Cause: Empire or Capital?
By Dr. Robert Reuschlein
Which system produces more social damage (sometimes called “structural violence”)? The system of unrestrained capitalism as many socialists argue, or the military empire system of wasting key resources on domination and war? Socialists argue that capitalism leads to imperialism and war. But war has been around much longer than capitalism, so I prefer to look at each rather than lump the two together. All my research time and again over the last century shows that military spending changes lead directly to economic changes of similar magnitude the same year. Combine this with the finding that many have shown that economic change leads to other changes such as political, social, crime, occupational, and more.
The countries of the European Union are all capitalistic countries, yet they all have better social statistics than the United States. They have medical care and education provided free of charge for those who need them. They have twice the vacation time and work hundreds of hours less each year than Americans. They have much lower rates of obesity, homicides, infant mortality, teen births, and mental illness than Americans. Europe is exhibit A that empire is more damaging to the social structure than capitalism.
If we believe, as Harry Targ does in his essay The Meaning of Ferguson that “the root cause of exploitation, racism, and sexism is structural violence (capitalism)” then why is that exploitation so much less in Europe? The answer is militarism. The use of force to repress demonstrations is fundamentally a militaristic response, not a capitalistic response. The use of demonization of the victim shot by the policeman is fundamentally a tactic used in warfare, not capitalism. If banking is at the heart of capitalism, is it not true that Gordon Adams in his book The Iron Triangle has documented the unusually heavy corporate interlocks between defense contractors and major banks? So if political and economic systems are dominated by the wealthy and powerful, in the American case, that includes the military industrial complex as something that in turn dominates the wealthy and powerful and strongly shapes the culture.
Militarism in the Middle Ages
The regression of civilization after the fall of the Roman Empire is evident in the European Middle Ages. As the empire collapsed, it was everyone for their own self, leading to pockets of stability maintained by warlords with castles and moats. This leads to the widespread economic inequality of lords and serfs. This leads to the ascendency of religion over science, because religion is communal and easy to understand, while science is specialized and complicated. Feudalism is an extreme case of militarism.
The extensive data bases of the twentieth century and now allow connections to be established much better than in those periods when Keynesian, Classical/Monetarist, and Marxist ideologies were established. War and empire were considered foreign policy and political constructs not related to the domestic economy. Today we can show the failings of those three branches of economic thought mentioned before, and can show that economics is directly tied to military spending levels and changes. So many of the old constructs come into question, and must be replaced with more accurate explanations based on the meticulous accuracy of the new military spending economic models.
The military policy of the United States globally is to secure the trading routes. But China does not need a worldwide navy in order to succeed. Instead of threats, they invest in Third World countries with $110 billion in two years compared to the World Bank at only $100 billion. They are happy to take Chile’s copper for their factories. And the recent attempt to secure oil fields in Iraq (See Rachel Maddow’s recent expose) has led to retaliation due to our Ferguson style occupation tactics. Cynics may even interpret our foreign policy as designed to create adverse reactions that then justify our role as global policeman. 708 bases worldwide may help secure our investments overseas. But on a ten year cost basis, we spend as much on the military as the total cost of United States overseas investments, hence Lloyd’s of London would no doubt be a far cheaper way to insure overseas investments, and it would be in keeping with recent trends to privatize government services. Look at Libya and Benghazi as recent futile attempts to use the military to insure things go our way overseas. And in a bipartisan way, look at the 240 dead marines in Beirut under President Reagan in 1983. Millions died in collateral damage or in Cold War proxy wars the last seventy years. We had 186 troops incursions in Latin America during the twentieth century, these did not improve the United States image overseas or in Latin America. Hot spots do not make good trading spots, except for the militarists. Trade is good for capital, but empire is not.
A friend returned from Denmark on a recent trip. She had asked a hotel clerk how much to tip the cabdriver, and he replied, madam we pay our people well over here so there is no need to tip them as there is in the United States. Empire has only rewarded the top 1% at the expense of the 99%. The trading regions and stock market regions of the American coastal states have exploited the industrial heartland so much from 2000 to 2010 that the American stock markets stocks added 2.1 million jobs by adding 3 million jobs overseas and reducing 864,000 jobs in the United States, while private sector jobs dropped 14% in pay levels. This high military spending decade is in sharp contrast to the low military spending post Cold War nineties, where 23 million jobs were added under Clinton and wages went up not down.
For more on the internal nature of empires:
Dr. Peace, Dr. Bob Reuschlein,
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(Real Economy 1999 and/or Peace Economics 1986 free pdf on request by members of the press)