Michael Kuhn – Arguing about theories and political opinions

War – every now and then, always here and there

And in between, every now and then, war. In order to answer the question of why this is so, it is better not to ask the question that is most readily asked before, preferably during and after every war, namely the question of who started a war, i.e. who is to blame for the war. Indeed, by asking this question, one not only interferes in the department of ideological warfare by participating in the search for those whom one blames for a war, but has abandoned the question of why wars exist. The bad habit of looking for those who execute an (unwanted) thing and then being satisfied when they have found these perpetrators, then find all sorts of bad guys, but the answer to the question of why this (unwanted) thing exists in the first place has not only escaped them. Those who want to know what war is and why it exists, and then ask themselves who started it, will never find out what war is and why it exists, because with their question of who started it, they condemn war, which they condemn with their condemnation of the one who instigates it, and thus assume it as a matter of course, as a kind of now and then recurring natural event of humanity, without any idea of what it is.    

Quite beyond the search for villains who, thanks to their wickedness, are supposed to explain all kind of evils in the world, even if they are part of normality, the question arises why war, i.e. the destruction of people and wealth, is obviously part of everyday life in this world. Somewhere in this world there is always war and usually not only in one place.

And war, this destruction of people and wealth, is a matter that does not seem to fit in at all with what otherwise moves this world, that no one wants, but that requires a highly determined will, without which anything goes, but no war.

Even if one may have become accustomed to the fact that the world – since the elimination of colonialism (and the return of the SU to capitalism) – is organised according to all the rules of capitalist art to drive humanity around the globe with all the means available to its politics to make a living as a service to the never-ending growth of wealth – how the most extensive form of destruction of wealth, war, is supposed to fit into this is already a question beyond all moral condemnations of war. In fact, it is this growth of wealth that is presented to humanity as a kind of force of nature, to whose laws human beings must submit. Whatever happens, how “the markets” react to whatever, is observed as if it were not man-made, like the effects of a force of nature (economists pursue these interpretations of man-made natural events as their job) and taken as the supreme guideline for all political, social and economic action. That this is so, that everything and anything in these societies must ultimately be measured against whether they satisfy the “markets”, that is the supreme task of state policy. Nothing in capitalist societies is not set up to serve the markets, i.e. the growth of wealth. 

And then one may also have become accustomed to the fact that the same policy then destroys the same wealth very thoroughly every now and then with good regularity in such wars between some states of this world with their means of violence created for this and for nothing else in wise foresight – this too may seem quite normal because it actually happens all the time; only when seen in the light of day it is quite crazy.

And even if in these societies people – if at all, as in the countries of the so-called “Third World” – only come into view as factors of economic growth, it is no less crazy when the same states of this world – if they want to afford it (see above) – afford to protect their peoples from violence. It is no less crazy when the same states of this world – if they want to afford it (see above) – let the protection of their peoples from attacks – as recently experienced – on their health also from diseases – cost themselves restrictions of their otherwise highest state goal, the growth of their economy, in order to maintain their people as makers of state and economy, when then the same states then thoroughly burn up this people in their wars again and again, roughly estimated in every second to third generation. There is no generation, nowhere in the world, that has not known wars as part of its life.  That’s true, it’s perfectly normal, but that only makes it more insane. 

What is going on there, that the citizens of all these states, trimmed to the never sufficient growth of wealth, are destroyed again and again with good regularity by their states in their wars among themselves, together with the wealth they have earned, with the most sophisticated means of violence, the production of which alone is an insane waste of tools suitable for nothing except the destruction of wealth and people, tools of destruction that are then also produced by the same citizens of these states who are killed with these tools. Sure, always the others’, but the bottom line, always the citizens who all create the growth of wealth and the means of its own destruction. 

As crazy as it is to use the whole world for the growth of wealth and to destroy the acquired wealth with good regularity and to create the means of destruction for this in advance, the really crazy thing is that this, the destruction of the created wealth and its growth, is not a contradiction at all. (The silly idea that war because everything is destroyed creates a need again, as if it were about the need!) More than that – which is to be proven – it is in the nature of growing wealth that its destruction is not only not contradictory to its growth, but a political lever for its growth.

