Posts Tagged ‘ peace

The Bikecast Episode #44: Armistice Veterans Day and Moral Honesty

On Veteran’s Day[1], as on most other days, I find myself pulled by a fierce need to condemn the role of “soldier.” This concept, soldier, is used to create an inverse morality where killing is noble and those who kill are heroes. Surely nothing could be less heroic than taking money in order to kill, without question, whomever one is directed to kill.

On Veteran’s Day, as on most other days, I find myself pulled by a fierce need to condemn the role of “soldier.” This concept, soldier, is used to create an inverse morality where killing is noble and those who kill are heroes. Surely nothing could be less heroic than taking money in order to kill, without question, whomever one is directed to kill.
At the same time, it strikes me as unjust to lay blame at the feet of the human being who has assumed the role of soldier. Most soldiers were 18-year-olds who were sold on the honor and virtue of service to one’s country; their friends, relatives, peers, church and community leaders spoke in solemn tones about the noble sacrifices that the armed forces of the united states have made throughout its history. They’ve heard during 12 years of state schooling about how the u.s. military has repeatedly and continuously protected the freedom of the citizenry while spreading liberty and democracy around the globe. How is it fair to hold someone to account for their actions when they’ve been told all their life that the evil they’re signing up to do is good?

Download this episode of the bikecast
It is for this reason above all others that I believe it necessary to be unrelenting in the moral condemnation of soldiering. Mercenaries and hitmen[2] are paid commensurate with the social stigma attached to killing for money. Nobody honors assassins–there is no day to thank (expressly) paid killers. Nobody becomes a hitman with the expectation that one’s church community will be proud.

To a healthy person, the moral context attached to joining a military is identical to that of becoming muscle for a crime family. Everyone who is considering a career in the military should have the objective nature of the job presented honestly to them. Anything less is moral fraud of the most harmful kind.

The vast majority of the victims of the current slate of wars are, of course, those killed, kidnapped, robbed and displaced by the u.s. military. The greatest moral condemnation, by far, belongs to the political class and their corporate counterparts. In between are the humans sent to do the killing and the dying. Their lives as full humans will likely end with their first kill or their first interrogation. Thereafter, they’re doomed to a shadow existence, unless they brave the road nearly untraveled and examine and atone for their actions.

It will be a great kindness to a large number of potential recruits to accurately and honestly describe moral import the choice that lies ahead. When somebody chooses not to join the military, everything good in the world wins and evil is slowed, however minutely, in its mindless destruction of humanity. The greatest good is likely to the soldier-not-to-be him/herself. We’ll be on the right path when we thank and honor those that choose not to join the military.

Recommended reading:
Punk Johnny Cash on being thanked.
Arthur Silber: On Veteran’s Day, Fuck that Shit
Kelly Patterson on the 2738 Soldiers that died on the final day of the war so that it would end at 11:11 on 11/11/1918

  1. [1] previously known as Armistice Day, until the “War to End All Wars” turned out to be the bloodiest century the world has ever seen
  2. [2] and hitwomen

The Bikecast Episode #7b: Human Futures, Inevitable Ideas

Picking up where episode #7a left off.

Download this episode of the bikecast

If DNA-human life survives and spreads outward into the wider universe, it will be subsequent to the shedding of superstition, the embracing of the moral equality of all humans, and the end of violence as a means of social organization. I have high hopes that this will be the case. Pessimism about the ability for humankind to evolve into a non-violent social organism is understandable, but short-sighted. The recognition of the value of human life in and of itself and the categorization of “others” outside the tribe as human is literally hundreds of years old on a planet where mammals have existed for hundreds of millions of years and humans for tens or hundreds of thousands. Human consciousness and self-awareness is increasing rapidly and the mechanistic superstitions pushing back against that growth are slowly falling away.

