August 7th, 2010 12:22 EST
Endless War Dooms Us To An Unjust Society
The knee-beaters on the right would have us believe that we must choose between welfare and warfare. By welfare they mean a safety net for the rich and a chasm of despair for the rest of us. By warfare they mean to perpetuate the military-industrial complex that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us against in his farewell speech.
But there is no such stark choice. Extending a helping hand to the unemployed, the underemployed and the sick doesn`t have to mean a welfare state, and defending ourselves doesn`t have to mean endless warfare to support bankers and contractors who don`t have the imagination to make money in other ways.
We are drunk on the idea of being at war. And we have good, if cynical reasons, for pursuing warfare: the banks like it, the contractors like it, the crooks like it, the ideologues like it. And the politicians who don`t have the skill and imagination to lead like war, because it`s an excuse not to lead, an excuse not to address our problems, not to fix the economy, not to redress injustices. And not to enact fair immigration laws.
War is a handy excuse for being incompetent. Just shout, pound the table, yak about your enemies, and get the children of the poor killed. Oh yeah, and boast about the all-volunteer army because you know damned well that if we had a draft you wouldn`t be eager to send your own children to die. War is what politicians do when they hope we`re not looking at all the money they`re pocketing and all the things they`re not doing. War is how they distract us from their true agenda, whether it be fattening their buddies or pilfering the till. And war is how they pilfer the till. War is how they bankrupt the country and then blather about how welfare and health care will ruin us.
Peace and prosperity are boring to people drunk on warfare. The press keeps saying that this or that will rev up the American economy to start paying decent wages. But the press knows damned well that Corporate America has seized upon the recession that Wall Street greed caused in the first place to increase shareholder profits on the backs of their employees. Corporate America has no intention of paying better wages or footing the bill for benefits. Corporate America likes things just the way they are.
The more I watch documentaries of World War II in Europe the more the Nazis strike me as alcoholics. Their behavior is often classically alcoholic "magic thinking, pulling rabbits out of a hat, refusing to consider the facts, and a whole range of other alcoholic characteristics. And the more I consider the Nazis` alcoholic behavior the more it reminds me of our own behavior since World War II. What is striking about many World War II documentaries is the Nazis` capacity for self-delusion. The high command refused to be bothered by the facts. They couldn`t reach Russian factories behind the Urals or American factories, but they persisted in thinking their moral superiority would secure the victory. Sounds familiar, doesn`t it? Moral superiority: We`ll win because we`re right. We`ll win because we`re better.
Alcohol is usually the drug of choice to medicate something. It can be depression, inferiority, panic attacks, bipolar disease, you name it. And even when you stop drinking you keep on thinking like an alcoholic for a long time, until you accustom yourself to being sober.
I know a lot about panic attacks, about depression, about post-traumatic stress, and I know there is no medication better than facing the facts. Warfare is the way America turns its face away from the facts, away from its problem "and its opportunities. Warfare can be an escape into our Yankee Doodle past, but the past wasn`t exactly as we have portrayed it. It wasn`t halcyon. It wasn`t always just or kinder or more moral. Indeed we have a fairer society today than we had yesterday. So what is it the nostalgia buffs want to return to "institutionalized racism, robber barons, genocide against Native Americans, lynchings, higher mortality rates, shorter lives?
But it is in the nature of alcoholism to rearrange the facts. I have heard alcoholics say, If I had to give up drinking I`d rather die. Would we rather die than give up making war? Is the prospect of having to create a just and prosperous society so daunting to our politicians that they would rather get the children of the poor killed year after year in dubious wars than have to sit down and do some real work, which would mean talking to each other instead of at each other?
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal Latte first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers New review of Far from Algiers
Artists Hill, Literal Latte fiction first prize
Djelloul Marbrook Blog
His mother`s art: www.juanitaguccione.com His aunt`s art: www.irenericepereira.com