"Bread, Circuses, Violence and War”
by Chris Campbell
“If you really want to find out where this system is broken, stop paying your taxes and see what happens next. Violence. Your liberty, property, and if you resist, your life, will be taken from you through the use of force and violence. When it comes down to really understanding the fractured system we live in, it’s not about the money. It's not about who has what. It's about violence. (In the absence of institutionalized violence, many of the “unsolvable” issues facing America would slowly disappear.)
That's the REAL problem. Violence. Violence. Violence. We'll say it until the word loses all meaning: violence. The foundation of our system is violence. Of course, then, it is no surprise that we turn into violent creatures- especially those State actors who are paid to enforce the State’s grocery list of ever-growing agendas.
As Mike LaSusa writes on his blog, this violent foundation is reflected in both the U.S. government’s domestic and international activities: "Considering how the US treats its own citizens- spying on them en masse, imprisoning them at higher rates than any other country in the world, executing them in grotesque and inhumane ways, killing children with missiles for not having “a more responsible father,” employing extreme tactics to quell political dissent including sabotage and physical intimidation, jailing journalists and government whistleblowers, ruining their lives and forcing them into exile, etc.- is it any wonder that the military, police and intelligence forces of our allies and partners like Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Colombia, and Honduras to name just a few, also commit similar and often worse abuses of civil and human rights?"
No. Not really a surprise at all. What’s most outrageous, though, is Americans seem to forget that all of this is done in our name- that we directly fund this madness and are, therefore, complicit. Moreover, the blowback is coming for us- not the politicians who make these maniacal orders. Rather than continuing to condone these actions, we must, somehow, transmute this energy into something more productive. Such as voluntary, consensual interactions between idiots who are just as unaware as the next idiot is about what the actual hell is happening on this flying rock.
Voluntaryism- the idea that all forms of human association should be consensual- is the way to a peaceful world. Free the markets. Laissez-faire. Or, hell, anything peaceful will do.
Alas, Washington D.C., as it beats the war drums louder, is dead-set on creating more chaos at home and abroad. And the sheer level of apathy about the potential for yet another major war is absolutely astonishing. The overall public sentiment can be summed up by taking a look at what’s happening in American airports. The lines to get fondled by government goons have become so ridiculously long that airports are now hiring ponies, clowns and live musicians to calm the nerves of the unwashed masses.
The lesson is clear: As long as you keep Americans entertained- via outlandish elections, bread and circuses, or endless hours of mindless (and often violent) entertainment- they won’t care much about what’s happening outside (or even within) our borders.
Pretty soon they’ll be giving out bread, too…
For example, most Americans have no serious understanding of the many conflicts the United States is engaged in around the world. Moreover, there’s very little shame in being ignorant and indifferent to the lives lost at the triggers of American weaponry. It’s an embarrassment and a disgrace- and only tends to confirm to the world that the stereotypical American is an ignorant drone.
To the sane-minded, it’s obvious: More war is the absolute last thing we need. It should be the very thing which unites Americans this election season, but, instead, conveniently enough, it’s the last thing on the mind of the average American.
War, said Randolph Bourne, is the health of the State. Since the State is little more than a monopoly on violence, the bigger the State, the more violence it can inflict at home and abroad. (Even the people who cry out about police brutality are missing this crucial connective tissue.)
As Tom Engelhardt writes on his blog TomDispatch.com, Washington has become addicted to war and the power it provides. And more military intervention- more chaos- is the only way to justify more hits from the crackpipe. Engelhardt writes: "Washington’s attachment- financial, tactical, and strategic- to the U.S. military and its supposed solutions to more or less all problems in what used to be called “foreign policy” should by now be categorized as addictive. Otherwise, how can you explain the last decade and a half in which no military action from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen to Libya worked out half-well in the long run (or even, often enough, in the short run), and yet the U.S. military remains the option of first, not last, resort in just about any imaginable situation?
All this in a vast region in which failed states are piling up, nations are disintegrating, terror insurgencies are spreading, humongous population upheavals are becoming the norm, and there are refugee flows of a sort not seen since significant parts of the planet were destroyed during World War II. Either we’re talking addictive behavior or failure is the new success."
Keep in mind, for instance, that the president who came into office swearing he would end a disastrous war and occupation in Iraq is now overseeing a new war in an even wider region that includes Iraq, a country that is no longer quite a country, and Syria, a country that is now officially kaput. Meanwhile, in the other war he inherited, Barack Obama almost immediately launched a military-backed “surge” of U.S. forces, the only real argument being over whether 40,000 (or even as many as 80,000) new U.S. troops would be sent into Afghanistan or, as the “antiwar” president finally decided, a mere 30,000 (which made him an absolute wimp to his opponents). That was 2009. Part of that surge involved an announcement that the withdrawal of American combat forces would begin in 2011. Seven years later, that withdrawal has once again been halted in favor of what the military has taken to privately calling a “generational approach” — that is, U.S. forces remaining in Afghanistan into at least the 2020s.
The U.S. military is visibly the drug of choice in the American political arena and, as is only appropriate for the force that has, since 2002, funded, armed, and propped up the planet’s largest supplier of opium, once you’re hooked, there’s no shaking it.
Meanwhile, not one of our “hopefuls,” (aside from, of course, our underdogs in the Libertarian Party), have come close to suggesting that the wars will cease when the Oval Office is taken from the Obamanator. Engelhardt goes on: "… no presidential candidate these days could afford to reject the White House-run drone assassination program. To be assassin-in-chief is now considered as much a part of the presidential job description as commander-in-chief, even though the drone program, like so many other militarized foreign policy operations these days, shows little sign of reining in terrorism despite the number of “bad guys” and terror “leaders” it kills (along with significant numbers of civilian bystanders).
To take Bernie Sanders as an example- because he’s as close to an antiwar candidate as you’ll find in the present election season- he recently put something like his stamp of approval on the White House drone assassination project and the “kill list” that goes with it.
Unfortunately, at the moment there is no force, no movement on the American scene that could open up space for such a possibility. No matter who is elected president, you already know more or less what American “policy” is going to be. But don’t bother to blame the politicians and national security nabobs in Washington for this. They’re addicts. They can’t help themselves. What they need is rehab. Instead, they continue to run our world. Be suitably scared for the ruins still to come."