Materialism, Aggression, and
Earth Manifesto Insights
Dr. Tiffany B.
Einstein once said, "Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can
only be achieved through understanding."
security is ultimately a result of true justice, fairness, cooperation,
diplomacy, and mutual respect. It does
not make us more secure to pursue policies that are unilateralist,
militaristic, preemptively aggressive, or unreasonably ruthless. It makes everyone ultimately less secure to
aggressively defend economic and military policies that create ever-increasing
inequities and injustices.
us be honest with ourselves, and try to see clearly and understand. Why is the United States so eager to spend
enormous sums of money on its military and to be so aggressive in warfare? Strength and might, after all, do NOT
make morally right.
very good argument can be made that militarism is a consequence of inadequately
controlled crony capitalism. The Lessons of History, written in 1968
by historians Will and Ariel Durant, is a concise distillation of their
10-volume treatise, The Story of
Civilization. It provides us with
an extremely valuable Big Picture perspective.
Durants note that war is the ultimate expression of competition. War has not been diminished throughout
history with either civilization or democracy. Listen: "The causes of war are the same as the causes of
competition among individuals: acquisitiveness,
pugnacity, and pride; the desire for food,
land, materials, fuel, mastery. The
State has our instincts without our restraints. The individual submits to restraints laid upon him by morals and
laws, and agrees to replace combat with conference, because the State
guarantees him basic protections in his life, property, and legal rights. The State itself acknowledges no substantial
restraints, either because it is strong enough to defy any interference with
its will or because there is no super state to offer its basic protection, and
no international law or moral code wielding effective force."
Neoconservative arguments supporting preemptive warfare by the United States
effectively say that we are good, and those who oppose us are evil, and that it
is our God-given right to dominate other countries economically and militarily.
This is a new form of the old Manifest
Destiny doctrine with which we displaced Native American peoples --- and a far
valuable and insightful counterpoint to the philosophy of preemptive aggression
is provided in the book, Addicted to War,
Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism, An Illustrated Expose, written by Joel
Andreas. It states:
the front lines of the pro-war crowd you will find an assortment of
bankers, corporate executives, politicians and generals. If you ask them why they are so fond of going
to war they will give you noble and selfless reasons:
Democracy. Freedom. Justice.
what really motivates them to go to war are somewhat less lofty aims:
Money! Markets! Natural resources! Power!"
truth is that despite rhetoric to the contrary, our government’s principal
motivations for the buildup of the military, and for our aggressive military
1. To provide access to, and control over, the
land and resources of others;
2. To protect and expand Corporate interests,
and to pander to war profiteers;
3. To stimulate the economy, creating jobs and
expanding employment through wasteful, unrestrained "defense"
4. To gain public support for aggressive
warfare through patriotic support of our youth who have been sent into harm's
5. To increase the federal government's power
and control over its citizens as well as over other sovereign nations,
advancing a supremacist hegemony of the United States over other countries;
6. To provide discipline, jobs, adventure, an
aura of glory, an outlet for combativeness, and the anesthesia of combat to our
restless, misled and underprivileged young; and,
7. To divert the public's attention and
taxpayer's money from critical domestic problems that increasingly plague the U.S.,
ignoring social problems and instead spending profligately to support the
military, the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI, and police forces and prisons. This reduces our flexibility and
capabilities, using up the money and resources that would otherwise be
available to be spent on addressing the profound institutional, structural,
social and environmental challenges facing America and humankind.
in politics," said Edmund Burke, "is not seldom the truest wisdom,
and a great empire and little minds go ill together." In truth, avarice, ambition, envy, anger,
fomented insecurity, injustice, and pride are generally enemies of peace.
overlook the gross unfairness of warfare. Our all-volunteer military forces allow those with money,
privilege and good opportunity -- and their children! -- to evade serving their
country. The majority of those who
support war the most ardently have never served in the military. They, like Dick Cheney, "had other
priorities." It is a statistical
fact that a disproportionate number of people serving in our armed forces are
minorities, particularly blacks. This
is unjust! Let us bring back the
military draft to make fighting war more democratic and egalitarian, and to
thereby focus all citizens on the sacrifices that families make to send their
children off to war. Re-instituting the
draft will eliminate the insulation that the privileged feel by being able to
send poor people to do their fighting, instead of their own children. This will focus Americans more clearly on the
errors of war, which include fomented hatred, the distorted demonizing of the
enemy, the crushing of dissent by questioning dissenters' patriotism, the
lying, secrecy, and propaganda of politicians, and the prostitution of the
press and the clergy in the service of support for war.
