Of course your history is accurate, though I think there is a point to be
made about a new form of violence. I am feeling sickened at the images of
Russian theater-goers coming out in body bags or ambulances. There is
a kind of assault on random individuals that seems new even though I
realize that could be used to describe much of what you also point to.
But I do not think I see clearly what point you are making about
capitalism. You seem to have shown how all times and institutions were
violent. How does that fit?
Date sent: Fri, 25 Oct 2002 21:05:11 -0500
Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From: Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: TWL epigraph
To: [log in to unmask]
Gunnar Jauch wrote:
> Such a gratuitous use of violence we are seeing in the world these days
> (9-11, Bali, Palestine, Chechnya, Moscow) would have been unthinkable
> some decades ago.
Really. One decade ago the U.S. destroyed the sewage and water
Iraq, polluted a large area of Iraq with depleted uranium (which is still
wreaking havoc), and while continuing regularly to bomb Iraq for the last
decade has imposed sanctions which denied it the needed medicines and
supplies to maintain the health of its people. The previous decade the
U.S. urged on Iraq (and supplied it with the means for chemical warfare)
in one of the bloodiest wars in recent times (the invasion of Iran). At
the beginning of the preceding decade Bishop Romero begged President
Carter in an open letter to cease supplying the thugs who were committing
mass murder in El Salvador and, on Carter's ignoring of that request, said
thugs were emboldened to assassinate Romero and massacre the mourners at
his funeral. (Incidentally, the murder rate in the U.S. has been falling
steadily for about 20 years. And while women are still not given decent
protection against physical abuse by their husbands, they are nevertheless
much safer from such violence than 30 or 100 years ago.) That same Carter,
we have known since 1999, began interference in Afghanistan deliberately
to provoke Soviet intervention -- and of course much of the present
violence is a fairly direct outgrowth of that initial provocation.
Then of course in the 1960s some two to three hundred million people
died in Vietnam, on which more bombs were dropped than had been dropped by
all belligerents together in WW2. Earlier there of course had been the
systematic use of torture by the French in Algeria. And moving back
another decade or so we reach the reign of lyncherdom in the U.S. South.
(Have you ever read Mark Twain's "The United States of Lyncherdom"?)
(Back in the 1930s in southern Michigan some "pranksters" at halloween set
fire to an outdoor toilet, burning the man inside to death. But there was
no CNN then to add up the total deaths from violence around the country,
so there were no crime waves as there are now.)
Should we think about the two world wars? Should we think about the
ruined lives resulting from the incarceration of U.S. citizens of
Japanese descent in the 1940s? And a college friend of mine, a WW2
veteran, told of his horror at the end of one island invasion u.s.
troops turned flame throwers on Japanese attempting to surrender. The
officers didn't even reprimand them! my friend shuddered. The bombing of
Dresden? Of Hamburg? (Neither contributing to military goals: sheer
terrorism both.) The fire-bombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities --
again beyond any military necessity.
King Leopold in the Congo? (A quite civilized culture before he drowned it
in blood -- and now we draw in our skirts like Victorian ladies responding
to a prostitute in her path as we think of all that horrible violence in
In the Cantos Pound quotes a French soldier describing how the sergeant
had jumped up and down on the bodies to make them fit the trench. (This
was during the mass executions following the fall of the Paris Commune.)
Or perhaps we should look back to the peaceful days of the Peasant Wars in
Germany of the 16th century, or the Wars of Religion. Or perhaps your
vision of the peace of the good old days is the pacification (lovely word)
of the Inca and the Aztecs by the Spaniards. Or learn what happened in
Hispaniola in the 10 years after Colombus landed there. Cutting off the
hands of indians who failed to bring in their quota of gold for the month
was surely less violent than the streets of Manhattan today, I guess.
Or have you ever read accounts of labor in the gold and silver mines of
the ancient world?
Oh yes, there were those who begged the U.S. and British governments to
bomb the railroads leading to the death camps. But it was more important
to massacre the inhabitants of Hamburg than to save a few million Jews.
The Federal Building in Oklahoma?
Pre-capitalist systems _decayed_. Capitalism is the Phoenix. It arises
afresh from its own ashes time after time. It will never decay, and
decadence is a misleading metaphor in reference to capitalist societies.