You have to give it to them, the super rich are uber brilliant. On second thought, brilliance implies some sort of virtue that others should emulate. The 1% are actually wickedly cunning. If the devil works magic through duplicity and lies, he taught his minions on earth very well. For the oligarchy have managed throughout history to dupe the ever obsequious public to bow before them while they accumulate treasures by spreading pestilence throughout the world. Nowhere is this paradigm more evident than the issues of war and bloodshed.
Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, who was the most highly decorated leatherneck in the history of the Marines at the time of his death, noted that wars are rackets fought to enhance the fortunes of corporations and plutocrats. Neocon and neoliberal chicken hawks, whose closest encounters with war are the high definition graphics of drones and missiles they see while promoting genocides in their air conditioned TV studios, would have called Major General Butler a traitor to his country. Capital swindlers react violently to anyone who dares speak truths that threaten to expose their hustle.
Their hustle is pretty slick; plutocrats, politicians and media personalities—all working for their corporate masters and plutocrat benefactors—keep convincing the poor, working and middle class to fight wars while they count their opulence. With each bomb that explodes, every limb shredded off and each life that is snuffed out, the cause for peace and justice takes leaps and bounds backwards. However, these same bloodbaths are boons for moneyed interests; there is nothing that is more pleasing to Wall Street and the gentry than breaking news of death and carnage.
Lest you think what I write is hyperbole, just think back to September 11th, 2001. While most Americans were in shock and mourning, traders on Wall Street and traitors to humanity were licking their chops to make a killing from the killing of innocent lives. Not only were institutional holders trying to figure out how to profit from America’s mass causality, there were some who were betting on an incoming terror before the Twin Towers were reduced to rubble. In the days before 9/11, there was an abnormal spike in put options against airline companies. Put options are bets that are made in anticipation of sudden downturns which yield tremendous profits in the event of a market retrenchment. A report by the San Francisco Chronicle noted:
“There was an unusually large jump in purchases of put options on the stocks of UAL Corp. and AMR Corp. in the three business days before the attack on major options exchanges in the United States. On one day, UAL put option purchases were 25 times greater than the year-to-date average. In the month before the attacks, short sales jumped by 40 percent for UAL and 20 percent for American.”
What took place prior to September 11th was not an aberration as much as it was an accepted practice for those who see bad news for humanity as great news for business. This past Friday—in anticipation of Donald Trump following through on his promise to bomb Syria—the share prices of Raytheon, Boeing, and Northrup Grumman all jumped sharply before the markets closed for the weekend. The future is past tense for those who have enough money to dictate policy decisions and political discourse. For the billionaire class and their millionaire underlings, everything is about the Benjamins. If Russia ever launches a nuclear trident in the direction of Omaha, the last act of Jim Cramer will be yelling at viewers to buy! buy! buy! shares of Service Corporation International.
This is the corrosive nature of money and power; people who accumulate enough of both have their souls inverted and replaced by savagery. I often ponder where compliance ends and evil begins. I’ve reduced it to this: evil is contained to those who actively push suffering upon humanity—the rest of us are guilty through consent. Sadly, it is our acquiescence to those who purvey evil that has been the root of our collective woe throughout the ages. While the upper crust of society amass capital, the rest of us keep acquiring sorrows. Artificial constructs like race, ideology and the ever proliferating identities that are imposed upon us serve to shatter humanity and make us fight each other.
We become crabs in barrels snipping at each other instead of working together to escape our vessels. As we bicker, we don’t notice the water boiling around us as each day more and more of us are broiled by creeping insolvency or entombed by indigence. To distract us from the fact that our hardships can be traced to the few who reign atop of us, demagogues and shills are pushed by the establishment to continually antagonize us and keep us focused on our differences. The whole of our politics is centered on this axiom: as long as we view the world through left/right and black/white prisms, we will never be able to muster the unity that is needed to overcome injustice.
Carl von Clausewitz noted that war is politics by other means. He could not have been any more right, except few actually understand the profound depth of his statement. War is the natural extension of politics because ideological divides are the wombs that give birth to combat. The same way we are made to demonize each other domestically through tribalism is how the politico-media complex demonizes foreigners to gin up conflict and start warfare. The “us versus them” battles that take place internally are used by jingoists to drum up war and initiate strife globally. Patriotism is sold by the 1% only to be borne by the rest of us—we are led by an ideology of death. Click To Tweet
Our nation was founded on the principles of self-determination and limited governance. Some of the founders were wise enough to warn about the perils of becoming the police of the world. Proving that all revolutions devolve right back to the tyranny that gave birth to them, our government has now become the police, judge, jury and executioners of the planet. Samuel Johnson once said that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, he was foreshadowing the current crop of political leaders on both sides of the aisle who are marching us down the path of destruction. They use euphemisms and nationalism to mask their malevolence; as they sign the death warrants of soldiers and foreign nationals, they turn around and collect checks from arms dealers and debt traders. King George was an altruistic angel compared to the kleptocracy that is our government.
I don’t know when we will wake up to this never ending hustle of war and lies. As warmongers get on TV to cheer on yet another bloodletting in Syria that can induce humanity’s nuclear extinction, the victims of perpetual war are stacking up in almost every city and town in America and throughout the world. On Friday, more than 100 missiles were launched into Damascus. Each missile costs roughly $1.5 million to manufacture. In a blink of an eye, more than $150 million wasted to destroy another nation instead of building our crumbling country. The water pipes in Flint could have been replaced and every homeless veteran in Michigan could have been given a house to live in with the money we frittered to bomb a nation that never attacked us.
Alas, the wealthy don’t want to solve problems because profit is only found through wars and tribulations. So the beat goes on; children keep dying from Douma to Detroit and beyond for lack of water or through the shell shock of war and these developments just bleeds into the background. Human suffering has become a cost of doing business; we shrug our shoulders or take to social media to show hashtag outrage but in the end we accept injustice and move on to the next selfie laden protest. Soon enough, our turn on the line will arrive; injustice anywhere eventually becomes a noose that finds home upon our necks. I pray we rise from our collective coma before a stool kick becomes our culling wake.
Just remember, this war that politicians in DC and pundits in mainstream media are pushing is not the run of the mill wars we have been enmeshed in for the past 50 years. Parenthetically, wars which have taken the lives of millions around the world. Russia and China are not Iraq and Syria. The tensions that are being stoked by armchair generals—God forbid they boil over into open hostilities—will take the lives of billions if not usher in the age of Armageddon. The 1% have their bunkers built for this eventuality. If CNN leads with ICBMs heading for the nearest city, the gentility will be dinning on foie gras below ground as we are grazing on dry grass above them. Either we unite by choice or we will be united by a global holocaust. #IdeologyOfDeath
“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
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Check out this Ghion Cast where I had a conversation with Vietnam War veteran Lt. Colonel Rick Belt as we discussed issues of war, life and justice. Those who have seen wars know the hell it is and come back home to give back to their fellow humans.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Latest posts by Lij Teodrose Fikremariam (see all)
- Ethiopia’s Choice: Poverty through Grievance or Prosperity through Unity - September 9, 2019
- Bloody 60s: the Decade that Aborted Leadership in America - August 22, 2019
- A Matter of Life or Death: We Cannot Afford to Ignore Mental Illnesses Any Longer - August 17, 2019