if they gave a War?
Clearing House" -- --
“What if they gave a war and no one came?” was a popular slogan
during the Viet Nam war. It remains a timeless and powerful
motto, and is as relevant as ever. It is still a mantra that
evokes thought provoking responses and suggests some intriguing
What if those who serve in the military were fully aware of what
their government requires them to do? What if they understood
the underlying purpose of war and refused to participate? What
if military recruiters were unable to feed the war machine with
our sons and daughters; our uncles and nephews, and our nieces?
How could it continue?
It is no coincidence that those who make war never fight in
them. It is the corporations that lobby for war because there
are profits to be made; and profits to be kept. The politicians,
of course, are owned by the corporations and do their biding.
American citizens have never been involved in making decisions
about going to war. Whether or not to wage war is one of the
most momentous decisions a people could make; and they have no
voice in the process. Half a million people can demonstrate in
the streets but the war machine keeps turning. Does this meet a
thinking person’s criteria for Democracy?
The people who fight them do not want war. Why would they? They
have nothing to gain and everything to lose. War is the province
of wealth and Plutocracy, not of the working people. It is not
for us to ask why. It is for us to fight and to die. But what if
Let us be clear about some things pertaining to war: Those who
send our children into battle do not care about them. It is
politically expedient for them to pretend to care; but they do
not. Soldiers are culled from the working class. They are
disproportionately poor—many of them people of color. In
America, poor people are disposable; the rich are indispensable.
Money and social status matters, but they should not.
Witness how the government abandons its soldiers and their
families when they come home in flag-draped coffins or
over-sized cardboard boxes; when they return with missing limbs
and with psychological scars so deep it would require lifetimes
to heal them. See how it denies the effects of Agent Orange and
Gulf War Syndrome; and depleted uranium munitions. See how it
cuts veterans benefits. It does not care.
The corporate media is an extension of the military industrial
complex—a wing of the Pentagon and the corporate board room. It
is a vital organ in a vast propaganda apparatus that is used to
program the public mind; to deceive and to control the people—to
ruthlessly exploit them for the Plutocracy. The war machine
could not function without it.
The people who send others to war are cowards and pathological
liars. It does not require courage or moral authority to send
other people to fight and to die.
War is always about procuring wealth for those in power. It has
nothing to do with noble causes. War is about two things:
insensate greed and private ownership; and to a lesser
Our political leaders have no moral integrity. They are beholden
to corporate entities, and they are enemies of the people.
War is intimately related to class struggles. Labor history is a
chronicle of this violent class conflict that is predatory in
nature, with the rich preying upon the poor. When the government
sends our soldiers to war it is a continuation of that struggle.
We do not live in a Democracy. If we did the people would have a
voice in matters as momentous as war. We must learn to recognize
the difference between Democracy and Plutocracy. If we lived in
a Democracy our votes would matter; there would be choices other
than the evil of two lessers, and the will of the people would
There is no aspect of corrupt government that is legitimate; no
part that warrants our respect—none that deserves our
cooperation. Let us see it for what it is—for what it has always
been, and act accordingly.
It is said that government exists to serve the people. But in
America it is now the other way round.
The people struggling under the oppressive weight of a corrupt
and immoral government do not owe that government their
allegiance. Indeed, they must not cooperate with it in any way.
They must oppose it with all their will and conscience, and do
everything in their power to undermine it. They must expose it
for the fraud it is and hold it accountable to the people.
Sucking the life blood out of the working people is not public
service—it is parasitism!
Neither should the people pledge allegiance to the flag. Let
them pledge their allegiance to truth and to one another in the
great class struggle that has always characterized our nation.
Without our cooperation there can be no war, no Plutocracy, and
no empire. We must do away with the classes and recognize all
people as equals. The wealth of our nation must be distributed
equitably, rather than divided almost exclusively among the
No person of conscience should take up arms against his/her
working brethren in other nations or at home. Those who choose
to serve in the military should do so as non-violent
conscientious objectors. They must refuse to be the instruments
of corporate Plutocracy by serving humanity rather than empire.
Soldiers must not allow their government to make them complicit
in war crimes that they will carry with them the rest of their
lives. No thinking person in any capacity should ever blindly
carry out orders without consulting their conscience and
weighing the evidence. Otherwise they are mere automatons and
not sentient beings at all.
The people must educate themselves in order to counter the
powerful conscience altering propaganda that pervades our
culture and shapes public opinion. They must learn history and
empower themselves. Then it will be possible to connect the dots
and see things as they really are with historical perspective.
We must think beyond geopolitical borders, beyond political
parties; past the familiar labels of liberal and conservative.
Working class conservatives and working class liberals alike are
exploited by those in power. We must set aside the petty
differences that keep us apart and seek common ground to defeat
our common enemy—corporate Plutocracy.
Finally, we must organize as a class across national borders and
forge global solidarity with working class people everywhere.
Perhaps, then, the next time they give a war no one will come.
Charles Sullivan is a photographer and free lance writer
residing in West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at
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