Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Banana Republicans

There is one budget in our federal spending that is devoted to preparing to commit violence and actually committing violence against humans, the Earth, and all the things we humans have built. That would be the Pentagon.

There is one budget in our federal spending that accounts, year in and year out, for about half the discretionary spending authorized by Congress. No other federal budget comes close to the size of this whopper. That would be, yes, the Pentagon budget.

There is one budget in our federal spending that is rarely discussed in mainstream media. That would be, as we all know, the Pentagon budget.

Why is this? Why do all the other, life-enhancing, budgets--health care, education, environmental protection, housing, etc.--why are they responsible for our deficit? Why is Planned Parenthood slashed when it's time to institute austerity measures? Why is the United States Institute of Peace--a budget of microscopic significance that arguably could save this nation $trillions by avoiding wars--why is that budget suddenly the one to eliminate in order to tighten our belts?

Meanwhile, corporate robber barons living larger and larger flaunt their riches while middle class workers sink into poverty, widening the income gap in the US to banana republic levels not seen since the Great Depression.

Ah, we say, well, what can we do about it? We cannot just shoot the rich. We cannot defeat the US military if it wants all our money.

No, we cannot, nor should we, shoot the rich. But we can begin to even the playing field without shooting or threatening to shoot anyone. And we can defeat the US military even though it (and especially its contractors, such as the weaponeers) wants all our money. Think of what other people with far less power (we might think) have done with nonviolence in the past few years. A partial list:

  • In 2011, in Tunisia, the people finally stopped allowing this.
  • In 2011, in Egypt, they rose up.
  • In 2005, in Ukraine, the people saved their democracy.
  • In 2000, in Serbia, the people toppled their warmonger leader.
  • From 1989-1991, Eastern and Central Europe arose and ended the Warsaw Pact domination of their societies and then ended the brutal empire of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union itself.
  • In 1986, in the Philippines, the people evicted the US, stopped a civil war, and saved their democracy.

This is but a small beginning list of what nonviolent people power has done. Are we so sedated in the US that we cannot manage a wee bit of an uprising when it's needed? Those in need are in the minority for the moment. But if we could one time organize those who are already impacted, including homeless or in foreclosure, uninsured, underemployed and unemployed (the estimated 20 percent or more of adults as calculated by rogue economist John Williams), plus those who are getting closer to the line of disastrous consequence daily, plus those who might just care about others, we might have a movement with clout. We can reverse this trend toward militarized protection of the tiny number of elite at the expense of the rest of us, but we have to want it, we have to work together, and we have to commit to nonviolence (this is not a philosophical commitment to pacifism, as you may easily discern by looking at the button list above, but rather a strategic commitment to a method of conflict management that works). If those factors ever line up, the war profiteers will fall and the rest of us will rise. If we wait for them to make the decision--whoops, they already made it, and we are living the result. Only we can change this.

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