Let me start where you ended. Just for
clarity (I know how you LOVE those qualifiers!) My last paragraph is
suggesting the re-readings for people who spout those sources most
readily and seem to be without a firm grasp of what they actually
contain. Perhaps you should place your computer in front of a mirror
while answering. ;)
Glad to see you banish brevity for now! Let's keep it in exile for the rest of our discussion of this book.
I had intended to leave the defense industry part of this
discussion almost entirely to you, but events and columnists worked
together this week to thwart that plan. Oh well, the best laid plans of
mice and housewives...
I remember, in the early 70s, hearing my father comment that car
companies probably had an engine that got 100 miles to the gallon. He
didn't have any vast conspiracy theory in mind, only that nagging
feeling that so many of us have, that certain powers that be aren't
necessarily interested in solving some of the problems we face:
"The corporate forces that control the state will never permit
real reform. It would mean their extinction. these corporations,
especially the oil and gas industry, will never allow us to achieve
energy independence. That would devastate their profits. It would wipe
out tens of billions of dollars in weapons contracts. It would cripple
the financial health of a host of private contractors from Halliburton to
Blackwater/Xe and render obsolete the existence of U.S. Central
Command. This is the harsh, unspoken reality of corporate power." (152)
"Melman coined the term permanent war economy to describe the
American economy. Since the end of the Second World War, the federal
government has spent more than half its tax dollars on past, current,
and future military operations. It is the largest single sustaining
activity of the government. The military-industrialized complex
establishment is especially lucrative to corporations because it offers a
lavish form of corporate welfare. Defense systems are usually sold
before they are produced, and military industries are permitted to
charge the federal government for huge cost overruns. Huge profits are
I ran across a book this week called The Rule of Empires
and an article very relevant to our discussion. Here are a couple of
quotes (and they seem extremely timely after the president's speech
yesterday from Afghanistan and the complaints of lots of the Occupy
protesters in May Day events about his foreign policy) from How Empires Really Work:
"America’s wars are very expensive. Bush and Obama have doubled the
national debt, and the American people have no benefits from it. No
riches, no bread and circuses flow to Americans from Washington’s wars.
So what is it all about?
The answer is that Washington’s empire extracts resources from the
American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that
rule America. The military-security complex, Wall Street, agri-business
and the Israel Lobby use the government to extract resources from
Americans to serve their profits and power. The US Constitution has been
extracted in the interests of the Security State, and Americans’
incomes have been redirected to the pockets of the 1 percent. That is
how the American Empire functions."
That the wealth is being extracted from US even as we are (pick your term: liberating/occupying) and not from a foreign nation is an interesting slant. Plenty of reasons there to keep fear levels artificially high thus making your advice to "cease militarization" an unlikely scenario.
Agree whole heartedly with your comment about societies (as well as the individuals making up those groups) needing "a positive vision to aspire to." Sometimes in order to inspire fear and thus action we focus on all that is wrong and how dire the situation is. It can have the opposite effect. People are prone to giving up instead of waking up when they feel defeated and hopeless. When problems seem too vast you get the result of individuals feeling their actions will have little or no impact. It's a fine line. We cannot afford paralyzing despair.
On a different (sustainable) note, here's a video about the resourceful Dervaes family who are doing something amazing in downtown Pasadena. We don't know what's possible until we try. They are a pretty good example of that balance between individual self sufficiency and a cooperative community.