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 systems
of 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 Congo.)
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.