Posts Tagged ‘ soldiers

More Things We Should Know By Now

In a post from last month (probably the post from last month), I was thinking about ignorance as an excuse for poor and/or immoral choices. There’s a category of ills (racism, homophobia, misogyny) that have become decreasingly acceptable by society at large. While we might excuse the racist ramblings of great-aunt Edna, a member of our peer group with the same beliefs is willfully ignoring the evidence against 19th century theories of racial hierarchy; or is aware of them but wants to be a racist anyway.

The main thrust of the previous post: only a willing dupe still believes in government as a force of positive social change. Given a goal, no matter how universally laudable, writing it down on paper and handing it to a pack of unaccountable and heavily armed goons to carry out will never go well. It will rarely turn out otherwise than awful.

The same principle applies to police, military, and other members of the enforcement arm of the United States government. I’m not sure if it was ever the case that people trusted in the police or if Mayberry and Officer Friendly are just straight-up 1950s post-war propaganda. In any case, nobody in their right mind trusts in the police now.

This has several important ramifications (that we should all know by now):

1. Unless you want someone shot or in jail, do not call the police. Since we live in a largely disarmed and submissive society, there are many time and places where a person’s only recourse against violations of person or property is a government thug. In those instances, by all means, engage the police.

Necessary or not, it’s often a terrible and lifechanging ordeal. If you’re lucky, the casualty will be a family pet–either yours or one belonging to a neighbor. Otherwise, you may have unintentionally called in a hit on someone–maybe a member of your own family.

To reiterate, I’m not passing judgement on anyone who calls the police in self-defense. It should be an absolute last resort and you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself, a loved one, or a neighbor shot or put in a cage. That’s what police do. Everyone should understand this by now.

2. If someone signs up to be an enforcer today without the full understanding that they’re accepting money to obey orders, no matter how immoral; they can’t reasonably claim to care about the possibility of having to murder, torture, or imprison innocent human beings. That’s what the job of law enforcement *is*.

If you sign up to “enforce the law”, you are not a hero. People don’t respect you, they are afraid of you. If you find yourself in harms way, it’s probably because you’re employed to be a thug who orders people around at gunpoint–or would if they didn’t comply with your barked orders. Some people don’t have the right psychological makeup to debase themselves and submit when bullied[1].

The time has past when anyone who wants to be police can be considered anything other than a brute. If you really want to help or protect people, there are a million other avenues that will fulfill those needs. The only reason anyone is police today is that they are willing to do anything to anyone in order to get a paycheck. Most probably, they enjoy doing it–the pay isn’t *that* great if you have any marketable skills at all.

3. The same thing goes for “our troops.” Soldiers are mercenaries who will kill anybody they’re ordered to regardless of context. Sadly, for those who acting out of financial necessity, enough people still exist who blindly “honor the troops,” to provide a shadow of moral sanction. Countless souls on the margin have been tipped to the side of obeying evil for pay by the omnipresent message that their “fellow citizens” will “honor their sacrifice”.

The true nature of the United States military is willfully ignored by a huge number of Americans. As with all of our above examples as well as the the effects of smoking and the theory of evolution, the evidence is ample, universal, and unequivocal. 40 years of incontrovertible evidence plus an additional 180 years of less mainstream history indicates that the purpose of the military is to kill for the advantage of bankers, plantation owners, mineral extractors, and weapons manufacturers.

It’s time we stopped pretending that there’s anything positive about being a gang enforcer. Even if the gang is the biggest one on the planet.

  1. [1] For the record, I totally do. Don’t shoot me.

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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUBAx8jbYNs&feature=related

The Bikecast Episode #31: Returning Moral Agency to Soldiers

As difficult and uncomfortable as it is, I believe it important to oppose the idea that the profession of soldiering is something noble and to be honored. Stripped of the narrative of nationality and the misdirection of just war theory, people who accept money for the job of killing strangers without question are, by definition, assassins, hit men (and hit women), and/or mercenaries.
Update below

Download this episode of the bikecast

When a person faces the moral decision whether to kill without question in exchange for money, it is reckless and immoral to tilt the scales with promises of honor, glory, triumphal parades, and absolution of any actions taken while pursuing and killing his/her targets.

Such a decision should be made solemnly, with the full understanding of the task at hand and with absolute moral clarity. This is rendered impossible in our war crazed nation-state. In our society, every media depiction of soldiering, every holiday, and every public event has as a component gratitude to the military, appreciation for the soliders, remembering the fallen, honoring the veterans and other forms of soldier worship.

The first thing we learn about soldiers is that they keep us free, keep us safe, and preserve our liberty.  Even when we disagree with a military decision, we can only do so because they have sacrificed their lives to protect our right to speak.  We hear this message endlessly.  It is a foundational societal meme.

As a result, men and women who otherwise would not enlist are enticed to. We have, as a society, essentially removed the moral agency from the would-be solider by disguising the moral character of the decision he/she is making.

I doubt I can emphasize this enough to quell the most deeply ingrained knee-jerk reactions, but the withholding of misplaced and misleading gratitude is not an attack on an individual. It is unproductive and unjust to categorically condemn soldiers for the choices they made under false pretenses. It is essential, however, to remove the false pretenses so that the individual soldier can properly evaluate his/her decision under conditions of moral clarity.

The most difficult aspect of this problem stems from the magnitude of U.S. war crimes. They are incomprehensibly monstrous, murderous, and destructive. The degree and intensity of the propaganda that is required to cloak these crimes is equally massive. There’s nothing I can think of more sacred to most americans than the current and/or historical american military and nothing more universally believed in than the just and necessary nature of current and/or historical wars.

This is an essential element of national cohesion, and thus, an essential target for those interested in ending the global empire and advancing the cause of human freedom. Ultimately, we do not want future generations of friends and family to take the job of mercenary because they misunderstood it as being something noble and honorable.

Update: Robert Jensen published an article at Common Dreams that takes on this same topic. He leaves room for honorable service in “just wars”, which I reject, but all respect for a public figure taking on such a sensitive and emotionally challenging topic.