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We can't afford an anti-war movement

I want to pose a few questions to the readers regarding the anti-war movement. Do we need an anti-war movement? What does that movement accomplish? We must oppose the war, but can it be framed within the context of a “peace” or “anti-war” movement? Approaching the war under these labels and moral discussions detracts us from the larger issue: that this war is a product of capitalism.
We can't afford an anti-war movement

By Chris Kortright
The Alarm! Newspaper Contributor

The momentum of the war machine is increasing with the UN Security Council’s vote in favor of the US’s resolution on Iraq. The war machine is not the only thing that has gained momentum; the anti-war movement has been increasing its voice and appearances on the national and local scenes. I want to pose a few questions to the readers regarding the anti-war movement. Do we need an anti-war movement? What does that movement accomplish? We must oppose the war, but can it be framed within the context of a “peace” or “anti-war” movement? Approaching the war under these labels and moral discussions detracts us from the larger issue: that this war is a product of capitalism.

The immediate focus on the war, although necessary, should not distract our attention from the issue of capitalist exploitation and expansion both locally and globally. We need to analyze and oppose the war from an anti-capitalist perspective because the war is motivated by capital interests. I know many readers are thinking that this statement is obvious, but if you go to the Ocean/Water Street weekly protests, you see American Flags, signs that say “negotiations not bombs” and little analysis of either capitalism or nation-state projects.

So, lets look at the war in economic terms. Our present militaristic and aggressive foreign policy is an attempt to minimize competition between capitalist cores and encourage monopolization of markets through imperialist tactics. A large part of the present scenario is the control of oil sources, but not necessarily the oil in the Middle East. US policy makers have their eyes on oil in Central Asia. The US also wants to control sources of oil on which Europe and Japan (our competition within the cores) are dependent. Iraq in many ways is a gateway to both Iran and Central Asia; the US has strategically had its eye on Iraq since the first Gulf War.

Most of the discussions regarding the “War on Terrorism,” or even a “War against Islam,” miss the motivations of US global militarism. The militaristic actions are for economic domination, profit and improved competitiveness through the control of Central Asian oil; it is not motivated by desires for the removal of Saddam Hussein or the elimination of bin Laden. The economic motivations mean we can’t resist US policies in the name of “anti-war.” This will be an anti-war resistance that would fail because the short term view of our situation is extremely bleak. We will bomb Iraq, and then other countries will move into the scope of US policies unless we take down capitalism and remove the motivations for US militaristic interventions.

If we hope to show solidarity to those suffering on the global capitalist peripheries, we need to do more then stop bombs from being dropped on them. We must attack the economic apparatus that has initiated these militaristic attacks. An “anti-war” movement can not achieve this. An analysis of militaristic violence that ignores economic violence will not end or reduce suffering in either the peripheries or the cores. I’m not calling to integrate war resistance into the “anti-globalization” movement because the issue cannot be seen as “anti-global.” There is a need for globalism right now. But globalism should not be confused with capitalist globalization. The way to stop wars and suffering is to incorporate our resistance to US militaristic interventions into the larger global anti-capitalist resistance.
 
 


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Comments

Kortright Insight

Excellent observations, I enjoyed your insightful probing of this issue. You even made me look up what capitalism means to see if I agreed with what you are saying. Although I do think that anti-war rallies and peace celebrations are both admirable actions to take regarding current events, I would agree actions that free us of capitalism may go more directly to the root of the problem. I'm confident that you are correct in your analysis of the motivations behind this war, but I'm not so sure that flag-wavers, and pro-negotiations people are naively detracting from a global peace. It's possible that their actions can co-exist with other actions to remove capitalism from our way of being. But what I found most valuable in your article is your approach. It's a model of the kind of approach that I believe can solve any problem. It states your opinion frankly and directly, yet not hysterically. You use 'we' and 'let's' a lot, and allow for the acceptance of other views. To me, that is a global attitude. I would like to hear more about specific actions to take against capitalism.
 

Some Economic Violence More Equal Than Others?

I also enjoyed the article, but would ask you and others to consider that the people, through their agency, the government, do economic violence upon one another through taxation (and to a more subtle extent, through inflation of the money supply). When it is OK to step into a voting booth and obligate a neighbor to pay for a particular program or service that the voter approves (or that benefits the voter!), to which the other might not voluntarily contribute -- in other words, to commit political and economic violence with impunity -- it is a very short step to accepting and even supporting economic violence committed elsewhere in the world in one's name or for one's alleged benefit.

I don't think "capitalism" is actually the problem. In your own personal affairs, do you not expect to call your own shots, as long as you aren't hurting anyone, and to be nobody's slave, even temporarily? Do you not expect to be able to acquire and use property -- including leasing or selling it -- as you see fit, as long as nobody else is harmed? Do you not reserve the right to accumulate property for future use, perhaps in anticipation of a "rainy day"? Wouldn't you expect the government to protect your liberty and property against bullies, thugs, thieves and vandals? Wouldn't you expect government to help you enforce fair agreements that you made with others, and wouldn't you respect enforcement of others' agreements with you? These are the elements of capitalism, distilled down to the personal level; they seem not only reasonable, but desirable?

