Resistance, Renewal … or War?
by Karen Kwiatkowski: A
Power Play in Congress – and How To Stop It
I just received
my copy of a great new book entitled Why
Peace edited by Marc Guttman. I am one of many contributors,
and my chapter is titled "If War is the Health of the State,
What is Peace?"
I will share
that chapter at a later time, and I encourage you to buy and widely
share this fantastic collection. Marc, a friend and a great activist
for liberty, has really achieved something special and important
in Why Peace.
It occurs to
me that when we speak of war, we often confuse justifiable resistance
of people to evil with the propaganda-driven fiascos pursued by
governments in order to consolidate or expand power, or to satisfy
the corporate demands placed on politicians by the organizations,
industries or cabals that helped elect them.
history we have many examples of this, and the American government,
even in its early and more innocent years, was no stranger to state-financed
war for this or that friend, ally, or economic interest. Gary
North even makes a case that the concept of tax resistance embodied
in the Boston Tea Party and sparking the American war of independence,
was indeed less a justified popular tax revolt than a war for trade
monopoly joined by the nascent American government.
fresh to American by tens of thousands as they fled their failed
1848 socialist revolution in Germany, were key in the election of
Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Their philosophy and statism demanded Lincoln’s
prosecution of the war between the states. Lincoln’s efforts to
redefine federalism, to nationalize, to stand above the Constitution,
and to politically satisfy both his industrial monopolist and European
socialist backers created that deadly war, where none was desired
by the vast majority of people, in either the North or the South.
and the Indian Wars as well, lend credence to the idea of war as
corporate strategy, implemented by governments through force, largely
against the will or common sense of the people, and therefore creating
a need for centralized nationalist propaganda. War and its storyline
both emanate from the state. On the other hand, rebellion, resistance
and a renewal evolutionary political change tends to emanate
from the people, through a leavening and a changing of their hearts
and minds over time.
progressivism in the late 1800s embraced the idea that a sinning
and sinful men and women could be forcefully reformed, and that
a Protestant American state should be God’s instrument in this human
reform. The merger of church and state instead brought more war,
at home and abroad. At home, surges of immigration by large uneducated
Italians and Irish Catholics were dealt with by the public school
movement, mandatory schooling by the state (at the time, religiously
influenced) was advocated. The attempted prohibition of alcohol,
and the growth of the state it created, was also a point of progressivism.
Abroad, the collapse of the global Catholic empire was seen by these
same progressives as an opportunity for the state, and fueled Washington’s
push for extended global wars.
It would be
remarkably generous and entirely naïve to suggest that the
progressive wars against papists, alcohol, and laziness were popular
rebellions, or that they constituted some focused resistance by
the average people of the country. It would also be naïve to
consider that the goals of the progressives of the late 1800s and
the early 1900s were not in sync with the goals of larger and increasingly
global corporations of the major cities of the United States. It
was this harnessing of the language and propaganda of the Christian
progressives with the corporate capitalism that spawned and encouraged
American’s participation in the great wars of the 20th
Century, and the lesser ones.
fought some of these wars, in the Philippines and elsewhere, retired
Marine General Smedley Butler wrote his famous 1934 speech "War
is a Racket." It was in the early 1930s, an age of widespread
hardship, and Butler was capitalizing on both his understanding
of corporate-driven wars and on popular sentiment, in a Senatorial
primary campaign that he would lose.
also had a falling out with Grayson Murphy, on whose behalf Butler
claimed to have been approached in 1934 to lead an army of 500,000
men to install a dictatorship in the White House. The would-be dictator
was identified as Brigadier General Hugh "Iron Pants"
Johnson, a member of FDR’s brain trust, a FDR speechwriter and a
New Deal planner. At the risk of repeating myself, the proposed
dictatorship was fascist in orientation. A Congressional committee
reviewed the Butler’s charges, and confirmed that indeed, such a
plan existed, "… and
might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers
deemed it expedient." Grayson Murphy was a co-founder in
1919 of the American Legion (the purported source of the proto-army
of 500,000), and a board member of organizations such as Morgan
Bank, Goodyear and Bethlehem Steel.
I mention this
because among many other organizations, the American Legion still
takes a strong stance for wars of the state, and suggests in its
language, tone, and advertisers that to oppose state wars is to
oppose and disrespect the draftees and volunteers who are the foot-soldiers
of these wars.
farewell speech, familiar
to many, echoes no more than the contemporary understanding
of the embedded industrial, military and political networks of his
own era. Those networks have grown, intertwined, and subsumed the
policies and actions of the two major political parties in the subsequent
decades. Today, as for several past decades, the warfare state benefits
whether the elected President of the United States is a Democrat
or a Republican.
I think this
connectedness of the state, state corporations and appointed and
elected warmakers is the only way we can define the term "war."
Who can deny that bailed out banks and carmakers, subsidized, taxpayer-nurtured
defense, technology, energy, agricultural and pharmaceutical industries
are not state corporations? Who would claim today that the incursions
of the state into space, into the Internet, and into our backyards,
front yards, kitchens, bedrooms, gun cabinets, bank accounts and
safe deposit boxes is not a war conducted by the state?
War – its funding,
its design, its conduct and pursuit, as Randolph Bourne observed,
is always the health of the state. We who resist, rebel, and seek
renewal, whether by Jefferson’s blood of patriots or though a new
and peaceful understanding of the Constitution, of God, of duty
or of humanity what we do, what we fund, what we design, conduct
and pursue is not war.
isn’t war, we may not have a single leader, or any leader at all.
We may not raise a large army, nor will we need to field massive
and complex weapon systems. The bulk of rebellion and resistance,
and even renewal in a community, a state, a country, and even a
nation, is silent and hidden. Like a massive iceberg, the resistance,
the rebellion and political and social renewal occurs hidden from
the state’s view, underneath the substrate, a powerful and indestructible
use the word "war" too much today, and we fear its "power"
perhaps more than we should. Wars are just the wasteful, deadly
and destructive spasms of fearful kings and dictators, created largely
by the laziness and greed of those who control and drive the overweening
state. Conservative and Progressive alike, the so-called left and
the presumed right, those who love the Constitution as God’s inspired
guidance and those who believe as Lysander Spooner did, that
it is no law at all – all of these believers should boldly hold
state war in profound contempt.
As we treasure
peace, freedom, and self-ownership, community and family, we should
not teach our children to revere state war, and to become patriotic
robots and passive foot-soldiers of a lying, corrupted, and spendthrift
government. Instead of studying the histories of wars, written by
the surviving governments, we should, through example and practice,
teach our children the art of resistance to evil, the power of peaceful
rebellion against tyrants, and the current and very real possibilities
of political and personal renewal.
appeared on Freedom's Phoenix's
February 3 e-Zine.
columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send
her mail], a
retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty
and Power and The
Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles,
here or join her Facebook page. She
is currently running for Congress in Virginia's 6th district.
2012 Karen Kwiatkowski
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