us also pay as we go, instead of financing wars through borrowed money. This will serve to focus the general
populace on the true costs of conflict, and thus lessen the willingness of the
majority to go along with the corporate push for war.
two thousand of our "troops" -- our youth -- have died in Iraq, and
well over 12,000 have been injured. Many
have lost arms and legs. Years from
now, our society will disdain these veterans and those whose lives are being
destroyed by the shattering psychological effects of terrible violence and
killing. Many will be homeless, or
begging on the streets, and many will be in prison for crimes of violence. The wealthy, who profit most from investments
in war profiteering, and who gain the most from the aggressive defense of the
Establishment, and who benefit most from regressive tax cuts and irresponsible
deficit spending -- they will have their yachts, their mansions, their secured
estates, and they will probably still be blaming liberals for the social ills
that their class is pushing onto America.
must not condone this unjust, aggressive warfare against other sovereign
countries. We cannot allow our youth to
be sent abroad on missions that harm hundreds of thousands of innocent people
for deceptive and unjust economic and military purposes. We cannot allow our leaders to lead us in the
wrong direction, and to use secrecy, hidden agendas, dishonest motives and
misleading propaganda to push misguided policies.
"Somewhere, sometime, in the name of
humanity, we must challenge a thousand evil precedents, and dare to apply the
Golden Rule to nations, as the Buddhist King Ashoka did (262 B.C.), or at least
do what Augustus did when he bade Tiberius desist from further invasion of
Germany (A.D. 9)."
Will and Ariel Durant
is the powerfully dominant economic system of modern times. Its ascendancy coincides with the rise of the
Industrial Revolution, which in the last 200 years has been characterized by
dramatic shifts from agricultural to industrial activities, and
from rural to urban population demographics. Accompanying these enormous changes have been figuratively
earth-shaking changes in innovation, consumerism, marketing, resource usages, democracy,
freedoms, psychological constraints, economic roles, civil rights, family life,
the institution of marriage, childbearing, childcare challenges, and the
relations between males and females.
very effectively uses natural human motivations to advance free market
principles, allowing supply and demand to satisfy needs, stimulating
selfishness and greed to achieve both healthy and unfair forms of competition,
and facilitating the growth of production and consumption activities.
capitalism is amoral, largely uncaring about the societies in which it
operates. It is heartless and ruthless.
It is obsessed with short-term profits,
and eager to externalize costs onto society such as pollution cleanup costs,
adverse healthcare impacts, and resource depletion dislocations. Its cost-minimizing aspects lead to harmful
impacts on workers and the environment. It encourages abuses of power, monopoly distortions of the free
market, political corruption to gain unfair advantages, regressive social
policies, unwise subsidies, unhealthy greed, war profiteering, disaster
opportunism, price gouging, public land exploitation, pork barrel spending,
real estate speculation, and pandering to the rich and powerful. This is almost invariably a significant
detriment to the public good.
be acceptable to human society, capitalism has since its beginnings needed to
be modified, limited, and regulated. Its
power is so far-reaching that monumental and continuous struggles have been
required to keep it from doing extreme harm to individuals, societies, and the
fundamental underpinnings of life.
Communist Manifesto of 1848 and the related political movements that it
inspired were primarily oriented around striving to find a way to organize
human societies that do not greatly stimulate inequities and inequalities and
cause great social harm to human beings. Communism was a great failure at this, as much for its own
inherent shortcomings in acknowledging and harnessing the true nature of human
motivations as for its inability to effectively compete against the ruthlessly
efficient opposition of capitalist economies.
And of course its authoritarianism was objectionable, and its struggle
to compete with Western capitalist economies bankrupted the societies in which
it operated, leaving terrible social and environmental harm.
the need was great for capitalism to be modified to address its own distinct
failures. The muckraking and populist
rebellions of the early 20th Century, and the great reforms of the New Deal,
and the movements for expanded civil rights and women's rights and
environmental protections were required to make the capitalist system fairer
and more sensible.
wealthy and the powerful, however, love their power and privileges, and they
began to strongly demonstrate their unwillingness to allow so much progress. Their bid to gain ascendancy achieved great
impetus in 1980 when the Ronald Reagan was elected to be President. Since then, laissez-faire crony capitalism
has grabbed greater control, and the U.S. has begun reversing social programs
and regulations. Today this trend is
reaching a dangerously unjust and unwise extreme.