At what point, then, does reasonable and desirable capitalism become destructive, hateful, "globalist capitalism," which so many resist these days? I would argue that it isn't so much the nature of capitalism that is the problem, but the scale of its scope and application. Healthy organisms become unbalanced, developing cancers and other ailments. Just so, do capitalist organizations literally grow into counterproductiveness. Understand that corporations generally cannot grow to such malevolent size without the cooperation and assistance of governments. Indeed, governments literally create corporations, conferring limited liability upon the owners, fictional "personhood" upon the organization, and many other privileges and benefits. The notion of "corporation" and the many legal powers and privileges that notion entails, are among the main reasons that organizations can grow as large as they do. Very rarely can any "capitalist monopoly" exist without being aided and abetted by laws tailored to confer unfair advantage.

As I see it, the proper functioning of capitalism depends upon certian "natural forces" to keep enterprises in check. The "personhood" and "limited liability" aspects of corporations, in particular, negate and provide immunity to some of those forces, encouraging rapacious, monopolistic behavior on the part of organizations so "bionically enhanced." Originally, "capitalism" didn't include these aspects; they were added later -- with the approval and participation of governments -- by those, I believe, who would exert excessive influence and power over others in the name of personal wealth and privilege. In other words, the "natural forces" were standing between certain people and the realization of their ambitions, so we (or our governments, at least) agreed to blunt or remove those forces, thus eventually allowing the development of modern trans-national conglomerates.

I think we would do better to challenge the "convenient fictions" of corporation law -- which seem more and more INconvenient as time goes on -- rather than nominate "capitalism" as a scapegoat. Our real enemies are the unhealthy concentrations of wealth and power, whether they occur in government or corporations, or label themselves capitalist, socialist, or whatever. It takes a well-balanced MULTITUDE of public and private concerns to keep any of them from growing so large and influential as to be unhealthy for society. Here's a paradox: the government that is big enough to take on megacorporations in the people's name is also the government that, when corrupted, can protect megacorporations from the people. We have seen signs for a long time that the fox is guarding the henhouse, but this happened also in countries that formally eschewed capitalism, so to concentrate on the "-ism" is, I think, to miss the target.
 

Destructive vs. desirable capitalism

Merritt's comments pretty much mirror the attitudes of Adam Smith, who excoriated the large corporations of the day in his magnum opus, _Wealth of Nations_. In Smith's time, the big businesses of the day were government-sanctioned monopolies over colonial regions, such as the Hudson's Bay Company or the Dutch East India Company.

The trouble I see with such ideas is that while capitalism can theoretically start out without any such monstrosities, it never seems to _stay_ that way. Markets, by their very nature of rewarding success and punishing failure, create inequalities. It's not long before a capitalist or group of capitalists gets, while not as super-rich as the current corporate elite, wealthy enough to be able to wield influence over government.

At this point, the struggle becomes one of capitalist ideological purity with itself. Should the ideal of the separation of economy and government be maintained, or should the ideal of profit maximization be pursued by buying influence? History has shown that the latter wins out, if not every time, consistantly enough that it's all over except for the crying.

The USA, after all, didn't have any such entrenched geograhpic monopolies when it gained independence. (Usurping the ones that were hurting the development of industries in the colonies was a major reason for the American Revolution in the first place.) Yet eventually they arose, as they have arisen worldwide.
 

Yes, We Can Afford a Peace Movement



Published on Monday, November 18, 2002 by The Daily Record (Wooster, Ohio)
Vigils: Small Group, Mighty Message
by Megan Akers

On any given Wednesday night, specks of candlelight illuminate the square as people gather quietly, praying for peace.

For about a month, people from community churches have stood near the gazebo on Wednesday evenings from 5-6 p.m. holding a peaceful protest against the possibility of war between the United States and Iraq.


Each Wednesday evening, candles flicker near the gazebo on the square in downtown Wooster as people gather quietly, praying for peace and holding a peaceful protest against the possibility of a war between the United States and Iraq. Rakim Sunra Ali photo

On average, Pastor Carroll Meyer of Westminster Presbyterian Church said, about two dozen people congregate.

"All of us are concerned about the issues that seem to be developing," Meyer said.

The demonstration is a far cry from anti-war demonstrations that flash across the evening news, the pastor said.

"This is a quiet kind of demonstration," he said. "We're not yelling in the streets. We're quietly talking about praying for peace."

Cindy Gooch joined the vigils because she's frustrated.

"Some of us don't know what else to do," Gooch said.

