Bulletin N° 682
Subject: ‘WAR IS THE HEALTH OF THE STATE’ : DISOLVING THE CRYSTALIZATION OF CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS IN A SOLUTION OF HEATED NATIONALISM, CONCOCTED BY ‘THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE’.
6 February 2016
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
I was recently discussing with my American Studies undergraduates the formation of social classes in society. It goes back, of course, to ancient history and the “cradle of civilization” in the Tigris Euphrates River Valley. The early city states such as Ur and Babylon of Mesopotamia were a product of civilization, which was born with “the agricultural revolution” (with the domestication of plants, and later animals, around the time irrigation technology was invented), and this development gave rise to permanent settlement which depended on surplus production of food for storage throughout the year (which meant that workers were now capable of producing more than they needed for consumption). From this, specialized social classes appeared, classes of people who could live in society without producing food. Thus the military and the priest classes evolved out of this new technology, and their purpose was to protect the population that was producing the food. The first NATIONAL SECURITY STATE was born more than 5000 years ago.
The military, from the first, was quick to adopt new technologies. Most notably, was the wheel, which archiologists think was inspired by the potter’s wheel, which had been around for a thousand years before some genius applied the principle of a circular device turning on an axis for making pottery to the idea of wheels attached to a plank to make a transportation vehicle. This we are told occurred in Sumeria around 3200 B.C. By contrast, the Egyptians possessed the potter’s wheel as early as 2700 B.C. but did not use the wheel for transport until about 1700 B.C. and it is thought that the idea was not an invention (the Egyptians did not “re-invent the wheel” but simply copied it from the impressive Mesopotamian war machine and used it for transportation purposes, displacing slave labor. (For an interesting and systematic discussion of the role of the military in the evolution of civilization, see Michael Mann’s four-volume study, The Sources of Social Power.)
“Civilization is a double-edged sword,” remarked one student during this discussion. “We live longer and healthier lives, but at a price, too.” This paradox is nowhere more apparent than in 20th century wars, where class struggle has directed science and applied technology in the direction of defending the nation-state at all costs. The development of poison gas during the First World War, and the development of the Atom bomb during the Second World War, and the development of the Hydrogen bomb during the Cold War are significant illustrations of this dynamic. If national wars were not launched periodically, and new weapons of mass destruction developed routinely, what would happen to our civilization, which from the start is based on minority ownership and control of the means of production and class exploitation? Eric Hobsbawm points out in his book, On History, how civilization produced barbarism.
There are several reasons why the First World War began the descent into barbarism. First, it opened the most murderous era so far recorded in history. Zbigniew Brezizinski has recently estimated the ‘megadeaths’ between 1914 and 1990 at 187 million, which –however speculative—may serve as a reasonable order of magnitude. I calculate that this corresponds to something like 9 per cent of the world’s population in 1914. We have got used to killing. Second, the limitless sacrifices which governments imposed on their own men as they drove them into the holocaust of Verdun and Ypres set a sinister precedent, if only for imposing even more unlimited massacres on the enemy. Third, the very concept of a war of total national mobilization shattered the central pillar of civilized warfare, the distinction between combatants and non-combatants. Fourth, the First World War was the first major war, at all events in Europe, waged under conditions of democratic politics by, or with the active participation of, the entire population. Unfortunately democracies can rarely be mobilized by wars when these are seen merely as incidents in the international power-game, as old-fashioned foreign offices saw them to be. Nor do they fight them like bodies of professional soldiers or boxers, for whom war is an activity that does not require hating the enemy, so long as he fights by the professional rules. Democracies, as experience shows, require demonized enemies. This, as the Cold War was to demonstrate, facilitates barbarization. Finally, the Great War ended in social and political breakdown, social revolution and counter-revolution on an unprecedented scale.
This era of breakdown and revolution dominated the thirty years after 1917. The twentieth century became, among other things, an era of religious wars between a capitalist liberalism, on the defensive and in retreat until 1947, and both Soviet communism and movements of the fascist type, which also wished to destroy each other. Actually the only real threat to liberal capitalism in its heartlands, apart from its own breakdown after 1914, came from the right. Between 1920 and Hitler’s fall no regime anywhere was overthrown by communist or socialist revolution. But the communist threat, being to property and social privilege, was more frightening. This was not a situation conducive to the return of civilized values. All the more so, since the war had left behind a black deposit of ruthlessness and violence, and a substantial body of men experienced in both and attached to both. Many of them provided the manpower for an innovation, for which I can find no real precedent before 1914, namely quasi-official or tolerated strong-arm and killer squads which did the dirty work governments were not yet ready to do officially: the Freikorps, the Black-and-Tans, the Squadristi. In any case violence was on the rise. (p.256-257)
Dominic Selwood’s recent article, The man who invented poison gas: a horror story, provides a biographical description of the Polish-born physical chemist, Fritz Haber, who worked for the German war machine in WW I. Haber was denounced by the young German scientist, Albert Einstein at the time, before he himself engaged in military contracts to develop another weapon of mass destruction.
We see again and again in the laboratory of history how class struggle is held over the ‘bunsen burner’ and dissolved into fratricide, by fusing the heated solution of nationalist ideology with the national security state acting as a catalyst.
The 8 items below will inform readers how our class-divided civilization –or what remains of it—has once again turned towards war and militarism to produce investment opportunities. Many of you might find the 6th item below particularly interesting, as it discusses how school children are being turned into cannon fodder for future capitalist wars, by learning to submit to orders from above rather than learning to discuss their real human needs with their peers.
Professor of American Studies
University of Grenoble-3
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
Eastern Europe Cautiously Welcomes Larger U.S. Military Presence
by Rick Lyman
“We appreciate President Obama’s decision to boost funding for an increased U.S. military presence on the territory of NATO’s front-line allies,” the Czech Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. “The U.S. is the leader of the Atlantic alliance and has an indispensable role in making its collective deterrent sufficiently robust and credible.”
The Obama administration says it will propose quadrupling what it spends on its troops and training in Europe as part of the U.S. military's accelerating effort to deter Russia
Israel Key Link in Exporting ISIS Oil
Vijay Prashad says that ISIS oil is smuggled through Turkey to Israel and is a major source of ISIS funding
Obama Is Pressed to Open Military Front Against ISIS in Libya
by Eric Schmitt
Why The ‘Sultan of Chaos’ Is Freaking Out
by Pepe Escobar
Why Is My Kindergartner Being Groomed for the Military at School?
by Sarah Grey
Enemies Seek Face Saving Escalation Measures
by Moon Of Alabama
Sent: Friday, 5 February, 2016
Subject: Anti-Empire Report, February 5, 2016
Report, February 5, 2016