In capitalist societies, the insane contradiction is to commit humanity to a growth of this kind of wealth in order to enforce the implementation of this supreme state purpose called “economic growth” with the destruction of the same wealth with its state power, in capitalist societies – this is the assertion to be proven – this insanity growth of wealth through destruction of wealth is not a contradiction but equal content of the all supreme state reason. 

This begins with the meaninglessness of the useful properties of this wealth, which is only produced at all if its production pays off in the growth of money, and otherwise just not, even if there is a need for this wealth and, thus produced but not proving itself as a means of valid wealth, ends up in the rubbish; this applies to the destruction of wealth, with which competitors who want to make the same wealth into more money, as the stinking normal everyday life of a market economy, the destruction of the wealth of competitors is successful growth of wealth.

For the capitalist point of view, the destruction of useful things, even beyond all wars between states, is not destruction at all, if no monetary values are destroyed with it, because for this point of view, usefulness ultimately does not count. On the contrary, what counts is what can be made into money and what cannot be made into money does not count and if it is useful for the increase of monetary wealth, then the destruction of useful wealth is everyday successful business practice.  The destruction of useful things is part of the everyday life of a way of life in which nothing is of importance that cannot be turned into money. What doesn’t sell is destroyed, companies that don’t do business are thrown away as if they were useless. Entire regions of the world whose land and people are not suitable for making money are left to rot as a side effect of this reason of state that rules the world.

And finally, the destruction of this growth measured in the growth of money vis-à-vis other states is also the means for the expansion of growth beyond one’s own state, which all states pursue as their state programme; wars and the destruction of wealth radicalised in them then ensure in this logic that the resistance of other states to this is broken when they stand in the way of the normal forms of economic destruction of their wealth or the questioning of their political sovereignty with their attack on the sovereignty of the other.   

And these wars are pre-programmed in this reason of state. The raison d’état of states, the commitment of states to the growth of abstract wealth, for which every wealth achieved is a limit to the growth of wealth to be overcome, it is this strange intemperance in the economic content of the raison d’état of all these states that, with this raison d’état, pushes at the limits of the validity of its sovereignty, of its monopoly on the use of force – and thus, through the validity of the same reason of state of other sovereign states, enters into an equally fundamental and violent opposition to its reason of state, a reason of state that all states, in order to realise their reason of state thanks to their supreme goal, the growth of their economies, must contest with others with the same reason of state. Conflicts up to and including war, these sovereigns standing in each other’s way because of their identical raison d’état, is therefore not an antithesis to economic growth, but the indispensable means of all states that have made this economic growth their raison d’état. 

And just as limitless as the growth of this kind of wealth is the need of these sovereigns for a never-satisfactory growth of state power, to which every limitation of access to this wealth for its growth, which knows no other criterion than the sheer more, to which every usefulness of the wealth is completely indifferent, whose production depends solely on whether it serves the increase measured in money, a wealth that is also otherwise destroyed in the everyday life of this economy if it does not serve this goal.   This goal, which is as idiotic as it is fraught with violence, of paving a never-ending path in the world of states beyond the validity of their own sovereignty with its violence for the economic growth commanded by each state, is confronted by all states, thanks to their sovereignty, not only as a barrier to the expansion of their identical state programmes, but as a never-satisfied claim to dominion over the world of states, to which others always stand in the way. 

The clash of political subjects who are constructed as monopolies of violence and who all enforce their political goals with the violence of their monopoly of violence, goals that are all committed to the growth of abstract wealth, the clash of these monopolies of violence inevitably means undermining these monopolies of power, which thus ends sooner or later in insoluble conflicts that are resolved by imposing the political power of one monopoly of power on the other, thus eroding the other as a monopoly of power. The solution to such insoluble antagonisms of competing, mutually exclusive power monopolies is inevitably the elimination of the less powerful power monopolies through war.