With the possibility of war with Iraq looming, participating in the demonstrations gives Gooch a sense of accomplishment.

"I have the feeling that I haven't just been sitting at home, bemoaning the fact," Gooch said.

As an avid churchgoer, Gooch said mixing her patriotism with spirituality was hard at first. But after meeting people at the demonstrations, it was easier to blend church and state.

Participants are from all spectrums of the rainbow, young and old, Gooch said.

"It's refreshing to be around younger patriotism," she said. "It shows a different point of view and activity."

One group of participants who are especially affected by the possibility of war include students at The College of Wooster who are from Mideast countries.

For about two years the group has been studying conflicts in the Middle East, Meyer said. With the conflicts escalating, the group decided to join the demonstrations.

"It is very personal for them," Meyer said. "Their sisters and brothers, their homeland. When we think about what's happening there, it's very personal and painful."

"We don't want our nation to go headlong into war by ourselves," Gooch said. "If there's a backing of other nations, that's another matter."

She said the United States needs to step back to look at the picture as a whole before drastic measures are taken.

"We need to give Iraq another chance," Gooch said. "before we do something horrible. Many innocent people, who Hussein has taken advantage of, are going to be killed."

The square demonstrations may be small, but Meyer and Gooch hope they send a mighty message.

"We know we're a small group of people in a very large community," Meyer said. "We need to constantly remind people that there are alternatives and that we need to work on those alternatives."

The right to hold demonstrations is one freedom this nation offers that Gooch said she's thankful for.

"I don't want to live any place else," she said. "This is the country I want to be in."

Copyright 2002 The Daily Record, Wooster, Ohio


When people like this are showing up to protest for the first time (as are thousands of other "red-blooded, go-fearing Americans") "anti-capitalists" need to view it as an opportunity to present CLEAR, WELL-REASONED, alternatives to capitalism. More on this point later........ V.
 

understanding capitalism

David B,

> The trouble I see with such ideas is that while
> capitalism can theoretically start out without any such
> monstrosities, it never seems to _stay_ that way.

The only monstrosities are the people who take the helm of these monopolies, and only because of the way they run them. A bulldozer looks like a monstrosity too, when driven by a racist blood-thirsty Israeli soldier while smashing Palestinian farm houses as part of a campaign of military conquest.

That same bulldozer becomes a 10 ton mechanical angel when driven by a fireman to clear an emergency fire break when flames are crawling through the forest towards your house.

Are 18 wheel semi trucks "evil" when they haul old growth logs? Of course not, it's just a machine - a machine that was probably hauling food to the store 6 months prior. The driver, his foreman, and all the other humans up his chain of command, are where we place the blame because they have the faculty of conscious choice.

So why do you participate in supporting this diversionary illusion that "corporations" and corporate monopolies are evil? The whole point of "incorporation" is a ruse to shift personal responsibility from the owner/operator of the business machine, onto the machine itself.

By focusing on corporations - machines - rather than their owners - drivers - you only confuse the matter, waste precious effort, and encourage others to make the same mistake.

Corporations are not evil. Monopolies are not evil. Only people can be evil.

Besides, what's your solution - break the corporate monopolies by putting them under the thumb of GOVERNMENT? Hello, they're the biggest monopoly around! They're a monopoly of brute force. And they succumbed to corruption over a century ago.

> Markets, by their very nature of rewarding success and
> punishing failure, create inequalities.

The lack of reward is not punishment, except to a spoiled child. A free market economy does not "punish". Only a govt or criminal organization, through police or military force, can truly "punish". Success is a priviledge, not a right. It must be earned. Failure is not punishment, it's just failure.

As for "inequalities" - people are not created equal, nor do they behave equally. A smart person is not equal to an idiot. A hard worker is not equal to a lazy bum. A healthy man is not equal to someone born severely crippled.

Capitalism - true, perfect, and uncorrupted capitalism - does not create these inequalities, it merely allows men and women to increase their tangible resources via voluntary exchange to the best of their abilities and inherited resources (resources acquired by ancestors also via voluntary exchange and capitalization upon their own abilities.)

> It's not long before a capitalist or group of capitalists
> gets, while not as super-rich as the current corporate
> elite, wealthy enough to be able to wield influence over
> government.

And this makes capitalists any different from political lobbies, labor unions, organized religions, and everyone else how?

Power does not corrupt, but it does expose the true nature of people. And most people are not good people, they're just afraid to show it.

-Van
 

No War Please! Lets seek Peace.

God is love , peace and mercy,
Lord Jesus said"He is the Prince of peace".But in this world we do not find any peace.Where the peace is lost? It is because we are following Satan,and as being his followers we keep on destroying everything. We have destroyed peace of mind,peace of world and peace even for the animals.
Lets hold each others hands and ask God to shower Peace from heaven.I think Heavenly message from God on this Easter should be,"Shower Peace from Heaven."
 

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