Updated: 21 May 2008, 22:57
Originally written: 21 May 2004
A new political bumper sticker has appeared: “Bush Knew”.
Presumably it refers to the recent scandal in U.S. military-controlled Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. According to the current military story, it was all the work of a few junior soldiers who were operating completely outside of the rules of the prison commander and other senior officers. That’s the story from the senior officers, and they are sticking to it, for now.
But the bumper sticker, and the “who knew, when”, approach are horribly flawed. They seem to presume that the U.S. should, and would be worthy of praise for, conducting nice, clean, good-natured, respectable, wars.
There is no such thing.
War is dirty. War is horrific. War means mangled, dead babies lying in the streets. War is, surprisingly, respectable.
This society trains people to kill other human beings, upon order. It employs them to learn murder. It vilifies the “enemy”. It uses subtle and not so subtle tricks to get soldiers (against their human nature) to kill other human beings. We should expect the horror. The rules of war are a joke. There is only one rule of war: win.
It does not matter how many soldiers die. It does not matter how many unarmed civilians die (except that it makes bad press for a short time). It does not matter how many people are tortured or ill-treated. The soldiers are there to kill people. Ill treatment is a nit.
Until the workers of the world decide that enough of us have died in wars for the capitalists, pretentious complaints about ill-treatment are ridiculous.
What workers should complain about — and stop — is our self-inflicted auto-slaughter. We can, and should stop killing each other. But we are emotionally glued to the socio-economic system which requires our sacrifice, and requires us to slaughter each other upon command. We sit meekly, or stand in open support of the slaughter. We send our sons and daughters to learn how to murder other sons and daughters and grandmothers and babies, for the greater glory of the rich. Then we send them off to die. But sometimes they do not die. Sometimes they just murder others. Sometimes they torture other sons and daughters.
It is not this president we should stop. It is not this general we should stop. It is not this war we should stop. People have been trying to stop this president, or this general, or this war, for a very long time. They have made no progress. None at all. The anti-this-war movement has had absolutely no success in ending war. It is even doubtful that it has had any success ending this war (whichever war you choose).
It is war we need to stop. The utter failure to stop war leads many to believe that stopping war is impossible. They are absolutely correct, as long as they leave the cause untouched. The anti-war, anti-president, anti-general, anti-Saddam, anti-Hitler movements never seem interested in addressing the cause of war, or at best do not understand what causes war. They tell socialists that they need immediate solutions and cannot wait for a longer term solution.
They tell us year after year, war after war, slaughter after slaughter, genocide after genocide, and they are absolutely convinced that they are doing the right thing. They are absolutely convinced that socialists are wrong when we say that they cannot succeed unless they address the cause.
Look at capitalism’s history.
It gave us a hundred years of war, in the most recent one hundred years. It gave us genocide. It gave us rape. It gave us dead, mangled babies. It gave us pretty landmines designed to attract and maim children.
Socialists do not want them! Capitalism’s Gravediggers asks you non-socialists to take them and to keep them away from us, and from all decent human beings. Those of you who ignore your history, and relive it over and over again, are entitled to your suffering. But the problem with that is we cannot protect ourselves, and other decent people, from the wars you permit.
Therefore, socialists work to end war. Socialists plead with people to end war. Socialists plead with people to take control of the world which could be ours, so that we can end war. Socialist pleas fall upon deaf ears.
Instead of ending war, people complain about the unpleasantness of war, and about supposedly corrupt leaders. Instead of ending war, people acquiesce to it. When does continued acquiescence become acceptance? When does it become support for war?
Why is continued acquiescence different from pulling the trigger?