11/06 Open Thread: We Need a War on War, Wars, Warfare and all that
The US, has been engaged in some sort of war, overt or covert, hot or cold, direct or by proxy, military or economic, for my entire life and I have passed my 3 score years and 10. Actually, we've been at it for almost our entire history, both as a nation and as colonies before that. It is what we do, and, seemingly, what we love. Before you dispute the idea that we are fond of war, consider our linguistic habits. We can't even perform basic hygene without invoking a WAR on Cavities. If you want public support and commitment in the US, you declare a war on something. We've had, in addition to the war on cavities, a war on poverty, a war on cancer, wars on crime, a war on drugs, a war on terror, a war on opioids and more. Luddites among us decry the alleged war on lightbulbs and the war on plastic straws in an attempt to enlist support for their cause. Certain christianistas attempt to terrorize their followers by telling tales of some mythic War on Xmas. (snerk)
I have, for most of my life, opposed war and, more broadly, violence. I have participated in a type of war on war in the streets, in meeting halls, campus plazas, in print and from the podium. So far I seem to be losing. I am not alone, I know that there are many who truly oppose war, many who conditionally claim to do so, under appropriate circumstances, and I know of great numbers who claim not to like, favor or desire war. So why are we here. Why are we, face it, a warfare state with a war dependent economy? Well, one contributing factor is the fact that we've had a powerful propaganda machine, actually, several, pushing war and related goals and ideas since the fifties, and a serious yellow press for many decades before that. We've been insular and isolationist while being imperialist, jingoist and globalist and a ton of other things that don't seem to belong in the same box, but somehow did and do. So how should we address this?
As I said above, we need a war on war. Whomever controls the narrative controls the past, present and future, and declaring war on something is, as it seems to be, the tried and true way to "git 'er dun", than let's go for it. A War on War, isn't, of course, anything close to a narrative or narrative control, just a slogan or bumper sticker. So, at this point I'm going to hand things off to Caitlin, and simply post here a complete copy of her column entitled In A Society Built On War, We Must Do More Than Just Prefer Peace. Please read and re-read it. Then save it and drag it out and refer to it quarterly or so while beginning to try to act upon it.
In A Society Built On War, We Must Do More Than Just Prefer Peace
by Caitlin Johnstone
American activist Angela Davis once said, "In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” Our responsibility to truth and justice isn't fulfilled by merely witnessing the perverse tendency in western society toward white supremacy without participating in it, any more than our responsibility is fulfilled by merely witnessing but not participating in a gang rape. Simply choosing not to participate in a grave injustice while giving it our tacit permission to continue is insufficient, especially if the color of your skin gives you an advantage resulting from that injustice. This injustice must be forcefully opposed.
The same is true of war, which is the glue that holds together the empire which dominates our society.
There is a painfully common notion among leftists and progressives that it is perfectly acceptable to focus on domestic policy while de-emphasising the importance of foreign policy, or even ignoring foreign policy entirely. Politicians can generate immense support for themselves simply by promoting decent domestic policies while maintaining foreign policy that is not terribly distinct from the CIA/CNN mainstream consensus. I'm not as familiar with right-wing political circles, but I gather that libertarians and other right-leaning anti-interventionists often encounter a similar deprioritization of sane foreign policy.
War is the worst thing in the world. In terms of death, destruction and suffering caused to human beings, nothing else comes close: it's just the absolute worst thing. It is worse than economic injustice. It is worse than racism. It is worse than sexism. It is worse than homophobia and transphobia. It is worse than draconian drug policies and immigration policies. All of those things are bad. War is worse. The politics of anyone who claims to care about people should reflect this.
If you don't think that war is the worst thing in the world, it's only because you haven't looked closely enough at exactly what it is and how it works. Wars always necessarily involve not just mountains of human corpses, but lives ruined forever, bodies ripped apart, brains permanently destroyed by neurological trauma and minds permanently destroyed by psychological trauma, millions displaced from their homes, rape and slavery and human trafficking rising exponentially in the chaos, extremist factions rising to power and inflicting unspeakable evils on people. The suffering that is inflicted by every one of these military operations which get promoted by middle-aged men in DC think tanks in a casual tone of voice with the occasional joke mixed in, the suffering is literally unfathomable.
We live in a civilization that was built by war. A civilization that is currently propped up by war. A civilization that has its future mapped out with war as its career and war as its retirement plan. The political and economic system which dictates the way our society moves and operates has its roots sunk deep into the soil of war. The only thing separating us from the wars our government is waging in our name is physical proximity.
In such a society, it is not enough to merely not be a warmonger. It is not enough to simply have a preference for peace. Our responsibility to truth and justice does not end in our non-participation in warmongering, because the wars go on regardless. In fact, those who are responsible for keeping the wars going would much prefer that we didn't think too hard about them. Because they know that if we thought with lucid intellectual honesty about the horrors that our civilization is unleashing upon the world every single day, we would find this entire system intolerable.
It is the responsibility of anyone who wants to be a good person, anyone who wants to be a just person, anyone who wants to be a truthful and authentic person to stand in ferocious opposition to this system. To look closely at what's being done by your government and its allies overseas, to learn as much as you can about it, and to oppose it loudly and forcefully. This is more important than any other political agenda you could possibly fight for. If you don't undertake it you have no basis on which to call yourself a good person, a just person, or a truthful or authentic person. You're just another tacit facilitator.
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So, what is needed, IMHO is active Peacemongering
Title Image is Pace_Colomba
It's an open thread, so have at it. The floor is yours