Combat is to War what Cash is to Commerce

Discussion in 'Politics' started by georgephillip, Mar 20, 2014.

  1. georgephillip
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    georgephillip Gold Member Supporting Member

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    A retired Lt. Colonel, William Astore, has recently made an argument that claims "The Business of America is War."

    As recent events in Kiev prove yet again, war and the threat of war is politics as usual:


    "Once upon a time, as a serving officer in the U.S. Air Force, I was taught that Carl von Clausewitz had defined war as a continuation of politics by other means.

    "This definition is, in fact, a simplification of his classic and complex book, On War, written after his experiences fighting Napoleon in the early nineteenth century.

    "The idea of war as a continuation of politics is both moderately interesting and dangerously misleading: interesting because it connects war to political processes and suggests that they should be fought for political goals; misleading because it suggests that war is essentially rational and so controllable.

    "The fault here is not Clausewitz’s, but the American military’s for misreading and oversimplifying him.

    "Perhaps another 'Carl' might lend a hand when it comes to helping Americans understand what war is really all about.

    "I’m referring to Karl Marx, who admired Clausewitz, notably for his idea that combat is to war what a cash payment is to commerce.

    "However seldom combat (or such payments) may happen, they are the culmination and so the ultimate arbiters of the process."

    The Business of America Is War | William Astore
     
  2. LordBrownTrout
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    LordBrownTrout Gold Member

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    Money, power, war. This has been going on since humans first inhabited the earth. What's the story here?
     
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  3. georgephillip
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    georgephillip Gold Member Supporting Member

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    In fact, war hasn't been going on "since human first inhabited the earth."
    It's a fairly recent development that arrived about the same time as the first private fortunes.
     
  4. Little-Acorn
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    Little-Acorn Gold Member

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    There isn't one. Someone tried to compare apples to oranges. Unsurprisingly, the comparison was made by Karl Marx, whose twists and distortions of reality resulted in unworkable philosophies such as communism. No surprise that this author found yet another area where Marx was wrong.
     
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  5. georgephillip
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    georgephillip Gold Member Supporting Member

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    What specific idea are you referring to?
     
  6. LordBrownTrout
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    LordBrownTrout Gold Member

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    Are you saying that humans just recently started arguing?
     
  7. georgephillip
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    georgephillip Gold Member Supporting Member

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    No.

    "War-like conflict may pre-date the origin of modern humans, and this hypothesis is supported by observations in chimpanzee societies.[3]

    "In the earliest hunter-gatherer societies of Homo erectus, population density was probably low enough to avoid armed conflict.

    "The development of the throwing-spear, together with ambush hunting techniques, made potential violence between groups very costly, dictating conflict avoidance, which involved groups moving apart as far as possible to alleviate resource competition.

    "This behaviour may have accelerated the migration out of Africa of H. erectus some 1.8 million years ago as a natural consequence of conflict avoidance.

    "This period of 'Paleolithic warlessness' would then have persisted until well after the appearance of Homo sapiens some 0.2 million years ago, and probably ended only with a shift in societal organization in the Upper Paleolithic.

    "At this stage, the mobilization of a raiding party for the purpose of raids on another shifts the tactical advantage from defenders to attackers, capitalizing on the advantages of surprise and numerical superiority.

    "Of the many cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic, none depict people attacking other people.

    "There is no known archaeological evidence of large-scale fighting until well into the Aurignacian."

    Prehistoric warfare - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I'm saying it wasn't until the first agricultural surpluses that organized warfare with standing armies became profitable for a few oligarchs.
     
  8. georgephillip
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    georgephillip Gold Member Supporting Member

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    "Following Marx, Americans ought to think about war not just as an extreme exercise of politics, but also as a continuation of exploitative commerce by other means.

    "Combat as commerce: there’s more in that than simple alliteration.

    "In the history of war, such commercial transactions took many forms, whether as territory conquered, spoils carted away, raw materials appropriated, or market share gained.

    "Consider American wars.

    "The War of 1812 is sometimes portrayed as a minor dust-up with Britain, involving the temporary occupation and burning of our capital, but it really was about crushing Indians on the frontier and grabbing their land.

    "The Mexican-American War was another land grab, this time for the benefit of slaveholders.

    "The Spanish-American War was a land grab for those seeking an American empire overseas, while World War I was for making the world 'safe for democracy' -- and for American business interests globally."

    The Business of America Is War | William Astore
     
  9. Kondor3
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    Kondor3 Cafeteria Centrist

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    Dog bites man?

    Usually, there are a myriad of underlying causes behind war... it's usually not as Simple-Simon or black-and-white as most partisan hacks (from either side of the aisle) would have us believe.

    And, of course, the shooting starts when people stop talking.

    In that respect, old Clausewitz was probably more right than he knew, with his 'politics by other means' maxim...
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014
  10. georgephillip
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    georgephillip Gold Member Supporting Member

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    Maybe it's the eternal profit in war that ensures its existence:

    "Forever war is forever profitable.

    "Think of the Lockheed Martins of the world.

    "In their commerce with the Pentagon, as well as the militaries of other nations, they ultimately seek cash payment for their weapons and a world in which such weaponry will be eternally needed.

    "In the pursuit of security or victory, political leaders willingly pay their price.

    "Call it a Clausewitzian/Marxian feedback loop or the dialectic of Carl and Karl. It also represents the eternal marriage of combat and commerce.

    "If it doesn’t catch all of what war is about, it should at least remind us of the degree to which war as disaster capitalism is driven by profit and power."

    War could be taxed into extinction in a single generation.

    The Business of America Is War | William Astore
     

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