Saturday, November 19, 2022

The Essential Nature of the Conflict: Part Two


The Essential Nature of the Conflict: Part Two

Peter Schultz


            In the first part of this essay, I made the argument that the Cold War, for example, was a cover meant to hide the essential nature of the conflict between the global capitalist classes and those opposed to them. By implication, this conflict was and is the real conflict going on in the world, not, for example, “the West” versus “the communists.” So, the Cold War was created to hide this conflict and its implications.


            But there was and is another dimension to the Cold War and that was to help advance the agenda of the global capitalist classes. And this worked as follows.


            It was a criticism of the US’s involvement in Vietnam that the military objective was never clearly stated. As Fletcher Prouty put it, “Gen. Creighton Abrams asked the central question of President Johnson,” viz., “what [is] this country’s strategic objective…in Indochina.” But he got no answer from Johnson or anyone else, which meant “the best men like Abrams and Westmoreland could do was wallow in the quagmire of indecision while counting bodies on both sides.” [p. 239]


            But while there wasn’t such a strategic objective, there were political objectives. That is, with the advent of what was and is called counterinsurgency warfare or limited warfare, “the military would be used to further ‘political stability, economic growth, and social change….’” [Prouty. 183] This was, according to Prouty, “a totally revolutionary role for the US military.” [ibid] And many in the military, especially the Joint Chiefs, wanted no part of being “Cold Warriors.” They wanted to remain military people and did not want the military to become the means of furthering “political stability, economic growth, and social change.” And, of course, these terms, “political stability, economic growth, and social change” are empty terms. What kind of “political stability?” Certainly, not the kind of stability created by traditional village life in Vietnam. What kind of “economic growth?” Again, traditional village life in Vietnam would have to disappear in order to get a growing economy because village life was utterly unconcerned with and even rejected such growth. What kind of “social change?” Of course, these changes would look to displace traditional village life, perhaps replacing that life with a life characterized by workers manufacturing sneakers for the Nike corporation.  


            You can see where this is going. That the military was to be converted from a purely military organization to another kind of organization – one, as Prouty points out, that Mao made famous in his writings – that would serve to advance a particular agenda, viz., the agenda of the global capitalist classes. As the result of such a conversion, wars should be limited and need not be “won.” As Prouty puts it: “In Vietnam the United States won precisely nothing, but that costly war served the primary purposes of the world’s power elites. For one thing, they benefitted splendidly from the billions of dollars that came their way. For example, more than ten million men were flown from the United States to Saigon by contract commercial airline flights, representing more than $800 million in windfall business for those airlines.” [p. 235] And, as Prouty points out, “As the progression of events in Central America has demonstrated, the tactics of Vietnam have become the method of dealing with the problems of less-developed countries in the bipolar world.” [ibid] “Dealing with the problems of less-developed nations,” however, seems less than accurate insofar as the global capitalist classes seek to replace one set of such problems with another set of problems, for example, recurring and great debt that serves the interests of our global capitalist classes. 


            Another result of such an agenda is that the CIA gained power within the US government. Again, Prouty: “The US military establishment was neither designed nor prepared to engage in peacetime covert operations, nor did it wish to. As a result, this type of activity remained with the CIA by default.” Given its limitations though, which are insufficient to wage clandestine warfare on its own, the CIA can only incite incidents that subsequently require further US action, either through the military or through proxies, the latter of which leads to the US joining forces with the likes of jihadists and other less than reputable actors. And so the “New World Order,” the world order the global capitalist classes are seeking to create, begins to look less like a just order and more like an order resting on injustice and repression. It is certainly not a peaceful order, unless of course it succeeds in repressing all its “insurgents,” which seems unlikely.

Wild Stuff: The Essential Nature of the Conflict

Wild Stuff: The Essential Nature of the Conflict

Peter Schultz


            Consider two passages, one from C.J. Hopkins, volume II, and the other from Fletcher Prouty’s JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy.


First, the passage from Prouty, regarding the cover up of the JFK assassination: “It [the cover up] was designed to make possible the total takeover of the government of the United States…and to make it possible for this cabal to control the series of Presidents from Lyndon B. Johnson to the present day.” [p.138]


Second, the passage from Hopkins concerning “the War on Dissent the global capitalist classes have been waging…. It isn’t just a question of delegitimizing dissidents by smearing them as anti-Semites, Russian agents, and conspiracy theorists. The goal is to conceal the essential nature of the conflict itself….The essential nature of the conflict is…neoliberalism versus neo-nationalism [with] the global capitalist ruling classes putting down a neo-nationalist insurgency….”


Leave aside the Kennedy assassination and the current battle between neoliberalism and neo-nationalists for a moment and focus on the essential conflict, viz., that of the global capitalist classes against insurgents. In this light, American politics then may be seen as repeated attempts by the global capitalist ruling classes to maintain their rule against insurgencies as they arise in one form or another. As Hopkins points out, this isn’t easy for the global capitalist ruling classes to do because their cause “is a really tough sell to regular folks.” Therefore, the global capitalist ruling classes have to cover up “the essential nature of the conflict,’ e.g., by turning global neoliberalism into “Western democracy” and nationalism into “Nazism.”