It is entirely possible that the project of a sane, rationally organized global society will take numerous generations and collapses in social complexity to come to fruition. The foundational ideas–reason, evidence, non-violence and it’s corollary, freedom–are thoroughly and increasingly documented. In any context, they provide a striking contrast and unbeatable alternative to superstition, illusion, dominance and hierarchy. While the rear-guard action of reactionaries might last centuries, this is, viewed objectively, a very short period of time.

In the end, the ideas of reason, non-violence, and human equality are the most survivable and, at the rate they are growing, it won’t be long before they are ascendant. I believe this ascendancy and the technological explosions that will follow will out pace entropy–at least in the short term and eventually who knows? I link again a cool related Azimov short story–read it! 😉

Thanks for listening!

A Task for the Believers (or Bring America Home)

I just caught wind of the coffee party. I don’t know that it will catch on, but the sentiments espoused by the founders and participants appeal, I think, to a broad swath of the not-yet-totally-disillusioned. Here’s the mission statement from

MISSION: The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.

And their facebook blurb:

We the People demand: Reason and civility in public affairs; A government accountable to the People; Liberty & Justice for All.

I fundamentally disagree with the premise that government is anything but an enemy of people*. It sure as hell is no representation of my will, or the will of anyone I know or care to know. But that’s not my rant today. Today I bring a proposal. A simple test which, if passed, will save countless lives and provide the money to fund every domestic project every dreamed of.

I know what you’re thinking, I thought the same thing as I perused this post whose proposal I bring to the caffeinated today.

The claim of the state apologist, captured in the coffee party mission is that it is possible for the state to act in the interests of the citizens and reflect the wishes of its people. Certainly nothing could be more rational in a time of dire financial crises than to repurpose the trillions of dollars spent annihilating distant, provably harmless, civilizations to rebuilding our own.

Clearly, our global wars of occupation are not effective at achieving their stated aims. Both reason and evidence indicate, in fact, that the exact opposite of “national security” is heightened as the list of the aggrieved soars into the 10s of millions and the viability of a life spent violently fighting western institutions increases.

To the coffee party and anyone else who still imagines that the state is the servant of the people. I beg you to apply yourself to this one single, utterly reasonable and most critical of political actions. The coalition awaits and, as Chris notes, it is a truly big tent.

* At least 99.9% of people.

Non-violence and Political Solutions

A position of non-violence is incompatible with the idea of political solutions to social problems. The state, as we know it, ultimately has only one tool for controlling behavior, it can legitimately kill individual people. All other punishments are premised on this power. Until this is understood, the mass of humanity will remain the the impoverished slaves and servants of a tiny parasitic ruling class and will, perversely, thank them for the “safety” they provide.

If you oppose the non-violent position, then you will only ever contribute to problems stemming from violence. While you may point to a temporary victory–a political solution that “solved” a social problem–growing from the “solution” like bamboo shoots will be dozens, hundreds, thousands of resulting problems, each begging for a new political solution.

I’ve encountered alot of anger around this argument. Almost nobody, especially on the left, wants to be in a position of preferring violent solutions to non-violent. Yet how can one logically argue that support of state solutions is anything but the preference for violent solutions (answer: you can’t).

This puts the angry person in the position of having to create an imaginary world in which violence and only violence can stave off apocalyptic disaster. In this fiction, attempting, or even beginning to attempt to organize voluntarily to address social problems leads immediately to a fate worse than death–a world of chaos and violence in which everyone good dies at the hands of the evil, mad and powerful. These arguments, lunatic as they are, can be persuasive because a) no matter how horrifying real-life state atrocities are, the apocalypse is worse and b) they rely on fear, a historically reliable way of overriding rational thought and bringing debate to an end.

A novel position came up in a conversation recently that simultaneously surprised and delighted me. It is worth addressing because it is the only alternative to the fear based response. The position is that the state doesn’t need to use violence but could be reconstituted in such a way that it is a voluntary organization. In principle, how can I have any problem with that? If the state renounces violence in favor of voluntary cooperation, it will cease to be a remnant of stone-age barbarism and become a part of the future of humanity. By my definition, it would no longer be a state at that point, but I would be happy concede to calling it a state if it is ever brought into being.