Republican Party has embraced anti-democratic radical Neoconservatism in this
hijacking of America. It has used fear
to create and exploit our insecurities, and it has insidiously pursued divisive
social policies. In contradiction to
their words, their actions have been characterized by:
1. Pandering to the already privileged
citizens who are wealthy and powerful, while under-representing those who are
poor, homeless, underprivileged and most vulnerable, resulting in harsh
punishments and causing great harm to the health of our society;
2. Allowing waste, pollution and the
squandering of resources, instead of supporting efficiency, conservation, innovation,
energy alternatives, fuel-efficient vehicles, true clean air and clean water
legislation, and public land and environmental protections;
3. Creating enormous budget deficits by
promoting tax breaks, driving extravagant military spending, and indulging in
often ridiculous pork-barrel spending;
4. Capitulating to capitalist orthodoxy rather
than sensible and just economic policy;
5. Allowing war profiteers and militarism to
gain sway rather than striving to achieve peaceful coexistence;
on polarizing people and fostering religious intolerance and fear and hate,
instead of truly Christian and humanitarian values of mercy, charity, and
7. Eroding Constitutional rights and
increasing discrimination in order to pacify rabid right-wing social
conservatives who are morally opposed to women's equality, family planning,
contraception, women's reproductive rights, gay people's rights, and good
public education including the teaching of the facts of evolution;
8. Favoring faith-based charity and born-again
Christian religious fundamentalism rather than secular initiatives and
intelligent and ecumenical moderation;
9. Pandering to American supremacists rather
than those who advocate respectful diplomacy and multi-nationalism and
10. Seeking to monopolize the government and
destroy the fairness of our democracy by betraying our trust, deceiving the
majority, disenfranchising minorities, distorting science for politically
motivated purposes, and employing unfair tactics and fraud in elections; and,
11. Ruling by the short-sighted means of
dividing the people, rather than striving to unite them in creating the best
policies for humanity's well being and survival.
must come to understand that this Republican agenda is not one of honest
conservatism, nor is it an expression of true moral values or wise principles. One of the most significant characteristics
of the authoritarian society we are creating is its willingness to distort the
truth while simultaneously suppressing dissent. As Mario Cuomo observed in his book Reason to Believe in 1995, the conservative Republican agenda
"is a new Harshness that will make our problems worse, while stirring our
meanest instincts and trampling upon our best impulses."
"The Republicans are the party that says that
government doesn't work, and then gets elected and proves it."
reason that the Republicans have succeeded so well, despite the retrogressive
and anti-populist aspects of their doctrines, is that they have organized very
effectively and they generously funded right-wing think tanks to manipulate
public opinion. The American news media has also collaborated in this effort to
influence and distort public opinion, largely because it is owned by some of
the largest corporations in the country, who benefit greatly from Republican
policies. General Electric owns NBC; Viacom owns CBS; Disney owns ABC; AOL Time Warner owns CNN; and the right-wing ideologue Rupert Murdoch
controls the exceptionally biased Fox Network.
we see that the capitalist system is finding ways to triumph over democracy, to
almost inadvertently but effectively brainwash the American people, and to transcend
national borders. But we must be aware
that we are permitting this shortsightedness, and it is economically, socially
and morally bankrupting the U.S. and the world.
is a degradation of humanity to promote conflicts and warfare while contributing
to increasing poverty and grave social injustices. It is folly to cause the destruction of ancient forests, the
diminishment of wilderness areas, the harming of habitats, the onslaught
against biodiversity, the poisoning waterways, the mindless depletion of
natural resources. And it is bizarre
that we oppose human population limitations without concern for the
consequences of this immoderateness.
require practical and far-sighted initiatives infused with vision and wisdom in
order to improve the world, and to make it more fair, more safe, and more sane.
We require creative individuals with
clarity of mind and energy of will, which is a kind of definition of genius --
people who are capable of effective responses to new situations, which is the
most authentic kind of intelligence.
thought-provoking book, Addicted to War,
Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism, adduces extensive evidence concerning
the historical American wrongs of harsh economic imperialism and strongly
correlated militaristic policy. It
concludes with a page that asks these questions:
is this addiction to war doing to the people of the U.S. and the world?
How much does it
cost? Who's going to
Who's going to
And who's going to die?
Think about it. Do
something about it."
is up to all of us to help figure out what we can do to best address all of
these daunting issues. We must drum up
a groundswell of cultural creativity, effective advocacy, and mainstream
support to help actualize better strategies to ensure that our societies
progress in wholesome, sustainable ways.
--- Dr. Tiffany Twain