War is a racket. War is a lie. War is the health of the state. War is over. If you want it. Or maybe whether or not you want it doesn’t matter. When us dreamers point out that a world without war is possible, sometimes the naysayers like to come back with something about “the inherently violent nature of man.” This always strikes me as being like saying that we can’t have airplanes because of “the inherently earthbound nature of cars.” Maybe they are correct in their assertion, but it doesn’t necessarily make them not obstinate jerks for waving around this red herring.
If people are inherently violent, does that mean that inevitably, until the world is swallowed up by an expanding sun, we will have rich old men convincing millions of gullible poor young men to dress up in silly costumes to meet in the middle of a field where none of them live to kill each other because they’re wearing different colors? In the age of the internet, a real force on force kind of war is inconceivable! (Yes, I know what that word means.) Just because humans are violent, doesn’t mean we have to be stupid about it forever, and whether or not you believe the premise of Idiocracy, humans are getting effectively more intellectually capable with technology.
Let’s get back to war itself for a second. We have been duped by the powers that be into thinking that wars are fought between countries, rather than conducted by governments. This easily dispelled mythology would lead you to believe that wars are symptoms of the dark side of humanity, rather than symptoms of the government racket. WARS ARE NOT FOUGHT BETWEEN COUNTRIES! They are conducted by government using violence to expand their protection rackets! (Incidentally, this also means that the best defense for any group of people to embrace it to refuse to be governed by anyone.)
The violence done by government requires deception because in order to exist, governments require enforcement classes of cops and soldiers willing to do violence against peaceful people. Having experienced the modern American military first hand, I can tell you that it is the most propagandized population on earth. When we had TVs in the chow halls in Iraq, Fox News was too “fair and balanced” and had to be replaced with the “Armed Forces Network.” All propaganda, all the time.
So there are two layers of propaganda involved here, one of which I propose the internet has more or less taken care of, and the other one I’m working on still (with the help of FREEDOM! And many others!) The first layer of propaganda is the foundational propaganda of statism based on making people believe the lies that government is good and necessary, politicians care about you, and police and soldiers only exist to keep you safe. The second layer of propaganda is the “debate” around immediate policy:
Should “we” invade Syria or Libya?
What drugs should remain targets in the “war on drugs?”
How many children do we have to kill with drone strikes to keep our children safe?
Why do the people of Iran want us all dead?
When do we force people to bake cakes for each other?
If people can be distracted by this second layer of propaganda, they might never get to challenge the first layer. BUT! Now the internet is making the distraction of that second layer much less effective. That second layer doesn’t just distract you from the first, it is also how governments figure out what they can get away with, and so it seems, not so much any more.
As a veteran of the “Global War on Terror” I can look back at the scale of the destructiveness and mourn without diminishing its significance, but looking back at the scale of wars that happened before the age of the internet, the violence of the modern era is a drop in the bucket and as the work of Professor Steven Pinker of Harvard would show, we are living in the most peaceful times in human history.
Remember when Obama tried to get boots on the ground in Syria? Social media was there to tell him that was a bad idea because even the troops didn’t buy it and the internet blew up with pictures or military members with notes over their faces saying things like, “Obama, I did not enlist to fight for Al Qaeda in Syria!” How long have they been trying to get a war going with Iran? Even with all the best efforts to trick us into thinking they are about to nuke the US and Israel off the map, we can still Skype people in Iran and get the real story.
A lie can still travel halfway around in the hurry, but now the truth will catch up before any troops can be deployed – if not before any Hellfire Missiles are fired. Do you see what’s happened here? The worst that modern governments can get away with are relatively limited proxy wars. As many innocent people may die, the violence that governments can get away with today is a tiny fraction of what it used to be. As much as I want to give credit to so many influential peace activists who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much, (I’ve been arrested in protest over three dozen times myself) I think we can attribute this fundamental shift in human existence more to the internet than to any individuals. But who knows, without the peace activists applying the technology, maybe it would be useless.
More importantly at this point, how do we apply the technology now to address the first layer of government propaganda? Do we have to at all, or will it happen automatically? If I’m correct in my predictions, the word “libertarian” will be as obsolete as the word “abolitionist” in a couple decades and for the same reason. The ideals of freedom will be so universally accepted as to be not even noteworthy, just as today, no one would introduce themselves with, “Hi! I’m an abolitionist. That means I’m opposed to the institution of slavery!”
However you want to explain it, humanity gets all the credit here. We made war obsolete! Congratulations! GO TEAM PEOPLE!
Governments are next.
(With an appropriate nod here to Smedley Butler, David Swanson, Randolph Bourne, Mark Twain, Cindy Sheehan, Ron Kovic, Thomas Young, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and every victim of war ever.)