rn:re: Laureates’ statement & how to end economic fratricide


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list (and a few others),

A subscriber has some interesting comments to make on the Nobel laureates'
statement and the article by John Polanyi. My comments follow his (or hers).

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 09:29:29 -0500
Subject: Re: rn:Nobel Laureates: the future of each depends on the good of all
From: "T. K. Wilson" <•••@••.•••>

Jan, an addendum to my previous post (see below);
In case I sounded too harsh:
A phenomenon which has been gaining ground over the past century or so is
the concentration  of destructive capabilities and the growing lethality
of the same in the hands of the various nation states and their standing
armies, promoted and engendered first and foremost by the good old US of
Two other things which have been being promoted concurrently, and not
coincidentally, by the same people,
are corporatization of government and its functions, and disarmament of
the general population.

The upshot of this phenomena is that we will end up with a corporately
controlled world government with extremely potent and private armies and
a completely helpless public.

What we need is not disarmament but equality or parity on an economic
level. When bellys are full, arms are no longer of interest or use.

Make arms unnecessary if you want peace! End economic fratricide! We each
individually have control over what we do with our time and our labor.
Collectively we have all the might we need and we can change the world.  

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 07:57:08 -0500
Subject: Re: rn:Nobel Laureates: the future of each depends on the good of all
From: "T. K. Wilson" <•••@••.•••>

No one has the "right to" food and shelter and so on (to be provided to
them; by whom, at whose expense and labor?) but we all have the "right
to" the liberty necessary to maintaining our own survival and that of
others of our own choosing (family, community, etc.). In fact it is our
inherent condition.

Also, we do not have "coming years". Nobel Laureates do not generally
live in conditions of poverty (with some notable exceptions). Depredation
of the poor by the rich is the largest part of the problem and is only
vaguely addressed here. The exercise of brute strength by a few over the
many; whether it be by the money system or by force of arms (which
disarming the masses will only exacerbate) is what is at issue here and
what is not being addressed.

The assumption that these kinds of conflicts are most often solved or
soluble by "social reform" and disarmament are simplistic tripe. 
Spit the meal out of your mouth and speak before you no longer have a
voice!    -TK Wilson

In reply, I would say that I also had some reservations about the Nobel
laureates' statement, but not the same ones as above. I'm not sure about the
very first line:

"The most profound danger to world peace in the coming years will stem not
from the irrational acts of states or individuals but from the legitimate
demands of the world's dispossessed."

My feeling is that the huge danger comes not from those legitimate demands,
but from people filled with hate and anger who feel they are avenging the
world's dispossessed by committing acts of violence. After all, those who
are causing most of the violence are not extremely poor people, but some
extremely wealthy ones.

However, on another level, I think it is true to say that those legitimate
demands are at the root of much of the present danger we face. As long as we
allow our governments to commit acts of "economic fratricide" and just plain
war crimes, there is a kind of basic justice which demands that we also must
fall prey to such things. This basic justice is not readily apparent; if it
were, then one would have to assume that all victims of crimes somehow
deserved them. But it is what is behind the saying that "what goes around
comes around". It is behind an assurance I feel, that what matters most is
that I do the best I can to live up to ideals of justice and love, for even
if life should somehow "punish" me, I know the good I bring to life is its
own reward, that it does somehow eventually "come around".

T.K. Wilson argues that if we end economic fratricide we would make arms
unnecessary and says: "The assumption that these kinds of conflicts are most
often solved or soluble by "social reform" and disarmament are simplistic
I guess I would argue that investing in arms is part of economic fratricide.
I see billions spent on arms as comparable to money squandered on booze in
the family of an alchoholic. It has to stop, and the sooner the better. And
"social reform" and disarmament are part of what we need to do to end
economic fratricide. 

As Thomas L. Friedman wrote so tellingly:

"The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist --
McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the
F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's
technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine

This being said, I do not want to argue that therefore we should focus all
our energies on disarming our militaries (which seem to have been hijacked
by a bunch of criminals, basically). Sure, let's put some energy into
disarmament efforts. And "social reform" (such as equal access to publicly
funded medical and dental insurance, etc.). And into informing our
neighbours that the idea that we need to defend democracy by killing
innocent people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Serbia, etc. is criminally wrong.

And let's not spend too much time arguing about things like gun control. I
myself feel safer when my neighbours & I are not armed. But I know that
people can do much harm without being armed, and that others can do
wonderful things even if they are armed.

Indeed, to me it seems almost a question of style more than substance. 

Carolyn Chute, secretary of the 2nd Maine Militia, and I had quite a
correspondence over our respective feelings about the gun issue. I'll copy
from a letter she wrote to me, which illustrates for me how people can
believe in the right to bear arms and still act in a way that promotes justice:

"We have gotten dozens and dozens of people to _hear_ the message (of
corporate power) in our circle + 100's + 100's thru conservative newspapers
which we'd NEVER have won over if we'd been professional class politically
correct scolding types."

I have to smile. I wonder if Carolyn thinks I'm a "professional class
politically correct scolding type". Maybe in a way. Whatever we are, I am
sure both of us have our "piece of the truth" as Gandhi would say. More than
that, I know our efforts can complement each other, that at some level much
deeper than whether or not we bear arms, we are on common ground.

I think that is surely the case with T.K. Wilson and I too, despite the
harsh words above.

all the best, Jan
PS Photocopied on the back of Carolyn's letter was this little note, which
is also worth sharing:

"At the very heart of all of our society's ills is that we have an economy
and all its institutions that depend entirely on requiring that most people
sit of stand for long hours, days, weeks, months, years at meaningless work
done in the absence of family, done for nothing but a paycheck which is
never big enough to buy a life so dandy that it can make up for the loss of
the rest."