Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Freedom isn't Free?

I decided to reprint my last year's Armistice Day offering, because we are still living in a militaristic society. Obama genuflects to the military like every other corporate candidate. I am updating the end because we have a new example of the hypocrisy toward the heroes this year - the Iraq vets arrested and trampled under horse hooves at the last debate.

It's time again for the ritual genuflection to the veterans that we go through more than annually in this country. So, Armistice Day is now Veteran's Day, Memorial Day is now Veteran's Day and Fourth of July is now Veteran's Day. Not to mention Flag Day. It is a thought crime to refer to anyone in the military, or who has ever been in the military, as less than a "hero". Oh, wait, unless they're now against war. Then they're no longer heroes. How can this be? What kind of alchemy turns someone who "served their country" into a traitor retroactively?

So we see recent "heroes" from Iraq, not just demoted from being heroes, but actually arrested in Boston for wanting to participate in the veteran's parade. It turns out that to be a real veteran you have to support any war that the commander-in-chief feels like starting -- even though our Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the exclusive power to declare war. (Anyone else remember that? That was actually debated in 1964; now it's not even brought up.)

Just having been in the military, or even being in combat apparently isn't enough to make you a "veteran." So doesn't that negate the other propaganda? The propaganda about the military supporting freedom and democracy by killing people in other countries, about freedom not being free, about thanking a veteran for your freedom, yada, yada, yada.

Actually, of course, freedom is free. It is the natural condition of humans, and people lived without oppression for most of human history. Even today, there are tribes left who live without government, taxes, prisons or the military.

It's oppression that is expensive. Having troops in 130 countries, producing and storing weapons of mass destruction, researching endless new ways to kill people, invading other countries, paying for soldiers and their dependents and their health care (uh, sort of) and their retirement -- it's all very expensive.

This whole manufactured idolatry of the military is fabricated by, and functions for, the ruling class. It's amazing that right wing crazies who despise big government and hate taxes, fall right into line when it comes to worshipping the oppressive arm of that government. And left wing peaceniks have been cowed into professing a love for the troops, but not their mission. As a Star Wars fan, I can't imagine scorning the Empire, but supporting the Death Star and the storm troopers.

Come on, people, the ruling class can't rule without oppressive enforcement. Those in the military must resist and refuse. Those against war should only support those who resist. Let the flag wavers idolize the true believers, those willing to kill without thinking.

Better still, let's try to get them, and the reflexive flag wavers, thinking. For a change.

Remember that most people love peace, not war. Armistice Day was originally about the desire for peace. It was proclaimed in 1938 as a day "dedicated to the cause of world peace". What happened? After World War ll, when the USA turned to the permanent war economy, and the Department of War became the Department of Defense, Armistice Day became Veteran's Day, officially in 1954. Around the same time, they added "In God we Trust" to the money and "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. In other words, the more war-like the US became, the more the elite hid behind God and eupehmisms -- which is appropriate, considering that both militarism and institutionalized religion ultimately rest on regimented, authoritarian modes of thought, and are diametrically opposed to Enlightenment and critical thinking.

Here's to a politics driven critical thinking, knowledge and reflection, not knee-jerk obedience and authoritarianism.
Posted by Greener Than Thou at 4:44pm

Here's a link to Democracy Now reporting on the trials of the victims of police brutality at the debate.

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