"Money for Jobs Not for War"-- American Chauvinism + Reformist Illusions
by Larry Everest
May 20, 2012, Chicago.
"Money for Jobs and Education, Not War and Occupation!" This is the slogan the ANSWER Coalition is raising at today's anti-NATO protests in Chicago, and other groups are putting forward similar demands.
This slogan is profoundly wrong and harmful--both in terms of morality that's actually in the interests of humanity, and in terms of a scientific understanding of imperialism and war.
Why should antiwar demands focus first and foremost on the war's impact on Americans and their lives--and not on the victims of U.S. aggression: Pakistanis murdered in U.S. drone strikes, Iraqis rounded up and tortured by U.S. forces, Afghans seized and terrorized in night raids, and countless others? Aren't their lives every bit as precious as the lives of those who happen to live in the U.S.?
"Money for jobs, not for war" argues that American lives are more important than other people's lives. This logic goes right along with--and amplifies--the mindset relentlessly fostered by the system's rulers and their media machine: that American lives come first. This is the very mindset the rulers count on to justify and build public support (or acquiescence) for their predatory wars of empire.
The slogan also promotes the idea that the political powers-that-be--if pressured by enough people--could scale back their military, stop attacking other countries, and instead use the money for jobs, education, and other social welfare programs at home. But that's not how the system actually operates! Wars, invasions, and occupations are not policies of one set of politicians or another, or arbitrary choices made by this or that president. At this stage in history, capitalism is a global system, with the U.S. the world's most dominant capitalist-imperialist power, presiding over a worldwide empire of exploitation. This empire rests on the domination of the oppressed countries where the vast majority of humanity lives, and on control of labor, markets, and resources. This entails the violent suppression of the masses of people in the dominated areas--and also entails fighting off challenges from other imperialists as well as rising forces in those countries that stand in the way. This requires a monstrously huge military that is deployed worldwide, with bases in over 100 countries, and wars when necessary.
The wars for domination in the Middle East, Central Asia, and elsewhere don't "interfere" with the functioning of U.S. capital--they're absolutely essential to it, and to the U.S.'s overall global dominance. This is why the U.S. rulers are compelled--and willing to--spend trillions on the military, including during periods of severe economic and fiscal stress, no matter who happens to sit in the White House or Congress.