A high class muscle man

Smedley D. Butler

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

– Major General Smedley D. Butler, 1935.

More information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket

Conscience-soothing falsities

Mark Twain

“Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”

-Mark Twain, Chronicle of Young Satan

The pathology of devotion

Arthur Koestler

I think most historians would agree that the part played by impulses of selfish, individual aggression in the holocausts of history was small; first and foremost, the slaughter was meant as an offering to the gods, to king and country, or the future happiness of mankind. The crimes of a Caligula shrink to insignificance compared to the havoc wrought by Torquemada. The number of victims of robbers, highwaymen, rapists, gangsters and other criminals at any period of history is negligible compared to the massive numbers of those cheerfully slain in the name of the true religion, just policy or correct ideology. Heretics were tortured and burnt not in anger but in sorrow, for the good of their immortal souls. Tribal warfare was waged in the purported interest of the tribe, not of the individual. Wars of religion were fought to decide some fine point in theology or semantics. Wars of succession dynastic wars, national wars, civil wars, were fought to decide issues equally remote from the personal self-interest of the combatants.

Let me repeat: the crimes of violence committed for selfish, personal motives are historically insignificant compared to those committed ad majorem gloriam Dei, out of a self-sacrificing devotion to a flag, a leader, a religious faith or a political conviction. Man has always been prepared not only to kill but also to die for good, bad or completely futile causes. And what can be a more valid proof of the reality of the self-transcending urge than this readiness to die for an ideal?

– Arthur Kostler, The Ghost in the Machine

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war

The Drums of War

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.

– Anonymous

Forced to be free

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free.”

– Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book 1, explaining that in order to secure a free society it was necessary to adopt the principle that the ends justify the means

Disciplined, united, and organized

Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels

“Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, grows the mass of misery…grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in number, and disciplined, united, and organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself.… The expropriators are expropriated.”

-Friedrich Engels, Anti-Dühring, explaining that in order to overcome the oppressive and exploitative authoritarianism of capitalist production it was necessary to embrace it

The codification of derangement

Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick

The Empire is the institution, the codification, of derangement; it is insane and imposes its insanity on us by violence, since its nature is a violent one. To fight the Empire is to be infected by its derangement. This is a paradox: whoever defeats a segment of the Empire becomes the Empire; it proliferates like a virus, imposing its form on its enemies. Thereby it becomes its enemies.

– Philip K. Dick, VALIS

A dramatic impact on popular consciousness

A dramatic impact on popular conscousness

A dramatic impact on popular consciousness

(1) A threat (real or imagined) from outside the United States achieves a dramatic impact on popular consciousness; (2) This effect occurs at a time when liberal reforms and popular hostility to the large corporations and the power they exercise are perceived by conservative interests as a profound threat from inside the U.S. social and political system. Finally, (3) The two perceived threats merge, to the discredit of the internal reforms and of any political party, persons or policies associated with them.

– Alex Carey, Taking the Risk Out of Democracy, Sydney; UNSW Press, 1995, p. 37, reflecting on patterns of political reaction in the United States exemplified by McCarthy-era anticommunist hysteria and associated witchhunting of dissident political opinion

Applying organised violence

Samuel Huntington

Samuel Huntington

“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”
– Samuel Huntington, American political scientist and author