cj#940-rn> report from rkm


Richard Moore


War is a strange thing.  It somehow moves us into a different space of
values and rules.  The same person - who would be horrified if a single
murder occured in their own neighborhood - smugly and calmly over their
dinner table justifies the slaughter of innocent women and children in some
far off land he or she knows nothing about.  A serial killer is considered
to be mentally unbalanced as well as deeply evil, while a soldier can get a
medal for being an especially efficient killer, and be welcomed home as an
honored hero.

War, like all violence, is at the same time horrible and exciting.  Our
history books dwell on violence and our entertainment is filled with it.
And this can't be blamed on the corporate media - it has been that way
often in history and across cultures.

The Hindu god Shiva is the god of both creation and destruction, and war
has in fact been one of the principle instruments of creative change
throughout history.  If one calls such change progress, then one must
accept that war has been a major generator of progress.  In the case of WW
II, the creativity that was telescoped into those few years beggars belief
- radar, sonar, nuclear fission, jet propulsion, computers - these and much
much more were all brought from idea (or prototype) to production between
1939 and 1945.


But such technological developments were secondary - wars are always
primarily about shifts among power elites.  The primary changes/
developments/ progress brought by WW II were changes in the world order.
From 1945 onwards the context of international relations was global in a
way it had never been before.

Before that time, each part of the world had its own dynamic - one didn't
particularly need to draw connections between events in Brazil and events
in Albania, for example.  But after 1945, an event anywhere could always be
related to the US-Soviet rivalry, and therefore had a global-level
significance, even if a small one.  In fact, the Cold War was really more a
catalyst than anything else - it provided the excuse to consolidate the
postwar, US-protected, Western-managed, neo-imperialist, global regime.
Strong polarization led to strong alignment, not so much ideologically or
politically but in terms of economic regime.  The Russian Bear was the
bugaboo that enabled the building of the modern global economy, for what
it's worth.

Most wars the US has been involved in have resulted in significant
enhancements to US power and wealth and in particular the wealth of
industrial and finance capitalists.  In a few exceptional cases, such as
the Spanish American War, the aggressive, expansionist objectives were
publicly acknowledged, but mostly they weren't.  In every case, beginning
with the Revolutionary War itself, establishment elites managed, or
presented, events so that the war became a "response" to a sensationalized
"provocation", and the execution of the war then was then perceived, and
dutifully recorded by historians, as a righteous crusade for or against
this or that.  One of history's longest-running con-jobs.

That pattern of US behavior - wars with clear but unannouced economic
objectives - has continued unchanged up to the current day - indeed the
current moment - as missiles fly non-stop over Yugoslavia.

However, significant parameters in the surrounding environment have changed
from the pre-1945 days.  It is no longer US national aggrandizement that
determines US war objectives, because national aggrandizement is no longer
linked directly to the encrichment of the leading capitalists.
Globalization separates the interests of capital from that of nations -
permiting wealth to be siphoned directly into corporate coffers without
being diluted by the need to maintain strong nation states.

Earlier wars required national mobilization; today it is machines that are
mobilized, manned by a relatively small number of highly trained elite
troops - or else the war is carried out by proxies.  Public opinion need
only be distracted for a few weeks or months of blitzkrieg massacre - in
those few cases where the war is carried in the news at all.  Rather than
periodic orgies of national warfare, we now have a continual state of
chronic warfare - a policing regime rather than a war regime in the
classical sense.  The US has become a permanent warrior culture, with
weapons always on the ready, like the Vikings or the Mongols, except that
like everything else in an industrial society, the warrior role is carried
out by specialists.

Yes war is strange, and it gets stranger under globalization.  Protest
against past wars often used the medium of satire, but how does one
satirize "humanitarian bombing", or "destroying a village in order to save
it", or "defensive pro-active strike"?  Western propaganda has become so
ingrown and convoluted as to be its own satire - but where are the eyes to
appreciate it?

            And the people bowed & prayed
            To the neon god they'd made
            And the sign flashed out its warning
            In the word that it was forming
            And the sign said "The words of the prophets are
                written on subway walls
                And tenement halls, And whisper...
            in the sounds of silence"

            Sounds of Silence
            Paul Simon


Returning to our first theme - the dual nature of violence and warfare -
horror + excitement, destruction + creativity...  Right here on our own
lists the current war has generated a geyser of participation and
creativity.  I can't recall a time when so many people sent in personal
statements, or essays, or forwarded things, in such quantity or with such

In my own case, writing essays on current affairs is not something I have
time for right now in my life.  And yet, out of a deeply felt solidarity
for those (ie, _everyone in the Balkans) whose society is being destroyed
with my tax dollars, I've felt I had no choice but do whatever little bit I
can, and the pen is the only weapon I can wield.  Not that the task has
been arduous - Shiva's creative aspect drives up inspirations faster than I
can type.  Two different magazines want to carry recent essays, and copies
have been forwarded to the far reaches of cyberspace.  In a morbid yet
realistic sense, war is good for the business and the psyche of the social

But one must not permit the urgent to always supercede the important.
After all, nothing is going to stop US crimes against humanity this time
around other than the completion of the long-planned US mission, in all its
gory carnage.

I must leave this fray and marshall my meager talents for a longer range
project, which is better served by a book than by articles on Internet.
You'll be more likely to see no-comment forwards from me in the near
future, rather than essays.  You'll also see new chapters as they come
along.  But most of my time must be devoted to the book and to the tedium
of making money.  But first, just one more one-off project...

Next week I've been invited to facilitate a community meeting in Portlaoise
(a town in the Irish midlands).  It seems that the EU has mandated that
local communities participate in decision making regarding development
projects.  In Ireland such "participation" rarely amounts to more than a
phony process in which Dublin decisions are sold to the locals, frequently
without full disclosure of the facts.  Some of the folks in the midlands
want to do something about that and it's an honor to be invited to
collaborate with them.  They want the community to be involved in the
original thinking, before development projects are formulated, and that's
what I think real democracy is all about.

After that meeting, I head off to southern France (near Toulon) for ten
days of intense work on the book (and _perhaps, just a bit of sun or surf
now and then, or bread, or cheese, or wine...).  There's no email
connection at all; one must go cold turkey with such addictions.   (And
thank _goodness for friends in exotic places - that's a kind of real
"wealth", and it can't be taxed.)

When I get back I hope to have some new material to share.

except for a few more forwards,
au revoir,