The Market of Conflict

Posted: September 30, 2010 in Don't Miss!
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Today I’ll risk sounding like a nay-sayer. Coming from a peace and human rights activist like myself – this pattern of thought is bound to be even more pronounced and received with dismay.

This morning came with a realization that we may never achieve that utopian “world peace” reality we dream of and work so hard for: All nations living beside one another with harmony – end of all global conflicts panning decades (or more in some cases) – and a levelling of the playing field when it comes to superpowers and their “developing” counterparts. Not happening anytime soon. The reason for this suddenly bright outlook? A little something economists call “Military Keynesianism”. Let me explain.

According to far-thinking economists, the world is far from reaching its true “production potential” – a belief tied to the concept of the “over-accumulation crisis”. Kind of like us not using most of our brains – but I digress. In capitalism, obvious as it may sound, making a profit or multiplying initial investement is the the primary goal. But before producing something for the people to “consume”, a market must be made for it. For instance, before coming up with i-tunes, a web-based portal for making a killing selling $0.99 songs, Apple came up with the i-pod – a device that would leave its users little choice but to buy from i-tunes. At their launch, i-pods were suddenly presented as the hip new way to listen to music – with a New York-ish image of youth –  and suddenly the white ear-phones become a symbol of style and moving with the times.

From i-pods to bombs. Here is where we make the connection. In the post WW2 period of re-building Europe (which was pretty much in shambles), countries like the United States made quite a bundle rebuilding infrastructure. Suddenly, it dawns upon them, war is a profitable business! Constantly destroying and rebuilding infrastructure and cities and civilizations creates the necessary market for goods and services! This entire concept is called Military Keynesianism – and you can read more about it in the articles listed below. Producers of bombs and guns and other war machinery need to create a market (demand) for these products. Let’s ask ourselves – who will buy these things? People living in peaceful oases of sisterly love for one another or people at each others necks? Would the producers ever aim for a total re-concilliation of conflicts when it came to these people? (Take the Middle East for instance, billions of dollars of worth of war machinery is sold to willing hands there annually – now that is too prime a market to let go in pursuit of something as trivial as peace).

War, hence, is a reliable venue for investment of monies. Investors want a reliable portfolio – one that will generate results (profits) – and war is a proven multiplier of money. Also, what is more reliable than the human tendency to pick up a fight with one’s neighbors? Same thing during the global “great” depression: war became a way out of financial ruin by creation of war bonds, machinery etc. Time and time again, war has been a reliable way into economic prosperity. It, actually, forms a vital part of any “developed” nation’s economy and is collectively refered to as the “Military Industrial Complex.”

Now, the giant had been awakened. Bombs, guns and armies were created – and they needed a reason for their existence. Countries like the United States suddenly realize that apart from working to retaining pre-existing conflicts around the world, they also NEEDED to be at war constantly for that significant portion of their economy to thrive and multiply. Dismal years in the NYSE during the Bush years? The way out was to find a reason to attack Iraq and Afghanistan (political conspiracy theorists can fill in the gap here). You get the point. Today, in fact, a lot of Fortune 500 companies have serious investments in the war machine.

Joining these dots together, one can summarize that in a world where the nations in power rely on conflict to remain wealthy and in power – is the possibility of peace really a possibility? 

Until we take the profit out of violence, world peace will remain but a distant dream. Let’s dream on…

PS: Some articles to read on the subject:


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