“It’s a turf war on a global scale” — but now the globe is on fire


Following up to “This world in arms is not spending money alone” and “If there is a significant chance of utter catastrophe“.

According to Anup Shah

Global military expenditure stands at over $1.46 trillion in annual expenditure at current prices for 2008, and has been rising in recent years.

Sounds like a lot. It is a lot. But the US alone disbursed $4.6 trillion for its financial bailout. On the other hand, half of that has already been paid back.

Sure, if we could divert that kind of money to science and development, we could probably enjoy a golden age. But it would probably also lead to a leveling of society — and a fundamental constraint of human nature is that, according to Jeanna Bryner

We tend to be happy “as long as we’ve got more than the people around us,” said study researcher Christopher Boyce

I can see where military spending could pay off big for the big guys in charge. As Smedley Butler said, “War is a racket.” And crime pays. According to Noam Chomsky

St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great. “How dare you molest the sea?” asked Alexander. “How dare you molest the whole world?” the pirate replied. “Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you, doing it with a great navy, are called an emperor”.

The pirate’s answer was “elegant and excellent,” St. Augustine relates.

The history of genocide shows what can happen to us little guys when our bosses lose a turf war. Unilateral disarmament would be like trying to do time in San Quentin without joining a gang. According to Stephen Reid

San Quentin is the West Coast Big House, and the birthplace of the dominant prison gangs that have spread into the federal system. Quentin in the ’70s was famous for the phrase “DA Rejects,” which meant that the State Attorney’s Office refused to prosecute cases of prisoner-on-prisoner homicides. Imagine how that policy played out in the gang-ridden, racially divided 2 acres of dirt and concrete that held 5,000 of the most violent men in the state of California.

Maybe someday there will be a world organized around love instead of violence. But for the foreseeable future, the guys with guns are in the driver’s seat. I can live with that reality.

Problem is, the Earth is on fire, and those big guys don’t seem to grasp that if they continue with the turf war as usual, then eventually there won’t be much more turf than Daffy Duck stood atop at the end of Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century — they’re in the driver’s seat of a runaway train. Or maybe they do grasp it, but they just don’t see a safe way to pull the emergency brake.

I wrote earlier

It’s natural, like metastatic cancer. If a society consumes and kills and reproduces as quickly as possible, it will outcompete a society with longer-term vision.

We need to find a way to let the big guys stay on top, but for them to see self-interest in making protecting the Earth part of their racket, too.


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