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Forum Post: war is the health of the state

Posted 11 years ago on Aug. 18, 2012, 7:55 a.m. EST by flip (7101)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

"War is the health of the state," the radical writer Randolph Bourne said, in the midst of the First World War. Indeed, as the nations of Europe went to war in 1914, the governments flourished, patriotism bloomed, class struggle was stilled, and young men died in frightful numbers on the battlefields-often for a hundred yards of land, a line of trenches.

In the United States, not yet in the war, there was worry about the health of the state. Socialism was growing. The IWW seemed to be everywhere. Class conflict was intense. In the summer of 1916, during a Preparedness Day parade in San Francisco, a bomb exploded, killing nine people; two local radicals, Tom Mooney and Warren Billings, were arrested and would spend twenty years in prison. Shortly after that Senator James Wadsworth of New York suggested compulsory military training for all males to avert the danger that "these people of ours shall be divided into classes." Rather: "We must let our young men know that they owe some responsibility to this country."

The supreme fulfillment of that responsibility was taking place in Europe. Ten million were to die on the battlefield; 20 million were to die of hunger and disease related to the war. And no one since that day has been able to show that the war brought any gain for humanity that would be worth one human life. The rhetoric of the socialists, that it was an "imperialist war," now seems moderate and hardly arguable. The advanced capitalist countries of Europe were fighting over boundaries, colonies, spheres of influence; they were competing for Alsace-Lorraine, the Balkans, Africa, the Middle East.



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[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 11 years ago

Thanx for your Very Important Post above.

Consider, "We Got To Have Peace" ...

Please do try to meditate upon both the Music And Lyrics.

fiat pax ; nunc et semper ; hic et ubique ....

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (23769) 11 years ago

I remember as a teenager a teacher telling my class that a war would be good for the economy. I thought the guy was nuts. Still do.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 11 years ago

Good for MIC businessmen bad for people/societies. It was an incomplete statement/lesson if your teacher did not continue with the bad aspects of war - all of the bad aspects of war.

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (23769) 11 years ago

Exactly. And, he didn't. LOL! But, I thought it in my head.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 11 years ago

That's why we love you BW - even as a child you recognized that profit over people was evil. {:-])

[-] 2 points by factsrfun (8310) from Phoenix, AZ 11 years ago

This is an excellent post, as I read it I feel it highlights war as a symptom of the disease of conceit, err I mean wealth/power concentration, (sorry Bob).

The point being individuals are poor judges of just how powerful they should be, we should insure the systems we set up don’t put them in that position.


[-] 1 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 11 years ago

Evidently most wars follow the same patterns with no tangible benefits, when all the blood and guts have been spilled.

[-] -1 points by funkytown (-374) 11 years ago

I don't buy that theory, I see this as a war of aristocracy, without purpose whatsoever. But nonetheless it was a fantastic historical time period. Have you studied the German chaos that followed the war, in anarchy?

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 11 years ago

a bit - i know that the german army left the field of battle not beaten but to return home to put down revolution. you do know the history of the depression - ww2 and the recession following the war. that was the beginning of the cold war (see nsc 68) - manufactured by the capitalists to put into place military keynesianism. the discussion in the business press at the time was instructive - it was determined that the government had to prime the pump to keep the economy growing. it could be done with schools, hopsitals and housing or tanks and carriers and missles - obviously it was decided to go military since the other route would have 2 deliterious effects - it would promote democracy and redistribute wealth! zinn is accurate - the rulers are not stupid - they have maintained their power over centuries. very few things they do are mindless or senseless - the reasons they give are mindless but the policies are not.

[-] 0 points by funkytown (-374) 11 years ago

News flash: depression has followed all wars. To make such a statement, as this choice of bombs over social concerns would require that we completely disengage ourselves from human history - the stories of our parents, grandparents, great grandparents. To me that doesn't seem remotely possible unless one is orphaned, even then there is exposure to the life experience of prior generations. Medical care in those days was not what it is today; it did not exercise this great concern, and what little care did exist was expensive yet directly affordable. Antibiotics didn't even come into existence until the late 50s, it was the 60s or even early 70s before the majority population had ever experienced them. Housing was not the concern it is today; education was an affordable local concern. We could point to places like Germany as a counter example, possibly, but there is also the lack of diversity there, the lack of a competing interest, and a one thousand year history of social experiment. There is also the matter of their utter destruction played out against our isolationism which appeared to require long reaching defense. Then we could point to Margaret Thatcher who reversed the social trend as a failure. Our country though is still young in its formation and it's still experimenting.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 11 years ago

do you know the history of ww2 and the depression?