument excerpted from the following linked title. Read the excerpted passages in the post below, with its added subheadings, text highlighting, and some minor reformatting. Click on the article’s title to read the original piece.
There is an important difference between institutional and individual violence
[There is a] difference between institutional and individual violence [that seldom registers in public minds]. Only human beings can make ethical judgments because only human beings have a psyche capable of moral differentiation. For that reason in criminal trials, for example, intention is decisive. Institutions are not human beings, they are literally “mindless”. Institutions are complexes of laws that structure society and allocate people their places within it.
Institutions founded on violence cannot survive without violence
When an institutional system is founded on violence, violence becomes the necessary condition for the continued existence of those institutions, in other words, the institution cannot survive without violence, it becomes like the proverbial vampire that will die if it cannot suck blood. This type of violence is fundamentally different from individual and group violence. However brutal, or obnoxious, or vicious it may be, individual violence is still human violence, it involves the mind, rightly or wrongly, and it invariably invites contestation over ethics in society.
Therefore, heads of institutions founded on violence must continue to engage in violence in order to save the institution from collapse
Institutions founded on violence, on the other hand, will collapse if violence is taken away. Individuals in charge of institutions must, therefore, continue to engage in violence if they are to save the institution from collapse. Let me exemplify this.
Case in point – The infamous 1996 interview of then Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright
In a controversial TV interview to 60 Minutes (5/12/96) Lesley Stahl the TV host, when questioning the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on U.S. sanctions against Iraq, asked her:
“We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
Her reply was: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”
This statement scandalized a large cross section of people in the United States and elsewhere.
Imagine if the U.S. president were a pacifist – The military-industrial-finance complex would collapse
Imagine by some miracle if a total pacifist were to occupy the White House. It is estimated that sixty percent of the American economy is directly or indirectly dependent on defense. Corporate America: the Lockheeds, the Boeings, the Northrops, will collapse like a pack of cards, taking with them the thousands they employ. Most technological innovations of the West that invest their institutions with so much power and capabilities are the result of militarism. Even banal things like food packaging, gyms and exercise regimes, dietetics, aging research, are driven by militarism. The internet and the communication technologies were military innovations. The incorporation of civilian and military uses of technologies through dual-use policies makes the intermeshing of militarism and economy virtually inseparable. The entire society is organized in a “warlike way” to use Marx’s phrase. In such a military-industrial-finance-media complex waging war becomes a necessity for survival of those institutions.
Albright’s only ethics was to save those institutions from collapse, not to save innocent Iraqi children
If Iraqi children die in their millions in the process, it is sad, but necessary. Albright was not wrong. She was speaking as Secretary of State for the US state and economy. Her only ethics, if there was one, was to save those institutions from collapse.
A messiah of peace in the White House would have to reorganize life in America to build a non-violent society
Our messiah of peace in the White House will have to reorganize life in America, bottoms-up, get people to plant potatoes and cabbages, run their own local communal power plants, dismantle the supermarkets and get them to preserve and cook their own food, and turn them into a community of people affiliated to land, instead of a community of interest groups affiliated to different types of market institutions.
And s/he would be crucified in the attempt
The messiah of peace will, without doubt, be branded a trouble maker, a revolutionary, a terrorist, even a Maoist perhaps, who knows. He will without doubt be liquidated before long. Only the people of America can undertake such a task, and that too only when they feel so committed to building a non-violent society that they are prepared for the sacrifices, and violence and bloodshed the task will necessarily invite.