The End of War, or the End of US

December 1, 2005

I have made the decision to not participate in war any longer. . . . [T]o me it is simple. I have been to the war zone and I have seen the devastation it causes. Why can’t everyone agree that war is the most repugnant of all human endeavors?

–Sergeant Kevin Benderman, Iraq War veteran
on becoming a conscientious objector

In April 1969, during a traumatic moment witnessing the immediate aftermath of the bombing of a populated fishing village in Viet Nam, I began to sense the LIE of the war, the shallowness of my ideological conditioning, and the fraud underlying "American" mythology.

Now, 36 years later, I wonder why the lessons learned in those years when "democratic" practices almost took hold in "America" are less heeded than ever? Increasingly, our species knows that it is at a pivotal moment for survival in our long evolutionary journey. It is as if the "developed" human activities that are dangerously warming the earth, destabilizing indispensable ecosystems, destroying ancient human "teaching" cultures, and undermining our own national and local health as a society, are intended to commit ecocide. We know that the Western Way Of Life (WWOL), along with its newer version, the American Way Of Life (AWOL), is intrinsically unsustainable! How can this be? How can we be so dumbed down as to participate in our own death??

As we become aware of the terrifying realities rebutting generations of glittery rhetoric about "exceptional" U.S. America, a special opportunity emerges to uncover the social secret that "America" is in fact an oligarchy committed to exploitation to assure prosperity for a minority, while exposing the social myth that "America" is a democracy committed to justice for all. It is not a democracy, and it is committed to justice for only the rich.

This is indeed a revolutionary moment calling for noncooperation with and nonviolent resistance to our fraudulent oligarchic political system, a system committed to preserving plundering, "free"-market capitalism. A nonviolent revolution from below may be capable of reviving ancient social organizations of autonomous, local, steady-state economies such as are currently witnessed in the radically democratic Zapatista communities in southern Mexico. Many localities in the U.S. are now forming post-oil action groups to prepare outlines for local, authentically sustainable economies such as those long-ago abandoned as being primitive. We need courage to deny any further support for a one-party system with two right-wings (soft/liberal or hard/conservative) disguised as "representative democracy," both major political parties obviously committed to an imperial "America."

One of the obstacles to an emboldened uprising is continued faith in the exceptionality of the United States of America. No one wants to believe the extent of its fraudulent "Constitutional democracy." The consciousness leap needed to be able to extricate our complicity with a failed system is made extraordinarily difficult because virtually all of us have become addicted to a Way Of Life, not much different and no less difficult to break than addiction to drugs and alcohol. The U.S., possessing but 4.6 percent of the world’s population, consumes anywhere from 25 percent to nearly half the world’s resources — an insatiable appetite with a societal footprint five times what the earth can sustain. To maintain this unjust pillage requires unending war, or its constant threat.

John Locke described empire as a way of life requiring the taking of wealth and freedom away from others to selfishly assure one’s own welfare and power. In U.S. history, empire, soft or hard, is the product of an unwillingness to live within our means. The United States, no less than other empires from Rome to England, was born in and has expanded upon imperial values. The U.S. "Founding Fathers" had visions of an "empire of liberty" (Jefferson), "imperial republicanism" (Madison) and a mercantile, expansive nation, but NOT a vision of democracy. The U.S. Constitution is based on a strong vertical authority structure that makes authentic democracy impossible. The strong central government pre-empted the original 1774 Revolutionary ideas of farmers and small communities whose uprising opposed any central authority structure whether imposed by England or their home country.

It is time to leap out of the water. The frog did not notice the rising temperature and so had no choice but to be boiled alive. We can see the water is near the boiling point and should be able to choose a better fate. Perhaps an adrenaline rush is needed to trigger our autonomic nervous system to make a radical move. One thing is sure. Our species cannot avoid catastrophic elimination by remaining complicit with a system designed to make profits for a few at any cost.

As veterans many of us have been to war and seen the devastation it causes. It is time, with our friends around the country and world, to choose not to participate in war any longer by directly addressing the causes rooted in our Way Of Life that drive our imperial policies. As Henry David Thoreau advised, "Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!"

One Comment

  1. Posted September 16, 2023 at 7:12 am | Permalink

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