…..It would be remarkably generous and entirely naïve to suggest that the progressive wars against papists, alcohol, and laziness were popular rebellions, or that they constituted some focused resistance by the average people of the country.
It would also be naïve to consider that the goals of the progressives of the late 1800s and the early 1900s were not in sync with the goals of larger and increasingly global corporations of the major cities of the United States. It was this harnessing of the language and propaganda of the Christian progressives with the corporate capitalism that spawned and encouraged American’s participation in the great wars of the 20th Century, and the lesser ones.After having fought some of these wars, in the Philippines and elsewhere, retired Marine General Smedley Butler wrote his famous 1934 speech “War is a Racket.” It was in the early 1930s, an age of widespread hardship, and Butler was capitalizing on both his understanding of corporate-driven wars and on popular sentiment, in a Senatorial primary campaign that he would lose.
Butler had also had a falling out with Grayson Murphy, on whose behalf Butler claimed to have been approached in 1934 to lead an army of 500,000 men to install a dictatorship in the White House. The would-be dictator was identified as Brigadier General Hugh “Iron Pants” Johnson, a member of FDR’s brain trust, a FDR speechwriter and a New Deal planner. At the risk of repeating myself, the proposed dictatorship was fascist in orientation. A Congressional committee reviewed the Butler’s charges, and confirmed that indeed, such a plan existed, “… and might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers deemed it expedient.”
Grayson Murphy was a co-founder in 1919 of the American Legion the purported source of the proto-army of 500,000, and a board member of organizations such as Morgan Bank, Goodyear and Bethlehem Steel.I mention this because among many other organizations, the American Legion still takes a strong stance for wars of the state, and suggests in its language, tone, and advertisers that to oppose state wars is to oppose and disrespect the draftees and volunteers who are the foot-soldiers of these wars.Eisenhower’s farewell speech, familiar to many, echoes no more than the contemporary understanding of the embedded industrial, military and political networks of his own era.
Those networks have grown, intertwined, and subsumed the policies and actions of the two major political parties in the subsequent decades. Today, as for several past decades, the warfare state benefits whether the elected President of the United States is a Democrat or a Republican.I think this connectedness of the state, state corporations and appointed and elected warmakers is the only way we can define the term “war.” Who can deny that bailed out banks and carmakers, subsidized, taxpayer-nurtured defense, technology, energy, agricultural and pharmaceutical industries are not state corporations?
Who would claim today that the incursions of the state into space, into the Internet, and into our backyards, front yards, kitchens, bedrooms, gun cabinets, bank accounts and safe deposit boxes is not a war conducted by the state?…..