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Forum Post: Kurt Vonnegut, On the Addiction to War

Posted 1 year ago on Aug. 20, 2013, 12:33 a.m. EST by shoozTroll (17632)
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"I now wish to call attention to another form of addiction, which has not been previously identified. It is more like gambling than drinking, since the people afflicted are ravenous for situations that will cause their bodies to release exciting chemicals into their bloodstreams. I am persuaded that there are among us people who are tragically hooked on preparations for war.

Tell people with that disease that war is coming and we have to get ready for it, and for a few minutes there, they will be as happy as a drunk with his martini breakfast or a compulsive gambler with his paycheck bet on the Super Bowl.

Let us recognize how sick such people are. From now on, when a national leader, or even just a neighbor, starts talking about some new weapons system which is going to cost us a mere $29 billion, we should speak up. We should say something on the order of, "Honest to God, I couldn't be sorrier for you if I'd seen you wash down a fistful of black, beauties with a pint of Southern Comfort."

I miss this wonderful, insightful author.

From his final essays

http://www.thenation.com/article/worst-addiction-them-all#axzz2cT4WUeZ3

Can we send them all to a W A meeting?

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10 Comments


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[-] 2 points by TropicalDepression (-45) 1 year ago

The nation has officially moved to perpetual war, a classic move on the back end of empire.

I tell people we are bombing Africa and they look at me like I have three eyes.

Bombing Africa in the name of freedom. History repeats itself again.

Time to move on from this system.

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 1 year ago

You're still afraid of my links??

Kurt's a fantastic, insightful writer. One of the finest America has ever produced.

Besides being off topic.

Let me know when you get that ball rolling in Florida, because as you should know by now.

As go the States, so goes the Nation.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 1 year ago

I'm tempted to copy and paste the whole essay

[-] 2 points by TropicalDepression (-45) 1 year ago

I'll save you the hassle:

This is an excerpt from the new ebook Vonnegut by the Dozen: Twelve Pieces by Kurt Vonnegut, a collection of essays and articles published in The Nation. The eBook is now available on tablets, smartphones and computers—download yours today.

What has been America's most nurturing contribution to the culture of this planet so far? Many would say Jazz. I, who love jazz, will say this instead: Alcoholics Anonymous.

I am not an alcoholic. If I was, I would go before the nearest A.A. meeting and say, "My name is Kurt Vonnegut. I am an alcoholic." God willing, that might be my first step down the long, hard road back to sobriety.

About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut Novelist and essayist Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), is the author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat's Cradle, and Breakfast of... Also by the Author

The Letters of Kurt Vonnegut (Fiction, Letters, Books and the Arts) Says editor Dan Wakefield, hIs writing “is done with such seemingly simple language and style that it sometimes seems shocking.”

Kurt Vonnegut A Reluctant Big Shot (Historical People) Everyone is fussing about the departure of Walter Cronkite from the CBS Evening News--everyone that is except Cronkite.

Kurt Vonnegut The A.A. scheme, which requires a confession like that, is the first to have any measurable success in dealing with the tendency of some human beings, perhaps 10 percent of any population sample anyone might care to choose, to become addicted to substances that give them brief spasms of pleasure but in the long term transmute their lives and the lives of those around them into ultimate ghastliness.

The A.A. scheme, which, again, can work only if the addicts regularly admit that this or that chemical is poisonous to them, is now proving its effectiveness with compulsive gamblers, who are not dependent on chemicals from a distillery or a pharmaceutical laboratory. This is no paradox. Gamblers, In effect, manufacture their own dangerous substances. God help them, they produce chemicals that elate them whenever they place a bet on simply anything.

If I was a compulsive gambler, which I am not, I would be well advised to stand up before the nearest meeting of Gamblers Anonymous and declare, "My name is Kurt Vonnegut. I am a compulsive gambler."

Whether I was standing before a meeting of Gamblers Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, I would be encouraged to testify as to how the chemicals I had generated within myself or swallowed had alienated my friends and relatives, cost me jobs and houses and deprived me of my last shred of self-respect.

Not every member of A.A. or G.A. has sunk quite that low, of course--but plenty have. Many, If not most, have done what they call "hitting bottom" before admitting what it is that has been ruining their lives.

I now wish to call attention to another form of addiction, which has not been previously identified. It is more like gambling than drinking, since the people afflicted are ravenous for situations that will cause their bodies to release exciting chemicals into their bloodstreams. I am persuaded that there are among us people who are tragically hooked on preparations for war.

Tell people with that disease that war is coming and we have to get ready for it, and for a few minutes there, they will be as happy as a drunk with his martini breakfast or a compulsive gambler with his paycheck bet on the Super Bowl.

Let us recognize how sick such people are. From now on, when a national leader, or even just a neighbor, starts talking about some new weapons system which is going to cost us a mere $29 billion, we should speak up. We should say something on the order of, "Honest to God, I couldn't be sorrier for you if I'd seen you wash down a fistful of black, beauties with a pint of Southern Comfort."

I mean it. I am not joking. Compulsive preparers for World War III, in this country or any other, are as tragically and, yes, as repulsively addicted as any stockbroker passed out with his head In a toilet in the Port Authority bus terminal.

For an alcoholic to experience a little joy, he needs maybe three ounces of grain alcohol. Alcoholics, when they are close to hitting bottom, customarily can't hold much alcohol.

If we know a compulsive gambler who is dead broke, we can probably make him happy with a dollar to bet on who can spit farther than someone else. For us to give a compulsive war-preparer a fleeting moment of happiness, we may have to buy him three Trident submarines and a hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles mounted on choo-choo trains.

If Western Civilization were a person--

If Western Civilization, which blankets the world now, as far as I can tell, were a person--

If Western Civilizations, which surely now includes the Soviet Union and China and India and Pakistan and on and on, were a person--

If Western Civilization were a person, we would be directing it to the nearest meeting of War-Preparers Anonymous. We would be telling it to stand up before the meeting and say, "My name is Western Civilization. I am a compulsive war- preparer. I have lost everything I ever cared about. I should have come here long ago. I first hit bottom in World War I." Western Civilization cannot be represented by a single person, of course, but a single explanation for the catastrophic course it has followed during this bloody century is possible. We the people, because of our ignorance of the disease, have again and again entrusted power to people we did not know were sickies.

[-] 3 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 1 year ago

thanks

I always post the link to give credit to the source

http://www.thenation.com/article/worst-addiction-them-all#axzz2cT4WUeZ3

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 1 year ago

From Cat's Cradle, to Mother Night, to Breakfast of Champions.

On of my favorite authors of all time.

[-] 1 points by TropicalDepression (-45) 1 year ago

^right back on the attack

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 1 year ago

Yes you were.

thanks for admitting it.

As go the States, so goes the Nation.

It's not that hard of a concept.

[-] 2 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 1 year ago

I keep trying

but DC keeps pretending they've got clothes on

it's embarrassing

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 1 year ago

The worst of it is, they are all drunk and betting on WallStreet too.

The tri-fecta of addiction, if you will excuse my racetrack reference.