This way of looking at things has some rather important implications. For example, it may be argued that the Cold War itself was created to hide the essential nature of the conflict, to hide the essential character of the conflict between what is now called “neoliberalism” and its enemies. Further, the wars that arose after WW II, for example, the wars in Korea and Vietnam, were also used by the “global capitalist classes” to hide the essential character of their politics and the conflicts that agenda created. Anti-communism v. communism hides the essential conflict between the global capitalist classes and the insurgents resisting those classes.


Further implications include the controversies created by the Warren Commission and the 9/11 commissions. If not by design, the controversies these commissions created would further conceal the nature of the essential conflict because the question of the essential conflict, what is it, never gets addressed. Intense controversies arose over bullets, rifles, falling towers, watchdogs that didn’t bark (as one book puts it regarding 9/11). In fact, the essential conflict never even makes an appearance. And the more intense these controversies become, the better they hide the real conflict. And this would be true of any controversy that arose, e.g., whether Jeremy Corbyn is a Nazi, whether Trump is Putin’s bitch, or whether Obama is a natural born American citizen. And the more controversies like these that arise, the more invisible the real or essential conflict becomes, to the point that if you bring up the essential conflict, you will be dismissed as irrelevant at best or delusional at worse.


Of course, if Prouty’s argument that the JFK cover up made it possible for a “cabal” to “totally takeover” the US government is modified to say that that cover up was in service of such an agenda of trying to take over the US government, then it is feasible to see American politics as what Hopkins calls “the global capitalist classes” trying their best to gain or fortify their rule against various “insurgencies” opposed to that agenda. The global capitalist classes weren’t always successful and perhaps can never be finally successful and so they had to wage political battles, repeatedly, against the insurgents. So, what Hopkins sees going on now has been going on for a long time, only in different dimensions or disguises. The Cold War served the global capitalist classes well, and when it ended with the demise of the Soviet Union a new war was needed. And lo and behold, there arose the war on terror, which, again, has served the global capitalist classes well, while concealing “the essential nature of the conflict itself.” Of course, Trump proved to be another way of concealing this conflict, one which the Democrats were more than happy to use, with the Republicans not far behind. Both parties created “Trump,” as it were, because both parties share an interest in concealing the essential nature of the conflict.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

War Is the Health of the State


War Is the Health of the State

Peter Schultz


            I have been reading Max Blumenthal’s book, The Management of Savagery, which is his account of “how America’s national security state fueled the rise of al Qaeda, ISIS….” Like most commentators, Blumenthal argues that America’s national security state fueled the rise of these entities because America’s elites ignored certain facts and ended up involved in civil wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. And these wars gave rise to al Qaeda and ISIS, making then more powerful than they otherwise would have been.


            From this perspective, these civil wars were mistakes, i.e., were events that US elites could and should have avoided or even prevented. And this reasoning seems to make perfect sense, especially in light of the widely accepted thought that politicians and nations always should try to avoid war because war represents failure.


            But suppose, at least momentarily, that “war is the health of the state,” to borrow the title of an essay written by Randolph Bourne in the early 20th century. If we give play to this possibility, then it emerges that the civil wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria and America’s involvement in them were not mistakes. Or, even they were mistakes, they have contributed to the health of the US state, have contributed to its power and its wealth, as well as to its place in the world.


            Think about it: When has war not contributed to the health of a state? Did WW I contribute to or compromise the health of the German state? Both, you might say. And the same phenomenon appears regarding the Vietnam War. Did it contribute to or compromise the health of the American state? Again, both you may say. That war, Vietnam, has been used to help build up the power and wealth of the United States, especially after the onset of “the Reagan Revolution.” And it is still being used today to fortify American patriotism and unity, thereby making the American state healthier. And America’s embrace of war, of several simultaneously, has produced what some call “a war culture,” a culture characterized by reinvigorated patriotism and unity, as well as the whole-hearted embrace of “American exceptionalism” to the point that Americans refer to the United States as “the indispensable nation.” War politics produces a war culture, and a war culture contributes to the health of the state.


            From the viewpoint of the state and those who are invested with its powers, war politics is good politics. So, if your goal is a powerful and wealthy state, i.e., greatness, then war is the way to go.


            It could be then that Blumenthal and others are not clearly seeing the character of US politics, or of politics generally. Because US elites and its people pursue greatness, i.e., political health as it is commonly, even universally understood, the US doesn’t “stumble” into wars, isn’t dragged into “quagmires” that lead to war. Rather, the US embraces war willingly, vigorously, even whole-heartedly because war will make America great, will cause, display, and fortify America’s political health to such a degree that the US can feel free to call itself “the exceptional,” “the indispensable” nation. Oh, the glory in that! A glory that, as Pericles said of Athens, might prove to be immortal. So, as the death toll rises, remember there is glory, greatness to be harvested from those bodies.