“Capitalists want war”. So goes the cry. But it is wrong.
There is nothing better for a Capitalist than peace. True, some businesses profit from the manufacture of munitions, weapons, and gases. But who are their customers? - governments!
If you could take a poll of all the Capitalists in the country, or the world, and ask “who would prefer war to peace”, virtually everyone would want peace. Capitalists also have children, you know. It is utterly ridiculous to suggest that war has a profit margin making it beneficial. Leave aside the issue of right and wrong, by the way. Just consider the destruction of property, if not lives. Capitalists want property to grow, not get destroyed.
Historically, some businesses encouraged governments to undertake war in developing countries for the benefit of access to markets. The classic example perhaps was the East India Company from Great Britain but all European powers went through a phase of Imperialism. There were phenomenal sums of money to be made by plundering the Far East, so obtaining the involvement of British soldiers for security was very sensible. The soldiers whose lives were on the line had very little say in the matter of course, and the businesses which encouraged the adventure would rarely put their own sons’ lives at stake, and any wars would be far from home. But this entire arrangement could only have occurred if the government could be manipulated by lobbying business interests.
However, Capitalism as a political theory wants to trade with people voluntarily, as the greatest benefit to all mankind, rather than conquering markets violently. It also has no interest in specific lobby interests. Capitalists would not wish to support businesses which require force to survive – that’s not the Free market.
It is only because governments, with the power of force, exist and can be manipulated, that wars for gain can ever get off the ground.
A Capitalist government, whose mandate is to keep the peace, can have no involvement with assisting some ambitious citizen invading a foreign market. So if you are the CEO of an interventionist and aggressive multinational business, don’t bother asking for the help.
Having said that, a Capitalist government needs a military to safeguard its citizens from foreign aggression, and the government would indeed turn to the inventiveness of the free market to provide the products of its defence.
Is there one policy for all time and all circumstances as to when to send the Armed Forces into action? No, of course not. The world is far too complicated for that. So we can look at Canada’s current involvement in Libya, or Afghanistan, for instance, and legitimately debate amongst ourselves whether or not it is a proper use of our forces in this case, or not. That is a proper situation to debate the role of our country, and in fact whatever we choose to do will either be right or wrong or more likely a bit of both – sometimes we don’t get to understand the answer for years, as with the Americans in Viet Nam.
However, regardless of the choice made as a nation in any particular circumstance, the career soldier exposing him or herself to risk on my behalf certainly has my respect. Their choice of profession put them in that position, so I have no sense of the need to safeguard them from the risk: they are actually doing that which is their personal calling and for all I know they are perhaps happier with action than with spending their life in barracks doing drill.
But they chose to do this, and that is a fundamental difference from the draft. It is a moral wrong to prop up any government by drafting its children to fight for its old men. Only a country worth fighting for will garner the will of its young to risk their lives for it. That is tragic, but sending off the young to die for something they don’t believe in – that is amongst the highest of moral evils, and can only be perpetrated by a government. No Capitalist has or would crave that kind of validation.
Do you ever ask yourself what it was that Canadian soldiers fought and died for in the World Wars? It was for adventure perhaps, or to keep their buddies company – I am sure each soldier had his own reasons; but it was probably not to prop up Canadian governments that were piece by piece going to take away Canadians’ freedoms.
Even in Germany there is honour done to German soldiers, particularly those who stood up to Hitler and perished fighting for their country’s liberty:
“You did not bear the shame
Sacrificing your life
For freedom, justice and honour”
German Resistance Memorial, Berlin
You have to be very cynical to believe this means nothing.
Don’t vote for big Governments.