Flimsy Sanity: War Is A Racket

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, July 20, 2007

War Is A Racket

WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out...The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.
Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed.
- Excerpts from War Is a Racket by Major General Smedley D. Butler written shortly after World War I.


  • At 5:15 AM, Blogger Peacechick Mary said…

    War has always been a racket, a high stakes racket for both rich and poor. The rich make mega bucks off of it and the poor hope to win some honor and respect. We can see who gets screwed in this scene.

  • At 12:41 PM, Anonymous sister anan said…

    I remember watching troops doing their drills and getting this sickening realization about the atavistic nature of it all.

    I mean, there were these old males with families, wealth, power... looking at the young males in the prime of their power, but just starting their search for all of the above...

    ... and it suddenly struck me that the olders had designed war as a way to eliminate the all-too-potent competition, to preserve themselves and all that they had accrued.

    All of it; the insubordination, the shouting of numbers to overcome instinct, the training to obey no matter what you were told to do,the discouragement of thinking or feeling, attested to this.

    That the leaders of community would take their trusted positions to deliberately misuse naivety and innocence to preserve their own balls must be, indeed, the greatest and most vile racket.

  • At 6:12 PM, Blogger Women on the Verge said…

    Which proves the old adage that those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it... we're like lemmings jumping off the cliff.

  • At 8:53 PM, Anonymous RJ Adams said…

    Men have cried out at the folly and injustice of war since time immemorial. They have always been a tiny minority, voices wailing in the wilderness, drowned out by the rattle of sabers, the bark of cannon, the thud of exploding bombs. While we, the people, are prepared to allow the grasping and merciless to shut down our thought processes by infiltrating our minds with false notions of pride, patriotism, and that great myth called "honor" - of which they know naught - the voices of those few will never be heard above the roar of dollar bills rushing into the pockets of the contemptibles. But one day, there will be enough voices crying out so loud that it will be the turn of those who yell, "War! War!" not to be heard, and their pockets will be emptied, and their guns will be silenced, and the people will have learned, and they will take back the power.

  • At 8:40 AM, Blogger Flimsy Sanity said…

    PC Mary: Is it honor and respect or is it promises of benefits and machismo satisfaction in irrational, testosterone charged teens?

    Sis: Maybe. An interesting observation. I know the first order of business in training is to take away your identity.

    Women: I once told an acquaintance that we have wars because men like to fight. He said no one would like to have their life in danger, but I think the heightened awareness is a rush.

    RJ: The meek shall inherit the earth - I don't think so unless they are the ones hiding in the deepest caves.

  • At 6:13 PM, Anonymous RJ Adams said…

    Ah, but, Flimsy, you mistake the poor and oppressed for the meek. I'm not talking about the meek. I'm talking of those known colloquially as the "common man". He who will take so much, but no more. He who, throughout history, has shown his mettle when the contemptibles have pushed just that bit to hard. Revolutions have been as commonplace as wars. They may never have produced a 'perfect system', but they are the living proof of man's continuing striving to find one.


Post a Comment

<< Home