Demonization Fuels Military
The modern public relations industry was born producing propaganda for the First World War. People of German heritage in America, America’s largest single ethic group, were vilified and attacked even from the pulpit in that war. Called “Huns” scary depictions were on many a poster, and Senators like Wisconsin’s Fighting Bob La Follette were ridiculed for opposing entry into that war. Enemies need to be created and exaggerated to urge people to fight in wars. “Us versus Them” dualisms succeed only with depersonalization of the Other. The opposite of religious teachings of empathy, the ultimate religion, nationalism, encourages us to see the worst in others. This attitude is a dangerous thing when widely held for a long period of time, as in the Cold War. The usual 2% with deviant tendencies, criminal tendencies, can then more easily perpetrate crimes without conscience. If they have the training, this can lead to extreme events. If all you have is a hammer, then the world tends to look like nails. It is easier to commit crime against another person if you can compartmentalize and consider your victim a depersonalized “other.”
When militarism becomes widespread and accepted, not only enemies are created. Any people that are different from the dominant groups may more easily experience some of the alienation and stereotyping that goes with racism, sexism, heterosexism, and enthno-centricity. Other-ism, or as Robert Fuller calls it “rankism,” comes from treating any group of humans with less dignity. The thinking becomes, “I outrank you because my group outranks your group.” This false sense of superiority does not recognize the humble concept “but for the grace of God, there go I.” The violence and fighting were much worse on the Japanese front than on the German front in World War Two, probably in part due to racism. In Vietnam the enemy were called “gooks” and in Iraq they were called “hagi’s” with perhaps some racism. A century ago, marrying outside your race was illegal in parts of America. Sunday morning at church is considered the most segregated hour of the week in America. Even the term “hour” shows some segregation as many a black religious service lasts for two or three hours.
A good proxy for the strength of demonization in a society is the percent of the economy going to military spending. When people compile lists like the fourteen attributes of fascism, about eight of these attributes reflect militarism and demonization as well. Things like the health and stratification of society are also adversely affected by militarism. Paradoxes also abound, such as how a socialist government-dependent structure like the military “protected” the rest of us from socialist communism during the Cold War. Likewise, the military can have high standards and develop high esprit de corps as a functioning unit. None-the-less the ills of militarism will still tend to appear in a militarized society. Judging people is inherent in the military, and judgement is considered a vice.
The military draft was eliminated in America in 1972 because the poor did not have the resources to avoid the draft, with the result that about one third of the deaths of American soldiers in Vietnam were black even though blacks only represented about ten percent of the society back then. The modern volunteer army now often tends to consist of many rural white people, another major community in America that is poor. There is a tendency for racism and religious fundamentalism to persist in this group, with less contact with the diversity of cosmopolitan cities. The American base in Okinawa Japan is very controversial over there because of the high level of rapes of Japanese women. The Japanese constitution normally allows local areas to have their way, but the national government does not allow Okinawa to kick the American base out of their territory, despite plebiscites.
Crime and the Military
Two international and one interregional US studies in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, show a strong correlation (R=.996) between crime or murder and long term average military spending. This association seems to have three foundations. First is the low manufacturing productivity growth with high military spending (R=-.997). Second is the compartmentalized thinking coming from applications of the enemy concept leading to a lack of empathy for victims of crimes by the 2% prone to such deviant thinking. Third is the direct relationship between members of the military and former members of the military in things like high crime around military bases and many mass murderers being former veterans or coming from veteran families. Please understand that this is not an indictment of many fine citizens with military careers, only the fringe 2% including some suffering from the effects of war. Veterans coming home from wars often suffer high divorce rates, suicide rates, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including many hundreds of thousands eligible for disability payments from recent wars.
Jesus and Empire
From a close study of the gospels over four years of Sunday afternoons and other sources, I have concluded leader Marcus Borg of the Jesus Seminar group was basically right about certain things. He concludes that the main theme of Jesus was opposition to the domination syndrome. That is similar to the concern about rankism of Robert Fuller. When we separate ourselves into various groups we tend to cut ourselves off from the full power and enjoyment of treating all people equally. Taking advantage of others because of rank and privilege, race, sex, nationality, and even family, leads us ever so slightly down the paths of personal alienation and demonizing of others. Some feel that taking the Christian religion away from the “love your enemies” standard into “just war” theory was a poor way to reconcile Christianity with the Roman Empire.
For the complete text of my “Jesus and Empire” sermon:
Please cite this work as follows:
Reuschlein, Robert. (2018, April 8), “Demonization Fuels Military”, Madison, WI: Real Economy Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.expertclick.com/NewsRelease/Demonization-Fuels-Military,2018156110.aspx
Dr. Peace, Professor Robert Reuschlein, Real Economy Institute
Nominated Vetted 2016, Given Odds 2017 Nobel Peace Prize