A Christmas Ghost Story

“War is the health of the state.”

— Randolph Bourne

Actually, two ghost stories.  They’re the twin semi-invisible specters hanging over our “peace and justice” movement that’s hardly moving at all.

One spook is that many if not most of us are part of a socially deaf, educated elite miles and miles above the cries of rage and pain of America’s Trump-voting deplorables.

The second ghost is much harder to grapple with, which is that for nearly 100 years our welfare benefits have been paid for by our either selling or aggressively using war goods.

We give to ourselves with one hand and kill foreigners with the other.

It’s built into the system.

A poignant example: Uncle Bernie Sanders, who we all (well, almost all) love, is an anti-war socialist, right?  He voted against Bush’s Iraq invasion even though he helped lay the philosophic groundwork in Congress with speeches urging Saddam Hussein’s overthrow (See Bernie and the Sandernistas), but let that pass, we don’t want a politician without contradictions, do we?

Bernie is aggressively pushing to keep in his Burlington, Vermont constituency the 1.3 billion dollar Lockheed Martin F-35 “stealth” fighter, a fearsome if catastrophically failed war plane.  Lobbying for the F-35 means 1400 badly needed jobs in a small state.  Don’t say hypocrisy, say South Carolina which is trying to muscle Bernie out of the F35 picture.

“War is the health of…Vermont?”

It’s a rarely challenged truism that money spent on the Vietnam war scuttled Lyndon Johnson’s ambitious “Great Society” program against poverty and racial injustice.

Let’s look at it the other way round: that the money spent on  pouring “social funds” into Brown&Root, Halliburton, Dow Chemical (napalm), Monsanto  (agent Orange), Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Bechtel functioned to keep American workers in their jobs at liveable wages.

The connection between how we live and who we kill is a ghost that has haunted us for a long time.  Eventually we pay  the cost in 9/11 and ISIS terror and, at several removes, the mass migrations from Africa and Asia.

Just because connections are hard to “prove” doesn’t mean they don’t exist and will come out of the dark closet whenever they please.

More articles by:

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset

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March 22, 2019
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