That war has its ground in this nature of the raison d’état of capitalist society can no better demonstrated than by the current war against Russia. Russia, which has abandoned its opposition to capitalism and returned to capitalism, has not only not been spared the enmity of the world order under the leadership of the supreme of all supreme states, but on the contrary. Russia has thus become a normal enemy state, treated like all states. And because Russia, with its reinstalled capitalism, has discovered the same claims to rule over the states of the world as its enemies in the West and possesses the means of power to do so, which, with its own programme of world domination, stands in the way of the same programme of the West – and vice versa – the dispute with Russia over its influence, i.e. its interference in the claims to rule of the others, is on the agenda in the world of states. The fact that the Russian state political leader thinks he has to present himself in the current war as the better anti-communist, i.e. as the better defender of a globally ruling capitalism, only underlines in the eyes of his rivals that he deserves their enmity all the more because he thus presents himself to them as the true champion of the globally executed state programme of an increase in capitalist wealth, the arrogation of a global leadership which the established imperialists, with their ennoblement in higher humane values, claim as an inviolable mission on behalf of humanity. For the sake of such rivalries, whole countries of this world are reduced to rubble, not to speak of their inhabitants. 

Any politicians of all these states therefore always know very well that states without a military are not real states, even when there is no sign of war far and wide. Without military force, there is no state. Economic growth measured in money, this state purpose of an always too small increase in this kind of wealth, which subjugates the whole world to this very purpose which ruthlessly, against every need, prepares the world for this purpose with its monopoly of violence, this, the never to be served claim to reign in other states until their complete erosion, is the political version of an economic  violence, which finally, in war, clears away the excessiveness with sheer force wherever anything stands in the way of this programme that cannot be appropriated by economic means.

From the point of view of the capitalist reason of state, the contestation of the sovereignty of other states is therefore a permanent task of their existence and this therefore prohibits any consideration for any interests of the citizens, including those whose assertion of interests even beyond the validity of its sovereignty is the supreme concern of this reason of state. 

The contestation of the sovereignty of other states by destroying the means that constitute this sovereignty, this is the military cause of war. States know their permanent need for wars, it is so natural for states that they have created a law for it, martial law, a kind of manual for wars which regulates everything in detail as to how a proper war should be made, for states a most ordinary thing, regulated by states just as states regulate everything else.  

The other thing states need to handle is the agitational art of state politics, in the permanent contestation of the sovereignty of other states and then this every now and then with war, when states see their sovereignty existentially threatened, as now in the case of the war between Russia and Ukraine, this art of politics consists in making this existential concern of states vis a vis other power monopolies the concern of its citizens, who have nothing to do with all this, but are nothing but victims. As with all state concerns, the first means here is state violence: in order to enlist its citizens in war with other states to defend its existence and to sacrifice their citizens existence for his, every state relies on violence here too. Service for war is not something any state makes a matter of voluntariness on the part of its citizens. To this end, the cultivation of nationalism, i.e. the use of the existential dependence of its citizens, for the stupid conclusion that war for one’s own state would then also be in the highest self-interest of the citizens and that it is all other states that deny these interests of the citizens, is the ideological permanent task of statist agitation, the success of which proves itself in the conquest of national heroism through death in war. The current war offers rich documentation of such deadly stupidity.

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One response to “War – every now and then, always here and there”

  1. Karen Ashikeh Avatar

    An excellent feature on the dynamics and execution (no pun intended) of war and how it serves Capitalism but not the interests of people or even of nations, in the past and present. It describes how war and Capitalism seeks to destroy as part of its “support.” As you note, such deeply flawed thinking uses resources that ruin capital and resources, human and environmental.
    Can war be a purely self-defeating system, like Capitalism, destroying the aggressors when it is waged by workers, including military personnel? I am interested in ideas on how to stop war, such as the nation of Costa Rica that relied on civilian defense, after getting rid of their military in the late 1950s. Government focus on meeting basic needs of people has provided long term stability and stable development.

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