Thursday, 7 November 2013

How To Smash This Racket! (Part 4 of 5)

We know that war is a racket, we know who profits from the racket and we know the victims and how they are suffering.  This section looks at how to break this cycle, and to safeguard against war profiteering in the future.

"WELL, it's a racket, all right.

A few profit -- and the many pay.  But there is a way to stop it.  You can't end it by disarmament conferences.  You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva.  Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions.  It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.  The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the nations manhood can be conscripted.  One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation -- it must conscript capital and industry and labor.  Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted -- to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.

Let the workers in these plants get the same wages -- all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers -- yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office holders -- everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!

Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their monthly $30 wage to their families and pay risk insurance and by Liberty Bonds.

Why shouldn't they?

They aren't running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered.  They aren't sleeping in muddy trenches.  They aren't hungry.  The soldiers are!

Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war.  That will smash the war racket -- that and nothing else.

Maybe I am a little too optimistic.  Capital still has some say.  So capital won't permit the taking of the profit out of war until the people -- those who do the suffering and still pay the price -- make up their minds that those they elect to office shall do their bidding, and not that of the profiteers.

Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is the limited plebiscite to determine whether a war should be declared.  A plebiscite not of all the voters but merely of those who would be called upon to do the fighting and dying.  There wouldn't be very much sense in having a 76-year-old president of a munitions factory or the flat-footed head of an international banking firm or the cross-eyed manager of a uniform manufacturing plant -- all of whom see visions of tremendous profits in the event of war -- voting on whether the nation should go to war or not.  They never would be called upon to shoulder arms -- to sleep in a trench and to be shot.  Only those who would be called upon to risk their lives for their country should have the privilege of voting to determine whether the nation should go to war.

There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to those affected.  Many of our states have restrictions on those permitted to vote.  In most, it is necessary to be able to read and write before you may vote.  In some, you must own property.  It would be a simple matter each year for the men coming of military age to register in their communities as they did in the draft during the World War and be examined physically.  Those who could pass and who therefore be called upon to bear arms in the event of war would be eligible to vote in a limited plebiscite.  They should be the ones to have the power to decide -- and not a Congress few of whose members are within the age limit and fewer still of whom are in the physical condition to bear arms.  Only those who must suffer should have the right to vote.

A third step in this business of smashing the war racket is to make certain that our military forces are truly forces for defense only.

At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up.  The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists.  And they are smart.  They don't shout that "We need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation."  Oh no.  First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power.  Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate 125,000,000 people.  Just like that.  Then they begin to cry for a larger navy.  For what?  To fight the enemy?  Oh my, no.  Oh, no.  For defense purposes only.

To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.
  1. We must take the profit out of war.
  2. We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.
  3. We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes."
How many conflicts would have been avoided if we had followed those three steps?  Step one alone would have been enough to prevent the worst excesses of Westminster.  The final chapter, to hell with war!, offers General Butler's final plea to all of us to smash to war racket.

Part 1 - War is a racket
Part 2 - Who makes the profits?
Part 3 - Who pays the bills?
Part 4 - How to smash this racket!
Part 5 - To hell with war!

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