Friday, August 10, 2012

Business: War by other means?

War, wrote Karl von Clausewitz, is politics by other means. We also see politics and business tightly intertwined, like cancer growing around your central nervous system. When politics makes war manifest it is critically connected to the disease of predatory capitalism. We will either operate on this killer growth or it will kill us.

Is this a claim that corporate greed is the only factor in launching war? Of course not. We humans managed to wage plenty of war before the invention of capitalism or corporations. Did we wage war absent greed? That is an open question. It is possible that some wars were fought over a shrinking, limited resource base necessary for the survival of two groups but only enough for one group. And it is absolutely true that some wars are fought to defend the survival of one group against the greed of another--this may be the most common scenario, in fact.

What are the greed factors that we can identify that can lead to war?

  • expropriation of someone else's property, natural resources, or land.
  • control over human resources and rule over people.
  • higher rates of profit for elites.

These categories have subsets, as we have seen. Colonialism sought to directly control land and rule people that were formerly indigenously autonomous. Imperialism seeks to control the human and natural wealth by proxy and at a remove. Preparing and waging wars shift power and wealth from civil society to elite commanders and contractors.

And somehow it is not too surprising that the same elites who mine for high profits at the expense of the  average worker are the most belligerent in their foreign policy stances and the strongest defenders of a spendthrift militaristic budget.

The assertions by those who challenge peaceful Muslims to 'prove it' by denouncing any terrorism done in the name of Islam might engender the same sort of challenge to the business community; to show your better ethics and intentions, perhaps you should go out of your way to repudiate corporate greed when it clearly hurts people. Asserting your right to a fair profit in normal commerce while separating yourself from the hurtful elites might make the vast majority of us in the 99 percent feel less antagonistic toward you. I'm just saying...

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